Center for Archival Collections

Reference Services | Manuscripts by Subject | CAC Homepage

The Belkofer Family Letters: Carter/Martin/Morgan Families (Kelley's Island, Ohio) - MS 393

Introduction | Biographical Sketch | Scope and Content | Series DescriptionInventory


The correspondence of the Carter/Martin/Morgan Families of Kelley's Island, Ohio, span the years 1851 to 1892 and include thirty letters between the relatives of these families. The letters express the trials and triumphs of 19th century life in America.

The collection was loaned to the Center for Archival Collections for photocopying in September 1984 by Sandra Belkofer, a relative of the families in question, whose name has been used to identify the collection. Literary and property rights have been dedicated to the public and duplication is permitted for the purpose of preservation and scholarly research. Ms. Belkofer had requested that one letter dated January 31, 1864 not be made public until January 1, 1994 and in honoring the request this letter remained sealed until that time. The transcriptions and notes for the register were prepared by Amy Jones in September 1988. The final register was completed by Susan Irwin in July 1992, with revisions by Marilyn Levinson, Curator of Manuscripts in October 1992, and February 1994

Biographical Sketch

There is little biographical information available. No biographical information was found in any of the Erie County histories, but some of the names do appear in the Erie County Probate Court Death Records. Whether or not these are the same individuals as those found in the letters is not known. The names Carter, Martin and Morgan are well known in the history of Kelley's Island and it is possible that these families are somehow connected. The Martin family was one of the early landowners on the island. Some names mentioned in the letters include other resident families, such as the Webb Family, which ran a quarry operation, and the McGettigan Family. Kate Clemons, a correspondent of one letter, was probably Catherine McCann Clemons, wife of Milo Herbert Clemons of Marblehead.

Scope and Content

The Belkofer Family Letters consist of thirty letters from the Carter, Martin, and Morgan Families who were all associated with Kelley's Island, Ohio. The collection's name comes from the donor who is a relative of the authors of the letters. The letters range in date from 1851 to 1892, as well as some which are undated or whose dates are difficult to read.

The letters give insight into the struggles and successes of a family living during the 19th century. Many of their problems correspond with those we face today: births, deaths, illness, financial problems, family relationships, and specific to this collection, the struggle to build a farm in Missouri. Also expressed in the letters of J.F. Martin (Sept. 8, 1863 and Jan 31, 1864 from London, Ontario) is concern about being drafted during the Civil War, with reference to a visit by Vallandigham to Canada. One learns general things about life at this time; the prices of store bought items, the entertainments that people took part in, what sorts of jobs and careers people worked at and what they were like, etc. There are several receipts interfiled with the letters, which give the actual prices for several different items.

Overall this collection gives one insight into the everyday life of an American family. Unfortunately some of the materials are undated, and even though an attempt has been made to transcribe some of the less legible letters, the handwriting is still sometimes difficult to read and only photocopies of the letters are available.

Series Description


1851-1892, n.d.
Arranged chronologically
These letters include information on family births, deaths, illness, and the day to day struggles of a family in 19th century America. Also included and interspersed throughout the correspondence are receipts for items such as clothing, furniture, and carriage parts, etc. All are photocopies, with some typed transcripts.


Box 1, Folder 1

  1. 2 Envelopes, n.d.
  2. To Susy from Sarah Webb, Feb. 8, 1851
    Kelley's Island, Ohio
    Re: picture for Ellen
  3. To Mother from Patt Martin, Oct. 5, 1851
    Re: sending money for family, and asking mother and sisters to visit. With typed transcript
  4. To Susan [Martin] from A.D., Dec. 6, 1858
    Marblehead, Ohio
    Re: how A.D. got home with waves "running mountain high"
  5. To Susan Martin from Kate Clemons, July 4, 1859
    Marblehead, Ohio
    Re: the Ball at Port Clinton
  6. To John from his father Francis Martin, Aug. 31, 1859
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Re: sending $10 for doctor bill
  7. To sister from Margaret Kehoe, Aug. 19, 1860
    Sandusky, Ohio
    Re: invitation for Ellen May to visit. With typed transcript

Box 1, Folder 2

  1. Henry Lange, receipt of John Carter, Nov. 31, 1861
    Kelley's Island
    Re: $5 to Catholic Church
  2. E.D. Lord & Bro., receipt of Susan Martin, May 2, [1862?]
    Re: silk dress and black velvet. With typed transcript
  3. John Carter, account with John M. Bailey, Aug. 2, 1862
    Re: List including stove and furnitureWith typed transcript
  4. P. Gagen, shipping receipt for John Carter, Nov. 22, 1862
    Sandusky, Ohio
    Re: Shipment for one dressed hog. With typed transcript
  5. To John from Keron Hooben, June 7, 1863
    Erie [Pa.?]
    Re: New baby boy in John's Family
  6. To Family from J.F. Martin, Sept. 8, 1863
    London, Ont.
    Re: His job and desire to be home,concern with being drafted, and meeting with Vallandigham. With typed transcript
  7. To Brother from J.F. Martin, Jan. 31, 1864
    London, Ont.
    Re: His recent marriage, concern about family matters, references to the draft and plans to return homeWith typed transcript

Box 1, Folder 3

  1. To John Carter from Patrick Carter, Feb. 12, 1867
    Coal's Mouth, Kanawha Co., W.Va.
    Re: Preparations to move to Missouri and request for John to move there too. With typed transcript
  2. To John Carter from Patrick Carter, April 22, 1867
    Rolla, Mo.
    Re: Illness of family, dislike of Missouri, intends to run boarding house and work on the railroad. With typed transcript
  3. To John Carter from Patrick Carter, Nov. 13, 1867
    Rolla, Mo.
    Re: Found brother Thomas, request for John to visit but not settle in Missouri. If he comes Thomas, Mary and Patrick will all move with him to Virgina. With typed transcript
  4. To John Carter from Brown and Wildman, June 1, 1868
    Sandusky, Ohio
    Re: Piece of land, some acres cleared, some with timber
  5. To John from John Gallagher, June 12, 1868
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Re: Getting Thomas' address in Missouri and finding hospital John Kelley died in. With typed transcript
  6. To John Carter from Brown and Wildman, June 14, 1868
    Sandusky, Ohio
    Re: Deal on the 50 acres, contacting surveyors from Fremont
  7. To Susan from Charles & Alice Martin, Jan. 30, [1869]
    Kelley's Island, Ohio
    Re: Births of children and deaths of G. Mettinghorn and George the Blacksmith. With typed transcript

Box 1, Folder 4

  1. To John Carter from Patrick Carter, Feb. 1, 1880
    St. Albans
    Re: Josephs "new monia" fever, sending picture from Willie and promise to write to Lizzy. Also a note from Willie to Uncle. With typed transcript
  2. Cray & Rood, receipt of John Carter, March 31, 1887
    Toledo, Ohio
    Re: Purchase one set of carriage wheels
  3. To "Dear folks at home" from Frank and Minnie, March 29, 1892
    Toledo, Ohio
    Re: Theft of tools and seeing Irish comedy at the theater
  4. To Frank from (?), April 9, 1890
    Toledo, Ohio
    Re: Quitting street car driving to work in tobacco factory
  5. To Susan from J.E. & Marie Morgan, Sept. 29, ?
    Sturges [Mich.?]
    Re: She must not care or she would write
  6. To Susan from J.E. & Marie Morgan, [n.d.]
    [Sturges, Mich.?]
    Re: Thank you for picture, great excitement about war in the South
  7. To Floyd from mother, July 30, (?)
    Toledo, Ohio
    Re: Pet pig, wishes to come visit
  8. To sister Margaret from J.E. & Marie Morgan, Aug. 20, (?)
    Sturges [Mich.?]
    Re: Death of baby Bell, also note from Kate thanking for birthday present. With typed transcript
  9. To Susan from Mary McGettigan, April 19, (?)
    Sandusky, Ohio
    Re: Church on Easter and friendship/trust poem

Manuscripts by Subject | MS 393 Belkofer Transcript List | Family Collections