Guide to the Collection

Collection Summary


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

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 C. Messer (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 (b. 1869), 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 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 (b. 1869), 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.

Rebecca Lewis Brown (1832-1912) was born on 1 Aug. 1832 in Boston, the daughter of ship's captain George 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 with prominent educators Nathaniel T. Allen and Cyrus Peirce. She also taught at 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 in Jan. 1912.

Collection Description

The Batchelder-Lewis family papers consists of one document box spanning the years 1833 to 1940. The majority of the collection 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 N.H. 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.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Wilhelmina Batchelder-Brown, August 2017.

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 write to John's brother George, who was fighting in the Union Army with the 12th Regiment of N.H. 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 writes 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 writes to her about her memories of the Civil War and about commemoration activities in which she is 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

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.


Batchelder, Augusta Lewis, 1847-1923.
Batchelder, John L. (John Langdon), 1832-1909.
Brown, Rebecca Lewis, 1831-1912.
Hartt, Augusta Batchelder.
Lewis, Augusta Gore, 1807-1878.
Lewis, George W. (George Washington), 1794-1872.
Batchelder family.
Lewis family.


Batchelder Brothers (Boston, Mass.).


Family history, 1800-1850.
Family history, 1850-1900.
Franco-Prussian War, 1870-1871.
California--Description and travel.
Colorado--Description and travel.
Europe--Description and travel.
Kansas--Description and travel.
Nevada--Description and travel.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives, Confederate.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Women.
Utah--Description and travel.
Diaries, 1847.
Diaries, 1864.

Materials Removed from the Collection

Photographs from this collection have been removed to the MHS Photo Archives.