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MS Am 800.27

Stillman, Charles, 1810-1875. Charles Stillman business papers, 1847-1884: Guide.

Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Harvard Depository, b
Call No.: MS Am 800.27
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Stillman, Charles, 1810-1875.
Title: Charles Stillman business papers
Date(s): 1847-1884
Quantity: 3.9 linear feet (13 boxes)
Language of materials: Collection materials are in English, with some in Spanish.
Abstract: Business and legal papers of American entrepreneur, Charles Stillman; with some of his son, James Stillman.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

No accession number. Gift of Dr. Ernest G. Stillman '08; received: 1937 June 1 - November 5.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt
Collection was not finally processed until 2012 and the order already established was retained at that time.

Conditions Governing Access:

Collection is open for research.
A note was found in the original Stillman boxes: "The Stillman papers have been placed in Harvard College Library for the use of Mr. Leroy P. Graf in preparing an historical account of the family's early activities in Texas. While Mr. Graf is at work on this project the papers should be considered private, to be consulted by no one except with his permission. T. Franklin Currier. November, 1939." [LeRoy P. Graf, The Economic History of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, 1820–1875 (Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, 1942)].
Items 1 and 2 (in boxes 1, 11-13) are fragile; consult handling instructions inside the box.
A portion of this collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.

Preferred Citation for Publication:

Charles Stillman Business Papers, 1847-1884 (MS Am 800.27). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Related Materials

See also: James Stillman Diaries (MS Am 2173) at Houghton Library.
Letterbook, 1867-1871, of James Stillman is in the Manuscripts and Archives Division of Baker Library, Harvard Business School.

Biographical / Historical

Charles Stillman (1810-1875) was born in Wethersfield, Connecticut, the son of Capt. Francis Stillman and Harriet Robbins Stillman. In February 1828 he traveled to Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico and developed a network of enterprises (Charles Stillman & Bro.) including cotton brokerage and real estate firms, silver mines, merchandise outlets, a shipping company carrying passengers and goods, and an off-loading, warehousing, and transportation company. Stillman was most notable for founding Brownsville, Texas in 1849 and for establishing a successful river boat company on the Rio Grande River (King, Kenedy and Co.) with partners Richard King and Mifflin Kenedy. He married Elizabeth Pamela Goodrich of Wethersfield, Connecticut in 1849. In 1851 Stillman helped bankroll the attempted invasion of Mexico by José Maria Carbajal to set up the Republic of the Sierra Madre. Between 1862 and 1865 his company moved Confederate cotton to Matamoros under contract for payment in gold, sending some of the cotton to his textile complex at Monterrey, and much sold in New York through his mercantile firm, Smith and Dunning. By the end of the Civil War, Stillman was one of the richest men in the United States. After the Civil War, Stillman lived in Brownsville and New York City, but moved to New York permanently in 1866, and died in New York in 1875.
Charles Stillman's son, James Jewett Stillman (1850-1918) was an American businessman who invested in land, banking, and railroads in New York, Texas, and Mexico. He ran his father's business interests beginning in the early 1870s and expanded them to control 16 Texas banks and significant land holdings in the Rio Grande Valley and other areas of Texas. He was chairman of the board of directors of the First National City Bank and when he died in 1918, he was considered to have been one of the 100 wealthiest Americans. James' daughters, Sarah Elizabeth and Isabel Goodrich, married two of William Rockefeller's sons, William Goodsell and Percy Avery Rockefeller.
Source: John Mason Hart, "STILLMAN, CHARLES," Handbook of Texas Online. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.


Organized into the following series:

Scope and Contents

Collection consists of the financial and legal papers and records of Charles Stillman's companies [Charles Stillman & Bro. and other Stillman companies] including: letter books of outgoing letters and some incoming transcripts, 1852-1860; letters and telegrams to Charles and James Stillman, 1850-1877; financial records from 1854-1877 comprised of orders and drafts, bills and receipts, account sales, invoices, bills of lading, and statements and accounts; legal documents, 1847-1879; and other miscellaneous papers. The papers relate to the distribution of hides, lead, copper, and cotton from Brownsville, Texas and New York City, and other legal and financial matters concerning Stillman and his various businesses. Some letters include content relating to the Stillman family. The later papers are principally those of James Stillman (1850-1918), Charles Stillman's son.

Container List