Finding Aid to the Fremont Family Collection MS.217

Finding aid prepared by Holly Rose Larson
Autry National Center, Autry Library
4700 Western Heritage Way
Los Angeles, CA, 90027
(323) 667-2000 ext. 349
2012 August 28

Title: Fremont Family Collection
Identifier/Call Number: MS.217
Contributing Institution: Autry National Center, Autry Library
Language of Material: English
Physical Description: 3.6 Linear feet (3 boxes)
Date (inclusive): 1836-1960
Language: English, French, German, Latin.
Abstract: John Charles Fremont (1813-1890) was an American military officer during the Civil War, explorer of the Western United States, United States presidential candidate and an opponent of slavery. Fremont’s wife, Jessie Benton Fremont (1824-1902) was an American writer and daughter of Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton. Their firstborn daughter Elizabeth (Lily) Benton Fremont (1842-1919) participated in the groundbreaking ceremony of the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles in 1912. This collection of papers was compiled from donations from Elizabeth B. Fremont, as well as Southwest Museum curatorial and library staff, with documents spanning from 1836-1919. Materials include correspondence, etchings, certificates, manuscripts, maps, and newspaper clippings by and about members of the John C. Fremont family.
creator: Benton, Thomas Hart, 1782-1858
creator: Frémont Family
creator: Frémont, Jessie Benton, 1824-1902
creator: Frémont, John Charles, 1813-1890
creator: Frémont, Lily, b. 1842
creator: Lummis, Charles Fletcher, 1859-1928.


Collection is open for research. Appointments to view materials are required. To make an appointment please visit or contact library staff at An item-level inventory is available from library staff.


Copyright has not been assigned to the Braun Research Library at the Autry National Center. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Library Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Braun Research Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

Preferred citation

Fremont Family Collection, 1836-1960, Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center, Los Angeles; MS.217; [folder number] [folder title][date].

Processing history

Initial processing by Braun Library Staff. Finding aid completed by Holly Rose Larson, NHPRC Project Archivist, August 28, 2012, made possible through grant funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Scope and contents

This collection of papers was compiled from donations from Elizabeth B. Fremont, as well as Southwest Museum curatorial and library staff.
The majority of the materials in Box 1 span from 1836-1919 and include correspondence, etchings, certificates, newspaper clippings, manuscripts, and other papers either generated by John C. Fremont, Jessie B. Fremont, or Elizabeth B. Fremont, or dealing directly with one of the members of the Fremont family. These materials include a political songbook from John C. Fremont’s campaign for presidency, and two federal reports made to the Secretary of the Interior by John C. Fremont as Governor of the Arizona territory in 1878 and 1879.
Materials in Box 1 date mostly from 1901 and 1957 and are mostly comprised of biographical articles and newspaper clippings written about the members of the Fremont family.
Box 3 contains oversized items, including maps that John C. Fremont drew from his expeditions in the Western United States, certificates for honorary memberships for John C. Fremont, and military commissions from the Presidents of the United States of America, documenting John C. Fremont’s military promotions between 1838 and 1890.


  • Box 1: Primary resource materials
  • Box 2: Biographical publications
  • Box 3: Oversize items


Donation by Elizabeth Benton Frémont and others, 1915-1960.

Biographical note

John Charles Fremont, born January 12, 1813 in Savannah, Georgia, was an American military officer, explorer, United States presidential candidate, and an opponent of slavery. In 1838, Fremont was appointed Second Lieutenant in the Corps of Topographical Engineers, and he led expeditions through the western part of the United States. From 1842 to 1846, Fremont led expeditions through the Oregon Trail and the Sierra Nevada mountain range, leading to the San Joaquin Valley. His journals of these expeditions, especially the second, were wildly popular. The accounts of the two expeditions were printed together for the Congress as Report of the Exploring Expedition in the Rocky Mountains in the year 1842, and to Oregon and North California in the years 1843-1844 . Fremont was also involved in gold mining in California but this venture eventually foundered. Fremont’s most notable political accomplishments include serving as one of California’s first two U. S. senators from 1850-1851 and being governor of the Arizona Territory from 1878-1881. Fremont died July 13, 1890 at the age of 77. Fremont married United States senator Thomas Hart Benton's daughter Jessie in 1841. Jessie B. Fremont, born May 31, 1824, was an American writer who supplemented the family income as a freelance writer. Some of Jessie's most popular publications were memoirs of her time accompanying her husband on his expeditions in the American West. Jessie Benton Fremont died December 27, 1902. Their daughter Elizabeth (Lily) Benton Fremont was born November 15, 1842 and died May 28, 1919.
John C. Fremont purchased land in the San Francisco Bay Area known as Black Point and built a house there for his family around 1860. When the Civil War started, the military claimed the land at Black Point, now Fort Mason, and the Fremonts were never reimbursed for their land. Future generations of the Fremont family, including grandson Benton Fremont, continued to fight for payment for the estate.
After John C. Fremont's death, Jessie and Elizabeth Fremont settled in Los Angeles. They became friends with Charles F. Lummis, who also tried to fight on their behalf for the money owed them by the U.S. government. Because of her relationship with Lummis, Elizabeth Fremont had a great role in the ground-breaking ceremony at the Southwest Museum on November 16, 1912. Elizabeth had the flag her father had raised on the crest of the Rocky Mountains in 1842, and she donated it to the Southwest Society in 1905, as a gift for the forthcoming Southwest Museum. At the groundbreaking ceremony for the museum in 1912, Elizabeth Fremont raised this flag and then turned over the first shovel of earth for the actual breaking of ground for the Southwest Museum building.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Frémont Family
Frémont, Jessie Benton, 1824-1902
Frémont, John Charles, 1813-1890
Southwest Museum (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Arizona Territory
Explorers -- West (U.S.)
Presidential candidates
Presidents -- Elections
United States. Army -- History
West (U.S.) -- Discovery and exploration

Box 1, Folder 1

A bond between John C. Fremont and Charles Gould, 1857

Box 1, Folder 2

Manuscript regarding restoration of rank in the regular army, undated

Box 1, Folder 3

Correspondence - Envelope to John C. Fremont from Benton Via Carson, 1847

Box 1, Folder 4

"Cashier d'Observations Astronomiques" 1838ff, 1838

Language of Material: French

Scope and contents

Nicollet and Fremont's notebook of astronomical observations while on a survey of the upper Missouri expedition of 1838.
Box 1, Folder 5

Correspondence - from Benton regarding trial, 1842

Box 1, Folder 6

Correspondence - Thomas Hart Benton to John C. Fremont regarding the Fremont family, 1847

Box 1, Folder 7

Correspondence - Benton to Abert suggesting John C. Fremont go to South Pass, 1842

Box 1, Folder 8

Thanksgiving proclamation by John C. Fremont, as Governor of Arizona Territory, 1879

Box 1, Folder 9

Correspondence - Letters regarding the Lost Cannon, 1887, 1949

Physical Description: 2.0 letters

Separated materials

Photo transferred to Photo Archives, 1986 September 23.

Scope and contents

Correspondence from P. B. Ellis to Captain A. W. Pray, 1887 April 26; Correspondence from Art Woodward to F. W. Hodge, 1949 March 25.
Box 1, Folder 10

Correspondence - Grand Army of the Republic memorial resolution, 1890

Box 1, Folder 11

Correspondence and decoration of Merit for Sciences to John C. Fremont from the Prince Regent of Prussia, 1860-1886

Language: English, French, German.
Box 1, Folder 12

Correspondence - Envelope from Jessie Benton Fremont to "Governor Fremont," undated undated

Box 1, Folder 13

Commission to rank of Major General vide #49, 1890

General Physical Description note: Photo copy
Box 1, Folder 14

Pencil sketch of John C. Fremont by Frank Carpenter, undated


Donation from Charles Elmer Bond, 1918 October 30.

Scope and contents

Accession card note: Original sketch of John Charles Fremont in War times in Washington, by Frank Carpenter (Painter of Lincoln's Emancipation picture, in Washington. The original of the Fremont picture is also in Washington). 2 1/2" x 3 1/2", face indistinct.
Box 1, Folder 15

Swatch of crocheted lace, undated

Box 1, Folder 16

Campaign ribbons, 1856, undated

Scope and contents

1856 ribbon for Fremont and Wm. Lewis Dayton; undated for Junior Fremont Club.
Box 1, Folder 17

"Gen. Fremont, wife, and daughter at the Fremont Redwood" postcard, 1917

Box 1, Folder 18

Manuscript of declaration by Elizabeth Benton Fremont at donation of the flag to the Southwest Museum, 1912

Box 1, Folder 19

Special Order number 100, Headquarters of the Army, United States of America, to retire Major General John C. Fremont from active duty, 1890

Box 1, Folder 20

Note - John C. Fremont apology regarding charges, 1886

Box 1, Folder 21

John C. Fremont signature, 1844

General note

Clipped from an unidentified piece of correspondence.
Box 1, Folder 22

Reprint from Southern Californian No. 72: Supreme Court of the United States, 1854 December

Scope and contents

Regarding John C. Fremont versus the United States of America for a private land claim in California.
Box 1, Folder 23

Correspondence - John C. Fremont to Dr. Torrey, 1844

Box 1, Folder 24

John C. Fremont contract engaging Honore Ayot, 1842


Donation from Elizabeth Benton Fremont, 1905 October 31.
Box 1, Folder 25

Correspondence - Thomas Hart Benton to John C. Fremont, 1847 October 14

Box 1, Folder 26

Correspondence - Thomas Hart Benton to John C. Fremont, 1847 October 7

Box 1, Folder 27

Correspondence - Jessie Fremont to John C. Fremont and clipping regarding death of Godey, 1889 January

Box 1, Folder 28

Note for $182.31 to Dr. Marcus Whitman, 1843

Box 1, Folder 29

Envelope addressed to John C. Fremont with note on reverse, 1887

Box 1, Folder 30

Manuscript titled Captain de Arnaud, undated

Box 1, Folder 31

Photostat of a note from Jessie Fremont to Mr. Field, undated


Donation from Alice Eyre.
Box 1, Folder 32

Correspondence - Typed letter E.M. David to Jessie Fremont, 1886

Box 1, Folder 33

Correspondence - Letter of introduction, John C. Fremont from fur trader Pierre Chouteau, 1843

Box 1, Folder 34

John C. Fremont's commission as Major General USA vide #13, 1890

Box 1, Folder 35

Correspondence - John C. Fremont to John Torrey, 1845

Box 1, Folder 36

Correspondence - Thomas Hart Benton to John C. Fremont regarding the trial, 1847

Box 1, Folder 37

Typed version of John C. Fremont's farewell to his troops, 1861

Box 1, Folder 38

Verses written by John C. Fremont, 1875

Scope and contents

Verses are regarding crossing the Rockies, thirty-three years earlier than the writing.
Box 1, Folder 39

Proofs of the Senate Record regarding John C. Fremont's expedition to the Rockies, 1843

Box 1, Folder 40

Engraving of John C. Fremont profile, undated

Physical Characteristics Note

Matte and engraving both torn.
Box 1, Folder 41

Fremont campaign envelopes, undated

Physical Description: 3.0 envelopes
Box 1, Folder 42

Correspondence regarding John C. Fremont's commissions, 1886

Box 1, Folder 43

Photostat of 1847 letter mentioning John C. Fremont and Abel Stearns, undated


Donation from H. R. Wagner, 1932.
Box 1, Folder 44

Engravings of John C. Fremont, 1862, undated

Scope and contents

Lithograph by Alonzo Chappel, published by Johnson, Fry & Co., 1862; Engraving by J. C. Buttre, created for Rebellion Record, G. P. Putnam, undated.


Chappel engraving, donated by F. W. Hodge, 1936 October; Buttre engraving, from Fenyes Collection.
Box 1, Folder 45

Correspondence - unknown author on behalf of Jessie Benton Fremont and daughter, undated

Box 1, Folder 46

Newspaper clippings regarding the military reduction of son Francis, 1907-1908

Box 1, Folder 47

Newspaper clippings regarding John C. Fremont's idea to flood the California desert, 1879

Box 1, Folder 48

Newspaper clipping mentioning John C. Fremont in the Mexican War, undated

Box 1, Folder 49

Newspaper clipping regarding John C. Fremont in California before Castro, undated

Box 1, Folder 50

Newspaper clipping of article by Putnam regarding John C. Fremont's promotion to Lt. Col., undated

Box 1, Folder 51

The Fremont Songster political song book, New York: P. J. Cozans, 1856

Box 1, Folder 52

Correspondence - Elizabeth B. Fremont to Charles F. Lummis, 1916

Box 1, Folder 53

Correspondence - Charles F. Lummis to Elizabeth B. Fremont, 1917

Box 1, Folder 54

Correspondence - Elizabeth B. Fremont to Charles F. Lummis, 1907

Box 1, Folder 55

Correspondence - Elizabeth B. Fremont to Charles F. Lummis, undated

Box 1, Folder 56

Correspondence between Elizabeth B. Fremont and Charles F. Lummis, 1916

Box 1, Folder 57

Photo postcard - Elizabeth B. Fremont to Charles F. Lummis, 1910

Box 1, Folder 58

Copy of Senate document introduced regarding title to land, 1901 December 12

Box 1, Folder 59

Correspondence - Elizabeth B. Fremont to Charles F. Lummis, undated

Box 1, Folder 60

Correspondence - Copy of letter from Charles F. Lummis to President Theodore Roosevelt, 1903

Arrangement note

Previously housed with items in Box 2, Folder 1.
Box 1, Folder 61

Copies of Resolution by California Federation of Women's Clubs to settle the Fremont claim, undated

Box 1, Folder 62

John C. Fremont's message to the 10th legislative assembly, 1879


From the Munk Library of Arizoniana.
Box 1, Folder 63

John C. Fremont's diploma of graduation from Charleston College, 1836

Language of Material: Latin
Physical Description: 2.0 copies
Box 1, Folder 64

Col. Fremont Not a Roman Catholic pamphlet, undated

Box 1, Folder 65

"JCF" verse manuscript, 1890

Box 1, Folder 66

Fremont Glee Club: newspaper clipping, photostats, and correspondence, 1901-1902

Box 1, Folder 67

"California and Fremont" by Jessie B. Fremont, 1895 December

Scope and contents

Clipping from The Land of Sunshine Vol. IV, no. 1, December 1895.


From the Munk Library of Arizoniana.
Box 1, Folder 68

"Souvenirs of My Time" by Jessie B. Fremont, 1884 October

Scope and contents

Clipping from Chautauqua Young Folks' Journal Vol. 1, Number 1, October 1884.
Box 1, Folder 69

Printed pamphlet regarding Fremont land in San Francisco, undated

Box 1, Folder 70

Elizabeth B. Fremont's calling card, undated

Box 1, Folder 71

Postal sleeve bearing Elizabeth Benton Fremont and John Charles Fremont, Jr.'s names and address, undated

Box 1, Folder 72

Small envelope bearing the words "Fremont's promotion," undated

Box 1, Folder 73

"My Arizona Class" by Jessie B. Fremont, 1883 November

Scope and contents

Manuscript clipping from Wide Awake Vol. 17, Number 6, November 1883.


From Munk Library of Arizoniana.
Box 1, Folder 74

Correspondence and photographs of Jessie B. Fremont to Mr. Wm H. Whiton, 1895

Box 1, Folder 75

Correspondence - Charles Fletcher Lummis with Fremont family members, 1899-1917

Box 1, Folder 76

Fremont Miscellany, 1940, undated

Scope and contents

Includes correspondence from Mrs. Lee A. Phillips to Mrs. Britton regarding Charles Fletcher Lummis and Jessie Benton Fremont, undated; newspaper clipping, 1940; Lummis notes on poem to Elizabeth Benton Fremont, undated.
Box 1, Folder 77

Elizabeth Benton Fremont obituaries, 1919

Box 1, Folder 78

Correspondence - Kansas State Historical Society to John C. Fremont, 1887 January 22

Arrangement note

The certificate accompanying this letter is in Box 3, Folder 1.
Box 1, Folder 79

Report of the Governor of Arizona by John C. Fremont, 1878, 1879

Physical Description: 2.0 reports
Box 2, Folder 1

Newspaper clippings regarding Fremont claim to Fort Mason land, undated

Arrangement note

Previously housed with items in Box 1, Folder 60.
Box 2, Folder 2

Newspaper clippings regarding the Fremont property at Fort Mason and the death of John C. Fremont's grandson Benton Fremont, 1960

Box 2, Folder 3

Newspaper clipping on Santa Barbara Headquarters building, undated

Box 2, Folder 4

"A Man Unafraid" book review, 1927

Box 2, Folder 5

Newspaper clipping regarding dedication of John C. Fremont bust in Oakland, 1911

Box 2, Folder 6

Newspaper clippings on Fremont relics to Southwest Museum by Charles F. Lummis, 1905, undated

Physical Description: 2.0 sets
Box 2, Folder 7

Newspaper clippings regarding plaque for Fremont headquarters in Santa Barbara, 1929-1931

Box 2, Folder 8

Newspaper clipping regarding "Fremont Experience" Agua Mansa, 1933

Box 2, Folder 9

Biographical newspaper clipping on John C. Fremont from The Daily Telegraph, 1890 July 16

Box 2, Folder 10

Newspaper clipping regarding the Gun Carriage, 1948

Box 2, Folder 11

Newspaper clipping of John C. Fremont's grandson John Charles Fremont's obituary, 1957

Box 2, Folder 12

Newspaper clipping regarding Fremont Flag, 1946

Box 2, Folder 13

Review clipping on Jessie B. Fremont's forthcoming biography of her husband, 1901

Box 2, Folder 14

Newspaper memorials of Jessie Benton Fremont's death, 1952-1953

Box 2, Folder 15

Newspaper clipping "Stories of Gen. Fremont," 1905

Box 2, Folder 16

Newspaper clipping "Gleanings from History," 1940

Box 2, Folder 17

Articles regarding the "Lost Painting" of John C. Fremont as Senator, 1953

Physical Description: 2.0 articles
Box 2, Folder 18

Newspaper clipping on the Fremonts' 1849 journey to California, 1949

Box 2, Folder 19

Article on "The Pathfinder" by Rockwell Hunt, 1939


Donation from F. W. Hodge.
Box 2, Folder 20

"John Charles Fremont - The Pathfinder" by Lewis Liston, 1924


Donation from F. W. Hodge, 1938 July.
Box 2, Folder 21

"In the Lion's Den" Charles F. Lummis article on Jessie B. Fremont, 1903

Scope and contents

From Out West v. XVIII, no. 1.
Box 2, Folder 22

"Fremont and the Bear Flag" by William Simpson, 1910

Box 2, Folder 23

"Fremont in Southern California" by S. B. Parish, 1908


Donation from George L. Moxley.
Box 2, Folder 24

"Life of Col. Fremont" pamphlet, 1856

Box 2, Folder 25

"Our Fremont Flag" Masterkey article by M. R. Harrington, 1952

Box 2, Folder 26

"Fremont for President" Masterkey article by Allen W. Welts, 1956

Physical Description: 2.0 copies
Box 2, Folder 27

"Pioneers of the Western Frontier: John C. Fremont" Touring Topic article, 1931

Box 2, Folder 28

"A Woman Who Has Lived History" by Margaret Coy Kendall, 1901

Scope and contents

Biography of Jessie Benton Fremont.
Box 2, Folder 29

"The Exploration of an Embryo Empire" by John T. Burns, 1903

Scope and contents

One installation of the series from The Frontier Monthly vol. II, no. 3.
Box 2, Folder 30

"Fremont and Carson in Nevada" by George Wharton James, 1914

Box 2, Folder 31

"Fremont Crosses the Sierra" by H. E. Bolton, 1931


Gift to the Fenyes collection from F. W. Hodge, 1936 October.
Box 2, Folder 32

"Documentary: The Fremont Episode" in California Historical Society Quarterly, 1927

Box 2, Folder 33

Bigelow's Memoir of Fremont excerpt, undated

Box 2, Folder 34

"Fremont's California" by Lewis R. Works, 1930


Gift to the Fenyes Collection from F. W. Hodge, 1936 November.
Box 2, Folder 35

"The Fremont Myth" by A.T. Richardson, undated

Box 2, Folder 36

"Fremont on Rocky Mountains" by Phillip Rochlin, 1952


Donation by the author, 1952 August.
Box 2, Folder 37

"Fremont's Expedition to the Far West, 1842" by J. Gregg Layne, 1951

Box 2, Folder 38

"Fremont in California" by George Wharton James, 1903

Physical Description: 2.0 copies

Scope and contents

This publication is a complimentary pamphlet from the Fremont Hotel on the corner of 4th and Olive Streets in Los Angeles, California.
Box 2, Folder 39

Reviews of Catherine Coffin Phillips's book on Jessie Benton Fremont, 1936

Box 2, Folder 40

"The Last Survivor of Fremont's Army" by Byron E. Cooney, 1913

Box 2, Folder 41

"General J. C. Fremont" by George B. Wallis, 1890

Custodial history

Received in the Munk Library of Arizoniana, before 1931.
Box 2, Folder 42

"Last of the Voyageurs" by Thomas R. Henry, 1926

Box 2, Folder 43

Five articles on John C. Fremont and California history from The Century Magazine vol. XLI, no. 5, 1891 March

Box 2, Folder 44

Newspaper clipping "The Pathfinder: Century Agone, His Natal Day," 1913

Box 3, tube 1

Metal mailing tube, circa 1863

Arrangement note

This metal tube housed the Royal Geographic Society diploma now in Box 3, Folder 9.
Box 3, Folder 1

Kansas State Historical Society honorary membership for John C. Fremont certificate, 1887

Arrangement note

Correspondence accompanying this certificate is in Box 1, Folder 78.
Box 3, Folder 2

Copy of Presidential commission of Second Lieutenant, Topographical Engineer to John C. Fremont, 1838

Box 3, Folder 3

Copy of Presidential commission of Captain to John C. Fremont, 1845

Box 3, Folder 4

Copy of Presidential commission of Lieutenant to John C. Fremont, 1846

Box 3, Folder 5

Copy of Presidential commission of Major General to John C. Fremont, 1861

Box 3, Folder 6

President's restoration of rank Major General to John C. Fremont, signed by President Benjamin Harrison, 1890

Box 3, Folder 7

Copy of 1842 map of the Rockies, Oregon and Northern California by J. C. Fremont, undated

Box 3, Folder 8

Jessie Benton Fremont portrait lithograph, 1856

Box 3, Folder 9

Royal Geographical Society honorary membership certificate, 1863

Arrangement note

This certificate was in the metal mailing tube found in Box 3.
Box 3, Folder 10

Daughters of the American Revolution memorial resolution for Jessie B. Fremont, Eschscholtzia Chapter 1903

Box 3, Folder 11

Scott County Fremont Club memorial certificate for Jessie Benton Fremont, 1903

Box 3, Folder 12

Picture map of San Francisco formerly Yerba Buena, by Captain W. Swasey, circa 1847

Box 3, Folder 13

New England Associated California Pioneers diploma for John C. Fremont, 1890

Box 3, Folder 14

Native Sons of the Golden West Brooklyn Parlor No. 151 memorial for John C. Fremont, 1890