Henry Waller Papers: Finding Aid mssWaller

Gayle Richardson
The Huntington Library
November 2020
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Business Number: (626) 405-2191


Finding aid last updated by Melissa Haley, November 20, 2023.

Contributing Institution: The Huntington Library
Title: Henry Waller papers
Creator: Waller, Henry, 1810-
Identifier/Call Number: mssWaller
Physical Description: 11.7 Linear Feet (29 boxes, 1 oversize folder)
Date (inclusive): 1809-1943
Date (bulk): 1826-1880
Abstract: A collection of material related to the Waller family of Kentucky and Henry Waller, American lawyer, politician, and businessman.
Language of Material: Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for use by qualified researchers and by appointment. Please contact Reader Services at the Huntington Library for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

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]. Henry Waller papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mrs. Norreys O'Conor, August, 1964.

Biographical / Historical

Henry Waller (1810-1893) was a lawyer, politician, and businessman, born in Frankfort, Kentucky. He graduated from West Point in 1833, then resigned from the army to pursue legal studies; he practiced law in Maysville, Kentucky. In 1841, he was elected, as a Whig, to the state legislature and retained his seat until 1847. In 1837, he married Sarah Bell Langhorne and together they had 10 children. The Wallers lived in Maysville until Henry Waller moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1855 and his family followed him in 1860. He continued to practice law until 1867, as well as heavily investing in real estate there. In 1876, he was appointed master in chancery. Like his brother James Breckenridge Waller (1817-1887) Henry Waller was a Democrat, known for his political speeches. During the Civil War, Sarah Langhorne Waller organized charitable works and donations to the Confederate prisoners confined at Camp Douglas. In May 1863, William W. Waller, Jr. (1838-1874) the eldest son of Henry and Sarah Waller, was arrested by the Union authorities in Kentucky for recruiting within federal lines; until the end of the Civil War, he was imprisoned at Johnson's Island. Maurice Waller (1840-1916) became a Presbyterian minister and served in Petersburg, Illinois, Helena, Arkansas, and Manchester, Ohio. Henry Waller, Jr. (1844-) and Edward C. Waller (1845-1931) went into the real estate business in the Chicago area. Edward C. Waller was known for his development of a suburban home division in River Forest. John Duke Waller (1852-) was a physician who, in the late 1870s, worked at the Illinois Central Hospital for the Insane in Jacksonville, Illinois.

Scope and Contents

A collection containing approximately 5000 items from 1809 to 1943; the main portion of the collection is the correspondence of several generations of the Waller family centering on Henry Waller, his parents, siblings, wife, children, friends, and business associates. The bulk of the collection consists of the correspondence between Henry Waller and his wife Sarah Bell Langhorne Waller and their children. The detailed letters describe their life in Kentucky and Chicago and discuss family matters; social news; their feelings for each other; their religious reflections (the Wallers were devout Presbyterians); parenting; schools; political affairs; legal practice; and business. Also included are a few pieces of political and legal correspondence, including individual letters by John Marshall, Garret Davis, and John J. Crittenden. Also included are Henry Waller's letters to his parents written during his studies at West Point from 1829 to 1833, and his travels, including a trip to his sister's plantation in Mississippi in 1835. The collection also contains letters addressed to Sarah Bell Langhorne Waller, including those from Confederate prisoners and their families. Also included are items related to the arrest and imprisonment of William S. Waller, letters from Maurice Waller, John Duke Waller, Henry Waller, Jr., and other children to their parents, a group of military records documenting Edward C. Waller's service in the Spanish American War, and genealogical materials. There is also a small group of private and professional correspondence of Henry Waller's father, William Smith Waller who, for more than forty years, served as cashier of the Bank of Kentucky. Included are two letters by George Madison describing the War of 1812 in Kentucky. Other correspondents include Henry Waller's sister Catherine Waller Carson and her husband James Green Carson, a planter who owned and operated Canebrake Plantation in Mississippi, and then Airlie Plantation in East Carroll Parish, Louisiana. Their letters describe life on the cotton plantations, including discussions of enslaved people. There are also letters written by members of other branches of the Waller family as well as the related families of Langhorne, Breckenridge, Marshall, and others.

Processing Information

Processed by Huntington Library Staff, circa 1970; the collection was re-cataloged by Olga Tsapina in 2003. In 2020, Gayle Richardson created the finding aid derived from the summary report and finding aid.


Former call number: mssWaller papers.


Organized in the following manner: 1. Correspondence; 2. Business and household papers; 3. Ephemera. Arranged chronologically.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Bankers -- Kentucky
Businessmen -- Illinois -- Chicago
Lawyers -- Illinois -- Chicago
Lawyers -- Kentucky
Legislators -- Kentucky
Military cadets -- New York (State) -- West Point
Physicians -- Illinois
Plantation owners -- Louisiana
Plantation owners -- Mississippi
Presbyterian Church -- Clergy -- United States
Presbyterians -- United States
Prisoners of war -- Confederate States of America
Slaves -- Louisiana -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
Slaves -- Mississippi -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
Camp Douglas (Ill.) -- History
Chicago (Ill.) -- History
Kentucky -- History -- 1792-1865
Kentucky -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Greeting cards
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Prisoners and prisons
United States -- History -- War of 1812
Family papers -- Illinois -- 19th century
Family papers -- Kentucky -- 19th century
Genealogies -- United States
Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- 19th century
Military records -- United States -- Spanish-American War, 1898
Personal papers -- United States -- 19th century
Carson, Catherine Waller, 1815-
Carson, James Green, 1815-1863
Crittenden, John J. (John Jordan), 1787-1863
Davis, Garrett, 1801-1872
Madison, George, 1763-1816
Marshall, John, 1755-1835
Waller, Edward C. (Edward Carson), 1845-1931
Waller, Henry, 1844-
Waller, John Duke, 1852-
Waller, Maurice, 1840-1916
Waller, Sarah Bell Langhorne, 1821-1883
Waller, William S. (William Smith), 1785-1855
Waller, William S. (William Smith), 1838-1874
Bank of Kentucky -- History
Johnson Island Prison
United States Military Academy
Whig Party (Ky.)

Box 1


Box 2


Box 3


Box 4


Box 5


Box 6


Box 7


Box 8


Box 9


Box 10


Box 11


Box 12


Box 13


Box 14


Box 15


Box 16


Box 17


Box 18


Box 19


Box 20


Box 21


Box 22


Box 23


Box 24


Box 25

1895-1943; genealogy

Box 26

Undated correspondence

Box 27

Business and household papers

Box 28

Ephemera: envelopes, newspaper clippings, business cards

Folder 1

Genealogical chart approximately 1935

Box 29


Scope and Contents

Microfilm of Civil War letter, originals with donor.