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Bates Family Papers, 1754-1973

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Identifier: A0092

Title: Bates Family Papers, 1754-1973


Frederick Bates (1777-1825) was the son of Quaker parents from Belmont, Goochland County, Virginia. In 1797, he moved to Detroit, where he engaged in mercantile pursuits and served for a time as postmaster. He was appointed receiver of public monies for land October 13, 1804. President Jefferson appointed Bates judge over the Territory of Michigan on March 3, 1805. In 1806, he moved to St. Louis where he became recorder of land titles for the Louisiana Territory. President James Madison appointed him secretary of the Louisiana Territory January 10, 1811, during the administration of General James Wilkinson. In 1824, he was elected governor of Missouri but died in office August 4, 1825. He married Nancy Ball, daughter of Colonel John S. Ball of St. Louis County, in 1819. They resided at Thornhill, the Bates homestead, in Bonhomme Township, St. Louis County. Onward Bates (1850-1936) was born February 24, 1850, in St. Charles County, Missouri. He spent his boyhood years in St. Louis and on the farm in St. Charles County. At the age of 15 he entered the Fulton Iron Works as an apprentice. A few years later, he attracted the attention of Charles Shaler Smith, a distinguished engineer in the field of designing and building bridges. Smith hired Bates to work on a bridge he was building over the Missouri River at St. Charles. After two years as a student at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Troy, New York, Bates was hired to work on the Eads Bridge. In the following decades, Bates worked on and supervised numerous bridge building projects in the United States, as well as a three-year stint in Australia. He served as president of the American Society of Civil Engineers. In 1892, he married Virginia Castleman Breckinridge, daughter of Judge Samuel M. Breckinridge. Onward Bates died in 1936 in Augusta, Georgia.

The papers include family correspondence, letter books, legal papers, and business and political correspondence of Edward and Frederick Bates and of other members of the family, including Barton, Onward, and Tarleton Bates. The collection contains material on family history, political affairs of the colonies, the French and Indian War (1796), land matters, Indian relations, the Civil War and reconstruction years, and several letter books and papers of Onward Bates concerning bridge construction. Also includes are minutes of the recorder of land titles, 1812-1814; lists of civil and militia appointments in the territory, 1810-1811; abstracts of provision for the Missouri militia, 1813-1816; claims to lead mines in Missouri; and correspondence with Governor William Clark seeking commissions, military promotions, and petitions for appointments of justice of the peace. Collection also includes letter books of Frederick Bates, among which is one volume of photostats of letters written during his tenure as postmaster in Detroit (1789-1809); and two original volumes of letters, with two volumes of photostatic copies, written while he was postmaster in Detroit and in Goochland, Virginia (1807-1812). These letters relate to business and government. A photostat letterbook of Tarleton Bates, written from Pittsburgh, to brother Frederick Bates, discusses social and family issues (1795-1805). Also includes several journals and diaries of Edward Bates, among which is a journal of his law studies (1847), two diaries (1847 and 1846-1852) in which he comments extensively on St. Louis politics, and three photostat journals (1859-1866) in which he comments on national and local politics prior to and during the Civil War. Includes a letterpress letterbook of Onward Bates, inspector of bridges and trestles in Pittsburgh, relating to business matters (1875-1876).

17 boxes; 22 volumes; 1 oversize folder

Some French.

Indexed in the archives card catalog.

Cite as: Bates Family Papers, Missouri History Museum Archives, St. Louis.

Rights: UND

Place: United States
St Louis

Dates: 1754-1973

Type(s): Documentary Artifacts


Subjects: Business
Politics and government
French and Indian War, 1754-1763
Civil War, 1861-1865
Armed Forces
Land use
Mineral industries
Postal service


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