Contents and Arrangement

Correspondence and Documents, 1809-1956

6 boxes

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

Though primarily correspondence, some documents, such as deeds and indentures, financial papers, such as receipts, invoices, and inventories, are interspersed throughout, especially in earlier correspondence. Also included are a few ephemeral materials as well as writings by various family members, including those of Chester W. Burton and Clarissa Harris, both of whom wrote articles for publication in local newspapers and journals.

Some correspondence of special interest includes numerous Civil War-era letters to Chester W. Burton regarding the war as well as letters about events and life in newly-settled western territories. Related to the former are letters and documents showing that Burton avoided serving in the war (he was drafted in August 1863), by providing a substitute named James Kelly who deserted after one month of service. There is also a small batch of letters written to Burton from soldiers from Company D of the 9th New York Cavalry, specifically James Ogden, who enlisted as a corporal and was promoted to bugler, and Charles Crosby, who enlisted as a corporal and later promoted to sergeant.

Other letters of note include those from Burton's sister, Maria, and her husband, J. Billings, who lived in Denver, Colorado, concerning the sizable population of southerners in the Colorado gold fields and in Denver itself, and the agitation among them to claim the territory for the Confederacy. In a letter dated September 5, 1861, likely from Maria, she writes about a panic in Denver over a possible rebel invasion or insurrection; and in a follow-up letter dated October 20, 1861, mentions an increased level of security in Denver provided by home guards. There are also several letters from friends and family out west involved in gold mining, including a couple of letters dated 1867 from an unidentified homesteader from Grizzly Gulch, Montana Territory about the Gold Rush and surviving the harsh winter out west.

Also included is the declaration of founding of the Universalist Society of Portland (1821) as well as a few letters and documents relating to the Burton family members who were veterans of the War of 1812, including Hiram Burton who requested disability for wounds that he had received (1871).


Materials are primarily arranged by document type.

Collection History


No materials were separated during 2016 processing.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Faith Charlton in August 2016. Finding aid written by Faith Charlton in August 2016.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Correspondence and Documents; Chester W. Burton Family Papers, C1523, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

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Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (mss): Boxes B-000779 to B-000784