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Calvin Pardee family letters


Held at: Grand Army of the Republic Civil War Museum and Library [Contact Us]4278 Griscom Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19124

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Grand Army of the Republic Civil War Museum and Library. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

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"Calvin Pardee was born on July 17, 1841 in Hazleton, Pennsylvania to budding industrial entrepreneur Ariovistus ("Ario") Pardee, [II], and Elizabeth (Jacobs) Pardee. The success of Ario's firm A. Pardee and Co. in the anthracite coal business soon made him a leading citizen of Hazleton. Calvin had an older brother, Ariovistus Pardee III, and two younger sisters, Alice and Ellen Eliza Pardee. Their mother Elizabeth died in childbirth in 1847, and a year later Ario married Anna Maria Robinson, with whom he had ten children, eight of whom survived past childhood.

"In 1851 Ario sent his two eldest sons to school at the Luzerne Presbyterian Institute in Wyoming, PA. A dispute with the headmaster in the fall of 1854, however, prompted Ario to withdraw Calvin from the school and send him to the West Jersey Collegiate Institute in Mt. Holly, NJ where his older brother Ario was by then studying. Calvin was admitted to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY in 1857, two years after his brother Ario had enrolled. The boys boarded together for a year until Ario graduated in 1858. Calvin was a member of the Theta Delta Chi fraternity during his three years at Rensselaer. He graduated in 1860 in a class of eighteen students.

"After graduating Calvin went to Easton, PA to work for the Glendon Iron Company, of which his father was the primary owner. In April 1861 at age nineteen, however, he enlisted in the army at the start of the Civil War, serving first with Company D, 1st Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, and then as a second lieutenant with Company N, 28th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, a company funded by his father. This unit saw several minor engagements and held defensive posts and in September 1862 was present at the battle of Antietam. Calvin, then a captain, had a renewed attack of typhoid fever the day before the battle. Despite his desire to return to the army, he was declared unfit for further duty and resigned on October 30, 1862.

"Calvin spent the next 22 years working in his father's business, A. Pardee and Co., in Hazleton as the superintendent of mines, a position held by his brother before the war. He married Mary Byrne Day on June 4, 1867, and they became parents of nine children: Estelle, Alice, Calvin, Alfred, Ario, Ellie (who died in childhood), Olive, Howard, and Helen. In 1884 he left his father's company in order to pursue his own initiatives, including widespread ventures in coal, gas, and other enterprises in both Hazleton and beyond. He was already operating the Pardee Brothers Company, which he formed to develop the Lattimer mines near Hazleton. It was the largest source of his own fortune and was passed on to his children in 1903.

"In 1886 Calvin moved to Philadelphia with his family and three years later purchased a summer farm in Whitemarsh sixteen miles outside of the city. Upon completing their schooling his sons Calvin, Alfred, and Ario joined the family businesses in Philadelphia and Hazleton. With them to share responsibilities, Calvin began diverse enterprises in West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, and Louisiana in land, coal, and other interests. In his later years Calvin began to travel throughout the world, including ventures to Europe, the Far East, Egypt, and Russia. His devotion to his family was fondly remembered by his descendents, and he hosted large numbers of Pardees at his summer home every year. In the spring of 1922 his health began to fail, and he died on March 18, 1923. He was survived by six of his children and his wife Mary, who died ten years later."


Lafayette College, Skillman Library. Finding aid for Pardee, Calvin, Papers, 1856-1861. Accessed January 19, 2011.

Most of the letters in this collection were written to or written by Calvin Pardee while he served in the 28th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers. There are also many letters by or to Calvin's brother, Ario (Jr.). The letters have been transcribed and are in no apparent order. There are a few receipts and other documents in the collection.

Gift of Dale Fetzer, circa 1990.

Grand Army of the Republic Civil War Museum and Library
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Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Michael Gubicza through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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