Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Niles mss., 1765-1916, are papers of John Barron Niles, 1808-1879, lawyer of LaPorte, Indiana.

John Barron Niles was born at West Fairlee, Vermont, on September 13, 1808. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1830 and taught school for a time before reading law in the office of Gilmore Fletcher, New York, N.Y. He went west in 1833 and settled in LaPorte, Indiana, being admitted to the bar on December 16 of that year. On December 16, 1834 he married Mary Polke, 1811-1892, daughter of William Polke. From 1840 to 1850 he served as professor of chemistry in the Indiana Medical College at LaPorte, continuing his law practice at the same time. In 1843 he was appointed a president judge to fill a vacancy caused by the resignation of Samuel Caldwell Sample. Niles was a member of the 1850 state constitutional convention and served as a state senator from 1864 to 1868. In early life he was a Presbyterian, but in middle life became a Swedenborgian. He died at LaPorte on July 6, 1879.

Biographical information on Niles may be found in C.W. Taylor's Biographical sketches and review of the bench and bar of Indiana (1895), pp. 579-81; History of LaPorte county, Ind. ... (Chicago, 1880), p. 651; and E.D. Daniels' A twentieth century history and biographical record of LaPorte county, Ind., (1904), pp. 519-20. There is also a folder of biographical and genealogical material on the Niles family in the first manuscript box in the collection.

The letters and papers in this collection include law office papers of John Barron Niles; family, political and religious (Swedenborgian) correspondence; papers relating to the purchase and sale of lands in northwestern Indiana; Indiana medical college papers; eleven lettercopy books of John Barron Niles and William Niles, 1842-1847 and 1857-1887, and one, 1870-1883, of Daniel Noyes, judge; household account books of Mrs. Mary (Polke) Niles, 1863-1866, 1867-1878 and 1878-1891; memorandum books, 1843-1885; and miscellaneous bills, receipts and deeds.

The law office papers are numerous and relate in the main to railroad cases, the collection of debts, divorces and land titles. There are also account books for legal services, 1834-1837.

The family correspondence is voluminous and may be divided into two groups, Niles' correspondence with his Vermont family, i.e. his parents, brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, etc., and secondly his correspondence with his Indiana family, i.e. his wife and children.

The letters from the Vermont family include letters, 1830- 1848, to John Barron Niles from his parents, William and Relief (Barron) Niles, from the time John Barron Niles was a student at Dartmouth; letters, 1835-1867, from his uncle, Nathaniel Niles, who was in the U.S. diplomatic service; and letters from the brothers and sisters of John Barron Niles, Samuel Niles, who settled in Niles, Michigan; Henry Thayer Niles, who taught in Massachusetts and Ohio, and later practiced law in Ohio; William Watson Niles, as a student at Dartmouth College and later as a lawyer in New York; Mrs. Mary Ann (Niles) Dow, wife of Horace H. Dow; and Relief Janette, both of these sisters being teachers.

The collection also contains a diary of John Barron Niles in the form of letters, 1829-1831, to his uncle, Nathaniel Niles, and letters, 1791-1808, to Nathaniel Niles, grandfather of John Barron Niles, from William Niles, father of John Barron Niles.

The Indiana family correspondence includes letters of John Barron Niles to his wife and correspondence of his three children, William, 1836-1926, Henry, 1838-1861, and Mary Relief, 1839-1916, with their parents and with each other. They were written when John Barron Niles was away from home on a trip, at a session of the Indiana legislature or at the Indiana constitutional convention, 1850-1851, or when one of the children was away from home.

The children's absences from home were as follows:

William and Henry Niles attended Day's Academy, Wrentham, Massachusetts, 1854-1855, and Urbana University, Urbana, Ohio, from which Henry graduated in 1858. He then studied law in Europe from May 1859 to September 1860.

William transferred from Urbana University to Dartmouth College in 1857 and graduated there in 1859. He was a member of Company B, 138th regiment, Indiana Volunteers, from May to September 1864. During the summer of 1878 he toured Europe with his father.

Mary Relief Niles attended the Buffalo Female Academy from 1856 to 1858. She and Emmet Hoyt Scott were married on December 29, 1870, and lived in East Saginaw, Michigan, from that time until 1876, when they moved to LaPorte, Indiana, where they resided for the remainder of their lives.

Other materials in the collection include letters and papers on the history of Dartmouth College; material on the history of LaPorte, Indiana; by-laws of the Pine Lake assembly; railroad passes for 19 companies (see list in Vertical File); minutes of the Southern plank road company, 1850-1854; surveyor's field notes of Yellow River and Trail Creek road, 1833, and of Plymouth, Indiana, 1845; maps of Laketon, LaPorte, Ligonier and Plymouth, Indiana and of Kosciusco, Lake, LaPorte, Marshall, Porter, St. Joseph and Starke counties, Indiana and an article on the LaPorte library and natural history association.

Included also are photographs of members of the Niles family; of Fairlee, the home of William Watson Niles in New York; of the New Church Assembly at Weller's Grove, LaPorte, Indiana, August, 1892; of the Niles home in LaPorte, ca. 1894; and a daguerreotype of Winslow House, St. Anthony's Falls, Minnesota. There is also a Dartmouth College album of the class of 1859.

The collection contains some printed matter most of it pertaining to law cases.

Correspondents represented in the collection include Thomas D. Baird, Conrad Baker, Hervey Ball, Benjamin Fiske Barrett, Horace Bassett, Horace Peters Biddle, James Blair, George Bliss, John Stough Bobbs, John Hugh Bradley, Jesse David Bright, Martin Lex Bundy, George Bush, Landon Rose Cabell, William Henry Calkins, Ebenezer Mattoon Chamberlain, Robert A. Chandler, Joseph W. Chapman, Henry Chase, John Cleaveland, Henry P. Coburn, Schuyler Colfax, Henry Cooper, Alexis Coquillard, Thomas Hartley Carwford, Daniel Crumbacher, William Mitchell Daily, Cyrus Dana, Edwin Augustine Davis, Anthony Defrees, John Dougherty Defrees, Elizur H. Deming, Charles Dewey, William P. Dole, J.W. Douglass, Daniel R. Dunihue, William McKee Dunn, George Earle, J.L. Edwards, John Egbert, Erastus Winter Hewett Ellis, Isaac Compton Elston, Elisha Embree, Charles Wayne Ewing, George Washington Ewing, William Griffith Ewing, Orlando Bell Ficklin, John Allen Finch, Graham Newell Fitch, Calvin Fletcher, Stoughton Alphonso Fletcher, William Baldwin Fletcher, A.S. Foster, John Watson Foster, Richard Jordan Gatling, Chauncey Giles, Walter Quintin Gresham, Peter Hagner, J.C. Hale, Samuel Hall, Allen Hamilton, Edward Allen Hannegan, Nichols Hard, Alfred Harrison, Benjamin Harrison, George W. Hart, W.B. Hayden, Thomas Andrews Hendricks, Ethelbert C. Hibben, John Chipman Hoadley, Barnabas Coffin Hobbs, John Hampden Holliday, Philip Hone, Edmund Otis Hovey, John Badlam Howe, Elisha Mills Huntington, John Bloomfield Jervis, R. Jones, Jr., James Frederick Joy, Samuel Judah, John Lewis Ketcham, Moses L. Knapp, Alexander C. Lanier, James Franklin Doughty Lanier, Hyacinth Lasselle, William Latta, Jonathan A. Liston, Nathan Lord, Jacob B. McChesney, Charles McClure, Hugh McCulloch, George W. Manypenny, Joseph Glass Marshall, George W. Mears, Daniel Meeker, Lewis Pyle Mercer, Samuel Merrill, Caleb Mills, Austin W. Morris, Ezekiel Morrison, John Enos Neff, Horatio Cooley Newcomb, John S. Neman, William Ellis Niblack, Mrs. Elizabeth (Watson) Niles, Nathaniel Niles, 1741-1828, Nathaniel Niles, 1791- 1869, William Niles, William R. Nofsinger, Burr Powell Noland, John Humphrey Noyes, William Butler Ogden, Joseph Orr, Andrew Lawrence Osburn, Jasper Packard, Nathan B. Palmer, Samuel Wilson Parker, Theophilus Parsons, Abel C. Pepper, Samuel Elliott Perkins, John Upfold Pettit, Isaac Newton Phipps, Zina Pitcher, Adam Guthrie Polke, William Polke, Albert Gallatin Porter, Daniel Darwin Pratt, James M. Ray, Daniel Read, Sampson Reed, Luther Rice, David Robb, Ferdinand Roberts, Andrew L. Robinson, James Hervey Robinson, Solon Robinson, David Garland Rose, Peter L. Runyan, Samuel Caldwell Sample, Jonathan Young Scammon, Emmet Hoyt Scott, John B. Semans, John Sering, Frank Sewall, Horace B. Shepard, Azariah B. Shipman, William Davis Shipman, Abiel Silver, William Slade, Thomas C. Slaughter, Asa Dodge Smith, Caleb Blood Smith, Oliver Hampton Smith, Edward Frederick Sorin, Thomas Stilwell Stanfield, Stephen C. Stevens, William Z. Stuart, Clement Studebaker, James Sullivan, Jeremiah Sullivan, Philip Sweester, Lewis Tappan, Lathrop Minor Taylor, Charles H. Test, John Tipton, George W. Turner, William Green T'Vault, William H. Twining, James Noble Tyner, Isaac B. Vance, Sutton Van Pelt, John Vestal, John Vicory, David Wallace, Lewis Warriner, John Wentworth, Charles Edwin West, James Whitcomb, Albert Smith White, Hugh White, George C. Whitney, William Watson Wick, William Henry Wishard, Thomas Worcester, Williamson Wright, Simon Yandes, and Richard Montgomery Young.

Some of the manuscripts in this collection are in an oversize folder.

Collection size: 32,438 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.