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Laura Pierpont Sperry Letters

Call Number: RH VLT MS Q2


These letters are from Laura Pierpont Sperry, sent from Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, and Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to her son, Anson, between 1847 and 1849. Mrs. Sperry describes life at Fort Leavenworth, as well as information on the Mexican-American War, American soldiers on the frontier, settlement of Oregon Territory, and American soldier movements along the Oregon Trail.


  • Creation: 1847 - 1849


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 Laura Pierpont Sperry

Laura Pierpont Sperry extensively traveled the frontier and documented her perspective on historical events and life on the frontier in a series of three letters written to her son, Anson. Mrs. Sperry was a widow, her husband having died in 1830. She was possibly living with her daughter, Elizabeth, and son-in-law, Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin S. Roberts, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas Territory. Mrs. Sperry had five children. These letters are addressed to her youngest child, Anson, a lawyer in Marengo, Illinois, who later served as the postmaster. In these letters, Mrs. Sperry also mentions one of her older sons, to whom she refers as Pierpont. Pierpont is described as someone who has difficulty maintaining business affairs and is often in need of assistance. Fort Leavenworth was established in 1827 in order to provide protection for the Santa Fe Trail. During the Mexican-American war, the time period in which these letters were written, Fort Leavenworth was the outfitting post for the Army of the West. These letters also contain information about everyday life, providing insight into what it was like for a woman living on the frontier. The first letter was dated August 9, 1847, and provides information on General Scott's assault on Mexico City. It also describes Colonel Kearny's conflict with Commander Robert F. Stockton and Lieutenant Colonel John C. Fremont over command of California Territory following the defeat of Mexico at the Battles of San Gabriel and La Mesa. The second letter was dated September 30, 1848, and discusses the settlement of Oregon Territory. It describes the newly appointed Governor Joseph Lane's arrival and departure from the fort. Because of the lateness of the season, Governor Lane traveled south to Santa Fe on the Santa Fe Trail, over to San Diego, and then completed the trip by boat to Oregon Territory. The third letter was dated May 7, 1849, and discusses Sperry's impending move to Fort Laramie. It also describes the march of the mounted Riflement to Oregon, the first United States military expedition to travel the full length of the Oregon Trail, from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Vancouver, from May to October 1849, under the command of Colonel William Loring.


3 oversize folders

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

These three letters contain information about historic events and frontier life from the perspective of Laura Pierpont Sperry during 1847-1849. The accession file contains further information about the people, places, and events referred to by Mrs. Sperry. Please consult reference staff for availability.

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, William Reese Company, 2012

Guide to the Laura Pierpont Sperry Collection
Laura Pierpont Sperry Letters
Finding aid prepared by brch, 2012
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Laura Pierpont Sperry Collection, RH Vlt MS Q2, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries.

Repository Details

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

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States