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Late 19th C. Travel Archive of 50+ Letters, 120+pp, Documenting Post-Civil War Heartland, West Coast, & New England As Described by Baptist Minister S.T. Livermore

A large archive of autograph letters signed by Samuel Truesdale Livermore (1824-1892), a New York-born Baptist minister, amateur historian, author, traveling life insurance agent, and blackberry farmer. Livermore's letters--numbering about 55 and consisting of approximately 125pp combined--compose the largest subsection of the archive. Written during Livermore's travels around the United States and Central America, the letters range in date from 1866-1879. From the collection of Jim and Theresa Earle, celebrated collectors of Western and Old West memorabilia.

Livermore's letters feature interesting examples of commercial letterhead, religious society stationery, and original transmittal envelopes. With expected minor negligible paper flaws, else near fine and extremely legible. Signed variously as "Samuel," "S.T. Livermore," and "S.T.L." Paper size varies but averages about 7.75" x 10." Also included in the archive is a group of about a dozen autograph letters signed by various individuals of unknown connection to Livermore, but probably friends or family members, ca. 1852-1893. The items are organized chronologically and stored in a three-ring binder measuring 11.5" x 11.5" x 3.5."

Samuel T. Livermore is a truly delightful correspondent: his impressions of places, people, and experiences are vividly described and specially tailored for an audience. Livermore wrote these letters to his younger sister Mariette Rougene Livermore Pickett (1826-1885) and her husband Walden Pickett of Andover, Ohio. Livermore traveled through at least 25 different cities and towns across the United States and mentions having traveled through an additional 16 cities and towns scattered throughout New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, Utah, and California. The farthest afield Livermore traveled was the Panama Isthmus and Aspinwall, today known as Colon, Panama. Livermore's letters, then, present a veritable cross-section of late nineteenth-century American life and travel.

Much of Livermore's traveling took place while he was employed by the Charter Oak Life Insurance Company, established in Hartford, Connecticut in 1850 and one of Connecticut's largest insurance firms. Livermore had graduated from Madison University (today's Colgate University) in 1850, and had studied theology at Rochester Seminary. He was ordained as a Baptist minister in October 1852. In September 1867, after over a decade in the ministry, Livermore sought out more lucrative work by becoming a life insurance general agent. His various job responsibilities took him across the United States and over the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, until he took up a ministerial post on Block Island in 1874. He eventually took up blackberry farming. In addition to all of his other talents, Livermore was a published author of histories of Cooperstown, New York and Block Island, Rhode Island. (The letters mention the imminent publication of his "A History of Block Island: From Its Discovery, in 1514, to the Present Time, 1876" (Hartford, Connecticut: Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, 1877.)

Livermore's letters describe America, from Reconstruction through the early Gilded Age. The scope of Livermore's travels demonstrate to what extent the country was already interconnected by transportation, communication, and commerce. Livermore's remarks about the different regions of the country give us insights into the changing physical, commercial, and cultural landscape. He also describes natural wonders and animals, such as Yosemite National Park, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, breaching right whales in the Pacific Ocean, and exotic Panamanian jungle species.

A few highlights include:

- January 4, 1869, Chicago, Illinois:

"During the past two months I have been in Nebraska and Kansas most of the time. Have seen much of the 'far West,' and am quite willing to be a little farther East…"

- June 16, 1871, Middlebury, Vermont:

"Have been in Vermont several weeks. Spent part of the spring along the Hudson, at Po'keepsie, Sing Sing, +c. - beautiful scenery there. Her the Green Mountains tower up, a little east of me, grandly, while at the west a few miles lies the Champlain, beyond which are the bold Adirondacs [sic]"

- May 27, 1872, San Francisco, California:

"On the 6th inst. I left home for this city - came directly through Chicago, Omaha, stopped a day and a half at Salt Lake City, and then came here, having been on the road about ten days. Have been out of the city but little…The journey was interesting beyond description…"

- June 23, 1872, San Francisco, California: [original spelling, breaks added for clarity]

"On the 4th inst. I left here for a view of the Big Trees and Yo Semite with a party of ten others…Well, I cannot give you here even an outline of our 12 days trip. The wonderful trees, and the valley cannot be described. They must be seen and studied to be appreciated.

When I tell you of the danger of being killed by falling from a tree lying on the ground, you are not to be blamed for a smiling doubt; but when you have seen a party on horses small and large, single file, ride through the hollow one of one of those fallen trees, as kittens, one after another would go through a horizontal stove pipe; when you have stood at the base of a rock that rises up before you, like a church and a spire, 4.500 feet, and then have just turned around and seen a large sheet of water - a river, leap from an overhanging rock and descend 1.600 feet, and when you have ascended to the top of the awful canon (canyon) and put your head over the edge and looked down 3.300 feet, then you will have some ideas of the sights at Mariaposa Big Trees, and at Yo Semite…"

- September 25, 1872, Bridgewater, Massachusetts:

"It would be useless, in a single communication, to attempt an account of my journey of over 10,000 miles…It seems to me that more real earthly and spiritual pleasure was crowded into those three months, on the way to California, stopping at Salt Lake City a few days, in San Francisco several weeks, going up and down the rivers, valleys, mountains of Cal. visiting Yo Semite with a splendid party of ladies and gentlemen from New York, Boston, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Chicago and San Francisco…"

- February 4, 1873, Bridgewater, Massachusetts:

"On the 3d of July we left San Francisco, on a very large steamer called the Montana. Had pleasant weather; sailed about 100 miles from land, parallel with the coast until we reached Central America. One night we had a most fearful thunder storm - several streams of lightning falling around us almost constantly. We saw several monstrous whales, and almost ran over one of them. He dove, and then came up spouting a white stream as high as a tree. We saw very large black fish, great turtles, volcanoes, and many kinds of tropical fruits…Parrots, monkeys, anteaters, crockodiles [sic], and naked natives were abundant on the Isthmus…"

- February 13, 1874, Hartford, Connecticut:

"Today I am obliged to wait at the depot some time for my train, and so I try to work off this apology, writing you on my valise as best I can while the telegraph is ticking, Irishmen jabbering, and a boy whistles and the dirty depot sells like 'fury' - so much tobacco has been smoked and chewed in it…"

- December 4, 1874, Block Island, Rhode Island:

"Thus far my stay has been very pleasant…The people are quite wealthy and intelligent, and free from the distant coldness of other societies on the Mainland…30 miles out into the ocean from New Port, opposite Point Judith, the island 9 miles long, three wide, communication by schooners…"

- August 25, 1879, Bridgewater, Massachusetts:

"The Islands you speak of [in Rhode Island] - you would not know one of them, probably, if placed there suddenly, they are so changed by summer visitors, cottages, groves, and steamers. About a dozen hotels have been recently built on Block Island. The old, simple, quiet island life is gone…"

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