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William Wirt Henry family papers, 1846-1915.
Henry, William Wirt, 1831-1915.
Library Call Number Copy Material Location
Vermont Historical Society Library  Doc 527  Manuscript  Vault-Manuscript 

Personal Author : Henry, William Wirt, 1831-1915.
Title : William Wirt Henry family papers, 1846-1915.
Physical Description : 2 linear ft.
General Note : Continued in Doc 528, MS Size B, C, & D.
Summary :

The collection is organized in five series: I. Early Life; II. The Civil War; III. Post-Civil War; IV. Fish and Game; V. Henry family. The focus of the collection is on Henry's Civil War experiences as communicated back and forth with his wife Mary Jane. The collection also includes some letters from California before that war. Towards the end of his life William spent much time at the St. Bernard Fish and Game Club, a fish and game club located in the Laurentian Mountains in Quebec, Canada, and that is represented here, especially in pictures. There is little on the drug business, except for some letters home when he was on the road selling, and nothing on his consular service, except a few pictures. The collection also includes a good variety of correspondence from other members of the family, and their children, and an extensive collection of family pictures.

The earliest letters in the collection deal with William W. Henry's life in California, starting in 1851, and the problems of staking out claims, trying to work the claims when there is a shortage of water, shifting into running a store and boarding house until the diggings can be reopened. Some of the correspondence is from William home, some from friends made out there after he returned to Waterbury, and one from Mary Jane Beebe, his future wife.

The Civil War series contains correspondence between Henry and his wife and family. Henry's letters detail life in the army, including dealing with smugglers, Confederate raids, mud, boredom, and descriptions of the engagements he was in, including Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Monocacy, and Cedar Creek. He occasionally includes maps showing troop locations. There are also letters written to Henry by members of his former unit, the 2nd Vermont Volunteers, during 1862 when he was no longer in the army, describing heavy fighting around Richmond, Harrison's Landing, and Chickahomeny, and who was wounded and who probably captured.

Biographical or historical data :

William Wirt Henry was born on November 21, 1831, in Waterbury, Vermont, the eldest child of James Madison Henry (1809-1863) and Matilda Gale Henry (1811-1888). William Wirt Henry was married on August 5, 1857, to Mary Jane Beebe daughter of Lyman and Mary (Sherman) Beebe of Waterbury, Vermont. They had five children, Bertram (1858-1859); Mary (Mollie) Matilda (b. 1860), Ferdinand Sherman (1862-1884), who died while a student at the University of Vermont; Katherine (Katie) Beebe (1865-1897), who married the Reverend William Henry Hopkins and whose only child died in 1906; and Carrie Eliza (b. 1869). Mary Jane (Beebe) Henry died November 18, 1871. On December 3, 1872, William married Valeria (Lillie) Heaton, daughter of Timothy J. and Susan P. (White) Heaton of Waterbury.

William Wirt Henry was educated in the schools of Waterbury and spent one term at People's Academy in Morrisville. William taught school for one winter (1849-50) in Wolcott, Vermont, and then caught "gold fever" and moved to California to seek his fortune. He returned to Vermont in 1857 and joined his father's druggist business, J. M. Henry & Sons. In 1861 he sold his interest in the business and enlisted as a first lieutenant in Co. D of the Second Vermont Volunteers. He resigned November 5, 1861, and then reenlisted as a major in the Tenth Vermont Infantry. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in November 1862 and to colonel in June 1864. He resigned December 17, 1864, and was made brevet brigadier general on March 7, 1865. He was wounded in the battles of Cold Harbor and Cedar Creek.

After he returned from war, William rejoined the family business, then known as John F. Henry & Co., manufacturer of patent medicines. William served in the Vermont Senate from Washington County in 1865-1868, and from Chittenden County in 1888-1889. He was mayor of Burlington from 1887 to 1889. He served for seven years as U.S Marshall for the District of Vermont and was a U.S. Immigration Inspector. From 1897 until 1907 he was the American Consul in Quebec.

In 1872, William W. Henry and a group of friends traveled to the Laurentian Mountain region of Quebec, Canada, on a fishing trip. The trip was so successful, the group returned annually, eventually setting up a permanent camp and finally incorporating as the St. Bernard Fish and Game Club in 1899. Henry was considered the founding father of the organization and remained an honorary member of the club until his death in 1915. William W. Henry died August 31, 1915, at the age of 83. He is buried at Lake View Cemetery in Burlington, Vermont.

Personal Subject : Henry, William Wirt, 1831-1915.
Henry, Mary Jane, 1839-1871.
Henry family.
Corporate Subject : United States. Army. Vermont Infantry Regiment, 2nd 1981-1865. Company D.
United States. Army. Vermont Infantry Regiment, 10th 1862-1865.
Henry, Johnson & Lord Burlington, Vt.
St. Bernard Fish and Game Club.
Subject Term : Soldiers Vermont Correspondence.
Spotsylvania Court House, Battle of, Va., 1864.
Cold Harbor, Battle of, Va., 1864.
Monocacy, Battle of, Md., 1864.
Cedar Creek, Battle of, Va., 1864.
Patent medicines Vermont.
Hunting and fishing clubs Qu
Geographic Term : California Gold discoveries Sources.
California History 1846-1850 Sources.
United States History Civil War, 1861-1865.
Vermont History Civil War, 1861-1865 Personal aspects.
Vermont History Civil War, 1861-1865 Social aspects.
Waterbury (Vt.) Archival resources.
Genre/Form : Letters correspondence.
Photograph albums.
Added Author : Henry, Mary Jane, 1839-1871.
Henry, Mary Matilda, b. 1860.
Smith, Sybil Watts, comp.
Electronic Resource : Click here for transcripts and scans of Civil War letters.
Click here for full text of finding aid.