Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Alexander C. and Charles W. Christopher Papers, 1863-1888

Finding aid created by
Emiko Hastings, August 2008

Summary Information
Title: Alexander C. and Charles W. Christopher papers
Creator: Christopher, Alexander C., 1823-1895
Inclusive dates: 1863-1888
Bulk dates: 1876-1886
Extent: 30 items
This collection includes the correspondence of Alexander C. Christopher, who enlisted in the 6th Ohio Infantry Regiment during the Civil War, and his son Charles W. Christopher, an officer in the U.S. Navy, who was on sick leave in the Hawaiian Islands from 1875 to 1878. It contains two letters received by Alexander in 1863 from his commander, 9 letters from Charles to Alexander while he was in Hawaii and California, 5 other letters received by Charles, as well as 10 letters and 3 legal documents related to Charles Christopher's estate.
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:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

Donated by Mrs. Alison T. Myers, 1968, 1969, 1970. M-1455, M-1464, M-1505.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Alexander C. and Charles W. Christopher Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Arranged in two series: Correspondence and Documents.


Alexander C. Christopher, born August 20, 1823, in Cincinnati, attended Woodward College in 1836. He worked as a mechanic from 1839 to 1850, then as a merchant from 1851 to 1858. During the Civil War, he enlisted in the 6th Ohio Volunteer Infantry regiment, rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, and mustered out on June 23, 1864. After the war, he worked in the post office department from 1864 to 1866, and in the Internal Revenue Department from 1866 to 1873. His first wife was Susannah J. Steele, and he later married Sarah A. Brown. He had one son and two daughters.

Alexander and Susannah's son, Charles W. Christopher, was born in Ohio on November 1, 1847. Charles entered the Naval Academy on February 24, 1863, and graduated in 1867. He served on the Minnesota from 1867 to 1868, then on the Dacotah in the Pacific fleet from 1869 to 1870. He was promoted to master in 1870, commissioned as a lieutenant in 1871, and subsequently served on the Frolic in 1872 and the Portsmouth from 1872 to 1874. He was granted sick leave from 1875 to 1877, during which time he stayed with Owen Holt, a rancher in Hawaii. He returned to a post in the navy-yard on Mare Island in California in 1878. In 1882, he retired from active service, and died on January 7, 1884.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection includes two letters received by Alexander Christopher in 1863, nine letters from Charles to Alexander Christopher, 1875-1883, five letters received by Charles Christopher, 1868-1878, and 10 letters and three legal documents related to Charles Christopher's estate, 1884-1888.

Alexander C. Christopher received two letters from a friend, Nicholas Longworth Anderson, on January 31 and November 28, 1863. Nicholas Longworth Anderson was the commander of the 6th Ohio Volunteer Infantry regiment. The first letter discussed Nicholas Anderson's injuries, for which he received a surgeon's certificate, and mentioned a visit from Alexander's wife and daughter, "little Belle." The second letter included a memoriam for Major Graves, "a most gallant soldier and a most estimable gentleman." Anderson also wrote of his hope that the regiment would be disbanded soon, and said that he had received an anonymous letter accusing him of cowardice for remaining at home to heal from his wounds, signed by "One who pays your salary."

Charles W. Christopher's correspondence includes two letters of introduction written for him by naval officers, John Woolley and Louis Eugene Yorke; nine letters to his father, Alexander C. Christopher; and three letters received from friends, J. A. Hassinger and J. R. Carmody. In his letters to his father, he described his activities in Hawaii while convalescing from unspecified lung and throat ailments. He resided with Owen Holt, a rancher in Hawaii. Daily activities included assisting with cattle roundups, hunting for game in the mountains, reading, and going to town. In several letters, he was concerned about a lack of funds and anxious to draw his pay so that he could send money home to his father, who was apparently in financial difficulties as well.

In one letter from Waialua, Oahu, Charles described the funeral arrangements for a Chinese man who had died of an aneurism. "Mr. Holt has several Chinamen at work, but today, all except two were absent, on account of the funeral of one of their nation, Ah Kee by name. He had a small patch of cane, and came to see Mr. Holt on Thursday last about procuring some oxen for carting his cane to the mill…I believe they place a pig and a chicken by the grave, and afterwards eat them, and hold a species of high carnival" (1876 December 2).

He also shared his thoughts on naval work: "Seamanship and Gunnery are life studies. The former requires experience as well as theory, and the latter is so varied in its applications, and so constantly changing as to the instruments employed that no one man can be considered perfect in the branch. Like many other things in this world, the more insight one gets, the less does one know, unless some particular branch of the study is made a specialty" (1876 December 2).

In a later letter to his father from Harbin Springs, California, Charles described the scenery and mineral springs in the area (1883 December 2). By that time, he had lost much of his sight and had difficulty walking. After Charles W. Christopher's death in 1884, his father wrote to the Treasury Department to file a claim for "arrears of pay and mileage" due to the late Lieutenant Christopher. Between 1884 and 1886, he received five letters in response. Beginning in 1886, he also corresponded with a lawyer, John Paul Jones, regarding the case.

The Charles W. Christopher materials were formerly part of the Hawaiian Islands collection at the Clements Library.

Subject Terms

    • California--Description and travel.
    • Chinese Americans--Funeral rites and ceremonies.
    • Hawaii--Description and travel.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • United States. Army. Ohio Infantry Regiment, 6th (1861-1864)
    • United States. Navy--Officers.
    • Anderson, Nicholas Longworth, 1838-1892.
    • Carmody, J. R.
    • Christopher, Charles W., 1847-1884.
    • Hassinger, J. A.
    • Woolley, John, 1824-1873.
    • Yorke, Louis Eugene, d. 1873.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   42, Small Collections  
    Correspondence,  1868-1883 [series]
    Folder   1  
     1863 January 31; November 28 (2 items)
    Folder   2  
     1868 February 13-1872 September 2 (3 items)
    Folder   3  
     1875 November 11-1876 December 2
    Folder   4  
     1877 January 25-1883 December 27 (6 items)
    Folder   5  
     1884 October 4-1888 November 07
    Box   42, Small Collections Folder   6
    Documents,  1885 January 3-May 20 [series] (3 items)
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    Other papers of Alexander C. Christopher of the 6th Ohio Infantry Regiment are located in the H. Don Young Collection, Western Michigan University Regional History Collections.

    Anderson, Nicholas Longworth. The Letters and Journals of General Nicholas Longworth Anderson; Harvard, Civil War, Washington, 1854-1892. Ed. by Isabel Anderson. New York: F.H. Revell, 1942.


    A Naval Encyclopedia: Comprising a Dictionary of Nautical Words and Phrases; Biographical Notices, and Records of Naval Officers; Special Articles of Naval Art and Science. Philadelphia: L. R. Hamersly, 1881.

    Old Woodward: A Memorial Relating to Woodward High School, 1831-1836, and Woodward College, 1836-1851, in the City of Cincinnati. Cincinnati: Old Woodward Club, 1884.