Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Baker-Taintor Papers, 1808-1869

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, August 2009

Summary Information
Title: Baker-Taintor papers
Creator: Baker, Rufus, 1790-1868 and Taintor, Charles, 1762-1854
Inclusive dates: 1808-1869
Extent: 1,080 items (2 linear feet)
The Baker-Taintor papers consist of correspondence and other papers of Colonel Rufus Baker, U.S. Army ordnance officer, and his father-in-law, Charles Taintor, revenue collector and postmaster of Windham, Connecticut.
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, 1981. M-1940.

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:

Baker-Taintor Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The Baker-Taintor papers have been organized into the following series:

  • Correspondence
  • Financial records and receipts
  • Miscellaneous

This collection is organized chronologically within each series.


Charles Taintor (1762-1854) was born in Colchester, Connecticut. He married Mary Abbe in 1785. Taintor was a merchant, a member of the Connecticut General Assembly, and a collector of internal revenue for the 7th collection district of Connecticut.

Rufus Baker (1790-1868) was born to Joseph Baker and Lucy Devotion in Windham, Connecticut. He married Eliza Taintor, daughter of Charles Taintor, in June 1818. They had two children: Charles Taintor Baker, born in 1822 in Windham County, Connecticut; and William Rufus Baker, born in 1830 at Allegheny Arsenal, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

Baker served in the United States Army as first lieutenant assistant deputy commissary of ordnance in 1813, captain of ordnance in 1832, and lieutenant colonel in 1851. In 1818, Baker was ordered to Detroit to establish an arsenal, which he completed in 1819 at a site in Dearborn, Michigan. He resigned from office in 1854, and spent the remaining 14 years of his life largely devoted to the state Democratic Party, running unsuccessfully for Congress. Baker was elected President of Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company in 1856, shortly after the company’s manufacturing operations moved from Windsor, Vermont, to Hartford, Connecticut.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Baker-Taintor papers (1,080 items) consist of the letters and documents of Colonel Rufus Baker, U.S. Army ordnance officer, and his father-in-law, Charles Taintor, revenue collector and postmaster of Windham, Connecticut. The collection contains 1,041 letters and documents, 37 financial records and receipts, and 2 miscellaneous items.

Many of the Taintor papers, which comprise the bulk of the early years of the collection, are business letters discussing payments and receipts to the state. Taintor correspondence trails off in the 1830s and his last contribution is from 1837. Also in the collection are a few 1812 letters addressed to George Abbe and Charles Abbe, likely relatives of Taintor’s wife Mary.

The first Baker letter is from 1814, but the majority of his correspondence date from after 1818. Baker's papers concern military matters, including changes in command at various posts, arsenal requests for supplies, exploratory expeditions in Florida and along the Mississippi, the war with Mexico, and problems with recruiting. Several ordnance lists are included. A letter from March 28, 1818, discusses establishing a new arsenal in Detroit and offers Baker the opportunity to be stationed there for its planning. Of interest is a letter from General Pratt, dated November 16, 1864, in which he discusses the Lincoln administration and the handling of the North-South dispute. Also of note is an 1838 letter from his son Charles at West Point, along with the rare return letter from Baker.

The bulk of the Financial Records and Receipts series are receipts of payments from Baker through the American Exchange Bank and the Importers and Traders’ National Bank; the receipts do not specify what the transactions were for. Of interest in this series are a number of itemized lists of tools, received by the Watervliet Arsenal between 1848 and 1851, that were used in an audit in 1853.

Subject Terms

    • Arsenals--United States--Management.
    • Connecticut--History.
    • Internal revenue.
    • Mexican War, 1846-1848.
    • Scientific expeditions--Florida.
    • Scientific expeditions--Mississippi River.
    • Sharps rifle.
    • United States. Army--Recruiting, enlistment, etc.
    • United States. Army--Ordnance and ordnance stores.
    • United States. Army--Commissariat.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Receipts (financial records)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Correspondence and Documents [series]
    Box   1 Folders   1-26
     October 1808-April 1816
    Box   2 Folders   1-26
     April 1816-December 1817
    Box   3 Folders   1-29
     January 1818-March 1839
    Box   4 Folders   1-32
     March 1840-November 1861
    Box   5 Folders   1-4
     December 1861-December 1868
    Folders   5-10  
    Folders   11-17  
    Financial Records and Receipts [series]
    Folder   18  
    Miscellaneous [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    Additional related materials may be found in the Clements Library's Christopher Van Deventer papers (undated)

    and Michigan collection (January 2, 1818).

    Additional Rufus Baker materials may be found at:

    The U.S. Military Academy Special Collections: Rufus L. Baker papers; 1814-1860s.


    Dunnigan, Brian Leigh.Frontier Metropolis: Picturing Early Detroit, 1701-1838 . Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2001.