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Edwards family papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Edwards

Scope and Content of the Collection

Over half the collection consists of personal correspondence, mostly between family members. The collection also contains both legal and personal documents as well as photographs. Within the correspondence exist excellent courtship letters exchanged between John C. Edwards and Lydia Martin Edwards. Also, there are many instances of relevant current events commentary within their correspondence, including discussion of the Civil War, the election of President Lincoln, and the assassination and death of President Garfield. Lydia Martin Edwards’ extensive Woman’s Christian Temperance Union documents are particularly interesting, especially the numerous reports she wrote to present at meetings. There are also several Marshall Field & Co. related documents, materials related to the lawsuit between Lydia and her stepmother over her father’s estate, genealogical materials, and numerous deeds from early nineteenth century New York City. Other unique documents include a letter from a young girl to Freeman Martin, which he subsequently forwarded to his granddaughter May Edwards Schultz because of its endearing, heartfelt message, and a 1908 personal letter from William A. Pinkerton to Robert Schultz on Pinkerton’s company letterhead. Included are notes of Schultz, later relatives, and ultimately a dealer.


  • Creation: 1800-1982
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1847-1908



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

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

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Edwards 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 Edwards Family

John C. Edwards was born on June 30, 1836 in the town of Greenwich, New York (Washington County). He moved west in 1857, originally settling in DeKalb County, Illinois before moving to work in Chicago in the 1860s. From 1865 to 1885 Edwards worked in the wholesale department of Field, Leiter & Co., later Marshall Field & Co., eventually becoming the head of their shipping department. Edwards married Lydia A. Martin in Barrington, Illinois at her father’s home on January 1, 1868. Along with her parents and siblings, Lydia, born April 24, 1837 in Cass, Will County, Illinois, had spent her youth splitting time living at the family’s two properties, the aforementioned Barrington location and another in Beaver, Minnesota. After marriage, the couple lived at 3120 Indiana Ave., Chicago, Illinois.

On May 1, 1869 the Edwards' household expanded to include a daughter, May Edwards, and grew again on April 25, 1871 with the birth of son Clark F. Edwards. John C. Edwards’ poor health forced an early retirement and prompted the family of four to move from Chicago to a property in Carpentersville, near Dundee, Illinois. These retirement years at Pine Grove Villa interspersed the best and worst of times. The pair celebrated their daughter May’s marriage to Robert Schultz on October 28, 1891. Then on Thanksgiving, November 24, 1892, Clark fell through the ice of the Fox River while skating with his girlfriend Annabelle Cleveland. She was saved, but he, a twenty-one year old Northwestern student, drowned. His tragic death had a profound emotional impact on his entire family, particularly his father who personally recovered his body from the icy water. Less than a year later John C. and Lydia welcomed their first grandchild. Clark E. Schultz, born August 20, 1893 in Dundee, Illinois, was May Edwards Schultz’s oldest of five children and the first of four sons.

Throughout their remaining years, both John C. and Lydia relished their roles as grandparents, frequently housing their grandchildren for extended visits. Since Robert and May lived in nearby Dundee, excluding a relatively brief stint in Appleton, Wisconsin, the aging John C. and Lydia found it easy to remain in frequent contact with their grandchildren. After a lifetime devoted to her family and decades of committed participation in leadership roles of numerous organizations, notably the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, Lydia Martin Edwards died of a sudden stroke on July 7, 1905, leaving not only her family but her community grief-stricken. John C. Edwards died February 22, 1908 at his daughter’s home in Dundee. Soon after Edwards’ death, the Schultzes relocated to Southern California. In 1912, Clark E. Schultz graduated from Oregon Agricultural College, present-day Oregon State University. Later in life, Schultz would gather the family documents, assembling a genealogy and a family history. It is Schultz who is largely responsible for the existence of the Edwards Family Papers. Clark E. Schultz lived into the 1980s, residing in Lindsey, California.


5.8 Linear Feet (9 boxes and 1 oversize box)


Letters, documents, photographs, and printed ephemera centering on John C. Edwards and Lydia Martin Edwards, and their immediate families, both of whom settled near Chicago in the 1840s.


Papers are organized in the following series:

Series 1: John C. Edwards, 1852-1907
Boxes 1-2
Series 2: Lydia Martin Edwards, 1856-1910
Boxes 2-7
Series 3: May Edwards Schultz, 1875-1908
Box 7
Series 4: Family papers, 1800-1971
Boxes 7-8
Series 5: Photographs, 1812-1982
Box 9

Collection Stack Location

1 14 5-6, 1 16 5


Purchased from Charles Apfelbaum, June 2008.

Processed by

Jason F. Kaestner, 2009.


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 Edwards family papers, 1800-1982, bulk 1847-1908
Jason F. Kaestner
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2011-08-18: Revisions, additions, and updates were made.

Repository Details

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

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States