The collection consists primarily of the letters of California State legislator Sylvester Ballou (1828-1899), to various members
of his family, assorted poems and public addresses prepared
by Ballou, and his 1878 diary kept after the Ballous moved to Naperville, Illinois. There is also a diary by his first wife,
Julia, of their sojourn in California during 1865-66.
Subject matter includes politics and government in Civil War-era California, ocean travel to and from California in 1865 and
1866, mining in California and Colorado, farm life in Illinois, and Ballou family history.
Sylvester Allen Ballou (1828-1899) first came to California in 1849 from Ohio with his brother Volney in search of gold. Miner,
temperance advocate and school teacher while a resident of the Golden State, Ballou's active involvement in Democratic politics
led him to serve four terms in the state legislature.
A well-respected politician admired by colleagues and by the press, his career was marked in particular by his advocacy of
Sacramento as permanent state capital and by his ardent support of
popular sovereignty as a solution to the question of slavery in the territories. During the Civil War, he served in the Union
Army's Department of Subsistence, being present at the siege of Vicksburg in
1863 and after war's end held the post of Chief Commissary in the Department of California for a year. Returning once more
to the family home (now in Naperville, Illinois), he settled with his first wife,
Julia Hills (Barnard) Ballou, who had accompanied him to California in 1865, until her death in 1869. Although he never again
lived in California, he did return to the West several times, notably in 1873
when he revisited California and in 1879 when he participated in the Leadville, Colo. silver rush (without notable success).
Returning to Naperville, he remained there with his family including his second
wife, Eliza (Norton) Ballou, whom he had married in 1874, until his death in 1899.
150 pieces in 3 boxes, 2 volumes, and 2 rolls.
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