Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Frederick F. Kislingbury Collection, 1881-1919

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, October 2012

Summary Information
Title: Frederick F. Kislingbury collection
Creator: Clark, Charles Lamartine, b. 1851
Inclusive dates: 1881-1919
Bulk dates: 1881-1891
Extent: 1 linear foot
This collection contains correspondence, legal documents, financial records, and other material related to the family of Frederick Kislingbury, who died during Adolphus Greely's expedition to the Arctic in the early 1880s. The majority of the material pertains to disputes over Kislingbury's estate, the custody of his children, and his sons' later lives.
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:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

Donated, 1998. M-4025.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


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:

Frederick F. Kislingbury Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged in the following series:

  • Series I: Correspondence and Documents
  • Series II: Diary
  • Series III: Cass School (Detroit, Mich.) and Michigan Military Academy Papers
  • Series IV: Photographs
  • Series V: Menu
  • Series VI: Printed Items

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


Frederick Foster Kislingbury was born in England in 1846 or 1847 and moved to the United States around 1858. He lived in Rochester, New York, and enlisted in a cavalry regiment during the Civil War. After the war, he moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he was a clerk, and he received a United States Army commission around 1873. He served as a 2nd lieutenant with the 11th Infantry at Fort Concho, Texas; Fort Standing Rock, Dakota Territory; and Fort Custer, Montana. In 1880, Kislingbury volunteered for Adolphus Greely's expedition to the Arctic. Originally appointed second in command, Kislingbury was relieved from duty in August 1881 at his own request after refusing to comply with orders. He remained with the expedition, as the steamer Proteus , which had brought the men to Lady Franklin Bay, had already left, and only resumed duties after the death of another crew member in April 1884. He died in the Arctic on June 1, 1884. His four surviving sons were Harry Howard Grant (b. 1867), Walter Frederick (1869-1901 or 1902), Douglas Ebstein Lohman (b. 1874), and Wheeler Schofield (b. 1876). Following their father's death, they lived with Charles Lamartine Clark, Kislingbury's estate executor, and with their uncles, John P. Kislingbury and William H. Kislingbury of Rochester, New York. Harry H. G. Kislingbury attended the Michigan Military Academy in Orchard Lake, Michigan, in the mid-1880s. He later lived in Flagstaff, Arizona. Wheeler Schofield Kislingbury later lived in San Francisco, California.

Charles Lamartine Clark was born in Rochester, New York, on April 9, 1851. He moved to Detroit in 1868, where he became a clerk and an insurance agent. He and his wife, Georgina Frazer, had three children: Cecilia Louise, Georgiana M., and Charles Elliot Frazer.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection contains correspondence, legal documents, financial records, and other material related to the family of Frederick Kislingbury, who died during Adolphus Greely's expedition to the Arctic in the early 1880s. The majority of the material pertains to disputes over his estate, the custody of his children, and his sons' later lives.

The Correspondence and Documents series (around 500 items) comprises the bulk of the collection. Before embarking on Adolphus Greely's Lady Franklin Bay Expedition in August 1881, Frederick Kislingbury signed several personal checks, received postcards from the Army Mutual Aid Association, and corresponded with acquaintances about his finances. On August 17, 1881, he wrote a letter to his sons about his upcoming voyage, and he marked the expedition's proposed landing point on a printed map of the Arctic regions. Soon after his father's departure, Harry H. G. Kislingbury received letters and legal documents regarding a package that his father had sent to him before leaving for the Arctic. Several other letters pertain directly to the expedition. In a letter to Kislingbury dated January 20, 1882, Adolphus Greeley criticized Greely's sleeping habits during his "enforced stay with this command" and discussed the circumstances that led to Kislingbury's initial dismissal for insubordination in 1881. A copied letter from Captain W. M. Beebe about the Neptune 's attempted rescue mission (July 17, 1882) and a printed letter confirming the failure of the 1883 relief expedition (September 14, 1883) are also present.

The bulk of the series is made up of incoming letters, legal documents, and financial records to Charles Lamartine Clark, a Detroit resident who served as Kislingbury's estate executor. The material primarily concerns the estate's finances and the custody of Kislingbury's sons. Clark often corresponded with the Army Mutual Aid Association, and the collection has a copy of its 4th annual report (1883). John P. Kislingbury and William H. Kislingbury, Frederick Kislingbury's brothers, wrote to Clark from Rochester, New York. They argued over custody of the Kislingbury children, their brother's funeral and burial, and his financial affairs, though their later correspondence was more cordial toward Clark. Clark also owned an account book covering Kislingbury's relationship with Riggs & Co. from 1881-1884. Some items from 1885 concern a pension that the United States Congress awarded to his sons and related efforts to certify their ages.

After 1885, Harry H. G. Kislingbury wrote letters to Clark about his experiences at the Michigan Military Academy in Orchard Lake, Michigan. Clark also received letters about Harry's conduct from the school's superintendent. Harry later wrote about his life in San Francisco, California, and Flagstaff, Arizona, in the late 1880s.

Wheeler Kislingbury wrote several lengthy personal letters to Charles L. Clark in 1913 and 1914, mentioning his life in San Francisco, California, expressing regret over his uncles' actions following his father's death, and discussing the possibility of publishing his father's diary. Additionally, one letter describes an encounter with Adolphus Greely in which the officer refused to talk to Wheeler after discovering that he was Frederick Kislingbury's son (May 7, 1913). Douglas E. L. Kislingbury wrote a brief personal letter to Clark from Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1917, and Wheeler wrote 2 letters to Clark's wife from Winslow, Arizona, in 1919.

Henry H. G. Kislingbury kept a Diary (100 pages) while traveling from New York to San Francisco onboard the St. Mark between December 6, 1886, and April 22, 1887. Kislingbury wrote about the ship's crew, the weather, the scenery, and the captain's family, who were passengers on the voyage.

The Cass School (Detroit, Mich.) and Michigan Military Academy Papers pertain to the education of two of Frederick Kislingbury's sons. Two report cards from the Cass School in Detroit, Michigan, provide information on Walter Kislingbury's academic progress in 1883. The remaining 25 loose items are report cards and receipts concerning Harry H. G. Kislingbury's academic progress, conduct, and finances during his time at the Michigan Military Academy, 1884-1886. He also kept an account book while attending the school.

The Photographs series (5 items) contains portraits of Charles L. Clark, his wife Georgina Frazer Clark, and a group portrait of Clark with Walter Frederick Kislingbury and Wheeler Kislingbury. Frederick Kislingbury carried the carte-de-visite of Charles L. Clark during the Greely expedition.

A manuscript Menu lists the meals consumed by the Greely expedition on each day of the week.

The Printed Items series is comprised of 2 items: a copy of the Sunday Morning Herald with an article about Frederick Kislingbury's death (July 20, 1884) and Harry H. G. Kislingbury's copy of Emory Upton's Infantry Tactics Double and Single Rank. Adapted to American Topography and Improved Fire-Arms (Revised edition, 1884).

Subject Terms

    • Army Mutual Aid Association.
    • Custody of children--United States.
    • Detroit (Mich.)
    • Executors and administrators--United States.
    • Flagstaff (Ariz.)--Description and travel.
    • Greely, A. W. (Adolphus Washington), 1844-1935.
    • Indianapolis (Ind.)
    • Lady Franklin Bay Expedition (1881-1884)
    • Michigan Military Academy.
    • Riggs and Co.
    • Rochester (N.Y.)
    • San Francisco (Calif.)
    • St. Mark (Ship)
    • United States. Army. Infantry--Drill and tactics.
    • Voyages to the Pacific coast.
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • Clark, Charles Lamartine, b. 1851.
    • Clark, Georgina Frazer.
    • C. E. Frazer Clark (1892-1978)
    • Kislingbury, Douglas E.
    • Kislingbury, Frederick Foster, 1847-1884.
    • Kislingbury, Harry Howard Grant.
    • Kislingbury, John P.
    • Kislingbury, Wheeler.
    • Upton, Emory, 1839-1881.
    Genre Terms:
    • Account books.
    • Affidavits.
    • Annual reports.
    • Books.
    • Card photographs (photographs)
    • Cartes-de-visite (card photographs)
    • Financial records.
    • Indentures.
    • Legal documents.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Menus.
    • Newspapers.
    • Postcards.
    • Receipts (financial records)
    • Report cards.
    • Tintypes (prints)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Correspondence and Documents [series]
    Box   1 Folders   1-35
     January 27, 1881-December 28, 1886
    Box   2 Folders   1-16
     January 5, 1887-December 3, 1919, and  Undated
    Diary [series]
    Volume   1  
    Harry H. G. Kislingbury diary,  December 6, 1866-April 2, 1887
    Box   2  
    Cass School (Detroit, Mich.) and Michigan Military Academy papers [series]
    Folders   17-18  
     April 27, 1883-June 16, 1886
    Photographs [series]
    Box   2 Folders   19-20
    Menu [series]
    Box   2 Folder   21
    Printed Items [series]
    Box   2 Folder   22
      July 20, 1884
    Volume   2  
    Upton, Emory. Infantry Tactics Double and Single Rank. Adapted to American Topography and Improved Fire-Arms. Revised edition. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1884.
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    The Clements Library has additional editions of Emory Upton's work on infantry tactics.

    The National Museum of American History has a collection of materials related to the Greely expedition.


    Greely, Adolphus W. Report on the Proceedings of the United States Expedition to Lady Franklin Bay, Grinnell Land. Volume I. Washington, [D.C.]: Government Printing Office, 1888.

    Moore, Charles. History of Michigan. Volume III. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1915.

    "Our Dead Hero: The First Lieutenant of the Ill-starred Greeley Expedition." Sunday Morning Herald (Rochester, N.Y.) 20 July 1884.

    Robinson, Michael F. The Coldest Crucible: Arctic Exploration and American Culture. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2006.

    An inventory is available in the Manuscripts Division.

    Additional information about the Frederick Kislingbury diary and a transcription are available in the Manuscripts Division.