The collection includes thirty letters chiefly from the Steele family of Ann Arbor, Michigan, between 1856 and the 1870s,
Steele Sturges (1837-1930). The letters primarily discuss family news and health, as
well as occasional references to cultural and religious life in Ann Arbor.
Notably, one letter discusses President Ulysses S. Grant’s unsuccessful bid for a third term.
The family of minister Ebenezer Steele (October 18, 1808-1900) and Phebe Steele (1819-1910)
lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Their daughter Julia lived in their household in Ann
Arbor until her death on November 11, 1866, of an unknown tuberculosis-like
illness. Their son, Valentine, lived in Ann Arbor until the time of his death of an
unknown tuberculosis-like illness on June 12, 1874. Another daughter, Ellen (1837-1930), who worked as a school teacher in
David B. Sturges, and immigrated with him to Montana Territory sometime
between 1856-1866, where they lived in Helena, Virginia City, and Gallatin. Ellen
Sturges eventually settled in San Bernardino, California, between 1876 and 1902. The
Steeles of Ann Arbor were active in the First United Methodist Church of Ann Arbor,
and ran a boarding house for students at the University of Michigan, where they
often attended events.
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