COLLECTION GUIDES

1833-1948

Guide to the Collection

Restrictions on Access

Part of the Batchelder-Lewis family papers is stored offsite and must be requested at least two business days in advance via Portal1791. Researchers needing more than six items from offsite storage should provide additional advance notice. If you have questions about requesting materials from offsite storage, please contact the reference desk at 617-646-0532 or reference@masshist.org.


Collection Summary

Abstract

This collection consists of papers of the Batchelder and Lewis families of Massachusetts, including those of John Langdon Batchelder; his wife Augusta Lewis Batchelder; Augusta's sister Rebecca Lewis Brown; and George Lewis Batchelder, Jr. It contains family correspondence, personal papers, diary pages, material related to the Civil War, and scrapbooks.

Biographical Sketches

These brief biographical sketches highlight the individuals most prominently represented within the collection.

John Langdon Batchelder (1832-1909) was born on 20 May 1832 in Conway, N.H. to John L. Batchelder (1806-1857) and Harriet G. Messer Batchelder (1803-1883). He attended public schools in Wentworth, N.H. and studied at Dartmouth College from 1851 to 1853. After working his way up in the office of a Boston coal dealer, John founded the Boston coal business known as Batchelder Brothers along with his brother Charles. Upon Charles's death in 1872, he worked with his brother Henry, and later his sons John and George, who continued the operation after their father's retirement in 1900. John served on the Boston City Council in 1859 and 1860. He was married to Elizabeth Leatherbee from 1854 until her death in 1864, and he married Augusta Gore Lewis on 23 Aug. 1866. Their children included John L. Batchelder (b. 1867), George Lewis Batchelder (1869-1959), Henry Ladd Batchelder (1870-1873), Augusta Gore Batchelder Hartt (b. 1872), William Jennings Batchelder (1873-1937), Joseph Dimmock Batchelder (1875-1934), and Robert Charles Batchelder (1878-1936). John Batchelder died in Brookline, Mass. on 2 Apr. 1909.

Augusta Lewis Batchelder (1847-1923) was born on 18 Jan. 1847 in Watertown, Mass., the daughter of ship's captain George Washington Lewis (1794-1872) and Augusta Gore Lewis (1807-1878) and the sister of Rebecca Lewis Brown. She married John L. Batchelder in 1866, and their children included John L. Batchelder (b. 1867), George Lewis Batchelder (1869-1959), Henry Ladd Batchelder (1870-1873), Augusta Gore Batchelder Hartt (b. 1872), William Jennings Batchelder (1873-1937), Joseph Dimmock Batchelder (1875-1934), and Robert Charles Batchelder (1878-1936). A member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, she died on 1 Nov. 1923 in Brookline, Mass.

Rebecca Lewis Brown (1832-1912) was born on 1 Aug. 1832 in Boston, the daughter of ship's captain George Washington Lewis and Augusta Gore Lewis and the sister of Augusta Lewis Batchelder. For two years around 1850, she taught at the Model Department of the State Normal School in West Newton, Mass. with prominent educators Nathaniel T. Allen and Cyrus Peirce. She also taught at the Hancock School in Boston in the early 1850s, leaving in 1854 to move to the southern United States, where on 20 Dec. 1860 she married James L. Jennings. In May 1862, shortly after Union troops captured New Orleans, her house in Louisiana was burned and her husband killed. She fled to Jackson, Miss. and then to Knoxville, Tenn., staying with relatives and friends of her late husband. On 4 Jan. 1871, Rebecca married railroad executive Charles S. Brown in Brooklyn, N.Y., and by 1883 the couple were living in Honda, Colombia. Rebecca returned to the United States in March 1896, following her husband's death, and died in Brookline, Mass. in Jan. 1912.

George Lewis Batchelder, Jr. (1897-1971) was born on 14 Sep. 1897 in Medford, Mass., the oldest child of George Lewis Batchelder (1869-1959) and Louise Lawrence Batchelder (1874-1935). His siblings included Dorothy (b. 1900), Eleanor (b. 1902), Louise (b. 1904), and Samuel Lawrence Batchelder (b. 1908). George graduated from Harvard, Class of 1919, and worked as a coal dealer, first at Batchelder Bros. and later in partnership with Winslow B. Felton as Batchelder & Felton Coal Co. On 21 Feb. 1924, he married Katharine Tiffany Abbott (1899-1977), and their son George Lewis Batchelder III (1930-1999) was born on 20 Oct. 1930.

Collection Description

The Batchelder-Lewis family papers consists of one document box (stored onsite) and one record carton (stored offsite) spanning the years 1833 to 1948. The majority of the loose papers is comprised of correspondence of the Batchelder and Lewis families, which were joined by the marriage of John Langdon Batchelder and Augusta Gore Lewis. Correspondence covers topics of daily life such as births, deaths, and marriages; John's coal business in Boston, Batchelder Brothers; and the difficulties of Rebecca Lewis Jennings (later Brown) in the southern United States during the Civil War. Letters include those written to John's brother George Batchelder while he was fighting in the Civil War with the 12th Regiment of New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry, John Batchelder's letters from an 1865 trip through the western United States to California, and John and Augusta's letters to family during their trip to Europe from 1869 to 1871, including their impressions of the Franco-Prussian War.

Personal papers, largely those of Rebecca Lewis Brown, contain material related to the Civil War, including Rebecca's diary pages, poetry written by a Confederate soldier, and a letter of thanks from Confederate officers. Family history binders consist of letter transcriptions, notes, and genealogical information assembled by Augusta Batchelder Hartt, the daughter of John and Augusta Batchelder.

The collection also contains five scrapbooks documenting the life of George Lewis Batchelder, Jr., including his education at the Volkmann School and Harvard (Class of 1919) and Harvard football and crew, as well as one volume related to the premature birth of his son George Lewis Batchelder III.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Wilhelmina Batchelder-Brown, August 2017. Scrapbooks given to the MHS by Wilhelmina Batchelder-Brown in July 2018.

Restrictions on Access

Part of the Batchelder-Lewis family papers is stored offsite and must be requested at least two business days in advance via Portal1791. Researchers needing more than six items from offsite storage should provide additional advance notice. If you have questions about requesting materials from offsite storage, please contact the reference desk at 617-646-0532 or reference@masshist.org.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Family correspondence, 1833-1911

Arranged chronologically.

This series consists of the correspondence of the families of John Langdon Batchelder and Augusta Lewis Batchelder. The earliest letters are between Augusta Gore Lewis and George Lewis, Augusta Lewis Batchelder's parents, as well as letters between Rebecca Lewis (later Brown) and her father George Lewis, when she was a child and he was a ship's captain writing from ports that included New Orleans and Macao. Batchelder family correspondence begins in 1856 with letters from John L. Batchelder to his father and his brother George discussing his work in the coal trade and his real estate interests. 1857 correspondence is related to his father's death and the settlement of his estate. Between 1862 and 1863, various members of the Batchelder family wrote to John's brother George, who was fighting in the Union Army with the 12th Regiment of New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry and was taken ill for several months. Of particular interest is a 7 Sep. 1863 letter from Rebecca Lewis Jenning (later Brown), who describes fleeing from Louisiana after her house was burned and her husband killed, shortly after the capture of New Orleans by Union troops. Letters from John L. Batchelder describe a journey to San Francisco in 1865 through Atchison, Kansas; Denver, Central City, and Boulder, Colorado; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Austin and Virginia City, Nevada. He describes in detail his impressions of the West, including wagon trains, Native Americans, gold mines, and an attack by robbers on the road.

Between 1869 and 1871, letters from John L. Batchelder and Augusta Lewis Batchelder describe their time spent traveling in Europe, particularly through France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and England, including their observations of the Franco-Prussian War in Sep. 1870. Between 1883 and 1895, Rebecca Lewis Brown wrote to her family from Hondo, Colombia, where she lived with her second husband, railroad executive Charles S. Brown. In a 1911 letter, Rebecca's niece wrote to her about her memories of the Civil War and about commemoration activities in which she was taking part.

See Series III, Family history binders, for transcriptions of many of these letters.

Box 1Folders 1-14

II. Personal papers, 1845-1925

Arranged chronologically.

This series includes a number of poems written by Rebecca Lewis Brown and her sister Caroline (Carrie) Lewis, as well as Rebecca's 1847 diary pages, in which she describes the birth and infancy of her sister Augusta. Also included are 1852 letters from Nathaniel T. Allen and Cyrus Peirce recommending Rebecca for a teaching position. Civil War material in this series includes a copy of a letter signed by Confederate officers, thanking James Oakes of Boston for sending them supplies; a poem written by a Confederate officer in prison upon hearing of his army's surrender; a muster notice for the Union Army; and a transcription of Rebecca's diary for Jan. 1864 recounting her journey from Knoxville, Tenn. to Lancaster, Ky.

Box 1Folders 15-18

II. Family history binders, ca. 1940

These binders were created and arranged by Augusta Batchelder Hartt, the daughter of John Langdon Batchelder and Augusta Lewis Batchelder. Binders 1 and 2 hold similar content and were created as gifts for family members. They contain transcriptions of letters, the originals of which are found in Series I of this collection, with the exception of a transcribed letter dated 21 July 1937, the location of which is unknown. Transcriptions often include interpretive notes added by Augusta Hartt. Also included is genealogical information for the Batchelder family, as well as copies of documents concerning the Civil War service of George Batchelder (1831-1886). Binder 2 includes reminiscences added later by George Batchelder, Augusta Hartt's brother, primarily concerning his athletic feats. Binder 3 contains Augusta Hartt's notes about her arrangement of the material into binders.

Box 1Folders 19-21
Binder 1, ca. 1940
Box 1Folders 22-24
Binder 2, ca. 1940
Box 1Folder 25
Binder 3, ca. 1940

IV. Scrapbooks, 1896-1948

Arranged chronologically.

NOTE: This series is stored offsite and must be requested at least two business days in advance via Portal1791.

Carton 1SH 1A5RVol. 1
George L. Batchelder, Jr. baby book, 1896-1909

This baby book, kept by Louise Lawrence Batchelder, contains photographs, notes, and other material documenting the childhood and development of George L. Batchelder, Jr. Also included are photographs of his parents and younger siblings.

Carton 1SH 1A5RVol. 2
George L. Batchelder, Jr. scrapbook, 1901-1923

Included are photographs, letters, printed matter, and long diary-like entries describing the activities of George L. Batchelder, Jr. The entries were written by his parents Louise Lawrence Batchelder and George L. Batchelder, Sr., as well as by George, Jr. beginning in 1905. Included are photographs of other family members and material related to his education at the Volkmann School in Boston and his athletic accomplishments.

Carton 1SH 1A5RVol. 3
George L. Batchelder, Jr. scrapbook, 1913-1916

Included are clippings and photographs related to George L. Batchelder, Jr.'s athletic accomplishments at the Volkmann School and on the Harvard freshman football and crew teams.

Carton 1SH 1A5RVol. 4
George L. Batchelder, Jr. scrapbook, 1915-1919

This scrapbook, apparently a continuation of Vol. 3, contains clippings and other material related to Harvard varsity football and crew.

Carton 1SH 1A5RVol. 5
George L. Batchelder, Jr. scrapbook, 1915-1948

Included are photographs, clippings, programs, and other material related to George L. Batchelder, Jr.'s activities at Harvard, his service with the Naval Reserve during World War I, his business, and his marriage to Katharine Tiffany Abbott in 1924. The volume also contains diary-like entries about George, Jr. written by his mother Louise Lawrence Batchelder, as well as one by George, Jr. himself.

Carton 1SH 1A5RVol. 6
George L. Batchelder III medical records, 1930-1947

This volume consists of detailed daily medical records of George L. Batchelder III, 1930-1931, who was born premature at the Boston Lying-In Hospital on 20 Oct. 1930. Included are charts documenting his weight, temperature, diet, etc., and additional medical notes and correspondence to 1947.

Preferred Citation

Batchelder-Lewis family papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.

Persons:

Batchelder family.
Batchelder, Augusta Lewis, 1847-1923.
Batchelder, George Lewis, 1869-1959.
Batchelder, George Lewis, 1897-1971.
Batchelder, George Lewis, 1930-1999.
Batchelder, John L. (John Langdon), 1832-1909.
Batchelder, Louise Lawrence, 1874-1935.
Brown, Rebecca Lewis, 1831-1912.
Hartt, Augusta Batchelder, 1872-
Lewis family.
Lewis, Augusta Gore, 1807-1878.
Lewis, George W. (George Washington), 1794-1872.

Organizations:

Batchelder Brothers (Boston, Mass.).
Harvard College (1780- ). Class of 1919.
Harvard Crew (Rowing team).
Harvard University--Football.
Harvard University--Students.
Volkmann School (Boston, Mass.).

Subjects:

Boston (Mass.)--Social life and customs.
California--Description and travel.
Colorado--Description and travel.
Diaries--1847.
Diaries--1864.
Europe--Description and travel.
Family history--1800-1850.
Family history--1850-1900.
Franco-Prussian War, 1870-1871.
Kansas--Description and travel.
Nevada--Description and travel.
Premature babies.
Scrapbooks--1896-1948.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Women.
Utah--Description and travel.
Women's diaries.

Materials Removed from the Collection

Photographs from this collection have been removed to the MHS Photo Archives (Photo. Coll. 500.218).