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Slafter family papers

Identifier: 00037

Scope and Contents

Personal correspondence among Slafter family relatives and their close friends make up the bulk of this collection. Early letters, dated 1858, tell of the scarcity of money and suggests that barley should be planted because it is the most profitable crop.

Family news and town gossip are also prominent items in the letters. A June 17, 1858 letter from another brother to William tells of killing one elk and capturing another. March 12, 1863 letter mentions the sacrifice of soldiers to the "thirst and cry of corrupt politicians." A copy of a December 1, 1864 letter from Colonel G. S. Wormer of the 30th Michigan Infantry Regiment promises recruits that they will not be sent out of Michigan if they sign up in his outfit. An agreement signed on October 30, 1865 discusses logging in Tuscola county and the prices of the logs and methods of payment. There is an undated essay by Anna Slafter on war evidently written during the Civil War in which she deplores the violence and death and wishes that there were no Negroes for then war would be unnecessary.

Other notable correspondence includes:

- A letter from Hartford, Conn. on June 17, 1866 mentions current prices for provisions and also about the Fenians.

- A letter dated October 26, 1869 explains that "Vermont is proving to be the richest mining region yet discovered" for copper. The letter also tells of heavy rains in New England that caused tens of millions of dollars damage.

- A letter dated April 27, 1873 from Oakland, Jewell County, Kansas tells of the fertile land and describes the climate and topography.

- A letter from Alonzo's son on August 23, 1873 from a logging camp around Farwell, Michigan describes his difficulties with logging. An August 30, 1873 letter is also about logging and mentions current wages - $28 per month.

- There is an especially interesting letter from Frank Taylor dated March 20, 1874 from Utah Territory. He describes current wages and gives a very unfavorable opinion on the worth of Brigham Young - "the old son of a bitch he auta be in hell."

- A letter from Alonzo Slafter to his family on July 20, 1884 tells of his fears for "hard times" the following winter because the mills were going to shut down.


  • Creation: 1855 - 1891

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

William Slafter was born October 1, 1807. In 1849 he and his family came to Tuscola, Michigan. His family included his wife, Roisa Hovey Johnson, and their five children (Flora E., Albert, Alonzo, Mary and Anne R.) D. G. Slafter and wife also came to Michigan. William's wife and their daughter, Mary, died within two weeks of their arrival. William was foreman for P. Richardson & Co. in their lumber camps and floated lumber in rafts to Saginaw for many years. He was the first highway commissioner. In 1861, he married Mary Pierson Sutherland Waters. He died August 8, 1892.

Alonzo Slafter, son of William Slafter, was born in Norwich, Windsor County, Vermont, on December 27, 1842, and came to Tuscola with his parents in 1849, and resided there, with the exception of the time he spent in the army. He enlisted in the 30th Michigan Volunteer Infantry December 6, 1864, and served until the June 24, 1865. His regiment was posted at the Detroit barracks, on what was termed "frontier service" and enforced the passport system. Mr. Slafter had a farm near the village of Tuscola, and at one time was engaged in the nursery business, having an original stock of 64,000 trees. Alonzo Slafter, died April 28, 1924.


0.33 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Gift of Kenneth Priestly.

Legal Status

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

Slafter Family Papers
4 Published And Cataloged
November 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