George Ludington was cashier of the Bank of Kent, Ludingtonville, New York. His brothers originated most of the correspondence. Another Ludington (relationship uncertain) wrote a few letters, and one letter is from a "cousin" of George.
The brothers were, in order of volume of correspondence: (1) James, a lumber dealer of Milwaukee, (2) Nelson, a lumber manufacturer and dealer in Chicago, (3) Charles H., a senior partner in Lathrop, Ludington & Company, an import/export firm in New York City, (4) Harrison, senior partner of H. Ludington & Co., lumber merchants, (5) Sims, lumber merchant and volunteer soldier in the Union Army, (6) Sam, employment uncertain. Other family members represented in the correspondence are: B. L. Ludington, relationship uncertain, employed in U.S. Appraisers Office, New York City, and Henry B. Camby, a cousin in New York City.
Other correspondence from non-family members came mainly from (1) Orlando B. Turrell, an employee of Caldwell and Co., a bank in St. Paul, Minnesota and later the cashier of the Marine Bank of that city, and (2) Edwin Caldwell, a senior partner of the Savings Bank of Caldwell, Whitney and Co., St. Paul, Minnesota.
Almost entirely letters and business memoranda received by Ludington, a banker who resided in Ludingtonville, Putnam County, New York, north of New York City. The major correspondents were his six brothers. Four brothers were engaged in lumber manufacture and merchandising and other businesses in the Midwest, and another was in the import/export trade in New York City. Additional correspondence with other family members, friends, and business associates.
The bulk of the correspondence is dated just prior to and during the Civil War. The primary subject matter is business dealings, mainly financial transactions involving extension of loans by George Ludington, their servicing and repayment. Some correspondence relates to merchandise purchases and dealings in commodities. There are numerous references to local "currencies" (the notes of banks, often of uncertain security) and to the credit-worthiness of individuals.
The letters often refer to matters of personal and family interest and include revealing comments on military aspects of the Civil War (particularly the draft and the then legal practice of buying substitutes for military duty). One Ludington brother served in the Union Army and was seriously wounded. There are references to difficulties with Indian tribes in Illinois and Minnesota.
George W. Ludington Collection, 1817-1889, Archives Center, National Museum of American History