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Lucius Lyon papers, 1770-1934 (majority within 1833-1851)

12 linear feet

The Lucius Lyon papers contain the public correspondence of Lucius Lyon, United States representative and senator from Michigan, and surveyor general for Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. Letter writers include Michigan governors, legislators, postmasters, physicians, and other local politicians, as well as residents of Michigan, Wisconsin, northern Illinois, and Indiana, and national Democratic Party leaders during the years Lyon served in Congress.

The Lucius Lyon papers (12 linear feet) contain the public and private correspondence of Lucius Lyon, United States representative and senator from Michigan, and surveyor general for Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. Lyon received letters from southern Michigan governors and legislators, as well as postmasters, physicians, and other local politicians. Other contributors include residents of Michigan, Wisconsin, northern Illinois, and Indiana; easterners interested in land speculation, settlement, and Michigan politics; and national Democratic Party leaders during the years Lyon served in Congress.

The Correspondence Series comprises the bulk of the Lyon papers. Topics discussed in the Chronological Correspondence Subseries include Michigan statehood, Wisconsin statehood, Indian relations, government appointments, and local politics. Also included are numerous proposals and requests to the United States government for investments and improvements for harbors, lighthouses, roads and mail routes, safety, and protection on the Great Lakes. As well as letters from government officials, Lyon received letters from citizens of virtually every county in Michigan. Several of these letters relate to pension or bounty lands owed to Revolutionary War and War of 1812 veterans and their families (e.g. January 13, 1834; December 8, 1834; January 24, 1835; March 22, 1838; January 3, 1844; November 30, 1844). Letters written during and following the boundary dispute over Toledo provide an on-the-ground view of how residents of the region experienced the conflict and its subsequent effects. A letter written April 9, 1835, accuses the Toledo Postmaster of designating his office as being in Ohio, which was seen as "having taken an improper part in the controversy now pending, between that State & Michigan Territory, which has created much excitement & dissatisfaction among the people." Though the bulk of the letters are official in nature, the collection also contains personal letters to and from Addison, Anna, Asa, Daniel, Edward, Enos, Ira, Lucretia, Mary, Orson, Sarah Atwater, Truman H., and Worthington S. Lyon. Notably, Lucretia Lyon wrote 111 letters to her brother Lucius between 1827 and 1850.

As a Michigan official and surveyor, Lyon dealt regularly with matters concerning Native Americans and their interactions with settlers and the United States government. Much of this material concerns treaties, such as the 1833 Treaty of Chicago and the 1837 Treaty of St. Peters, as well as claims made by and against Native Americans (see for example August 3, 1838; September 24, 1838; December 28, 1838; and an undated letter signed by [Musk]Rat's Liver, also known as Wazhashkokon). Tribes involved include the Choctaw, Fox, Oneida, Potawatomi, Sac (Sauk), Lakota/Dakota, Saganaw, and Ho-Chunk. Also discussed is the Shawnee Prophet (September 2, 1834) and payments to white doctors who vaccinated the Indians against smallpox (March 8, May, 30, and June 12, 1834). Several letters relate to the Second Seminole War and reference Thomas Jesup, Winfield Scott, and Sam Jones (July 26, 1836; February 8, 1838; March 25, 1838; and April 23, 1838).

Lyon also received 14 anonymous love letters (including one undated Valentine housed in the Miscellaneous series) in 1849 and 1850 signed “Mignonette.” One of these letters by the fellow Swedenborgian admirer is signed L.A. Northup whose possible identity could be Laura Adeline Northrup, daughter of a local blacksmith that Lyon visited at least once. A typescript copy of Lyon’s final reply to this woman indicates that she was much younger than him and that he would prefer to remain friends.

The Typed Copies Subseries contains 32 typed transcripts of letters to and from Lucius Lyon and members of the Ingersoll family not present in original format in collection. Some copies note the location of originals at the time they were made. Original letters date from 1833 to 1850 as well as undated.

The Caroline Portman Campbell and James H. Campbell Correspondence Subseries consists of letters relating to Caroline Belzora Portman Campbell, who donated the Lyon Papers to the University of Michigan, and her husband, James H. Campbell, a lawyer in the Grand Rapids area. Campbell (1859-1926) was active in civic and historical organizations including those related to the history of the state of Michigan. The earliest piece of correspondence is a June 30, 1770, letter written by a Quaker woman, Hannah Jackson, which was previously in the possession of Caroline Portman Campbell’s stepmother, Jennie A. Baley Portman. There is also a January 21, 1849, letter written by Portman Campbell’s great-grandmother, Elizabeth Latham, and great-uncle. Other material relates to James H. Campbell's law practice and Caroline Campbell's historical research as well as ownership and donation of the Lucius Lyon papers to the University of Michigan. The bulk of the material is from 1884-1924.

The Native American Treaty Documents Series contains material primarily related to the 1837 Treaty of St Peters (alternatively known as the Treaty with the Chippewa or White Pine Treaty) as well as additional papers related to other contemporary treaties with Native American tribes in the Midwest. The 1837 Treaty Claims Subseries contains the 189 numbered claims and various un-numbered claims submitted by the Ojibwa who ceded a large plot of land in present-day Minnesota and Wisconsin to the United States in the Treaty of St. Peters (Treaty with the Chippewa or the White Pine Treaty) on July 29, 1837. There are two types of claims for financial compensation per the treaty stipulations. The first type of claims, the Article 3 Claims Sub-subseries, are those made by members of the tribe who were of mixed European and Native American ancestry. The second, the Article 4 Claims Sub-subseries, are claims made by those owed money by the Ojibwa. Also present are powers of attorney for claimants, lists of names of claimants, and other related documentation in the Other Treaty Documents Subseries.

The Notebooks, Recipe Book, and Writings Series contains the following eleven volumes:
  • Manuscript account of Jonathan Kearsley's military service during the War of 1812.

    Written in Lucius Lyon's hand. Kearsley described his job removing dead bodies from the battlegrounds and recounted the death of Major Ludowick Morgan near Lake Erie.

  • Lucius Lyon memo book, 1830-1843
  • Lucius Lyon notebook, 1838
  • Lucius Lyon memo book, 1842-1843
  • Oraculum (manuscript fortunetelling book)
  • Berrien County, Michigan, notebook
  • "Diagram of Salt Wells Sunk at the Rapids of Grand River, Michigan"
  • Lucretia Lyon receipt book

    Lurectia Lyon's receipt book includes recipes for biscuits, cookies, gingerbread, and cakes (palate cake, diet cake, perpetual cake) and household goods such as nankeen dye, food preserves, and cures for cholera morbus, deafness, warts and corns, poisonous vine infections, and dysentery.

  • Account notebook, April 1850-February 1851
  • Eliza Smith / Pamelia Thayer account book, 1835-1849
  • Isaac Bronson Account Book

The Land, Legal, Business, and Financial Papers Series contains documents related to Lyon's business interests spanning 1820 through his death in 1851, along with papers relating to his family's finances after his death. Included are legal documents involving Lyon or officiated by him (these are largely from Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin) as well as Lyon's personal and professional financial records, including receipts, bills, invoices, and account lists (1820s-1840s). An early document is an account of sundries taken by the British and allies after surrender of Detroit on October 16, 1812. The series is organized into a Chronological Subseries, Financial Bundles Subseries, and a Petitions Subseries.

The Printed Items and Ephemera Series contains printed legal and legislative documents, advertisements and regulations, invitations, and blank forms, among other items. It also includes newspaper pages and clippings dating from 1833 to 1937.

The Miscellaneous Series contains various items, including Lyon's commissions as a Regent of the University of Michigan and Surveyor General of Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan; undated caucus ballots; a 1905 typed biographical sketch of Lewis Cass, and more.

Manuscripts in the series include, among others:
  • A description of the village of Lyons
  • The charter of the Illinois and Michigan Canal & Railroad Company
  • List of officers employed in the Quarter Masters Department
  • Proceedings relative to the admission of the State of Tennesse into the Union
  • An undated Knigts of Templar address
  • A sample of wallpaper
  • Various receipes
  • A Valentine sent in 1850
  • Knitting directions

In addition to this finding aid, the Clements Library has created a List of Contributors for the Lucius Lyon papers. For more information on contributors see the Clements Library card catalog.


Ramsey family papers, 1786-1935 (majority within 1827-1935)

7 linear feet

This collection is comprised of correspondence, diaries, documents, financial papers, and other materials of the family of stonecutter and marble worker John M. Ramsey, his wife Cyanea, and their children. The family lived in Greenfield, New Hampshire; Milwaukee and Port Washington, Wisconsin; and Grand Rapids, Michigan. Around 60 Civil War letters and one diary of the Ramseys' son Henry, who served in the 16th Regiment, Wisconsin Infantry, and around 10 letters of a cousin Ridgeway P. Cragin, of the 32nd Regiment, Wisconsin Infantry, are included. Particularly notable are 96 daily diaries of the Ramsey daughters Emily S. and Cyanea H., kept largely while they lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1870s-1920s.

This collection is comprised of 1,182 letters; 98 diaries; 210 documents; 468 receipts, checks, and account books; seven school papers and writings; three photographs; 34 printed and ephemeral items; and other materials of the family of stonecutter and marbleworker John M. Ramsey, his wife Cyanea, and their children. The family lived in Greenfield, New Hampshire; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Grand Rapids, Michigan. Around 60 Civil War letters and one diary of the Ramseys' son Henry, who served in the 16th Regiment, Wisconsin Infantry, and around 10 letters of a cousin Ridgeway P. Cragin, of the 32nd Regiment, Wisconsin Infantry, are included. Particularly notable are 96 daily diaries of the Ramsey daughters Emily S. and Cyanea H., kept largely while they lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1870s-1920s.

The Correspondence series includes 1,182 items and opens with the 1827-1830s letters of Caroline and Hannah Ramsey of Greenfield, New Hampshire, and a sister, Sarah Marshall, of Augusta, Maine. A group of letters pertain to the courtship and marriage of John M. Ramsey and Cyanea Stevens--including a letter from Cyanea's parents Lemuel and Reliance about Cyanea's request for their approval of the wedding (August 5, 1836). Letters of the 1850s include correspondence of Collins Hinckley Stevens, regarding the death of Cyanea's mother Reliance in 1858, and incoming letters to Emily Ramsey from her schoolmates. A selection of letters to Emily from E. H. Langdon, a schoolteacher in Milwaukee, are present.

In the 1860s, sisters Emily, Frances "Fannie", and Cyanea carried on correspondence with each other and with friends and family, including:

  • "Hannah" from the Baraboo Female Seminary (Sauk County, Wisconsin) in 1863
  • Fannie to Emily while visiting Stoughton in 1863; Fannie's correspondence while attending the Ripley Female College, 1865-1866; her letters while staying with family in Greenfield, New Hampshire; and correspondence while in Chicago for medical reasons
  • Ora Stevens in Nashville and Louis H. Stevens of Manchester, Vermont
  • Friend "Louise" in Hartford, Connecticut (who moved to Bay City, Michigan, and married Edwin Wood)
  • John M. Ramsey's nephew David Butler Ramsey (1829-1899), from Chicago and Milwaukee, many written while working in the law offices of Palmer, Hooker & Pitkin, later Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company
  • Female friends and family to Emily and Fannie, written from Evanston, Illinois; Milwaukee and Ozaukee, Wisconsin; and Poultney, Vermont

The Ramsey family correspondence includes around 60 Civil War letters of Corporal Henry C. Ramsey of the 16th Regiment Wisconsin Infantry. He wrote from Camp Randall, the steamship Planet, Camp Sabin, Camp near Grand Junction, Camp near Memphis, Camp near Lake Providence, Louisiana, Camp Randall, and Vicksburg. In the mid-1870s, Henry was admitted to the Michigan Asylum for the Insane at Kalamazoo, Michigan, and the family received letters from Dr. E. H. VanDensen about his progress, especially around 1876. Around 10 letters of a cousin Paul Ridgeway Cragin, of the 32nd Regiment, Wisconsin Infantry, are included.

Cyanea's and Emily's other correspondents from the 1870s to the 1930s include but are not limited to:

  • Friends, cousins, and other relatives, including the Stevenses in Vermont; Persis Moore of Niles, Michigan; "Augusta" of Allegan and Otsego, Michigan; Almira Marshall in Owasso, Michigan; Frederick Marshall of Saginaw, Michigan; "Lizzie" in Woburn, Boston, and Framingham; Elvira Elizabeth Ramsey in Greenfield, New Hampshire; "David" in Greenfield; Murray J. Hoppock of Fremont, Michigan; and many others
  • William H. Ramsey, Jr., a cousin, employed at the Ozaukee County Malting Company at Port Washington, Wisconsin, in the late 1880s; and as Secretary and Treasurer of the Wisconsin Chair Company in the 1890s
  • Grand Rapids attorneys More & Wilson and bankers Edward M. Deane and Company, following the death of their father in 1897
  • Gertrude P. Newton (Mrs. E. B. Newton) from Newton's Ranch, Colusa, Kansas, early 1900s
  • Cousins James and Sarah (Saidee) Baker, from Ancón, Canal Zone, Panama, 1921-1935

The Diaries series includes 98 daily diaries, 96 of which were kept by sisters Cyanea H. and Emily S. Ramsey between 1873 and 1935, while the two lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The remaining two diaries include Henry C. Ramsey's Civil War diary for the year 1864 and a partial 1921 diary kept by [Howard Stevens?] in a pre-printed 1894 pocket journal. Henry Ramsey's 1864 pocket diary includes entries covering the 16th Regiment Wisconsin Infantry's movements from Vicksburg to Tennessee, to Georgia, with accounts of Kennesaw Mountain and the battle of Atlanta. The diary also covers his experiences as part of Sherman's march to the sea.

The Documents series is made up of 210 legal and financial documents pertinent largely to land and property in New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Michigan, between 1786 and 1919 (bulk 1825-1911). Additional items include tax documents, stock-related items, and other materials.

The Financial and Business Papers includes 300 receipts, around 160 bank checks, and eight account books. The receipts date between 1831 and 1928, pertaining largely to John M. Ramsey's marble and stonecutting business. Additional receipts relate to personal property and tax payments. The 160 checks are drawn largely from Grand Rapids, Michigan, banks between December 1869 and October 1880. The account books include:

  • [John M. Ramsey?] Account Book, 1830-1836. Comprised largely of accounts related to farm labor (haying, plowing, tending stock, etc.) in Greenfield, New Hampshire.
  • John M. Ramsey Ledgers and Account Books, 1854-1886 (7 vols.). Consisting of the accounts of John M. Ramsey's marble and stonecutting businesses. One undated, illustrated manuscript book of monuments designed by N. Merritt for J. M. Ramsey, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is included with the account books.

The collection's School Papers and Writings (7 items) include John M. Ramsey's teacher's book, November 1830-February 1831; a fragment of mathematical rules by J. M. Ramsey; a chronological table by Emily Ramsey, 1851; a reward of merit for Mary Ramsey; two penmanship exercises; and a manuscript issue of The Literary Chip Basket (vol. 111, no. 11), Port Washington, 1861, with list of contributors including Fanny Oatman and Emily Ramsey.

The Photographs series includes one carte-de-visite of Henry C. Ramsey of the 16th Wisconsin Infantry; and one carte-de-visite and one cabinet card of unidentified individuals.

The Ephemera and Printed Items series is made up of invitations, Nashua Manufacturing Company employee regulations (August 31, 1837), advertisements for marble and other products, and torn pages from the History of Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, ed. Hurd, 1885.

The collection also contains items pertinent to Genealogy (6 items) and an Address Book, Fragments, and Envelopes.


Davis family (Grand Rapids and Pontiac, Mich.) papers, 1796-1891

0.3 linear feet


Letters from relatives in New York, New Jersey and Iowa discussing in part plans to migrate westward; letter, 1852, recounting missionary life in India; Civil War letters from Townsend M. Luce (Co. F., Third Michigan Infantry), Rufus Cheney (Co. D, 2nd Michigan Cavalry), Charles O. Reed (probably Co. A, 4th Michigan Cavalry), Philip Segur (Co. A, 7th Michigan Cavalry), and one tentatively identified as Albert H. Freeman (Battery B, 1st Michigan Light Artillery); and miscellanea.


Blake family papers, 1806-1984

1.8 linear feet — 2 oversize folders — 1 oversize volume — 902 MB (online)


Correspondence and other papers of Alde L. T. Blake, including exchanges with Jane Addams, Ben Lindsey, Governor Woodbridge N. Ferris, and Anna Howard Shaw, and other materials documenting Alde Blake's suffragist activities. Scrapbooks of William F. Blake largely concerning family history and business interests, and his correspondence; a volume containing copies of private and unofficial letters written by William Blake to various persons during his tenure as U.S. Consular Agent. A volume with copies of letters sent by Robert Blake in his capacity as U.S. Consular Agent serving in Canada, including detailed commercial report about London, Ontario in 1873. Freeman N. Blake's Law School notebook. Also, included a genealogical tree of Kutsche family. Correspondence, notebooks, wills, certificates, and other materials relating to other Blake, Kutsche, and Tuck family members. Visual materials include two photo albums, as well as numerous photographs (some oversize), daguerreotypes, and one tintype. Photographs include photos of Anna Howard Shaw, Jeanette Rankin, and others following a lecture by Dr. Shaw; also group photos, possibly of woman suffrage groups.


Norris Family Papers, 1815-1960

3 linear feet — 1 oversize folder

Norris family of Ypsilanti and Grand Rapids, Michigan. Papers of Mark Norris, Ypsilanti businessman and postmaster; papers of his wife, Roccena Vaill Norris, local teacher and woman's rights advocate; papers of their son, Lyman, attorney and regent of the University of Michigan, 1883-1884; papers of Lyman's son, Mark Norris, Grand Rapids attorney and Grand Master of the Knights Templar in the United States; papers of Lyman's daughter Maria Norris, Grand Rapids physician; papers of Mark's son, Abbott Norris; and related papers of other family members, notably the Whittelsey family of Connecticut.

The Norris family papers consists of three linear feet of correspondence, business papers, and scrapbooks. The bulk of the papers are letters among various family members which contain a wealth of information about 19th century daily life, social conditions, business affairs, and local and state politics. This collection is especially useful in researching: women's history; Norris family and kinship interrelationships; early area settlement and local history; university student life at the University of Michigan and elsewhere; 19th century economic conditions and political issues; and 20th century Freemasonry.


Abel Bingham Family Papers, 1817-1910 (majority within 1828-1866)

2 linear feet

Missionary family to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan; correspondence, sermons of Abel Bingham, diaries of Hannah Bingham reflecting her daily activities and religious convictions.

The collection documents the lives of a missionary family to the Ojibwa Indians of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The papers have been arranged into the following series: Correspondence; Abel Bingham ministerial papers; Miscellaneous; and Bound Account Books and Diaries. The collection is of value for the family correspondence, for the sermons of Abel Bingham, and for the diaries of Hannah Bingham reflecting her daily activities and religious convictions (1817-1868). There are also papers concerning Fountain Street Baptist Church in Grand Rapids in the 1850s.


Graves family papers, 1833-1874

1 linear foot

Grand Rapids, Michigan, family. Letters of Albert and Martha Calhoun Graves, including letters written during Civil War while Graves was a member of Co. B, First Michigan Engineers and Mechanics; also family letter reflecting daily life.

The Graves family collection consists of letters of Albert and Martha Graves written during his Civil War service. There are also other family letters, genealogical information, and various other financial and legal family documents.


Field Family papers, 1836-1940

2 linear feet

Residents of Englishville and Grand Rapids, Michigan; family papers.

The collection is comprise of two series: Correspondence and Other family papers. Included is business and family correspondence of Abby Field, a worker with the Church of Christ of Englishville and Grand Rapids, Michigan. There is also correspondence of Myron and Susan Field Buck, Sylvester Field and Flora Bennett. Beyond correspondence, the collection includes a scattering of newspaper clippings, legal papers, diaries, and other materials relating to personal affairs, farm life and the Civil War.


Calvin Thomas Papers, 1838-1940 (majority within 1872-1919)

3 linear feet — 1 oversize folder

Professor of German at the University of Michigan and Columbia; mostly correspondence of Thomas with his family, professional colleagues, publisher, etc.; also some correspondence of his wife after his death; speeches, lecture notes, biographical sketches; papers include material on language studies at Michigan and Columbia, attitudes of academia toward Germans in World War I, accounts of European travels in 1877, 1896, and 1900; Civil War letter of Steven Thomas, Calvin's father.

The collection has been arranged into the following series: Biographical/personal material; Correspondence; Lectures and addresses; Journals/diary; Scrapbooks; Other family members papers; and Publications.


Sligh Family Papers, 1842-2012

36 linear feet (in 41 boxes) — 31 oversize volumes — 1 oversize folder

Grand Rapids, Michigan family, involved in furniture making and other businesses, also active in local state and Republican Party politics and businessmen's associations. Papers include family papers and correspondence, business records, scrapbooks and visual materials.

The Sligh family collection consists of the personal and business papers of the four generations of Slighs mentioned in the biographical introduction: James W. Sligh, Charles R. Sligh, Charles R. Sligh, Jr., and Robert L. Sligh. Although there is some overlap, the files have been arranged into seven series, one for each of these three Slighs, one for the Sligh Furniture Company and related family businesses, and one each for Newspaper clippings and Scrapbooks, and Visual Materials.