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    Edwin R. Adams. An Archive of Letters and Papers Relating to the Family of Edwin R. Adams of New York, 1818-1912. An extensive archive of approximately 307 letters from family and friends (most ALS in ink), including 205 letters to and from Edwin R. Adams, and approximately 42 letters between Adams and his future wife Harriet (Hattie) Ruth Crandall; various sizes; dating from 1818-1912; along with 210 canceled postal covers (23 with stamps removed), with more than 10 patriotic; plus several documents relating to the career of Edwin R. Adams.

    Edwin R. Adams (1841-1926) was born in Dexter, New York, the son of Henry Adams (1806-1895) and Emily Dickinson Ackerman (1811-1908) of Pillar Point, New York, a ninth generation descendant of the Henry Adams Family of Braintree, Massachusetts, which included U. S. presidents John Adams and President John Quincy Adams. He married Hattie Crandall (1843-1913) of Watertown, New York, in 1866, and together they had three children. Adams was appointed a second lieutenant in the 36th Regiment, 16th Brigade, and 4th Division of the National Guard of the State of New York on April 6, 1865, effective from February 16, 1865. After the war, Adams pursued a career as a farmer, and he later served as overseer of highways in Brownville, Jefferson County, New York. His sister Jane Adams (1839-1921) married Alfred Ackerman (d.1913), and together they built the first hotel in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, in the late 1870s, under the name Twin Lake Summer Resort.

    The earliest documents in the archive relate to Edwin R. Adams's mother, Emily Dickinson Ackerman before she was married, including an 1818 ALS from a John Fitch to a Sophia Dickinson, dated September 24, 1818, concerning the death of Emily's mother; an August 17, 1828 ALS from a S. Woodward to Emily; and an undated poem by Emily. Many of Edwin's letters date from the 1860s when he was courting Hattie Crandall and was corresponding with several of his friends who were serving in the Union army. By the summer of 1862, Edwin was considering enlistment. Jane, one of his older sisters, discouraged him in an August 15 letter from enlisting, however. "Now Edd is your Country's call so much greater than the necessity at home [?]. Have you well considered leaving our parents without a child to care for them [?]. You said to me we should not always have a Mother to visit and I think so too, and while you have one that claims your presence as much as our Father and Mother... think it your duty to stay with them." Months later Edwin and his family received an October 5, 1862 letter from his half-brother, Byron Ackerman, concerning his own enlistment in Iowa. "I am well but in a far different situation than when you heard from me last. Then I was enjoying my self first rate with my wife and child, at home, now with a company of good men from our town swerving uncle Sam [,] a voluntary act of my own that is I thought then and do yet that our Country needed every man that could come to its assistance to do so." His half-brother's letter, as well as the many he received from his brother Henry and his friends serving in the Union Army, must have made it hard for Adams to remain at home. On the other hand, a letter Adams received from another friend, dated February 25, 1863, from Fort Stanton, outside of Washington, D.C., presents a less-than-enthusiastic description of a soldier's life. "We have pretty good times considering every thing, or plenty to eat and clothes to throw away. The only fault we have to find is in regard to the manner in which the war is carried on. I don't know as you people at home can be made to understand it, but if there are any there who doubt my word, I wish you could induce them to try it by coming down here as soldiers. I tell you what it is Ed, this state of affairs has made fearful havoc with our patriotism. We used to sing patriotic songs, and hurrah for the land of the free & home of the brave. Now, as for the free, that is all a d__l hears, and the bravery is gold emphatically. The soldier as viewed from Jeff. Co or any other co. from which they may have come, is a person that commands respect in a considerable degree. Viewed from here, he is supposed to handle a musket, smoke a pipe, and have just enough of a sense of neatness to [scorn?] Brass and black his boots. Aside from that he is a machine by which a few leaching officers and their respective panty politicians coin money."

    The letters in the collection to Adams from family members and friends serving in the Union army primarily discuss the correspondent's health, his views on being a soldier, and details concerning camp life. One correspondent, Cyrus Ingerson, wrote from a fort outside of Washington, D.C., on October 17, 1862, in which he gave his impression of the nation's capital. "I was disappointed in Washington. It is not near as pleasant or nice a place as I expected, the Capitol is a splendid building, it is not done yet, and it is surrounded by workmen and large stones of Marble...the Smithsonian Institute is a nice building, surrounded by a beautiful Park, the museum in it is equal to Barnum's at New York. There are some splendid buildings here but the City in general is nothing extra and, I should judge, a little below par."

    Most of the letters in this collection are devoted primarily to family and local news. Two letters from Hattie to Edwin refer to major war-related events in 1865. In a letter dated April 23, 1865, Hattie laments the tragic death of President Lincoln: "the just God takes those who can be least spared and so at this final hour he permitted the hand of the assassin to strike down our President when he was so much needed and leave the country to mourn and well might the confederacy dress in mourning for they have lost their best friend, as well as the North." In a June 18, 1865 letter to Adams, Hattie expressed joy at the capture of John Wilkes Booth in April and of Jefferson Davis in May. "I suppose the boys in the army will be coming home before many days at least they are looking for them around here. We can not complain of the good news in relation to the capture of 'Jeff,' it seems as if his capture and that of Booth and others would partially cancel the Death of our President." Of the post-war letters in the collection, most are to Adams and his wife from various family members, the content primarily about family matters.

    In addition to correspondence, the archive contains several documents relating to Edwin R. Adams, including: 1) Mortgage indenture, four-pages partially printed document, 8" x 12.5", Jefferson County, New York; April 15, 1870, between Edwin R. Adams and Harriett R. Adams and Paul Amans, in which the latter purchased property for the sum of $1,557. The indenture, signed by Edwin and Harriett Adams, was docketed on April 19, 1870. 2) Road Warrant to Edwin R. Adams, four-page partially printed document, 8" x 13", Jefferson County, New York; March 25, 1903, signed by W. J. Reeves, Commissioner of Highways, in which Adams is to be paid for three and one half days worked. 3) Adams's commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the 36th Regiment on the National Guard of the State of New York, 16" x 11.5", partially printed vellum document; April 6, 1865, signed by Rueben Fenton, Governor of New York.

    Condition: The letters and documents have the usual folds; a handful of letters have faded ink; and the early 19th century letters relating to the Dickinson family are fragile. Otherwise, the contents of the archive are generally in good condition.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2018
    18th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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