COLLECTION GUIDES

1813-1908

Guide to the Collection


Collection Summary

Abstract

This collection consists of the personal correspondence of the interrelated Sedgwick and Minot families, 1812-1908. It includes business papers of Charles Sedgwick related to his career as a lawyer and clerk of the courts in Berkshire County, but the bulk of the collection consists of correspondence to and from Elizabeth B. D. Sedgwick, Katharine Sedgwick Minot, William Minot II, Elizabeth D. S. Rackemann, Grace A. S. Bristed and William D. Sedgwick.

Biographical Sketches

Individuals most heavily represented in the collection:

Charles Sedgwick (1791-1856)

On the 15 December 1791, Charles Sedgwick was born in Stockbridge Massachusetts, the youngest son and tenth child of Federalist Judge Theodore Sedgwick (1746-1813) and Pamela Dwight (1753-1807). In 1820, he moved to Lenox and educated himself for the bar, as had his three brothers. He eventually attained the position of clerk of the courts in Berkshire County, Massachusetts. On 30 September 1819 he married Elizabeth Buckminster Dwight, a teacher, and over the next thirteen years had five children: Katharine Maria, Charles, Elizabeth Dwight, William Dwight and Grace Ashburner. Ill health eventually forced him to resign in 1856, the year in which he later died.

Elizabeth Buckminster Dwight Sedgwick (1801-1864)

Elizabeth Buckminster Dwight Sedgwick was born in 1801 to Josiah Dwight and Rhoda Edwards. Rhoda was the granddaughter of Jonathan Edwards, the president of Princeton College. Elizabeth married Charles Sedgwick in 1819 and had five children as listed above. One of her closest friends was her husband's sister, novelist Catharine Maria Sedgwick. For over thirty years Elizabeth was the headmistress of a school for young ladies in Lenox, which was regarded as one of the best schools in the country. She was also an author of several books including Lessons Without Books and A Talk With My Pupils. In 1859 she closed the doors to her school and died five years later in Lenox.

Katharine Sedgwick Minot (1820-1880)

Katharine Maria was the oldest child of Charles Sedgwick and Elizabeth Buckminster Dwight Sedgwick. She was born in Lenox on 15 September 1820 and named after her famous paternal aunt, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, with whom she shared a close relationship. While in the Italian city of Rome, Katharine met William Minot II of Boston and married him at Stockbridge on 28 November 1842. They lived at William's father's house at 61 Beacon Street for a short period of time. Following this, William, with his brother and father bought Woodbourne, and together, they built a house in 1847. Woodbourne was land on Bourne Street, Forest Hills that was named by Julia Minot. Their seven children, Jane, Alice Woodbourne, William, Charles, Robert, Henry Davis and Lawrence were all born at Woodbourne. Katharine died on 29 June 1880 in Boston.

William Minot II (1817-1894)

William was born on 7 April 1817, the second son of William Minot (son of George Richards Minot) and Louisa Davis Minot (daughter of Solicitor Daniel Davis). He graduated from Harvard (A.B. 1836; LL.B. 1840) and was admitted to the bar in 1841. Following this, his health suffered and subsequently he traveled to Europe. Eventually he returned to America and began working from an office at 39 Court Street, the location where both his father and grandfather had practiced. He later became connected with the management of trust estates and soon had charge of over one fiftieth of all of the property in Boston. He married Katharine Maria Sedgwick in Stockbridge on 28 November 1842 and had seven children with her (see above). William enjoyed hunting and often went to Nova Scotia and North Carolina for that reason. In 1883 he moved from Woodbourne to 22 Marlborough Street, Boston and spent his summers in Bar Harbor, Maine until his death in 1894.

Elizabeth Dwight Sedgwick Rackemann (1826-1891)

Elizabeth was born on 15 July 1826, the third child of Charles Sedgwick and Elizabeth Buckminster Dwight, and younger sister to Katharine Maria. On 20 June 1855 she married Frederick William Rackemann, son of Daniel Rackemann and Philippine Florentine (Marianne) Rackemann of Bremen, Germany. They had six children between 1857 and 1868: Charles Sedgwick, Frederick William, Felix, Elizabeth Sedgwick, Louise Sedgwick and Wilfred Rackemann. Frederick Rackemann died 16 August 1884 and Elizabeth on 24 September 1891.

Grace Ashburner Sedgwick Bristed (1833-1897)

Grace was born on 5 March 1833 in Lenox. She was the fifth child of Charles Sedgwick and Elizabeth Buckminster Dwight and became active in the United States Hospital Service during the Civil War. In August 1857 she married Charles Astor Bristed from New York, a graduate from Yale and Trinity College, Cambridge, England. They had one son Charles Astor Bristed, Jr. who was born on 24 May 1868 in New York. Grace Ashburner Sedgwick Bristed died in St Cloud, France on 8 February 1897.

William Dwight Sedgwick (1831-1862)

William was born in Lenox on 27 June 1831, the second son of Charles Sedgwick and Elizabeth Buckminster Dwight. After leaving Harvard College in 1851, he spent one winter in a law office before studying abroad in Heidelberg, Gottingen, and Breslau. After his return, he remained for a year at Cambridge Law School and then established himself as a lawyer in St Louis, Missouri. In 1857 he married Louisa Frederica Tellkampf in Hanover, Germany, daughter of Professor A. Tellkampf. Following the outbreak of the Civil War, William left his profession and on 25 May 1861 was commissioned as first lieutenant in Company D, the 2nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. He was subsequently detailed as ordnance officer of Major-General Nathaniel D. Banks' Corps and was then transferred to the staff of Major-General John Sedgwick with the rank of major. Through his period of service he wrote constantly to his family and particularly to his mother, Elizabeth B. D. Sedgwick. On 17 September 1862, he suffered a mortal wound on the battlefield of Antietam. After eight hours he was found by friends and spent his last days in a farmhouse attended by his mother and sister. When he died on 29 September 1862, his wife Louisa was not present because she did not learn of her husband's condition until her arrival from Europe. He left behind three daughters: Grace, Amelia and Mary Elizabeth.

Additional Correspondents (listed alphabetically):

Josiah Dwight

Josiah was the father of Elizabeth Buckminster Dwight and grandfather of Katharine Sedgwick Minot. He married Rhoda Edwards in 1798.

Rhoda Edwards Dwight

Rhoda Edwards, daughter of Timothy Edwards, married Josiah Dwight in 1798. She was the grandmother of Katharine Sedgwick Minot and mother of Elizabeth Buckminster Dwight Sedgwick.

Sarah Forbes

Sarah was born on 20 January 1813 to Stephen Hathaway and Lydia Swain and was the twin sister of Mary Watson. Prior to marrying John Murray Forbes, her maiden name was Sarah Swain Hathaway.

Alice Woodbourne Minot (1847-1883)

Alice was born on 10 July 1847 to William Minot II and Katharine Sedgwick Minot. She was their second child and never married. She died at the young age of thirty-six on 15 December 1883.

Charles Sedgwick Minot (1852-1914)

Charles was born on 23 December 1852 to William Minot II and Katharine Sedgwick Minot. He graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1872 and married Lucy Fosdick of Groton, on 1 June 1889. Charles became an instructor in oral pathology and surgery 1880-1882, holding many eminent positions over the course of his career until his death on 19 November 1914. Charles and Lucy had no children.

Francis Minot

Francis was born on 12 April 1821 to William Minot and Louisa Davis. He graduated from Harvard University in 1841 and then went to Medical School on Mason Street, Boston. In 1859 he was elected visiting physician to Massachusetts General Hospital, and later became consulting physician. He remained in this post until his death on 11 May 1899.

Henry Davis Minot (1859-1890)

The son of William Minot II and Katharine Sedgwick Minot was born on 18 August 1859.At seventeen he wrote a book called The Land and Game Birds of New England and then began working at Jackson and Curtis as a stockbrokers. Eventually he gained a position at Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway where he became vice president. On 14 November 1890 he was killed in a railroad accident at the age of 31. He never married.

Julia Minot (1823-1875)

Julia was born on 23 January 1823 to William Minot and Louisa Davis. For many years she was an invalid and died on 22 March 1875 unmarried.

Louisa Davis Minot (1788-1858)

Louisa was born on 10 May 1788 to Daniel Davis and Lois Freeman. She married William Minot in 1810 and became mother to William, Francis and Julia. When William Minot II married she became Katharine Sedgwick Minot's mother-in-law. She died on 21 January 1858.

Robert Sedgwick Minot (1856-1910)

The son of William Minot II and Katharine Sedgwick Minot was born on 10th August 1856. He married Abby Howe, daughter of William Wayland Manning of Michigan in January 1883 and had four children. He died on 15 May 1910 in Dover.

William Minot III (1849-1900)

William, the third son of William Minot II and Katharine Sedgwick Minot, was born on 7 May 1849. In 1868 he graduated from Harvard Law School. He married Elizabeth Vredenburgh Van Pelt on 4 June 1882 and they had four children. On 30 November 1900, he died in Boston.

Catharine Maria Sedgwick (1789-1867)

Catharine Maria was born on 28 December 1789 to Theodore Sedgwick and Pamela Dwight, in Stockbridge. She shared a close relationship with her brothers Theodore II, Henry Dwight, Robert and Charles. She eventually became one of America's most popular authors producing novels such as Redwood (1824) and Hope Leslie (1827). She remained unmarried until her death on 31 July 1867, which occurred while living with her nephew, William Minot II.

Elizabeth Ellery Sedgwick (1824-1898)

Elizabeth was born on 27 January 1824 to Robert Sedgwick and Elizabeth Dana Ellery. She was the cousin of Katharine Sedgwick Minot (their fathers were brothers). Elizabeth married Francis James Child in 1860 and had four children. She died in Cambridge in 1898.

Jane Sedgwick (1821-1889)

Jane was born on 20 February 1821 to Henry Dwight Sedgwick and Jane Minot. She was the cousin of Katharine Sedgwick Minot and died unmarried on 12 February 1889 in Washington D.C.

Louisa Tellkampf Sedgwick

Louisa was the wife of William Dwight Sedgwick and sister-in-law to Katharine Sedgwick Minot. She married William in 1857 in her hometown of Hanover, Germany and they had three daughters. Following her husband death during the Civil War, she looked after her daughters until her own death in 1879.

Maria Banyer Sedgwick

Maria was born on 8 December 1813 to Theodore Sedgwick II and Susan Anne Livingston Ridley. She was the cousin of Katharine Sedgwick Minot and died on 5th September 1883.

Robert Sedgwick (1787-1841)

The son of Judge Theodore Sedgwick and Pamela Dwight was born on 6th June 1787. He was the older brother of Katharine's Sedgwick Minot's father, Charles Sedgwick. Robert graduated from Williams College in 1804 and became a well-known lawyer in New York City. On 21 August 1822 he married Elizabeth Dana Ellery of Newport, Rhode Island and they had eight children. He died of apoplexy at Sachems Head, Connecticut on 2 September 1841.

Susan Anne Livingston Ridley (1788-1867)

Susan was born on 24 May 1788 to Matthew Ridley and Catherine Livingston. She married Theodore Sedgwick II, the uncle of Katharine Maria Sedgwick on 28 November 1808. Susan died at Stockbridge on 20 January 1867.

Frances Watson

The daughter of Ebenezer Watson and Frances Sedgwick was born on 21 September 1811. Frances and Katharine Sedgwick Minot were cousins (Katharine's father and Frances' mother were siblings).

Mary Watson (1813-1890)

Mary was born on 20 January 1813 to Stephen Hathaway and Lydia Swain. She was married on 1 July 1833 to Robert Sedgwick Watson, the son of Ebenezer Watson and Frances Sedgwick. Her maiden name was Mary Taber Hathaway and she had a twin, Sarah Swain Hathaway who was married to John Murray Forbes. She died in Milton on 20 December 1890.

Sources

Foster, Edward Halsey, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Twayne Publishers, Inc., New York, 1974

Menand, Catharine, Research Guide to Massachusetts Courts and Records, 1987

Minot, James Jackson, Ancestors and Descendants of George Richards Minot 1758-1802, 1936

The Minot Family: Record of Births, Marriages and Deaths 1754-1934, Copied from Family Bibles, 1934

Welch, Richard E. Theodore Sedgwick, Federalist: A Political Portrait, 1965

Massachusetts Historical Society Proceedings, Vol. 75, 1963

Massachusetts Historical Society Proceedings, Vol. 70, 1950-53

The Sedgwick Family Website: http://www.sedgwick.org

Harvard Memorial Biographies: William Dwight Sedgwick: http://www.geocities.com/Pentagon/2126/hmb.sedgwick.html

Collection Description

The Charles Sedgwick papers document the relationships among the interrelated Sedgwick and Minot families and their friends from 1813 to 1908. The collection consists of twenty boxes of papers, two large manuscript folders, and five bound volumes.

Apart from the business papers of Charles Sedgwick (1791-1856), the bulk of the collection consists of correspondence to and from Elizabeth B. D. Sedgwick (1801-1864), Katharine Sedgwick Minot (1820-1880), William Minot II (1817-1894), Elizabeth D. S. Rackemann (1826-1891), Grace A. S. Bristed (1833-1897), and William D. Sedgwick (1831-1862). The collection also contains bound volumes, including diaries and travel journals kept from 1828 to 1879, most written by Katharine Sedgwick Minot, as well as general correspondence.

Charles Sedgwick's business papers document his professional life as a lawyer who dealt with litigation and property deals. Many of the male members of the Sedgwick family were trained in the legal profession and their correspondence throughout the collection reflects this as well.

The family correspondence encompasses a broad range of topics, including politics, family deaths and religion. The women in the Sedgwick family are heavily represented in the collection, in particular their involvement in education, both as pupils and teachers, travel in the United States and abroad, and the Civil War on the home front. A large section of the correspondence is to or from Katharine Sedgwick Minot, the niece of author Catharine Maria Sedgwick. Catherine Maria played an influential role in both Katharine and her daughter Alice's lives. Catharine Maria Sedgwick introduced the family to Charles Dickens when he toured America in 1842, and family correspondence documents the reaction and excitement prompted by the event.

William D. Sedgwick's wrote extensively to his mother Elizabeth B. D. Sedgwick during the Civil War, while serving in Company D, the 2nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. In his letters he articulates many aspects of the war, including battles, military strategy, daily life as a soldier, and his support of a draft, until his death on the battlefield of Antietam, in 1862.

Arrangement

The correspondence to and from Elizabeth B. D. Sedgwick (1801-1864), Katharine Sedgwick Minot (1820-1880), William Minot II (1817-1894), Elizabeth D. S. Rackemann (1826-1891), Grace A. S. Bristed (1833-1897), and William D. Sedgwick (1831-1862) is arranged chronologically under these five individuals and their correspondents. To avoid overlap, correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and one of the other main individuals is always placed with the Katharine Sedgwick Minot correspondence. Likewise, apart from letters with Katharine Sedgwick Minot, correspondence with these individuals and William Minot II is always organized with his papers. Remaining correspondence not related to these individuals is filed in General correspondence.

Each series of correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent's first name.

Acquisition Information

Katharine Minot Channing (Mrs. Henry Morse Channing) of Sherburn, Massachusetts deposited the Charles Sedgwick papers in May 1952. The papers were removed from a larger collection of Minot family papers that included letters by Daniel Davis, Elizabeth Dwight, Catharine Maria Sedgwick and Theodore Sedgwick, as well as correspondence and diaries of William Minot. The collection was made a gift to the Massachusetts Historical Society in May 1963.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Charles Sedgwick business and personal papers, 1813-1858

A. Charles Sedgwick business papers, 1813-1858

These business papers reflect the duties Charles performed during his long career as clerk of the courts, in Berkshire County, Massachusetts. Most male members of the Sedgwick family, such as his brother Theodore and brother-in-law Ebenezer Watson, shared a background in law. His business papers consist primarily of legal documents, specifically promissory notes, deeds, indentures, trial lists, divorce petitions, writs, insurance policies and depositions authorizing Charles Sedgwick to act on a client's behalf. In addition, there are general accounts and receipts for purchases.

Box 1
1813-1823
Box 2
1824-1854
Box 3Folder 1-4
Mar 1854-April 1858

B. Charles Sedgwick personal papers, 1807-1856

Charles' personal papers consist of letters between him and his family (including his wife Elizabeth, sister Jane and brother Theodore) and friends (notably, Mr. and Mrs. John Forbes). Charles' correspondence with his friend, Henry Dwight, from 1814-15 documents his ideas about politics, Europe, freedom, power and religion.

Box 3Folder 5-23

C. Correspondence between Charles Sedgwick and William Minot II, 1842-1856

The correspondence between Charles Sedgwick and William Minot II contain many more letters from William Minot II to his father-in-law, Charles Sedgwick, than vice versa. William and Charles developed a close, personal relationship. By the end of their exchange, William began by addressing Charles as 'father' rather than as 'Mr. Sedgwick'. The majority of the correspondence explains the events occupying William's family and his relationship with various family members. Among the topics discussed are William's concerns over the banking system in Massachusetts in 1838 and his fears over the public money that should be circulating among traders and businessmen being squandered by politicians. A decade later in 1848, and again in 1855, he debates the fate of Europe and in particularly Ireland, with respect to the Potato Famine.

A highlight of the correspondence is his referral to the visit of Charles Dickens to the United States in 1842. His writings capture the excitement of the event as he offers a ticket for the "Dickens Dinner" to Charles, a function that he later attends with his wife, Katharine Sedgwick Minot.

Box 3Folder 24-39

II. Elizabeth B. D. Sedgwick correspondence, 1822-1860

This correspondence is between Elizabeth and her family and friends, including her mother Rhoda Dwight. The majority of the letters were written by Elizabeth to her friend Sarah Forbes.

Box 3Folder 40-52

III. Correspondence with Katharine Sedgwick Minot, 1826-1880

Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and thirty-six friends and family members encompasses the largest part of the Charles Sedgwick papers. Katharine's correspondents include daughter Alice W. Minot; aunt Catharine M. Sedgwick; son Charles Minot; father Charles Sedgwick; mother Elizabeth B. D. Sedgwick; cousin Elizabeth Ellery Sedgwick; aunt Frances Watson; brother-in-law Francis Minot; George Hillard; sister Grace A. S. Ashburner; son Henry Davis Minot; cousin Jane Sedgwick; grandfather Josiah Dwight; friend Julia Hamner; sister-in-law Julia Minot; sister-in-law Louisa Tellkampf Sedgwick; friend Lucy B. Channing; cousin Maria Banyer Sedgwick; cousin Mary Watson; grandmother Rhoda Edwards; son Robert S. Minot; her uncle Robert Sedgwick; friend Sarah Forbes; aunt Susan A. L. Ridley; cousin Theodore Sedgwick III; son William Minot III; husband William Minot II, and brother William D. Sedgwick.

The majority of correspondence is between Katharine and her immediate family members. Correspondence with her daughter, Alice Woodbourne Minot, spans from Alice's childhood (age 7) to adulthood (age 32). Letters written during the Civil War document reaction on the home front from the perspective of a fourteen year old girl. In 1861, she expresses her shock at hearing that Southerners were tying the wounded to trees and noted that her uncle, William D. Sedgwick, had left to fight. In 1862, she refers to a paper signed by the ladies in her town, who have husbands, sons, and brothers at war, to compel the president to remove all incompetent and drunken officers.

Katharine's correspondence with her father, Charles Sedgwick, primarily concerns family events and local news and shows her close relationship with him until his death at age thirty-six. They often wrote to each other when Katharine traveled with her Aunt Kitty (Catharine Maria Sedgwick), Charles' sister, a practice that is later repeated by her own daughter, Alice.

In her correspondence with her mother, Elizabeth B. D. Sedgwick, Katharine confided regularly as she experienced new places, people, marriage and motherhood. In 1842, she describes how, along with her aunt Catharine Maria, she met Charles Dickens at a dinner during his visit to the United States. (This dinner is also documented in correspondence between Charles Sedgwick and William Minot II (see above)).

Letters between Katharine and her mother concerning William D. Sedgwick's letters home illustrate reactions to the Civil War on the home front and how letters from soldiers impacted women back home. Katharine hints about her mother's response to hearing that William has been badly wounded in September 1862.

Most revealing are the letters between Katharine and her husband William Minot II that provide a wealth of information regarding the events related to the Sedgwick and Minot families over several generations. The writings span a forty-year period, from before their marriage in 1842, through Katharine's death in 1880. The letters are often very personal in nature because both travel frequently leaving this as the only means of communication.

For additional correspondence with Katharine Sedgwick Minot see Series VIII General Correspondence. See also Katharine Sedgwick Minot's journals in series IX Bound volumes, diaries and travel journals.

Box 4Folder 1-19
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Alice W. Minot, 1854-1879
Box 4Folder 20
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Catharine M. Sedgwick, 1831-1854
Box 4Folder 21
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Charles Minot, 1863-1879
Box 4Folder 22-44
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Charles Sedgwick, 1828-1856

Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Elizabeth B. D. Sedgwick:

Box 5
1832- June 1850
Box 6
July 1850- 1864
Box 7Folder 1
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Elizabeth D. E. Sedgwick, 1832-1838
Box 7Folder 2-33
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Elizabeth D. S. Rackemann, 1834-1870
Box 8Folder 1-18
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Elizabeth D. S. Rackemann, 1871-1880
Box 8Folder 19
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Elizabeth Ellery Sedgwick, 1833-1847
Box 9Folder 1
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Frances Watson, 1841, 1842, 1847
Box 9Folder 2
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Francis Minot, 1844-1847
Box 9Folder 3-4
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and George Hillard, 1829-1830
Box 9Folder 5-15
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Grace A. S. Ashburner, 1842-1880
Box 9Folder 16-17
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Henry Davis Minot, 1842, 1867, 1878, 1880
Box 9Folder 18
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Jane Sedgwick, 1838-1848
Box 9Folder 19-22
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Josiah Dwight, 1837-1847
Box 9Folder 23-25
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Julia Hamner, 1862-1879
Box 10Folder 1-13
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Julia Minot, 1842-1879
Box 11Folder 1
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Louisa Davis Sedgwick, 1826, 1828
Box 11Folder 2-5
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Louisa Tellkampf Sedgwick, 1857-1878
Box 11Folder 6-7
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Lucy B. Channing, 1839
Box 11Folder 8
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Maria Banyer Sedgwick, 1841-1863
Box 11Folder 9-12
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Mary Watson, 1838-1847
Box 11Folder 13-14
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Rhoda Edwards Dwight, 1828-1847
Box 11Folder 15
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Robert S. Minot, 1864-1868
Box 11Folder 16
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Robert Sedgwick, 1836
Box 11Folder 17-19
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Sarah Forbes, 1838-1844
Box 11Folder 20
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Susan A. L. Ridley, 1847
Box 11Folder 21
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and Theodore Sedgwick III, 1832-1842
Box 11Folder 22
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and William Minot, 1843-1874

Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and William Minot II:

Box 12
1840-Feb 1843
Box 13
July 1843-1865
Box 14Folder 1-13
1866-1879
Box 14Folder 14-15
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and William Minot III, 1868-1877
Box 14Folder 16
Correspondence between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and William D. Sedgwick, 1844-1861

IV. Correspondence with William Minot II, 1842-1892

(For correspondence between William and Katharine Sedgwick Minot, see Series III, Katharine Sedgwick Minot correspondence, 1826-1880)

William Minot II shared many of the same correspondents as his wife Katharine Sedgwick Minot, and his correspondence includes many of the same topics and themes as hers. William was an integral part of the Sedgwick family and a father figure to his nieces and nephews, particularly after Kate's death in 1880 as he opened his home to her sister's children, Charles and Elizabeth.

William and other members of the family traveled quite extensively, particularly within Europe, and frequently described their impressions.

The correspondence between William Minot II and his brother-in-law William D. Sedgwick provides personal insight into the Civil War. His letters discuss the war strategy of the time, the number of men involved, and his attempt to gain support for the draft. In a letter to William Minot dated 24 July 1862, William Sedgwick stated his concern about the conflict including the lack of numbers of soldiers fighting the war. " Eventually we must either draft, or get whipped - the sooner we do it, the better, the wiser, the safer." William Sedgwick was fatally wounded on the battlefield less than two months after this letter was written.

Box 15Folder 1
Correspondence between William Minot II and Alice W. Minot, 1858-1867
Box 15Folder 2-3
Correspondence between William Minot II and Charles S. Rackemann, 1870-1891
Box 15Folder 4-5
Correspondence between William Minot II and Elizabeth B. D. Sedgwick, 1842-1863
Box 15Folder 6-25
Correspondence between William Minot II and Elizabeth D. S. Rackemann, 1842-1891
Box 15Folder 26
Correspondence between William Minot II and Elizabeth S. Child, n.d.
Box 15Folder 27
Correspondence between William Minot II and Elizabeth S. Rackemann, 1879-1891
Box 15Folder 28
Correspondence between William Minot II and Grace A. S. Bristed, 1843-1890
Box 15Folder 29
Correspondence between William Minot II and Henry D. Sedgwick, 1892
Box 15Folder 30
Correspondence between William Minot II and Julia Hamner, 1863-1875
Box 16Folder 1
Correspondence between William Minot II and Julia Minot, 1848-1851
Box 16Folder 2
Correspondence between William Minot II and Louisa Davis Minot, 1842, 1847
Box 16Folder 3-7
Correspondence between William Minot II and Louisa Tellkampf Sedgwick, 1862-1876
Box 16Folder 8
Correspondence between William Minot II and William D. Sedgwick, 1843-1862
Box 16Folder 9-10
Correspondence between William Minot II and William Minot, 1842-1852
Box 16Folder 11
Correspondence between William Minot II and William Minot III, 1868

V. Correspondence with Elizabeth D. S. Rackemann, 1839- 1890

(For Elizabeth D. S. Rackemann's correspondence with Katharine Sedgwick Minot and William Minot II, see Series III and Series IV)

Elizabeth's correspondence with her niece, Alice, and her nephews, Henry and William, to whom she was known to as Aunt Bessie, consists of general conversation about family events, visiting, and how ladies of such a privileged background occupied their time. The close relationship she shared with her nephew Henry D. Minot is reflected in the number of letters written between them.

Box 17Folder 1-2
Correspondence between Elizabeth D. S. Rackemann and Alice W. Minot, 1860-1884
Box 17Folder 3
Correspondence between Elizabeth D. S. Rackemann and Elizabeth B. D. Sedgwick, 1844
Box 17Folder 4-11
Correspondence between Elizabeth D. S. Rackemann and Henry D. Minot, 1876-1890
Box 17Folder 12
Correspondence between Elizabeth D. S. Rackemann and Sarah Forbes, 1839-1885
Box 17Folder 13-14
Correspondence between Elizabeth D. S. Rackemann and William Minot III, 1868-1881

VI. Correspondence with Grace A. S. Bristed, 1848-1890

(For Grace A. S. Bristed's correspondence with Katharine Sedgwick Minot and William Minot II, see Series III and Series IV)

This small series documents the lifestyle of a young, American woman associated with a wealthy social class. At fifteen years of age, Grace attended a school in New York and recalled to her mother that her lessons include French, Italian and the piano.

Grace's letters illustrate debates in the social circles of the local women as the Civil War approached. Grace recalled an incident to her niece, Alice, where her friends and neighbors were unimpressed by the comments of a Southern lady. She quotes the lady's remarks, "Well we have been oppressed long enough by the North and we won't stand for it any longer!"

Box 17Folder 15
Correspondence between Grace A. S. Bristed and Alice W. Minot, 1860-1883
Box 17Folder 16
Correspondence between Grace A. S. Bristed and Elizabeth D. S. Rackemann, 1848
Box 17Folder 17-19
Correspondence between Grace A. S. Bristed and Henry Davis Minot, 1875-1890

VII. Correspondence with William D. Sedgwick and papers regarding his death, 1861-1863

The majority of William D. Sedgwick's correspondence is to his mother, Elizabeth B. D. Sedgwick, during 1861-1862, when he was fighting in the Civil War. In 1861 he was commissioned as first lieutenant in Company D, the 2nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. He was subsequently detailed as ordnance officer of Major-General Nathaniel D. Banks' Corps and was then transferred to the staff of Major-General John Sedgwick with the rank of Major.

William is highly articulate and sets the scene of the Civil War with a high level of detail. He recounts events on the battlefield, military strategy, and the light, weather and ground conditions, as well as what he can smell and hear. He writes, "Dixie, Yankee Doodle and Star Spangled banner have resounded in all directions." On 2 September 1862 he explains that it is his second night without sleep and, "had dismounted for fear of falling out of the saddle and was leaning my head in the horses neck with my arm thrown over him and had just got for a moment fairly asleep, suddenly an explosion occurred."

His letters also reflect the concerns of family at home. In July 1861 he describes his wife Louisa, "having perils and anxieties" and "distressing visions and dreams." He also reveals his father in law's (referred to as the Professor) displeasure at William for fighting. William says that Professor Tellkampf appeals to him to stop and expresses, "the hopelessness of the effort to maintain the union and his consequent disapproval of my continuing in the army." The letters also chart his progression in the army and his aspirations to be part of his cousin John Sedgwick's contingent. This series also contains a certificate of his promotion to assistant adjutant general with the rank of major, signed by Abraham Lincoln in August 1862.

In September 1862, he sent a letter to his mother opening with the words, "I was wounded yesterday." Although he tries to reassure his family that he is fine he later wrote, "my recovery tho' probable is not certain." His mother and sister were with him when he died but his wife did not arrive in time. He died in a farmhouse near the battlefield of Antietam, Maryland, where he had been mortally wounded.

This series also contains condolence letters and other papers related to William's death.

Correspondence with William D. Sedgwick, 1861-1862

Box 17Folder 20-30
Correspondence between William D. Sedgwick and Elizabeth B. D. Sedgwick, 1861-1862
Box 17Folder 31
Correspondence between William D Sedgwick and Louisa Tellkampf Sedgwick, 1861
Box 17Folder 32
Papers related to William D. Sedgwick's death, 1862-1863

VIII. General correspondence, 1828-1908

These papers consist of correspondence that cannot be incorporated into the main series of the collection. A considerable part of the papers are letters between Katharine Sedgwick Minot and her friends and family, including letters written by Katharine as a young woman in the 1830s with many pen pals from other countries. When the writer of the letter is unidentified or the letter is incomplete, it is held in this part of the collection.

In addition, this part of the collection contains poems, letter wrappers, sermons, a Valentine's Greeting to Katharine Sedgwick Minot from 1838, and a list of persons present at Jane Sedgwick's Christening in 1844. The latter portion of the correspondence centers on the children of William D. Sedgwick, Katharine Sedgwick Minot, and Elizabeth D. S. Rackemann.

Box 18
1828-1850
Box 19
1851-1882
Box 20Folder 1-8
1883-1908

IX. Bound volumes, diaries and travel journals, 1828-1879

A. Bound volumes

Katharine Sedgwick Minot's album of 1828 contains of poems and drawings. A commonplace book compiled by Katharine ca.1834-1841 contains foreign language exercises and a copy of a letter written by Katharine's father, Charles Sedgwick where he explains why his daughter is not suitable for marriage. At the back of the book are lists of music purchased and how much they cost. A notebook by Katharine Sedgwick Minot contains mostly undated notes on Dante and copies of songs. In addition, at the back of the notebook are duplicates of letters written in Italian from Giovanni Albinola in 1836. Account books kept by Katharine Sedgwick Minot from 1840 to 1848 and 1854 to 1857 provide an insight into Katharine's spending habits and how much items cost in the 1840s and 1850s.

Vol. I
Katharine Sedgwick Minot's album, 1828
Vol. II
Katharine Sedgwick Minot's commonplace book, ca.1834-1841
Vol. III
Katharine Sedgwick Minot's notebook, n.d., with letters from 1836
Vol. IV
Katharine Sedgwick Minot's account book, 1840-1848
Vol. V
Katharine Sedgwick Minot's household account book, 1854-1857

B. Diaries

Katherine Sedgwick writes as a teenager from 1834 to1836 about her daily life in Lenox, Mass. and travels in New England. She writes about a trip to Niagara Falls with her parents in July 1834, a trip to visit friends outside Philadelphia with her aunt Catherine Maria Sedgwick in spring of 1835, and time spent in New York City in the fall of that year.

Katherine also kept a series of four diaries from 1839 to 1840 while accompanying her aunt Catharine Maria Sedgwick, her uncle Robert Sedgwick, and his family on a tour around Europe. She writes in detail about the museums, art galleries, and historic sites they visited in England, Germany, France, and Italy, among other countries. She also writes about the people they meet during their travels, including her first encounter with her future husband William Minot in Rome, Italy.

In 1841, Katharine Sedgwick Minot writes about her concerns regarding her brother Charles' depression and subsequent death. She talks in great detail about how her parents became aware of his death and how various family members react to such news.

In addition, there is a journal from 1842 in which Elizabeth B. D. Sedgwick writes of her excitement that a 'Dr. Channing' is visiting her school and how inspirational he is to her as a teacher. For the visit the girls at her school put on a performance of a play written by her aunt, author Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Elizabeth's sister-in-law.

Between April and October 1868, Katharine Sedgwick Minot wrote a journal of her travels around Europe. She visits France, Italy, Germany and England, accompanied in part by her husband William, daughter Alice, Julia Minot and Julia Hamner. There is also a notebook describing a tour of England, written by Miss Sim in 1879 for Elizabeth B. D. Sedgwick

Box 20Folder 13
Katherine Sedgwick's diary, 1834
Vol. VI
Katherine Sedgwick's diary, 1835-1836
Vol. VII
Katherine Sedgwick's travel diary, May-July 1839
Vol. VIII
Katherine Sedgwick's travel diary, September-November 1839
Vol. IX
Katherine Sedgwick's travel diary, November 1839-June 1840
Vol. X
Katherine Sedgwick's travel diary, June 1840
Box 20Folder 9
Katharine Sedgwick Minot's diary, 1841
Box 20Folder 10
Elizabeth B. D. Sedgwick's diary extract, 1842
Box 20Folder 11
Katharine Sedgwick Minot's travel journal of Europe, 1868
Box 20Folder 12
Notebook describing tour of England by Miss Sims, 1879

Preferred Citation

Charles Sedgwick papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.

Persons:

Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870.
Sedgwick, Catharine Maria, 1789-1867.
Bristed, Grace Ashburner Sedgwick, 1833-1897.
Dwight, Josiah.
Minot, Alice Woodbourne, 1847-1883.
Minot, Katharine Sedgwick, 1820-1880.
Minot, William, 1817-1894.
Rackemann, Elizabeth Dwight Sedgwick, 1826-1891.
Sedgwick, Elizabeth Buckminster Dwight, 1791-1864.
Sedgwick, Louisa Tellkampf.
Sedgwick, William Dwight, 1831-1862.
Minot family.
Sedgwick family.

Organizations:

United States. Army. Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 2nd (1861-1864).

Subjects:

Courtship--Massachusetts--Berkshire County.
Family history--1800-1849.
Family history--1850-1899.
Family history--1900-1949.
Lawyers--Massachusetts--Berkshire County.
Voyages and travels--Diaries.
Women's commonplace-books.
Women's diaries.
Women travelers--Europe.
Berkshire County (Mass.)--Officials and employees.
Europe--Description and travel--1800-1918.
New England--Description and travel--19th century.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Regimental histories--Massachusetts Artillery (Heavy), 2nd Volunteers.