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Charles S. May papers, 1849-1904

0.25 linear feet

This collection is made up of correspondence, legal documents, and other items related to Michigan lawyer and politician Charles S. May, including letters between May and George Willard. The materials pertain to politics, family history, and May's legal career.

This collection (59 items) is made up of correspondence, legal documents, and other items related to Michigan lawyer and politician Charles S. May.

The Correspondence series (47 items) largely consists of incoming and outgoing letters related to Charles S. May, including correspondence between May and George Willard of Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, Michigan. Writing to Willard in 1855 and 1856, May discussed his work for the Detroit Tribune and politics; Willard also discussed political issues, such as the presidential election of 1856. Two items pertain to May's service with the 2nd Michigan Infantry Regiment in 1861: a letter that May wrote to his wife about his experiences just before the First Battle of Bull Run, including a description of being attacked by enemy fire (July 20, 1861), and a doctor's letter to Captain Dwight May about Charles's affliction with "nervous exhaustion" and other ailments that together rendered him unfit for duty (September 12, 1861).

After the war, Charles S. May wrote to George Willard about his legal career in Kalamazoo, state politics, and his failed political ambitions. He received two letters from United States Representatives William L. Stoughton (April 25, 1870) and Allen Potter (December 15, 1876); Potter discussed the disputed presidential election of 1876. Samuel May of Leicester, Massachusetts, wrote 10 letters to May from 1874-1883, requesting information about May family history and sharing his admiration for Charles's speaking talents. A group of items from the 1890s and early 1900s includes a letter that Charles May received from the Grand Army of the Republic soliciting donations for an exhibition (February 12, 1892).

Legal Documents (8 items) include two sets of undated notes about legal cases, court documents regarding Charles S. May's legal career, a certificate of copyright for May's Wat Tyler: An Historical Tragedy in Five Acts (February 24, 1879), and Civil War pension documents for Eliza E. May (October 12, 1901) and George W. Clark (January 19, 1904).

The Speeches and Printed Items series (4 items) contains undated notes from a lecture about Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton and a printed edition of a speech that Charles S. May delivered during the dedication ceremonies for a library in Leicester, Massachusetts, on July 8, 1896. Several testimonials regarding May's orations are enclosed with the speech notes. The series also includes a group of testimonials and advertisements concerning Charles S. May's speaking engagements and a small broadside advertisement for May's lecture about Patrick Henry, delivered in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on February 3, 1876.


Henry M. Wheeler Photoprint Collection, ca. 1889-1915

approximately 719 photographs in 3 volumes and 3 boxes

The Henry M. Wheeler photoprint collection consists of approximately 719 images of colonial architecture and historical locations in Massachusetts from ca. 1889 to 1915.

The Henry M. Wheeler photoprint collection consists of approximately 719 images of colonial architecture and historical locations in Massachusetts from ca. 1889 to 1915. The collection is mainly composed of 10 x 15 cm silver platinum, platinotype, and gelatin silver prints as well as 15 x 20.5 cm cyanotypes. A couple of manuscript notes are also present. Much of the focus is on eastern Massachusetts, centering on Wheeler’s hometown of Worcester. Photographs show residential architecture from the 17th century, unidentified colonial homes, and contemporary architecture from Wheeler's day and age. Many of the historical structures documented here were in danger of vanishing during Wheeler's lifetime, and many have long since been destroyed. Other photographs show natural landscapes, noteworthy trees, country roads, parks, public and educational buildings, farms, monuments, bridges, milestones, and gravestones as well as images of famous paintings, engravings, and lithographs. Also included are a small number of images related to Washington, D.C., Maine, and New Hampshire. Wheeler likely took the vast majority of these photographs, though there are several instances where he credited the original sources of certain images. The collection materials were removed from the original album volumes they were stored in and have been rehoused in three 3-ring binder albums and three flat boxes. Most photographs also have original reference numbers that were used by Wheeler to organize the collection.

In addition to this finding aid, the Clements Library has created the Henry M. Wheeler Photoprint Collection Inventory. This inventory lists items according to volume/box location and includes references to specific page/mat numbers, image descriptions (most of which are derived from captions originally inscribed by Wheeler on photograph versos), and photographic formats.


James Patten papers, 1788-1799

16 items

The James Patten papers contain letters and documents detailing his capture and captivity by Delaware Indians in Ohio, the funds raised by the family to purchase his ransom, his eventual release, and his life on the Ohio frontier.

The James Patten papers (16 items) contain letters and documents regarding Patten's capture and captivity by Delaware Indians in Ohio, the family's efforts to raise funds to purchase his ransom, his eventual release, and his life on the Ohio frontier (1789-1799). The collection is comprised of 12 letters (1788-1799), 3 receipts (1791), and a subscription list (1791). Also present is a photocopied excerpt from The Choates in America, 1643-1896, by E. O. Jameson, which describes the capture of Patton and Isaac and Francis Choate by the Delaware Indians (pages 125-128).

The earliest item in the collection is a letter of recommendation for David Patten (1761-1836) by the Selectman of Bedford, New Hampshire, and endorsed by Justices of the Peace from Hillsborough and Middlesex Counties (May 1, 1788). It asks "all Civil Officers and others let him pass and repass unmolested." David may well have planned to go to Ohio with his brother James, but changed his mind. Matthew and Elizabeth Patten wrote the next two letters in the collection to James Patterson, who accompanied their son to Ohio (June 13, 1789 and December 1, 1790). They discussed local news like the new style of singing hymns in the meeting house, family news, and news on crop yields. James Patten wrote all his 7 letters after his captivity; these contain details about his time with the Indians and how he was freed (November 1, 1796 -- April 21, 1799). Though many of his comments on the experience are brief, his letter to friend Samuel Patterson provides a day-by-day account of the nearly month-long trek he made across what is now the state of Ohio, from Big Bottom, where he was captured, to "The Grand Auglaize" in the heart of the Northwest Indian Confederacy (Sept. 10, 1797). He described his abduction, daily travel, and forced run through the gauntlet before he was accepted into the village: "I was welcomed into ther town one with his Club[,] a nother with his foot [,] another with his hand [,] another with a tomyhak."

The collection provides considerable information on ransoming a prisoner during the Northwest Indian War. Lacking sufficient funds, James' father Matthew Patten wrote a subscription appeal to friends and neighbors and received 37 signatures (July 4, 1791). The three receipts follow the trail of the 93 dollars collected to ransom James, as it was carried to Montreal by Isaac Choate, Jr.

The papers also document improvements in transportation both in New Englandas well as in the Ohio territory. In his letter of Aug. 18, 1796, David Patten informed his brother James that they had had a bumper hay crop, but had to pay very high wages to harvest it because of the demand for local labor "which is caused by building bridges and digging canals." He also listed the locations along the Merrimack River where bridges were being built: Concord, Amoskeag, Pentucket, Bodwell's Falls, Haverhill, Sweat's Ferry, and Newbury. In letters to his brother David, James Patten described, in detail, new roads, canals, and bridges built in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and mentioned horse powered boats being used on rivers in Ohio (November 23, 1797).

On the back of the September 10, 1797, letter from James Patten to Samuel Patterson is a copy of a poem called O True Times, commemorating American independence.


Southgate family papers, 1755-1875

0.5 linear feet

The Southgate family papers contain correspondence, documents, journals, writings, and drawings related to the Southgate family of Massachusetts and the Bigelow family of Michigan City, Indiana.

The Southgate family papers contain a total of 157 items: 107 letters, 30 documents and financial records, 16 writings and compositions, 2 printed items, a journal, and a journal fragment. The materials span 1755 to 1875 and represent several generations of the Southgate family of Massachusetts, Vermont, and Indiana.

The Correspondence series contains the incoming and outgoing correspondence of various members of the Southgate family. The earliest letters in the collection are primarily incoming to Steward Southgate and concern such topics as family news, local marriages, finances, and travel around Massachusetts. After Steward's death in 1765, the focus of the collection shifts to the next generation, particularly siblings John Southgate, Robert Southgate, and Sarah (Southgate) Dickinson. Letters frequently pertain to health issues, including the inoculation of Sarah's children (May 21, 1768), a wrist injury that Sarah received while knitting (March 27, 1775), and the deaths from scarlet fever of five children of Steward Southgate, Jr. (September 9, 1795). A few letters refer briefly to politics and the hardships of life in rural New England.

After the turn of the century, correspondence between the siblings becomes much scarcer, and focus shifts to the next generation of cousins and siblings, including Asenath Dickinson, Eliza Southgate, and Harriet Southgate. Letters between the young women tend to be very sentimental and affectionate, and reflect frequently on the themes of female friendship and religion. On April 5, 1816, Asenath Dickinson wrote to Eliza from Hadley, Massachusetts, "you have undoubtedly heard of the awakening in this place that God is shewing mercy to siners [sic] of all ages," and went on to describe daily meetings of believers. She noted that on Friday, "the young Converts speak and Pray." Letters postdating the 1821 birth of Eliza's son, George F. Bigelow, frequently refer to his poor health during childhood. Near the end of the series, letters describe Eliza's activities and social visits in Michigan City, Indiana, where she resided from about 1835 until her death in 1839, as well as George's college experiences in at Harvard University. A few scattered late letters are incoming to George Bigelow and shed light on his medical practice and real estate interests in Valparaiso, Indiana.

The Journals series contains a journal and a journal fragment, dated June 1826 and April 20, 1850, respectively. Though the earlier journal is unsigned, its author appears to be Eliza Southgate Bigelow; it contains a description of a party, musings on philosophical and religious subjects, and references to sermons that Eliza heard. George Bigelow wrote the journal fragment concerning an unspecified event, which he referred to as "tak[ing] a tower."

The Documents and Financial Records series includes receipts and accounts, land indentures, land descriptions, and a drawing of a 100-acre plot. Taken together, the materials span 1756-1836. The documents relate primarily to transactions involving members of the Southgate family in Massachusetts and provide details of their material and financial circumstances.

The Writings series contains many compositions by George F. Bigelow, including school essays on the topics of cheerfulness; the growth of Michigan City, Indiana; contentment; suffering; debt and credit; and the traits of good and bad scholars. Also present are a play by Bigelow entitled "The Minister at Home," several unattributed poems, and an essay on Steward Southgate, Sr., by a descendant.

The Drawings series contains 11 pen and ink and pencil drawings of decorative patterns, many of which depict leaves and flowers.

The Printed Items series contains a newspaper clipping concerning probate courts in Connecticut and a stamp related to the American Merchants Union Express company.