Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Lewis Walker Letter Books, 1813-1880

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, March 2011

Summary Information
Title: Lewis Walker letter books
Creator: Walker, Lewis, ca. 1770-1840
Inclusive dates: 1813-1880
Bulk dates: 1813-1815
Extent: 2 volumes and 3 loose items
Lewis Walker letter books contain copies of letters written by a citizen of Catoctin Furnace, Maryland, who described the local effects of the War of 1812, as well as the dress and manners of visitors to the town.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1980. M-1898.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

Lewis Walker Letter Books, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Two volumes and 3 loose items.

Biographical/Historical Note

Lewis Walker (ca. 1770-1840) was born in Pennsylvania to Thomas Walker and Anna Hockley. In 1798, Walker married Sarah Yeats Hubley (ca. 1777-ca. 1841), daughter of Jacob Hubley and Margaret Burd, in Pine, Pennsylvania. They had three children: Margaret Hubley, Thomas Hubley, and Lewis Leonard. By 1813, Walker had moved to Catoctin Furnace, Maryland, where he stayed until at least 1815. Walker died in York, Pennsylvania, in 1840 and his wife died a year later in Germantown, Pennsylvania.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Lewis Walker letter books (58 pages) contain copies of letters written by a citizen of Catoctin Furnace, Maryland, who described the local effects of the War of 1812, as well as the dress and manners of visitors to the town. The collection is comprised of a letter book entitled "Private Letter Book commencing May 1, 1813;" a letter book of "Discriptions of Gentlemen & Ladies, who appeared in Stile at Catoctin Furnace, since the 5th of March;" and three loose items related to the Walker family.

The first letter book (17 items) contains letters written by Lewis Walker to friends and family. Walker discussed events and repercussions of the War of 1812, as well as his own efforts to avoid the war. Topics include: the workings of the town's iron forge (page 1), Walker's thoughts on joining Colonel Richard M. Johnson's horse troops and avoiding the draft (2, 4-6), the state of Baltimore before and during British occupation (pages 2, 4), descriptions of soldier's uniforms (6 page), the lack of available furnace workers because of the war (page 8), the "conflagration of Havre de Grace" (page 9), a description of Franklin County, Pennsylvania (page 13), a Catholic seminary in the area (page 14), the popularity among young men of joining the army (page 13), a ball attended by 60 couples (page 21), and many accounts of social interactions.

Below is a list of letters in this volume:

  • April 23, 1813: Cover page
  • May 1, 1813: Walker to Samuel Hackly
  • May 10, 1813: Walker to Reverend John P. Hecht
  • May 19, 1813: Walker to S.M. Potts
  • May 20, 1813: Walker to his father Thomas Walker
  • May 28, 1813: Walker to cousin Nancy Leonard
  • July 20, 1813: Walker to Thomas Walker
  • July 28, 1813: Walker to his mother Anna Walker
  • August 1, 1813: Walker to cousin Ann Leonard
  • August 22, 1813: Walker to George H. Leonard
  • September 11, 1813: Walker to cousin Nancy Leonard
  • January 14, 1814: Walker to his sister Sarah H. Walker
  • January 17, 1814: Walker to cousin Nancy Leonard
  • January 21, 1814: Walker to Thomas Rutter, Esquire
  • Undated: Walker to Edward Burd Hubley
  • Undated: fragment
  • March 15, 1797: Thomas Erskine to General Washington

The second letter book (19 items) is comprised of letters Walker sent to a group of friends between March and July of 1815. The letters contain reports on the dress, appearance, and social gifts of the "Gentlemen & Ladies, who appeared in Stile at Catoctin Furnace," Maryland. In the letters, Walker commented on visitors' personalities, physical traits (height and size), facial features, hair, and manners of dress. He often provided specific details on elements of the subjects' clothing, as well as on their opinions on politics and interesting conversation topics. Descriptions are both positive and negative. The following quotation is a sample of one of Walker's entries:

"Miss M. G…..y. there is no pretention to beauty neither in respect to face or person here. Her face bears the aspect of a Lady who has seen his "Satanic Majesty" for near eight years, as in plain terms been in the old maiden register for that length of time. Her eyes are jet-itself—very handsome black hair finely put up and very "stylish" in front, crowned with a small red Bonnet with white plumes flying—her person is considerably shorter than the generality of her sex—appears to be hip-short. I had no opportunity of discovering the state of her mind, "as the methodists say." Therefore can not judge of its elegance, but have been informed that it is of the first order—Adieu my fair nymphs. So good night. Stay but not bright."

Below is a list of letters in the volume:

  • March 6, 1815: Describing Captain Hillery
  • March 7, 1815: Describing Mr. Sweadow of Baltimore
  • March 8, 1815: Describing Mr. James Johnson
  • March 8, 1815: Describing Captain B. Johnson, and Miss M.C..e of Baltimore
  • March 10, 1815: Describing Miss. M. G….y
  • March 14, 1815: Describing Miss A. R. G……
  • March 16, 1815: Describing Mr. George Grundy
  • March [16], 1815: Describing Mrs. N….I……
  • March 27, 1815: Describing Mr. John Dillingham
  • April 2, 1815: Describing Miss F…. I……
  • April 18, 1815: Describing Mr. James Harwood of Lower Marlborough
  • April 18, 1815: Describing Mr. Thomas T. Blackford (student at Physics)
  • April 20, 1815: Describing Mr. Benjamin Blackford from Virginia
  • April 22, 1815: Describing Mr. Joseph Johnson
  • July 6, 1815: Describing Miss Z…. M…….
  • Undated Sunday: Describing Miss A………e of Philadelphia
  • Undated Sunday: Describing Miss J……a J…..n of Fredericktown
  • Undated Sunday: Describing Miss M…..a Joh…. of Fredericktown
  • Undated Tuesday the 5th: Describing Miss A……. of C.

The three loose items are:

  • July 15, 1815: Walker to unknown - the letter is faded and only partially legible
  • February 6, 1875: Copy of a March 4, 1822, letter to Sarah Walker from her mother Anna Walker, containing news on friends and family
  • January 3, 1880: Brief notes on Uncle Hackly's reading of various letters
Subject Terms

    • Baltimore (Md.)--History--War of 1812.
    • Bladensburg, Battle of, Bladensburg, Md., 1814.
    • Catoctin Furnace (Md.)
    • Clothing and dress-- History.
    • Clothing and dress--United States--History--19th century.
    • Democratic Party (U.S.)
    • Fashion--United States.
    • Hubley, Edward B. (Edward Burd), 1792-1856.
    • Iron industry and trade--Maryland.
    • Fredericktown (Md.)
    • Johnson, Richard M. (Richard Mentor), 1780-1850.
    • Pennsylvania--Description and travel.
    • Philadelphia (Pa.)
    • Pike, Zebulon Montgomery, 1779-1813.
    • United States--History--War of 1812.
    • Washington, George, 1732-1799.
    • Erskine, Thomas Erskine, Baron, 1750-1823.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letter books.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    Lewis Walker letter books,  1813-1880
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    Lewis Walker is distantly related to the Pennsylvania Burd-Shippen families documented in the Clements Library's Burd-Shippen papers.