Letters and memoranda written by Ludington family members to George Ludington, cashier of the Bank of Kent, Ludingtonville, New York.
Scope and Contents:
The Collection consists almost entirely of letters and business memoranda received by George Ludington. The major correspondents are his six brothers. Additional correspondents include other family members, friends and business associates. The documents are in varying states of physical preservation. A few fragments lack the originator's name or date.
The bulk of the correspondence is dated in the years 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 to dealings in commodities, primarily grain but also including cotton and lumber. 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 paying 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. A description of a disastrous railroad accident is included.
The collection is divided into three series.
Series 1: Family correspondence, 1848-1889
Series 2: Other correspondence, 1817-1889
Series 3: Certificates of Deposit, 1862-1863
Biographical / Historical:
George Ludington was a banker who lived in Ludingtonville, Putnam County, New York. Four of his brothers were in the lumber manufacture and merchandising and other businesses in the Midwest. Another brother was in the import/export trade in New York City.
James Ludington was a lumber dealer of Milwaukee and occasionally Bloomington, (Indiana?). Most of his letters deal with financial relations with George Ludington and his bank. The amounts mentioned were large for those times, and James seemed to be equal in status to George, frequently offering advice on business matters. He was clearly in debt to George over the period covered by the correspondence, 1856-1864.
Nelson Ludington was a lumber manufacturer and dealer in Chicago, also in a debtor relationship to George Ludington. His letters expressed strong criticism of the conduct of Civil War operations.
Charles H. Ludington was a senior partner in Lathrop, Ludington and Company, an import/export firm in New York City.
Harrison Ludington was a senior partner of H. Ludington & Co., lumber merchants of Milwaukee and later mayor of that city (1872-1876) and governor of Wisconsin (1876-1878).
Sims Ludington, apparently the youngest brother of George, was a lumber merchant in Winona, Minnesota. He served in the Union Army and was seriously wounded in 1863.
Sam Ludington, based on a single letter in 1856, was apparently poorly educated with uncertain employment.
Other family members represented in the correspondence were B.L. Ludington (relationship uncertain), employed in the U.S. Appraisers Office, New York City, and a cousin, Henry B. Camby, New York City. One brief note indicates he may have been in the apparel business.
Non-family correspondents include the following:
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. His letters, often lengthy and spanning 1857-1864, are mostly concerned with financial transactions and general business conditions in Minnesota but are written in a friendly style with many personal references.
Edwin Caldwell, a senior partner of the Savings Bank of Caldwell, Whitney and Co., St. Paul, Minnesota. His letters, written between 1857 and 1859, are primarily business-related, and are concerned with loan transactions for George Ludington's bank. However, there are numerous personal comments, reflecting a somewhat adversarial relationship with Ludington.
Materials at Other Organizations
The State Historical Society of Wisconsin's holdings include the papers of Harrison Ludington, one of the Luddington brother's and a correspondent in this collection.
The collection was purchased from Augusta Warshaw, widow of Isadore Warshaw, in 1971.
Collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
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