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Hunter family letters

Call Number: RH MS 1361


This collection contains correspondence from the Hunter family, in excess of 75 letters and 230 pages, ranging from 1844 to 1913. Much of the correspondence is from Almon and George Hunter to their mother Betsy Graham, of Youngsville, Warren County, Pennsylvania. There is also a great deal of correspondence from Mrs. Graham's brother, Shubil D. Chappel. The Hunter brothers and Chappel had emigrated earlier from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, and later to Kansas Territory. In 1860 Almon went to the mines during the Pike's Peak Gold Rush.


  • Creation: 1844 - 1913

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 the Hunter family

Almon and George Hunter set out in the early 1850s for Heart Prairie, Wisconsin, where their uncle Shubil Chappell had previously settled. Almon seems to have had a good deal of wanderlust, leaving Wisconsin very shortly afterward first for Iowa, and then for Kansas Territory in the mid 1850s. Almon worked first on a surveying party, and then settled north of Topeka, claiming land and farms.

In 1860, after a period of working in the lumber business, Almon headed to the Colorado mines (then still part of the Kansas territory) during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush. There are two letters to his mother relating his experiences, one written while on the trail: (1) On the Road to the Mountains, May 1860; (2) Mill Citty Moris District, June 11, 1861.

George Hunter appears to have gone to Wisconsin at a slightly later time than his brother Almon. In March of 1855, he reported that he had hired himself out "to learn the tinner's trade" in Whitewater, Wisconsin. George, however, seems to have had nearly the same degree of wanderlust as his brother, and this apprenticeship does not seem to have lasted long, for he soon traveled to Illinois and announced his intentions of going to Kansas. However, George delayed going to Kansas, perhaps due to the bloodshed and tensions occurring in Kansas in 1856. His letters reveal some of these fears.

George was disappointed by Kansas when he finally joined his brother, who in 1857 was living in Holton, Kansas, located on Elk Creek, 30 miles north of Topeka. George eventually settled in Minnesota. One of his last letters from the 1890s relates the tragic nervous breakdown and suicide attempt of his wife.

Shubil D. Chappel's letters describe the trials and tribulations of an emigrant of limited means, and his attempts to get a start in a new country with his wife Mary Ann.


.5 Linear Feet (1 document case)

Language of Materials



The letters are organized by author, with miscellaneous letters and letters of uncertain author at the end of the collection.

Physical Location

RH MS 1361

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, Michael Brown Rare Books, 2002


Guide to the Hunter Family Collection
Hunter family letters
Finding aid prepared by rr.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Hunter Family Collection, RH MS 1361, 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