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William C. Holgate Diaries - MS 335 mf

Introduction | Biographical Sketch | Scope and Content |Order of Microfilming


The Holgate Diaries (1833-1948) consist of thirteen volumes; eleven diaries and two account ledgers. Three diaries (1833-1852) were kept by William Curtis Holgate and the other eight diaries (1868-1894) and two account ledgers (1878-1880, 1924-1948) were kept by his son, who was also named William C. Holgate.

The diaries were donated to The Defiance College by the heirs of William C. Holgate in 1976. The diaries are located in the College Archives, Anthony Wayne Library, The Defiance College. They were loaned for microfilming to the Center for Archival Collections, Bowling Green State University, during December 1983. The microfilm edition is available for use at both the Center for Archival Collections and the Anthony Wayne Library, however, reproduction is restricted. The register was completed by Ron Burdick and the collection microfilmed in December 1983.

Biographical Sketch

William Curtis Holgate (father)

The following information is excerpted from Maumee River 1835, by Louis A. Simonis.

William C. Holate was born in 1814 in Burlington, Vermont, and died in Defiance, Ohio in 1888. He attended the academy and select school of Utica, New York, and graduated in 1835 from the Hamilton College, Watertown, New York. William moved to Defiance, Ohio in 1837 with his father, Curtis Holgate, who had purchased land interests from Benjamin Leavell, one of Defiance's original large land owners. Curtis Holgate died soon after moving to Defiance and William inherited his holdings. In 1838, William was admitted to the Ohio Bar. He served as Clerk of Courts and Prosecuting Attorney for Williams County and was instrumental in the writing and promotion of the act, passed in 1845, which created Defiance County from parts of four northwestern Ohio counties. After 1845, his career and intersts were closely tied to his own financial affairs and to the growth and development of the City and County of Defiance.

His efforts in boosting Defiance were numerous. At times, he held large tracts of land in the county and was responsible for platting and development of a number of towns. Some, like Holgate, Ohio, continue to exist; others, like Newburgh, Ohio (west of Defiance on the Maumee River), have disappeared. He also owned and subdivided large parts of a major street in Defiance and operated his own turnpike, now Holgate Avenue, a major street in Defiance. He also came to the rescue of the Defiance Female Seminary by purchasing land for the school. The Seminary eventually became The Defiance College to which Holgate continued to offer financial support.

Holgate persuaded the Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroads to pass through Defiance. He also assisted and invested in numerous business ventures which brought people and money into Defiance, thus promoting its general welfare and that of its other businessmen, merchants, and citizens.

William Curtis Holgate (son)

William Curtis was born in Defiance in November 1854 to William C. Holgate and his wife Mary Hoelrich Holgate. His career has not been as celebrated as the career of this father. He did not have, as his father before him, the fortune, nor the opportunity, to be in on the opening and nurture of a new area. Instead, his life was primarily occupied with assisting in caring for his father's interests, while the latter was still alive, for his own family, and his properties following his father's death in 1888. William's diaries reflect these concerns and in general record his life as a young man and as a quiet well-to-do farmer/businessman of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Scope and Content

The diaries of William C. Holgate (father) span the years 1833 through 1852. The diaries of his son span the years 1868 to 1894, with the two account ledgers dating from 1878 to 1880 and 1924 to 1948. The diaries are not complete for all years covered, thus the information available on these two men's lives is somewhat incomplete. The diaries, despite this one weakness, contain valuable and interesting information on local events as well as those of national importance. Both men traveled frequently and were good recorders of what they did and saw on their trips. Places visited in addition to Ohio include New York, the New England states, the Southwest, the West Coast, and Europe. Cities described in detail include New York City, Burlington, Buffalo, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Virginia City, Salt Lake City, Cheyenne, Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, and numerous other small cities and towns.

The major portion of the father's diaries cover his personal and business affairs in Defiance and vicinity, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and in Ohio and New York. As demonstrated in Maumee River 1835, by Louis Simonis, the father was a part of, and in contact with the men and events which shaped the settlement and development of Northwest Ohio and Defiance County and these events and issues are detailed in the diaries.

The same can be said of the information in the son's diaries. He began his record keeping at the age of thirteen, and the earlier entries reflect the interests and lighter thoughts of an adolescent. The later ones are more informative with fewer short repetitive entries. Of special value are the accounts of his trip to the Southwest and West coast (parts of it on horseback in wilderness areas without the benefits of civilized lodging and roads), his honeymoon in Philadelphia at the Centennial Park, and his account of a four month tour of Europe in 1902. The two account books are of lesser value, with the possible exception of the farm account book for 1878 to 1880. This record contains lists of expenses, types of crops, and livestock being raised, and an accounting of hours and pay to farm hands and for hired services. The last account book is a small automobile pocket record. It contains some miscellaneous addresses and service and mileage records on the automobile. Some of the later entries are probably of the grandson, who also was named William C. Holgate.

Order of Microfilming

Roll 1

  1. Diary of William C. Holgate, September 16, 1833-June 24, 1835
  2. Diary of William C. Holgate, June 25, 1843-December 31, 1846
  3. Diary of William C. Holgate, September 9, 1850-December 31, 1852
  4. Diary of William C. Holgate (son), January 1, 1868-September 30, 1869
  5. Diary of William C. Holgate (son), January 1, 1870-October 25, 1871
  6. Diary of William C. Holgate (son), January 1, 1873-December 31, 1873
  7. Diary of William C. Holgate (son), January 1, 1874-September 1, 1874
  8. Diary of William C. Holgate (son), November 2, 1874-June 29, 1875

Roll 2

  1. Diary of William C. Holgate (son), June 30, 1875-September 20, 1876
  2. Diary of William C. Holgate (son), (Also contains accounts, 1880-1881, 1910, 1912) January 1, 1880-February 11, 1880
  3. Diary of William C. Holgate (son), January 1, 1894-July 16, 1894
  4. Account ledger of William C. Holgate (son), December 1878-September 1880
  5. Account ledger of William C. Holgate (son), 1924-1948 (scattered entries)

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