Guide to the Nehemiah G. Ordway Letterbook, 1858-1863

Collection number: MS 282
Size: (1 item)

About Nehemiah George Ordway (1828-1902)

Nehemiah G. Ordway was a prominant politician in the New Hampshire Republican Party (1860-1880), Sheriff of Merrimack County (1856-?), general agent of the United States Post Office for New England (1861-?), and eventually 7th Governor of Dakota Territory (1880-1884). He also held a number of lesser posts over the years. Ordway was indicted on corruption charges for his business dealings as governor, and returned to New Hampshire in 1890.

About the Nehemiah G. Ordway Letterbook (1859-1863)

Ordway's 1858-1863 letterbook dates from his years living in Concord NH, during which time he was assistant clerk to the NH House of Representitives, sheriff of Merrimack County, Marshal of Concord, tax collector, general agent for the post office, and sergeant-at-arms of the US House of Representitives. The ca. 260 letters relate to these posts.

Specific activites noted include: financial description of sheriff's sales, apprehension and incarceration of named criminals, seizure of property for debt, posting of bonds, investigations of negligent postal officials (some of whom were found to be playing billiards rather than delivering mail!), destruction of out-of-date postage, postal fraud, and so forth. Extensive correspondence with lawyers, banking officials, and individuals is also included.

Several events of interest are depicted in substantial detail: in 1860 two Navy sailors were found to be absent without leave; Ordway's letters contain a petition from their commander for their apprehension and a confirmation that they had been captured (pg. 10-20). In that same year, a Confederate flag was raised by Post Master Robert Elliot at Albion, Maine, resulting in a complaint to and disciplinary action from Ordway in 1861 (pg. 169). On May 14 1860, Ordway received a petition from Robert Brooker of Phippsburg, Maine. In 1833, Robert wrote, he had married his wife Sarah H. Brooker, and they had subsequently moved to New Hampshire in 1836. Later in 1836 Sarah had left him to join a Shaker community, and 24 years later her husband petitioned Ordway for a divorce on grounds of abandonment. The book does not say whether the petition was granted.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open.

Copyright Notice

Contents of this collection are governed by U.S. copyright law. For questions about publication or reproduction rights, contact Special Collections staff.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Folder 1, Box 27, Nehemiah G. Ordway Letterbook, 1859-1863, MS 282, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA.

Acquisitions Information

Purchase from Carmen Valentino Rare Books, 2005.

Old State Capitol cornerstone collection, 1883. State Historical Society of North Dakota State Archives, Bismark, N.D.

Collection Arrangement

Collection is in original order.