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Thaddeus Hyatt Papers 1843-1898

Thaddeus HyattMicrofilm MS 571-MS 572



This microfilm publication, consisting of two rolls, contains the correspondence and papers of Thaddeus Hyatt, a New York manufacturer who was an active Free-State party supporter and chairman of the National Kansas Committee in 1856-1857.

Editor: Joseph W. Snell

The publication of this pamphlet guide and of the microfilm publication it describes was made possible by a grant from the National Historical Publications Commission, Washington, D. C.


Little is known about the life of Thaddeus Hyatt. He has been described, appropriately, as “one of those minor makers of history, well known and of considerable importance in their time, who have faded into obscurity with the passing of years.” Born in Rahway, N. J., July 21, 1816, Hyatt became a prosperous New York manufacturer before the age of 40 by inventing a translucent paving glass.

In the 1850’s Hyatt’s attention turned to the abolition movement and particularly to Kansas Free-State settlers in Kansas territory. A letter from Kansas Gov. John W. Geary to William L. Marcy, United States secretary of state in 1856, related Hyatt’s personal role in Kansas relief: “A party of some ninety men, mostly disbanded militia, have gone in charge of Thaddeus Hyatt, with provisions and necessary tools, to found the town of Hyattville [Anderson county]. . . . These persons were out of employment, likely to become a charge upon the town of Lawrence, and Mr. Hyatt projected this scheme to furnish them with useful employment, and prevent them from falling into habits of indolence and vice.” It was through this phase of his activities that Hyatt became acquainted with John Brown.

An interesting episode in Hyatt’s career was his encounter with the U. S. Senate committee investigating the John Brown affair at Harper’s Ferry in 1859. Hyatt was not only acquainted with John Brown, but started a relief fund for the Brown family after his execution December 2, 1859. Hyatt was summoned on February 23, 1860 to appear before the senate committee, but after some delay finally refused to testify. Subsequently confined in the old Capitol Prison at Washington for this action, Hyatt furnished his cell to his own taste, bought his own food, received visitors, and wrote articles for newspapers during the three months of his imprisonment. The investigation came to a fruitless close with the approach of secession, and Hyatt was released.

Within a short time, Hyatt again became involved in Kansas relief activities. He wrote several circulars intended to arouse the people of the East to the necessities of Kansas settlers. Foremost among them was a pamphlet of 68 pages entitled, The Prayer of Thaddeus Hyatt to James Buchanan, President of the United States in Behalf of Kansas.

In August, 1861, Hyatt was appointed American consul at La Rochelle, France, where he served until 1865. On one occasion while in Paris, Hyatt was arrested as being Garibaldi, the Italian patriot to whom he bore a close resemblance. His interest in Europe did not end with the termination of his position as consul, and thereafter he divided his time between the two continents, crossing the Atlantic a total of 43 times before his death. It was in England that Hyatt became a pioneer in the cement business, building what was said to be the first concrete house in London in 1874. In the later years of his life Hyatt resided in the United States but maintained a summer home at Sandown, Isle of Wight, where he died July 25, 1901.

Scope and Content

The papers of Thaddeus Hyatt, consisting of three document boxes containing correspondence and miscellaneous papers, were given to the Kansas State Historical Society by Mr. Hyatt beginning in 1879.

The collection is arranged chronologically with partially undated letters placed at the end of the appropriate month or year. Totally undated material falls at the end of the collection but preceding unidentifiable fragmentary pieces. Dates supplied by the editors have been penciled in brackets in the upper right-hand corner of the first page of the applicable material. Question marks denote some dissatisfaction with the reliability of supplied dates.

Microfilm targets have been kept to a minimum and are used only when necessary to indicate retakes, corrections, enclosures, etc. Targets containing editorial information, except for the introduction, have not been included.

Though the collection begins in the year 1843 there is little material concerning Hyatt’s career in manufacturing. Some correspondence does illustrate his religious and philosophical beliefs during his early life. With the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, the correspondence becomes abundant.

The main theme of the collection is Kansas relief and Hyatt’s efforts to assist Free-State settlers by raising money and providing goods and firearms during the early conflicts with the border ruffians. Much of the correspondence between 1856 and 1861 is either from settlers in Kansas territory asking for assistance or from interested groups or individuals in the East desiring to contribute money and goods to the cause. There is also some material concerning the formal organization of the Kansas Relief Committee, lists of contributors, and itemized lists of appropriations to various settlements. Statements of settlers, detailing their early experiences in territorial Kansas, are particularly fine documents on pioneer conditions in the area. A series of papers belonging to John E. Stewart, a Methodist minister and early abolitionist settler in Kansas, includes observations about Free-State settlements in Kansas, actions of the Relief Committee’s agents, and his own statement of tribulations with Proslavery forces.

As president of the Relief Committee, Hyatt became involved in John Brown’s activities. After Harper’s Ferry and Hyatt’s subsequent imprisonment for failure to testify before the senate investigating committee, the correspondence reflects his attitudes and activities while in confinement. Included in these papers is a sample of a check Hyatt had printed giving his address as “Washington Jail.”

Hyatt continued to be active in Kansas relief affairs following his release from prison and though he held no formal office his correspondence with men such as Samuel C. Pomeroy and W. F. M. Arny indicates he was still regarded as one of the leaders of the program. When he was appointed consul to La Rochelle the correspondence becomes scattered and varied as to dates and subject matter.

Helpful secondary works relating to this collection are:

“Selections From the Hyatt Manuscripts,” Kansas Historical Collections, v. 1-2, pp. 203-221.

Edgar Langsdorf, “Thaddeus Hyatt in Washington Jail,” The Kansas Historical Quarterly, v. 9, pp. 227-239.

The Kansas State Historical Society has in addition to the Hyatt manuscripts a microfilm of two letter books of Hyatt’s for the years 1858, 1859, 1875, and 1876. The originals of these documents, the first of which deals with Hyatt’s interests in Kansas and the second with projects in England, are the property of John Kenneth Hyatt and could not be made a part of this microfilm publication.

Contents List

Microfilm List

MS 571 Roll 1-Correspondence and papers of Thaddeus Hyatt, 1843-1898.
MS 572 Roll 2 -Thaddeus Hyatt’s Articles Prepared for the Press, 1860, 1861.
Copies of National Kansas Committee correspondence, July 27, 1856 to
March 31, 1857.
Statements concerning the conduct of National Kansas Committee agents in Kansas by
Abbott, James B.
Booth, Edward; Tappan, Samuel F.; Warren, George L.
Breyman, William.
Carpenter, A. O.
McCauley, O. H.
Noicheace (?), John.
Vince, A. H.
Wattles, Augustus.
Kansas settlers’ experiences by
Cannon, David W.; Arthur, James M.
Chubb, James; Stittman, William H.; Price, John L.;
Watson, Richard.
Dewey, Charles E.
Griffith, R. S.; Spicer, N. W.; Harvey, James A.
Hinton, Richard J.
Knapp, Lemuel.
Nickel, Samuel.
Morris, Miles.
Rees, David; Westhover, Oliver.
Scoten, A. B.; Reap, William; Coy, Ephraim; Anderson, Samuel.
Storrs, Elizabeth.
John E. Stewart Papers

Explanation of the Thaddeus Hyatt Microfilm

In 1957, the Kansas State Historical Society (KSHS) microfilmed its Thaddeus Hyatt MS. Collection (no. 401) and Theodore Hyatt collection (no. 402) on rolls MS 86-MS 88. While most of the material on these 3 rolls consists of records held by the KSHS, Letter Books, 1858-1859 and 1875-1876, owned by the family were included on roll MS 87.

In 1967, with the assistance of a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the Thaddeus Hyatt collection at the KSHS was re-filmed with a collection guide and an index & calendar of correspondence; the guide-by Joseph W. Snell, editor-was also published under the title Guide to the Microfilm Edition of the Thaddeus Hyatt Papers, 1843-1898, in the Kansas State Historical Society (Topeka, Kansas.: Kansas State Historical Society, 1967). This microfilm, MS571-MS 572, includes only those records held by KSHS; it does not contain any of the papers loaned to the society and microfilmed. While the papers on MS 571-MS572 appear to largely duplicate those on rolls MS 86-MS 88, the loaned Letter Books, 1858-1859 & 1875-1876, and a Journal of Investigation in Kansas, Nov. 28, 1856, are on MS 87 only, and papers of Theodore Hyatt (KSHS MS. Collection no. 402) appear only on MS 88.

In 1970, Thaddeus Hyatt, grandson of his 19 th century namesake, loaned Papers, 1860, of his grandfather to the society for microfilming. These contain letters pertaining to Hyatt’s interests in Free-State (antislavery) Kansas and family & business matters. Also included is a scrapbook of newspaper clippings related to his imprisonment in a Washington, D. C., jail in 1860, for refusal to answer questions before the U. S. Senate committee investigating John Brown’s activities at Harper’s Ferry, Va. (now W. Va.). These papers are on microfilm MS 753.01.

The following year, Mr. Hyatt loaned additional papers to be microfilmed. These consist of Correspondence and papers, 1858-1901, including G. P. Morehouse’s Thaddeus Hyatt-The Friend of Kansas” and Hyatt’s patent for an illuminating vault cover. This microfilm is MS 767.01.

Index to Correspondence

The following is an index to correspondence in the collection.

Adams, Franklin G.

1878, April 25

Albright, C.

1854, Dec. 25

Alcott, Mrs. A. B.

1857, Oct. 28

Allen, Mrs. S. Ann F.

1857, Jan. 12; Mar. 2

Allison, Joseph

1856, Dec. 31

Anderson, Edward

1856, Oct. 15

Arny, W.F.M.

1856, Sept. 5, 20; Oct. 7, 28; Dec. 27, 29

1857, Jan. 2, 7; Feb. 12, 16; Mar. 12; May 22

1858, Jan. 15, 22; Feb. 8; April 15

1860, Oct. 10, 12, 15, 29; Nov. 6, 7, 14, 15; Dec. 1, 3, 11, 12, 20

1861, Jan. 14; Feb. 26; Dec. 19

Atwood, B.W.

1860, Oct. 11

Baldwin, Theoren

1856, Oct. 20

Barrett, P.G.

1860, Sept. 28

Beddoes, T.

1857, Feb. 11

Bell, George W.

1856, Dec. 4

Benson and West

1861, Jan. 2

Bickerton, Thomas

1872, July 12

Blood, Charles E.

1857, Jan. 3

Brainard, Samuel

1861, Mar. 4; April 9

Brooks, A.

1856, Dec. 2

Brown, Harvey

1856, Sept. 8

Brown, John

1859, Nov. 24

Brown, John Stillman

1860, Dec. 15

Brown, O.C.

1856, Sept. 24

Buchanan, Helen

1856, Oct. 8

Burns, Fielding

1857, July 3

Butler, George A.

1856, Nov. 3

Chamberlain, S.

1856, Nov.3

Cheever, Henry T.

1860, July 20; Dec. 7

Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad Co.

1860, Nov. 6

Cleveland, G.B.

1860, Sept. 24; Oct. 5; undated

Conway, Martin F.

1856, Oct. 9

1858, Feb. 8; Mar. 21

Corwin, J.H.

1856, Oct. 20

Corwin, Mrs. J.H.

1856, Oct. 24

Crandall, Harriet S.

1856, Dec.17

Crane, C.H.

1857, Feb. 17

Crist, George H.

1861, Jan. 15

Cummings, Leonora W.

1861, Feb. 14

Cushman, John P.

1861, Dec. 31

Dean, Homer L.

1856, Sept. 25

Denison, Rachel C.

1856, Nov. 24

Dickey, M.C.

1856, Oct. 23

Ela, W.A.

1860, Sept. 10

Eldridge, Shalor W.

1856, Sept. 11

1861, Mar. 20

Everett, John R.

1856, Nov. 5

Field, P.

1856, Dec. 10

Finch, H.

1856, Dec. 22

Floyd, John B.

1860, Oct. 29

Freeman, R.W.R.

1856, Nov. 25

Frothingham, A.

1861, Jan. 1

Gardner, John N.

1859, Jan. 9

Geary, John W.

1856, Dec. 9

Genung, B.M.

1861, Jan. 9

Gihon, John H.

1857, May 31

Gray, E.H.

1856, Oct. 17

Greer, M.N.

1861, Jan. 1

Griffith, William R.

1861, May 13

Hand, S.P.

1857, Jan. 21, 25, 27; Feb. 2, 17, 19

Harrington, Samuel C.

1858, Feb. 1

Harris, A.S.

1856, Sept. 22

Hart, H.W.

1860, Jan.

Harvey, James A.

1857, Feb. 26

Heath, Erastus

1860, Oct. 6

Heddens, L.P.

1860, undated

Higginson, Thomas W.

1856, Oct. 16, 26

Hinton, Richard J.

1856, Oct. 10

1860, may 25

Holmes, Arthur

1856, Sept. 29; Oct. 15

1857, Nov. 3

Hopkins, Thomas W.

1860, April 24

Hosford, H.R.

1860, Dec. 24

Houston, Samuel D.

1857, Jan. 3

Hovey, J.L.

1860, Aug. 6

Howe, S.G.

1856, Oct. 25

Hunt, S.B.

1861, Feb. 8; Mar. 20

Hurd, H.B.

1856, Dec. 1, 24

1857, Feb. 10, 19, 28; May 27

Hutchinson, William

1861, Mar. 20

Hyatt, Thaddeus

1856, Sept. 14; Nov. 2

1857, Jan. 6, 10

1859, Nov. 14

1879, Mar. 29

1895, Feb. 6; April 4

Hyatt, Theodore

1856, Sept. 17

Indianapolis and Cincinnati Railroad Co.

1860, Nov. 7

Ingalls, J.K.

1861, Jan. 26, 27

Johnson, A.B.

1860, July 31

Julian, J.P.

1860, Oct. 25

Kauffman, L.

1861, Jan. 7

Ketchum, Edgar

1856, Sept. 20

Lane, A.D.

1856, Aug. 16, 21

Lawson, T.

1860, Oct. 27

Little, Sophia L.

1860, May 27

Lochwood, R.

1856, Sept. 26

Loomis, S. B.

1861, Jan. 6

Loveland, John

1861, Jan. 10

Lum, Samuel Y.

1856, June 12

Lyman, Joseph

1856, Oct. 31

Lyons, Fanny

1860, May 31; June 7, 15

McAfee, Josiah B.

1860, Oct. 5

McAllister, Richard

1856, Dec. 12

McArthur, Alexander

1860, Dec. 10

Martin, Benjamin N.


Maxson, Perry B.

1860, Oct. 27

Mayell, J.

1861, Jan. 7

Michigan Central Railroad Co.

1860, Nov. 6

Mitchell, James M.

1856, Oct. 27

Mitchell, Mrs. Major W.

1856, Oct. 17

Morrow, Robert

1861, Mar. 20

Nash, J.A.

1860, June 4

Nichols, Clarina I.H.

1856, Oct. 4, 15; Nov. 24; Dec. 6

Northrup, H.D.

1856, Sept. 26; Dec. 23

1857, Mar. 16

Nute, Ephraim

1857, Jan. 1

O'Brien, W.C.

1861, Jan. 1

Osbun, A.G.

1861, Feb. 6

Page, Peter

1856, July 6

Pangburn, Joanna

1861, Feb. 5

Parsons, Levi

1856, Sept. 22

Peck, Alfred

1861, Jan. 1

Pipher, John

1857, Jan. 3

Pomeroy, Henry R.

1860, Dec. 8

Pomeroy, Samuel C.

1857, May 18; June 18; July 24; Aug. 6, 17; Sept. 26

1860, Oct. 9, 10, 12, 20, 22, 27, 29, 31; Nov. 2, 4, 5, 10, 15, 21, 27; Dec. 3, 6, 13, 20

1861, Jan. 3, 5, 18; Mar. 14

Porter, Elias D.

1856, Nov. 27

Prentice, William H.

1856, Dec. 11

Prizer and Darlington

1861, Feb. 6

Putnam, George W.

1860, Dec. 5

Randall, James W.

1860, Sept. 12; Oct. 31

Rankin, John M.

1860, Sept. 14

Reeder, Andrew H.

1856, Sept. 7

Reynolds, L.B.

1856, Sept. 16

Roberts, H. Jonathan

1855, Mar. 21

Robinson, J.W.

1860, Sept. 29; Nov. 17

Robison, Mrs. D.F.

1861, Jan. 7

Rooker, Thomas W.

1883, Oct. 6

Rouse, J. Hill

1861, Jan. 8

St. Louis, Alton and Chicago Railroad Co.

1860, Nov. 6

[Scharit?], A.W.

1860, Oct. 31

Sewall, S.E.

1861, Jan. 8

Shore, Elizabeth R.

1856, Oct. 16

Sizer, Nelson

1860, May 22

Sloane, J.R.W.

1860, April 23

Smedler, H.W.

1861, Jan. 4

Smith, Gerrit

1856, Oct. 21

1857, July 25; Sept. 12

Smith, Henry R.

1860, May 22; June 8, 20, 26

Spring, M.

1859, Dec. 30

Starr, W.H. and Co.

1856, Sept. 25

Stearns, George L.

1856, Oct. 19, 25, 26

1860, mar. 15, 21

Sterling, A.E.

1860, Mar. 15; Apr, 6

Stewart, John E.

1857, Jan. 11; Feb. 1; May 28

1858, Jan. 11; Feb. 6

1859, Dec. 20 (All in the Stewart papers at the end of the collection.)

Storrs, N.S.

1860, Sept. 16

Stowell, Martin

1860, Nov. 23

Streeter, James

1861, Feb. 17

Tallant, J.F.

1856, Sept. 25

Tappan, L.

1860, May 25

Thayer, William M.

1856, Nov. 20

Thompson, J.

1860, Oct. 31

Tillingfor, W.

1856, Dec. 1

Turner, Benjamin

1861, Jan. 26

Tweedy, Edmund

1856, Nov. 27

Venard, A.

1860, Oct. 3

Waters, Clark

1861, Jan. 22

Wattles, Augustus

1860, Dec. 3

Webb, Thomas H.

1856, Sept. 8, 24, 25; Oct. 8

Webster, J.D.

1857, Jan. 18

Welch, H.L.W.

1856, Oct. 22, 29

Whitcomb, Samuel

1856, Aug. 30; Oct. 15; Nov. 13

White, Horace

1856, Sept. 25; Oct. 20, 24, 26; Nov. 13, 24; Dec. 4; undated

Whitman, E.B.

1860, Sept. 29

Williams, C.T.

1856, Dec. 2

Williams, Mrs. Fanny S.

1856, Oct. 25

Winans, Eliza

1843, Sept. 28; undated

Winans, J.C.

1861, Jan.

Winchell, James M.

1856, Sept. 8, 20; Oct. 3

1861, Mar. 20

Wing, S.D.

1861, Jan. 7

Winsor, S.L.

1861, Jan. 9

Woodford, E.M.

1857, Feb. 11

Additional Information for Researchers

Use of the Collection

The Thaddeus Hyatt papers are the property of the Kansas State Historical Society. Brief quotations are authorized without restriction but publication of any major portion of the material on this film must be approved in writing by an officer of the Society. Literary rights are not owned by the Society and therefore cannot be conveyed.

It is suggested that the following citation be made to this microfilm publication: “Thaddeus Hyatt Collection” (microfilm edition), manuscript division, Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka.

Availability of Microfilm Publication

The microfilm edition of the Thaddeus Hyatt collection may be used at the offices of the Kansas State Historical Society, borrowed through interlibrary loan or purchased. A copy of this pamphlet is included in the purchase price of the film. Borrowers also receive the pamphlet which must be returned with the film. Pamphlets may be purchased separately for $1.00 each.

Please address all inquiries and orders regarding this or any other Kansas Historical Society film publication to Microfilm Publications, Kansas State Historical Society, 6425 SW 6 th Ave., Topeka, KS 66615-1099.