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Puffer-Markham family papers (1794-1910, bulk 1860-1879)

Collection processed and finding aid created by Philip Heslip, January 2011
Manuscripts Division, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

Summary Information

Title: Puffer-Markham family papers
Creator: Puffer family and Markham family
Inclusive dates: 1794-1910
Bulk dates: 1860-1879
Extent: 2.5 linear feet
The Puffer-Markham family papers (1,875 items) is comprised of business letters, personal letters, legal documents, and financial records related to an extended family with business and agricultural interests in Massachusetts, New York, Michigan, and South Carolina. Also present are letters from five Civil War soldiers, containing descriptions of their wartime experiences.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu

Access and Use

Acquisition Information

1983, 1987, 1989. M-2104, M-2325, M-2465.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation

Puffer-Markham Family Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


This collection is organized into five series:
  • Series I: Correspondence
  • Series II: Documents
  • Series III: Accounts and Financial Records
  • Series IV: Printed Items
  • Series V: Miscellaneous

Each series is ordered chronologically.


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.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Puffer-Markham family papers (1875 items) is comprised of business letters, personal letters, legal documents, and financial records related to an extended family with business and agricultural interests in Massachusetts, New York, Michigan, and South Carolina. Also present are letters from five Civil War soldiers, containing descriptions of their wartime experiences.

The Correspondence series (1535 items) contains family business and personal letters. These largely document William G. Markham's business activities in selling wheat, cattle, and sheep, as well as personal letters from Guy Markham's children, grandchildren, spouses, and friends from upstate New York. The family letters report on news, daily life, sickness, and courtship. Also present are letters related to Charles C. Puffer's business activities: as a banker in Massachusetts before the war, and as a plantation manager in Reconstruction-era South Carolina. Among the personal papers are many Civil War-era letters, involving both business carried on during the war and letters from Union soldiers on the frontlines.

The papers concerning Guy Markham and his son William Guy Markham are almost exclusively related to business matters. Guy was involved with farming in and around Rush, New York. William G. Markham, who inherited much of his father's land, established himself in the cattle industry. Throughout the 1870s, he received orders for Durham cattle (shorthorn heifers) from New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Georgia, Ohio, Michigan, and as far as Denver, Colorado, and Walla Walla, Washington Territory. Letters concerning his interest in cotton are also represented. He was president of the Sea Island Cotton Company, trustee of the Port Royal Cotton Company, and an associate with the United States Cotton Company. Beginning around1880, Markham became heavily involved with wool production and corresponded with other national and international woolgrowers, including the National Wool Growers Association, headquartered in Springfield, Illinois, which lobbied the House of Representatives against a congressional act that would lift overseas wool tariffs. He had multiple dealings with selling sheep and wool in Australia and South Africa.

Other Markham letters relate to William's siblings Wayne and Mary. Wayne Markham described his agricultural activities and his life in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Mary wrote of her experiences at the Music Institute of New London, Connecticut, and frequently requested money to cover her school expenses.

The Charles Puffer letters cover his business interactions with the Shelburne Falls Bank, and the Puffer-Markham partnership, which purchased plantations in Beaufort and Hilton Head, South Carolina (summer of 1865). In 15 letters to his wife Emma Puffer (1870-1876), Charles, while living in Columbia, South Carolina, described managing plantations for his family, working as an activist for the state’s Republican party (particularly in the 4th congressional district), and his relationship with Governor Daniel Henry Chamberlain. He reported on a disorderly state convention in 1870, and of receiving $16,000 from Governor Chamberlain to distribute to county convention attendees with the promise that Charles would become county treasurer (September 4, 1874). By 1876, Charles had declared that he had left politics.

Listed below are the dates of these letters:
  • January 2, 1870
  • January 13, 1870
  • March 11, 1870
  • June 2, 1870
  • July 27, 1870
  • August 1, 1870
  • January 1, 1871
  • February 10, 1871
  • August 22, 1874
  • September 4, 1874
  • October 7, 1874
  • December 1874
  • January 14, 1876
  • April 12, 1876
  • [1870s]

Between 1887 and 1890, the collection focuses on the lives of sisters Linda and Isabel ("Belle") Puffer, daughters of Charles and Emma Puffer. These comprise 12 items sent from and 39 items addressed to the sisters, while they were attending Wellesley College.

The collection contains 22 letters from five Civil War soldiers: Horace Boughton (9th and 143rd New York Infantry), Morris R. Darrohn (108th New York Infantry), Isaac R. Gibbard (143rd New York Infantry), Charles W. Daily (50th New York Engineers), and Samuel P. Wakelee (54th New York National Guard). Horace Boughton, who wrote eleven of these letters, described his regiment's activities and instructed his friend William Guy Markham on how to allocate his paychecks to his family and business interests. Below is a list of Civil War soldiers' letters.

All are addressed to William Guy Markham unless otherwise noted:
  • October 27, 1861: Horace Boughton at Fort Corcoran
  • December 1, 1861: Horace Boughton at Fort Cass
  • May 4, 1862: Horace Boughton at a camp near Fort Davis, Virginia
  • July 27, 1862: Horace Boughton at Westover, Virginia, concerning recruitment problems and arguing that seasoned troops are much more valuable than new recruits
  • July 27, 1862: Horace Boughton at Westover, Virginia
  • August 6, 1862: Horace Boughton at Westover, Virginia
  • October 28, 1862: Morris R. Darrohn on picket duty near Harper's Ferry; at Bolivar Heights he had a view of the house where John Brown took Louis Washington prisoner; he mentioned meeting the enemy at the battle of Antietam; that day he milked a stray cow so they could have cream in their coffee
  • November 14, 1862: Horace Boughton now with the 143rd New York Infantry stationed at Upton Hill, Virginia, and president of a court martial
  • February 25, 1863: Horace Boughton at New York 143rd Infantry headquarters, to Susan Emma Markham, discussing his ideas on womanhood and "the yoke of matrimony"
  • March 27, 1863: Morris R. Darrohn at Falmouth, Virginia, concerning drills, dreaming of home, and being trapped along the Rappahannock River at the Battle of Fredericksburg
  • March 29, 1863: Horace Boughton requesting photographs of the Markham family for his album
  • June 5, 1863: Morris R. Darrohn near Falmouth, Virginia
  • June 13, 1763: Isaac R. Gibbard near Williamsburg, Virginia, concerning leaving Yorktown with a division led by General Gordon; notes that "miasmas and diseases at West Point came very near whipping our regiment out…the Rebels said they would not attack us but let the diseases do it."
  • July 30, 1863: Isaac R. Gibbard sick at the Seminary Hospital at Georgetown, mentioned starting a band of musicians
  • August 16, 1863: Horace Houghton at New York 143rd Infantry headquarters, advising William not to join the war if possible
  • January 3, 1864: Morris R. Darrohn near Stevensburg, Virginia, cautioning against joining the Masons or the military
  • January 31, 1864: Horace Boughton at Bridgeport, Alabama
  • April 16, 1864: Charles W. Daily at Rappahannock Station, Virginia, expecting a march on Richmond that may be "the greatest battle of the war within 10 days"
  • [1864]: Samuel P. Wakelee to Puffer while guarding "Johnnys at Elmira" prison; he paid a prisoner tobacco to mould a Delta Kappa Epsilon ring in silver; he described the prison and wrote: "We have 10,600 Rebs in the Pen [,] Dirty, Lousy, Godforesakin crew[.] The majority of them are stalwart & robust…"
  • January 19, 1865: Horace Boughton on board the ship St. Patrick and discussed traveling by railroad
  • February 7, 1865: Horace Boughton at Bridgeport, Alabama
  • February 26, [1860s]: Cousin William reported on visiting various corps and hearing members of Congress, "the negro minstrels have a dance" and meeting General Fitzgerald
Below is a list of highlights from the Puffer-Markham correspondence:
  • July 1, 1842: School essays by Margaret G. Greenman
  • September 19, 1853: Homer Broughton to Guy Markham concerning picking out a tombstone for their grandmother
  • June 7, 1855: Horace Boughton's description of a trip from Rush, New York, to St. Paul, Minnesota, with details on the town
  • October 14 and 25, 1855: Wayne Markham in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to his brother, discussing moving into a new house, noting the price of meat in Michigan, and reflecting on the moral and industrious character of the citizens of the town
  • December 4, 1860: Mary Markham to her father describing visiting family in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Ionia, Michigan
  • November 6, 1763: Certificate for William Markham joining the Lima, New York, chapter of Freemasons
  • August 18, 1864: A letter from Mt. Morris, New York, concerning a lawsuit over a $50 cow killed at an Avon railroad crossing
  • September 5, 1864: Henry Puffer to Charles Puffer concerning purchasing land in Hilton Head, South Carolina
  • January 15, 1865: This letter from Henry M. Puffer and Company contains a drawing of a house on Gardner Plantation
  • February 11, 1865: News sent to Charles Puffer concerning land purchased for plantation farming in Beaufort, South Carolina
  • March 1, 1865: William Markham concerning returning soldiers purchasing land that is interest free for three years, and other news from South Carolina
  • June 19, 1765: Robert C. Clark to William Markham regarding visiting Oil Creek, Pennsylvania, and noting the failure of the Genesee Valley Oil Well
  • January 6, 1866: George Fisher of Rochester, New York, concerning the state of the local Delta Kappa Epsilon chapter
  • September 13, 1866: Letter from the Cook and Martin Music Dealer in Rochester, New York, concerning the sale of a piano, on letterhead featuring a picture of a piano
  • August 26, 1868: From a St. Louis member of Delta Kappa Epsilon providing for a member who can write in shorthand
  • April 15, 1869: Brooklyn photographer E. Bookhout gives prices for his services
  • [1860s]: M.F. Randolph to William Guy Markham detailing the price of cotton before the Civil War
  • January 5, 1870: Homer Broughton in Topeka, Kansas, to his family in New York concerning his productive new farm on an "old Indian field" and the many new settlers in the area purchasing land at "government prices"
  • January 13, 1871: A pencil sketch of people standing at podiums
  • June 1891: Papers related to shipping ewes and rams to Cape Town, South Africa
  • 1892: Print of an Atwood Ram named Wooly Bill, 1549, bred by C.W. Mason in Vergennes, Vermont
  • December 28, 1893: Instructions for judging sheep at the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago sent to W.I. Buchanan of the Department of Agriculture
  • July 2, 1902: Francis E. Warren of the National Wool Growers Association to William G. Markham concerning a treaty with Argentina that would harm the American wool industry

The Correspondence series contains 172 undated items. Of note is a letter with a hand-sketched map of plots of farm land near St. Joseph, Michigan, and a series of school essays written by Margaret G. Greenman (Mrs. Sumner Clark) on "Broken Friendships," "Penmanship," "Envy and Deceit," and "Buds of Flowers" among others.

The Documents series (114 items) contains legal and business documents relating to the family's land holdings and entrepreneurial endeavors. Included are the land deeds and mortgages of William Markham, Guy Markham, Phoebe Markham, and William Markham (primarily in Genesee County, New York), records for debts, land purchases, whiskey purchases, estate documents, and business agreements between the Sea Island Cotton Company and the United States Cotton Company.

The Accounts and Financial Records series (199 items) consists of material related to the personal and business activities of the Markham and Puffer families, including materials documenting management of the cotton companies during Reconstruction. Personal records amount to accounts and bills for tuition, day labor, magazine and newspaper subscriptions, furniture purchase and repair, insurance, and groceries. The business accounts document the Sea Island Cotton Company, the Hilton Head Cotton Company, and the accounts of C.C. Puffer (1865-1767). Present are accounts for plantation supplies, office expenses, salaries, cotton sold on speculation, sales of stocks, lists of share owners, and various receipts. Of note are the records for salary advances made to South Carolina freedmen in 1866.

This series also contains four account books:
  • April-October 1840: Accounts of C.S. Boughton
  • September-December 1856: Accounts of William Guy Markham
  • 1865-1867: Two accounts of William Guy Markham's accounts with D.W. Powers Bank of Rochester

The Printed Items series (21 items) is comprised of blank Sea Island Company stock certificates, and government records related to the regulation of United States wool and fabric production. These records include the following bills from the 57th Congress: H.R. 6565, H.R. 14643, H.R. 14488, and documents concerning "Shoddy vs. Wool" and the National Wool Growers Association (1901-1902). These items were of interest to William Guy Markham, a wool producer and sheep expert.

The Miscellaneous series (6 items) contains photographs, stamps, and other miscellaneous material. One photograph is of Mrs. Hinkley Williams, Mrs. L. Boltwood, and Mrs. E. Boltwood ("Three Generations") sent to Guy Markham in 1892. The second photograph is of 84-year-old Hinkley Williams of Gorham, Massachusetts (1892). Also of interest is a list of Guy Markham's presidential picks from 1824-1888.

Subject Terms

  • Agriculture--New York (State)
  • Ashfield (Mass.)
  • Antietam, Battle of, Md., 1862.
  • Banks and banking.
  • Batavia (N.Y.)
  • Battle Creek (Mich.)
  • Beaufort (S.C.)
  • Brandy Station (Va.)
  • Bridgeport (Ala.)
  • Buffalo (N.Y.)
  • Charlestown (Boston, Mass.)
  • Columbia (S.C.)
  • Cotton--South Carolina.
  • Cotton trade.
  • Chamberlain, Daniel Henry, 1835-1907.
  • Elmira Prison (Elmira, N.Y.)
  • Falmouth (Va.)
  • Fredericksburg, Battle of, Fredericksburg, Va., 1862.
  • Freemasons--New York (State)
  • Goshen (Mass.)
  • Harpers Ferry, Battle of, Harpers Ferry, W. Va., 1862.
  • Hilton Head (S.C.)
  • Itinerant painters.
  • Kalamazoo (Mich.)
  • Lima (N.Y.)
  • National Wool Growers Association (U.S.)
  • New London (N.Y.)
  • Portrait-painters, American.
  • Raleigh (N.C.)
  • Real property--New York (State)
  • Reconstruction--South Carolina.
  • Rochester (N.Y.)
  • Rush (N.Y.)
  • Saginaw (Mich.)
  • Saint Paul (Minn.)
  • Sea Island Cotton Company.
  • Sheep industry.
  • Topeka (Kan.)
  • United States. Army. New York Infantry Regiment, 9th (1861-1863)
  • United States. Army. New York Infantry Regiment, 108th (1861-1863)
  • United States. Army. New York Infantry Regiment, 143rd (1862-1865)
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Prisoners and prisons.
  • Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877)--South Carolina.
  • Wellesley College.
  • Westover (W. Va.)
  • Whitmore Lake (Mich.)
  • Winchester (Ill.)
  • Women--Education--New York (State)
  • Wool industry.
Subjects - Visual Materials:
  • Rams.
  • St. Joseph (Mich.)
  • Beattey, Simon.
  • Boltwood, Lucius.
  • Boughton, Homer.
  • Boughton, Horace, 1833-1891.
  • Darrohn, Morris R.
  • Daily, Charles W.
  • Dexter, Phoebe, 1765-1851.
  • Dunsford, Fanny.
  • Dunsford, Mary Isabella.
  • Gibbard, Isaac R.
  • Greenman, Margaret.
  • Markham, David.
  • Markham, Eliza Emma Williams, b. 1802.
  • Markham, Guy, 1800-1892.
  • Markham, Mary Elizabeth.
  • Markham, Wayne, 1796-1872.
  • Markham, William, 1762-1826.
  • Markham, William Guy, 1836-1922.
  • Puffer, Charles Chenery, 1841-1915.
  • Puffer, Henry M.
  • Puffer, Isabel.
  • Puffer, Linda.
  • Puffer, Susan Emma Markham, 1843-1894.
  • Puffer, William Guy.
  • Sutton, Eugene.
  • Williams, Hinkley.
  • Wakelee, Samuel P.
Genre Terms:
  • Accounts.
  • Business records.
  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Financial records.
  • Legal documents.
  • Letters (correspondence)
  • Photographs.
  • Receipts.
  • Telegrams.

Contents List

Container / Location Title
Box   1 Folders   1-35
Box   2 Folders   1-32
Box   3 Folders   1-39
Box   4 Folders   1-20
 1885-1904 and  undated
Documents [series]
Box   5 Folders   1-10
 September 10, 1794-August 3, 1903, and  undated
Accounts and Financial records [series]
Folders   11-26  
 November 12, 1799-November 12, 1891, and  undated
Folder   27  
Account books,  1840-1867
Printed Items [series]
Folders   28-34  
Miscellaneous [series]
Folder   35  

Additional Descriptive Data

Alternate Locations

Two stock certificates from the collection are housed in the Clements Library Graphics Division (1865 and 186-)

Related Materials

The University of Rochester, New York, River Campus Libraries has a collection of Markham family papers that overlaps closely with the Clements Library's Puffer-Markham collection


Graham, Matthew John. The Ninth Regiment, New York Volunteers (Hawkins' Zouaves): Being a History of the Regiment and Veteran Association from 1860 to 1900. New York: E.P. Colby & co., printers, 1900.

McMillen, William B. A Condensed History of the 143rd Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry of the Civil War, 1861-1865: Together with a Register or Roster of all the Members and the War Record of each Member. Newburgh, New York: Newburgh Journal Print, 1909.

143rd Regiment New York Volunteer Infantry, Sullivan Co. Monticello, New York: Watchman Print, 1892.