This collection is made up of 120 incoming business letters addressed to Benjamin Franklin of Burlington, New Jersey, in 1865 and 1866, concerning the oil industry in Kentucky and Tennessee. The letters relate to the discovery of new wells and deposits, the purchase of oil fields, the cost and delivery of equipment, and other subjects.
Though Franklin lived in New Jersey, he occasionally traveled south to look after his business affairs. He primarily received letters from business partners in Louisville and Glasgow, Kentucky, who provided him with detailed descriptions of local oil lands, including physical characteristics, anticipated yields, and the interests of other prospectors. Writers frequently encouraged Franklin to consider purchasing various properties. Other correspondence pertains to the progress of Franklin's wells and to the delivery of machinery, such as steam engines. Most letters directly or indirectly concern Franklin's finances, including content about his stock holdings and costs associated with his oil interests. Partial copies of his draft responses accompany a portion of his incoming letters.