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Thomas Ewing, Jr., Papers

Thomas Ewing JrMicrofilm MS 569-MS 570



This microfilm contains the private and business correspondence and papers of Thomas Ewing, Jr.; the legal correspondence of the Leavenworth, Kan., law firms with which he was associated and an account book showing sale of lots in a Leavenworth addition in which Ewing had a financial interest, which are in the posssession of the Kansas State Historical Society.


Born in Lancaster, Ohio, on August 7, 1829, Thomas Ewing, Jr., was the fifth child of Thomas and Maria Wills (Boyle) Ewing. The elder Ewing had served in the United States senate from Ohio (1831-1837), as secretary of the treasury (1841), and as secretary of the interior (1849-1850). While his father was in this last post, Thomas, Jr., was appointed one of the private secretaries of Pres. Zachary Taylor. He spent a year in this position and two more as a claims clerk in Washington before he entered Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, from which he graduated in 1854.

Ewing then went to Cincinnati, where he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1855. He married Ellen Ewing Cox of Piqua, Ohio, on January 8, 1856, and shortly thereafter moved to Leavenworth, Kansas, where he became a partner in the law firm of Ewing, Denman & Co. Later with his brother Hugh and his brother-in-law William T. Sherman, he formed the firm of Sherman & Ewing. In 1859, when Daniel McCook became a partner, the name was changed to Sherman, Ewing & McCook.

When Kansas was admitted to the Union in 1861 Ewing became the state's first chief justice of the supreme court. A year and a half later he resigned to enter the Union army. He recruited the 11th Kansas infantry regiment and became its colonel. He was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers in March, 1863, and shortly thereafter was placed in command of the District of the Border, which was made up of Kansas and the western tier of Missouri counties. While holding this command he issued his famous Order No. 11, which cleared the Missouri border of a population that supported Confederate guerrilla activity.In March, 1864, he was made commander of the District of St. Louis and on November 21, was placed in command of the District of Rolla. This duty was short lived, however, and on December 9 Ewing was again made commander of the District of St. Louis which position he held until April, 1865. On March 13, 1865, he was breveted major general of volunteers for his services at Pilot Knob.

After his military service Ewing did not return to Kansas, but instead set up a law practice in Washington, D. C., where he resided until 1870. Returning then to Lancaster, Ohio, he became active in the Greenback wing of the Democrat party and served in the United States house of representatives from 1877 to 1881. After his retirement from congress he moved to New York City, where he practiced law the remainder of his life. He died on January 21, 1896, as a result of injuries received in a street car accident.

Scope and Content

The papers of Thomas Ewing, Jr., in the Kansas State Historical Society were given by his son, Thomas Ewing, III, over a period of years between 1909 and 1939. The collection consists of four letter press books, two document boxes of loose correspondence, and two account books. (One of these account books, dealing with sales of a lumber yard in Kickapoo, Kansas, was not filmed since there was no indication that it was connected with the career of Thomas Ewing, Jr.) For the purposes of this microfilm Ewing letters which form parts of other collections in the Society were incorporated into the Ewing film.

The collection is chiefly valuable because of its original materials dealing with the early business careers of both Ewing and General Sherman. In addition, the papers contain valuable information about the economic and political development of territorial Kansas. Letters from the partners to persons living in the East describe business opportunities, land values, and political, social and economic conditions in the new settlements. There is a little material concerning Ewing's Civil War activities, but this is scanty and not representative of his military career.

Following the war years, the collection concerns business interests of Thomas and Hugh Ewing, particularly respecting cotton investments. There is some correspondence about the sale of the Cherokee Neutral Lands and much about political affairs in Kansas and in the United States. There are few letters for the years after 1866. Among these, however, are some interesting letters to Edmund G. Ross about the impeachment of President Johnson.

The letter press books are, for the most part, chronological in arrangement though there is come overlapping of dates between volumes. The first two deal almost entirely with the law firms. The last two were the private letter books of Ewing. The loose correspondence, which follows the letter press books, is also arranged chronologically. A few of these pieces are typed copies which were supplied by Thomas Ewing, III, in 1909.

Undated material follows dated. Supplied dates have been placed in brackets in the upper right hand corner of the first page of undated letters. A question mark in the brackets denotes some dissatisfaction with accuracy of the supplied date.

Microfilm targets have been kept to a minimum and are used only when necessary to indicate enclosures, retakes, et cetera. Targets containing editorial information, except for the introduction which appears on both rolls, have not been included.

An index to addressees in the letter press books appears at the beginning of each roll. A calendar of letters in all four letter press books appears after the index on roll one but only that calendar relating to letter press book number four appears on the second roll.

Contents List

Microfilm List

MS 569
o Index to addressees in the letter press books.
o Calendar to all letter press books.
o Letter press book one (1857-1858).
o Letter press book two (1858-1859).
o Letter press book three (1859-1860)

MS 570
o Index to addressees in the letter press books.
o Calendar to letter press book four.
o Letter press book four (1860-1862).
o Unbound correspondence, 1856-1908, undated.
o Account book of lot purchasers in the Ewing, Roelofson & Co., addition to the city of Leavenworth, Kan.

Availability of the Microfilm

The microfilm of the Thomas Ewing, Jr. papers may be used in the Research Room of the Kansas State Historical Society, borrowed through interlibrary loan, or purchased.

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

Related Records and Collections

Related manuscript collections include:

The Papers of the Thomas Ewing Family, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.

Ewing Family Collection, University of Notre Dame Archives, Memorial Libray, Notre Dame, Indiana. A part of this collection is available on microfilm.


Additional Information for Researchers

Use of the Collection

These papers of Thomas Ewing, Jr., 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 right are not owned by the Society and therefore cannot be conveyed.

It is suggested that the following citation be made to this microfilm publication: "Thomas Ewing, Jr., Papers" (microfilm edition), manuscript division, Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka.