Willis family papers  1863-1902 (bulk 1882-1889)
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The Willis family papers consist primarily of letters sent to Milton Willis from his father, stepmother, and siblings. Letters from Milton's sister Lydia describe her life in Battle Creek as well as news and gossip about acquaintances, she also frequently mentions her work keeping house, and various illnesses of her and her father. The letters from Henry Willis to his son also mention health and disease frequently, as well as Henry’s business plans, including trying to set up a water system for the city of Battle Creek. Henry’s letters reflect his Quaker background and he often uses the words “thee” and “thou.” The letters from the family in Washington also concern general family news and possible business prospects, though Phoebe occasionally writes about goings-on in town and the social engagements of the president.

The collection also contains a telegraph informing Milton of Phoebe’s death, Milton’s calling card, a few business letters, and a few letters written to Milton from friends in Battle Creek. Many of Henry Willis’s letters are on Chicago and Grand Truck Railroad stationary, the envelopes of which include a print of the Railroad line from New York to Chicago, through Michigan.

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