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Stephen Burton Papers - MS 818
The Stephen Burton Papers consists of .1 linear feet of handwritten letters, primarily written by a soldier in Co.B, 103rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry from 1862-1863, but also some other family-related letters.
The material was purchased at auction from C. Wesley Cowan at Historic American Auctions of Terrace Park, Ohio in November 2000. No restrictions exist on the use of this collection. Duplication is permitted for the purposes of preservation and research. The register was completed by Marilyn Levinson, Curator of Manuscripts in January 2001.
Stephen Burton was born in England around 1825. Prior to the Civil War he worked as a farm laborer and was listed in the 1860 census in Lorain County working for Ephraim Wills. By 1862 he was a resident of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, where he married Polly Wilcox (age 38) on June 5, 1862. Shortly after that he enlisted with Co.B, 103rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry on Aug. 22, 1862 at the age of 37. He died Sept. 4, 1863 at Wartburgh, Tennessee and was buried at Knoxville, Tennessee.
Polly Reublin Wilcox was born in Vermont around 1824. The basis for her being listed in some records as a Wilcox is unclear. She was married in 1845 to John Hendrickson (or Hendrixon) in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, with her name given as Polly Wilcox. They had at least two children, including Betsy and James Smith Hendrickson, who also served in the Civil War in the same regiment as Stephen Burton. Polly's brother John Reublin married Adeline Fuller around 1837. John and Adeline had several other children, including Garrett, John, Alfred, Irad, James, and Henry (some of whom are also mentioned in the letters).
After the war Polly Burton was remarried to Thomas Papson on September 11, 1867 and they were listed in the 1870 census as living in Olmstead Falls, Ohio. There were no children from the marriage to Burton or Papson.
The material in the Stephen Burton papers consists primarily of a grouping of Civil War letters written to his wife Polly, between 1862 and 1863, while Burton was serving with Co.B, 103rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. There are also a small number of letters from J.S. Hendrickson (Polly's son from a previous marriage) who was in the same regiment as his step-father, as well as a few scattered letters to Polly from other family members.
The Civil War correspondence is probably typical of the common soldier serving in the Union Army and is filled with misspellings and grammatical errors. Burton's letters to his wife deal with such mundane matters as getting clothing sent home, remarks about the scarcity of mail, the weather, concern for her health, expression of love and longing (they had just been married two months when he entered the army), and daily activities of the regiment.
Because of the peculiarities of Burton's style of writing it does take awhile to get used to the correspondence, but once such features as his phonetic spelling is accounted for the writing itself is clear. For example, because of his English background, he has a habit of dropping the "h" in some words so that "happiness" appears as "appenice", with such other vagaries of spelling as having the word "cold" used for could, called, or cold. Punctuation is also erratic.
The handwriting in the letters written by J.S. Hendrickson, Burton's stepson, is much more difficult to read. The contents of his letters deal more with events in the war, including description in the letter of July 15, 1864 of some soldiers killed or injured by falling trees during a storm and one rather strongly worded undated fragment (possibly included in one of Stephen Burton's letters) about having a rubber coat stolen.
The remaining letters to Polly from Reublin family members were all written after the death of Stephen Burton. In the letters from her brothers, John and Garrett, deal with arranging a visit with family for Christmas and other family news. Two letters from Anna Porter Reublin (wife of Polly's nephew, Henry) include news about her children, mutual friends, and activities.
CORRESPONDENCE - STEPHEN BURTON TO POLLY BURTON
Handwritten letters detailing service with the 103rd O.V.I., Co. B, during the Civil War, written by Stephen Burton to his wife Polly
CORRESPONDENCE - J.S. HENDRICKSON TO POLLY BURTON
Letters from James Smith Hendrickson to mother Polly, written while serving in the Civil War, also in the 103rd O.V.I., Co. B
CORRESPONDENCE - OTHERS TO POLLY BURTON/PAPSON
1864, 1884, n.d.
Letters written from Adeline and John Reublin, and from brother Garrett Reublin
CORRESPONDENCE - ANNA REUBLIN TO POLLY PAPSON
Letters from Anna Reublin, wife of Henry Reublin (Polly's nephew)
- Stephen Burton to Polly Burton (end page missing?), Nov 6, 1862
- Stephen Burton to Polly Burton, Nov 29, 1862
- Stephen Burton to Polly Burton, March 3, 1863
- Stephen Burton to Polly Burton, March 24, 1863
- Stephen Burton to Polly Burton, April 1, 1863
- Stephen Burton to Polly Burton, April 25, 1863
- Stephen Burton to Polly Burton, April 30, 1863
- Stephen Burton to Polly Burton, May 4, 1863
- Stephen Burton to Polly Burton, May 9, 1863
- Stephen Burton to Polly Burton, May 24, 1863
- Stephen Burton to Polly Burton, July 3, 1863
- Stephen Burton to Polly Burton, July 22, 1863
- Stephen Burton to Polly Burton, Aug 1, 1863
- Stephen Burton to Polly Burton, Aug 7, 1863
- Stephen Burton to Polly Burton, n.d.
- Stephen Burton to Polly Burton (2 unmatched covers), n.d.
- Smith Hendrickson to Polly Burton, [fragment Spring 1863]
- Smith Hendrickson to Polly Burton, [Spring 1863]
- Smith Hendrickson to Polly Burton, July 15, 1864
- Smith Hendrickson to Polly Burton, Feb 19, 1865
- Smith Hendrickson to Polly Burton [1 fragment], n.d.
- Garrett Reublin to Polly Burton, Nov 27, 1864
- John Reublin to Polly Burton, Jan 22 [unknown year]
- Anna Reublin to Polly Papson, Aug 24, 1884
- Anna Reublin to Polly Papson, Jan 11, 1885
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