University Archives


Church Lady: Caroline Fillmore's Personally Owned Book of Protestant Music

A music book once personally owned and used by Caroline C. Fillmore (1813-1881), second wife of 13th U.S. President Millard Fillmore (1800-1874). The customized front cover is scored and inked with the name of Caroline's first husband, Ezekiel C. McIntosh (1806-1855), as: " 'E, C, / McIntosh. / 'C' ". Its buff colored morocco leather boards were tooled with rectilinear patterns. An original library call number label from the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society is attached to the spine. Expected wear including peeling and loss to the covers. A detached cover page, as well as the first page from the "Introduction to the Art of Singing" tutorial. Scattered foxing and a few pages with unevenly torn bottoms, else very good to near fine. 9.875" x 5.875" x .875". 16mo. 357pp. Deaccessioned from the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Library, the institution founded by Millard and Abigail Fillmore.

The Choir: or Union Collection of Church Music, Consisting of a Great Variety of Psalm and Hymn Tunes, Anthems, &c., Original and Selected (Boston, Carter, Hendee and Co., 1835) included religious sheet music organized by "General Index" and "Metrical Index." Its modern arrangements of works by Beethoven, Mozart, Rossini, and Haydn feature voice and instrumentals. The volume also provides a basic overview of musical notation, a glossary, and beginners' lessons.

Before her marriage to ex-President Millard Fillmore in 1858, Caroline was married to Ezekiel C. McIntosh, an affluent Troy, New York businessman and railroad executive, between 1832 and his death in 1855. When Caroline and Fillmore married, he had been out of the White House for five years, and had been widowed the same length of time (first wife Abigail Powers Fillmore had died just three weeks after Fillmore's presidential term ended.) The newly married Fillmores signed a pre-nuptial agreement to protect Caroline's fortune and later settled in Buffalo, where they ranked among the city's leading socialites and philanthropists.

From books in her personal library, we know that Caroline was interested in art, theater, music, literature, current events, politics, religion, manufacturing, sports, weather, humor, and human interest.

Books were also important to Caroline's second husband. Millard Fillmore had been a lover of books since boyhood. By the time he reached adulthood, his library differed little from those found in families of wealth and education. Yet Fillmore was born into a poor family and became an indentured servant. His responsibilities, which ranged from farming, accounting, wood-cutting, and textile-making, prevented him from receiving a continuous education. So Fillmore educated himself. Motivated by a thirst for knowledge and a growing awareness of his comprehensive deficiencies, Fillmore read voraciously - using a dictionary to learn the meaning of words he didn't understand. Fillmore taught himself to read, and as he could not afford to buy books, sometimes he stole them. Still obsessed with his education, he attended school in a nearby town, and his teacher, Abigail Powers, encouraged his studies. In time, she became the most influential and trusted person in his life. Abigail helped him learn with precision, and on subjects where they both lacked knowledge, they studied together. Fillmore realized when he later moved away that he had been "unconsciously stimulated by the companionship" of his teacher, but, too poor to visit Abigail Powers, they did not see each other for three years. In the interim, he apprenticed to a lawyer, began to teach professionally in the city of Buffalo, and was able to begin a law practice across the street from which he built a home to share with his new wife. When Millard Fillmore went to the state capital in Albany to serve a term in the state legislature, his wife stayed behind and began to purchase books of literature, poetry, and the classics to build upon his collection of law books at home, the core of what would become their personal library. Together, the Fillmores established a lending library and college in the city: the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Library.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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