Charles T. Harvey Papers

 Collection
Identifier: GLMS-0017

Collection Overview

Abstract

The Charles Thompson Harvey Papers consist of the personal correspondence between Harvey and his wife, Sarah Van Eps Harvey spanning the years 1858 to 1872. Harvey was superintendent of construction and engineer for the St. Mary's Falls Ship Canal connecting Lake Superior and Lake Huron (1853-1855) and was responsible for the construction of an experimental section of the world's first elevated railroad (1868) located in New York City. The bulk of the correspondence deals with the 1858 to 1865 period. In addition to family matters, the letters often deal with Harvey's business activities, especially railroad projects, as well as national politics, and Harvey's inventions. The other major portion of the collection features the record books of Sarah Evangeline Harvey Johnson, the daughter of Charles and Sarah Harvey. These record books contain clippings, artwork, photographs, biographical information, letters, and other material highlighting the life and times of Evangeline and her family.

Dates

  • 1858-1872, n.d.
  • Majority of material found within 1858-1865

Extent

7 Reels (7 reels of 35mm microfilm)

Creator

Scope and Contents

The Charles Thompson Harvey Papers mainly consist of the personal correspondence between Harvey and his wife, Sarah Van Eps Harvey spanning the years 1858 to 1872. The bulk of the collection deals with the period 1858 to 1865, which followed the construction of the St. Mary's Falls Ship Canal, and was prior to the construction of the first elevated railroad in New York City. Between these two major achievements, Harvey served as general agent for the Northern Iron Company. He was responsible for building an iron furnace on the southern shore of Lake Superior near Marquette, which developed into the town of Harvey, Michigan. Also during this period, Harvey was involved with the construction of the first railroad to reach Lake Superior.

This collection provides information concerning family matters and Harvey's extensive business travels. Harvey often confided in Sarah about evolving business transactions, allowing some insight into his various enterprises.

Included in the correspondence between Harvey and his wife are miscellaneous items, including several poems, broadsides, photographs, and correspondence with immediate relatives and various business associates.

The other major portion of the collection features the record books of Sarah Evangeline Harvey Johnson, the daughter of Charles and Sarah Harvey. These record books contain clippings, artwork, photographs, biographical information, letters, and other material highlighting the life and times of Evangeline and her family.

Miscellaneous Correspondents

  1. Camp, Mary - friend of Sarah
  2. Corning, Mr. - business associate of Charles
  3. Crandall, W. I. - business associate of Charles
  4. Fairbanks, Franklin - heads Fairbanks Scales company
  5. Gau___(?), Isabella D. - friend of Sarah
  6. Harvey, Catherine - sister of Charles
  7. Harvey, Emily - sister of Charles
  8. Harvey, Joseph - father of Charles
  9. Jenkins, Flora - friend, bridesmaid for Sarah
  10. Kellogg, Anna - sister of Sarah
  11. Kellogg, Charles - brother-in-law of Sarah, Anna's husband
  12. Montgomery, I. V. - cousin of Sarah
  13. Stark, J. A. - business associate of Charles

Biographical Sketch

Charles Thompson Harvey was born in Westchester, Connecticut, on June 26, 1829, the son of Reverend Joseph Harvey and Catherine Desire Selden. After attending various academies near Thompsonville, Connecticut, he began his business career as a salesman for the Fairbanks Scales Company, becoming general agent as Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, in 1852. During his residency, he served as superintendent of construction and engineer for the St. Mary's Falls Ship Canal (1853-1855). During the 1855 and 1856 sessions of Congress, Harvey advocated federal support of railroads to Lake Superior, which ultimately secured ten million acres of public lands for that purpose. In 1858, he married Sarah Van Eps; they had seven children.

Harvey became general agent for the Northern Iron Company (1859), and was responsible for the construction of an iron fence on the southern shore of Lake Superior. The town of Harvey, Michigan, consequently developed this enterprise.

From 1863 to 1864, Harvey served as chief engineer in the construction of the Peninsula Railroad, which was the first railroad to reach Lake Superior, extending from the headwaters of Green Bay, Wisconsin, to Marquette, Michigan.

One of Harvey's major achievements was the construction of an experimental section of the world's first elevated railroad (1868), located in New York City. His rights to expand the project were suppressed by the "Tracy Clique," which acquired a majority of the stock and thus forced Harvey out of the enterprise. Subsequently, Harvey spent over twenty-five years appealing his case in an effort to gain compensation for this elevated railway scheme. Two bills (1891 and 1892) were passed by the New York legislature for compensation in this matter, and both were vetoed.

Harvey died in New York in 1912, at the age of eighty-three.

Biographical Notes

1828
Born in Westchester, Connecticut, and attended various schools near Thompsonville, Connecticut.
1838
Sarah Van Eps born in Vernon, New York
1848
Employed by Fairbanks Scales Company
1852
General Agent, Fairbanks Scales Company in Sault Ste. Marie
1853-1855
Superintendent of construction and engineer of the St. Mary's Falls Ship Canal
1855-1856
In Washington, advocated federal support of railroads in the Northwest
1857
Involved with Pioneer Iron Furnace, located in the iron mining hills on the southern shore of Lake Superior
1857-1858
Village of Harvey, Michigan, developed around the Northern Iron Furnace
1858
Married Sara Van Eps in Utica, New York; Van Eps Harvey is born
1859
General agent, Northern Iron Company; Patents coal kiln
1861-1862
Construction of the first wagon road extending from Marquette, Michigan, to Green Bay, Wisconsin
1862
Richard Sheldon Harvey is born; Construction of Peninsula Railroad, first railroad to reach Lake Superior
1863-1864
Business loss, consequence of Peninsula Railroad "scandal"
1864
Patents combination flue and chimney; Charles H. Harvey is born, but dies five months later
1866
Construction of branch railroad to Harvey, Michigan; Anna Emily Harvey is born
1867
Walter Underhill Harvey is born
1868
Completed experimental section of world's first elevated railroad, New York City. Sarah shared her husband's enterprise by becoming first female passenger
1869-1875
Rights to expand elevated railroad are suppressed, consequence of the "Tracy Clique"
1870
Sarah Evangeline Harvey is born
1874
Emily Lillian Harvey is born, but died about eight months later in 1875
1877
Walter Underhill Harvey died, age 9
1889
Member, Advisory Board of Engineers, Maritime Canal Company of Nicaragua
1891
"Harvey Bill" vetoed (legislation for compensation for services rendered for the elevated railroad)
1892
Second "Harvey Bill" vetoed
1895
Acting chief engineer, Sault Ste. Marie and Hudson's Bay Railroad Company
1897
Manager and chief engineer, Hudson's Bay and Yukon Railway and Navigation Company
1912
Died, age 83, New York
1916
Sara Van Eps died, age 78

Conditions Governing Access

No known access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers using this collection assume full responsibility for conforming to the laws of libel, privacy, and copyright, and are responsible for securing permissions necessary for publication or reproduction.

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged into the following series:

  1. Correspondence to Sarah Van Epps Harvey and Miscellaneous, 1858-1872
  2. Correspondence to Charles Thomas Harvey and Miscellaneous, 1858-1867
  3. Proceedings, 1866-1894
  4. Evangeline Harvey Johnson Record Books, 1870-1930

Existence and Location of Originals

The original record books of Evangeline Harvey Johnson are held by the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland, OH. The materials can be located utlilizing their library catalog.

Related Materials

For a more extensive biography of Charles T. Harvey, see the BGSU dissertation Tilting at Windmills: One Man's Search for the American Dream - a Biography of Charles Thompson Harvey by William Jeffrey Welsh.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection of correspondence, dating between 1858 and 1872 was loaned to the Center for Archival Collections in 1979 through the cooperative efforts of Dr. Richard Wright, Director, CAC, William Jeffrey Welsh, doctoral candidate, Bowling Green State University, and Harvey's grandchildren, Mr. William C. Johnson of Hiram, Ohio, and Ms. Charlotte Voorhis of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ms. Voorhis has consented to the microfilming of these letters for the purposes of scholarly research. The record books of Evangeline Harvey Johnson (in published form) were microfilmed by the Wisconsin Historical Society. The CAC purchased a copy of this film.

Processing Information

This collection was processed and the register completed by Rebecaa A. Harkema, Graduate Assistant, Department of History, Bowling Green State University.

Title
Guide to the Charles T. Harvey Papers
Author
Rebecca A. Harkema, Mark Sprang
Date
October 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English