Robert H. Barton Family Correspondence
Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Robert H. Barton (1811-1898) of Providence, Rhode Island, was the son of John Brown Barton (1785–1869) and Hannah West (1785–1849). In 1830, Barton married Julia Ann Bennett Barton (1809–1880), daughter of Abraham Bennett (1782–1868) and Susanna Wood (1785–1850), with whom he had four children: Harriet Ward Barton (1832–1869), William Barton (1837–1902), Julia Ann Barton Ashley (1841–1925), and Emily Barton Goldsmith. Barton was a member of the Providence Society of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and for a time served as its president.
In the winter of 1849, Robert Barton left his family to head to the California gold fields eventually settling in Nevada City. It appears that he did not return to Providence for at least two decades, and even after that may have gone back to Nevada City for a time.
The collection consists primarily of incoming correspondence to Robert H. Barton (1811-1898) of Providence, Rhode Island, from his family that begins in the winter of 1849 when Barton left his wife and children to head to the California gold fields. The 70 plus letters, which continue into the early 1870s, are from various family members, in particular Barton's sister Emeline Barton Coit, as well as from friends and members of Barton's Baptist congregation all with the common theme of "come home."
In a letter to her father, Harriet W. Barton writes, "my dear father all that would make us happy on this earth is yourself, and oh, that you would come home for you have given California a fair trial and for what? Gold, which will neither compensate for the toil, trouble, anxiety and sickness you have undergone since you have been there with no wife, nor children near you to watch and take care of you...(July 2, 1865?)"
The letters largely provide information about the Barton family, friends, and local events.
Though Barton seems to have corresponded very little with his family once settling in Nevada City--a letter from his father-in-law notes that he had not written in 4 years-- the collection does include a few letters from him that offer insight into his intentions and efforts to find gold. While at sea en route to California, Barton writes to his wife Julia, "to me the separation from you and my dear children would be insupportable(?) were not my spirits cheered by hopes and anticipations of obtaining in California enough of this world's gear to procure us in our old age a home and a trifle for our declining years...(March 30, 1849)"
Also included in the collection are a few family photographs as well as Barton's account statement from Gregory & Waite Groceries & Provisions, Nevada City, CA.
Purchase, 2015(AM 2015-61).
This collection was processed by Faith Charlton in February 2015. Finding aid written by Faith Charlton in February 2015.
Folder inventory created by Nicholas Williams '2015 in February 2015.
No material was separated during 2015 processing.
- Manuscripts Division
- Finding Aid Author
- Faith Charlton
- Finding Aid Date
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research.
- Use Restrictions
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.
Written while at sea en route to CaliforniaPhysical Description
Letters from friends, primarily members of Barton's Baptist congregation, including Moses F. Hait, Emma Jane Thomson, Sister Todd, J.H. Warren, and James A. Wirth.Physical Description
Account statement notes purchases made between August and December 1886.Physical Description
Includes 9 family photographs, most of them unidentified. There are 4 individual portraits of men, 2 group portraits, 2 photographs of a group of homes, and 1 photograph of William Barton's Hats, Caps, & Furs Store.Physical Description