Archives Directory for the History of Collecting in America

Archives related to: Colton, David Douty, 1832-1878

titleCollis Potter Huntington Papers, 1797-1904.
repositorySyracuse University Libraries
descriptionThe Collis P. Huntington Papers have been arranged into four series: Incoming correspondence (1856-1904), Letterpress copy books (1868-1901), Legal and financial records (1797-1901), and Personal papers (1862-1901). Each of these series is described in detail below.

By far the most important and most voluminous parts of this collection consists of Huntington's business and personal correspondence, contained in Series I and II -- some 129,000 pages of incoming correspondence, 1856-1904, and some 112,000 pages of letterpress copy books (259 volumes) of outgoing correspondence, 1868-1901. The correspondents are primarily railroad financiers, officials and administrators, congressmen, lobbyists, industrialists, bankers, lawyers and engineers. A summary of the contents of the correspondence by decade is given below, and a selected index to correspondents is also available.

The highlight of the correspondence comprises the letters of Huntington and those of his five main associates, David D. Colton, Charles Crocker, Edwin B. Crocker, Mark Hopkins, and Leland Stanford. The correspondence of these six men opens in 1868 and continues to the years of their deaths. Their letters deal with both business and personal matters including construction, maintenance and operation of their railroads, and their problems in public relations and legislative restrictions. Important correspondents include the following:

Anderson, James
Anthony, Susan B.
Armstrong, Samuel Chapman
Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad
Atlantic & Pacific Telegraph Co.
Axtel, Samuel B.
Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Co.
Barney & Smith Manufacturing Co.
Bierstadt, Albert
Blaine, James G.
Bloss, John B.
Boyd, John
California Pacific Railroad
Carnegie, Andrew
Central Land Company of West Virginia
Central Pacific Railroad Co.
Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Co.
Colton, David D.
Conkling, Roscoe
Conness, John
Crocker, Charles
Crocker, Charles Frederick
Crocker, Edwin B.
Dillon, Sidney
Echols, John
Elizabethtown, Lexington & Big Sandy Railroad
Emmons, D. W.
Field, Cyrus W.
Fisk & Hatch
Gates, Isaac E.
Gorham, George C. Grant, Ulysses S.
Gray, George E.
Hampton Normal & Agricultural Institute
Hopkins, Mark
Huntington, Henry E.
Ingalls, Melville E.
Judah, Anna
Kentucky Central Railroad Co.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Miller, E. H., Jr.
Mills, William H.
Newport News & Mississippi Valley Co.
Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co.
New York Central & Hudson River Railroad Co.
Occidental & Oriental Steamship Co.
Old Dominion Land Co.
Old Dominion Steamship Co.
Pacific Improvement Co.
Pacific Mail Steamship Co.
Pennsylvania Railroad Co.
Pullman, George M.
Sargent, Aaron A.
Seligman, J.& W., Co.
Smithsonian Institution
Southern Development Co.
Southern Pacific Co.
Southern Pacific Railroad Co. of California
Speyer & Co.
Stanford, Leland
Towne, Alban N.
Tweed, Charles H.
Union Pacific Railroad Co.
Vanderbilt, Cornelius
Washington, Booker T.
Wells, Fargo & Co.
Westinghouse, George, Jr.
Incoming correspondence, 1856-1904 (microfilm reels 1 - 54), is arranged chronologically by year, month, and day, with undated items placed at the end of the month, year, or at the end of all the correspondence. Enclosures were microfilmed following their letter of transmittal. Included with the incoming correspondence are postcards, telegrams and cablegrams, telegraph tapes, memoranda, abstracts of letters, printed notices in letter form, and letters forwarded to Huntington by members of his staff.

Although the incoming correspondence begins in 1856, the bulk of the correspondence starts in 1867 and 1868. Incoming letters are addressed primarily to Huntington, with others addressed to Isaac Edwin Gates, his brother-in-law and private secretary, or to members of his New York office staff.

Over the years, Huntington's correspondence indicates the use of several cipher systems. Although the cipher code books are not available in this microfilm edition, there are many letters with word keys to Substitution codes. Cipher telegrams are generally accompanied by a translation.

Aside from the incoming correspondence, other locations in the collection contain correspondence. Correspondence relating to particular pieces of real estate and court cases was filed with these records in Series III. Series IV, Personal Papers, includes an autobiographical letter written by Huntington in 1899. This series also contains four printed volumes (90A-D) of Huntington's correspondence with his business associates.

Letterpress Copy Books, 1868-1901 (microfilm reels 1 - 35) contain copies of outgoing correspondence, 1868-1901. Nearly every volume has an alphabetical index arranged by last name or business name of the addressee. Each index was microfilmed at the beginning of each volume. The volumes are arranged into 34 groups (i.e., company or individual name) and then chronologically within each group. Only in a very few instances is this chronological order disrupted by a missing volume.

The 34 groups of letterpress copy books vary in size. Five of these groups concern the almost day-to-day accounts of the building of the Central Pacific Railroad: Central Pacific Railroad Company, Vols. 1 - 19; Central Pacific Railroad Company (Collis P. Huntington to Charles Crocker, Charles F. Crocker, Mark Hopkins, Leland Stanford, et. al.), Vols. 20 - 36; Central Pacific Railroad Company (Isaac E. Gates), Vols. 45 - 110; Contracting and Building Company, Vols 141 - 149; and telegrams, Vols. 257 - 259.

Other significant groups of letterpress copy books relate to the Chesapeake Dry Dock and Construction Company, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, the Southern Pacific Company, and the Elizabethtown, Lexington and Big Sandy Railroad Company. A complete citation for each volume can be found in the Complete Reel List (available in hard copy only, please contact the repository listed above for more information).

Legal and Financial Records, 1797-1901 (microfilm reels 1 - 23) includes material previously from the years 1863-1901. This series is divided into two sections, namely, Corporate, 1869-1900, and Personal, 1797-1901.

Corporate records, 1869-1900, include financial and business records for 34 companies in which Huntington had an interest. The files in this small section are arranged alphabetically by company name. The Complete Reel List (available in hard copy only, please contact the repository listed above for more information) lists each company. The types of records in this section include stock certificates, memoranda, articles of agreement, comparative statements of rates among railroads, bonds, court records, option agreements, mortgages, indentures, inventories, and numerous addition types of financial records.

Personal records, 1797-1901, are subdivided into Account Books, Civil Suits, Personal Bills, Real Estate, Miscellaneous.

Account books: begins with 19 volumes (35-53) of Huntington's personal financial records including cash books, 1875-1890; day books, 1871-1876; journals, 1886-1898; and ledgers, 1890-1893. Related to these volumes are 4 investment ledgers, 1876-1902 (63-66), and 5 record books of loans payable and receivable, 1867-1900 (67-71).

Civil suits: An important category in this section is court case records of civil suits, 1879-1897 (54-62), which directly or indirectly relate to Huntington. These records include printed court records, depositions, holograph notes by defense lawyers, correspondence, and supporting materials which include account books, statements of account, deposit tags, check books, and lists. The individual case records are arranged alphabetically by case name. Where volume required, materials relating to a case were arranged by type of record.

Two court cases require special mention. The largest group of records relate to the 1883 civil suit brought by Ellen M. Colton (Mrs. David D.) against Leland Stanford et. al (56). Mrs. Colton believed that the Central Pacific Railroad Company had swindled her out of company securities owned by her late husband. The case, which lasted 2 years, resulted in 24 printed volumes of court testimony, as well as a quantity of material prepared by the defense lawyers and a quantity of David D. Colton's personal financial records. The other important case represented is Edward J. Muybridge v. Leland Stanford, 1883 (59A-59D). In 1872 Muybridge was commissioned by Stanford to photograph a horse at full gallop in order to determine if at any point all four feet were off the ground. The film indicated there was such a point. Subsequently Stanford published some of these photographs and attempted to secure a patent on the design of the photographic apparatus used by Muybridge. Muybridge sued on the grounds that credit had not been given for his published photographs and that since he designed the apparatus, Stanford was not entitled to a patent. It is unclear why these court case records appear in Huntington's papers.

Personal bills: Huntington's personal bills and receipts, 1863-1900 (72), are arranged into loose bills, 1863-1895, which are arranged chronologically by year and month; and three volumes of chronologically arranged mounted bills, 1892-1900. These bills are primarily for personal and household expenses. Included are bills Huntington received in furnishing his various residences.

Real estate: Huntington's real estate records, 1797-1901 (73-124), consist of correspondence, bills, receipts, indentures, contracts, bills of sale, mortgages, deeds, vouchers, maps, blueprints, and two volumes (123-124) of property accounts. Bills dealing with real estate may also be found among personal bills. The real estate records are arranged alphabetically by locale: by state, City and street address, in that order. Among New York City property ' it is important to note that arrangement is alphabetical by the spelling of numbered street names.

Of particular interest are the records dealing with the purchase and furnishing of the Nob Hill home of David D: Colton (74), as well as documents relating to the design, construction, decoration, furnishing, and maintenance of Huntington's palatial residence at 2 West Fifty-Seventh Street in New York City (100). The collection also contains materials regarding the remodeling of Huntington's country home at Throgg's Neck (112). There are materials dealing with the design and construction of a chapel in memory of Huntington's mother in Harwinton, Connecticut (79), and records of construction and operating expenses for a public library and reading room maintained by Huntington in Westchester, New York (113).

Miscellaneous: This material includes statements of account, 1869-1900 (125-126), miscellaneous financial records, 1872-1898 (127), and a copy of Huntington's will, 1897 (128).

The statements of accounts include the following records. Huntington's accounts with Huntington-Hopkins, Central Pacific Railroad Company, Southern Pacific, and Pacific Improvement Company. Comparative statements of accounts of Leland Stanford, Huntington, estate of Mark Hopkins, Mrs. M.F. Searles, Charles Crocker, and Stillman & Hubbard with the Pacific Improvement, Southern Development, and Southern Pacific companies. Statements of cash receipts and disbursements for the accounts of Huntington, Leland Stanford, Mrs. M.F. Searles, and Charles Crocker. Individual statements of account of Mrs. M.F. Searles with the Pacific Improvement Company, Leland Stanford with the Pacific Improvement Company, and Arabella D. Huntington with the Southern Pacific Company.

There are, in addition, a list of loans to C.P. Huntington an Wells, Fargo & Company Express stock; a list of properties in which Stanford, Huntington and Charles Crocker had interests; a comparative statement of the assets of the estate of Mark Hopkins, December 31, 1878, and of Mrs. M.F. Searles, December 31, 1887; a readjustment of notes of Stanford, Huntington, Charles Crocker, and Mrs. Searles with the Pacific Improvement Company; and a statement of account between Stanford and Huntington arising from Stanford's subscription to the Contracting & Building Company and his interest in the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Syndicate.

Personal Papers, 1862-1901 (microfilm reels 1 - 3) are arranged into the following sections: biographical material, material relating to Collis P. Huntington's business and philanthropic interests, miscellaneous, memorabilia, and printed matter. Each section will be described in detail.

Biographical material, 1862-1899 (1-4), includes a lang autobiographical letter written to James Speyer, December 6, 1899; autobiographical notes by Huntington edited by Charles Nordhoff; genealogical material collected by the Rev. E.B. Huntington; and Huntington's personal memorandum book, 1862-1868.

Material relating to Collis P. Huntington's business and philanthropic interests, 1865-1900 (5-54), are arranged alphabetically by company name and include minutes, reports to stockholders and boards of directors, prospectuses, lists, printed circulars, reports, resolutions, proposals, maps, and blue prints. There is no more than one folder of material for each company. There are some important business records in this section that relate to Huntington's broad business interests.

Miscellaneous records, 1885-1898 (55-60), include railroad reports, reports an possible financial ventures, and stock exchange statements.

Memorabilia, 1875-1934 (61-82), includes newspaper clippings, 1879-1934; photographs of Huntington; specifications for Huntington's private railroad cars and his steam yacht; and an index to transportation articles and references in the New York Tribune, 1875-1902. A complete list of all entries is provided in the Complete Reel List (available in hard copy only, please contact the repository listed above for more information).

Printed matter, 1873-1899 (83-96), includes primarily pamphlets relating to Huntington's railroad interests. The pamphlets are arranged alphabetically by title. The Complete Reel List (available in hard copy only, please contact the repository listed above for more information) provides a full bibliographic entry for each printed item.

Of particular importance are four volumes of printed correspondence published between 1891 and 1894 in a very limited edition. These four volumes contain edited versions of letters, 1867-1879, exchanged between Huntington and his associates, David D. Colton, Charles Crocker, Charles F. Crocker, Edwin B. Crocker, and Leland Stanford. In many instances these printed letters can be compared to the originals in Series I & II, which sometimes carry pencil notations such as "Don't Print". These letters are not indexed.

Biographical History
Collis P. Huntington was born on October 22, 1821, in Harwinton, Connecticut, the sixth of nine children of Elizabeth and William Huntington. After a brief and perfunctory education, he was apprenticed at age fourteen to a neighboring farmer and the following year to a local grocer. Between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one, he was an itinerant note collector in the South.

In 1842, Huntington purchased a partnership in his brother's hardware store in Oneonta, New York. It was here that he married Elizabeth Stoddard in 1844. In 1849, he went to California by way of Panama with a group of Oneontans. He entered the hardware business in Sacramento, and by 1855 was joined by Mark Hopkins in the hardware firm of Huntington & Hopkins, one of the largest of its kind on the West Coast. This partnership lasted until 1867.

With Mark Hopkins, Charles Crocker, a dealer in dry goods, and Leland Stanford, a grocer, Huntington was one of the founders of California's Republican Party. He worked for the admission of California as a free state in 1850, and later supported Abraham Lincoln for president.

A Railroad Tycoon
Huntington's railroad career began in 1861 when he, Mark Hopkins, Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker and others formed the Central Pacific Railroad Company. In 1862 the company received a loan from the Federal government to build the western end of the first transcontinental railroad. A further incentive was provided in 1864 when Congress promised to give the company 12,800 acres of adjoining Federal lands for each mile of track laid; the Central Pacific received some 9,497,600 acres. Finally in May, 1869, the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific connected in Utah and the first transcontinental railroad was completed.

In December, 1862, Huntington moved to New York City to serve as financier, purchasing agent, legal adviser, and Washington lobbyist for the Central Pacific. As soon as the transcontinental line was completed, Huntington began to purchase twenty-three separate railroad companies in California. Although he thought of selling his Central Pacific stock in 1871, he was already far too involved in building and acquiring transportation systems to quit the field. The financial panic of 1873 put him under great financial strain, but neither he nor the Central Pacific defaulted on their loans.

In the late 1870's Huntington was instrumental in financing and building the Southern Pacific system. Completed in 1883, the Southern Pacific ran from California to New Orleans. Eventually the Central Pacific and Southern Pacific systems were consolidated into one transcontinental railroad company with 9,000 miles of tracks and 16,000 miles of water transportation systems. Huntington succeeded Leland Stanford as president of the Southern Pacific Company in 1890. In 1892, Henry E. Huntington, Collis' nephew, became vice-president of the company and increasingly carried on his uncle's business enterprises.

During the building of the Southern Pacific, Huntington also served as president and director of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Company. When this company was sold at a foreclosure sale in 1878, Huntington purchased the road and continued to manage it until 1888 when he sold his shares and the company was reorganized. The eastern terminus of the Chesapeake & Ohio was Newport News, Virginia, where Huntington later established the Chesapeake Dry Dock & Construction Company. The western terminus of the road was Huntington, West Virginia. Both of these cities, built under the supervision of Huntington, were built on property owned by land companies controlled by Huntington.

A Baron of Finance and Political Lobbying
Huntington's financial interests in railroads, steamship companies, land companies, as well as many manufacturing and construction companies, made him an extremely powerful financial figure. His influence an Congress was considerable. As such, during his thirty-nine years as a railroad financier and builder, Huntington faced opposition from both Congress and the press. In 1887, for instance, the Interstate Commerce Commission outlawed rebates, while the United States Pacific Railway Commission was investigating to determine whether Leland Stanford and Huntington had used bribery with Congressmen to obtain favorable railroad legislation. These charges were never proved. Huntington was such an adroit lobbyist that he could obtain preferential legislation at the same time as he was being investigated by Congress.

Philanthropic Activities
Philanthropy is an aspect of Huntington's life which is little known. He established the Huntington Industrial Works at Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, of which he was a trustee. He financially aided Booker T. Washington's Tuskegee Institute. Huntington was an avid book collector and connoisseur of fine art. His art collection was given to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His fortune went into the founding of such institutions as the Henry E. Huntington Library, the Hispanic Society of America, and the Mariners' Museum.

Family History
In September, 1844, Huntington married Elizabeth Stoddard. Having no children of their own, they adopted Mrs. Huntington's niece, Clara Prentice, later the Princess Clara von Hatzveldt. Elizabeth Huntington died in 1883 and in 1884 Huntington married Mrs. Arabella Duval Yarrington Worsham and adopted her son, Archer Milton. Collis P. Huntington died suddenly on August 13, 1900, at the age of seventy-nine. Arabella Huntington later married her late husband's nephew, Henry E. Huntington, and died in New York on September 16, 1924.
extent120 linear ft.
formatsFinancial Papers Correspondence Clippings Photographs Legal Papers
accessParts of this collection are restricted. Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.
record link
record source
finding aidIn repository and partial guide online.
acquisition informationGift of Anna Hyatt Huntington.
updated03/16/2023 10:29:47

titleDavid Douty Colton papers.
repositoryUniversity of California, Berkeley
descriptionBiographical sketch (with copies of his will and of portions of evidence submitted in Mrs. Colton's suit against Leland Stanford et als.) A letter of condolence, Oct. 29, 1878, from A.L. Converse (brother of the miner, Converse, killed by an Indian at the Klamath River, 1851, whose death Colton had avenged) is included.
Also available on microfilm.

extentOriginals: 2 folders in portfolio. Copies : partial microfilm reel (41 exposures): negative (Rich. 97:11) and positive.
formatsMicrofilm Correspondence
accessContact repository for restrictions and policies.
record source
acquisition informationForms part of the Hubert Howe Bancroft Collection.
updated11/12/2014 11:29:55

titleViews of San Francisco mansions and streets, ca. 1875-ca. 1889 (issued)
repositoryUniversity of California, Berkeley
descriptionExterior views of San Francisco residences of Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins, Charles Crocker and David D. Colton. One photo of Powell street with the Baldwin Hotel visible in the distance is also included.

UC Berkeley

Call Number
Bancroft BANC PIC 1905.02164-.02168--PIC
extent5 mounted photographic prints : albumen ; 14 x 22 cm.
accessContact repository for restrictions and policies.
record source
updated11/12/2014 11:30:06