TABLE OF CONTENTS


Descriptive Summary of the Collection

Administrative Information

Biography of Nathan Kendall and Abby J. Reed Kendall

Scope and Content of the Collection

Organization

Selected Search Terms

Related Material

Container List

Series 1: Nathan Kendall and Abby J. Reed Kendall Correspondence, 1855-1871

Series 2: Family Correspondence, 1842-1907, bulk 1842-1875

Series 3: Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1843-1912, bulk 1843-1855

Series 4: Miscellaneous Material and Writings, ca. 1848-1940, bulk 1848-1863

Series 5: Diaries, 1854-1911

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Nathan Kendall and Abby J. Reed Kendall Papers, 1842-1912


The Newberry Library
Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections
60 West Walton Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610-7324
USA
Phone: 312-255-3506
Fax: 312-255-3646
E-Mail: specialcolls@newberry.org
URL: http://www.newberry.org

Machine-readable finding aid encoded by Lisa Janssen, 2004.

©2004.


Descriptive Summary of the Collection

Creator Kendall, Nathan R.
Title Nathan Kendall and Abby J. Reed Kendall Papers
Dates 1842-1912
Extent 2.9 linear feet (7 boxes)
Abstract Correspondence, writings, documents of Nathan Kendall and wife Abby J. Reed Kendall of Massachusetts, Indiana and Illinois, including many letters to each other before and after marriage in 1857, as well as numerous letters to and from members of their families, friends and former students. Some correspondence and documents concern travel to California begun in 1849.
Language Materials are in English.
Repository Newberry Library, Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections
Collection Call Number Midwest MS Kendall-Reed
Collection Stack Location 3a 40 8

Administrative Information

Cite As

Nathan and Abby J. Reed Kendall Papers, The Newberry Library, Chicago.

Provenance

Given by a member of the Kendall family of Oak Park, Illinois in 1947.

Processed by

R.J. Bowker, 1993; Martha T. Briggs, 1996; Virginia H. Smith, 2002

Access

The Nathan and Abby J. Reed Kendall Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Nathan and Abby J. Reed Kendall Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

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Biography of Nathan Kendall and Abby J. Reed Kendall

Members of two Massachusetts families who married in 1857 and raised a family of four sons, first in Indiana and later in Illinois.

Nathan Kendall was born in 1824 and Abby J. Reed in 1927. Nathan served as principal in academies in Kentucky and New England before becoming a civil engineer in 1853 and moving to LaPorte, Indiana to work for the Cincinnati, Peru and Chicago Railway and then to own and operate a lumber mill. Abby Reed and her sister Mary were New England school teachers, and the friendships among the members of the Kendall and Reed families led to the marriage of Nathan and Abby in 1857.

Nathan's first wife, Josephine Stedman, died in childbirth in 1854. As the Kendalls and Reed families were friends, Abby then began a correspondence with Nathan. They were married in 1857 and settled in LaPorte, Indiana and then in Kankakee, Illinois. By the end of the 1860s the couple had acquired considerable agricultural land in these two states, so after disappointment as a superintendent for the Cincinnati, Peru and Chicago Railway and as a mill owner, Nathan hoped to find success as a farmer. Abby bore four sons: Edgar, Winthrop, George and Arthur, losing two other children in infancy. Farming proved to be a struggle, for Nathan's health was always poor and his lungs weak, and Abby felt the need for periodic trips back to Warwick, Mass. to visit her family - especially to see her sister Mary, who was her closest friend.

Nathan Kendall died in 1871, just after he had decided that perhaps relocating in the South would help his lung disease. For the next few years Abby and the children lived in New England, renting out the Indiana farm, before returning to live permanently in the Middle West. At the time of her death in 1912, Abby owned property in Fowler, Indiana and in Hudson, Massachusetts.

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Scope and Content of the Collection

Mainly correspondence but also manuscripts and biographical notes, of Nathan Kendall, his wife, Abby J. Reed Kendall, and their immediate families and friends, dating primarily from the two decades preceding the Civil War. Included are the couple's courtship letters as well as correspondence during later separations when one or the other of them was traveling, and a collection of their small diaries. There is correspondence and a few transcriptions of the narration of Charles Reed (Abby J. Reed's brother) concerning his 1849 overland journey to California and his subsequent adventures with the Washington City and California Mining Association, his prospecting on the Feather River and near Downieville, and his 1854 survival of a shipwreck off the California coast. News of close friends who took the Panama route to California is also included in the correspondence of Agnes Allen. Also included are numerous schoolgirl essays.

Narrative descriptions of the subject matter, types of material, and arrangement of each series are available through the Organization section of the finding aid.

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Organization

Papers are organized in the following series:

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Selected Search Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Newberry Library's public catalog. Researchers desiring additional materials on a particular topic should search the catalog using these headings.

Names

  • Kendall family
  • Kendall, Abby J., b. 1827
  • Kendall, Nathan R.
  • Reed family
  • Reed, Charles
  • Stedman family
  • Washington City and California Mining Association

Subjects

  • California -- Gold discoveries -- Sources
  • Chronically ill -- United States -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
  • Correspondence -- California, Northern -- 1801-1850
  • Correspondence -- California, Northern -- 1851-1900
  • Correspondence -- Northeastern States -- 1801-1850
  • Correspondence -- Northeastern States -- 1851-1900
  • Correspondence -- Northeastern States -- 1901-1950
  • Courtship -- Northeastern States -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
  • Diaries -- Great Lakes States -- 1851-1900
  • Diaries -- Great Lakes States -- 1901-1950
  • Domestic relations -- Northeastern States -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
  • Family life -- Northeastern States -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
  • Farm life -- Great Lakes States -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
  • Gold miners -- California -- Correspondence
  • Husband and wife -- Great Lakes States -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
  • La Porte (Ind.) -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
  • Manuscripts, American -- California
  • Manuscripts, American -- Northeastern States
  • Migration, Internal -- Northeastern States -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
  • Overland journeys to the Pacific -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
  • Panama, Isthmus of (Panama) -- Description and travel
  • Teacher-student relationships -- Northeastern States -- History -- 19th century -- Sources

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Container List

Series 1: Nathan Kendall and Abby J. Reed Kendall Correspondence, 1855-1871

Letters between Nathan and Abby from their years of friendship and courtship (1855-1857), continuing during periods of separation until Nathan's death in 1871. Content is primarily mundane: news of their relatives, domestic activities, the weather, the lives of the children, farming chores and problems, the minutiae of daily living. One of the most salient topics is health. Nathan's was always poor as he suffered with lung disease and he mentions his condition in almost every letter. Abby and the children, too, had various ailments and there are continual references to the latest misery and the methods used to deal with them.
The marriage of Nathan and Abby was a close one and through the years the tone of letters remains affectionate and caring. Nathan was a man devoted to family life and pours out his love and longing for his wife and sons whenever they are apart. He makes some intimate allusions to their physical love and several frank references to conception and Abby's menstrual cycle. Though Abby writes less frequently during separations, her letters are no less affectionate.
The couple owned a home in Kankakee, Illinois and a farm in Benton County, Indiana near Goodland. The struggle to make the farm pay apparently wore Nathan out, for in his last years he clearly was depressed about his prospects and, particularly, his health. He kept traveling around in search of a place to settle his family that would benefit his lungs - he considered Denver, Minnesota, Tennessee, North Carolina, Pittsfield, Massachusetts and Florida. He did not live to relocate and died at age 47. Abby lived to be 85.
Arranged chronologically.

Box Folder Contents
1 1-7 Kendall, Abby J. Reed to Nathan Kendall, 1855-1871
1 8-20 Kendall, Nathan to Abby J. Reed Kendall, 1855-1871

Series 2: Family Correspondence, 1842-1907, bulk 1842-1875

Letters of Nathan Kendall and Abby J. Kendall to and from members of the Kendall, Reed and Stedman families, including in-laws and cousins. Although Nathan's first wife, Josephine Stedman, died along with their infant daughter after only a year of marriage, her sisters kept up the family connection. Also, a few family letters that are not addressed to either Nathan or Abby.
Most of the letters to Nathan are from his brothers, David, Edwin, Erasmus, Jesse, Myron, Paul Raymond (P.R.) and his sisters Lydia (Lillie) and Sarah and Sarah's husband, George Weaver. The bulk of the letters to Abby are from her sister Mary Reed Osgood, her sister Emily Reed Tyler and her brother Charles Reed. Included are letters Charles Reed wrote not only to Abby but to his brothers Chandler and Samuel, among others, detailing his travels to and in California and his gold mining experiences there. Also, letters of Agnes Allen (who was either a relative or a very close friend) describe travel to California.
The content of this family correspondence is primarily the news of personal and/or family events, work, reports of illnesses and deaths, philosophical and religious opinions, and all the other stuff of daily life and thought in mid-nineteenth century America. There is considerable discussion of the act of letter-writing itself - many excuses for lack of corresponding as well as many pleas for more letters.
Note: Some biographical information concerning these individuals appears as appendix at the end of this guide.
Arranged alphabetically by author, and by recipient and date thereunder.

Box Folder Contents
2 21 Allen, Agnes to Abby J. Reed Kendall, 1852-1857
2 22 Cheney, Sarah (cousin) to Nathan Kendall, 1847-1854
2 23 Crughbaum, George and Augusta Stedman (in-laws) to Nathan Kendall, 1853-1856
2 24 Kendall, Abby J. Reed to her brother and brother-in-law, 1844, 1860
2 25-26 Kendall, David (brother). miscellaneous letters, 1855-1870
2 27 Kendall, Edwin (brother) to Nathan Kendall, 1853, 1853-1856
2 28-29 Kendall, Erasmus N. (brother) miscellaneous letters, 1850-1857
2 30 Kendall, Jane Nickerson (mother) to Nathan Kendall, 1846-1851
2 31 Kendall, Jesse (brother), miscellaneous letters, 1849-1859
2 32-34 Kendall, Lydia (sister), miscellaneous letters, 1846-1864
2 35 Kendall, Myron (brother), miscellaneous letters, 1852-1907
2 36-37 Kendall, Nathan, miscellaneous letters, 1843-1871
2 38 Kendall, Paul (father) to Nathan Kendall, 1844-1851
2 39-40 Kendall, Paul Raymond (brother), miscellaneous letters, 1846-1871
2 41-43 Kendall, Sarah (Mrs. George Weaver, sister), miscellaneous letters, 1842-1874
2 44 Kendall, Winthrop (son) to Nathan and Myron, 1870, 1907
2 45 Lawson, Emilie J. Tyler (niece) to Abby Kendall, 1857-1871
3 46 Reed, Chandler (brother), 1861-1863
3 47 Reed, Charles (brother): list of letters re Washington City and California Mining Expedition, 1849-1854
3 48-54 Reed, Charles, miscellaneous letters, 1842-1880
3 55 Reed, Maria (Mrs. Samuel Reed, brother's wife) to Abby Reed Kendall, 1857-1872
3 56-65 Reed, Mary (Mrs. Osgood, sister), miscellaneous letters, 1849-1874
3 66 Reed, Rhoda (Mrs. Chandler, sister-in-law) to "cousin", 1870
3 67 Stedman, Areli (sister-in-law) to Nathan Kendall, 1855
3 68 Stedman, B. (mother) to children, 1854
3 69 Stedman, Elizabeth (sister-in-law), miscellaneous letters, 1854-1863
3 70 Tyler, Danford (brother-in-law), miscellaneous letters, 1844-1851
3 71-72 Tyler, Emily Reed (sister) to Abby Reed Kendall, 1843-1900
3 73 Tyler, Rhoda G. (Danford's sister), miscellaneous letters, 1854-1857
3 71-77 Weaver, George (brother-in-law) to Nathan Kendall, 1850-1871

Series 3: Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1843-1912, bulk 1843-1855

Includes business-related letters regarding Nathan Kendall's health, his jobs and job prospects both before and after his marriage to Abby J. Reed; letters relating to real estate and farm business in Indiana and Illinois; miscellaneous personal correspondence to Abby J. Reed Kendall from friends; and two transcriptions of letters to Josephine Stedman, 1852. The bulk of miscellaneous correspondence consists of letters written to Nathan Kendall from his former students and friends.
Arranged by type of correspondence.

Box Folder Contents
4 78 Business: Nathan Kendall Job References, 1860-1861
4 79 Business: to Nathan Kendall. Misc., 1852-1871
4 80 Business: to Nathan Kendall from W. French, Wm. Robbins, 1854-1855
4 81 Business: to Nathan Kendall from Newell Gleason, 1850-1855
4 82 Business: to Nathan Kendall from J.H. Wright, 1851-1853
4 83 Home and Farm Business, Illinois and Indiana, 1872-1912
4 84 Medical Affairs: to Nathan Kendall, 1852
4 85 Personal: to Josephine Stedman from Fanny Hall, 1852
4 86 Personal: to Nathan Kendall from Franklin Brown (Transcripts only), 1848-1853
4 87 Personal: to Abby J. Reed Kendall from friends, 1844-1898
4 88-89 Personal: to Nathan Kendall from Friends and Students, 1843-1871

Series 4: Miscellaneous Material and Writings, ca. 1848-1940, bulk 1848-1863

A few biographical notes on his family and others by Arthur Kendall, youngest son of Nathan and Abby J. Reed Kendall - undated, but probably ca. 1940. Also, a small miscellany of legal forms and school-related items. Writings consisting of Charles Reed's notes on a journey to California (transcripts only); school essays and poems, mostly by Josephine Stedman, all undated, ca. 1850; and transcriptions of two newspapers articles about travel to California, one unsigned (1848) and one by William Allen (1849); and a transcription of the well-known last edition of the Vicksburg, Mississippi The Daily Citizen, July 2, 1863.

Box Folder Contents
5 100 Miscellaneous: Biographical Notes by Arthur Kendall, ca. 1940
5 101 Miscellaneous: Form for Mabel Kendall's will (Mrs. Arthur Kendall) to Probate Court (carbon copy fragment), n.d.
5 102 Miscellaneous: Nathan Kendall Receipts and Contracts, 1848-1869
5 103 Miscellaneous: Jerusha Reed (Abby's mother), Will (transcript), 1860
5 104 Miscellaneous: School-related items, ca. 1848-1855
5 105 Writings: Charles Reed, Notes on His Journey to California (transcripts only), n.d.
5 106-107 Writings: School Essays, presumably by Josephine Stedman, ca. 1850
5 108 Writings: School poem and story (transcription), n.d.
5 109 Writings: Travel to California, two newspaper articles (transcripts), 1848, 1849
5 110 Writings: Vicksburg, Mississippi The Daily Citizen (transcript), July, 2 1863

Series 5: Diaries, 1854-1911

Collection of incomplete runs of small, pocket diaries kept by Abby J. Reed Kendall, 1870-1911, Nathan Kendall, 1854-1870, and son George Kendall, 1879. Also, one small memo book dated 1891 kept by E.A. Barnes (unidentified). Contents of Abby and Nathan's diaries deal primarily with daily expenditures, receipts, memos to self, weather reports and short comments about the day. George, aged about 16, is more detailed about his life and activities on the farm in Fowler, Indiana. E.A. Barnes, apparently an avid reader and writer of sentimental poems, gives short reports of life at home with her mother.
Arranged by author and then chronologically.

Box
6 Kendall, Abby J. Reed (22 diaries), 1870-1899
7 Kendall, Abby J. Reed (11 diaries), 1900-1911
7 Kendall, Nathan (7 diaries)
7 Kendall, George (1 diary), 1879
7 Barnes, E. A. (1 diary), 1891

Related Material

Appendix: Genealogical and Biographical Notes Regarding the Kendall and Reed Families

Kendall Family

Paul Kendall married Jane Nickerson and had 10 children. They were:

1. Erasmus, b. 1818. m. Sarah Jones of Wolcott, IN. Had at least one child, Lydia.
2. Edwin, b. 1820. m. Mary E. Brunner
3 Paul Raymond, b. 1822. m. Abigail Weaver in 1847 of Marietta, OH; then Caroline Woodbury of Galesburg, OH, in 1853. Had at least one child, Marion
4. Nathan, b. 1824. m. Josephine Stedman (sometimes spelled Steadman [1832-1854]; Josephine died in 1854, subsequently m. Abigail J. Reed [1827-1912] in 1857
5. Sarah, b. 1826. m. George Sumner Weaver [1818-1907]. Children: Clara, Abbie, Lydia, Ernest
6. Lydia ("Lillie"), b. 1829. m. G.S. (?)
7. David W., b. 1831. m. Mary E. Holland
8. Jesse, b. 1834; d. 1866. Never married
9. [Henry] Myron, b. 1838. m. Julia Gogun of LaPorte, IN, in 1860
10. Thomas, 1841-1846

Reed Family

Stephen Reed (d. 1847) married Jerusha Moore (sometimes spelled More) in 1819 and had 6 children. They were:

1. Abigail J. [1827-1912]. m. Nathan Kendall, 1857. They had 4 sons: Edgar, b. 1858, Winthrop (Winnie), b. 1861, George M., b. 1863, Arthur, b. 1868 (married Mabel)
2. Mary Ann, [1830-1875]. m. Henry P. Osgood, 1869. No children
3. Emily. m. Danford Tyler (who had a sister named Rhoda). Children: Jennie Lawson (also known as Emilie Jane), Mary
4. Charles [1823-1883]. m. Ellen. Children: Walter, Fred, Nellie, Mattie
5. Chandler, d. ca. 1908. m. Rhoda. Children: Eva, Clara, Charlie.
6. Samuel. m. Maria, 1854. Children: Alma, Abby (died young)

Other Relatives and Friends:

Note: because it was common to address close friends as "cousin," and sometimes "brother" or "sister," it can be difficult to deduce who was actually related by blood, by marriage or just by close friendship.

Sarah Aiken is daughter of Betsy Kendall Cheney, an aunt of Nathan Kendall. Betsy Kendall was Paul Kendall's sister, married to Cyrus Cheney

Agnes Allen seems to have been a close friend - possibly an early girlfriend of Charles Reed - though she may actually have been related by blood. Some other women who signed themselves cousin to either Nathan and/or Abby were: Mary A. Crosby, Marie (of Cambridge, MA), Charlotte, Fannie Stewart, Susan Wales.

"Real cousins" were the Pomeroys: Caroline, Clara, Harriet, Delia, Nancy, Gale, Luther, William. Their grandmother Elizabeth was a sister of Jerusha More Reed.

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