Main content

Richard B. Cohen Collection of Francis S. Cockran, Reuben Yocum, and Bills Family Materials


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


Richard B. Cohen was a collector of historical materials related to the American Civil War, with a specialization in naval history.

Consists of three groups of 19th century materials that were formerly part of the Richard B. Cohen Civil War Collection. These include thirteen letters to Francis S. Cockran (1814-1886), a Maryland businessman, Navy officer, abolitionist, and Underground Railroad supporter; eight letters, bounty payments, and financial documents related to Reuben Yocum, 3rd Assistant Engineer on the U.S.S. Fort Hindman; and miscellaneous business records and letters related to the family business of John Houston Bills (1800-1871) and Leonidas Bills (1828-1881) in Bolivar, Tennessee.

Correspondents of Francis S. Cockran represented in the collection include Lewis Clephane (1824-1897), W. W. Gitt, Gustavus Vasa Fox (1821-1883), Gideon Welles (1802-1878), Francis H. Jenks (1838-1894), D. McLeod, H. Stockbridge, and Hinton Rowan Helper (1829-1909). Topics include the 1860 Republican National Convention and Republican Party politics, logistical matters related to Cockran's role as a Naval officer at the Port of Baltimore and the purchase of sea vessels, business matters, and the Baltimore Patriot newspaper. There is also an 1861 document signed by Cockran, D. G. Masters, and John Higenbothom certifying that they heard Kemp Whyshample, "a clerk in the Commissary Department in the City in the early part of August last avow himself an ultra Secessionist opposed to the present Administration and asserted it repeatedly."

Reuben Yocum materials include letters from [?] Foster, Newton S. Jenkins, and Lowry & Son. There are also bounty documents, pension claims, forms from the Treasury Department, and other financial documents related to his service in the Navy. One of these is a document awarding Yocum $62.50 in back pay for "one month's sea pay" and for "personal effects aboard the U.S.S. Baron DeKalb," which was sunk in the Yazoo River.

Materials documenting the Bills family comprise over seventy miscellaneous business records and correspondence, mostly related to John H. Bills & Son, a family business in Bolivar, Tennessee, that John Houston Bills and his son Leonidas Bills operated. Many of these records relate to land deals that the Bills facilitated. There are also checks, receipts, invoices, financial records, tax documents, and correspondence from Mary C. Dalton, G. E. Crutchfield and J. S. Anderson, John H. Knowles, Elizabeth Law, W. E. Woodruff, James Taylor, C. D. McLean, and numerous others. There are also two letters related to the U.S. Navy that have an unclear association with the rest of this material.

Purchased from Hindman Auctions in 2022 (AM 2023-007).

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

This collection was processed by Kelly Bolding in July 2022. Finding aid written by Kelly Bolding in July 2022, incorporating some description provided by the dealer.

No materials were removed from the collection during 2022 processing.

Manuscripts Division
Finding Aid Author
Kelly Bolding
Finding Aid Date
Processing of this collection was sponsored by the Delafield fund.
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Single copies may be made for research purposes. No further duplication 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 Special Collections 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.

Collection Inventory

Letters to Francis S. Cockran, 1856-1876. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Reuben Yocum Letters and Financial Documents, 1865-1880. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

John Houston Bills and Leonidas Bills Business Records, 1845-1907. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Print, Suggest