Scope and Content
Title: Bartholomew and Michel Family
Collection Number: mssHM 75393-75636
The Huntington Library,
Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2191
Abstract: Correspondence between three
generations of the Michel and Bartholomew families, ranging from 1847-1913. Both
families were highly educated, literate, and interested in politics, which is
apparent in many of their writings. Topics covered in the letters include
courtships, family relations, life in California in the 1880s, female college
students at Urbana and Bryn Mawr University, the 1884 presidential election, and
Swedenborigan philosophy. Also includes some photographs and ephemera.
Language of Material: The records are in English.
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[Identification of item], Bartholomew and Michel family papers, The Huntington
Library, San Marino, California.
Purchased from Mrs. Agatha F. Mackie and Leland B. Fogg, September 8, 1992.
Mary Eletra Loveridge Michel (1828-1883) was born in Virginia, although her parents
were natives of Massachusetts. Like many of her female descendants, Mary was an avid
reader and follower of the Swedish philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg. She had a least
one brother, John Loveridge, who died of illness in Kentucky. Sometime after 1847
Mary married Dr. Robert B. Michel (1824-1896), who was born in Pennsylvania to a
French father and American mother and served in the Confederate Army with the 2nd
Mississippi State Cavalry. Robert’s sister Elizabeth Michel Blair (1825-c.1925)
married John Blair (1819-1894) in 1844. Robert also had at least two brothers,
William A. Michel (who traveled to California in 1853) and James G. Michel. Robert
and Mary had at least four children: Ralph, Mary, Annie, and Elizabeth. Dr. Ralph S.
Michel (1851-1933) married Genevieve “Jennie” Gebhard (1871-1948). Both are buried
in Springboro Cemetery, Warren County, Ohio. Annie Michel was born in Ohio in 1863
and may have married a man named Miller. Elizabeth Michel McKeown (b.1867) attended
Urbana University and married John McKeown.
Mary M. Michel Bartholomew (Oct.21,
1858-July 13, 1912) was Mary and Robert Michel’s oldest daughter. She married Dr.
James N. Bartholomew in Springboro, Ohio, in September 1884 and moved with him to
Los Alamos, California, where Dr. Bartholomew practiced medicine in a rural area.
Mary spent much of her time homesick, and wrote often to her sisters and close
friend Florence Bedford. By the mid-1880s the Bartholomews had moved to Ohio, where
their oldest child, Mary Eleanor, was born in 1885. Their son Robert was born on
December 30, 1890, and attended Purdue University.
The Bartholomews’ daughter Mary
Eleanor Bartholomew, known as Eleanor, was born on December 30, 1885, in Trenton,
Ohio. She attended Lakeview High School in Chicago and the Pratt Institute High
School in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College with a bachelor’s
degree in Latin and English in 1909. Following her graduation she taught English at
the Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr for two years. She appears to have married a man
named Fogg. She died in Pasadena, California, in March 1970.
Scope and Content
The collection includes correspondence between three generations of the Michel and
Bartholomew families, ranging from 1847-1913. Both families were highly educated,
literate, and interested in politics, which is apparent in many of their writings.
The earliest letters were written by Mary Eletra Loveridge to Robert B. Michel
during their courtship in 1847. Mary specifically writes of her interest in Emanuel
Swedenborg (“in [his writings] I think I have discovered many truths”), her
religious disagreements with her mother, her loneliness and lack of female friends
(“I should like to have one friend of my own sex, to whom I should not be afraid to
say any thing”), of her love of books (including Alexandre Dumas and Charles
Dickens), and of multiple local deaths from cholera. Also included is a letter from
Mary’s mother L.R. Loveridge informing Mary of the death of her brother John.
courtship letters include those between Mary M. Michel and James Bartholomew in the
early 1880s, which particularly highlight the 1884 presidential election. James
writes of Ben Butler (1884 Presidential nominee for the Greenback-Labor Party), his
political disagreements with his father (“he’s a Republican Democratic
Independent”), his anxiousness to get married soon, and the need for him to travel
to California as soon as possible. Later letters written to Mary after their
marriage recount his 1893 travels through London, Paris, Vienna, and parts of
Germany, as well as his return to the United States aboard the ship Alaska. Mary
writes of her love of books (including Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, and Charles
Dickens), her thoughts on the election, and notes on a variety of friends and family
members. In letters written from California to her sisters Annie and Elizabeth from
1884 to 1886, Mary writes of her first impression of California (“Ohio is a
beautiful place, [but] surely California is the garden spot of the earth,” she
enthused, although she later referred to Los Alamos as a “godless little place”),
reminiscences of their childhood, her guilt at leaving her sister Annie at home
following the death of their mother in 1883 (“it seems to have been cruel and
selfish and hard-hearted and everything else for me to have gone off!”), of problems
with their father (“Does Father ever mention me? And I wonder if his conscience
hurts him, but I dare say not”), her first experience with an earthquake on April
19, 1885 (“It was something like a huge wave, I can’t describe it…a horrible
sensation”), the hardships of being a doctor’s wife, her dining companions
(including a “young Spanish fellow, handsome as a picture” and “one very good
looking gentleman from New Orleans”), and candid descriptions of neighbors and
acquaintances (at one dinner party she encountered a man from San Francisco “who is
on trial for buying…Spanish votes for $2 a piece…[his] wife is another man’s
mistress over in Lompee”). Later letters to her daughter Mary Eleanor Bartholomew
focus on family and community activities and the experiences of her son Robert.
collection also includes a long series of letters written from Mary Eleanor
Bartholomew to her brother Robert, both while she was at school in Brooklyn and when
she was attending Bryn Mawr. In addition to notes on family and school
acquaintances, Eleanor’s letters cover a wide variety of topics, including
descriptions of Brooklyn, her busy college schedule, her trips to the Bronx Zoo, a
“lady lion tamer,” Japanese jujitsu, and a French Twelfth Night Party she attended.
Other notable items in the collection include a letter from William A. Michel to his
brother Robert written in 1853 when William was traveling through Council Bluffs and
Jefferson City aboard the “Polar Star” steamship on his way to California; an 1884
letter to Mary Michel Bartholomew from a friend who notes “a trip to California
doesn’t mean as much in these days of steam and electricity;” a letter from Ralph
Michel to his sister Mary in which he writes that “I don’t often see father – in
fact I don’t want to see him very often until after the  election ... His
democracy is of that kind that is called aggressive;” a few photographs of Mary
Michel Bartholomew, Mary Eleanor Bartholomew, and an unidentified Michel man; a
cookbook kept by Robert Michel’s sister Elizabeth Michel Blair apparently in the
1830s and 1840s; and some Confederate printed money collected by Robert Michel in
Correspondence is arranged chronologically in four boxes.
Butler, Benjamin F.
(Benjamin Franklin), 1818-1893.
Brooklyn (New York,
N.Y.)--Description and travel.