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Eden-Martin family papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Eden

Scope and Content of the Collection

Correspondence, financial and legal documents, photographs, writings, scrapbooks, and miscellaneous ephemera pertaining to the families Eden, Martin, Taylor, and Pifer.

The bulk of material is comprised of correspondence between members of the Eden and Martin families from Sullivan, Illinois. Many of the letters are written by various friends and family members to Rose Eden. A large portion of the correspondence is comprised of courtship letters between Rose Eden and Ivory J. Martin. Both were residing in Sullivan, Illinois at the time of the courtship, and they often exchanged multiple letters per day. Years later, Ivory J. Martin organized and annotated several of the letters. For example, on one undated letter addressed to Rose, he writes, “This is – I think – the first written communication – I.J.M (June 28, 1909).” WWI correspondence written by Rose and Ivory’s sons, John Eden Martin and Robert Walter Martin, are also included in the papers. The majority of these letters are addressed to their father, Ivory J. Martin. There are also several pieces of correspondence between John and Robert written after the war, often concerning the family property. In one letter, John requests Robert’s advice as an attorney regarding the pending divorce of John’s daughter Mabel.

The collection also includes fourteen scrapbooks compiled by Ivory J. Martin, beginning in the early 1880s. These scrapbooks contain clippings from many periodicals and magazines, such as Harper’s Weekly, Leslie’s Magazine, and the Illustrated American, among others. In several cases, Martin has written marginal notes alongside the clippings. For example, beside a picture of Hiram Power’s statue “The Greek Slave,” Eden writes, “I saw this statue in the Corcoran Art Gallery, Washington D.C. March 1893. It was in the center of an octagon room with seats for visitors along each wall to give them a view from all sides.” Martin also includes a note under a sketch of Colonel Frederick Dent Grant. “Col. Grant was a brother-in-law of Potter Palmer of Chicago. Both Mrs. Grant and Mrs. Palmer were graduates of Georgetown Academy.” Ivory J. Martin’s wife, Rose Eden Martin, was a graduate of this school as well.

Also included in the family papers are miscellaneous pieces of ephemera, such as commencement programs; funeral notices; report cards; theatre programs; a certificate declaring that John R. Eden was elected a member of the House of Representative’s 45th Congress, dated Nov 7, 1876; Rose Eden and Ivory J. Martin’s marriage certificate from 1886; Olive Martin’s diary; receipts; deeds; and legal documents.

In addition to the Eden-Martin family materials, the papers contain photographs, land advertisements, bank books, legal documents, postcards, receipts, and publications pertaining to the families of Finley Pifer and his wife, Hattie Taylor Pifer. Hattie and Finley Pifer were the adoptive parents of Ruth White Pifer, who later married Robert Martin, the son of Rose and Ivory J. Martin. The bulk of the Pifer and Taylor Family materials consists of financial records and legal documents and letters addressed to Hattie’s father, James T. Taylor. There is also a small collection of leather postcards addressed to Hattie and Finley Pifer.

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


  • Creation: approximately 1827-1961



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

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

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Eden-Martin 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.

Biography of John R. Eden and Family

Illinois U.S. Representative who served from 1863-1865, 1873-1879, and 1885-1887.

John Rice Eden was born in Bath County, Kentucky on February 1, 1826. After earning his law degree, John moved to Sullivan, Illinois, where he began his practice. In 1856, John married Roxanne Meeker, with whom he had six children: Emma (b. 1857), Rose (b. 1858), Hartwell (b. 1860), Walter (b. 1862), Belle (b. 1863), and Blanche (b. 1877). Between 1856 and 1860, John served as prosecuting attorney for the seventeenth judicial district of Illinois and, in 1863, he was elected to the 38th Congress. He would go on serve in the 38th, 43rd, 44th, 45th, and 49th Congresses. In between and after his terms in Congress, John continued to practice law in Moultrie County, IL. He died on June 9, 1909 in Sullivan, Illinois.

John R. Eden’s daughter, Rose, was born in Sullivan, Illinois on November 2, 1958. She attended the Georgetown Visitation Academy in Washington, D.C., where she graduated as valedictorian in 1877. After graduation, Rose returned to Sullivan, Illinois. In 1885, Rose began a courtship with Ivory J. Martin, who had recently arrived in Sullivan from a neighboring township. Ivory, born November 7, 1859, worked as the editor and manager of the Sullivan Progress, the town’s local newspaper. The couple married in 1886 and had six children: Olive (b. 1887), John Eden (b. 1889), Joel Neely (b. 1891), Robert Walter (b. 1895), Mabel (b. 1899), and Elvina, who died at the age of four. John and Robert, whose letters make up a portion of the family papers, went on to serve in World War I. (Joel was married with a young child and running the Sullivan Progress at the start of the War and was, therefore, exempt). Rose died in 1907 from a form of kidney disease. After her death, Ivory, with the help of his eldest daughter, raised the children in Sullivan, where he continued to run the newspaper. He also worked in the abstract business and served on local school and library boards. He died on April 8, 1953, at the age of 93.

Biography of the Taylor-Pifer Family

The family of Finley Edgar Pifer (1868-1922) and Hattie Taylor Pifer (1868-1967).

Finley Edgar Pifer, the son of Uria and Ann Pifer, was a businessman and civic leader who served as Sullivan, Illinois’ mayor in 1913 and 1914. In 1887, Finley began courting Hattie Taylor, a native of Sullivan and the daughter of James T. Taylor (1825-1916) and Elizabeth Dubler Taylor (1831-1895), who was working as a teacher in Moultrie County’s Nelson Township.

Finley and Hattie married in 1903. In 1915, the couple adopted Ruth White (b.1909), the daughter of Lena and Leonard White. Ruth’s mother had died in 1911 when Ruth was only 2 years old. After several years, her father Leonard, a bricklayer who worked on several projects with Finley Pifer, realized he could no longer support the young Ruth. Although Ruth kept in contact with her birth father and two older brothers, she took the name Pifer and referred to Hattie and Finley as mother and father.

After graduating from Sullivan High School in 1927, Ruth Pifer attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign until her junior year. She transferred to University of Arizona for her senior year, graduating in 1931. In 1935, Ruth married Robert W. Martin, the son of Ivory J. Martin and Rose Eden Martin, who was fourteen years her senior.


23.7 Linear Feet (20 boxes and 1 oversize box)


Papers pertaining to the family of Illinois U.S. Representative John R. Eden (1826-1909). The majority of the material primarily concerns John R. Eden’s daughter Rose, her husband Ivory J. Martin, and their children. The papers also contain correspondence and material relating to the Taylor and Pifer families, who were the in-laws of Rose and Ivory’s son, Robert W. Martin. (Robert Martin married Ruth Pifer, daughter of Hattie Taylor and Finley Pifer).


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Correspondence, ca. 1863-1961, bulk 1863-191
Box 1
Series 2: Financial Reports and Legal Documents, ca. 1827-1959
Box 2
Series 3: Works, ca. 1873-1950
Box 3
Series 4: Family Materials, ca. 1852-1961
Boxes 4-5
Scrapbooks, ca. 1890-1946
Boxes 6-19

Collection Stack Location

1 37 5, 1 16 5


Gift, Robert Eden Martin, 2013.

Separated Material

The following books have been separated from the collection and individually cataloged in the Newberry Library collection:

City Directory, 1913, Sullivan, Illinois. Sullivan, Illinois: Progress Print, 1913.

City Directory, 1922, Sullivan, Illinois. Sullivan, Illinois: Progress Print, 1922.

City Directory, 1933-1934, Sullivan, Illinois. Sullivan, Illinois: Progress Print, 1934.

George, Mabel. Days to Remember: Stories of the Turn of the Century. Yakima, Washington: Yakima Valley Museum and Historical Society, 1981.

Minutes of the 128th Annul Meeting of the Regular Wabash District Association of Primitive Baptists. n.p., 1930.

Minutes of the Fourth Anniversary of the New Liberty Baptist Association. Mattoon, Illinois: Daily Journal, 1879.

Minutes of the Westfield Association or Regular Baptists. Charleston, IL: Plaindealer Steam Print, 1876.

Revised Ordinances of the City of Sullivan, Illinois, 1892. Sullivan, Illinois: Morning Herald Print, 1892.

Roughton, Van D. Report of Moultrie County Schools, 1915-1916. Moultrie County, Illinois: n.p., 1916.

Standard Atlas of Moultrie County, Illinois. Chicago, Illinois: Geo. A. Ogle & Co., 1896.

Standard Atlas of Moultrie County, Illinois. Chicago, Illinois: Geo. A. Ogle & Co., 1913.

Processed by

Elizabeth McKinley, 2013.

Inventory of the Eden-Martin family papers, approximately 1827-1961
Elizabeth McKinley
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