NATHAN C. MEEKER PAPERS
SCOPE AND CONTENT
The collection spans 1843-1951 with Nathan C. Meeker's correspondence from the 1870s comprising the bulk of the material. The Horace Greeley correspondence, which was merged into this collection, was all written by Greeley to Meeker. Correspondence received and sent by other Meeker family members is also included. Additional material includes financial records, Union Colony of Colorado letters of application and membership lists and a limited number of Nathan Meeker's personal papers.
Series 1-4 also available on microfilm: Mflm186.
Nathan Meeker's correspondence comprises the bulk of the series. Horace Greeley wrote more than two-thirds of this correspondence, which deals primarily with operations of the Union Colony of Colorado. Other correspondents include Edwin J. Carver, Meeker's editorial assistant at the Greeley Tribune; Robert A. Cameron, Union Colony of Colorado Vice President; Henry T. West, a settler at the Union Colony of Colorado; Sam Sinclair, Horace Greeley's publisher and Samuel R. Wells, publisher of the Phrenological Journal and Life Illustrated. Meeker's correspondence is arranged chronologically. The series also includes limited correspondence from Meeker's family members including Arvilla Meeker (wife), Ralph Meeker (son), Josephine Meeker (daughter) and Lemuel Meeker (brother).
Union Colony of Colorado records include a membership list, which formerly comprised the Joseph Shattuck papers. Promissory notes, indentures, a deed, a receipt and an invoice also form part of the series. A railroad right-of-way grant from the State of Colorado is also included.
The series includes a draft copy of an article written by Nathan Meeker. Additional materials include verses written by Meeker to his wife, Arvilla, Meeker's calling card and two invoices, which detail publishing costs for Meeker's book, Life in the West. Also included is a brief biographical sketch of Nathan Meeker by an unknown author.
A ledger, containing two hundred twenty-five letters from applicants seeking to join the Union Colony of Colorado, comprises the bulk of the series. Two real estate indentures, copies of the colony constitution and a membership list are also included.
Two microfilm reels, filmed by the Denver Public Library's Western History Department on March 17, 1970 form the series. All of the original documents are from the Greeley Municipal Museum, Greeley, Colorado
Microfilm reel Mflm 58 includes 275 documents. Correspondence of Nathan Meeker, Arvilla Meeker and Ralph Meeker is arranged into six groups. A seventh group includes original letters as well as excerpts, notes and transcriptions from letters written by early Union Colonists, in which they describe their experiences. The seven groups are identified by header sheets on the microfilm reel.
Microfilm reel Mflm 144 includes Union Colony of Colorado land sales records, Weld County, Colorado and Union Colony of Colorado court records and a scrapbook of newspaper clippings and memorabilia relating to the Union Colony of Colorado and to Weld County.
The collection is open for research.
Nathan C. Meeker papers are the physical property of the Denver Public Library.
All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.
Nathan C. Meeker (1817-1879) was born on July 12, 1817 in Euclid, Ohio. At age 17, he traveled to New Orleans where he worked as a copy boy and wrote poetry. Meeker lived in several states between 1835 and 1843, working as a newspaper man, traveling salesman and teacher. In 1843, while teaching in New Jersey, Meeker suffered severe health problems and moved back to Ohio to live with his parents.
Meeker later worked for Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune. In 1869, Greeley selected Meeker, the Tribune's agricultural editor, to organize, build and supervise the Union Colony of Colorado, which Meeker established near present Greeley, Colorado in 1870. Greeley, who provided major funding for the colony, had been impressed by the area during his travels through the West in 1859. Meeker selected 700 applicants from more than 3,000 who responded to his advertisements. The colony was particularly known for its utopian and religious organization and for its extensive use of irrigation. Meeker worked tirelessly on the project, but lacked administrative skills. Although Greeley invested heavily in the colony, Meeker could not make it a financial success. When Greeley died in 1872, lawyers settled his estate, leaving Meeker deeply in debt to Greeley's heirs.
Meeker was still in debt in 1878 when he accepted a job as Indian agent at the White River Ute Indian Agency in Western Colorado. Meeker's wife Arvilla managed the agency store, and their daughter, Josephine, became the agency’s schoolteacher. Meeker proved incapable of working with the Utes, and his call for Army troops in September 1879 triggered a Ute uprising in which Meeker and numerous agency employees were killed.
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE - HORACE GREELEY
Horace Greeley (1811-1872) was born in Amherst, New Hampshire. Although he was the son of a poor farmer, Greeley declined a scholarship to Phillips Exeter Academy and left school at age 14. He apprenticed as a printer in Poultney, Vermont and later moved to New York City where, in 1834, he founded a weekly paper, The New Yorker.
Greeley agreed to edit The Jeffersonian, a New York Whig newspaper in 1838. He also edited the pro-Whig journal, Log Cabin, during the 1840 presidential election. In 1841, Greeley established the New York Tribune, a newspaper he would edit for over thirty years. Greeley campaigned against alcohol, tobacco, gambling, prostitution and capital punishment while supporting socialist and feminist causes. However, Greeley's primary passion was for the abolition of slavery. In 1841, he merged his various newspapers into the New York Tribune, which became one of America's leading newspapers, while serving as a platform for Greeley's views.
Elected as a Whig to the Thirtieth Congress, Greeley served in the U.S. House of Representatives from December 4, 1848, to March 3, 1849. Following the demise of the Whig Party, Greeley supported the Free Soil Party. He campaigned against the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, and in 1854 he helped to form the Republican Party. Although Greeley supported Abraham Lincoln for President, he criticized many of Lincoln's policies. Greeley also supported Republican candidate, Ulysses Grant in the 1868 election but subsequently broke with Grant to help form the Liberal Republican Party in 1872.
The Liberal Republican Party nominated Greeley for President in 1872, and he was also officially endorsed by the Democratic Party. As a candidate, Greeley argued for an end to the post-Civil War Reconstruction of the South. Greeley proved to be an inept campaigner and became the object of vicious attacks by cartoonist Thomas Nast in Harper's Weekly. Shortly after losing the election to President Grant, Greeley died on November 29, 1872. A close friend said that Greeley had been "crushed by the unmerciful ridicule Nast had heaped on him."
1 Boxes (.5 linear feet)
4 reels ilm (Mflm58; Mflm144; Mflm186)
Other Finding Aids
The collection combines former collections -M1609 Horace Greeley Papers, -M1627 J.C. Shattuck Papers and -M1634 Union Colony of Colorado Records, which all deal with Meeker and the Union Colony of Colorado, into WH1680 Nathan Meeker Papers.
The Denver Public Library purchased portions of Nathan Meeker's Papers from Fred Rosenstock in 1970 and from Hazel E. Johnson in 1972. Rozene Meeker donated additional materials to the collection, however, the date of her donation is unknown. The Denver Public Library purchased Horace Greeley's Papers from Fred Rosenstock. The date of this purchase is not known. Joseph Shattuck's Union Colony member list is from an unknown donor and date of donation. The Denver Public Library purchased Union Colony of Colorado Records from Fred Rosenstock in 1967 and from Michael D. Heston in 1997.
Number of Boxes: 1 (.5 linear feet)
Oversize: 1 Box
Microfilm: 4 reels (Mflm58; Mflm144; Mflm186)
- Administrative records. Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Collective settlements -- History. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Correspondence. Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Financial records. Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Greeley (Colo.) -- History. Subject Source: Lcnaf
- Greeley, Horace, 1811-1872 -- Correspondence.
- Letters. Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Meeker family -- Archives.
- Meeker, Arvilla Delight Smith, 1815-1905 -- Archives.
- Meeker, Nathan, Cook, 1814-1879 -- Archives.
- Meeker, Ralph, 1845- -- Archives.
- Membership lists. Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Microfilms. Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Planned communities -- History. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Union Colony of Colorado -- Archival resources.
- Weld County (Colo.) -- History. Subject Source: Lcnaf
- NATHAN C. MEEKER PAPERS
- February 2008
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