Guide to the Nehemiah G. Ordway Letterbook, 1858-1863
Collection number: MS 282
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
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out-of-date postage, postal fraud, and so forth.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.
This collection is open.
Contents of this collection are governed by U.S. copyright law. For questions
about publication or reproduction rights, contact Special Collections staff.
[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.
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 is in original order.