Clarke Historical Library
Central Michigan University

Finding aid for
Sylvester Sibley Family papers

Finding aid created by
KYle Garver, Marian Matyn

Summary Information
Title: Sylvester Sibley Family papers
Creator: Sibley, Sylvester.
Inclusive dates: 1803-1877, and undated
Extent: .25 cubic ft. (in 1 box)
The collection contains biographical materials, correspondence, field notes, legal documents, receipts of the Sylvester Sibley family, along with a Speech of Hon. H.H. Sibley on the Territories and Our Indian Relations.

Call number: MSS.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University
250 East Preston Street
Mount Pleasant, MI 48859
Phone: 989-774-3352
Fax: 989-774-2160

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

Acc# 2240

Access Restrictions:

Sylvester Sibley Family papers are open for research.


Copyright is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Sylvester Sibley Family papers, Folder # , Box #, Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University


The collection is organized alphabetically.



Sylvester Sibley was born on October 22, 1801 at Sutton (Worcester County, Massachusetts), the son of Captain Nathaniel Sibley (1776-1859) and Lavina Chase Sibley (1781-1818). After Lavina died, Nathaniel married Miranda Chase (1789- ) on June 20, 1820. Sylvester had the following siblings: Sally (1804- ), who married Capt. Joseph L. Freeman; Caleb Chase (1806-1875), who married Nancy Davenport; Nehemiah Chase (1811-1844), who married Caroline Putnam; Reuben (1813-1846), who married Martha A. Russell; Vashti Marie (1815- ), who married Daniel G. Fenton; Mary (1816-); and Capt C. C. Sibley.

Lewis Cass recommended Sylvester for appointment as a U.S. Deputy Surveyor on Aug. 25, 1822. Sylvester was also later recommended for another survey by his uncle, Solomon Sibley, on September 20, 1834. Sylvester joined the Lucius Lyon survey crew of 1823. Sylvester surveyed in Michigan through 1840 with various crews. He also surveyed in Wisconsin territory between 1832 and 1835. Sylvester owned property in both Michigan and Wisconsin by 1844.

When he finished surveying in Michigan, Sylvester returned to Sutton, Massachusetts. He was appointed as a justice of the peace in Sutton on March 15, 1854. He died, a bachelor, on August 20, 1865. (This information is from the collection and Surveyors of the public lands in Michigan 1808-2000.)

Solomon Sibley:

Sylvester’s uncle, Solomon Sibley (1769-1846) served as Michigan Auditor of Public Accounts, 1814-1817; Territorial Delegate to Congress, 1820-1823; and Justice of the Supreme Court, 1824-1837. One of his sons was Henry Hastings Sibley (1811-1891) who was a Civil War general and the first Governor of Minnesota. (This information is from Michigan biographies, v. II.)

Caleb Chase Sibley:

Caleb Chase Sibley (1806-1875, married Nancy Davenport (died 1871) and is likely the above noted Captain C. C. Sibley. Caleb was ordered from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia, in 1866, probably as part of the federal government bureaucracy during Reconstruction. They stayed in the South until 1869, when they moved to Chicago, Illinois. His children included: Sarah (died 1868), who lived in Minnesota, married Dr. Smith and had a (step-?) daughter, Marion; Fred, who attended West Point, 1871-1873; and Mary, who married Captain Chambers McKibbon of the 15th Infantry on November 3, 1869 and moved to New Mexico. Caleb regularly mentioned other family members in his correspondence to his step-mother, include Henry, Frank and Sylvester (not the surveyor). (This information is from the collection. For further information on these Sibleys, see the Biographical Materials folder in this collection.)

Collection Scope and Content Note

The collection documents Sylvester Sibley’s life in the personal and surveying correspondence, legal documents, and various surveying materials. Additional Michigan and Massachusetts Sibley relatives are documented in the Biographical Materials, Personal Correspondence, Legal Documents, Receipts, and Speech folders. A cataloged copy of the speech of Henry H. Sibley is available in the Clarke. Several books on Henry H. Sibley are separately cataloged in the Clarke and Park libraries.

Subject Terms

    • Sibley, Sylvester.
    • Sibley, Solomon, 1769-1846.
    • Sibley, Henry Hastings, 1811-1891.
    • Sibley family.
    • Surveyors--Michigan--Biography.
    • Indians of North America--Government relations.
    • Genealogy--Michigan.
    • Genealogy--Massachusetts--Sutton.
    • Northwest, Old.
    • Sutton (Mass.)--Genealogy.
    • Sutton (Mass.)--History.
    • Savannah (Ga.)--Description and travel.
    • Michigan--History--19th century.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Sylvester Sibley Family papers. [series]:
    Box   1 F   1
    Biographical Materials (copies, mostly), undated
    Box   1 F   2
    Correspondence, Personal, March 11, 1847-March 21, 1877
    Box   1 F   3
    Correspondence to / from Surveyor General (includes instructions and appointment letter), 1832-1840, undated
    Box   1 F   4
    Field Note Books (4 volumes), undated
    Box   1 F   5
    Legal Documents, 1810-1864
    Box   1 F   6
    Miscellaneous, 1842, 1872, undated
    Box   1 F   7
    Receipts, 1803- 1871, undated
    Box   1 F   8
    Speech of Hon H. H. Sibley on the Territories and Our Indian Relations, 1850
    Box   1 F   9
    Survey Notes and Maps, 1834, undated