Oliver B. Lake Papers   1891, 1943, and Undated
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Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection consists mainly of various types of accounting and financial records, as well as some legal records (copies), of the Chicago and West Michigan Railway (CandWMRy) and the DLandNRR, and similar records of smaller Michigan railroads that were eventually purchased by the larger RRs. These records came from the office of J. E. Howard, Esq., who worked as the Assistant Treasurer and Paymaster of the larger RRs from 1886 through 1893. He was also the Assistant Treasurer and Paymaster of the Saginaw Valley and St. Louis RR between 1889 and 1897, and by 1894, the Paymaster of these three major railroads. Beginning in 1901, he was the Chief Clerk of the PMRR, so records of the PMRR and the Flint and Pere Marquette RR are also in the collection. Miscellaneous coupons of various street-railroad companies, mostly of Michigan, but also including other nearby states, are also included in the collection, as are Miscellaneous Railroad Materials, including records of railroad-related companies, and truly Miscellaneous Materials.

Please note that “Way Bills” is spelled several different ways throughout the collection finding aid, just as it is on the various types of way bills in the collection.

Series 1) the Bay City Belt Line RR, includes Bills, Proxies, 1889-1892, undated; and Correspondence re: a contract, 1892 (1 folder total, letter-size).

Series 3) the Chicago and West MI Railway (CandWMRy) is one of the largest series in the collection. It consists of approximately 12.5 cubic ft. of letter-size records, approximately 1 cubic ft. of legal-size records, and 136 oversized volumes. The main sub-series of the CandWMRR include: Audits, 1898; Bill for Lawyers, 1890; Books of Stock Certificates, 1879-1898 (approximately 4 cubic ft.); Correspondence, 1878-1898 (Scattered); Dock Pay Rolls, 1899; Garnishees, 1889-1900 (approximately 7 cubic ft.); Letter Pressbooks, 1890-1898 (1 cubic ft.); Notices of Meetings, 1899; Proxies, 1882-1884; and Stock Certificates, 1881-1899 (7 folders). Oversized volumes (136) include: Bill Registers, 1880-1891; Cash Books, 1879-1883; Cash Received Books, 1883-1898; Collection Books, 1892-1896; Daily Remittance Books, 1897-1899; Disbursements, 1883-1898; Index to Bill Register, undated; Paymaster’s Drafts Issued, 1888-1889; and Pay Roll Books (the bulk of the oversized volumes), 1881-1899 and 1905. Pay Roll Books include Detroit, Lansing and Northern RR (DLandNRR) from August 1889 on, and the Saginaw Valley and St. Louis RR from 1891 on.

Series 4) consists of materials that have the combined letterhead of the Chicago and West MI Railway and the Detroit, Grand Rapids and Western RR (DGRandWRR). This includes [letter-size] Pay Orders, 1898 (1 folder), and Receipts for the salary of Charles Merriam, Treasurer of the CandWMRR and DLandNRR, 1877-1890 (Scattered) (1 folder). Also included are [legal-size] Deductions from Pay for the CandWMRR/ DGRandWRR, 1897-1898 (24 folders).

Series 5) is [letter-size] Correspondence, 1895-1899 (approximately 2 cubic ft.), written or typed on the combined letterhead of the CandWMRR and the DLandNRR.

Series 6) the Detroit, Grand Rapids and Western RR (DGRandWRR) includes: Audits, 1898-99, Books of Stock Certificates, 1897-1899; Discharge Tickets, 1890-1900 (examples); Drafts, 1897,1899; Mortgages Certificates, 1897; and Garnishees, 1897-1900 (the bulk of the series) (approximately 1 cubic ft. total.) The Garnishees are filed in numerical order, and include those for both the DGRandWRR and DLandNRR (.25 cubic ft.), which were originally interfiled. The Garnishees for CandWMRR are a completely separate numerical sequence, and not part of the DGRandWRR Garnishees. Oversized volumes (6) include: Cash Received Book, 1897-1898; Daily Remittance Books, 1897-1900; and Disbursements, 1897-1898.

Series 7) the Detroit, Lansing and Lake MI RR includes an Indenture, Second Mortgage, 1874 (1 v. in 1 folder, letter-size) and Mortgage Foreclosures, 1876-1877(1 folder, legal-size). Oversized volumes (22) include: Bond Transfers Books, 1873-1876 and 1897; various Cash Books, 1871-1876; Ledgers of Second Mortgage Bonds, 1873-1876; Pay Rolls, 1871/2 and 1874/5; Vouchers, including an Index and Register, 1873-1878 and undated.

Series 8) the Detroit, Lansing and Northern RR (DLandNRR), includes various financial records (totaling approximately 6.5 cubic ft.) including: (letter-size) Accounts, 1877-1878; Audits, 1891, 1893, and 1896; a Bill for Layers, 1887; lists of Board of Directors/ Stockholders, 1884-1890 (Scattered); Bond Coupons (Examples), 1897-1895; Books of Stock Certificates, 1877-1898 (8 v.); Correspondence, 1889, 1891-1892; Drafts, 1889-1890s; and Garnishees, 1892-1897 (approximately 2 cubic ft.). Also included are a Plan of Reorganization, Subscribers, 1896-1899, and undated, (13 folders); Promissory Notes, 1874-1889; Proxies, 1884-1894 (Scattered); Receipt of Salary, 1894 for J. E. Howard; Reorganization Receipts and Receipt Books, 1894-1897 (9 folders); Reports of Work Done by Working Train, 1890-1891, 1900; Stock Certificate, undated; Vouchers, 1899 (approximately 1.5 cubic ft.). Legal-size materials include: Board of Directors Meeting Minutes, 1880 and 1883 (Scattered); and an Annual Meeting Announcement, 1891; and Mortgage Foreclosures, 1895-1896, and 1898. Oversized volumes (38) include: a Bond Transfers Book,1878-1896; Cash Received Books, 1877-1896; Collection Record Books, 1882-1896; Disbursements, 1883-1896; Ledgers of Bonds, 1877-1881 and 1907; Pay Master’s Bank Account, 1888-1892; and Vouchers and related Index, 1878-1884.

Series 9) consists of correspondence and bills re: damaged freight (fruit/candy), 1887-1888 (1 folder, letter-size) on the combined letterhead of the DLandNRR and the Saginaw Valley and St. Louis RR.

Series 10) is the Detroit, Lansing and Northern System, which includes Reorganization Receipt Books (3 v., in 3 folders, legal-size), 1896, and oversized volumes (4) with the same title, 1894-1899.

Series 11), the Flint and Pere Marquette RR (FandPMRR), includes: [letter-size] Broken Rail Reports, 1899-1900; Correspondence, 1878 and 1901 (Scattered); Pay Orders, 1899 (very scattered) (1 folder each); [legal-size] Monthly Report Ties Received, 1900-1901 (scattered) (1 folder) and Way Bills, 1880 and 1895 (3 folders). Oversized folders include Bonds and Coupons, 1860-1891. Oversized volumes (16) include: Bonds, for the FandPMRR and Flint and Holly RR (FandHRR), 1860-1891; Dividend Book, 1881-1884, Interest Coupons Paid and Canceled for various bonds including the FandHRR, 1863-1891; and Bond Registers, 1868 and undated.

Series 12) the Grand Rapids, Lansing and Detroit RR (GRLandDRR) includes: a list of the Board of Directors, 1889; Bond Coupons, 1884; a Bond Receipt, 1887; Proxies, 1889; Subscribers Information, 1887 (7 folders total, letter-size). Also included are Board of Directors’ Meeting Minutes, 1880 and 1888, and Mortgage Foreclosures, 1895-1896 (1 folder each, legal-size). A Transfer Ledger and Register, 1887-1896 (1 oversized v.) completes the collection.

Series 13) the Grand Rapids, Newaygo and Lake Shore RR, consists of Cash Books, 1871-1877 and 1881 forward (3 oversized v.).

Series 14) the Grand Rapids, Northern and Lake Shore RR, consists of Accounts, 1888-1890 (Scattered, 1 folder, legal-size).

Series 15) the Ionia and Lansing RR, includes Bond Coupons (Examples), 1881-1889 (Scattered) and Bond Transfers, 1897-1900 (2 folders total, letter-size). Oversized volumes (9) include various Bond, Cash, and Mortgage Books, and a Pay Roll, 1867-1899.

Series 16) the Michigan Central RR Company (MCRR), includes an Agreement with the CandMLS RR and the MCRR, 1876 (legal-size), and a Preliminary Survey of the Paw Paw Valley Railroad, undated, which was part of the MCRR. Oversized volumes (4) include: Account Books, 1846-1875 (2 v.), Cash Totals Book, 1866-1870, and a Ledger, 1878-1880. Other Oversized materials include Telegraph Reports from the Allegan Division, 1912 (1 Oversized folder) and #7 Jackson County Right-of-way and Track Map, 1918 (a rolled, torn item).

Series 17) the Milwaukee, Benton Harbor and Columbus Railway, consists of 1897 Consolidation Agreements between the St. Joseph Valley Railway Company and the Benton Harbor and Southeastern Railway Company.

Series 18) the Pere Marquette RR, includes various Accounts, Reports, Requisitions, and Way Bills, largely for the Collins Station. Many of the Reports were required, standardized forms used by the US Railroad Administration, which nationalized the railroad companies during World War I. The records total 13 folders (letter-size) and 12 folders (legal-size), 1900-1902, 1905, 1916-1920, and undated. Oversized volumes (4) include: Collins Station Local Sales Record, 1920; Check Stubs; 1903-1905; Detail of Collection Account Book; 1900-1901; and Record of Remittances, 1900.

Series 19) the Saginaw and Grand Rapids RR, includes Board of Directors/ Stockholders Materials, Lists, a Bill of the published notice of a meeting, Proxies, and Stock Transfers, 1879, 1884-1891 (Scattered) (5 folders total, all but one of which is letter-size).

Series 20) the Saginaw and Western RR (SandWRR), includes the same subseries as the SandGRRR, 1883-1890 and 1892 (4 folders total, all but one is letter-size). A Voucher Transfer Ledger and Register, 1885-1896 (1 Oversized v.) completes the collection.

Series 21) consists of Mortgage Foreclosures, 1895-1896 (1 folder, legal-size) which have the combined letterhead of the SandWRR and the GRLandDRR.

Series 22) the Saginaw Valley and St. Louis RR, includes some Board of Directors/Stockholders Materials, Lists, Proxies, financial information, and Mortgage Foreclosures, 1883-1896, but the majority of the subseries is Pay Rolls, Time Sheets, Pay Orders, Receipts of Pay, lists and accounts of Boarders, and Pay Roll Totals of RR employees, 1871-1878 (approximately 2.5 cubic ft.). Oversized volumes (5) are either Cash or Coupon books, 1879-1896.

Series 23) is materials of unidentified railroads, including a Statement of Engineering Expenses on the West Branch, 1880 and a Railroad Mileage /Tickets Account Book, 1875-1876 (Indexed).

Series 24) the White River RR, includes various materials, mostly related to its dissolution, including Stock Certificates, Stockholders Lists, Pay Orders of Dividends, Accounts, and Bills for the lawyers, 1879-1884, and undated (4 folders of letter-size and two of legal-size materials).

Series 25) Miscellaneous RR Materials, include: the Detroit and Grand Rapids Account Books of J. E. Howard concerning the Estate of Albert S. Austin (d. 1888?) (3 v., letter-size); the Central Traffic Association, General Expense Statement, February 1889, which statistically documents the financial status and business of many different railroads (1 folder, letter-size); and Check Stub Books of the Charlevoix Improvement Company and the Michigan Equipment Company, Limited, both of which were probably holding companies for railroad companies. The books of the Charlevoix Improvement Company include Canceled Checks at 4th National Bank, 1897-1899 (6 v., legal-size), and those of the Michigan Equipment Co., Ltd., include blank checks with Old Colony Trust Co., Boston, or 2nd National Bank, Boston, 1892-1893 and 1902 (two v., legal-size). Lastly, the West Michigan Lumber Co. is represented by vague By-laws, 1879, and Board of Directors’ Meeting Minutes, 1879-1881 (1 folder, legal-size).

Series 26) truly Miscellaneous Materials, consists solely of the Notary Public Certificate of Melancthan D. Woodford, 1876 (letter-size). His relationship to the collection is at present unknown.

Processing Notes: Howard grouped materials by format, record types (ex. Audits, Drafts, etc.), in numerical and chronological order, and by the name of the railroad, keeping loose papers together, usually tri-folded in office boxes. Oversized volumes were apparently filed in a similar manner, separately from the papers.

The collection is organized first by loose manuscript materials in boxes (letter-size records first, then legal-size records), and Oversized volumes. Within each of these size formats, materials are organized alphabetically by the names of railroad companies, then alphabetically by type of record, and then chronologically.

For example: Box 1: CandWM RR Accounts; Agreement; Books of Stock, 1895, 1896, 1898. Pay Roll Box 2: DLandNRR Accounts; Bills; Correspondence. Oversized Volumes: CandWMRy Accounts Pay Rolls; DLandNRR Accounts Pay Rolls Stock Certificates

Fire Damage: At some point, the building housing Howard’s records must have burned because many of the records are scorched. A substantial number of records in the collection are quite yellowed, brittle, and acidic. Some of the volume covers have bird poop on them, while others are detached from the volumes, as are some of the spine covers.

There is a lot of financial and business correspondence between Howard and C. L. Gunn, Esq., who was the Assist Treasurer of the CandWMRy, and U. B. Rogers, who was the Auditor of the CandWMRy, the DLandNRR, and the SVandSLRR. There is also some material related to Charles Merriam who was the Treasurer of the RR in Boston.

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