Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
James B. Pond Papers, 1863-1901

Finding aid created by
Manuscripts Division Staff and Meg Hixon, January 2014

Summary Information
Title: James B. Pond papers
Creator: Pond, James B., 1838-1903
Inclusive dates: 1863-1901
Extent: 30 items
Abstract:
This collection is made up of autobiographical manuscripts, correspondence, documents, and family photograph albums related to James B. Pond. Some of the items pertain to Pond's service during the Civil War and to his work as a lecture agent.
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:

1990, 1994, 2003. M-2573, M-3073, M-4372.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown.

Processing Information:

Cataloging partly 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:

James B. Pond Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Biography

In 1836, Willard E. Pond, a traveling salesman from Connecticut, met and married Eurana Woodford in Tompkins Co., N.Y. The young couple and their rapidly growing family lived in a succession of different towns in upstate New York before Willard and his uncle "caught the Illinois fever" in 1843 and convinced their families to emigrate west. Settling first in Illinois in 1844, and then in Alto, Wis., in 1847, the Ponds eked out a meager living farming the prairie. Cash was scarce for the family, and the Ponds lived in constant debt, always on the edge of poverty.

Born in 1838, James Burton Pond was one of the oldest of the 11 children of Willard and Eurana. His father, an ardent abolitionist, had raised his sons with an iron hand, inspiring fear as much as attention to proper conduct. At the age of eighteen, James followed his conscience and left home to join John Brown in the antislavery struggle in Kansas, and he fought with the man he considered to be a noble Christian for almost a year. After Brown's defeat at Osawatomie, James wandered to St. Louis, where he worked as a call boy at a theater and as a printer at a religious newspaper, before ending up in Janesville and a position on the staff of a newspaper. Not being one to remain anywhere for too long, James joined a gold mining expedition to Colorado in the spring of 1859, ending up with a party of miners at Clear Creek that included George M. Pullman and H.S. Curtis, son of General Samuel Curtis. When Pond's western adventure panned out in October, he returned "to the States" and his family home in Wisconsin.

As a staunch anti-slavery Republican, Pond joined a Wide Awake club in 1860, and he and his brothers were quick to volunteer for service at the onset of the Civil War. Arriving too late to find a berth in the 1st Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, Pond attempted to enlist again after Bull Run, receiving a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in Co. G, 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry, a company that included two of his younger brothers as well. The 3rd Cavalry served in Kansas and Missouri throughout the war, engaged in some of the nastiest guerrilla warfare. The 3rd Cavalry Regiment and 2nd Kansas (Colored) Infantry were victims of a brutal surprise attack and massacre by William Quantrill's irregulars in October, 1863, during which Pond distinguished himself for his courage in single-handedly manning a howitzer and repelling the raiders. Despite his efforts, Quantrill's men killed Maj. H.S. Curtis and 65 Federals at Baxter Springs, and many more at the camp Pond defended, many of whom were executed after they had surrendered. Pond and both his brothers came through unscathed, a fact they attributed to the prayers of their devoutly religious mother. Pond was later promoted to Captain.

After the war, Pond traveled throughout the country, ending up in Salt Lake City in the early 1870s. In about 1874, an opportunity presented itself for Pond to make some money, when Anna Eliza Young, 19th wife Brigham Young, "apostasized" from her Mormon faith and was enticed to embark on a speaking tour in the east. Pond, in the right place at the right time, secured a position as booking agent for what became a highly lucrative tour, and subsequently branched out in conjunction with the Redpath Lyceum Bureau into managing other speaking tours throughout the U.S. and Canada. He left Redpath to begin his own lecture bureau in New York City in 1879, and over the next twenty years, became the nation's premier lecture agent. Pond promised his solidly middle-class audience "concerts, lectures and all descriptions of musical, lyceum and literary entertainments," and delivered such luminaries as Henry Stanley, George Kennan, Bill Nye, James Whitcomb Riley, Thomas Nast, Mark Twain, Booker T. Washington, P.T. Barnum, George Washington Cable, Ellen Terry, Joseph Jefferson, and Henry Ward Beecher.

Pond wrote numerous magazine articles, autobiographies and stories, as well as at least four books based on his experiences as a tour promoter and manager. His books included Overland with Mark Twain (Elmira, N.Y., 1992), A Summer in England with Henry Ward Beecher (N.Y., 1887), and Henry Ward Beecher (Brooklyn, 1897), and Eccentricities of Genius (N.Y., 1900).


Collection Scope and Content Note

The James B. Pond papers includes a small and scattered sampling of his fascinating life. The bulk of the collection consists of a series of autobiographical manuscripts, parts of which, at least, were published as magazine articles. Most of these focus on his early years (prior to 1861) when he and his family were living a marginal existence in frontier Wisconsin and when he was a young man wandering about in search of a livelihood. The collection includes three major manuscripts, each present in several copies or versions, and of which all related to each other - "A Pioneer Boyhood," "The American Pioneer: My Life as a Boy," and "Pioneer Days" - plus there is a less polished manuscript of childhood reminiscences. All appear to have been written initially in 1890, though some copies were apparently made several years later.

The Pond collection includes a few items relating to James Pond's Civil War service in the 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry, among which are a typescript of official reports relating to the massacre at Baxter Springs, Kansas, a printed poem on the massacre, and a printed notice of the death in the 1880s of William T. Brayton of the 3rd Cavalry. There are also some fleshed-out notes (apparently made by Pond) concerning the death of Capt. Ira Justin in which the author implies that the surgeon performing the autopsy may have done so while Justin was still alive. Pond also wrote or collected other reminiscences of the war, including an autobiographical account of Mrs. Horn, wife of a Missouri surgeon, that includes a description of Quantrill's raiders pillaging town and taking her husband prisoner, a Pond story about the Mayfield girls, Missourians who saved his life by warning him about a planned ambush by guerrillas, and a lengthy series of letters written in 1894-95 by Edward P. Bridgman, a soldier in the 37th Massachusetts Infantry. Bridgman, whose memoir is described separately, also served with John Brown in 1856, and may have known Pond.

James Pond wrote two letters to Edward Bok in 1898. One expresses sympathy to Bok for his recent affliction with yellow fever, and the other is a brief reflection on one of Pond's own lectures. Finally, there are two items relating to Pond's lecture business, a flier advertising the 1877 tour of Canada by Henry Ward Beecher, and an autobiographical sketch "How I got started in the Lecture Business" in which he describes his part in Anna Eliza Young's "apostatizing" and entering onto the lecture circuit.

The collection also contains 5 photograph albums. These volumes contain over 800 personal photographs taken between 1896 and 1901, including many pictures of family members at leisure both indoors and outdoors. Travel photographs include views of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Winnipeg, Manitoba, as well as a group of pictures taken during a visit to England, Switzerland, and Germany in 1901. European items include a series of colored prints. The albums contain images of locomotives, railroad cars, and steamships. One album contains views of crowds gathered for a large parade in Buffalo, New York, and for the inauguration of William McKinley. James B. Pond is also pictured with a few of his clients.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Baxter Springs (Kan.)
    • Beecher, Henry Ward, 1813-1887.
    • Fathers and sons.
    • Fourth of July celebrations.
    • Frontier and pioneer life.
    • Frontier and pioneer life--Wisconsin.
    • Guerrillas.
    • Illinois.
    • Kansas.
    • Lectures and lecturing.
    • Migration, Internal.
    • Quantrill, William Clarke, 1837-1865.
    • Revivals.
    • Thanksgiving Day.
    • United States. Army. Wisconsin Cavalry Regiment, 3rd (1861-1865)
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • Wisconsin.
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • Buffalo (N.Y.)
    • Colorado Springs (Colo.)
    • England.
    • Germany.
    • Parades.
    • Pond, James B. (James Burton), 1838-1903.
    • Steamboats.
    • Switzerland.
    • Washington (D.C.)
    • Winnipeg (Man.)
    Genre Terms:
    • Autobiographies.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Photograph albums.
    • Photographs.
    • Poems.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   1  
    James B. Pond papers,  1863 October 7-1901 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Alternate Locations

    The Pond photograph albums are located in the Graphics Division.

    The Edward Bridgman autobiography has a separate collection description though it remains within the Pond papers.

    Related Materials

    The Winston Churchill collection, part of the Duane Norman Diedrich Collection , includes one letter from Winston L.S. Churchill to James B. Pond, dated September 11, 1900. In this letter, Churchill offers preferences and suggestions related to his first visit to the United States and Canada.

    The Richard E. Byrd collection, also part of the Duane Norman Diedrich Collection , includes letters from Byrd to James B. Pond.

    Partial Subject Index
    Alto (Wis.)
    • 1890 August, (A Pioneer Boyhood)
    • 1890 August, (The American Pioneer: My Life as a Boy)
    • ca.1890, (Pioneer days)
    Ambushes and surprises
    • 1863 October 7-15
    Autopsy
    • n.d., (Civil War reminiscences)
    Battle reports
    • 1863 October 7-15
    Baxter Springs, Battle of, 1863
    • 1863 October 7-15
    • n.d., (The Massacre at Baxter Springs)
    • ca.1890, (Pioneer days)
    Beecher, Henry Ward, 1813-1887
    • ca.1877
    Brown, John, 1800-1859
    • ca.1890, (Pioneer days)
    • ca.1890, (Pioneer days)
    California--Gold discoveries
    • ca.1890 August, (Childhood reminiscences)
    Colorado
    • ca.1890, (Pioneer days)
    Congregational churches--Wisconsin
    • 1890 August, (A Pioneer Boyhood)
    • 1890 August, (The American Pioneer: My Life as a Boy)
    Debtor and creditor
    • 1890 August, (Childhood reminiscences)
    • ca.1890 August, (Childhood reminiscences)
    Denver, (Colo.)
    • ca.1890, (Pioneer days)
    Father and son
    • 1890 August, (Childhood reminiscences)
    • 1890 August, (A Pioneer Boyhood)
    • 1890 August, (The American Pioneer: My Life as a Boy)
    Fire fighters--Wisconsin
    • ca.1890, (Recollections of Janesville)
    Fourth of July celebrations
    • 1890 August, (A Pioneer Boyhood)
    • 1890 August, (The American Pioneer: My Life as a Boy)
    • ca.1890, (Pioneer days)
    Frontier and pioneer life--Illinois
    • 1890 August, (Childhood reminiscences)
    • 1890 August, (A Pioneer Boyhood)
    • 1890 August, (The American Pioneer: My Life as a Boy)
    Frontier and pioneer life--Wisconsin
    • 1890 August, (Childhood reminiscences)
    • ca.1890 August, (Childhood reminiscences)
    • 1890 August, (A Pioneer Boyhood)
    • 1890 August, (The American Pioneer: My Life as a Boy)
    • ca.1890, (Pioneer days)
    • ca.1890, (Recollections of Janesville)
    • 1894, (Thanksgiving Story)
    Garrison, William Lloyd, 1805-1879
    • n.d., (How I started in the lecture business)
    Gold mines and mining--Colorado
    • ca.1890, (Pioneer days)
    Guerrillas--Kansas
    • 1863 October 7-15
    • ca.1890, (Pioneer days)
    • n.d., (The Massacre at Baxter Springs)
    Guerrillas--Missouri
    • n.d., (Civil War years in southwestern Missouri)
    Guns
    • 1890 August, (Childhood reminiscences)
    • ca.1890 August, (Childhood reminiscences)
    Initiations, (into trades, societies, etc.)
    • ca.1890, (Recollections of Janesville)
    Janesville, (Wis.)
    • ca.1890, (Pioneer days)
    • ca.1890, (Recollections of Janesville)
    Justin, Ira, d. 1864?
    • n.d., (Civil War reminiscences)
    Lectures and lecturing
    • ca.1877
    • 1898, January 31
    • n.d., (How I started in the lecture business)
    Migration, Internal--Wisconsin
    • 1890 August, (Childhood reminiscences)
    • 1890 August, (A Pioneer Boyhood)
    • 1890 August, (The American Pioneer: My Life as a Boy)
    Minneapolis, (Minn.)
    • ca.1890, (Pioneer days)
    Missouri--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
    • n.d., (Civil War years in southwestern Missouri)
    • n.d., (The Mayfield family)
    Mormons
    • n.d., (How I started in the lecture business)
    Newspapers--Wisconsin
    • ca.1890, (Pioneer days)
    Nurses
    • n.d., (Civil War years in southwestern Missouri)
    Oriental Evanic Order
    • ca.1890, (Recollections of Janesville)
    Oxen
    • 1890 August, (Childhood reminiscences)
    • ca.1890 August, (Childhood reminiscences)
    Pillage--Missouri
    • n.d., (Civil War years in southwestern Missouri)
    Pond, James Burton, 1838-1903
    • 1895 April 3
    Presidents--United States--Election, 1860
    • ca.1890, (Pioneer days)
    Printers--Wisconsin
    • ca.1890, (Pioneer days)
    Quantrill, William Clarke, 1837-1865
    • 1863 October 7-15
    • n.d., (Civil War years in southwestern Missouri)
    • n.d., (The Massacre at Baxter Springs)
    Redpath Lyceum Bureau
    • n.d., (How I started in the lecture business)
    Revivals--Wisconsin
    • 1890 August, (Childhood reminiscences)
    • 1890 August, (A Pioneer Boyhood)
    • 1890 August, (The American Pioneer: My Life as a Boy)
    Rooming houses--Wisconsin
    • ca.1890, (Recollections of Janesville)
    Smallpox
    • 1890 August, (Childhood reminiscences)
    Speeches, addresses, etc.
    • 1896 December 5
    Sumner, Charles, 1811-1874
    • n.d., (How I started in the lecture business)
    Temperance--Societies, etc.
    • ca.1890, (Pioneer days)
    Thanksgiving Day
    • 1890 August, (A Pioneer Boyhood)
    • 1890 August, (The American Pioneer: My Life as a Boy)
    • 1894, (Thanksgiving Story)
    United States. Army--Enlistment
    • ca.1890, (Pioneer days)
    United States. Army--Surgeons
    • n.d., (Civil War reminiscences)
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
    • 1894 June 10-1895 April 9
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Medical care
    • n.d., (Civil War years in southwestern Missouri)
    • n.d., (Civil War reminiscences)
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Participation, African-American
    • 1863 October 7-15
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Prisoners and prisons
    • 1863 October 7-15
    • n.d., (Civil War years in southwestern Missouri)
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Veterans
    • 1895 April 3
    • n.d., (Death notice)
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Women
    • n.d., (Civil War years in southwestern Missouri)
    • n.d., (The Mayfield family)
    Utah
    • n.d., (How I started in the lecture business)
    Watertown, (Wis.)
    • 1890 August, (A Pioneer Boyhood)
    • 1890 August, (The American Pioneer: My Life as a Boy)
    Wide Awakes
    • ca.1890, (Pioneer days)
    Wisconsin
    • 1890 August, (Childhood reminiscences)
    • ca.1890 August, (Childhood reminiscences)
    • ca.1890, (Pioneer days)
    • ca.1890, (Recollections of Janesville)
    • 1894, (Thanksgiving Story)
    Young, Anna Eliza
    • n.d., (How I started in the lecture business)
    Young, Brigham, 1801-1877
    • n.d., (How I started in the lecture business)