Local Residents Donate Civil War Papers to College Library

The Hamilton College Library has received a donation of Civil War papers, consisting of enlistment papers for the 117th Oneida County Volunteer Regiment.  The papers were donated by Katherine, Charles, Linda and Kevin Turley, the children of Edward M. and Doris Alberding Turley, of Clayville. 

"This is a very significant contribution which we are thrilled to receive," said Randall Ericson, the Patricia Pogue and Richard Watrous Couper Librarian at Hamilton's Burke Library.  "It's rare to find such a large collection of a single regiment's paper.  This donation provides the foundation upon which we can build and create both a collection of resources and also a Web site focused on the New York 117th."

The papers include almost 1,000 enlistment papers for a regiment formed in Rome, NY, in July and August of 1862, which was assigned with the Army of the Potomac to defend Washington, D.C.  The regiment was later attached to the IX and X Corps where it participated in major battles such as Cold Harbor and the Battle of Petersburg.  The regiment was mustered out in May 1865.

Other papers included in the donation include guard reports, daily reports, special orders and miscellaneous communications and letters from the 117th.  All of the papers were found in the home of Linda Turley in 1997.  A newspaper found in the box in which the papers were contained indicates that the box had been there since 1955.  Ms. Turley theorizes that the papers were purchased at an auction of property owned by the descendants of Charles Millard, adjutant for the regiment, at the Millard Mansion in Clayville.  The home still stands today and is known currently as Clay Manor.

Linda Turley said the family considered several historical societies and libraries before deciding to make the donation to Hamilton College.  "After talking with Randy Ericson I was convinced that Hamilton College would provide long term preservation of the papers.  Most importantly, Mr. Ericson presented the library's plan to build a web site for this collection that will be available to anyone who is interested in the 117th for whatever reason; making the information available and accessible was my primary concern."

The collection of papers is significant for Hamilton College because students in sophomore seminars and senior thesis candidates can use these rich primary source materials for their research, Ericson explained.  This comprehensive collection of Civil War papers will supplement Hamilton's existing collection, and will be available on Hamilton's Web site for the general public.

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