Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Ziba Roberts Collection, 1826-1957

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, June 1993, and Terese Austin and Meg Hixon, January 2014

Summary Information
Title: Ziba Roberts collection
Creator: Roberts family
Inclusive dates: 1826-1957
Bulk dates: 1861-1911
Extent: 1.5 linear feet
Abstract:
This collection is made up of correspondence, diaries, financial records, legal documents, photographs, speeches, and ephemera related to Ziba Roberts of Shelby, New York, and his family. Much of the material concerns his service in the 28th New York Infantry Regiment during the Civil War, veterans' pensions, reunions, genealogy, and estate administration.
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:

1992, 1994, 2016. M-2882, M-3031, M-6036.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

Ziba Roberts Collection, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Arrangement

The collection is arranged in the following series:

  • Series I: Correspondence
  • Series II: Diaries
  • Series III: Documents and Financial Papers
  • Series IV: Photographs
  • Series V: Speeches, Printed Items, and Ephemera
  • Series VI: Genealogy

Each series is arranged chronologically, with undated items placed at the end.


Biography

Ziba Roberts was born in New York on July 31, 1840, the son of Ziba Roberts (1800-1865) and Susanna Wolcott (1804-1892), and the grandson of Revolutionary War veteran Daniel Roberts. In November 1861, he enlisted in the 28th New York Infantry Regiment, Company D. He served primarily in Maryland and Virginia and was a Confederate prisoner for several months in 1862. After mustering out in 1863, he returned to Shelby, where he married Cynthia Dewey on January 13, 1867. They had eight children: William Ziba, John Dewey, Charles M., Mary Cynthia, Calla Dewey, Grace Lisle, Raymond James, and Iva. Ziba Roberts died on December 22, 1928.

Cynthia Dewey Roberts was the daughter of William Wyllis Dewey and Amanda Harland; her siblings included Mary, who married Ziba's brother Daniel, and Eunice, who married Seneca Sprout.


Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection is made up of correspondence, diaries, financial papers, legal documents, photographs, speeches, printed items, and ephemera related to Ziba Roberts of Shelby, New York, and his family. Much of the material concerns his service in the 28th New York Infantry Regiment during the Civil War, veterans' pensions, reunions, genealogy, and estate administration.

The Correspondence series (approximately 110 items) includes a group of 17 items (1826-1852) related to the family of James Harland, an ancestor of Cynthia Dewey Roberts. Harland, who lived in Manchester, New York, received letters from his son William, who moved to Clarksfield, Ohio, around 1839. Shortly after his arrival, William described local marshes and discussed his land and the prices of various crops. His later letters concern his financial difficulties and his Christian faith. A letter of September 3, 1841, includes a small manuscript map of property lines.

The remaining correspondence pertains to Ziba Roberts and, to a lesser extent, his wife and children. The first item is a letter from his sister Henrietta dated March 14, 1858. Roberts regularly corresponded with family members and friends while serving in the 28th New York Infantry Regiment between January 1862 and April 1863. In his letters home (around 20 items), he described aspects of military and camp life, including food, hygiene, illness, long marches, and general boredom; several items concern his experiences in occupied Winchester, Virginia, in the spring of 1862 and his treatment after his release from Confederate prison. He sometimes commented on news of the war, expressing confidence in a Union victory. During this period, Roberts occasionally received letters from family members at home, who discussed farming, religion, and family news (5 items).

The Roberts correspondence resumes in 1886 and continues as late as 1937; most date between 1889 and 1912. Roberts received a series of letters from William W. Eastman in South Dakota, who wrote at length about his financial difficulties. Most of his late correspondence concerns Civil War veterans' affairs, particularly related to pensions and reunions. Some writers complained about the difficulty of receiving a pension, the health issues that affected former soldiers, and Roberts's own disability claim. One printed circular contains reminiscences by members of the 28th New York Infantry Regiment (printed and distributed in May 1892). In 1912, Ziba Roberts received letters from fellow veterans regarding the 28th Regiment's annual reunion; most expressed or implied a lasting sense of comradeship with their fellow veterans, though many declined the invitation on account of poor health or other circumstances (with some reflecting on whether deaths would put future reunions in jeopardy).

The latest correspondence, written in the 1920s and 1930s, concerns the Grand Army of the Republic, insurance policies, and Roberts and Sanborn family genealogy. One correspondent returned an essay written by Ziba Roberts in December 1916: "A Brief History of the Methodist Episcopal Church at East Shelby" (enclosed with letter dated February 27, 1924). Minutes of the 28th Regiment's 68th reunion, held in May 1929, note the death of Ziba Roberts and other soldiers.

Ziba Roberts wrote two Diaries between November 14, 1861, and December 31, 1862. His daily entries concern aspects of his service with the 28th New York Infantry Regiment in Maryland and Virginia, including his imprisonment in 1862. He wrote about marches, guard duty, drills, health, and rations.

The Documents and Financial Papers series (74 items) includes legal documents and financial papers dated 1864 to 1940. Correspondence, indentures, and mortgages pertain to land ownership, management of decedents' estates, and a legal dispute between William W. Dewey and Seneca Sprout in the 1890s. Four items are Grand Army of the Republic commissions for Ziba Roberts, dated between 1918 and 1922. One group of tax receipts pertains to payments made by Ziba and Cynthia Roberts as late as 1940.

The collection's account book originally belonged to Ziba Roberts in the late 19th century. Roberts recorded around 35 pages of accounts between around 1884 and 1919, including records related to everyday purchases of food and other goods, a female domestic worker's wages, road construction, and estates. A later owner recorded tax payments for the years 1922-1944.

The Photographs series consists of 2 photograph albums and 8 loose items. Together, the photograph albums contain around 120 cartes-de-visite, tintypes, and cabinet cards. These items consist of studio portraits of members of the Roberts, Dewey, Wolcott, and Sanborn families, as well as additional friends and family members. Most of the pictures, which feature men, women, children, and infants, were taken in New York.

The loose items are made up of photographs of Ziba Roberts, including a heavily retouched portrait and a corresponding print of the original image; portraits of soldiers in the 28th New York Infantry Regiment; pictures of Colonel Dudley Donnelly's tomb; and a group of soldiers posing by the High Water Mark of the Rebellion Monument at Gettysburg. Additional items show a group posing for a souvenir photograph after a "balloon route trolley trip" in Los Angeles, California, and members of the Sprout family standing in front of their home.

The Speeches, Printed Items, and Ephemera series (30 items) includes Civil War materials, such as scores for the songs "We're Marching on to Richmond," "The Passing of the Veteran," "We Old Boys," and "Have You Got the Countersign"; and a printed booklet of war songs issued by the Grand Army of the Republic and related veterans' societies. Other items pertain to veterans' reunions and reminiscences. The series also includes two typed carbon copies of postwar speeches given by Ziba Roberts, "Seeing Lincoln" and "Lecture on Army Prison Life."

Additional pamphlets and ephemeral items concern New York political reforms, cholera, and a meeting of the descendants of Henry Wolcott. One newspaper clipping describes the career of William Ziba Roberts. The series includes a biography of George Dewey and history of the Dewey family (Adelbert M. Dewey, 1898). The final items are World War II-era ration books, with many stamps still attached.

The Genealogy series (21 items) is comprised of records related to the Roberts and Dewey families, and to the ancestors and descendants of Ziba and Cynthia Dewey Roberts. A manuscript volume contains approximately 35 pages of family trees; registers of births, marriages, and deaths; and the military service of Daniel Roberts (Revolutionary War) and Ziba Roberts (Civil War). Other items include additional registers, death notices, and notes.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Agriculture--New York (State)
    • Agriculture--Ohio.
    • Clarksfield (Ohio)
    • Decedents' estates--United States.
    • Dewey family.
    • Grand Army of the Republic.
    • Huron (S.D.)
    • Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
    • Maryland--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • Medina (N.Y.)
    • Military pensions--United States--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • New York (State)--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • Real property--New York (State)
    • Roberts family.
    • Shelby (N.Y. : Town)
    • Taxation--New York (State)
    • United States. Army--Military life.
    • United States. Army. New York Infantry Regiment, 28th (1861-1863)
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Prisoners and prisons.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Songs and music.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Veterans.
    • Virginia--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • Winchester (Va.)--History.
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • Clarksfield (Ohio)--Maps.
    • Gettysburg National Military Park (Pa.)
    • Real property--Ohio.
    • Roberts family.
    • Roberts, Ziba, 1840-1928.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Veterans.
    Contributors:
    • Eastman, William W.
    • Grand Army of the Republic.
    • Harland, James.
    • Harland, William.
    • Roberts, Daniel.
    • Roberts, Ziba, 1840-1928.
    Genre Terms:
    • Account books.
    • Accounts.
    • Advertisements.
    • Biographies (documents)
    • Cabinet photographs (photographs)
    • Cartes-de-visite (card photographs)
    • Clippings (information artifacts)
    • Diaries.
    • Essays.
    • Genealogical tables.
    • Group portraits.
    • Indentures.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Mortgages.
    • Newsletters.
    • Notes.
    • Photograph albums.
    • Poems.
    • Receipts (financial records)
    • Scores.
    • Speeches.
    • Songbooks.
    • Studio portraits.
    • Tintypes (prints)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
     
    Correspondence [series]
    Box   45, Schoff Civil War Collection  
     1858-1928
    Box   74a, Schoff Civil War Collection Folders   1-4
     1826-1939
     
    Diaries [series]
    Box   45, Schoff Civil War Collection  
     1861-1862 (2 volumes)
     
    Photographs and Photograph Albums [series]    [Note: These items are located in the Graphics Division. Please see the Additional Descriptive Data for more information.]
     
    Documents and Financial Papers [series]
    Box   74a, Schoff Civil War Collection Folders   5-10
     March 15, 1864-January 31, 1940, and  undated
    Box   74b, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    Account Book,  1884-1944
     
    Speeches, Printed Items, and Ephemera [series]
    Box   74a, Schoff Civil War Collection Folders   11-13
     1887-1942, and  undated
     
    Genealogy [series]
    Box   74a, Schoff Civil War Collection Folders   14-15
     Undated
    Box   74c, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    Genealogical Volume,  undated
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Alternate Locations

    The photograph albums and loose photographs are housed in the Graphics Division under the following call numbers:

    • A.2.1860.3
    • A.5.4.1
    • C.3.23
    • C.5.4
    • F.16.26.2

    The following item is housed in the Book Division: Dewey, Adelbert, and Louis Marinus Dewey, et al. Life of George Dewey, Rear Admiral, U. S. N., and Dewey Family History. Westfield, Mass.: Dewey Publishing Company, 1898.

    Bibliography

    Dewey, Adelbert, and Louis Marinus Dewey, et al. Life of George Dewey, Rear Admiral, U. S. N., and Dewey Family History. Westfield, Mass.: Dewey Publishing Company, 1898.

    Partial Subject Index to Ziba Roberts Correspondence (Items in Box 45, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection)
    African American cooks.
    • 1861 December 14-15
    Aging.
    • 1912 May 16
    Belle Isle (Va.) Military Prison.
    • 1862 October 12
    Boots.
    • 1862 January 19
    Bowen, Erwin A., ca.1835-1889.
    • 1889 April 3
    Camps (Military)--Maryland.
    • 1862 February 15
    Card playing.
    • 1862 January 19
    Census.
    • 1890 May 26
    Civilians--Maryland.
    • 1862 February 15
    Confederate States of America. Army--Pay, allowances, etc.
    • 1862 March 12
    Confederate States of America. Army--Recruiting.
    • 1862 March 27
    Dental care.
    • 1863 January 14
    Deserters, Military.
    • [1862] January 12
    Diarrhea.
    • [1887 September 6]
    • 1888 October 25
    Dreams.
    • [1862] January 12
    Drill and minor tactics.
    • 1861 December 14-15
    Earl (Mich.)
    • 1858 March 14
    Farming--New York (State)
    • 1862 February 4
    • 1862 March 12
    • 1863 February 17
    Finance, Personal.
    • 1886 July 17
    • 1890 December 30
    Fires--South Dakota.
    • 1889 April 3
    Food.
    • 1861 November 24
    Fortifications, Field.
    • 1862 March 12
    Gettysburg, Battle of, 1863.
    • 1912 June 12
    Grand Army of the Republic.
    • 1889 June 20
    • 1890 December 22
    • 1894 September 18
    • 1914 March 26
    • 1925 October 31
    Homesteaders--Wyoming.
    • 1892 May 12
    Hotels, taverns, etc.--Maryland.
    • 1862 January 19
    Hunting.
    • 1862 January 27
    Jackson, Stonewall, 1824-1863.
    • 1862 March 27
    Kernstown, Battle of, 1862.
    • 1862 March 27
    Lewis, William.
    • 1891 February 7
    Lice.
    • 1861 December 14-15
    • 1862 October 12
    Marches--Virginia.
    • 1862 December 19
    McClellan, George Brinton, 1826-1885.
    • 1862 December 19
    Military discharge.
    • 1862 April 30
    Morale.
    • 1862 October 12
    New York (State)--Religion.
    • [1862] January 12
    Pensions, Military--United States--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • [1887 September 6]
    • 1888 October 25
    • 1889 April 3
    • 1889 June 20
    • 1890 May 12
    • 1890 December 30
    • 1891 February 7
    • 1927 July 25
    • [1926]
    Picket duty--Virginia.
    • 1863 January 31-February 1
    Pies.
    • 1863 February 16
    Preaching.
    • 1861 November 24
    Preemption.
    • 1886 July 17
    Prisoners of War.
    • 1862 October 6
    • 1862 October 12
    • 1863 January 14
    • [1887 September 6]
    Prisoners of War--Health and hygiene.
    • 1862 October 12
    Reunions.
    • 1889 June 20
    • 1892 May 1
    • 1892 May 12
    • [1893]
    • 1894 September 18
    • 1911 April 29
    • 1912 April 13
    • 1912 April 29
    • 1912 May 1
    • 1912 May 5
    • 1912 May 7
    • 1912 May 9
    • 1912 May 10 (2)
    • 1912 May 11
    • 1912 May 12
    • 1912 May 13 (2)
    • 1912 May 14 (2)
    • 1912 May 15 (2)
    • 1912 May 16 (3)
    • 1912 May 17
    • 1912 May 18
    • 1912 May 19
    • 1912 May 20 (3)
    • 1912 May 21 (2)
    • [1912 May]
    • 1912 June 12
    • ca.1892 (Photographs)
    Revivals--Michigan.
    • 1858 March 14
    Shenandoah Valley Campaign, 1862.
    • 1862 March 27
    • 1862 April 6
    Soldiers--Portraits.
    • ca.1861
    South Dakota.
    • 1886 July 17
    • 1890 December 30
    Stealing.
    • 1862 April 30
    Tents.
    • 1863 January 31-February 1
    Tobacco.
    • 1863 January 14
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Desertions.
    • 1863 January 31-February 1
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Postal service.
    • [1862] January 29
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Veterans.
    • 1886 July 17
    • [1887 September 6]
    • 1889 April 3
    • 1889 June 20
    • 1890 May 26
    • 1892 May 1
    • 1892 May 12
    • [1893]
    • 1908 January 30
    • [1912 January 7]
    • 1912 April 13
    • 1912 April 29
    • 1912 May 1
    • 1912 May 5
    • 1912 May 7
    • 1912 May 9
    • 1912 May 10 (2)
    • 1912 May 11
    • 1912 May 12
    • 1912 May 13 (2)
    • 1912 May 14 (2)
    • 1912 May 15 (2)
    • 1912 May 16 (3)
    • 1912 May 17
    • 1912 May 18
    • 1912 May 19
    • 1912 May 20 (3)
    • 1912 May 21 (2)
    • [1912 May]
    • 1912 June 12
    • 1927 July 23
    United States--History--Civil war, 1861-1865--Veterans--Portraits.
    • [ca.1880?]
    • 1901
    • ca.1866
    • ca.1870
    • ca.1885
    • ca.1892
    United States. Army--Chaplains.
    • 1862 February 22
    • 1862 April 13
    United States. Army--Military life.
    • 1862 March 27
    United States. Army--Officers--Alcohol.
    • 1862 February 22
    United States. Army--Officers--Portraits.
    • [ca.1863?]
    United States. Army--Pay, allowances, etc.
    • 1862 January 19
    United States. Army--Sutlers.
    • 1863 February 16
    Veterans, Disabled.
    • [1887 September 6]
    • 1888 October 25
    • 1889 June 20
    Wade, William G.
    • 1888 October 25
    Washington's Birthday.
    • 1862 February 22
    Winchester (Va.)
    • 1862 March 12
    World's Columbian Exposition (1893 : Chicago, Ill.)
    • [1893]
    Wyoming.
    • 1892 May 12