William G. Putney papers  ca. 1896
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Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection contains correspondence, legal documents, financial records, and other material related to the family of Frederick Kislingbury, who died during Adolphus Greely's expedition to the Arctic in the early 1880s. The majority of the material pertains to disputes over his estate, the custody of his children, and his sons' later lives.

The Correspondence and Documents series (around 500 items) comprises the bulk of the collection. Before embarking on Adolphus Greely's Lady Franklin Bay Expedition in August 1881, Frederick Kislingbury signed several personal checks, received postcards from the Army Mutual Aid Association, and corresponded with acquaintances about his finances. On August 17, 1881, he wrote a letter to his sons about his upcoming voyage, and he marked the expedition's proposed landing point on a printed map of the Arctic regions. Soon after his father's departure, Harry H. G. Kislingbury received letters and legal documents regarding a package that his father had sent to him before leaving for the Arctic. Several other letters pertain directly to the expedition. In a letter to Kislingbury dated January 20, 1882, Adolphus Greeley criticized Greely's sleeping habits during his "enforced stay with this command" and discussed the circumstances that led to Kislingbury's initial dismissal for insubordination in 1881. A copied letter from Captain W. M. Beebe about the Neptune 's attempted rescue mission (July 17, 1882) and a printed letter confirming the failure of the 1883 relief expedition (September 14, 1883) are also present.

The bulk of the series is made up of incoming letters, legal documents, and financial records to Charles Lamartine Clark, a Detroit resident who served as Kislingbury's estate executor. The material primarily concerns the estate's finances and the custody of Kislingbury's sons. Clark often corresponded with the Army Mutual Aid Association, and the collection has a copy of its 4th annual report (1883). John P. Kislingbury and William H. Kislingbury, Frederick Kislingbury's brothers, wrote to Clark from Rochester, New York. They argued over custody of the Kislingbury children, their brother's funeral and burial, and his financial affairs, though their later correspondence was more cordial toward Clark. Clark also owned an account book covering Kislingbury's relationship with Riggs & Co. from 1881-1884. Some items from 1885 concern a pension that the United States Congress awarded to his sons and related efforts to certify their ages.

After 1885, Harry H. G. Kislingbury wrote letters to Clark about his experiences at the Michigan Military Academy in Orchard Lake, Michigan. Clark also received letters about Harry's conduct from the school's superintendent. Harry later wrote about his life in San Francisco, California, and Flagstaff, Arizona, in the late 1880s.

Wheeler Kislingbury wrote several lengthy personal letters to Charles L. Clark in 1913 and 1914, mentioning his life in San Francisco, California, expressing regret over his uncles' actions following his father's death, and discussing the possibility of publishing his father's diary. Additionally, one letter describes an encounter with Adolphus Greely in which the officer refused to talk to Wheeler after discovering that he was Frederick Kislingbury's son (May 7, 1913). Douglas E. L. Kislingbury wrote a brief personal letter to Clark from Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1917, and Wheeler wrote 2 letters to Clark's wife from Winslow, Arizona, in 1919.

Henry H. G. Kislingbury kept a Diary (100 pages) while traveling from New York to San Francisco onboard the St. Mark between December 6, 1886, and April 22, 1887. Kislingbury wrote about the ship's crew, the weather, the scenery, and the captain's family, who were passengers on the voyage.

The Cass School (Detroit, Mich.) and Michigan Military Academy Papers pertain to the education of two of Frederick Kislingbury's sons. Two report cards from the Cass School in Detroit, Michigan, provide information on Walter Kislingbury's academic progress in 1883. The remaining 25 loose items are report cards and receipts concerning Harry H. G. Kislingbury's academic progress, conduct, and finances during his time at the Michigan Military Academy, 1884-1886. He also kept an account book while attending the school.

The Photographs series (5 items) contains portraits of Charles L. Clark, his wife Georgina Frazer Clark, and a group portrait of Clark with Walter Frederick Kislingbury and Wheeler Kislingbury. Frederick Kislingbury carried the carte-de-visite of Charles L. Clark during the Greely expedition.

A manuscript Menu lists the meals consumed by the Greely expedition on each day of the week.

The Printed Items series is comprised of 2 items: a copy of the Sunday Morning Herald with an article about Frederick Kislingbury's death (July 20, 1884) and Harry H. G. Kislingbury's copy of Emory Upton's Infantry Tactics Double and Single Rank. Adapted to American Topography and Improved Fire-Arms (Revised edition, 1884).

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