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Mary Eliza Hunt Carson papers

Identifier: M346

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Content Description

Collection includes more than 400 letters (1823-1905, bulk 1850s-1905) of Hunt and Carson family correspondence, most centered on Mary Eliza Hunt Carson (1832-1905). There is a substantial number of letters written by Mary, from her home in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, during the years of the Civil War to her mother Mary G. Hunt in Gorham, Maine, providing news about Mary’s two brothers, Charles O. and Henry H. Hunt, both soldiers serving the Union, her perspectives on day-to-day life during the War, as well as her eyewitness accounts of key Civil War events, such as President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Also includes: Mary E. H. Carson’s scrapbook, 1881, with a portrait photograph of her and newspaper clippings of topical interest; a photograph of Mary G. Hunt (mother), Mary E. H. Carson, Mary Carson Parkhurst (daughter), and Mildred Hunt Parkhurst; a published Account of the Complimentary Dinner given by the Past and Present Medical Officers of the Maine General Hospital to Dr. Charles Oliver Hunt on his Retirement from the Superintendency of the Institution, 1902, inscribed to “Mary E. Carson from Brother Charles, 1905”; a volume of handwritten transcriptions of Henry H. Hunt’s Civil War correspondence, April 1863-April 1865, prepared by Susan Waugh Carson (mother-in-law); and a copy of the Bowdoin Bugle, November 1859.


  • Creation: 1823-2019


Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions.

Biographical / Historical

Mary Eliza Hunt (1832-1905) was born in Gorham, Maine, to Mary Gould Fogg and Charles Bonapart Hunt. She was the eldest of five children and the only daughter. Her two oldest brothers died as young children. Her youngest two, Charles Oliver Hunt (1839-1909) and Henry Hastings Hunt (1842-1894) both attended Bowdoin College, the Maine Medical School, and served the Union during the Civil War.

Hunt graduated from Gorham Normal School in 1853 and then accepted a teaching position in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, leaving behind her mother, who had been widowed in 1844, and two young brothers. Despite the geographic distance, the family remained very close, with letters exchanged between Maine and Pennsylvania frequently.

In Lancaster, Mary Eliza met and later married Thomas Duncan Carson, the son of a bank president, who was able to secure Thomas a banking position in Gettysburg in March 1857. Thomas rose to the rank of head cashier (bank manager). The family lived in the center of town, in a home that also housed the bank.

During the Civil War, and especially the Battle of Gettysburg, Mary Eliza Hunt Carson became both a witness to and participant in history. She organized volunteers to manufacture bandages in anticipation of the battle that began July 1, 1863. She also attended to the wounded, including her own brother, Charles, who was injured on the first day of fighting, and hid northern soldiers from Confederates when they searched house to house, and sheltered other inhabitants of the town in the bank's vault during the battle to keep them safe. On November 19, 1863, Carson and her family attended President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg address and hosted a contingency from Maine that included Governor Abner Coburn.

In 1867, the growing Carson family relocated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Thomas secured a postion at a large bank. In total, the family would have seven children, five of whom lived to adulthood. In 1871, their families became further connected when Charles Hunt married Cornelia Carson, Thomas's sister. Carson died on November 7, 1905, and is buried at Laurel Hill Cememtery in Philadelphia.


2.75 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The Mary Eliza Hunt Carson papers contain primarily correspondence, as well as photographs, clippings, a scrapbook, and other materials, documenting the life of Carson and her extended family. Born in Gorham, Maine, Carson was a teacher who located to Lancaster, and later Gettysburg and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a resident of Gettysburg during the Civil War, she witnessed and wrote about the Battle of Gettysburg as well as President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in November 1863. She aided the North by creating bandages, sheltering residents, and nursing wounded soldiers, including her younger brother, Charles Hunt, who was injured on the first day of fighting. Carson was an avid letter writer and she relayed details of every day life to her mother who reamined in Gorham. There are also letters with many other members of the family including: Susan Waugh Carson (mother-in-law), Robert Carson (father-in-law), her brothers, Bowdoin graduates and Civil War veterans Charles and Henry Hastings Hunt, as well as a small amount of material related to later descendants. The collection also inlcludes a volume of handwritten transcriptions of Henry H. Hunt’s Civil War correspondence, April 1863-April 1865, prepared by Susan Waugh Carson.

Condition Description

Many letters were folded and in envelopes and somewhat brittle; items were humidified and flattened.

Guide to the Mary Eliza Hunt Carson papers
Caroline Moseley and Kat Stefko
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine 04011 Repository

3000 College Station
Brunswick Maine 04011 USA
(207) 725-3288