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French family papers

Identifier: 00030

Scope and Contents

The collection consists largely of personal correspondence of the French and Cady families, related through the marriage of Sarah Jane Cady to Newell Andrew French. The families were originally from New York and Pennsylvania. Although most letters contain family news, there are those discussing land, crops, and conditions of the times.

The letters of Myron French and Charles Cady from June 9, 1861 through June 29, 1864 describe the Civil War. A letter of August 12, 1861 tells of the ammunition depot at City Point, Virginia being blown up. A letter of January 27, 1862 states that a Confederate prisoner of the Union said 2/3 of the men in Confederate army would desert if they could. There is also a war diary (1864) of N. A. French.

The letters from A. J. O'Brian, dated August 4, 1872 - January 2, 1876, describe in detail the land, crops, climate, and general frontier news of central Kansas (Rice County). Letters of April 18, 1873 and May 10, 1873 tell of buffalo hunts and frontier attitude toward the Indians. A letter dated January 13, 1875 tells of locust raids on Western Kansas. The letter of January 2, 1876 discusses the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad. Most of these letters relate the economic situation.

Much of the collection concerns local activities and news of Michigan since N. A. French's move to Kalkaska, Michigan. A letter of March 25, 1887 tells of the formation of a W.C.T.U. in Reading and their plans for the coming election. In 1902 I. C. French became secretary of the Kalkaska Masonic Lodge and letters of that year mostly concern a state-wide Masonic outing at Charlevoix.

There is a letter from Alex Moore, January 28, 1910, describing Guadalajara, Mexico. Letter from December 29, 1930 - March 25, 1931 describe Russell French's trip through Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Nassau, and Washington D.C. There are descriptions of crops, prices, and the cities he toured. Envelopes separate.

There are three postcards in the collection, two of which are to Mr. and Mrs. N. A. French from their niece Letha.


  • Creation: 1856 - 1931

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.


Newell Andrew French was born in 1838 in Pennsylvania to Nathaniel and Betsey Chase French. The French family lived in Susquehanna Depot, Pennsylvania. In the 1860s and 1870s, Newell lived in the Kansas Territory where he worked as a carpenter. Newell and his brothers, Sylvester L. and Myron, served in the Civil War. Newell was married to Sarah Jane Cady of New York. Sarah’s cousin, Charles E. Cady, was a teacher in Binghamton, New York and also served during the Civil War. By the 1880 census, Newell and his young family have moved to Kalkaska, Michigan where he worked as a carpenter, contractor, builder and lumber dealer. Newell and his son, Irving, were members of the Kalkaska Lodge #332.


0.67 Cubic Feet (, 16 folders)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jarele Smith, transferred by the MSU Museum.

Legal Status

Copyright: Michigan State University.

Property Rights: Michigan State University.

French Family Papers
4 Published And Cataloged
April 1965
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