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George H. Mendell Correspondence: Finding Aid
mssHM 77770-77910  
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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: George H. Mendell Correspondence
    Dates: 1894-1899
    Bulk dates: 1897-1899
    Collection Number: mssHM 77770-77910
    Creator: Mendell, George H. (George Henry), 1831-1902
    Extent: 141 items in 2 boxes
    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: This collection consists of letters from George H. Mendell to D.D. Clarke, engineer of the Water Board for Portland, Oregon, between 1897 and 1899. Mendell writes detailed letters of instruction and advice for engineering issues raised by Clarke, particularly regarding drainage, wells, and the sinking of shafts.
    Language: English.


    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]. George H. Mendell Correspondence, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Purchased from Ian Brabner, Bookseller on May 1, 2012.

    Biographical Note

    Colonel George Henry Mendell was born in Pennsylvania in 1831 and graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1852. Mendell joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and served with a variety of topographical surveys before the Civil War, including the survey of the Northwestern Lakes (1852-1854) and various posts in the Oregon and Washington Territory (1855-1858). He was also an assistant professor at the U.S. Military Academy from 1859-1863. During the Civil War he served under Colonel Miles in the Manassas Campaign (1861) and carried on siege operations in the Petersburg, Virginia area (1864); was Assistant Engineer of Defenses of Baltimore (1864); and was Superintending Engineer of the construction of the Defenses of New Bedford Harbor, Massachusetts (1865) and the Preservation of Plymouth Beach, Massachusetts (1866). He was made a Colonel for his war service in 1865 and subsequently became superintending engineer in charge of fortifications of Alcatraz Island and Lime Point, San Francisco Harbor (beginning 1867) and for defenses of the Columbia River (1867-1871). He later served on the board of engineers for fortifications of the Pacific Coast (1867-1886); on the commission for a system of irrigation for the San Joaquin, Tulare, and Sacramento Valleys (1873-1874); was Supervising Engineer of Districts in California, Oregon, and Washington in charge of junior officers (1884-1888); was Division Engineer for Inspection of Engineer Works in the Pacific territory (beginning in 1888); was Division Engineer of the Pacific Division (until 1895); and was in charge of construction of defenses of San Francisco Harbor (1890-1895). In civilian life he worked as Engineer to the Water Commissioners of San Francisco (1876-1878), was the author of a report on water supply for San Francisco (1877), and was Consulting Engineer for the State of California (1878-1880). Mendell retired from the Engineering Corps due to mandatory age requirements in 1895. Following his military retirement he worked as a consulting engineer in San Francisco, where he died in 1902. The Battery Mendell at Fort Barry was named in his honor.

    Scope and Content

    Collection of letters from George H. Mendell to D.D. Clarke - who was Engineer of the Water Board for Portland, Oregon – written between 1897 and 1899. Mendell writes detailed letters of instruction and advice for engineering issues raised by Clarke, particularly regarding drainage, wells, and the sinking of shafts. The majority of the letters were written from Mendell’s office in San Francisco, although some originated in Los Angeles or Springfield, Illinois, where Mendell had traveled “on account of mental illness of a relative” in 1897. He also mentions meeting with Clarke in Portland on his return trip from Illinois in September 1897. Also included in the collection are a few other pieces of miscellaneous correspondence from 1894-1899 relating to water engineering in Portland.


    The collection is arranged chronologically in two boxes.

    Indexing Terms

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

    Personal Names

    Clarke, D.D.
    Mendell, George H. (George Henry), 1831-1902.


    Shafts (Excavations)
    Water-supply engineering--Portland--Oregon--History.

    Geograhic Areas

    Oregon--History--19th century.
    Portland (Ore.)--History.


    Letters (correspondence)--Oregon--19th century.