James B. Pond papers  1863-1901
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The James B. Pond papers includes a small and scattered sampling of his fascinating life. The bulk of the collection consists of a series of autobiographical manuscripts, parts of which, at least, were published as magazine articles. Most of these focus on his early years (prior to 1861) when he and his family were living a marginal existence in frontier Wisconsin and when he was a young man wandering about in search of a livelihood. The collection includes three major manuscripts, each present in several copies or versions, and of which all related to each other - "A Pioneer Boyhood," "The American Pioneer: My Life as a Boy," and "Pioneer Days" - plus there is a less polished manuscript of childhood reminiscences. All appear to have been written initially in 1890, though some copies were apparently made several years later.

The Pond collection includes a few items relating to James Pond's Civil War service in the 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry, among which are a typescript of official reports relating to the massacre at Baxter Springs, Kansas, a printed poem on the massacre, and a printed notice of the death in the 1880s of William T. Brayton of the 3rd Cavalry. There are also some fleshed-out notes (apparently made by Pond) concerning the death of Capt. Ira Justin in which the author implies that the surgeon performing the autopsy may have done so while Justin was still alive. Pond also wrote or collected other reminiscences of the war, including an autobiographical account of Mrs. Horn, wife of a Missouri surgeon, that includes a description of Quantrill's raiders pillaging town and taking her husband prisoner, a Pond story about the Mayfield girls, Missourians who saved his life by warning him about a planned ambush by guerrillas, and a lengthy series of letters written in 1894-95 by Edward P. Bridgman, a soldier in the 37th Massachusetts Infantry. Bridgman, whose memoir is described separately, also served with John Brown in 1856, and may have known Pond.

James Pond wrote two letters to Edward Bok in 1898. One expresses sympathy to Bok for his recent affliction with yellow fever, and the other is a brief reflection on one of Pond's own lectures. Finally, there are two items relating to Pond's lecture business, a flier advertising the 1877 tour of Canada by Henry Ward Beecher, and an autobiographical sketch "How I got started in the Lecture Business" in which he describes his part in Anna Eliza Young's "apostatizing" and entering onto the lecture circuit.

The collection also contains 5 photograph albums. These volumes contain over 800 personal photographs taken between 1896 and 1901, including many pictures of family members at leisure both indoors and outdoors. Travel photographs include views of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Winnipeg, Manitoba, as well as a group of pictures taken during a visit to England, Switzerland, and Germany in 1901. European items include a series of colored prints. The albums contain images of locomotives, railroad cars, and steamships. One album contains views of crowds gathered for a large parade in Buffalo, New York, and for the inauguration of William McKinley. James B. Pond is also pictured with a few of his clients.

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