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Wicker Family Papers

Identifier: mss-020

Scope and Content Note

The Wicker Family Papers consist of approximately five linear feet of correspondence, financial papers, miscellaneous family materials, printed matter, some photographs and bound volumes.

The correspondence forms the bulk of the collection; it spans the years 1824-1963 but is concentrated between 1861 and 1896. This series is arranged chronologically.

The majority of the letters are those of Henry C. and Cassius M. Wicker to and from their parents in North Ferrisburg. They begin in the mid-1850s and continue into the 1890s, spanning the sons' schooling and their business careers. Some of the letters of the 1850s period are from Cyrus W. Wicker, written during his business travels.

Letters of Augustus French to and from his wife, Lucy, and his son, William, and to and from various business and professional associates date from the 1840s and into the late 1850s.

The early part of this series contains a letter to Theodore Halladay, the father of Maria D. Wicker, and letters from B.F. Haskell and B.B. Haskell, her brothers. There are also early letters from Cyrus to Maria during his stay in Waldoboro, Maine.

In lesser number here are letters from Maria's sisters, Julia and Sarah, from her school friend Hannah Chipman and to the Wicker boys from their cousin, Melbourne Halladay, in Middlebury.

The later part of the correspondence, beginning at the turn of this century, consists primarily of letters from Cyrus F. Wicker to his sister, Lucy Southworth Wicker, to his father, his cousin, Ada Callender, and his wife, Grace. There are also Lucy's letters to Ada, Cassius's letters to Cyrus F. and Grace's letters to her sister, Margaret, and to her sons.

The letters deal primarily with family matters: descriptions of social activities, work and working conditions, places visited in the course of railroad employment; comments on health and intra-family money transactions. There is little commentary on the national political and other events of the day; exceptions can be found in camp letters from Cassius's friends who joined the Union Army (1860), Cyrus W.'s letters home from Montpelier during his two years in the state legislature (1857-1858), Lucy S.' letters to Ada Callender from Europe and North Africa telling of life in the American diplomatic service (c. 1910), and Cyrus F.'s letters to his wife telling of his activities in Costa Rica and Guatemala (1915-1918).

Wicker and Haskell receipts and the receipts and account sheets of Augustus C. French compose the greater part of Series II, Financial Papers. Other materials in this series include a sampling of Cyrus W.'s town papers, which are mainly receipts from town purchases, complaints, estate and mortgage materials; and receipts of other family members for money lent and borrowed and for day-to-day items such as food, clothing and building materials. The Financial Papers are arranged by person and by type; they are arranged chronologically.

Series III, Family Files, contains ten folders of miscellany: school papers of various family members, wills and contracts, a transcript of Cassius' diary (the original of which is filed in Series VI), inventories of Grace W. Wicker's library and writings of Cyrus F. Wicker which include law lectures, articles [?] and a poem.

Printed Matter, Series IV, is composed of invitations and business cards, programs and brochures, newspaper clippings, pamphlets and railroad circulars. These last items, railroad circulars, by no means form a complete archive; they do, however, reflect the mid-level organizational structure of the two railroad companies involved and the Chicago Freight Bureau material that tells something about that consortium's origin, purpose, membership and policies.

There are nine photograph folders in Series V, three of which contain photo-portraits of Cassius M. Wicker, his son, Henry Halladay, and his daughter-in-law, Grace Whiting. There are also portraits of William and Whiting. The remaining folders contain snapshots, mainly of Cyrus French Wicker's sons and their families. These, and the portraits of Grace Whiting, William and Whiting, were removed from the A.C. Whiting Family Papers; they had been collected among those papers by Miss Margaret Whiting.

The bound volumes of Series VI consist of diaries, account and notebooks. Cassius' diary, 1859-1860, tells of his later boyhood in North Ferrisburg. The entries for late November and early December 1859, refer to John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry and of Brown's execution. Maria D.'s journal is contained within and alongside Cyrus Wicker's docket for 1881 (two volumes); Maria's journal spans the years 1888-1895. She comments without great elaboration on her day's activities, either in North Ferrisburg or New York City where she lived part of the year, and in a more contemplative vein she recalls here there her husband (who had died in 1887) and her youth.

The material in Series III-VI is arranged mainly by kind.


  • 1818-1965
  • Majority of material found within 1861-1896



Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

Cyrus Washburn Wicker was born in Hardwick, Massachusetts, in 1814. In 1816 he moved with his parents and grandfather to Orwell, Vermont, where his father, Lemuel Wicker, farmed and worked as a blacksmith. His mother was Sally Haskell of Hardwick; she was the second wife of Lemuel Wicker.

Cyrus was the oldest of five children. He received a common school education in Orwell until the age of eleven when his father died; it then became necessary for him to work to support the family, he was a farmhand for a time and for two summers he worked on the Champlain Canal, on the towpath and at the helm. In 1829 he went to Cornwall, Vermont, to live with his uncle, Benjamin F. Haskell, a merchant there. Cyrus stayed in Cornwall for six years, finishing his education and clerking in his uncle's store.

At twenty-one he went to Waldoboro, Maine, to live with another uncle, Bela B. Haskell, and one year later, in 1836, he returned to Vermont, to North Ferrisburg, where he opened a branch of the B.F. Haskell store which became the Haskell & Wicker Co. He remained with Haskell & Wicker until 1847. During the years 1840-1845 he was also associated with Orrin Sholes and his brother, Charles H. Wicker in the firm Sholes, Wicker & Co.

Although his major occupation was merchandising, Cyrus Wicker was also involved in the civic affairs of Addison County. He represented Ferrisburg in the state legislature in 1857 and 1858; he was for many years a trustee of the United States Deposit Fund for the support of public schools; and for forty years he was Justice of the Peace at Ferrisburg. He was county commissioner for a short time, and in 1881 and l882, he was assistant judge of the Addison County Court.

Cyrus Wicker married Maria Delight Halladay in 1838. Maria Delight Hallady was born in 1817; she was the daughter of Theodore and Delight Halladay of Shoreham and Middlebury, Vermont. Three sons wore born to Cyrus and Maria: Henry C. in 1839, Cassius M. in 1844 and Lemuel, born in 1850, who lived only three years. Cyrus W. Wicker died in 1887. Maria Delight Wicker died in 1903.

HENRY C. WICKER was educated at the New Hampton Institution in Fairfax, Vermont. Finishing his course in 1856, he returned home to North Ferrisburg to work in his father's store. From 1858-1859 he followed the same occupation, first at South Hero, then at Burlington, Vermont.

Late in 1860, he went to Chicago, taking a job with the St. Louis, Alton & Chicago Railroad as general freight agent. He moved to H. F. Lewis & Co., general commission merchants, in 1869; he remained two years with that firm after which he joined the North Missouri Railroad as general freight agent. In 1874 he became general eastern agent for the California Fast Freight Line, leaving that company in 1876 to join the Chicago & Northwestern Railway with whom he remained until October 1889.

He next worked as general manager for the Harney Peak Consolidated Tin Co. of Hill City, So. Dakota. He was also associated with the Dallas-Griswold Wire Co. of Chicago and New York; he sat on the Board of Administration of the Southwestern Traffic Association and he maintained interests in the June Manufacturing Co., the Munger-Wheeler Grain Elevator Co. and the National Bank of Illinois. Henry C. Wicker was married to Louise Holabird Wicker. They had two daughters: Alice and Louise.

CASSIUS MILTON WICKER was educated at North Ferrisburg and at the Williston and Middlebury Academies. Before leaving Vermont for the west he worked in his father's store; he made out deeds, mortgages and wills for his Ferrisburg neighbors; and he kept the books of a local blacksmith. In 1866, he became check clerk of the Union Star Line in East St. Louis, Missouri, and was for three years cashier of the People's Dispatch Fast Freight Line and the Chinese immigrant agent for the North Missouri Railway.

From 1869 to 1871 he was assistant general freight agent for the North Missouri, and from 1871 to 1876 he was assistant general freight agent for the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad with additional involvement in claims settlement resulting from the Chicago fire of l87l. During the years 1877-1880, he was successively general agent, assistant freight agent and traffic manager of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad's Trans-Ohio divisions. In 1880, he took charge of mining properties in northern Michigan and in the spring of 1883 to the fall of that year, he was general manager of several coal mines at Springfield, Braidwood and Tracy, Illinois, operated by the Central Illinois Coal Co. From 1833 to 1887, he was commissioner of the Chicago Freight Bureau, a consortium of Chicago area wholesale merchants and manufacturers formed to prevent freight rate discrimination in the Chicago area market.

For the next decade, Cassius Wicker held positions of president, vice-president and manager of a number of eastern and western railroads and other companies including the Colorado Eastern Railway, the Zanesville and Ohio River Railroad, the Brooklyn, Queens County and Suburban Railroad, the Denver Railroad, Land and Coal Co. and the Dillon-Griswold Wire Co.

He married AUGUSTA CARROLL FRENCH in 1872 at Lebanon, Illinois. Augusta French was the daughter of Augustus C. French and LUCY SOUTHWORTH FRENCH. She was born in 1849 and was educated at the Monticello Seminary, Godfrey, Illinois. Five children were born to Cassius and Augusta Wicker: William Haskell Wicker (1873-1875), Henry Halladay Wicker (1876-1894), CYRUS FRENCH WICKER (1882-1968), Lucy Southworth Wicker (1879-1943), and Charles French (1884-1884). Augusta Wicker died in New York City in 1889. Cassius M. Wicker died in 1913.

Augusta's father, AUGUSTUS C. FRENCH, was born at Hill, New Hampshire in 1808. He entered Dartmouth College but was unable to finish his course there. He returned to Hill to study law and was admitted to the New Hampshire bar in 1823. The next year he left Hill for Albion, Illinois, moving soon thereafter to Paris and Palestine, Illinois. He practiced law in those places and he entered the Illinois state legislature in 1837. In 1839 he was appointed, receiver of public moneys at Palestine and he was a Polk and Dallas elector in the election of 1844/1845. He made himself well-known in the state by his advocating war with Mexico; he was elected governor in 1846.

During his term of office, which ended in 1853, the last of the Mormons left Illinois; the Illinois and Michigan Canal was completed; the second railroad of the state, the Galena and Chicago Union, was begun; and the state expenses were cut and its debt liquidated. On leaving office Augustus French became professor of law; at McKendree College and in 1862 he was elected to the Constitutional Convention of the state of Illinois. He died at Lebanon in 1868.

CYRUS FRENCH WICKER was born at Marquette, Michigan in October of 1882. He took his B.A. (1905) and M.A. (1910) from Yale University; he was a Rhodes Scholar at Balliol College, Oxford; and he studied international law at Columbia and Oxford Universities. He received honorary degrees from the University of Leon and the University of San Carlos de Guatemala.

From 1906 to 1914, Cyrus F. Wicker served with the U. S. diplomatic corps: 1907-1910 as private secretary to Ambassador David Jayne Hill in the Netherlands and Germany; 1910-1912 as Charge d'Affaires at Tangier, Morocco; in 1913 he was assigned to the Department of State to draw up a treaty between the U.S. and France recognizing the French Protectorate in Morocco; 1913-1914 as Secretary of Legation at Panama and legal consultant to the Panaman Mixed Claims Commission; 1914-1917 as Charge d'Affaires in Nicaragua.

During World War I he worked for Naval Intelligence in Central American and Caribbean countries and he was commissioned as Captain, U.S. Army (Ordnance) in 1913.

He taught international law and Latin American relations at the University of Miami for two years and he served as attorney and legal consultant in Latin American law for various North and South American and Spanish corporations with business interests in Latin and Central America.

Cyrus French Wicker married Grace Whiting (1886-1948) of Burlington, Vermont, in 1915. They had three sons: William W. (1916-1964), Whiting (1919-2005), and Cyrus French, Jr. (1922-1945).

Cyrus French Wicker died in 1968.


5.75 Linear feet (4 cartons, 3 boxes)

Language of Materials



Collection includes correspondence, diaries, financial papers, receipts, memo books, printed items, and photos of Cyrus Washburn Wicker (1814-1887), merchant, of North Ferrisburgh, Vt., his wife, Maria Delight Wicker (1817-1903), and their sons, Henry C. Wicker (1839-1907) and Cassius M. Wicker (1844-1913), who traveled west to work for and manage various western railroads. Includes correspondence of Augustus C. French (1808-1864), attorney and Governor of Illinois (1846-1853) with his wife, Lucy Southworth French (1818-1878), and with various business associates (1840’s-1850’s); correspondence of Cyrus French Wicker (1882-1968) with his wife, Grace Whiting Wicker (1886-1948), including material relating to his legal and diplomatic service in the Caribbean (ca. 1915); account sheets (1836-1847) of Haskell and Wicker, merchants, of North Ferrisburgh, Vt.

Physical Location

Library Research Annex; contact for access.


  • G.G. Benedict,ed., Men of Progress, 1898
  • H.P. Smith, ed., History of Addison County, 1886
  • The Wicker Family Papers
  • Yale University Alumni Records Office
Guide to the Wicker Family Papers
Finding aid prepared by Thomas Connors
1981 July
Language of description
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Language of description note
Funded with the assistance of the National Endowment for the Humanities

Repository Details

Part of the University of Vermont Libraries, Special Collections Repository

Silver Special Collections Library
48 University Place, Room B201
Burlington Vermont 05405 U.S.A. US
(802) 656-2138
(802) 656-4038 (Fax)