Caswell and Soltwedel Family Collection

Finding aid prepared by Katrina Denman.
Manuscripts Department
The Huntington Library
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2203
Fax: (626) 449-5720
© 2011
The Huntington Library. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Caswell and Soltwedel Family Collection
Dates: 1912-1933
Collection Number: Consult repository.
Creator: Caswell, George Emery, 1893-1958
Extent: 535 items
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
Abstract: Collection of letters and photographs sent from George Emery Caswell to his fiancee Lillian Soltwedel during his army training at Camp Logan, Texas, and while he was serving in Europe during World War I. Also includes letters to Lillian's sister Myrtle Soltwedel from her beaux John Deathe and Rene Sayers, a variety of family photographs and photograph albums, and some ephemera.
Language of Material: The records are in English.

Administration Information


Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, please go to following web site  .

Publication Rights

In order to quote from, publish, or reproduce any of the manuscripts or visual materials, researchers must obtain formal permission from the office of the Library Director. In most instances, permission is given by the Huntington as owner of the physical property rights only, and researchers must also obtain permission from the holder of the literary rights. In some instances, the Huntington owns the literary rights, as well as the physical property rights. Researchers may contact the appropriate curator for further information.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Caswell and Soltwedel family collection, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mrs. Patricia Marks, October 2010 and January 2011.


George Emery Caswell (1893-1958) was born in Whitewater, Wisconsin, to Carroll Lewis Caswell and Ida Louise Roswell. He served in Company "C" of the 1st Wisconsin Infanty National Guard (1910-1912) and enlisted as a Sergeant 1st Class in the U.S. Army in Chicago on July 3, 1917. Caswell was made a Second Lieutenant of Engineering in the U.S. Army in 1919, a Second Lieutenant of Engineering in the Officers' Reserve Corps in 1919, and a First Lieutenant of Engineering in the Officers' Reserve Corps in 1922. Caswell served in World War I with the 108th U.S. Engineers and participated in the Somme Offensive (August 1918) and the Meuse Argonne Offensive (September 1918). Following the war he was honorably discharged with a commission as Second Lieutenant. He married Lillian Soltwedel (1895-1990, born in Whiting, Indiana) on November 22, 1919, in Chicago. Caswell's army records list his occupation as a photographer, and he documented his time in the military with extensive photographic records.
Lillian Soltwedel Caswell's sister Myrtle Soltwedel was born in Indiana on October 16, 1891 (possibly 1902?). She became engaged to John Deathe in 1919, although he died in 1922. Myrtle never married and died in Pasadena, California, in December 1974.
John B. Deathe (the family changed the spelling from Death shortly before John's birth) was born in Lake, Indiana, in 1896. His father George McKinley Deathe (1841-1911) owned a hardware store in Lowell, Indiana, and his mother was George's second wife Emma Buchanan (1859-1935). John Deathe worked as a hardware manager at the Lynch Brothers Department Store in Lowell from 1920 until his sudden death in 1922.
Rene Joseph Sayers was a beau of Myrtle Soltwedel until his marriage to Mabel L. Keough in 1920.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of letters sent by George Emery Caswell to Lillian Soltwedel and from John Deathe and Rene Sayers to Myrtle Soltwedel, as well as extensive military and family photographs covering the early 20th century through the 1920s. George's letters were sent during his military training (primarily at Camp Logan, Texas) and during his service in France with the 108th Engineers. Most of the letters describe army life, his travels throughout the eastern United States, and his experiences in Europe. Although he does not elaborate on specific battles, Caswell does give a first-hand account of the experiences and sentiments of American soldiers, including their views on the reasons for war, the lack of information on the progression of the war, and an account of an German-American prisoner-of-war from the German army.
The letters from Deathe and Sayers primarily describe their daily activities and family life.


The collection includes six series: 1) Correspondence, George E. Caswell to Lillian Soltwedel (1917-1919), 2) Correspondence, John B. Deathe to Myrtle Soltwedel (1919-1921), 3) Correspondence, Rene Joseph Sayers to Myrtle Soltwedel (1918-1928), 4) Photograph albums (c.1912-1929), 5) Loose photographs (c.1912-1933), and 6) Miscellaneous and ephemera. Each series is arranged chronologically.
A detailed, folder level container list is available through the Manuscripts Department.

Indexing Terms

Personal Names

Caswell, George Emery, 1893-1958.
Deathe, John B., 1896-1922.
Pershing, John J. (John Joseph), 1860-1948.
Sayers, Rene Joseph.
Soltwedel, Lillian, 1895-1990.
Soltwedel, Myrtle, 1891 (1902?)-1974.


Aerial photography.
Army life.
Military training camps--United States.
World War, 1914-1918.


Letters (correspondence)--20th century.
Black-and white-photographs--20th century.


Box  1

Correspondence: George E. Caswell to Lillian Soltwedel, 1917, Aug.24-1918. Apr.26.

Box  2

Correspondence: George E. Caswell to Lillian Soltwedel, 1918, May 7-1919, Aug.27.

Box  3

Correspondence: George E. Caswell to Lillian Soltwedel, 1919, Sep.2-1919, Nov.17.

Box  4

Correspondence: John B. Deathe to Myrtle Soltwedel, 1919, July 21-1920, Dec.27.

Box  5

Correspondence: John B. Deathe to Myrtle Soltwedel, 1921, Jan.7-1921, Dec.30 (and undated).

Box  6

Correspondence: Rene Sayers to Myrtle Soltwedel, 1918, May 15-1928 (and undated)

Box  7

George E. Caswell photograph albums, 1917-1919.

Folder  1

George E. Caswell photograph album, miscellaneous, 1917-1919. Photographs include photos of Boy Scouts,travel scenes, Glen and Vera Caswell, Lillian Soltwedel, army life in France and Germany, and General John J. Pershing.  Album 1.

Folder  2

George E. Caswell family photograph album, 1918. Photographs include those of George Caswell, Vera Caswell (George's sister), Glen Caswell (George's brother), Lillian Soltwedel, Boy Scouts, Capt. F.C. Kiser, and John S. Nelson.  Album 2.

Folder  3

George E. Caswell military photograph album, c.1918-1919. Photographs include training at Camp Logan, Texas, Governor Hobby of Texas, aerial photographs of French and German trenches, Washington, D.C., and Camp Merritt, New Jersey.  Album 3.

Box  8

Lillian Soltwedel photograph albums, 1912-1929.

Folder  1

Lillian Soltwedel family photograph album, 1912-1915. Photographs include those of Lillian Soltwedel and her parents Mary and John Soltwedel.  Album 4.

Folder  2

Soltwedel/Caswell family photograph album, c.1913-1929. Photographs include those of Lillian Soltwedel, her sister Myrtle Soltwedel, their parents John and Mary Soltwedel, George Caswell, Betty Caswell, and Patty Caswell.  Album 5.

Box  9

Loose photographs, c.1912-1933.

Folder 1

Caswell scrapbook photographs, c.1917-1919. Includes photographs taken by Caswell of his military training camp, trip to Washington, D.C., and European military service in France, Luxembourg, and Germany. Some photographs of Lillian Soltwedel, Caswell's mother, and his sister Vera are also included.

Folder  2

Miscellaneous military views, c.1917-1919.  Scrapbook Miscellaneous 001-013.

Folder  3

Military training, European campaign, and aerial photos, c.1917-1919. Caswell Loose 001-038. 

Folder 4

Military photographs and miscellaneous, c.1917-1919. Caswell Miscellaneous 001-006.

Folder  5

George Pershing, 1918. Caswell Addenda Loose 001-003.

Folder  6

Military training and camps, c.1917-1919. Caswell Addenda Loose 004-013.

Folder  7

Aerial photographs, France, c.1918. Caswell Addenda Loose 014-020.

Folder  8

Military and miscellaneous, 1917-1919. Caswell Addenda Loose 021-053.

Folder  9

Caswell and Soltwedel family photographs, c.1912-1933. Includes photographs of Ingebor Roswell, Ida Caswell, George Caswell as a young man, Lillian Soltwedel as a young girl, George and Lillian's wedding day, and their daughters Betty Mae and Patty. [facsimiles] Caswell Addenda Loose Returned 001-027.

Box  10

Miscellaneous and ephemera.