Baker-Taintor papers  1808-1869
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The Baker-Taintor papers (1,080 items) consist of the letters and documents of Colonel Rufus Baker, U.S. Army ordnance officer, and his father-in-law, Charles Taintor, revenue collector and postmaster of Windham, Connecticut. The collection contains 1,041 letters and documents, 37 financial records and receipts, and 2 miscellaneous items.

Many of the Taintor papers, which comprise the bulk of the early years of the collection, are business letters discussing payments and receipts to the state. Taintor correspondence trails off in the 1830s and his last contribution is from 1837. Also in the collection are a few 1812 letters addressed to George Abbe and Charles Abbe, likely relatives of Taintor’s wife Mary.

The first Baker letter is from 1814, but the majority of his correspondence date from after 1818. Baker's papers concern military matters, including changes in command at various posts, arsenal requests for supplies, exploratory expeditions in Florida and along the Mississippi, the war with Mexico, and problems with recruiting. Several ordnance lists are included. A letter from March 28, 1818, discusses establishing a new arsenal in Detroit and offers Baker the opportunity to be stationed there for its planning. Of interest is a letter from General Pratt, dated November 16, 1864, in which he discusses the Lincoln administration and the handling of the North-South dispute. Also of note is an 1838 letter from his son Charles at West Point, along with the rare return letter from Baker.

The bulk of the Financial Records and Receipts series are receipts of payments from Baker through the American Exchange Bank and the Importers and Traders’ National Bank; the receipts do not specify what the transactions were for. Of interest in this series are a number of itemized lists of tools, received by the Watervliet Arsenal between 1848 and 1851, that were used in an audit in 1853.

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