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Gilbert S. Boardman Letters

 File — Folder: 1 of 1
Identifier: RH-A-4353

Scope and Contents

The collection contains two letters written in April 1859 by Gilbert S. Boardman living in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to his parents Samuel and Ann Gilbert Boardman who are living in Vermont.

Both letters were written by Gilbert Simeon Boardman while living in Kalamazoo, Michigan to his parents Samuel and Ann Gilbert Boardman who are living in Pittsfield, Vermont. He discusses the trip in the April 4th letter describing leaving Schenectady, New York and riding all the way to Detroit. He left for Kalamazoo on a Friday morning and got there by late in the afternoon. He talks about the impact of the trip and does say that he does not think he would settle in the area. He also comments that there is very little fever and ague.

The second letter, dated April 14, goes into a little more detail about the area and some of the residents. He is boarding with Dr. John Cadman (1803-1866) who lives at the corner of West and Academy. He also mentions the “Rev. Dr. Stone” [Dr. James A.B. Stone (1810-1888)], Dr. Jonathan Adams Allen (1825-1890) and Nathaniel Balch (1808-1894). He also repeats the statement that neither fever or ague seem to be a problem in the community. In addition, he comments that things in the village appear to be “far more like N.E. (New England) than they do in Pennsylvania…” and almost all of the residents are from New England or Eastern New York. He also mentions the weather, the trees and the plank walks.


  • Creation: April 1859


Biographical / Historical

Born in Pittsfield, Vermont, Gilbert Simeon Boardman (1833-1917) was the son of Samuel Ward Boardman, a minister, and Ann Gilbert Boardman and had three older brothers. He received his education at the Castleton Seminary in Vermont and graduated from Middlebury College, also in Vermont in 1855. He later entered the Albany Law School. Before coming to Kalamazoo, he lived for three years from 1855 to 1857 in Turtle Creek, Alleghany County, Pennsylvania.

It is not known how long he lived in Kalamazoo or why he came to the area. He does mention in the second letter that many of the lawyers in the village received their education at Middlebury College. He does mention in the first letter that he doesn’t think he would settle in Kalamazoo but there is a notice in the March 8, 1861 Kalamazoo Gazette that a letter is waiting for him at the post office. He could have left the area by then. By 1863 he is back at Middlebury where he registered for the draft. By 1870 he is living in Milford, Delaware and two years later is ordained a minister in the Presbyterian Church. It is around that time that he changes the order of his name and becomes Simeon G. Boardman. He also is known as S. Gilbert Boardman. He marries Helen V. Caton (1840-1931) in 1875. For the next forty-five years the couple lived in Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania. They had no children and are buried in Hartsville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania alongside Helen’s brother Lewis Caton and his wife Elizabeth Irwin Caton.


.05 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

These letters were purchased with funds from the Starring Endowment.

Physical Description

The collection amounts to .05 cubic feet and is composed of two handwritten letters written by Gilbert Simeon Boardman (1833-1917) who traveled to Kalamazoo in April of 1859. Both letters measure 5”x8” folded and 10”x8” unfolded. They are written on off-white paper with a small embossment in the top left corner with the name “Parsons Paper of Holyoke,” a firm that began in 1853. The print is in India ink with the location and date in the upper right-hand corner. The letter dated April 4, 1859, has writing on three of the four pages; the second dated April 14, 1859 has writing on all four pages with additional notations along the front fold dated April 17 and at the top of the first page dated April 22. The writing is very legible although on the second letter the writing gets smaller towards the bottom of the page. The letters are in good shape with some wear and yellowing along the main crease. Additionally, there are some rust color spots on one of the pages on the April 4th letter.

Gilbert S. Boardman Letters finding aid
Stephanie Chapman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

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