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Sylvester Henry Scovel Papers, 1896-1917

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Identifier: A1494

Title: Sylvester Henry Scovel Papers, 1896-1917


Sylvester Henry (Harry) Scovel was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1869 to Dr. Sylvester Scovel, who later became president of Wooster University in Wooster, Ohio. Sylvester (Harry) Scovel, after a series of jobs, became the general manager and chief fund-raiser for the Cleveland Athletic Club. In 1896, he went to Cuba as a newspaper correspondent to cover the Spanish-American War for the Pittsburgh Dispatch and the New York Herald. He was arrested in 1896 by Spanish authorities. After his escape from prison, he was hired by the New York World as their correspondent in Cuba. He lived for eleven months with the insurgents and ran through the Spanish military lines several times. He was captured again in 1897 and released on demand of the United States Senate. He married Frances Cabanne of Saint Louis in 1897. Scovel was then sent to Greece to cover the Turco-Greek war. After his return, he and Frances traveled to the Klondike region as correspondents for the New York World. He returned to Cuba before the sinking of the Maine. He stayed in Cuba long enough to report the transition of Havana to the United States. During the transferring ceremony, Scovel exchanged blows with General William Rufus Shafter, the commanding United States officer in Cuba. He remained in Cuba after the war and continued to write articles for the New York World until 1899. After his resignation from the World in 1899, he became a consulting engineer for the United States military in Cuba. He died February 2, 1905, and was buried in Wooster, Ohio. Frances Scovel returned to St. Louis and was the society editor for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from 1909 to 1917. She married Captain William F. Saportas, who she met while on the Klondike expedition. She died in 1959.

The collection contains both the personal and professional papers of Sylvester Scovel. The biggest part of the collection deals with his venture in Cuba with the insurgents and on the battle fronts. Notes, correspondence, dispatches, etc. cover this period. Also includes a diary while in prison, 1897; various statements and maps of violent actions committed by the Spanish; an autobiographical sketch of Scovel; case notes and testimonials relating to the Shafter vs. Scovel case; photographs of the U.S. Maine, 1898; notes and testimonials regarding the Uncas case (Scovel was accused of being a stow away on the Uncas, which was a United States military ship); diary while traveling with General Antonio Maceo in 1896; copies of original dispatches sent by Scovel regarding the victory celebration ending hostility in Cuba and problems arising from evacuation and reconstruction periods; correspondence between Scovel and Bradford Merrill, the New York World editor, 1898-1899; numerous newsclippings regarding the sinking of the Maine; correspondence to Frances Scovel from Sylvester from Greece and Cuba; a newsclippings scrapbook regarding imprisonments of Scovel; material and correspondence from the Klondike expedition; notebooks of Scovel; many loose newsclippings regarding Scovel's professional career.

Includes some Spanish.

7 boxes

Cite as: Sylvester Henry Scovel Papers, Missouri History Museum Archives, St. Louis.

Rights: UND


Dates: 1896-1917

Type(s): Documentary Artifacts




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