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James William Denver letters

Call Number: RH MS 1066


This collection consists of official letters to and from James Denver during his military service in the Mexican-American War, as well as personal letters to Denver's brother Arthur of Platte City, Missouri; his sister Elizabeth A. Johns of Wilmington, Ohio; and his wife Louise Catherine Denver of Wilmington, OH. These latter letters were written while he was serving as governor of the Kansas Territory.


  • Creation: 1846 - 1865


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of James William Denver

James William Denver was born on October 23, 1817 at Winchester, Virginia. In 1830, he moved to Ohio with his parents Patrick (1787-1858) and Jane (Campbell) Denver (1794-1874) and siblings, who settled near Wilmington. Denver studied civil engineering, briefly taught school in Missouri, and then studied the law, graduating from the Cincinnati Law School in 1844.

In 1845, Denver returned to Missouri, where he practiced law at Platte City. In March 1847, he organized Company H of Missouri's Twelfth Infantry Regiment, serving as captain until the close of the Mexican War in July 1848. He then returned to Platte City and in 1850 moved to California, where he was elected to the State Senate in 1851, appointed secretary of state in 1852, and elected to the U.S. Congress in 1854.

At the end of his Congressional term, Denver was named Commissioner of Indian Affairs, on April 17, 1857. He resigned from this office to become Governor of the Territory of Kansas on June 17, 1857, taking over from fellow Democrat Frederick P. Stanton. During his administration, the capital of Colorado (then in Kansas Territory) was founded and named Denver in his honor. Hugh Sleight Walsh briefly served as acting territorial governor while Denver was on leave in July and again after Denver resigned in October 1858.

From November 1858 to March 1859, Denver served again as Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and in August 1861 he was commissioned brigadier general in the Union Army. Denver resigned from the Army in March 1863 and resumed practicing law in both Washington, D.C. and Wilmington, OH. He was a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions in 1876, 1880, and 1884.

Denver married Louise Catherine Rombach (1833-1914) in 1856. They had at least four children: Katharine St. Clair (Denver) Williams (1861-1937), James William (1863-1898), Matthew Rombach (1870-1954), and Mary Louise (Denver) Lindley (1871-1942). James William Denver died on August 9, 1892 at Washington, D.C. and was buried in Wilmington, OH.


.25 Linear Feet (1 document case)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

RH MS 1066

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchases, 19th Century Shop, 1990; William Reece Company, 2021.

Related Materials

James William Denver papers and diary, RH MS 19, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

James William Denver papers, Manuscripts Collection 328, State Archives, Kansas Historical Society

James William Denver Papers, BANC MSS 92/759 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

James William Denver papers, WH85, Denver Public Library

Guide to the James William Denver Collection
James William Denver letters
Finding aid prepared by mh, 2007. Finding aid encoded by mh, 2007. Finding aid revised by mwh, 2021.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
James William Denver letters, Kansas Collection, RH MS 1066, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States