Skip to main content

Blatchford family papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Blatchford

Scope and Content of the Collection

Records of the Chicago lead manufacturer, Newberry Library founding trustee, and Christian social activist Eliphalet Wickes Blatchford, and his family.

The E.W. Blatchford series includes correspondence, business materials, documentation of various social and philanthropic activities in Chicago, and reminiscences and writings, including Mary E. Blatchford's recollections of the Williams family's migration to Illinois in the 1830s, and E.W. and Mary E. Blatchford's recollections of the Chicago fire of 1871. Also included are materials related to E.W. Blatchford's service with the U.S. Sanitary Commission during the Civil War, and letters from Mary E. Blatchford describing her time as a special student at Yale in the 1850s. There is also a diary of the family's 1884-1885 European trip kept by Edward Blatchford, materials related to missionary work in Jerusalem and Beirut, and letters describing military service in the Philippines in 1898.

The Paul and Frances L. Blatchford series contains primarily correspondence between family members and friends, and some personal materials, including papers pertaining to the Society of Colonial Dames, business correspondence, financial ledgers, travel diaries, and an autograph collection. The Lord and Related Families subseries contains correspondence, genealogical information, and personal materials of the Lord, Strickland, Veazie, Upham, families. Of note are letters of Daniel Walker Lord pertaining to his shipping and other businesses in Maine, documents relating to Lord family real estate and business assets, and the papers of Mary P. Lord, who was a missionary with a Dakota Indian tribe in the late 1800s. The Barbara B. and Earle B. Fowler series is comprised of correspondence and personal materials, including letters to family and from friends, appointment calendars, documents from Earle Fowler's World War I service in France and materials pertaining to his Ophthalmology career.

The Blatchford, Williams, and Related Families series contains correspondence, genealogical materials, and personal materials related to the Blatchford & Williams family, as well as other branches of both families. Of note are early sermons by Samuel Blatchford, and the cookbook of Ulmenheim, the Blatchford family home, which contains handwritten recipes spanning the 1850s-1870s.

In addition to family materials, collection contains printed materials including periodicals, pamphlets, church bulletins of the many churches the Blatchford attended in Chicago and Maine, and travel memorabilia including souvenir photographs, prints, brochures, postcards, and stationery collected by the Blatchford and Fowler families during their travels throughout Europe, the United States, and South America.

Photographs include portraits and snapshots of the Blatchford and related families, their various homes, vacation spots, and memorials. Daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes are also among the images, as well as family photo albums. Collection also includes a small series of realia, comprised of miscellaneous items related to the Blatchford family.


  • Creation: 1777-1987
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1839-1965



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

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

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Blatchford 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 the E.W. Blatchford Family

Eliphalet Wickes (E.W.) Blatchford was born May 31, 1826 in Stillwater, NY, the son of Rev. John Blatchford and Frances Wickes Blatchford. John Blatchford’s parents, Samuel Blatchford and Alicia Windeaett, emigrated from Devonshire, in South West England, in 1795 when Samuel Blatchford was asked to pastor a church in Westchester County, NY.

E.W. Blatchford moved to Chicago with his family in 1837, when his father took charge of the First Presbyterian Church, but later relocated to Marion City, Mo, when John Blatchford became president of Marion College. After early schooling in Missouri, E.W. Blatchford attended Illinois College, graduating in 1845. Initially beginning his business career in St. Louis, he established a lead and linseed oil manufacturing plant with a partner, eventually opening a branch of the company in Chicago and relocating there. By the early 1860s he had bought out his partner and reorganized the company into E.W. Blatchford and Co. The firm manufactured lead pipe for plumbing equipment, as well as animal feed derived from linseed oil, and later provided lead wire for the production of ammunition during the Civil War. By the 1890s, the company was known for producing lead shot, and also type metal for the printing industry.

Throughout his life, E.W. Blatchford maintained an avid involvement in local church activity, missionary work, and many other organizations in and around Chicago. For almost forty years he was president of the Chicago Theological Seminary, served as vice-president of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, and helped organize the Chicago Missionary Society, the Bethlehem Missionary Society and the Chicago Congregational Club. He was also a lifelong member of the New England Congregational Church of Chicago. During the Civil War, E.W. Blatchford served on the United States Sanitary Commission. An early member of the Chicago Commercial Club, he was also instrumental in organizing the Chicago Manual Training School founded by the club, and served as a trustee of Illinois College, Rockford Seminary, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

E.W. Blatchford also had an important role in establishing Chicago’s Newberry Library. He was president of the library’s Board of Trustees from the time of its establishment in 1892, having first served as an executor of the Newberry estate. Walter L. Newberry, a close friend of E.W. Blatchford’s, had specified in his will that were his wife and daughters to die without heirs, his estate would provide for the establishment of a public library in Chicago. Carrying out this task would occupy much of E.W. Blatchford’s time the last decade of his life, and he was heavily involved in selecting a librarian and overseeing construction of the library’s building.

E.W. Blatchford met Mary Emily Williams early in 1857, and the couple married in October of 1858. On the north side of Chicago they built a large house they named Ulmenheim, which was later destroyed in the 1871 Chicago fire. The family lived in Evanston for three years while the city recovered, and later rebuilt another, larger house, also called Ulmenheim, on the same site. The Blatchfords raised their children here and entertained family and friends in the home, hosting festive Thanksgiving dinners as well as society parties, lectures and other events. Though E.W. and Mary Blatchford enjoyed a life of leisure and travel during their later years, taking lengthy trips to Europe and the Middle East, and spending summers at their Wisconsin cottage, both remained busy with various personal, social and philanthropic activities. E.W. Blatchford undertook a vast family history project and contacted relatives all over the United States and Great Britain to compile information for the Blatchford Memorial I & II. E.W. Blatchford died January 25, 1914 at Ulmenheim. After his death, Mary Blatchford and her daughter Fanny relocated to Upper Montclair, New Jersey. Mary Blatchford died in Portland, ME on March 30, 1921.

Mary Emily Williams’ parents, John Chandler Williams and Mary Martin Moore Williams, were early settlers in the Chicago area, arriving there in 1834 from Hadley, Massachusetts. Initially intending to farm, the family settled roughly thirty miles outside the developing city, in an area they named Hadley after their former home. Mary Emily Williams was born there June 16, 1834. After seven difficult years attempting to farm, the family moved into the burgeoning city, where John Chandler Williams was a founding member of the First Presbyterian Church in Chicago, and also operated a successful grocery. Mary Emily Williams attended schools in Chicago, and also spent a year studying at Yale as a special student. Her only surviving sibling, a brother named Edward Moore Williams, was born in Chicago.

After her marriage to E.W. Blatchford, Mary Emily Williams Blatchford devoted herself to raising the couple’s children and working with various social and philanthropic organizations. She was a founding member of the Women’s Board of Missions of the Interior, and was also active in the establishment of a kindergarten system in Chicago after the Civil War. During the 1871 Chicago fire, with her husband away from the city on business, Mary Blatchford managed the evacuation of Ulmenheim while six months pregnant. Both Blatchfords later wrote about the experience in “Memories of the Chicago Fire.” Mary Blatchford was also a dedicated family historian, and counted two Mayflower passengers among her ancestors.

E.W. and Mary Blatchford had seven children: Paul (1859-1925, see separate biography below), Amy (1862-1941), Frances May (Fanny) (1865-1919), Edward Williams (Ned) (1868-1956), Florence (1872-1874), Charles Hammond (1874-1953), and E. Huntington (1876-1905).

Amy Blatchford Bliss was born in Chicago on May 20, 1862. She married Howard S. Bliss, theological student and son of Daniel Bliss, founder of the Syrian Protestant College (American University of Beirut) in 1889. The Blisses moved to Beirut, Lebanon in 1902 when Howard Bliss succeeded his father as head of the College.

Frances May (Fanny) Blatchford was born May 25, 1865 in Chicago, and lived at Ulmenheim most of her life. She was active in local clubs and social organizations and a beloved aunt to her nieces and nephews, whom she wrote to regularly.

Edward Williams (Ned) Blatchford was born July 13, 1868 in Chicago, and attended Amherst College. Upon graduating he worked with E.W. Blatchford & Co. until 1918, when he traveled overseas with the YMCA’s National War Work Council. After serving in London and elsewhere in Europe, he transitioned to relief work with war orphans in the Middle East, arriving in Jerusalem in 1922. Edward Blatchford remained in Jerusalem for the next 25 years, serving with the United States Consulate and continuing relief work until the Arab-Israeli war broke out in 1948. He returned to Chicago and spent his remaining years living at Chicago’s University Club and visiting with family and friends, and died May 18, 1956.

Florence Blatchford was born January 24, 1872 in Evanston, Ill, a few months after the family fled the Chicago fire in October of 1871. She died June 4, 1874.

Charles Hammond Blatchford was born January 2, 1874 in Evanston. While at Yale Law School, he met Carita Tyler Clark (1869-1952), the daughter of Charles P. and Caroline Tyler Clark. The couple married in 1899, and after living in Chicago area until 1912, Charles Blatchford took a job with the law department of the Boston & Maine railroad and the family moved east, eventually setting in Portland, Maine.

Eliphalet Huntington Blatchford, known as E. Huntington or Hunt, was born October 9, 1876 in Chicago and attended Amherst College. In 1898 he enlisted in the United States Cavalry and was stationed in Manila, the Philippines, where he remained for six months. E. Huntington Blatchford’s writings and letters home describing his experiences were later published as “A Trooper’s Diary.” He later studied law and worked for E. W. Blatchford & Co. He died of heart disease December 23, 1905 while at a health sanitarium in Winnetka, IL.

Biography of the Paul Blatchford Family

Paul Blatchford, the oldest son of E. W. and Mary E. Blatchford, was born on July 18, 1859 in Chicago. He attended Amherst College, graduating in 1882, after which he entered into business with his father at E. W. Blatchford & Company. Paul Blatchford, along with his uncle Nathaniel Hopkins, “Uncle Kins,” took over management of the business after E. W. Blatchford effectively retired around 1900. In the self-published memoir, “The Story of Two Chicagoans,” Charles Hammond Blatchford, Jr. suggests that Paul and Nathaniel Hopkins Blatchford would have liked to reinvest more profits into the changing business, but E. W. Blatchford chose to direct money to philanthropic interests. This may have played into Paul Blatchford’s decision to leave the business in 1903 and take a position of secretary in the National Metal Trades Association.

Paul Blatchford married Frances Veazie Lord, a friend of Amy and Fanny Blatchford from Ogontz School, in 1887. They built their home, Plasderw, in Oak Park. They had four children. John became an engineer and later went into the antique business. Dorothy served in the Red Cross during World War I. She married physician Roswell Pettit and had two daughters, Louise and Francis. Barbara worked as an occupational therapist and nutritionist. She married Earle Fowler, an Ophthalmologist and had one daughter, Nathalie. Charles was president of the American Industrial Management Association.

Frances Veazie Lord was born in Bangor, Maine in 1866 to Charles Veazie Lord and Frances Strickland Lord. Frances met Paul Blatchford through her friendship with two of his sisters, Amy and Franny, who were classmates at Ogontz School in Pennsylvania. They married in 1887 in Bangor. Paul Blatchford died on October 8, 1925 after a sudden illness, Frances died in River Forest, Illinois in 1958 at the age of 92.

Biography of the Lord Family

The Lord Family line can be traced to 1650s Maine. Nathan Lord settled in Kittery, Maine in 1652. His descendants settled in the Kennebunkport and Bangor areas and were active the mercantile and shipping businesses, as well as dry goods, banking, iron and lumber. His great grandson, Charles Veazie Lord was the father of Frances Veazie Lord who married Paul Blatchford in 1887.


64.7 Linear Feet (132 boxes, 5 oversize boxes, and 9 volumes)


Extensive collection of letters, photographs, scrapbooks, diaries, writings, and genealogical research materials centering around Chicago lead manufacturer, Newberry Library founding trustee, and Christian social activist Eliphalet Wickes Blatchford, his wife Mary Williams Blatchford, their parents and grandparents, and the families of their children, especially son Paul Blatchford, but also daughter Amy Blatchford Bliss. Families represented most heavily include Blatchford, Williams, Bliss, Lord, and Fowler.


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: E.W. and Mary E. Blatchford Family
Boxes 1-24
Series 2: Paul and Francis L. Blatchford Family
Boxes 25-65
Series 3: Barbara and Earle B. Fowler Family
Boxes 66-92
Series 4: Blatchford, Williams and Related Families
Boxes 93-111
Series 5: Printed Materials
Boxes 112-114
Series 6: Photographs
Boxes 115-132 number(s)
Series 7: Realia
Box 133
Series 8: Family Scrapbook, 1795-1911
Volume 1

Collection Stack Location

1 5 3-6, 1 16 2


Gift of Frances L. Blatchford, 1946; Charles Hammond Blatchford and Lawrence Blatchford, 1963; David W. Forbes, 1984; Nathalie Alberts, 1988-2010

Processed by

Lisa Janssen and Kelly Kress, 2010.


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.

Genre / Form




Inventory of the Blatchford family papers, 1777-1987, bulk 1839-1965
Lisa Janssen and Kelly Kress
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