Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Ellen Kays letters

Abstract

The Ellen Kays letters (dated 1860-1862; 0.014 cubic feet; 1 folder) comprise letters sent to Ellen Kays from Hugh McLaughlin and Nancy Fitzgerald that document the political and social life of Brooklyn, New York in the early 1860s.

Descriptive Summary

Title
Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Ellen Kays letters
Creator
McLaughlin, Ellen Kays, 1830-1915
Extent
0.014 Cubic Feet
Subjects
Correspondence.
Letters.
Love-letters
Politics
Politics -- New York City.
Politicians.
Politicians -- New York (State).
Arrangement
Collection is arranged chronologically. The Wade Hall Collection of American Letters has been processed into discrete collections based on provenance.
Finding Aid Author
Sarah Coblentz
Preferred Citation
2009ms132.0352: [identification of item], Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Ellen Kays letters, 1860-1862, University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.
Repository
University of Kentucky

Collection Overview

Biography / History
Ellen S. Kays (1830-1915) was born in Lafayette, New Jersey to Martin Kays (1789-1875) and Mary Ann Dusenberry (1800-1893). Ellen was the granddaughter of John Kays, a Revolutionary War officer and aide to General George Washington. In 1862, she married Hugh Boss McLaughlin (1827-1904), whom she met while he was a foreman at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Together the couple had at least one child, Helen (1868-1936). Throughout her life, Ellen was an active worker in the Catholic Church in Brooklyn, focusing on hospitals and homes for children, but she also erected the Church of St. Hugh in memory of her husband in Long Island. Due to her work for the church, Pope Pius X gave her the title of Marchioness of the Papal nobility in 1908.
Ellen's husband, Hugh McLaughlin, was a prominent American politician and was the boss of the Democratic Party in Brooklyn for many years. He ran for sheriff of Kings County in 1860, but failed to win the vote. In 1861, he was elected to the office of Kings County Register of Deeds, which he held for three consecutive terms. By 1862, he had become the boss of the Brooklyn ring, a well-known political machine in Brooklyn, and dominated local politics for many years even though many mayors attempted to roll back the machine's influence. McLaughlin was integral to the creation of Prospect Park and the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. In 1898, Brooklyn merged with New York City and McLaughlin's ring came into conflict with political machine Tammany Hall; by 1903, McLaughlin was forced to retire from politics and within a year he had passed away due to a heart attack.
American Letters collector Wade Hall (1934-2015) was a native of Union Springs, Alabama. Starting in 1962, he lived in Louisville, where he taught English and chaired the English and Humanities/Arts programs at Kentucky Southern College and Bellarmine University. He also taught at the University of Illinois and the University of Florida. He held degrees from Troy State University (B.S.), the University of Alabama (M.A.), and the University of Illinois (Ph.D.). He served for two years in the U.S. Army in the mid-fifties. Dr. Hall was the author of books, monographs, articles, plays, and reviews relating to Kentucky, Alabama, and Southern history and literature. His most recent books include A Visit with Harlan Hubbard; High Upon a Hill: A History of Bellarmine College; A Song in Native Pastures: Randy Atcher's Life in Country Music; and Waters of Life from Conecuh Ridge.
Sources:
McNamara, P. (2011, December 07). Marchioness Ellen McLaughlin (1829-1915), Brooklyn, New York. Retrieved March 21, 2019, from https://www.patheos.com/blogs/mcnamarasblog/2011/12/marchioness-ellen-mclaughlin-1829-1915-brooklyn-new-york.html
Wikipedia contributors. (2019, February 22). Hugh McLaughlin (politician). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15:41, March 21, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Hugh_McLaughlin_(politician)&oldid=884496630
Scope and Content
The Ellen Kays letters (dated 1860-1862; 0.014 cubic feet; 1 folder) comprise letters sent to Ellen Kays from Hugh McLaughlin and Nancy Fitzgerald that document the political and social life of Brooklyn, New York in the early 1860s. The majority of the letters are from Hugh to Ellen, who he affectionately calls Nellie, and discuss his work at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, his desire to visit her, visiting her family, going out with friends, running for sheriff in 1860 and losing, running for Register of Deeds in 1861 and winning, his thoughts on politics and politicians of the time, and the effect of the election of Lincoln as President. He also writes about going to the theatre, going gunning in the country for wild game, and his feelings for her. There are two letters from a friend or possible sister-in-law, Nancy Fitzgerald, and she writes about the health of her brother, family members in the hospital, visits from the McLaughlin family, and her personal health.
The Ellen Kays letters are part of the Wade Hall Collection of American letters, which includes correspondence and diaries from all over North America covering the time period of the Civil to Korean Wars. The materials were collected by Wade Hall and document everyday men and women.

Restrictions on Access and Use

Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Access Collection is open to researchers by appointment.
Use Restrictions
The physical rights to the materials in this collection are held by the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.

Contents of the Collection

Letters to Ellen Kays, 1860-1862

  • Box WH-16, folder 9
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For all other questions, contact us at: https://libraries.uky.edu/ContactSCRC.

Researchers are required to have an SCRC Researcher Account in order to request or order digital copies of materials. Research Account set-up and use instructions can be found at: http://libguides.uky.edu/SCRCaccount

If you are visiting the Breckinridge Research Room, please request materials at least 48 business hours in advance of your arrival.

For all other questions, contact us at: https://libraries.uky.edu/ContactSCRC.

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