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Guide to the Doe Family Letters

MSN/EA 5035

 

Collection Summary

Title: Doe family letters
Dates: 1842-1850 (bulk 1849-1850)
Collection No.: MSN/EA 5035
Creator: Doe, Charles C. (Charles Cogswell), 1830-1896
Creator: Doe, Joseph Bodwell, 1818-1890
Extent: 13 items; 1 container; 1 linear inch
Language: Collection material in English
Repository: University of Notre Dame. Hesburgh Libraries, Department of Special Collections. 102 Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Abstract: A group of 13 manuscript letters, mostly written by Charles C. Doe to his parents. The letters, for the most part, describe a trip from New Hampshire to Janesville, Wisconsin.

Selected Search Terms

Rock County (Wis.)--History--19th century
Wisconsin--Social life and customs--19th century
Travelers--West (U.S.)--History--19th century

Administrative Information

Restrictions: There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Preferred Citation: Doe Family Letters, Department of Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.

Acquisition and Processing Note: The Doe Family Letters were acquired by the Hesburgh Libraries in 2012, from Carmen D. Valentino: American Historical Manuscripts (Catalogue 70, Item 59). Arranged and described 2012, by Mairead O'Malley. Finding aid 2013, by Kenneth Kinslow.

Biographical Note

The writer of the majority of the letters in this small collection is Charles Cogswell Doe (1830-1896), the son of Joseph Doe, Jr. and Mary Bodwell Ricker. On the paternal side Charles's ancestors lived in New Hampshire from at least 1663. He received a good education and graduated from Dartmouth College in 1849. Most of the letters were written in 1849 when Charles took a trip to Janesville, Wisconsin to visit his older brother, Bodwell Doe. Janesville was founded in 1835 in southern Wisconsin along the Rock River where early settlers established farms, primarily to grow wheat. After this trip west at the age of nineteen, Charles entered the law office of Daniel M. Christie in Dover, New Hampshire, and spent some time in Harvard Law School. He was admitted to the New Hampshire bar in 1852, and at the age of 29 became an associate justice in the state of New Hampshire and later the chief justice in that state.

Scope and Content Note

The collection includes 13 items, primarily travel letters from Charles C. Doe to his parents (nine letters). There are two letters from Charles C. Doe to his older brother Ebenezer Ricker Doe in Boston and one to his sister Susan Doe also in Boston. The final letter is from the brother Bodwell Doe to his parents after Charles has left Janesville, Wisconsin.

Arrangement Note

The collection consists of one series; materials are arranged chronologically, one item per folder.

Related Material

The majority of Charles C. Doe's letters and papers reside in the New Hampshire Historical Society. The most extensive discussion of Doe's life and work is John Phillip Reid's book: Chief Justice: the Judicial World of Charles Doe (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967).

Container List

  • Series 1: Letters 
    • Folder 1 (MSN/EA 5035-1) Letter. Charles C. Doe, Kennebunk, Maine, to Joseph and Mary Ricker Doe, South Berwick, Maine, 1842 March 22. ALS, 1 page on 1 folded sheet, with integral address leaf.
      Away at school, the young Charles C. Doe tells his parents he is not homesick and explains his needs as far as his Latin and Greek studies.
      • Folder 2 (MSN/EA 5035-2) Letter. Charles C. Doe, Saratoga Springs and Schenectady, New York, to Joseph and Mary Ricker Doe, South Berwick, Maine, 1849 September 26-27. ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, with integral address leaf.
        On his journey west, Doe describes a visit to relatives in Wilton (New York), a cattle show, and a visit to a college.
        • Folder 3 (MSN/EA 5035-3) Letter. Charles C. Doe, Niagara Falls, New York, to Joseph and Mary Ricker Doe, South Berwick, Maine, 1849 October 3. ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, with integral address leaf.
          After taking the steamboat to Lewiston (New York), Doe describes visiting Niagara Falls and going over the suspension bridge into Canada.
          • Folder 4 (MSN/EA 5017-4) Lettter. Charles C. Doe, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Joseph and Mary Ricker Doe, South Berwick, Maine, 1849 October 10. ALS, 2 pages on 1 folded sheet, with integral address leaf.
            Doe describes the steamboat trip from Cleveland to Milwaukee by way of Detroit, Port Sarnia (Canada), and Mackinac (Michigan).
            • Folder 5 (MSN/EA 5035-5) Letter. Charles C. Doe, Janesville, Wisconsin, to Joseph and Mary Ricker Doe, South Berwick, Maine, 1849 October 15. ALS, 4 pages on 1 folded sheet, with integral address leaf.
              Doe describes at some length the last leg of the journey from Milwaukee to Janesville by "mud-waggon." The journey of 68 miles took 24 hours.
              • Folder 6 (MSN/EA 5035-6) Letter. Charles C. Doe, Janesville, Wisconsin, to Ebenezer Ricker Doe, Boston, Massachusetts, 1849 October 16. ALS, 2 pages on 1 folded sheet, with integral address leaf.
                Doe describes a visit to his (Ebenezer's) farm, which has been rented out to an Irishman.
                • Folder 7 (MSN/EA 5035-7) Letter. Charles C. Doe, Janesville, Wisconsin, to Joseph and Mary Ricker Doe, South Berwick, Maine, 1849 October 22. ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, with integral address leaf.
                  Doe compares travel by stage versus travel by railroad and proposes returning home by way of Virginia.
                  • Folder 8 (MSN/EA 5035-8) Letter. Charles C. Doe, Janesville, Wisconsin, to Ebenezer Ricker Doe, Boston, Massachusetts, 1849 October 24. ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, with integral address leaf.
                    Doe goes to Jefferson (Wisconsin) to visit a court house, which is crowded and smoky from a stove which would not draw properly. Despite such complaints, he states: "Life here seems to be an enthusiastic race for wealth, name, and office. . . This is the place for me. It is a great country, and only needs fencing."
                    • Folder 9 (MSN/EA 5035-9) Letter. Charles C. Doe, Janesville, Wisconsin, to Susan Doe, Boston, Massachusetts, 1849 October 27. ALS, 4 pages on 1 folded sheet, with integral address leaf.
                      Doe favorably describes to his sister the weather and the country in Janesville. The people are more free, easy, and open. "The ladies all dance, and men all drink beer and whiskey. Nearly all ride horseback."
                      • Folder 10 (MSN/EA 5035-10) Letter. Charles C. Doe, Janesville, Wisconsin, to Joseph Doe, South Berwick, Maine, 1849 November 9. ALS, 4 pages on 1 folded sheet, with integral address leaf.
                        Doe describes to his father the geography around Janesville, the plans for an anticipated railroad line, as well as the trees, crops, and prices.
                        • Folder 11 (MSN/EA 5035-11) Letter. Charles C. Doe and Anna Bodwell, Janesville, Wisconsin, to Joseph and Mary Ricker Doe, South Berwick, Maine, 1849 November 14. ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, with integral address leaf.
                          Doe describes a trip to Watertown (Wisconsin) to attend the consecration of an Episcopalian church and notes the health problems and deaths of Anna and Bodwell's young children. Anna (Bodwell's wife) adds a page to her parents discussing her own health and that of her three-month-old baby, Charles Ricker.
                          • Folder 12 (MSN/EA 5035-12) Letter. Charles C. Doe, Janesville, Wisconsin, to Joseph and Mary Ricker Doe, South Berwick, Maine, 1849 December 3. ALS, 4 pages on 1 folded sheet, with integral address leaf.
                            Doe discusses morality and religion, the health of the baby, Charles Ricker, and his return trip via the Mississippi River to St. Louis then by way of the Ohio River to Cincinnati.
                            • Folder 13 (MSN/EA 5035-13) Letter. Bodwell Doe, Janesville, Wisconsin, to Joseph and Mary Ricker Doe, South Berwick, Maine, 1850 January 10. ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, with integral address leaf.
                              Bodwell Doe discusses Charles's visit, the health of the baby, Charles Ricker, his own business, and the churches in the area.