Graff Collection – Storm, Colton. The Everett D. Graff Collection in the Newberry Library. The Newberry Library Bulletin 5.6 (1960): 190-213.
Newberry Library Bulletin, December 1960
By Colton Storm
"Out of monuments, names, words, proverbs, traditions, private records and evidences, fragments of stories, passages of books and the like, we do save and recover somewhat from the deluge of time." -Bacon
The probability that a writer today can invent new ideas about either book collecting or book collectors is almost beyond consideration. Distinguished bookmen such as Lawrence C. Wroth, John Carter, and Randolph G. Adams have characterized collecting and collectors with accurate skill. Their writings and the efforts of their followers have affirmed in this country a doctrine of scholarly collecting which needs no apologists. Responsible collectors (persons or libraries) are without exception individualists who disdain conformity, yet nearly all of them appreciate the essentialities of the bookman's gospel.
Perceptive collectors, those who deserve the dignity "bookman," are connoisseurs. Their practice of judgment is based on the strength of knowledge. They approach their peculiar problems with courage. They exhibit responsibility toward books and toward collections. They are an elite who believe they can "recover somewhat from the deluge of time" with the antidote of books.
Basically, collectors are in search of books which display origins, define reasons, or describe experiences. As Mr. Wroth put it on one notable occasion, "It is the accumulated esteem of the generations for its subject matter which makes a book desirable, or, in the case of little-known books, it is the recognition in their matter of the potentiality of future esteem which makes them desirable. Normally, esteemed books are rare, or at least scarce, because they have been read to pieces and many people want the few copies that remain. Not many can have them, and rarity thus becomes a grace added to esteem." (A Tribute to the Clements Library. Ann Arbor, 1948, pages 6-7)
A private collection is limited by means, by opportunity, by time, and by space. It is normally confined to a single subject of intense personal attraction. A collector expects to buy books within his means as opportunities come to him. His collection is limited to increase during his active career and is usually confined to the space available in his home. Institutional collectors (libraries), on the other hand, are expected to cover the many subjects of their specialization impersonally and in great depth. A library's time is endless; space can be increased, if it is essential; and opportunities come to active libraries-in time. Collectors depend on themselves; libraries depend on themselves and on their friends.
The Newberry Library is a collector of books within defined areas of the humanities. One of its richest treasures is the history of our Western Hemisphere, yet even here, although it has been collecting unusual materials for nearly three-quarters of a century, the Library lacks some of the key books and many of the background books. A library as young as this one can scarcely expect to reach quickly proximity to the ever elusive ideal state. Yet, through the generosity of the President of the Board of Trustees, the Library is taking a giant stride forward in this very area of the history of the Western Hemisphere.
Everett D. Graff, one of Chicago's more distinguished citizens, has been a book collector for a long time. On the shelves of his library are copies of books he read as a child and books which belonged to his father and grandfather. He is a man to whom books and reading have always been essential for the delight of life. Books are designed, written, and published to be read apart from this function they have no reason to exist. Mr. Graff recognized this fact early, and his collecting of books has been bound ineluctably to his reading.
In the early nineteen-twenties, Mr. Graff's reading led him to a persisting interest in books relating to the history of the Ohio River Valley and the Transmississippi West. He once overheard a man explain to a companion at the opera the fascination and significance of such American books so entrancingly that he decided to consider the collecting of that kind of material. His friend, the Chicago bookseller Wright Howes, assured him seriously that he was entering the lists too late to acquire the great rarities in his chosen field. Yet Mr. Graff persisted, and after forty years of effort he can look at the shelves of his library in Winnetka with pride and realize that he has brought together one of the most distinguished and important collections of rare Americana still in private hands.
There are almost as many kinds of book collectors as there are angels dancing on the point of a pin. They can be divided roughly into two classes, however, those whose enthusiasm is confined to a single small field, and those whose catholicity of taste tempts them into broad areas. Mr. Graff belongs in the latter class. In books, his enthusiasm spreads over more than two-thirds of the United States, from the sixteenth-century incursions of Spaniards in the far Southwest to the latest monograph on the American cowboy. He is, in the noblest sense of the word, a connoisseur. The paintings which hang on the walls of his home, the drawings in his collection, the Chinese porcelains and Japanese ceramics, all attest the scope of his connoisseurship. Each painting, each book, each drawing has been acquired with rare discrimination and care. Such collecting can be accomplished purposefully only when understanding and sympathy are the result of deep study.
One of the important features of the Graff Collection of Americana is the manner in which books are related to one another, the way in which a specific subject is treated comprehensively instead of superficially, the way in which subjects themselves are correlated. It is not a collection of "high spots" only, although many of the crown jewels are present; it is an intelligent collection of related uncommon materials which display origins, define reasons, and describe experiences. When the book collection had grown to many thousands of pieces, Mr. Graff began to realize that the cohesive character of the collection was a coercive reason for keeping the collection intact. His association with the Newberry Library as a trustee and currently as president of the Board of Trustees, and his knowledge of the holdings of the Library in the field of his interest impelled him to consider this collecting Library as a permanent home for his collection.
A list of the books, manuscripts, pamphlets, maps and broadsides which now comprise the Graff Collection in the Newberry Library would require more space than is available in the Bulletin. About fifty examples which display the character and quality of Mr. Graff's gifts have been selected for consideration here. A few of the titles described below duplicate copies already in the Library, but in each case the Graff copy is a welcome addition because of its physical condition, association interest, or textual variation.
In the normal process of acquisition, the Newberry Library had already gathered a sizable body of materials relating to one of the most fascinating and puzzling causes célèbres in the history of the United States-the so-called Burr-Wilkinson Conspiracy. The Library had bought over the years about forty of the sixty primary source volumes, but not including several of the scarcer important contemporary printed records. Mr. Graff, as early as 1929, had become interested in the problems of the Burr-Wilkinson affair and, while he did not concentrate on the subject, he kept himself alert to opportunities for adding to his bloc of Burr-Wilkinson materials. Later, he discovered the Newberry Library interest in the same subject, and since the early nineteen-forties, he has not duplicated the Newberry collection but has supplemented the Library's holdings through purchases for his own collection. Now, in 1958 and 1959, Mr. Graff has given all of his Burr-Wilkinson collection to the Library, about half of the missing primary printed sources, a number of scarce supplementary books and pamphlets of considerable interest, a series of sixteen unique manuscript letters relating to the conspiracy by Burr, Wilkinson, and their associates. (Of peripheral interest, by the way, are original letters to and from Philip Nolan, who was involved in the affair and who was the prototype for Edward Everett Hale's hero in The Man Without a Country.)
Among the printed works, there is a brilliant copy, in the original gray paper boards, of Memoirs of General Wilkinson. Volume II. (Washington City: Printed for the Author, 1811). This is not at all the same as the more common work in three volumes issued in Philadelphia in 1816 under the title of Memoirs of My Own Times. The earlier Volume I was prepared and published separately at the time of Wilkinson's court martial to influence public opinion. It is strongly in favor of the author and it differs materially from the second volume of the three-volume work. Both works are difficult to use wisely, for they are filled with distortions written in a "turgid and confused" style, yet they are essential for knowledge of the period and of the events in which Wilkinson was an actor. Perhaps equally important is the material omitted. Wilkinson was not impartial.
One historian, summarizing the conspiracy, states: "...its potentialities were so portentous that it seems reasonable to say that next to the Confederate War it posed the greatest threat of dismemberment which the American Union has ever faced." (Abernethy, Thomas: The Burr Conspiracy. New York: Oxford University Press, 1954, p. 174) Among the manuscript letters in the collection is the most famous one relating to the conspiracy, one which figured prominently in Burr's trial. Burr wrote, in this cipher letter dated July 22, 1806: "...At length I have obtained funds, and have actually commenced...Our object, my dear friend, is brought to a point so long desired. Burr guarantees the result with his life and honor, with the lives and honor and the fortunes of hundreds, the best blood of the country. Burr's plan of operation is to move down rapidly from the Falls, on the fifteenth of November, with the first five hundred or a thousand men...to be at Natchez between the fifth and fifteenth of December, there to meet you; there to determine whether it will be expedient in the first instance to seize on or pass by Baton Rouge...The people of the country to which we are going are prepared to receive us; their agents, now with Burr, say that if we will protect their religion, and will not subject them to a foreign power, that in three weeks all will be settled. The gods invite us to glory and fortune; it remains to be seen whether we receive the boon..."
After holding the letter for some time and watching how the affair went, Wilkinson betrayed Burr; he deciphered and distorted the letter and sent it with affidavits and explanations to Thomas Jefferson. Appended to the letter is Wilkinson's affidavit about the source. The fat was in the fire, and the conspiracy exploded with damage to every one connected with it.
In addition to the pieces mentioned, there are such scarce books and pamphlets as the J. Carpenter transcription of The Trial of Col. Burr, on an Indictment for Treason (Washington City: Westcott & Co., 1807-8; three volumes). Some of Chief Justice Marshall's rulings on legal aspects of the trial had far-reaching effects; their influence was observable on World War II treason trials. Daniel Clark's Proofs of the Corruption of Gen. James Wilkinson, and of his Connection with Aaron Burr... (Philadelphia: Hall & Pierce, 1809) is a rather untrustworthy work, but it is effective as anti-Wilkinson propaganda. Clark, who was involved with both Burr and Wilkinson, was one of the wealthiest men of his time in New Orleans. The Trials of the Honb. James Workman, and Col. Lewis Kerr...a Charge of High Misdemeanor... (New Orleans: Bradford & Anderson, 1807) is another scarce work in the collection. Both Judge Workman and Colonel Lewis were closely associated with the conspiracy and each suffered the enmity of Wilkinson. Each was tried twice and in spite of all his enemy could do, each was acquitted.
One of the strange men who watched the strange case of Wilkinson was Thomas Jefferson's bitter Virginia enemy John Randolph of Roanoke. Randolph was largely responsible for manipulating the trial of Wilkinson in 1811 which is reported in the Report of the Committee Appointed to Inquire into the Conduct of General Wilkinson... (Washington: A. and G. Way, 1811). Insofar as it was then possible to secure them, the documents in the case are here presented; however the trial failed of Randolph's purpose to embarrass Jefferson, for Wilkinson was acquitted.
The new frontier has always been just over the hill to Americans, from the time of John Farrer who thought the coast of New Albion (California) was about fourteen days' march from the Virginia settlements, to the present time, when the moon or Mars is a few years away. We have believed in and sought the frontier for a long, long time. Inevitably, a collection of Americana-particularly of scarce Americana-becomes in part an exposition of the American search for the frontier. A lively interest in books and pamphlets and maps which detail the experiences of men and women on the frontier is characteristic of collectors. Over the years, as he became more sophisticated as a collector, Mr. Graff began to search out first hand narratives of participants in frontier life. Furthermore, he tried to acquire those narratives which were printed contemporaneously. One of the interesting specimens of this group (and one which is vastly underrated because Ralph L. Rusk was inclined to slight books which threw an unfavorable light on frontier living--Rusk, Ralph: The Literature of the Middle Western Frontier, New York, 1925. I, p. 121: "...an account perhaps as dull as could well have been written, of several journeys that took him through a large part of the West...") is Tilly Buttrick's Voyages and Discoveries... (Boston: Printed for the Author, 1831). Buttrick made two long journeys into the midwest frontier and reported his adventures in detail. His personal narrative is not as dull as Rusk suggests. For instance, he described a casual encounter with an Indian as follows: "One or two miles further on [I] heard a whooping and yelling, and presently saw an Indian running to meet me. He walked very fast, bare foot and barelegged, without any clothes but his shirt, and that very bloody, looking as though he had been engaged in some severe conflict. When he came up he seized me by the shoulder and held me fast, and kept his continual whooping and yelling, which almost stunned me. He was very drunk, and kept reeling backward and forward, which occasioned me to do the same, as his nervous arm made such a grip on my shoulder it was impossible for me to extricate myself. Sometimes he would bear me to the ground, and most of his weight would be upon me. Trying to give signs that I was sick, he laughed: I then called him bobashela, which is their word for brother: this pleased him, and having a bottle of whiskey in his other hand, he put it to my mouth saying good. I opened my mouth, and he thrust the neck of the bottle seemingly down my throat, the whiskey ran out, and strangled me badly, and when I sat to coughing and choking, he burst into a loud laugh, and let go of my shoulder. He was a stout, tall man, had a long knife by his side, and put his hand several times on it, but exhibited no appearance of injuring me: yet, from his drunken situation, I thought I had considerable to fear. I repeated the word brother several times, when he looked sharp at me a few moments, and uttering a loud scream, left me to pursue my way, happy that the word bobashela had been my protection." Although not a polished writer, Buttrick offers much of value to the perceptive reader about the difficulties of adjustment to the hardships of frontier life.
The quality of the Graff Collection in the Newberry Library dealing with the area east of the Mississippi River is quite high. There has been a positive attempt to select unusually scarce books-the kind of materials often too dear for a research library to secure in original form. Furthermore, every attempt has been made to find the books and pamphlets in fine condition, as close as possible to the original form of publication. The Buttrick pamphlet mentioned above, for example, is an astonishingly fine copy in the original plain blue paper wrappers. The famous work of Estwick Evans, A Pedestrious Tour, of Four Thousand Miles, through the Western States and Territories, during the Winter and Spring of 1818... (Concord, N. H.: Printed by Joseph C. Spear, 1819) is present in the original printed boards, with the edges of the leaves untrimmed. Evans, who traveled almost entirely on foot, went west from New Hampshire (sewn into "a close dress consisting of buffalo skins") to Michigan, back to the Ohio River, down that river to the Mississippi, and on to New Orleans (where he unsewed himself from the buffalo suit with the long-haired epaulettes to ward off the rain and bought himself a new outfit) from which place he returned to New England via ship.
The absorbing account of Edward George Geoffrey Smith Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby, whose Journal of a Tour in America, 1824-1825... ([London:] Privately printed, 1930) is present in the original half morocco binding, one of only fifty copies printed, initialed by the then current Earl of Derby. The Hon. E. Stanley, as he is designated on the title-page, was almost as contemptuous of American frontier habits and characters as Mrs. Trollope and Charles Dickens, and his adventures and comments are considerably more interesting.
The Edward E. Ayer Collection of Indian Captivities is one of the most noted collections within the Newberry Library; it is a little difficult to expect to find an Indian Captivity not represented in the Ayer Collection, yet Mr. Graff succeeded. He located and secured a variant of Jonathan Dickinson's God's Protecting Providence...Evidenced in the Remarkable Deliverance of Robert Barrow...from the Cruel Devouring Jaws of the Inhumane Cannibals of Florida... (London: T. Sowle, 1700) wholly unknown to Ayer and unlisted in the exhaustive bibliographical study of the work by Evangeline Walker Andrews and Charles McLean Andrews. Mention of Indian Captivities brings to mind one of the "chiefest books" so far given to the Newberry Library, James Smith's An Account of the Remarkable Occurrences in the Life and Travels of Col. James Smith... (Lexington: Printed by John Bradford, 1799). Only four other complete copies of the first edition are known, one of which, incidentally, is in the Ayer Collection. R. W. G. Vail, the principal modern authority on the subject, wrote of Smith's first book: `I...one of the most historically valuable of captivities. He was a captive at Fort Duquesne in 1755 and witnessed the Indians' preparations for and celebration after the Braddock defeat. He was a captive and adopted Indian on the Ohio until 1759 when he escaped while at Montreal and spent a useful life as frontiersman in Pennsylvania and Kentucky." (Vail, R. W. G.: The Voice of the Old Frontier...Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1949, page 447) This fine, tall copy is especially attractive because it was once owned by William L. Clements, who sold it among a few other great rarities so that he could provide proper furnishings for the interior of the Clements Library of Americana at the University of Michigan. Colonel Smith's second book, A Treatise, on the Mode and Manner of Indian War, their Tactics, Discipline and Encampments... (Paris, Ky.: Printed by Joel R. Lyle, 1812), appeared the year of the author's death. It was a legacy he left to his country, a kind of basic manual on the way to fight Indians and win the War of 1812. Much of the text is derived from Smith's earlier work, but there are additional materials, specific recommendations and advice, prepared for the new work. It is almost as scarce as Smith's Account, for there are known only three perfect copies of a total of seven recorded.
It is difficult, in a survey of this sort, to move on from one subject to another, for mention of a particular title brings to mind related books that clamor for notice. How can we rush along without describing the sober, careful account of the manners and customs of the Delaware and Shawnee Indians given by the Rev. David Jones in his A Journal of Two Visits Made to Some Nations of Indians on the West Side of the River Ohio, In the Years 1772 and 1773... (Burlington: Isaac Collins, 1774). Jones, a missionary among the Indians, traveled part of his way west with George Rogers Clark, and was later a chaplain in the army under Anthony Wayne. Nor is it possible to skip along without mentioning the apparently unique copy of the first printing of A Journal of the Adventures of Matthew Bunn, a Native of Brookfield, Massachusetts... (Providence: Printed for the Author ). Matthew Bunn's Journal is an invaluable record of the Niagara frontier during the early 1790's. Much of the information included is not found elsewhere in contemporary books. His captivity by the Indians is told simply and compellingly. These titles by no means exhaust the books about Indians in the Graff Collection; most of those noted deal with the country east of the Mississippi and north of the Ohio and Mr. Graff's great holdings in Transmississippi books still grace the shelves of his own library, except for stray pieces.
The first gift to the Graff Collection (from a fellow trustee of the Library, Louis H. Silver) fits in nicely at this point. It is an Indian linguistic item which is not in the Ayer Collection and is not recorded in Ruth Lapham Butler's famous list. (Butler, Ruth: A Bibliographical Check List of North and Middle American Indian Linguistics in the Edward E. Ayer Collection. Chicago: The Newberry Library, 1941, two volumes) Mr. Silver gave the Graff Collection a copy of The Dakota First Reading Book, Prepared by Stephen R. Riggs, and Gideon H. Pond...(Cincinnati: Kendall and Henry Printers, 1839). The work is apparently quite uncommon for Field (Field, Thomas: An Essay towards an Indian Bibliography. Being a Catalog of Books... New York: Scribner, Armstrong and Co., 1873) did not own a copy and Pilling listed only three copies (Pilling, James: Proof-Sheets of a Bibliography of the Languages of the North American Indians... Washington: Government Printing Office, 1885, page 648). Mr. Graff had, himself, already given a similar volume to the Newberry Library when he gave the Complete Choctaw Definer, English with Choctaw Definition. By Ben Watkins... (Van Buren, Ark.: J. W. Baldwin, 1892). This is also unlisted by Dr. Butler and, because of the date, unnoted by either Field or Pilling.
Leaving the Indian materials given to date by Mr. Graff is impossible without mention of that principal glory of the collection, John Filson's The Discovery, Settlement and Present State of Kentucke [sic]... (Wilmington: Printed by John Adams, 1784). Filson's is one of the most noted American books of the eighteenth century, for in addition to the detailed description of frontier Kentucky, it contains the first biographical sketch of Daniel Boone. It is also unquestionably the finest copy in existence, being in the original, fragile, gray paper covers over thin wooden boards and with the edges of the leaves wholly uncut. Accompanying this astonishing copy is a unique impression of the famous map drawn by the author. There are believed to be two earlier states of the map, each known in a single copy only; then comes the Graff state, followed by a series of variants which has been described in detail by Col. Lawrence Martin of the Library of Congress, and amplified by Martin F. Schmidt (Schmidt, Martin F.: "Existing Copies of the 1784 Filson Map" in Filson Club History Quarterly, Vol. 28 (1954) pages 55-57).
Sizable numbers of books were chosen simply because they are the kind of book that stirs the heart of a book collector. Among these is a most interesting copy of Dr. William Beaumont's Experiments and Observations on the Gastric Juice, and the Physiology of Digestion... (Plattsburgh: Printed by F. P. Allen, 1833). The volume is one of a small number (probably fifty) originally bound in full sheepskin. It carries an inscription on the title-page by the author presenting the copy to "Mrs Genl Hamilton," the widow of Alexander Hamilton. Elizabeth Hamilton's signature is on the same page, and on the front endleaf there is a note in the handwriting of Dr. S. Weir Mitchell reading "Given by Phillip Schuyler to W. M." Schuyler was Mrs. Hamilton's nephew and Dr. Mitchell was the famous physician-novelist-book collector of Philadelphia. The work is, of course, the greatest single contribution to the study of gastric digestion.
Another exceptionally fine presentation copy of an important book is Arent Schuyler De Peyster: Miscellanies, By an Oficer... (Dumfries: Dumfries and Galloway Courier Office, 1813). Of this work, Rusk wrote: "...we may, perhaps trace the tradition of Indian lore in Western frontier verse back to the days of the British officer Depeyster, who, while stationed on service at Detroit, at Michilimackinac, and on the shores of Lake Michigan, from about 1776 to 1785, amused himself and his companions with rimes, years later gathered into a volume for publication in Scotland." (Schmidt, pp. 343-44) The volume carries a presentation inscription by the author and numerous changes and corrections in the text in his hand. It is in the original paper boards, its leaves entirely untrimmed, and with the original printed label on the backstrip intact. It was once in the collection of Herschel V. Jones.
Gazetteers and maps, of which there are many, are often desirable for the information they give about what was known at the time they were written. Scholars are deeply concerned about this point because the available knowledge about a given area at a particular time often determined actions in which they are interested. Even erroneous ideas set down on maps are valuable to historians, for they indicate how minds worked at a certain point in time. An example is Philippe Buache: Considérations Géographiques et Physiques sur les Nouvelles Découvertes au Nord de la Grande Mer... (Paris, 1753). In many respects, Considérations is a curious and frustrating work. The author, being one of the principal French geographers of his time, was in the unfortunate position of trying to defend the French view of the cartography of the north Pacific after the earlier conjectures had been pretty thoroughly proven incorrect. His arguments are ingenious in several instances, and his method of ignoring or perverting evidence which does not fit the French theories is fascinating.
One of the most difficult gazetteers to secure is John Scott's The Indiana Gazetteer, or Topographical Dictionary...Alphabetically Arranged... (Centreville: John Scott & Wm. M. Doughty, 1826). There were 800 residents of Indianapolis then, with seven stores and four taverns. "It also contains 2 printing offices, a post office, a library, a sunday school, a bible society, and a masonic lodge-3 clergymen, 3 physicians, and several lawyers." The gazetteer is so scarce that the Indiana Historical Society issued a facsimile a few years ago. The second edition (1833), which is also present in the Graff Collection, expands the Indianapolis entry from slightly more than two pages to about three and one-half, but then, the town had doubled its population and boasted "fourteen mercantile stores, several of which are extensive," four clergymen, six physicians, and sixteen lawyers; the taverns still numbered four. Another "pocket gazetteer" of considerable fame and importance is John Farmer's The Emigrants' Guide; or, Pocket Gazetteer of the Surveyed Part of Michigan... (Albany: Printed by B. D. Packard and Co., 1830), the first of a series. The tiny pamphlet (approx. 5 by 3 inches) is in the original leather binding and is accompanied by Farmer's 1830 map of Michigan, an excellent copy. The business of publishing emigrants' guides was an old one when Farmer entered the field. Daniel Smith, long before, had prepared and had published A Short Description of the Tennassee [sic] Government, or the Territory of the United States South of the River Ohio... (Philadelphia: Printed by Mathew Carey, 1793). It is the first work descriptive of the territory which later became the state of Tennessee.
Deciding between descriptive guides and promotional literature is sometimes difficult, but the books and pamphlets noted above are definitely informative rather than glowingly enticing. Yet, some of the most interesting descriptions of frontier areas are frankly selling jobs. For instance, William Cobbett (perhaps better known as "Peter Porcupine") wrote his A Year's Residence in the United States of America... (New York: Printed for the Author, 1818-19, three volumes) to recommend New York as the better place for British agriculturalists instead of Morris Birkbeck's English colony in the Illinois country. Cobbett was trying also to sell English seeds which he had imported and to promote the growing and eating of Ruta Baga. Henry William Ellsworth wrote his Valley of the Upper Wabash, Indiana, with Hints on its Agricultural Advantages... (New York: Pratt, Robinson, and Co., 1838) with a two-fold purpose. He was trying to attract settlers into the Upper Wabash valley and also to sell certain kinds of farm machinery which are described and pictured in the book. The Graff copy is apparently the author's own for it bears his signature on a preliminary leaf and is specially bound in dark blue blind-stamped plush. Alfred Brunson was a property owner and promoter of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin; in 1857 he issued a small pamphlet entitled Prairie du Chien. Its Present Position and Future Prospects... (Milwaukee: Daily Sentinel Steam Power Press, 1857) in which he urged settlers to come to the area and buy land or establish manufacturing enterprises in a city with a "great future." But Brunson's interest was not confined to Prairie du Chien; he was a Wisconsin booster who believed in the future of the state. Probably the scarcest of his publications is a report he made to Governor J. D. Doty in 1843. The pamphlet, which has no titlepage, is headed Northern Wiskonsan and was printed at Madison late in 1843. It contains the first accurate report on the northern part of the state. Only one other copy is known.
Firsthand narratives published at the time of the events described are not always available; sometimes the scholar and the collector must depend on reminiscences or biographies (even though they may be a bit altered by faulty memories or the frailty of man) for the facts he is seeking. Occasionally the historian must fall back on periodicals or repositories of miscellanea, such as The American Pioneer...Devoted to the Objects of the Logan Historical Society... (Cincinnati: John S. Williams, 1842) or The Olden Time... (Pittsburgh, 1846-48). Most of the books of this character in the Graff Collection are scarce, but even more important than their scarcity is their informational value-and many of them make good reading. For example, there is The Memoirs of Lieut. Henry Timberlake, (Who accompanied the Three Cherokee Indians to England in the Year 1762)... (London: Printed for the Author, 1765). Timberlake's American adventures occurred in Virginia, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Tennessee during the French and Indian War and his account comprises a good personal view of a little-known sector of the war. His description of the visit of the three Cherokee Indians to London is amusing and instructive, although his concern over the costs involved is oppressive, One passage reads: "The uncommon appearance of the Cherokees began to draw after them great crowds of people of all ranks; at which they were so much displeased that home became irksome to them, and they were forever teizing [sic] me to take them to some public diversion. Their favourite was Sadler's-Wells; the activity of the performers, and the machinery of the pantomime, agreeing best with their notions of diversion. They were likewise very fond of Ranelagh...but they were better pleased with Vauxhall..."
A fascinating autobiography is Sketches of the Life and Adventures of Jacob Parkhurst; Written with his own Hand when about Three Score and Ten Years of Age, not for Speculation or Honor, but for the Benefit of the Rising Generation, Particularly of his own Descendants... (Newcastle, Ind.: John W. Grupps, Printer, 1842). This is apparently the sole extant copy of the first edition in which the author recounts in vivid detail the memorable events of his life as an Indiana pioneer. It was a hard life, a dangerous life, yet a rewarding life, and the story of it is told simply by the man who had lived that life. Unlike Lieut. Timberlake, who wrote his Memoirs with the hope the volume would bring enough cash to pay his passage back to the New World, Parkhurst expected no reward for his efforts. Another searcher after rewards of authorship was an amusing eccentric, John Robert Shaw of Lexington, Kentucky. His book, which is represented in the Graff Collection by an extraordinary copy in the original tan board binding with the original printed label on the backstrip and with the edges of the leaves uncut, carried the title A Narrative of the Life & Travels of John Robert Shaw, the Well- Digger... (Lexington: Printed by Daniel Bradford, 1807). It is, indeed, a curious production in which the author recounts vigorously and with primitive skill his experiences in the British Army, with the American army during and after the American Revolutionary War, his prodigious drinking bouts, and his travels through many parts of the United States, particularly the western fringes. Two of his eccentricities were addiction to alcohol (which at the time of writing he thought he had conquered, even without Alcoholics Anonymous) and a belief in dowsing (long before Kenneth Roberts publicized water-witchery). There is a good deal of unconscious humor in the book which makes it highly suitable as the "earliest original work of a literary nature produced and written west of the Alleghanies." (Howes. Wright: U.S.-iana... New York: R. R. Bowker, 1954. page 525) This particular copy is exceptionally interesting because it contains both the signature and bookplate of an original subscriber, James Clemens of Danville, Kentucky. The volume belonged later to William F. McNary and Alden Scott Boyer.
A later autobiography of informational value is John W. Fitzmaurice: "The Shanty Boy," or Life in a Lumber Camp... (Cheboygan: Democrat Steam Print, 1889). In the original blue printed wrappers, this is an extremely scarce book; in any condition it is an important book. Fitzmaurice was born on Cape Breton Island, N.S., in 1833. Before he reached Michigan in the 1860's he had been ordained as a minister and had spent some time traveling as a temperance lecturer. Neither of these activities supplied enough food and drink and he therefore added journalism to his talents. When his health failed in 1880, he was advised to take to the woods, and he did. "The Shanty Boy" is the result of living and working with, and listening to, the lumbermen of northern Michigan. It is a boisterous book, filled with good tales, shrewd observations, and a sense of life. Fitzmaurice designed his book for the "shanty boys" themselves, but it deserves a far wider audience. It is probably the best personal narrative of the Michigan logging frontier.
If there is a bibliographer in this world with a Charles Addams-ish cast of mind, he would do well to set to work on a check list of early American "confessions." Ramon F. Adams has handled books about western outlaws and gunmen in his Six-Guns & Saddle Leather... (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press [ig54]), but very little seems to have been done bibliographically for bandits and murderers in the East. It is a pity, for some of the accounts have merits, as Robert Penn Warren discovered when he delved into the murder of Col. Solomon P. Sharp and came up with World Enough and Time in 1950. Warren had predecessors who worked the same garden, Charles Fenno Hoffman (Greyslaer), William Gilmore Simms (Beauchampe in 1842 and Charlmonte in 1856), and Edgar Allan Poe ("Politian"). In a study entitled "The Beauchamp-Sharp Tragedy in American Literature," published in The Register of the Kentucky State Historical Society (Vol. 36, 1938), Willard R. Jillson listed forty-eight editions, accounts, plays, novels, poems, etc. based on the tragedy. Mr. Graff located and secured the source of this spate of tears over ill-starred lovers, when he found The Confession of Jereboam 0. Beauchamp. Who was Executed at Frankfort, Ky. on the 7th of July, 1826. For the Murder of Col. Solomon P. Sharp...To which is Added Some Poetical Pieces Written by Mrs. Ann Beauchamp, Who voluntarily put an end to her existence, on the day of the execution of her husband, and was buried in the same grave with him. (Bloomfield, Ky.: Printed for the Publisher, 1826).
"His wife disdained a life forlorn,
Without her heart's lov'd, honor'd Lord;
Who for their love, their life blood pour'd."
Then reader, here their fortunes mourn,
Unlike Jereboam, no "life blood pour'd" for the crimes of Sile Doty. That rogue lived a long, unuseful life and, having reformed, when seventy-five told the substance to J. G. W. Colburn, to the scandal of the Doty family. The Life of Sile Doty the Most Noted Thief and Daring Burglar of his Time... (Toledo, OH.: Blade Printing & Paper Company, 1880) is quite scarce in fine, original condition. Its scarcity is due in part to the attempts of the old scoundrel's family to find and destroy as many copies as possible. One of the attractive features of the work is the verve with which Sile doted on his crimes. Closely connected with the career of Doty is a pamphlet by W. H. Mott entitled History of the Regulators of Northern Indiana... (Indianapolis: Indianapolis Journal Company, Printers, 1859). Doty was associated at various times in the 1840's and 1850's with various gangs of horse thieves, burglars, blacklegs, and petty malefactors who operated in northern Ohio, Indiana, southern Michigan, and elsewhere. The gangs became so troublesome in the late 1850's that the legislature of Indiana authorized the "formation of companies for the detection and apprehension of Horse Thieves and other felons." The first of these vigilante groups was organized under the statute as the La Grange County Rangers. By 1859, there were thirty-seven companies from the Angola Regulators to the Warsaw Horse Thief Society, loosely organized as the Companies of Regulators of Northern Indiana. Mott's pamphlet is scarce, only three other copies having been located. It bears an amusing bookseller's label, that of J. Francis Ruggles of Bronson, Michigan, who described himself as "YeBibliopoloexperto."
A similar vigilante organization was formed in Louisiana- but without the sanction of legislative statute. Alexandre Barde tells the appalling story in his Histoire des Comitts de Vigilance aux Attakapas... (Saint-Jean-Baptiste, La.: Imprimerie du MeschacPbC et de 1'Avant-Coureur, 1861). The Attakapas area is about 150 miles north of New Orleans; it is a rich grazing land used in the middle nineteenth century for cattle raising. Cattle rustling and general lawlessness troubled Attakapas, as it did many frontiers, particularly during the 1850's, until the intimate connection between officers of the law and bands of brigands became too obvious to be borne. At this point, certain substantial citizens formed a committee of vigilance which slowly cleared Attakapas of its troublesome elements. Barde, who was born in France in 1811 and arrived in Louisiana in 1842, was a journalist, newspaper editor, and (in hard times) a teacher. He joined the organization of vigilantes and took part in its operations. Later, he recorded the story as he knew it from personal experience and from researches among the recollections of participants. His account of the committee is excellent, clearly written, factual, yet endowed with more excitement than is ordinarily found in works of this sort. The book is very scarce now; Louisianans explain its scarcity by pointing out that since the names of the wicked are given in the text, later generations destroyed copies to conceal the sins of their ancestors.
Crime and criminals have a horrid fascination and it is difficult to break off consideration of scarce books of this genre. They are important in a gruesome way because of the information they contain about the habits and morals of the frontier. But there is another and considerably more important group of books in the Graff Collection which merits careful attention. These are the books of travel. Among many activities, Mr. Graff is a traveler and it is natural that the adventures of early travelers would claim his notice. He has been careful to choose unusual accounts of pioneer explorers, and his selections have been made with discrimination. Not only are the texts important and desirable in every case, but usually the physical condition of the copies acquired is exceptionally fine. Some of the "standard rarities" of American travel in the Middle West are present, i.e., the books of Thomas Ashe (whose career and book are characterized by "intrigue, misrepresentation, and fraud"), Jonathan Carver, Perrin du Lac, Andre Michaux (whose expedition along the Ohio River was complicated because he was an agent of Citizen Genet), and a brilliant copy of the Reise.durch Nord-Amerika ... (Weimar: Wilhelm Hoffmann, 1828) by Bernhard Karl, Herzog zu SachsenWeimar-Eisenach. A much earlier (and scarcer) work is Thomas Gage: The English-American his Travail by Sea and Land: or, A new Svrvey of the West-India's (London: R. Cotes for Humphrey Blunden, 1648). The second edition, London, 1655, is also present. Gage was an Englishman who lived for many years as a Dominican friar in the Spanish parts of Central and South America and the Caribees. Much of the material presented appears here in English for the first time, but some of it was taken from Thomas Nicolas's translation of Gomara. Gage later joined the Church of England and, for a time in the days of Cromwell's ascendancy, was the center of a political-religious controversy.
A somewhat more exciting narrative is found in Thomas Morris: Miscellanies in Prose and Verse... (London: James Ridgway, 1790). Captain Morris came to America with the British Army in 1758. He fought at Louisbourg, Quebec, Havana, and elsewhere. He was stationed for a time at Mackinac and much of the literary content of his Miscellanies was written in Michigan. The volume also contains an expanded version of his "Journal." In 1764, the British set out to punish the Indians for the troubles stirred up by Pontiac. One of the minor, but exciting episodes of that expedition was the attempt of Captain Morris to carry a message from Colonel John Bradstreet to the French commandant at Fort Chartres in the Illinois country. His journal records his travels in detail from Cedar Point, Ohio, to the site of today's Fort Wayne his farthest point west-and his retreat to safety at Detroit. Accompanying the Miscellanies is a delightful autograph letter, signed, by Morris to the wife of a brother officer.
A third volume of travel in the 1790's is the extremely scarce work of John Pope, A Tour through the Southern and Western Territories of the United States... (Richmond: Printed by John Dixon, 1792). Pope published his journal for his children, according to the title-page, and enlivened his account with shrewd comments, as he traveled from Richmond to Pittsburgh, down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans, on to Mobile and Pensacola, then Augusta, Savannah, Charleston, and New York City. Probably the most interesting section is that relating to the Creek Indians in Georgia. The 1888 reprint of this work was made from the copy which later became the Ayer copy in which there are only 104 pages; the existence of an additional four pages was not known until Mr. Graff's copy was found. To date, only three other copies with 108 pages have been located.
Mention of the Creek Nation of Indians brings to mind the work of that extraordinary French adventurer, Jean Antoine Le Clerc, known as General Milfort. His Memoire ou Coup d'Oeil Rapide sur mes Differens Voyages et mon Sejour duns la Nation Creck... (Paris: de 1'Imprimerie de Giguet et Michaud, 1802), implausible as it may be in some parts, is fascinating reading, as was proved by the recent translation issued in the Lakeside Classics. It is a good account of the life of a Frenchman among the Creek Nation. His comments about the character of the Indians are especially worthwhile.
Among other books of travel on the new frontiers are works by Baily, Daubeny, Blane, O'Ferrall, Imlay, Melish, and Borrett. Each of them covers an aspect of pioneer life and travel in the Middle West of great value. To list and describe them in detail would extend this notice to extraordinary length. However, it is impossible to leave the subject of travel without remarking a little known book of unusual charm and amusement. This is Ann Archbold: A Book for the Married and Single, for the Grave and the Gay: And Especially Designed for Steamboat Passengers... (East Plainfield, Ohio: Printed at the Office of the "Practical Preacher", 1850). Miss Archbold daringly traveled alone in the 1840's on Ohio and Mississippi steamboats, by buggy across Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri, and into Kansas, and by stage in several states. While she condemns the actions and morals of some of her fellow passengers (for dancing, swearing, tippling, and incivility), she presents a good description of public behavior, attitudes, manners, and customs of her time. Her travels eventually brought the author to the Old Shawnee (Methodist) Mission School, near the present town of Turner, in Wyandotte County, Kansas. There she taught in 1848 and 1850, and there she gathered information for her several sketches of Indian customs, scenes, and activities. It is a quite uncommon book: less than six copies have been described, and the whereabouts of only one other is known for certain.
Only a handful of the books given by Mr. Graff to the Newberry Library has been mentioned. To date, about 375 titles have reached the Library. Not all of them are extremely scarce, although most of them come well within the realm of rare books. Mr. Graff's intention has been to secure books which are very hard to get-and some of those he has secured were long considered impossible to find. Libraries such as the Newberry Library have made their reputations by selecting the solid, substantial bodies of related materials in such depth that scholars can use the collections without recourse to other libraries. Mr. Graff has known this and he has tempered his collecting accordingly, securing the rarities of the various subjects of his personal interest. The preceding descriptions will have illustrated to the perceptive reader how well Mr. Graff has matched intention to result. Almost wholly untouched (and it has been an area of steady interest) are the numerous books and pamphlets collected because of their imprints, the earliest products of pioneer presses in the Middle West. These are often of importance because they indicate origins explicitly. For instance, there is the Acts and Ordinances of the Governor and Judges of the Territory of the United States of America South of the River Ohio ([Knoxville: Printed by George Roulstone, 1793]), believed to be the first pamphlet printed in Tennessee, and the beginning of the rule of law in that territory.
There are other kinds of books in the Graff Collection which have not been mentioned; a few of them are of such essential nature that they must be described. We might take as an example the anonymous Esquisse de la Situation Politique et Civile de la Louisiane... (New Orleans: de 1'Imprimerie du Telegraphie, 1804). The first several pages of this work contain a fascinating pair of descriptions of the surrender of Louisiana by the Spanish to the French and by the latter to the United States at New Orleans. The principal part of the work is a clear and well-argued exposition of the difficulties involved in the transfer of a large territory from one country to another, with special emphasis on the problems of bi-lingual living. To date, only one other copy of the pamphlet has been located.
Of equal importance and interest is an anonymous work by James Foster, The Capitulation, or a Brief History of the Expedition Conducted by William Hull... (Chillicothe: Printed by James Barnes, 1812). This account of the messy military affairs at Detroit during the War of 1812 is a severe attack on General Hull. Foster was captured at Detroit by the British and gives a detailed account of his captivity as well as of the military events of the unhappy campaign. The Capitulation is one of several works relating to military affairs (and particularly the career of William Henry Harrison) in northern Ohio.
The effect of a single book is difficult, if not impossible, to judge, although we may conjecture its effect on events. Such a book is D. T. Madox's Late Account of the Missouri Territory... (Paris, Ky.: Printed for the Author, By John Lyle, 1817). Apparently the work was just about read to pieces, for only three complete copies are known today. Before publication, the author asked several friends to read the manuscript and their recommendations, including laudatory remarks by J. Bledsoe and Stephen Trigg, accompany the text. Madox had spent some time in the territory west of the Mississippi River and south of the Missouri in what was then territory newly acquired from France. He considered in his pamphlet the history, extent, situation, and aspect of the country as well as the rivers, soil, botany, towns, mines, climate, etc. His praise (typical of most writers about the West) was wholehearted-in fact, he occasionally went a bit too far-and it is doubtful that an unhappy Kentuckian reading the pamphlet could resist considering emigration. It is significant to note that shortly after the financial difficulties which swamped Missouri in 18 17 had been cleared up, there was a great influx of settlers, particularly from Kentucky and Tennessee. It is probable that some of the emigrants who flooded into the south and west parts of Missouri and who went into Arkansas were encouraged by such books as this one.
The books, pamphlets, maps, and manuscripts described on the preceding pages should indicate the scope of the portions of the Graff Collection which have come to the Newberry Library. They display the breadth of interest, the knowledge, and the understanding that Everett D. Graff has brought to the collecting of rare and unusual books. With gifts such as these, extending over a period of about twenty years, he becomes one of the glorious company of book collectors who enrich libraries by cherishing and conserving treasures of the book world for the use of generations of scholars.
American History – Publications about the Newberry Library Collections