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Sylvester A. Ballou Papers: Finding Aid
mssHM 51194-51274, mssFAC 1067-1081  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Sylvester A. Ballou Papers
    Dates (inclusive): 1836-1968
    Collection Number: mssHM 51194-51274, mssFAC 1067-1081
    Creator: Ballou, Sylvester A.
    Extent: 150 pieces in 3 boxes, 2 volumes, and 2 rolls.
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens Manuscripts Department
    The Huntington Library
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2203
    Fax: (626) 449-5720
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: The collection consists primarily of the letters of California State legislator Sylvester Ballou (1828-1899), to various members of his family, assorted poems and public addresses prepared by Ballou, and his 1878 diary kept after the Ballous moved to Naperville, Illinois. There is also a diary by his first wife, Julia, of their sojourn in California during 1865-66. Subject matter includes politics and government in Civil War-era California, ocean travel to and from California in 1865 and 1866, mining in California and Colorado, farm life in Illinois, and Ballou family history.
    Language: English.

    Access

    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Sylvester A. Ballou Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Provenance

    Gift of Mrs. Albert Martin, 10/27/1980.

    Biographical Note

    Sylvester Allen Ballou (1828-1899) first came to California in 1849 from Ohio with his brother Volney in search of gold. Miner, trader, temperance advocate and school teacher while a resident of the Golden State, Ballou's active involvement in Democratic politics led him to serve four terms in the state legislature. A well-respected politician admired by colleagues and by the press, his career was marked in particular by his advocacy of Sacramento as permanent state capital and by his ardent support of popular sovereignty as a solution to the question of slavery in the territories. During the Civil War, he served in the Union Army's Department of Subsistence, being present at the siege of Vicksburg in 1863 and after war's end held the post of Chief Commissary in the Department of California for a year. Returning once more to the family home (now in Naperville, Illinois), he settled with his first wife, Julia Hills (Barnard) Ballou, who had accompanied him to California in 1865, until her death in 1869. Although he never again lived in California, he did return to the West several times, notably in 1873 when he revisited California and in 1879 when he participated in the Leadville, Colo. silver rush (without notable success). Returning to Naperville, he remained there with his family including his second wife, Eliza (Norton) Ballou, whom he had married in 1874, until his death in 1899.

    Scope and Content

    The collection consists primarily of Sylvester Ballou's letters to various members of his family, assorted poems and public addresses prepared by Ballou, Ballou's diary of the year 1878 in Naperville, Ill. and his first wife Julia's diary of their sojourn in California during 1865 and 1866, letters written at different times by his brothers Orlando, Ray, and Volney, and a large amount of biographical data assembled by three of his granddaughters for a projected but uncompleted biography. The biographical materials include xerox copies of a number of letters and official records relating to his years in the California legislature and his military service, xeroxes of various pages from the Plumas (Co.) Argus between 1857 and 1860, and reproductions of several Leadville maps.
    Subject matter includes politics and government in Civil War-era California, ocean travel to and from California in 1865 and 1866, mining in California and Colorado, farm life in Illinois, and Ballou family history.
    Notable items include:
    • Orlando Ballou's letters to his friend Moses Morgan about gold mining in Plumas County, Calif. in 1855 and 1856 (HM 51212-51214) including one letter with a pictorial lettersheet of The Miners' Ten Commandments on verso (HM 51214)
    • 6 letters written between 1858 and 1864 about California politics (HM 51215, HM 51247, HM 51249, HM 51257, HM 51258 and HM 51262)
    • 2 letters by Sylvester Ballou at the time of the Vicksburg campaign (HM 51224 and FAC 1068)
    • Julia (Barnard) Ballou's diary of her ocean voyage to California and her residence there with husband Sylvester in 1865-1866 (HM 51207)
    • Sylvester Ballou's letters to his wife Eliza Anne (Norton) Ballou during his stay in Leadville (HM 51226-51238)

    Arrangement

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  

    Subjects

    Ballou, Sylvester A.
    Farm life -- Illinois -- Naperville.
    Gold mines and mining -- California.
    Legislators -- California -- Archives.
    Ocean travel.
    Silver mines and mining -- Colorado -- Leadville.
    California -- Gold discoveries.
    California -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865.
    California -- Politics and government -- 1850-1950.

    Forms/Genres

    Letters (correspondence) -- United States.

    Alternate Authors

    Ballou, Julia Barnard.
    Ballou, Orlando.
    Ballou, Ray.
    Ballou, Volney.
    Conness, John, 1821-1909.