(Eddy Family Letters)
Archive of Correspondence, Photographs and Related Ephemeral Material pertaining to the Eddy Family of New York and Iowa, dated 1870-1959

Collection of 207 letters, totaling 716 pages, (101 retained mailing envelopes), with over 100 related ephemeral items, and family photographs, dated between 1870-1959.

This correspondence is centered on the family of Sarah Ann (Culver) Eddy and her children. There are multiple letters written between the children and their mother, and letters from the next generation of the family. The collection also includes a number of letters written to Sarah Ann Culver from her siblings. The Culver and Eddy families were pioneer families in Orleans County, New York. The families began to move west, over a period of time, seeking to better their fortunes in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan and Minnesota. The correspondence reflects the efforts of the widely separated family to keep in touch with each other and share news about their new homes, and the local conditions in their respective settlements.


One interesting family member, featured in this correspondence, is Mary E. Culver (Sarah Anne Culver Eddy’s niece).  Mary was an educated woman, went to Peoria, Illinois, where she set up a real estate business, which also dealt in insurance and mortgages. Mary never married, and had the same female roommate for over forty years in Peoria. Mary, unfortunately, took on a male business partner, this partner proceeded to over extend the business and bankrupted Mary’s company.


The collection can be divided into the following sections:


1. 24 letters, 100 pages, written to Sara Ann (Culver) Eddy, dated 1870-1901. These letters were written by her family, including her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and her siblings. Two of her siblings went west, to Iowa and Minnesota. There is one letter from Mary E. Culver, of Peoria, Illinois.


2. 31 letters, 117 pages, written to, or by, Helen M. Eddy, Sarah Ann (Culver) Eddy’s daughter, dated 1874-1902, mainly from the 1890s. The majority of them are incoming letters to Helen, but she wrote several, as well. This section includes three letters written by Mary E. Culver, of Peoria, Illinois.


3. 24 letters, 66 pages, dated 1874-1900, written to Eunice C. Rice and family. Eunice was Sarah Ann Eddy’s daughter. The bulk of the letters date between1890-1900. This section includes two letters written by Mary E. Culver.


 4. 62 letters, 193 pages, dated 1898-1949, written to the family of James G. Brown. James G. Brown married Elsie Rice, the daughter of Eunice C. Rice. There are 28 letters in this section dated from the period of 1929-1936, when the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. There are a number of letters between James G. Brown and Elbert Gass and C. N. Williams, of Selman, Oklahoma, regarding property that Brown owned in Oklahoma and was renting to farmers.

5. 31 letters, 125 pages, written mainly to Mrs. E. L. Watson, of Searsboro, Iowa and her daughters Hazel (Watson) Tisch, of Montezuma, Iowa, and Blanche Watson, of Cedar Falls, Iowa, and Washington, D. C., dated 1904-1920. Blanche Watson went off to college in 1915 at Cedar Falls, Iowa. The school was then known as the Iowa Teachers College, previously the State Normal School, today’s University of North Iowa. She wrote 7 letters, 44 pages, from college to her family describing college life and events. Blanche also wrote after she moved to Washington, D.C., to work for the U.S. Treasury Department.

6. 35 miscellaneous letters, 115 pages, written by various individuals and sent to various members of the Eddy family, dated 1873-1923.


7. Over 100 miscellaneous paper ephemeral items and photographs. The ephemeral materials include postcards, deeds, receipts and other related items.

Mary E Culver was born in 1847 in New York.  Mary E. Culver first worked as a bookkeeper in Peoria, Illinois, per the 1880 Census. Mary was listed as being in the real estate business in the 1890 Peoria city directory. On August 16, 1889, Mary E. Culver entered into a partnership with W. C. Edwards and two others in the real-estate business, the firm was named the Peoria Real Estate, Loan and Insurance Exchange, but after about six months Culver and Edwards bought out the interest of the others, and changed the name to “Culver and Edwards.” The business was a successful one. Culver was listed as a “real estate sales lady” on the 1900 Census. She was listed in the 1910 Census as being in real estate and working as a teacher. She eventually took up teaching full time by 1920 after working in real estate for nearly 30 years and as a bookkeeper for over a dozen years before that.

Mary was the long time “boarder”, over forty years, of Hester Crawley, in Peoria, Illinois. Hester, a teacher, and later a school principal, never married, neither did Mary. The two women had been living together since at least the 1880 Census and were still together when the 1920 Census was taken. Mary describes her bankruptcy in one letter, blaming it on her male business partner who wanted to “get rich quick.”