Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Henry Gregory Letters, 1858-1861

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, May 2012

Summary Information
Title: Henry Gregory letters
Creator: Gregory, Elizabeth and Gregory, Francis H., 1789-1866
Inclusive dates: 1858-1861
Extent: 63 items
This collection contains 63 letters Henry Edmond Gregory wrote to his parents, Rear Admiral Francis H. Gregory and Elizabeth Gregory, about his social life in New Haven, Connecticut; his experiences working in a foundry in Charlestown, Massachusetts; and his life in Niobrara, Nebraska Territory, from 1858-1861.
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:

2005. M-4507.8.

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:

Henry Gregory Letters, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged chronologically.


Henry Edmond Gregory was born on May 30, 1839. His father, Rear Admiral Francis H. Gregory (1789-1866) served in the navy throughout most of the first half of the 19th century. His mother was named Elizabeth, and he had at least 3 siblings: John, Hugh, and Mary. The Gregory family lived in New Haven after 1850. Henry left for Charlestown, Massachusetts, in 1858, where he worked in a foundry. In June 1860, he moved to Niobrara, Nebraska, where he remained for about a year, working as a merchant and occasionally traveling to a nearby trading post, where he encountered members of the Ponca Indian tribe. He returned to the East following the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. He later moved to the Dakota Territory and, by 1900, was living in Sioux City, Iowa, with his wife Anna, whom he married in 1875. They had at least one son, Harry.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection contains 60 letters Henry Edmond Gregory wrote to his mother, Elizabeth Gregory, and 3 he wrote to his father, Rear Admiral Francis H. Gregory, between 1858 and 1861. He wrote 11 letters from New Haven, Connecticut, and Boston, Massachusetts (August 22, 1858-December 11, 1858); 24 letters while working in a foundry in Charlestown, Massachusetts (January 29, 1859-July 24, 1859); 23 while living in Niobrara, Nebraska (January 8, 1861-July 8, 1861); and 5 from cities along the East Coast (September 18, 1861-October 30, 1861).

Henry wrote his first 11 letters from New Haven, Connecticut; Charlestown, Massachusetts; and the U.S. Navy Yard, Boston, between August 22, 1858, and December 11, 1858, with news for his mother about his siblings and comments regarding the navy. He frequently referred to a friend named "Mac," who joined a ship's crew during the period. After January 29, 1859, he wrote his parents weekly from Charlestown, Massachusetts, where he worked in a "government foundry." He described his work and complained of the loud noise generated by the shop's machinery, and often mentioned social events and leisure activities. In one letter to his father, he inquired about personnel changes in the navy (March 7, 1859).

Between January 8, 1861, and July 8, 1861, Gregory wrote 22 letters to his mother and 2 to his father, concerning his life in Niobrara, Nebraska Territory. He frequently wrote of his brother John, who lived nearby, and of his own interactions with local Ponca Indians, including visits to a local trading post. He commented on several other aspects of life in the Nebraska Territory, such as the small population, the local residents' desire to build a church, and his work running a store. In his letter of January 24, 1861, and in many letters after April 1861, he referred to the buildup to, and outbreak of, the Civil War, including the local reaction and President Lincoln's call for soldiers. By September 1861, he had returned to Charlestown, and his last letters reflect his ambition to receive an appointment as assistant paymaster. He wrote these letters while traveling along the eastern seaboard with his father.

Subject Terms

    • Boston Navy Yard (Boston, Mass.)
    • Charlestown (Boston, Mass.)
    • Foundries.
    • Frontier and pioneer life--Nebraska.
    • New Haven (Conn.)
    • Niobrara (Neb.)
    • Ponca Indians.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Social aspects.
    • United States. Navy.
    • Gregory, Henry Edmond, b. 1839.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   42, Small Collections  
    Henry Gregory letters [series]
    Folders   17-26  
     August 22, 1858-October 30, 1861