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Title Ely Samuel Parker's letter to his brother, Spencer H. Cone, discussing the death of their younger brother, plans for a social visit to the West, and Indian affairs
Archival Reference Mss.497.3.P223
Sub-collection Ely Samuel Parker Papers  
Author Parker, Ely Samuel (Hasanoanda) (1828-1895)  
Date 8 Jun 1846
Document Type Correspondence
Contents A letter from Washington to his brother in Enterprise, Mo., reporting on developments in the Tonawandas' struggle to keep their land, forceful removal attempts of the Ogden Company, concluding with a brief reference to the death of Solomon, their youngest brother who suffered from Dropsy, and to Ely's hope "to visit the West this summer and if I could get a profitable berth anywhere, I don't know but I would stay." There is also mention of Indians refusing to leave their farms having frozen to death in the previous winter.
Sub-collection Information The Ely Parker Papers provide outstanding documentation for one of the best known Seneca leaders of the 19th century. Rich in information on Seneca history, culture, and language and on Parker's varied activities in both the Indian and white worlds, the collection is a major resource for examining the land and political struggles of the Seneca nation during the 1840s and early 1850s. Comprised of a mix of personal and professional correspondence augmented by a smaller quantity of printed materials, notes, and manuscripts, the collection is arranged chronologically. It is richest for the period 1845-1860, with only a few letters pertaining to Parker's Civil War service, and even fewer for the post-war period.

From 1843 through 1848, the Parker Papers provide excellent documentation of the legal battles to resolve the Ogden Land Company's claims to Seneca lands and Seneca efforts to prevent white encroachment. Several letters in 1847 describe the misfortunes of those Senecas who agreed to migrate to the West. Although Parker remained deeply involved in Seneca legal and political affairs after 1848, he appears to have become increasingly consumed with his engineering duties.

Through his interest in Seneca history and culture, Parker accumulated a number of manuscripts of Asher Wright, the missionary at Tonawanda, a student of the Seneca language, and a long acquaintance of Parker's. These deal primarily with Seneca grammar, conjugations of verbs, vocabulary, and orthography, but also include translations of scripture, an address interlineated in English and Seneca on the mission boarding school, and most importantly, an 1840 census of the Senecas residing at Buffalo, organized in tabular form by clan. Most of Wright's monographs on the Seneca language are available in the Printed Materials Department. Parker's correspondence with his siblings Caroline, Nicholas, and Newton, provides insight into their education and their personal relationships, and includes a brief essay written by Caroline Parker in 1850 on the prophet Handsome Lake.

As an major consultant to Lewis Henry Morgan and a correspondent of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, Parker's correspondence includes a number of letters pertaining to Seneca culture and to the early culture of American ethnography. While his Civil War experiences are not particularly well documented, there are three letters and a map from Newton Parker, serving in the 132nd New York Infantry at New Bern, N.C., and half a dozen letters from Ely Parker, including two written during the Chattanooga Campaign.

Finally, the collection also contains a manuscript copy of a work said to be Seth Newhouse's Legend of Dekanawida, 1885.

Native American Images note : Eleven images, primarily of Ely Samuel Parker and his family members. Includes some early photographs, particularly an undated daguerreotype of Parker’s father, William. Also of note, a 1920 rotogravure of an 1864 reprint of General Ulysses S. Grant and his staff in camp. In oversize, 1844 printed map of the 12,800 acre tract in the Tonawanda (sic) Reservation.

A Sachem and Civil War adjutant to Ulysses Grant, Ely Samuel Parker was an important figure in the Seneca Indian nation during the first half of the nineteenth century. Trained as an engineer, Parker was deeply involved in the Senecas' land disputes with the Ogden Land Company and he played an important role in interpreting Seneca culture for a white audience, most notably as a consultant for Lewis Henry Morgan. Collected by Arthur C. Parker, the Ely Samuel Parker Papers include correspondence, manuscripts, and printed materials relating primarily to Seneca affairs, history, language, and culture, as well as politics, education, engineering, and the Civil War. Among Parker's correspondents were Henry Clay, Millard Fillmore, Henry M. Flagler, Lewis Henry Morgan, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, Daniel Webster, and Asher Wright. Several letters relate to Parker's service as engineer of public buildings in Galena, Illinois, and to his Masonic activities. Among the noteworthy items in the collection are several essays on Seneca history and culture, a fragment of Parker's diary, 1847, and a significant quantity of material on the Seneca language assembled by Asher Wright.
Region American East  
Subjects Alcohol  Education  Towns and Cities  Cherokee  Dropsy [Oedema]  Climate  Treaty  Crime  Dispossession  Settlers and Settlement  Indigenous Peoples  American Indians  Seneca People  Iroquois Indians [Haudenosaunee]  Land Transaction and Property  Children and Family  Death  Leisure, Entertainment and Social Life  Domestic Life and Living Conditions  Health and Medical  
Places Washington D.C.; New York; Tonawanda Reservation
People Parker, Ely Samuel (Hasanoanda) (1828-1895)  Cone, Spencer H.  Parker, Solomon (d. 1845)  Mason, John M.  
Themes Children & Family; Indigenous Peoples
Library American Philosophical Society  
Copyright American Philosophical Society