Manuscripts Division William L. Clements Library University of Michigan
Finding aid for Caton Family Papers, 1849-1886
Finding aid created by Philip Heslip, September 2009
Title: Caton family papers Creator: Caton, William Edward, 1846-1905 and Caton, Albert Robert, 1857-1935 Inclusive dates: 1849-1886 Extent: 0.25 linear feet Abstract:
This collection contains letters from brothers William Edward Caton and Albert Robert Caton to their family in Illinois as they travel and work in Iowa, the Dakota Territory, and Colorado. This collection offers insight into daily life and the economic growth of the Western frontier.
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
The collection is open for research.
Copyright status is unknown
Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.
Caton Family Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
This collection is organized into three series:
Series I: Correspondence
Series II: Financial and Legal Papers
Series III: Genealogical Material.
The series are ordered chronologically with undated items filed at the end.
William Edward Caton (1846-1905) was born to William Penn Caton and Elizabeth Steele in Illinois. After completing his education at Grinnell College in the early 1860's, William Caton married Marion E. Shaw and began farming in Henry and Adair Counties, Iowa. In winter, he supplemented his income by running a small writing school. By 1872, he had decided to leave farming and, during the next 14 years, pursued a variety of endeavors. He worked as superintendent of public instruction in Adair County, as editor of the Adair County Register, as a salesman of safes for Diebold and Norris, and, following a move to the Dakota Territory, as a grain dealer and Indian trader with his partner C.W. Beggs. He also briefly served as the superintendent of public instruction for the entire Dakota Territory.
Albert Robert Caton (1857-1935), William Edward Caton's younger brother, began his career as a general commission merchant in Chicago before moving to Colorado for work in mining. He married Alice E. Scott in 1887.
Collection Scope and Content Note
The Caton family papers consist of 112 letters, 5 financial and legal papers, and 1 item with genealogical content.
In a series of letters to their parents and sister, William Edward (Ed) and Albert Robert (Bob) Caton describe efforts to establish themselves economically in Chicago, Iowa, the Dakota Territory, and Colorado. The letters from Edward describe his business activities in Iowa and the Dakota Territory, and discuss in detail his speculation in land sales and leasing.
Bob Caton, whose letters cover the years 1876-1882, writes of his time in the Dakota Territory, and later describes working as a miner and living in Colorado. His letters contain more details on living conditions and daily activities than his brother's business-oriented correspondence does.
The Financial and Legal Papers series holds five items: William P. Canton's Cook County mortgage from 1849, a building receipt enclosing a two cent bank check stamp, and three records of loans. The Miscellaneous Papers series holds an index card with information on W.P. Caton, copied from the Will County Pioneers' Register.