Common Searches

M-529 McCleave, Samuel Correspondence

ABSTRACT: Letters written by miner Samuel McCleave (1854-?) to his wife, Emma (1871-?).

SCOPE: These letters, written in 1893 and 1894, reveal McCleave’s discontent with his situation as a wandering miner, which he describes as “getting worse every day.” They also reveal his desperation to remain in contact with his wife, telling her “I have been fretting so much about you that I could not eat nor sleep”. The letters provide insight into McCleave’s struggles as a miner looking for work.

EXTENT: Two letters, six pages total.

HISTORY: According to census records, Samuel McCleave was born in Illinois in April 1854 to Irish immigrant parents. His wife Emma, whom he married around 1893, was born in Tennessee in October 1871. After their marriage, McCleave went to Nevada looking for work as a miner while Emma, apparently recovering from ill health, stayed in California with some relatives. McCleave wrote his first letter from Virginia City, which was once a popular mining destination. By the late 19th-century, however, mining opportunities there were in steady decline. McCleave's letters offer a look into the difficulties many miners might have faced in their quest for a better life.

ACCESS: Due to the fragile nature of this collection, physical access may be restricted. Please contact the library for further information. Information on conducting research with the archival collections of the Library, including current building hours and reading room policies, can be found on our Research page. The St. Louis Mercantile Library is located on levels one and two of the Thomas Jefferson Library building on the University of Missouri-St. Louis’ north campus. The letters are available for remote and online viewing on the UMSL Digital Library as the M-529 McCleave, Samuel Correspondence.

Preferred Citation note: The preferred citation for this collection is "From the Special Collections of the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri – St. Louis."