Manuscripts Division William L. Clements Library University of Michigan
Finding aid for Stephen W. Church Papers, 1859-1861
James S. Schoff Civil War Collection
Finding aid created by Philip Heslip, September 2009
Title: Stephen W. Church papers Creator: Church, Stephen Wardwell, 1833-1906 Inclusive dates: 1859-1861 Extent: 35 items Abstract:
The Stephen W. Church papers contain the letters of a Rhode Island merchant working in Charleston, South Carolina, in the late antebellum period just before the outbreak of the Civil War. He discusses business issues, such as the prices of food goods, and comments on the political climate in Charleston.
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.
Stephen W. Church Papers, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
This collection is organized chronologically with the two photographs at the end.
Stephen Wardwell Church was born in 1833 in Bristol, Rhode Island, to Stephen Tripp Church, a farmer, and Anna Fales Wardwell. During the period immediately preceding the Civil War, Church worked as a northern merchant operating out of Charleston, South Carolina. He may have returned north to fight in the war shortly after 1861.
Church married Rebecca Ann Norris in 1989, and is listed as a Customs Official as late as 1903. He died in 1906.
Collection Scope and Content Note
The Stephen W. Church papers contain 32 letters, all addressed to his uncle and associate, Thomas Coggeshall, of New York. These letters primarily describe Church’s business dealings, including outstanding debts in Bristol, Rhode Island, and the local demand and prices for produce such as citrus fruits, potatoes, apples, cheese, and butter. In addition to offering revealing information on the state of trade in late-antebellum Charleston, Church also explained the ideological and logistical build-up to war. For example, in the final letter of the series, April 8, 1861, he remarks about the town's anticipation of an attack on Fort Sumter. He had received news of an officer from Washington meeting with the Governor and General Beauregard, and noted, "...we are to have a fight after all. There is the most intense excitement here, and people are perfectly wild, and vengeance is depicted upon every countenance." Church correctly predicted that the fort would be attacked before the letter had been delivered.
Also included in the collection are two cartes-de-visite of Union soldiers: one of Gilbert W. Thompson, Captain of the 16th Connecticut Infantry, and one of a captain with the 1st Rhode Island Cavalry.
Anderson, Robert, 1805-1871.
Beauregard, G. T. (Gustave Toutant), 1818-1893.
Fort Sumter (Charleston, S.C.)
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
Cartes-de-visite (card photographs)
Container / Location
Box 89, Schoff Civil War Collection
Stephen W. Church papers [series]
October 26, 1859
October 27, 1859
November 5, 1859
November 7, 1859
November 9, 1859
November 14, 1859
November 16, 1859
November 22, 1859
November 25, 1859
November 28, 1859
December 1, 1859
December 5, 1859
December 6, 1859
December 7, 1859
December 9, 1859
December 10, 1859
December 12, 1859
December 13, 1859
December 15, 1859
December 17, 1859
December 22, 1859
December 24, 1859
January 5, 1860
January 3, 1861
January 15, 1861
January 18, 1861
January 23, 1861
January 28, 1861
January 29, 1861
February 8, 1861
February 26, 1861
March 15, 1861
April 8, 1861
Photographs (2 items)
Additional Descriptive Data
The Schoff Civil War collection, Letters and Documents series contains a letter from Samuel Wylie Crawford to Crawford Washington describing the deteriorating conditions within Fort Sumter just before the Confederate siege. This letter is dated April 9 and 14, 1861.
The Clements Library Graphics Division holds several items relating to Fort Sumter, including two engravings and a photograph of the interior of the fort from April 15, 1861.