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Allan M. Williams Papers, 1930-1979

6 linear feet

Engineer-manager of the Ionia County (Mich.) Road Commission. Speeches, articles, correspondence, press releases, newspaper clippings, photographs, and miscellanea relating to his work as county engineer; also contains material concerning the Ionia County Free Fair and the American Road Builders' Association.

The Allan M. Williams Collection includes much material dealing with Williams' professional interests and concerns. There are papers relating to the American Road Builders' Association and Michigan organizations, including articles and speeches written by Williams. In addition, there are materials relating to his unsuccessful primary campaigns for State Road Commissioner in 1941 and 1943 and for State Senator in 1962. Finally, materials relating to the Ionia County Free Fair are quite rich, including correspondence, financial information, and publicity dealing with far range planning and the day-to-day operations of the Ionia County Free Fair and its governing board.

The collections has been arranged into the following series: Biographical/Personal; Ionia County Free Fair; Speeches and writings; American Road Builders' Association; Other Organizations; Projects and related; Political file; Community projects; Photographs.


Bela Hubbard papers, 1837-1893

0.75 linear feet (in 2 boxes) — 1 oversize folder

Pioneer Michigan geologist, assistant to state geologist Douglass Houghton on the Michigan Geological Survey, 1837-1842, completed portions of U.S. Land Survey of the Upper Peninsula begun by Douglass Houghton, 1845-1846. Later active in family's land business and lumber trade. Papers consist of notebooks containing field notes, sketches and maps; private journals covering Michigan geological expeditions and other trips, including the peninsula coast survey, Lake Superior and Upper Peninsula surveys and surveys of Wayne, Monroe and other counties; also weather memoranda, 1835-1864; miscellaneous accounts; and other papers largely relating to geology.

The collection consists primarily of Hubbard's pocket-size field notebooks. The notebooks are arranged, for the most part, chronologically for the period 1837 to 1893. Several notebooks that do not fit the chronological sequence are placed at the end of the series of notebooks. The notebooks for the years 1837 to 1840 have been bound, probably by Hubbard, into larger volumes. For convenience the later notebooks have been grouped into "volumes" by the library. Each "volume" is in a separate case. The notebooks contain personal journals, geological notes, and meteorological registers, along with sketches of landforms, scenery, and people, geological sections, and maps.

A few loose papers are found at the end of the collection.

The most extensive notebooks are those written between 1837 and 1840, when Hubbard was working for the Michigan Geological Survey, and in 1845 and 1846, when he was conducting the combined land and geological survey of the Upper Peninsula. In addition to the main sequence of notebooks for those years (volumes 1-8 and 10-12), that period is represented by separate meteorological registers (volumes 18 and 22), separate geological field notes for the 1840 expedition to the Lake Superior region (volume 21), and three reports on Hubbard's 1846 surveys (volumes 23-24 and loose papers).

This finding aid contains two appendixes. The first, compiled by the initial cataloger of the collection in 1958, specifies where many of the topics indexed in the card catalog for this collection can be found in the series of notebooks. The second contains an inventory of the maps found in the collection.

Several portions of the collection have been published.

The notebooks for May 23-August 8, 1840 (volumes 7-9 and parts of 21) have been published as Lake Superior Journal: Bela Hubbard's Account of the 1840 Houghton Expedition}, edited by Bernard C. Peters. Marquette, Mich.: Northern Michigan University Press, 1983. [MHC call number EA/91/H875/L192]

The "Catalogue of the Geological Specimens, Hubbard & Ives Survey, 1846" (volume 23), the "Report on the Geology &c. of District Surveyed by Messrs. Higgins & Hubbard, 1846, Lake Superior, with Catalogue of Minerals, Sections, etc." (volume 24), and the "Report upon the Geology & Topography of the District on L. Superior Subdivided in 1846 by Hubbard & Ives" (loose material) have been published in Report on the Geological and Mineralogical Survey of the Mineral Lands of the United States in the State of Michigan .., by Charles T. Jackson. Washington, D.C.: Printed for the House of Representatives, 1849. (31st Congress, 1st Session, House Executive Document 5, Part 3) [MHC call number EA/153/U58/M583]

The reports of Hubbard's surveys for the Michigan Geological Survey, based on his notes have been published in Geological Reports of Douglass Houghton: First State Geologist of Michigan, 1837-1845. Lansing, Mich.: Michigan Historical Commission, 1928. [MHC call number EA/153/MG345/G345]

Hubbard's autobiography has been published as Memorials of a Half-Century. New York: Putnam's, 1887. [MHC call number EA/60/H875/M533]

Other Bela Hubbard papers are found at the Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library.


Clark-McCreary papers, 1815-1936 (majority within 1846-1919)

4 linear feet

The majority of this collection consists of correspondence related to the families of David B. McCreary and his daughter, Sophia McCreary Clark ("Sophy"), both of Erie, Pennsylvania. David and his wife, Annette, corresponded with family and acquaintances throughout the mid- to late 19th century, including the Civil War era and the Spanish-American War era. The letters of Sophy, her husband Henry, and their daughter Annette span the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

This collection (4 linear feet) consists primarily of correspondence related to the family of David B. McCreary of Erie, Pennsylvania. The earliest item is a letter signed and attested by various military officials declaring Henry Clark of Private Taylor's company unfit for military duty (June 2, 1815-July 8, 1815). The bulk of the collection begins in 1846, with most early material consisting of personal correspondence addressed to (and between) David B. McCreary and Annette Gunnison of Erie, Pennsylvania. Many of these letters contain personal and family news and document the social history of antebellum Erie, as well as David's time at Washington College and in Kentucky. Between 1858 and 1860, much of the correspondence is addressed to Chauncy G. Clark of Harbor Creek, Pennsylvania, including several letters from Homer J. Smith of Palo, Michigan, and his wife, who provided news of their family.

Throughout the Civil War, much of the correspondence relates to the 145th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, such as letters that David B. McCreary received from soldiers' wives and other family members regarding their loved ones in the regiment. He and his wife Annette also received personal letters that occasionally mentioned aspects of the war. Two letters from Jonas Gunnison concern names of drafted men (October 19, 1862) and the presumed death of "Charley," a soldier who had gone missing (December 20, 1862). David McCreary also wrote to his daughter Sophy during the war. David and Annette McCreary continued to correspond between themselves and with others after the war. They wrote several letters to their son Wirt during his time at the United States Naval Academy and received one letter from Wirt about his service on the USS Dorothea in 1898, just before an anticipated assignment in Cuba.

Much of the post-Civil War correspondence concerns Sophy McCreary, Henry A. Clark, and their children. In the mid-1870s, Sophy wrote a lengthy series of letters to Harry Beatty of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, that continued sporadically into the early years of her marriage. During this period, Henry A. Clark was beginning his legal career in Fall River, Massachusetts, and received many letters from "Fred," an acquaintance from Harvard. The collection also has business correspondence dated after Clark's return to Pennsylvania, which concerns his work with the Edison Electric Light Company and other firms, as well as his various judicial and political offices. Incoming letters to Annette McCreary Clark, the daughter of Sophy McCreary and Henry A. Clark, are also present, as are letters from the younger Henry Clark to Sophy McCreary Clark, his mother. In addition to newspaper clippings, advertisements, memorial service programs, and other ephemera enclosed in letters, the collection has a series of personal and commercial postcards.


George W. Pray Papers, 1844-1890

1.5 linear feet — 1 oversize volume — 1 microfilm — 6,307 digital images

Physician; member of the first graduating class of the University of Michigan in 1845; papers include journals, correspondence, physician's records.

The Pray collection includes journals, 1844-1849, covering his years as a student at the University of Michigan and in the Medical Department of Western Reserve College, Cleveland, Ohio. In addition, there is correspondence exchanged with his wife, Adele, primarily during the year 1879 when they were separated due to his service in the Michigan House. Other materials of interest include various personal and business account books and record books from his medical practice.


Henry G. Cooley papers, 1862-1870

1 volume — 1 folder


A diary (Jan. 1, 1862-Apr. 30, 1863) kept while he was serving in Company D, 9th Michigan Infantry as corporal and sergeant (1861-1864), mostly in Tennessee. The brief entries tell of guard and picket duty and other daily activities in camp and on the march, of an occasional skirmish with the enemy, the weather, and church attendance. He also describes the battlefield of Stones River. Also includes miscellaneous papers relating to his military service and an address to the Grange, ca. 1870.


Hubbard H. Barrett letters, June and Aug. 1862

2 items


This collection contains two letters. The June 6, 1862 letter speaks of battles, but his regiment was held in reserve and not involved in action. The August 6, 1862, letter thanks his mother for a package received, tells her of being on the march for three weeks, and that he is sending money home.


Michigan Historical Records Survey records, 1936-1942

47 linear feet — 68 microfilms

Reports and administrative records of WPA project to survey historical records in Michigan; includes correspondence, drafts of guides to county archives, proceedings of county boards of supervisors, field reports of workers, and copies of land patents for some counties; also material relating to the history of Blacks in Michigan.

The Historical Records Survey record group documents the activities and the product of the legions of depression era workers who inventoried the records held in county courthouses, municipal offices some private repositories. The records include correspondence, drafts of guides to county archives, proceedings of county boards of supervisors, field reports of workers, and copies of land patents for some counties; also material relating to the history of Blacks in Michigan.

Originally the H.R.S. records transferred to the Michigan Historical Collections measured about 121 linear feet. After processing, the collection consisted of 26 feet of records relating to the H.R.S. and 65 feet of transcripts of county and municipal records. Of the remaining 30 feet, 29.5 feet of duplicate, extraneous, or insignificant materials were discarded (described in more detail further on) and approximately half of a linear foot of printed material was transferred to the library's printed collection.

The H.R.S. material has been divided into the following series:

  1. Survey of County Records
  2. Survey of Municipal Records
  3. Survey of Federal Records
  4. Survey of State Records
  5. WPA Project Files
  6. Manuscripts Survey
  7. Inventory of Negro Manuscripts
  8. Transcripts of County Records
  9. Transcripts of Municipal Records
  10. Photographs
  11. Historical Records Survey Correspondence
  12. Survey Forms of 1987 Survey of Records in Counties and Municipalities.

Murray D. Van Wagoner Papers, 1921-1949

4 linear feet — 2 oversize volumes — 10 film reels

Construction engineer and Michigan Democratic politician; served terms as Oakland County Drain Commissioner, Michigan State Highway Commissioner, and as Governor, 1941-1942; include correspondence, scrapbooks, appointment books, and assorted miscellanea.

The series in the Van Wagoner collection are Correspondence (1933-1945); Newspaper clippings/Scrapbooks (1930-1933 and 1940-1949); Miscellaneous/Political; and Visual Materials. The collection is largely an accumulation of personal materials from his career as a public service. There is very little of these papers that might be classified as administrative or office files from his years as highway commissioner or his term as governor.


Tower Family papers, 1841-1937

2 linear feet

Business and commercial family of Ionia, Michigan; correspondence and financial records of Angelo E. Tower and Osmond S. Tower; correspondence and business records of Louis S. Lovell, W.B. Heath, and George Webber, Ionia, Michigan, businessmen.

The collection was accumulated and donated by Ada Health Owsley, the daughter of W.B. Heath, who had himself married into the Tower family. Most of the collection relates to the business dealings of Tower family members. The most important exception is a portion of the correspondence dealing with the Civil War service of Angelo Tower, a captain with Company E, Sixth Michigan Cavalry. These papers include both letters to his family and other documents relating to his military responsibilities. The collection, both correspondence and financial records, documents the development and commercial growth of Ionia, Michigan, and includes various records of Louis S. Lovell, bank cashier W.B. Heath, and George W. Webber, president of the Second National Bank of Ionia. The fact that there are some papers of George W. Webber, a banking competitor to the Towers is curious. Perhaps a possible merger of the two Ionia banks led to the storage of retired records in a common area. Regardless, the banking records of Tower and Webber offer some insight into the commercial development of Ionia.