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Nathaniel Bacon Diary

Identifier: RH-A-3767

Scope and Contents

In the diary, Judge Bacon discusses various court cases and the mode of travel he uses to get to each of the cases. He discusses traveling with the Union Army and going to different forts during the Civil War. He also reviews the daily weather, and takes accounting notes for his farm. The writing for each date is between two and three statements, which are often written in fragments. The diary is helpful to see the different cases and duties of a Circuit Judge and to track different forts and battles that occurred during 1861. It is limited to the emotions of Judge Bacon and does not convey why he traveled with the Union Army.

The diary begins with content about his traveling to different towns and counties for various court cases. He mentions comments and arguments passengers were discussing during his travels to and from court cases. Bacon notes the letters he has received during the year, and also takes notes on the amount of sales that were made on his farm. Later in the diary, he documents having dinner with the 8th regiment of the Michigan Calvary as well as travelling to different states and visiting various forts during the Civil War. He discusses participating in the National Fasting Day of Humiliation, established by President Lincoln. The diary ends with his return to Niles, Michigan, and he records his accounts of the farms and distinct holidays.


  • Creation: 1861


Biographical / Historical

Nathaniel Bacon (July 14, 1802 – September 9, 1869) was born in Saratoga County, New York and was raised on a farm. He graduated from Union College in 1824. After graduating he began studying law in the office of Judge Sampson, of Rochester, New York. In 1833, he moved to Niles, Michigan and settled on a farm. He was the Prosecuting Attorney for many years. In 1855, he was elected Judge of the Second Judicial Circuit and he worked with other Circuit Judges as the Supreme Court, as it was the law at this time. He was reelected Circuit Judge every six years until the end of his life. Judge Bacon lived in Niles, Michigan until his death on September 9, 1869. His second wife, Caroline S. Lord Bacon, and children outlived him. He is buried in Silver Brook Cemetery in Niles, Michigan.


1 Volumes ; 6 x 4 inches

Language of Materials


Physical Description

The diary is 6 x 4 inches and is bound together. It contains lined paper with the dates and days of the week printed on it. The diary is over 150 years old and is fragile. The cover of the diary is worn, and the pages inside are yellow and beginning to deteriorate and break apart, if not handled with proper care. The hand writing is of an average size and is manageable to read. Overall, the diary should be handled with extreme care and caution.


This diary belonged to Nathaniel Bacon, who was a Circuit Court Judge, in the year 1861. The written entries date from 1 January to 31 December. The diary focuses on court cases in Berrien, Cass, Branch, and Saint Joseph counties, Civil War events that occurred during 1861, farming, and the weather.


This diary was purchased through the Starring Endowment.

Nathaniel Bacon Diary Finding Aid
Chelsea B. Rowley
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Western Michigan University Archives & Regional History Collections Repository

Charles C. and Lynn L. Zhang Legacy Collections Center
1650 Oakland Drive
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5307 US
(269) 387-8490