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Phelps Family Papers


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Phelps Family Papers, 1817-1945 | Litchfield Historical Society

By Joe Carrano

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Collection Overview

Title: Phelps Family Papers, 1817-1945Add to your cart.View associated digital content.

Primary Creator: Phelps, Winthrop Henry (1818-1885)

Other Creators: Phelps, Ethel Lowerre (d.1969), Phelps, Lucy F. Robinson (1822 - 1901)

Extent: 7.0 Boxes


The papers are arranged in four series:

1. Correspondance

2. Other Papers

3. Photographs

4. Notes

Date Acquired: 09/26/1961. More info below under Accruals.

Subjects: Clergy, Phelps family, United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865, United States. Army. Connecticut Artillery Regiment, 2nd (1863-1865)

Forms of Material: Account books, Correspondence, Diaries, Financial records

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Phelps Family Papers consist primarily of correspondence. Most of the letters date from 1854-1865 and were written to or from Rev. Winthrop Henry Phelps, who served as chaplain to the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery during the Civil War and from his wife Lucy F. Robinson Phelps. Among the most noteworthy of the papers are a series of diaries maintained by Rev. Phelps. Several of these were edited by his granddaughter Ethel Lowerre Phelps in 1945 and published as limited editions titled "A Chaplain's Life in the Civil War." The papers also contain three of Rev. Phelps' sermons.

The papers consist of four series, Series 1, Correspondence,  Series 2, Other Papers, Series 3, Photographs, and Series 4, Notes, and are generally arranged by the creators. For a detailed inventory, click "Show Digital Content Links" at left and then "Phelps Family Papers inventory."

Collection Historical Note

Rev. Phelps was born in Albany, N.Y., in 1818, the son of William Phelps (1785-1858) and Chloe Reed May Phelps (1789-1868). They had three other children: Erasmus Addison Phelps, Charlotte Reed Phelps Van Hoeverberg, and Marietta Atwell Phelps. Rev. Phelps graduated from New York University in 1842. He studied at Union Theological Seminary, graduating in 1845. He also received a Master of Arts from New York University in 1845. He then held positions at the Congregational Church in Greenfield, N.Y., 1845-1846 and the Presbyterian Church in Hillsdale, N. Y., 1846-1849; was ordained a Presbyterian minister, 1848; and served at the Congregational Church in Stockbridge, Mass., 1849-1854; the Congregational Church in Monterey, Mass., 1854-1861; and the Congregational Church in  Hitchcocksville (now Riverton), Conn. 1861-1863. In 1863, he was appointed chaplain of the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Infantry, serving until 1865. He purchased a farm in S. Egremont, Mass., in 1866 and held several temporary church positions in the area. He moved to New York City in 1882 to take up liturgical work. He died in 1885.

In 1848, Rev. Phelps married Lucy Fassett Robinson Phelps (1822-1901), the widow of Andrew Benjamin, and a daughter of Royal Robinson (1789-1841) and Fanny Fassett Robinson (1799-1862). Rev. and Mrs. Phelps had four children: Winthrop Erasmus Phelps, Harriett Frances Phelps Beardsley, Edward Wilbor Phelps, and Fanny Robinson Phelps.

Subject/Index Terms

Phelps family
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
United States. Army. Connecticut Artillery Regiment, 2nd (1863-1865)

Administrative Information

Repository: Litchfield Historical Society

Accruals: The first donation consisted primarily of museum objects including badges, and a soldier's cap; Chaplain Phelps's personal library; and a few documents relating to a temperence society within the regiment. The first addition was assigned a number, 1961-39-0, and contained Miss Phelps's edited version of her grandfather's diaries.  Upon her death in 1969, the executrix of her estate offered the original diaries and papers to the Historical Society.  They arrived in August of 1969 and were assigned the same number as the initial donation.

Access Restrictions: The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions: Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Acquisition Source: Ethel Lowerre Phelps

Acquisition Method: Gift

Preferred Citation: Phelps family papers (1961-39-0), Litchfield Historical Society, Helga J. Ingraham Memorial Library, P.O. Box 385, 7 South Street, Litchfield, Connecticut, 06759

Other Note: This collection was processed with support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Correspondence, 1797-1901],
[Series 2: Other Papers],
[Series 3: Photographs],
[Series 4: Notes],

Series 2: Other PapersAdd to your cart.
Sub-Series 1: Reverend Winthrop H. Phelps PapersAdd to your cart.
Sub-Series 1: AccountsAdd to your cart.
Folder 1: Bills for extra pay, 1864 Nov - 1865 SepAdd to your cart.
8 bills for extra pay, in each various sums are requested for multiple months of army service and the bills are generally sent to or from Connecticut.
Folder 2: Bills for Band Expenses, 1863 Oct - 1865 JulAdd to your cart.
13 bills for band expenses, most are either for the purchase of sheet music or the repair of instruments. Few are for the purchase of new instruments.
Folder 3: Bills for Flag Cover and Uniform Accessories, 1863 Nov - 1865 JunAdd to your cart.
13 Bills for Flag Cover and Uniform Expenses, most of the bills are for cloth or other material to repair uniforms.  A large amount of the material is bought from N. Hunt and E.S. Goodwin.
Folder 4: Bills for Miscellaneous Items, 1863 Jun - 1882 AprAdd to your cart.
12 bills for miscellaneous items, many of the bills are for food, transport, and telegrams.
Folder 5: Bills for Stationary and Stamps, 1863 Oct - 1864 FebAdd to your cart.
12 bills for stationary and stamps, the majority of the purchases are for stamps and envelopes.
Folder 6: Bills for Stationary and Stamps, 1864 Mar - 1865 JunAdd to your cart.
13 bills for stationary and stamps, the majority of the purchases are for envelopes, stamps, and ink.
Folder 7: Records and Receipts of Soldier Money Transfers, 1864 Nov - 1865 Jul and unknown dateAdd to your cart.
2 records of Soldier’s money transfers, the first is for $18,392.15 and the second is for $22,059.65. Each of these records contains a breakdown of the money he is transferring for each soldier. There are also 10 receipts of money transfers, one is from the government acknowledging receipt of money sent to them that belonged to a fallen soldier. The others are from the Adams Express Company, acknowledging receiving money and where the final recipient is.
Folder 8: Regimental Fund Financial Records, 1863 - 1864Add to your cart.
9 records for the regimental fund, each contains information on how much is going into the fund per soldier in the regiment as well as some purchases made with the fund for the soldiers.
Folder 9: Regimental Fund Financial Records, 1865Add to your cart.
6 records for the regimental fund, each contains information on how much is going into the fund per soldier in the regiment. A few of the records contain a detailed breakdown of how much money each individual soldier has put into the fund.
Folder 10: Account Book, 1847 - 1848Add to your cart.
1 account book, this book was maintained by Winthrop and contains records of various purchases, including food, clothing and household items. It also shows sources of income and bills which he paid. Each transaction has its price listed next to it, the date it was bought, what form of currency was used, and the total of the purchase.
Folder 11: Account Book, 1864Add to your cart.
1 book, this book was maintained by Winthrop and covers from the beginning of 1864 through August. Most of the purchases listed are for various food items. Each item has its price listed next to it. Also included are records of money he has received from various officers. For each transaction he lists the date it occurs, the total of the money taken in, and the total money that was spent.
Sub-Series 2: Army PapersAdd to your cart.
Folder 1: 2nd Connecticut Volunteer Artillery; Buckingham Temperance Society Papers, 1863 Dec and Unknown DateAdd to your cart.
2 agreements, these agreements stipulate that the signee will not drink any alcoholic substance while in the regiment, unless for medical purposes. These agreements contain the signatures of the men who joined the society. Along with this there is a list outlining what the name of the group will be, what the executive board will be comprised of, and when the meetings shall occur.
Folder 2: History of the 2nd Connecticut Volunteer Artillery, 1864 Mar 1 - 1865 Mar 1Add to your cart.
In this history written by Winthrop H. Phelps there are two parts, a narrative and list of casualties.   The narrative covers the period from March 1, 1864 through March 1, 1865 and is a detailed account of the actions of the regiment.  The narrative includes, in the beginning, a list of marches the regiment did as well as a list of engagements which they were in during this time period. The list of casualties covers from May 1864 through February 1865. The list of casualties includes all those who were wounded, killed or missing. In this list the soldier’s name, rank, company and residence of the soldier is given. Also given is the date the casualty occurred. Along with this, included with the wounded soldier’s information is a note on where on the body their wound is and if they died from it.  At the end of the list there is a table, breaking down the number of casualties that happened at each engagement.
Folder 3: Recruitment, Commission, and Discharge Papers, 1863 May - 1865 JunAdd to your cart.
4 papers, the first paper is a pass from John H. Martindale, Brigadier General and Military Governor, to allow Winthrop H. Phelps to join his regiment by government boat and rail. The second paper is an official certificate from Governor William A. Buckingham, allowing Winthrop to become Chaplain of the regiment. The third paper is a muster-in roll which designates Winthrop to his regiment for a period of three years unless sooner discharged. The fourth paper is Winthrop’s discharge paper, releasing him from duty on August 18 1865. This paper also includes a physical description of Winthrop.
Folder 4Add to your cart.
Sub-Folder 1: Grants of Leave, 1864 - 1865Add to your cart.
3 grants of leave, each of the three grant a leave of absence from the regiment for fifteen days. One of them was granted by Major General Augur and the other two were granted by Major General Meade.
Sub-Folder 2: Military Telegraphs on Recruitment, 1864 Jan - 1864 FebAdd to your cart.
5 telegrams, each of these telegraphs are from B.F. Hosford to Colonel Kellogg. The telegraphs contain the number of men recruited for the 2nd Connecticut Volunteer Artillery. Winthrop is assumed to obtain these telegraphs after Colonel Kellogg’s death.
Folder 5: Official Orders Received, 1863 - 1865Add to your cart.
3 orders, in the first order Winthrop is ordered by Adjutant General J.D. Williams to report to his regiment at Camp Headquarters without delay. The second order is from Adjutant General [H]. J. Morse, ordering Winthrop to forward another order to Colonel William Fitch. The third order is from Bradley D. Lee informing Winthrop that Chaplains are not allowed fuel  because Congress has passed an act cutting off the supply of fuel to Chaplains.
Folder 6Add to your cart.
Sub-Folder 1: Papers Regarding the 2nd Connecticut Volunteer Artillery's History, 1864 - 1865Add to your cart.
4 papers, the first paper is from the Adjutant General of Connecticut, [H]. J. Morse asking for a report of the history of all Connecticut regiments since March 1 1864. He wants included in this a list of marches, engagements, and casualties. Along with this Morse requests a list of awards the company may have received. Included with this is a history written by Winthrop which follows Morse’s guidelines. The third paper is a notice written to the soldiers of the 2nd Connecticut regiment from S.C. Newman, Genealogist of the Army. In this notice he notifies the soldiers of the completion of their regiment’s genealogy and thanks them for their assistance. The fourth paper is also from S.C. Newman and shows the breakdown by number and company on job, where they were born, whether they were married, and number of children.
Sub-Folder 2: Notices of Pay, 1863 - 1865Add to your cart.
3 notices of pay, the first notice is notifying Winthrop that he is being paid $19.66 for vouchers. The second notice states that Winthrop needs to be compensated for paying for public transport he did not use. The third notice discusses and lists the soldiers in the regiment that are due pay.
Sub-Series 3: SermonsAdd to your cart.
Folder 1: No. 52 "The time is short", 1847 Jan 3 - 1882 Jan 1Add to your cart.
1 sermon book, the sermon is entitled “The time is short” and includes a list of locations and dates it was delivered.
Folder 2: No. 92 "Christ as a Friend", 1848 Apr 23 - 1868 Feb 12Add to your cart.
1 sermon book, the sermon is entitled “Christ as a Friend” and at the end has a list of the locations and dates the sermon was delivered.
Folder 3: Address at Funeral of Captain E.R. Lee, 1862 Apr 18Add to your cart.
1 sermon book, this sermon or address was given at the funeral of Captain E.R. Lee. Attached to the back inside cover of the book are two newspaper clippings. One is an article from The Evening Press describing the funeral of Captain E.R. Lee. The article describes Winthrop’s address as “patriotic.” The other article is a printed list of resolutions from the Hartford City Guard, saying that they will mourn Captain Lee, give their sympathies to his family, and take charge of his funeral.
Sub-Series 4: DiariesAdd to your cart.
Folder 1: 1858 - 1867Add to your cart.
10 diaries, these diaries were created by Rev. Winthrop H. Phelps and cover from 1858 through 1867. The first diary is from 1858, the second from 1859, the third from 1860, the fourth from 1861, the fifth from 1862, the sixth from 1863, the seventh and eighth from 1864, the ninth from 1865, and the tenth from 1866 to 1867. Each of the diaries, except for the tenth, contains at the end some records of purchases and other finances. The first through part way into the sixth, and the tenth diary, discuss daily life, the weather, and activities performed as a reverend, and trips made by Winthrop. In the fifth diary there are a few pages containing information on Phelps family genealogy.Most of the sixth diary through the ninth diary, except for the eighth, is mainly about Winthrop’s time in the army, troop movements, the weather, and daily life, along with some records of money received from soldiers. In the eighth diary there is a list of casualties from the engagements in which the 2nd Connecticut Volunteer Artillery was involved in during 1864. These lists are divided by engagement, company and date. It also details the dead, wounded, and missing. The wounded include where they were wounded on the body and if they died. Note: these diaries are contained in a separate box, out of sequence from the rest of the series.
Sub-Series 2: Ethel Lowerre Phelps PapersAdd to your cart.
Folder 1: A Chaplain's Life in the Civil War, 1945Add to your cart.
1 book entitled A Chaplain’s Life in the Civil War; this book was created in 1945 by Ethel Lowerre Phelps, Winthrop Phelps’s granddaughter. It is a transcribed and edited compilation of diary entries written by Reverend Winthrop H. Phelps from 1864 through 1865. It contains 16 photographs, which include those of Winthrop H. Phelps, the 2nd Connecicut Volunteer Regiment, Col. Kellogg, Lieutenant B. Lee, and Lucy Robinson Phelps as well as 2 maps, which show locations mentioned in the diary entries. Also included are a forward, notes, and a biographical sketch created by Ethel. At the end of the book there is an index showing on which pages people and places are mentioned. At the end of the book there is a note stating that “six copies of this manuscript have been made, of which this is copy number four.” Note: this book is contained in a separate box out of sequence with the rest of the series.
Sub-Series 3: Newspaper ClippingsAdd to your cart.
Folder 1: Hartford Courant, List of Causalties of the 2nd Connecticut Volunteer Artillery, 1864 Sep - 1864 OctAdd to your cart.
3 clippings, each is a list of casualties which is divided by company and tells which men were killed or wounded. The first lists casualties from a battle near a place called Winchester on September 19, 1864. The second lists casualties from a fight near Strasburg on September 21 and 22, 1864. The third list casualties from the battle of Cedar Creek, on in October 1864. Each clipping cites Rev. Winthrop H. Phelps as the person who sent the reports in.
Folder 2: Map of the Battle of Petersburg, 1865Add to your cart.
1 clipping, it shows the area where the battle of Petersburg takes place along with the location of the different sections of the Confederate lines.
Folder 3: Obituaries, 1885, 1918, 1937Add to your cart.
9 obituaries, the first of these is about Edward W. Phelps, who died in 1918. The second of these is about Winthrop H. Phelps, who died in 1885, and the third through ninth of these are about Winthrop E. Phelps, who died in 1937
Folder 4: Philadelphia Inquirer, 1865Add to your cart.
2 clipping, the first is the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer which has general news of the nation and on the back it also includes reports from Union Generals Sheridan and Meade. The second is a clipping describing what the descendents of Jonathan Edwards, the former President of Princeton University, have gone on to work as.
Sub-Series 4: MiscellaneousAdd to your cart.
Folder 1Add to your cart.
Sub-Folder 1: Advertisement for the Union Volunteer Refreshment SaloonAdd to your cart.
The advertisement has an image of the saloon on the front. On the second page there is a list of officers, committee members, and a list of those in the committee of ladies. On the third page there is a short history of the saloon and why it was created. The last page contains a paragraph welcoming the Soldiers of the Union to Philadelphia.
Sub-Folder 2: American Tract Society Receipt, 1863 AprAdd to your cart.
This receipt is acknowledging the grant of five thousand pages of something to be distributed by Reverend Winthrop H. Phelps “in a way most likely to promote the eternal welfare of those in whom you take an interest.”
Folder 2: CardsAdd to your cart.
3 cards, the same thing is written on each. Written on the cards is a brief passage which attempts to persuade the reader to not swear or use vulgarity.
Folder 3: Circular of Religious PublicationsAdd to your cart.
1 circular, it contains advertisements for journals, magazines, encyclopedias, and books based on religious content.
Folder 4: Leaflets: "Important Questions"Add to your cart.
1 package of leaflets entitled “Important Questions.” These are multiple short leaflets about a page or two each on questions of a religious nature.
Folder 5Add to your cart.
Sub-Folder 1: Notification: National Lincoln Monument Association, 1865Add to your cart.
1 notification, it is from the National Lincoln Monument Association. In the notification the society tells how it was formed and includes its founding resolution of promoting the creation of a Lincoln monument. Along with this it includes who are the officers and when they got their positions. Also it notifies the reader of newer resolutions describing who the group believes should give money for the monument.
Sub-Folder 2: Notification: Anna R. Phelps, 1885 Aug 28Add to your cart.
1 notification, in it Anna is writing to her Phelps cousins to notify them of a book she finished about the Phelps family genealogy since coming to America. The book was mainly based on the work of her father, Dudley Post Phelps. The notification gives a brief historical description of the Phelps and family and informs how to obtain the book.
Folder 6Add to your cart.
Sub-Folder 1: Pamphlet: "Do you intend to be a Christian"Add to your cart.
1 pamphlet created by the Presbyterian Board of Publication, Philadelphia. This pamphlet talks about the need to become a Christian rather than just intending to be one, before it is too late to be saved.
Sub-Folder 2: "A Description of the Rogers' Bronze Door"Add to your cart.
1 pamphlet, this pamphlet describes a door found in the House of Representatives including what is on the door, explaining the history that the door tells and includes a diagram on the final page. The topic of the door is the discovery of America including scenes with the famous European explorers. On the diagram Winthrop H. Phelps has written “A very good door, but cost too much by half.”
Folder 7: Pamphlet: "By-and-Bye"Add to your cart.
1 pamphlet, this pamphlet is a teaching narrative about religious matters and was presented by the United States Christian Commission.
Folder 8: Transcriptions Booklet: Letters of Phelps, Winthrop H., Rev., 1864 - 1865Add to your cart.
1 booklet, 45 transcribed letters, this booklet was created by Richard Smith in May 1994 and covers letters by Winthrop H. Phelps, Rev. from May, 1864 through February 1865. In an introduction Richard provides a brief history of the 2nd Connecticut Volunteer Artillery as well as a short summation of the letters subjects. The author notes how he edited the letters in order to aid the reader. The author also notes that every effort was made in order to preserve the “feeling” of the letters. Note: these transcriptions have not been checked for accuracy with the original letters.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Correspondence, 1797-1901],
[Series 2: Other Papers],
[Series 3: Photographs],
[Series 4: Notes],

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