This collection documents the Puffer and Markham families, centering on the business dealings of William Guy Markham and Charles Chenery Puffer, both investors in the Sea Island Cotton Company, which managed South Carolina cotton plantations after the Civil War.
The Markhams were some of the first settlers of Genesee County, New York, and heavily involved in agriculture and real estate in the area. William Markham (1762-1826) and his wife Phoebe Dexter (1765-1851) moved from Massachusetts to Rush, New York, where they purchased several plots of land, including a farm near Avon, New York. Of their ten children, Wayne Markham (1796-1872) settled in Kalamazoo, Michigan, while Guy Markham (1800-1892) married Eliza Emma Williams (b.1802) of Goshen, Massachusetts, and inherited and expanded the family's land holdings in western New York. Guy and Eliza had four children: Mary, Mary Elizabeth, Susan Emma, and William Guy.
William Guy Markham (1836-1922) was educated at the seminary at Lima, New York, and in 1858 began breeding Durham cattle, becoming one of the most successful cattle sellers in America. In 1872, Markham became deeply involved in the American wool industry, and was engaged with transactions involving American Merino sheep around the world. He married Alice Josephine Foot (1845-1911) in 1885.
Susan Emma Markham (1843-1894) was educated at the Charlestown Female Seminary in Massachusetts. In 1862, she married Charles Chenery Puffer (1841-1915), son of Dr. Chenery Puffer and Lucy Thomas Alden. Puffer worked as a bank cashier and financier with the Shelburne Falls Bank of Massachusetts and after the Civil War, managed plantations for the Sea Island Cotton Company in Columbia, South Carolina. As a carpetbagger in Columbia, Puffer campaigned for the local Republican Party and actively supported Governor Daniel Henry Chamberlain. Later, Puffer moved north and co-owned a dairy farm in Avon, New York, along with his brother-in-law William Guy Markham. Charles and Susan had two daughters, Linda Dana and Isabel, both of whom graduated from Wellesley College in 1900.
Also present are letters from Civil War officer Horace Boughton (1833-1891). Boughton was born in Rush, New York, and enlisted as a first lieutenant in the 13th New York Infantry. He soon became a captain and, in 1862, a lieutenant colonel for the 143rd New York Infantry. He mustered out with the rank of brevetted brigadier general at Washington D.C. on July 20, 1865. Horace had a brother named Homer Boughton (b. 1831) who lived in Battle Creek, Michigan, and Dover, Kansas. Other Civil War contributors are Morris R. Darrohn, a member of the New York 108th Infantry, Company C; Isaac R. Gibbard, chaplain with the New York 143rd Infantry; Charles W. Daily of the New York 50th Regiment of Engineers, Company L; and Samuel P. Wakelee of the New York National Guard.