Blake-Colony collection  1807-1872 (bulk 1807-1837, 1862-1865)
full text File Size: 14 K bytes

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection (131 items) is made up of correspondence related to Ira Blake of Chester, Vermont, and his descendants, and is divided into three main groups: letters between Ira Blake and Mary Seamans, his future wife (8 items); letters to Frances Blake, their daughter (30 items); and letters by Ormond and Oscar Colony, Frances's sons. The Blake letters primarily concern courtship and family news in New England, and the Colony letters pertain to the brothers' experiences traveling to and living in Colorado during the Civil War.

The Blake correspondence (38 items) relates to Ira Blake's immediate family. In 1807, during their courtship, Ira Blake and Mary Seamans exchanged 8 letters about their relationship and separation. The remaining 30 items are mostly letters to Frances Blake (later Colony) containing personal and family news, with the exception of one letter by [G.]S. Barstow to "Mr. Stutevant" relating to information about local deaths from 1859-1861 (December 30, 1864). The majority of the letters are from Mary Blake (later Mary Moore), Frances's mother, and Cyrus Blake, a friend who wrote of life in Roxbury and Boston, Massachusetts, and who provided a list of items he purchased for Frances, along with each item's cost (August 12, 1831).

The Colony correspondence (103 items) chiefly consists of letters that Ormond and Oscar Colony wrote to their family in Keene, New Hampshire, while living in Central City, Colorado, during the Civil War. Winslow J. Howard wrote the earliest letter to the twins' brother Lewis; he described the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico (May 16, 1859). Oscar and Ormond Colony wrote the remainder of the letters. Ormond departed from New Hampshire in the summer of 1862 and wrote several letters from Saint Joseph, Missouri, before embarking on an overland journey to Colorado. He traveled in covered wagons across the Great Plains, which he described in a lengthy composite letter composed after his arrival in Central City, Colorado (June 3, 1862). His first work in Colorado required occasional journeys in the mountains to survey potential routes for the Pacific Railroad. He wrote about his daily life in the town, mentioning its gold mines and describing the surrounding scenery.

Oscar joined Ormond in early December 1862, and the brothers continued to provide their family with updates on their everyday lives and local news, including at least one report of a trial (October 20, 1863). On December 25, 1862, Ormond drew a detailed picture of their home and shop, complete with sketches of their merchandise, which included stuffed mountain birds and fiddles. Oscar shared a related drawing of a covered wagon pulled by two mules, captioned "…our gilded chariot, and we are inside, but you can't see me" (October 16, 1863). The pair also took several trips throughout the surrounding area. On two occasions, they described the perils of cross-country railroad travel, which included fatal Indian attacks (December 6, 1864), causing Ormond to remark that he wanted the Indians "wiped out" (December 11, 1864). The twins also occasionally commented on the Civil War and contemporary politics. While in Missouri, Ormond mentioned a local military unit and the effects of martial law, and in Colorado they occasionally saw military recruiters and wrote about the public's view of the war. On January 8, 1864, Ormond shared his belief that future politics would be difficult because of problems posed by African Americans, Native Americans, and Mormons. In his final letters, written in or around 1865, he revealed his plans to return to New Hampshire following the closing of his business ventures in Colorado.

Undated material includes several letter fragments and drawings. Among the latter are a valentine and a poem; a surreal drawing depicting "A Dream;" a picture of a man driving a mule behind two men carrying long guns; and a drawing of the Pikes Peak Stage labeled "Mr. Aged Individual Candidate for Pikes Peak." Other items include a newspaper clipping regarding Howard & Colony's jewelry products and a printed advertisement for Winslow J. Howard's jewelry business in Santa Fe.

Show all series level scope and content notes