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Winterbotham-French family papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Winterbotham-French

Scope and Content of the Collection

The papers of the Winterbotham and French families both include personal, genealogical, and financial materials.

Personal of the papers Winterbotham family are primarily correspondence and personal materials of the John R. Winterbotham III family. This includes many letters and notes written while Chloe T. Winterbotham was employed at Mathieson Alkali Works during World War II, European travel diaries of J. H. and John R. Winterbotham, and correspondence between Chloe T. Winterbotham and relatives of her mother Mary Tyler French concerning a dispute over family heirlooms. The Financial Documents series contains estate and trust materials, as well as papers pertaining to properties owned by the Winterbothams in Chicago and the Midwest, including a pig farm in Elkhart, Nebraska and a ranch in Eldred, Illinois. Also includes papers pertaining to a co-op building at 1301 N. Astor Street, Chicago that was apparently built by the Winterbotham family

French family personal materials include correspondence, diaries, and other miscellaneous mementos of Mary Tyler and Seth B. French and other French family members. Letters written by Hilah French, sister of Seth B. French, during her Red Cross service in France are of special interest. French describes her voyage to Europe, stays in London and Paris as she and other women whom she befriends wait to be assigned a post, and finally her time working at a canteen in Epernay. While in Epernay, she observes French soldiers and journeys to a battleground in Reims where she explores abandoned trenches and notes the conditions in detail. Also included are color illustrations by Baltimore lawyer Charles G. Kerr, two silhouettes by Baron Scotford, and a letter from songwriter Johnny Mercer to Mercer French. The Genealogy and Family Documents series is made up primarily of a French family history complied by Chloe T. French containing photocopies of historical documents and correspondence. Series also contains French family wills and trusts.

Photographs in the collection include portraits, snapshots, and albums of the French and Winterbotham families. There are also several photos of Chicago area business such as Kensington cooperage and Tenak Products Shop, a photo album compiled by John R. Winterbotham III of childhood travels to Cody Wyoming and the Columbian Exposition, and photos and an album compiled by Hilah French of her time at the Red Cross canteen in Epernay France and the battleground at Reims.


  • Creation: 1850-2005
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1900-1950



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Winterbotham-French family papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Winterbotham-French family 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 at

Biography of Winterbotham and French Families

John H. Winterbotham III was a banker and real estate agent. His wife, Chloe T. French came from the East Coast, daughter of financier Seth B. French.

John R. Winterbotham Sr. and Joseph Winterbotham were both prominent Chicago financiers. John R. Winterbotham III was the son of John R. Winterbotham, Jr., the president of J. H. Winterbotham & Sons, a mortgage company founded by his uncle Joseph Winterbotham, and was the grandson of Continental Bank President John R. Winterbotham of Chicago (from Ohio). He was born in 1919 in Chicago, attended Yale, and worked for a time in the family mortgage business. At some point J. H. Winterbotham & Sons was dissolved and Winterbotham III briefly went into real estate. He married Chloe T. French in 1951 and they had two daughters, Chloe Tyler and Amelia Elizabeth. The Winterbothams lived in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, and later Lake Forest, and spent time at Peppercorn, the family estate in Bermuda. John R. Winterbotham III died in 1995. Chloe T. Winterbotham died in 2012.

The French family were also involved in finance, and were based primarily in Hewlett, Long Island and New York City, New York. Chloe T. French was the daughter of Seth Barton and Mary Tyler French of the Hewlett area of Long Island, New York. She was born in 1922 and attended Bryn Mawr College where she studied chemistry. During World War II she was placed by the War Manpower Commission at Mathieson Alkali Works, a chemical manufacturing company in New York City. There she assisted in sales and chemical research until the war ended in 1945. Her two aunts on her father's side, Hilah and Mercer French, were close to the Winterbotham Family. Hilah French served as a Red Cross nurse's aide in France during World War I. Mercer lived in New York city and enjoyed the theatre. After Chloe T. French married John R. Winterbotham III she relocated to Chicago where they raised their two daughters while his parents led Chicago society.


17.4 Linear Feet (33 boxes, 2 oversize boxes, and 1 photo album)


Correspondence, personal materials, diaries, financial and estate documents, genealogical research, and photographs of the Winterbotham and French families who were united by the marriage of John R. Winterbotham III and Chloe T. French. Papers include correspondence pertaining to Chloe Tyler French's work at Mathieson Alkali Works, courtship letters between Seth B. French and Mary Tyler Duffy, and letters and photographs of Hilah French, an aunt of Chloe Tyler French, who served at a Red Cross canteen in Epernay, France during World War I.


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Winterbotham Family, 1879-2005
Boxes 1-17
Series 2: French Family, 1899-1990
Boxes 18-28
Series 3: Photographs, 1850-approximately 1970s
Boxes 29-34

Collection Stack Location

1 36 5, 1 43 5


Gift of Chloe Tyler Winterbotham, M.D., 2010.

Processed by

Lisa Janssen, 2011.


This inventory was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Inventory of the Winterbotham-French family papers, 1850-2005, bulk 1900-1950
Lisa Janssen
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States