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Mattoon family papers

Identifier: 00019

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of letters, diaries and financial notebooks of various members of the Mattoon family. Most of the early letters (1835-1859) were collected by Charlotte B. Sweet Lindley, who was related to Nancy Agnes Amy Lindley Mattoon by marriage. Much of Mrs. Lindley's family lived in New York, and most of the early letters relate to this state. There are scattered letters from Michigan in the earlier years, and a large number of letters from Shiawassee, Clinton, and Alcona counties beginning in 1851. These Michigan letters contain limited information on agriculture and general life in the area.

The most informative portion of this collection is the correspondence relating to the Civil War. Letters from Gershom Woodruff Mattoon and his brother George Pearson describe their enlistments and the movements of their regiments. A letter from Gershom dated December 4, 1864 tells of the burning of Loudon County, Virginia by Union forces in retaliation for raids by General Mosby. His mother's letter of April 27, 1865 tells of the death of Abraham Lincoln. A letter from Cambric, New York dated April 24, 1864 describes how a neighbor of the family enlisted and then deserted after receiving his bonus; and a letter from another soldier dated July 12, 1864 tells of the horrors of the Wilderness Campaign during that summer.

Gershom Mattoon remained interested in veteran's affairs and corresponded with old army comrades long after the war (1890-1910). Some of these letters shed additional light on the war. Letters from Samuel Smith (1900) describe conditions in Confederate prisons. A letter dated October 16, 1905 tells of Sheridan's famous ride from Winchester, and a letter of December 19, 1908 describes the battle of Cedar Creek in Virginia. A final letter of interest in the collection is dated March 13, 1881 and relates the opinions of an old army comrade in Virginia on race relations, politics, Lincoln, and Jefferson Davis.

This collection also includes diaries, financial accounts, and expense notebooks containing information on daily life and costs of goods and labor during the years indicated. One of these books contains notes spanning the years 1727-1908, and is interesting as an example of the art of the early bookbinder. A financial record dated 1918-1920 was kept by Mildred Mattoon during her years at M.A.C. (now Michigan State University). Additional information concerning the Civil War is recorded in a bound book of family and regimental records. Rough notes, speeches and writings by Gershom Mattoon, as well as newspaper clippings he collected to preserve the history of the war round out the collection.


  • Creation: 1727 - 1977

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.

Biographical Note

Gershom Woodruff Mattoon was born near Rochester, New York on September 12, 1842. His family moved to Vernon Township, Shiawassee County, Michigan in 1846, then to Greenbush Township, Clinton County in 1858. He enlisted with the First Michigan Lancers from November 23, 1861 until they were disbanded on March 22, 1862. He enlisted again on September 1, 1862, this time with the Sixth Michigan Cavalry. He served with this regiment until mustered out at the end of the war on November 24, 1865. During his tour of duty he was wounded in action, and promoted to sergeant. After the war, Mattoon returned to Michigan, where he married Nancy Agnes Amy Lindley (1843- ) on September 27, 1868. He lived in Michigan until his death on February 7, 1911. Gershom's brother, George P. Mattoon (1832-1909), served with the Twenty-seventh Michigan Infantry during the war.

Additional biographical information on members of the Mattoon family may be found in the book of Family and Regimental Records, Box 3, Folder 3.


1 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Gift of Mildred Mattoon Devereaux, transferred by the MSU Museum.

Legal Status

Copyright: Michigan State University. Property Rights: Michigan State University.

Mattoon Family Papers
4 Published And Cataloged
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives and Historical Collections Repository

Conrad Hall
943 Conrad Road, Room 101
East Lansing MI 48824 US