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Shoemaker papers

Identifier: MS 1968


This collection relates chiefly to the Shoemaker family of Baltimore, Maryland. While there are some business papers related to the Adams Express Company and various financial receipts and land documents, most of the collection is comprised of correspondence between the various members of the Shoemaker family. For the most part the correspondence is personal in nature and consists chiefly of family news exchanged between members of the Shoemaker clan (including related Ecclestons and Harpers).


  • 1824-1955


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This collection is available for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Biographical / Historical

Samuel Moor Shoemaker, Sr. (1821-1884)

Born in 1821, at Bayou La Fourche, Louisiana, the infant Shoemaker was brought to Maryland by his widowed mother. After spending his youth in Carroll County, near Taneytown, he departed to attend Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. Shoemaker returned to Baltimore to embark upon a business career.

Samuel Shoemaker found early success. The twenty year old was appointed as the agent for the Rappahannock Steam Packet Company. Despite a short digression into the grocery business, Shoemaker soon assumed the agency of another shipping company, the Erricson Line. In 1843, with only two years of transfer service experience, Shoemaker was approached to form an express line between Philadelphia and Baltimore under the auspices of the Adam's Express Company.

Adams Express eventually formed a national network. Founded in 1840 by Alvin Adams, the company had its modest beginning as a Vermont delivery service. Adams, in cooperation with William B. Dinsmore of New York City, E. S. Sanford of Philadelphia, and Samuel Shoemaker, expanded its focus and greatly enlarged its operations. By 1854, Adams Express was incorporated as one of the three major shipping services, along with American Express Co., and later, Well's, Fargo ; Co. Adams Express became the largest of the three, with operations along the Eastern seaboard, and as far west as California when the gold rush exploded. At its peak in the 1880's, the company had 7,800 employees, 1826 wagons and 2,235 horses.

His leadership of the Adam's Express Company Baltimore regional office brought Shoemaker financial prosperity. He bought the Hygia Hotel at Old Point Comfort, Virginia, and was part owner in the Adams White Lead Company. The 1860 U.s. Census revealed his combined real estate and personal worth at less than two hundred thousand; by his death in 1884, Shoemaker had achieved a fortune of approximately 1.4 million dollars.

As his success grew Shoemaker played an increasing role Baltimore's business and charitable society. He appeared to prefer a less visible leadership role in these endeavors. Receipts in this collection reveal personal and company contributions to many various organizations.

Despite Shoemaker's business ties to the South he appeared to maintain a staunch Unionist stance during the Civil War. In the aftermath of Gettysburg, his company organized a hospital corps and sent supplies to alleviate the wounded. At the cessation of hostilities, Shoemaker, as part of the newly organized Maryland Union Committee, rendered financial and material assistance to the impoverished of the South.

In post-war years Shoemaker associated with notable Republicans on the national level. It appears, however, that Shoemaker was content to play a low-key role in political campaign matters. James Garfield, Rutherford B. Hayes, James G. Blaine, and Schuyler Colfax are counted among his correspondents. A friendship, spanning over twenty years, appeared to exist between Samuel Shoemaker and Colfax (Indiana U.S. Representative; Speaker of the House, 1863-65; Vice-president under Grant, 1869-73). The Shoemaker's hosted a reception at their city dwelling for President Grant in 1877; Grant attended the wedding of their daughter Sallie. In 1881, in an effort to facilitate in President Garfield's recovery from his wounds suffered during his assassination attempt, Shoemaker sent a cow to the White House so the chief executive could receive a standardized, and more healthful, milk supply.

Samuel Shoemaker's health failed in 1883. For at least a year he attempted various measures to restore his vigor. Some included: Electromagnetic treatments, compound oxygen therapy, the natural springs at the Fountain Spring House in Wisconsin. Resigning from Adam's Express in February 1884, Shoemaker died on May 31 at Old Point Comfort, Virginia. Ex-Vice President Schuyler Colfax escorted his remains back to Baltimore for burial.

Augusta Eccleston Shoemaker (1833-1907)

Augusta Shoemaker was the daughter of Judge John Bowers Eccleston, a prominent Maryland Jurist from Kent County. Upon her 1853 marriage, Mrs. Shoemaker began the formidable tasks of managing a household and raising a large family. Her duties involved the supervision of servants, the planning of social functions, the coordination of yearly family moves and numerous other activities.

Shoemaker was also involved with many charitable concerns. She played a leadership role in the Baltimore Orphan Asylum and sat on the board of other organizations. In 1864, she was a senior member of the women's committee for the Baltimore Sanitary Fair; her duties involved fundraising and along with other organizational efforts. It appears that she routinely gave sums of money in response to individual solicitations from hospital patients and indigents (as evidenced by their pleas, and her notations for amounts to be forwarded, among her papers). After her husband's death she resided at their residence on St. Paul Street.

Note: correspondence from grandchildren to her is sometimes addressed as Dear Nana.

The Children of Samuel and Augusta Shoemaker

Augusta Eccleston (1855-) m. William Cloud Boylston (4-26-1876)

Sallie Fields (1856-) m. Charles Ridgely Barrett (1-30-1878)

Miriam Eccleston (1857-) m. Edward Murray (12-7-1881)

Blanche (1859-1898) m. Frederick W. Brune (4-30-1885)

Ellen (1861-) m. John J. Donaldson (11-17-1885)

Samuel Moor (1861-1933) m. Ellen Ward Whitridge (11-19-1884)

John Bowers Eccleston (1867-1880)

Edward (1870-) m. Elizabeth Hall Turnbull (6-1-1893)

Bessie (1871-) m. Thomas Whitridge (4-19-1894)

Samuel Moor Shoemaker, Jr. (1861-1933)

Shoemaker was born in Baltimore. Childhood letters from the 1870's detail aspects of family trips he experienced. After attending the College of New Jersey (Princeton), he embarked upon a business career. Shoemaker began his working life by clerking in the wholesale grocery business at the firm of Dinsmore ; Kyle. He eventually immersed himself in the field of cattle breeding. Burnside became noted for its prize livestock. Shoemaker assumed the presidency of the national cattle breeder's association. Later, in 1902 he sat on the Maryland State Roads Commission.

Shoemakers' papers concern aspects of his profession as well as family concerns. The death of Blanche Shoemaker Brune (1898) and her husband Frederick W. Brune (1899), initiated a controversy over the guardianship of their children between the Shoemaker and Brune families.

Ellen Ward Whitridge Shoemaker (1863-1954)

Also known as Nellie, she was a member of a prominent Baltimore family. Involved with numerous charitable efforts. Churchwomen; president of the Women's Auxiliary of the Diocese of Maryland.

Samuel Moor Shoemaker, III (1893-1963)

Samuel Shoemaker became a noted Episcopalian priest. Attended St. George's boarding school at Newport, Rhode Island. Schooled at Princeton, Shoemaker was active in the campus branch of the Y.M.C.A. and worked as a missionary in China. Ordained into the ministry during in 1921 he assumed the assistant rectorship at Grace Church in New York City; he later became the rector of Calvary Church. Shoemaker was an author of the twelve steps creed of the Alcoholics Anonymous.

Shoemaker's youth and early adult letters are featured in this collection. 1898 letters detail a trip to Yellowstone Park. Brief notes to his mother, written on birch bark and sent through the U.S. mail, describe a 1906 trip to the Thousand Islands.

After boarding school Shoemaker attended Princeton University. In 1917, a year after his graduation, he traveled to the Far East to visit and work at various church missions sponsored by Protestant churches and the Princetom arm of the Y.M.C.A. His letters home describe the area, native converts and their lifestyle (a 10/8/1917 note describes Yokohama, Japan). Correspondence from Betty Allen attributes her personal religious committment to Shoemaker's influence.

Mrs. Samuel Moor Shoemaker, III

Helen Dominick Smith, daughter of H. Alexander Smith, U.S. Senator from New Jersey, greatly assisted her husband in all his projects. She was herself a writer and authored several books.

J. Eccleston Harper

Harper was a writer and playwright in fin de siecle Paris. Original manuscripts for a number of his works, including the play The Red Sphinx, exist. Harper also penned a number of children's stories and pieces of short poetry; he also translated

Jane C. Austin

Mrs. Austin acted as a companion/nurse to Mrs. Shoemaker, II (Ellen Whitridge Shoemaker) from 1944-1947. Incoming and outgoing correspondence details aspects of family life, Mrs. Shoemaker's health, and Austin's eventual move to the St. Luke's Home for Aged Women (in New York City). Brief letters from Reverend Shoemaker appear.


14.97 Linear Feet (1 flat box 3 half Hollinger boxes; 32 full Hollinger boxes)

Language of Materials



The first 21 boxes in this collection are arranged chronologically by year. The remaining boxes are arranged according to subject and document type.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mrs. Samuel Moor Shoemaker (neé Helen D. Smith), February 1973.

Related Materials

MS 1877, Samuel Shoemaker papers, 1868-1887

MS 1956, Shoemaker record books, 1862-1950

MS 2861, Shoemaker-Eccleston collection, 1818-1895

MS 3138, Shoemaker family printed ephemera collection, 1852-1912

Scope and Contents

The Shoemaker papers comprises thirty-six boxes of correspondence, notes, telegrams, receipts, lists, recipes and ephemera. Printed material, such as charitable organization reports, appear interspersed. Hand-drawn floor plans to the family home Burnside and an unidentified residence are also featured.

This collection spans from the early nineteenth century to 1954. The material is arranged in chronological order. A limited attempt to categorize some miscellaneous items by subject has been made. Refer to the container list for featured categories.

These papers provide a detailed overview into the everyday life of a wealthy and socially prominent Baltimore family. While aspects of Samuel Shoemaker's business career are noted, domestic and family concerns dominate. Shoemaker frequently wrote home during his travels; his letters contain inquiries about his family, as well as brief comments on politics and society. Adam's Express related items are generally concentrated in the 1870-80's era.

Correspondence between Samuel Shoemaker and the politician Schuyler Colfax (Indiana U.S. Representative; Speaker of the House, 1863-65; Vice-president under Grant, 1869-73) reveal a Warm friendship between the men. The Colfax letters, approximately twenty in total (ca. 1864-1884), mention national political campaigns and issues, as well as personal concerns and daily activities. A ca. 1864 letter mentions Colfax's visit to Lincoln's White House; an 1874 note mentions James G. Blaine's presidential campaign.

Letters written by Mrs. Ellen Colfax (the politician's second wife) to Mrs. Augusta Shoemaker also appear. One of the Shoemaker's daughters apparently visited the congressman's home in South Bend, Indiana; both families vacationed together at Chautaugua, New York.

Diverse aspects of local social and domestic life are featured within this collection. Areas discussed include attitudes regarding religion, benevolence, death, and mourning. References to the Civil War also occur. Travel letters, from the 1870-80's, detail experiences in European cities such as London, Paris, Bern and Amsterdam. Comments regarding the 19th century United States business climate can be found in the letters directed to S. M. Shoemaker, Sr. from David Kenner, an Adams Express local executive. Samuel Eccleston Harper penned his reaction to the outbreak of World War I. Aspects of missionary work in 1917-8 China are discussed in Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, III's letters.

Miscellaneous items detail aspects of daily life. Household management papers include grocery, packing, and invitation lists (one features invitees such as General and Mrs. Grant, J.G. Blaine and Schuyler Colfax receipts for items purchased (including toys for the Orphans Home), and recipes for both food and home health remedies. Word games, acrostics and poetry are also featured, as well as documents reflecting religious sentiments.

The collection also provides insight into women's lives. A number of letters directed to Mrs. Shoemaker (Ellen Ward Whitridge) describe the struggles of Louise Lottman, a young single woman, seeking employment in 1906. Lottman describes a workday in a sewing factory. Random correspondence from Elizabeth Patton to Cousin Nellie describes mission work in Batesville, Virginia; one contains a listing of items Patton needed.

Correspondence from family servants appears. Upon the Shoemaker's absence, Miss Isabella Smith or Miss Hanna Miller would write to describe household affairs and report on the health of their children. As part of their daily duties, the women appeared to assemble and sew garments for the family. In addition, inquiries from individuals seeking a domestic employment can be found.

Charitable appeals and reports, from individuals and in behalf of organizations, appear interspersed. They represent both local and national endeavors. A sample of associations include: Baltimore Throat Dispensary, Newsboy's Christmas Eve Festival (1880), The Society for the Protection of Children from Cruelty and Immorality (1883); Friendly Inn Association (1894); Home for Colored Girls (1903); Mrs. Osler's Tuberculosis Nurse Report, The Society for the Relief of Disabled Ministers, The Utica Normal ; Industrial Institute (for African-Americans located in Utica, Mississippi (1906), Baltimore General Dispensary (1907), Commission for Relief in Belgium (1915), Mission of Our Savior in Tanana, Alaska (1916), Church League for Industrial Democracy, Princeton University Center in China (1921) and others.

Commentary on the First World War appears. An August 2, 1915 letter from Moore Sater to Shoemaker describes Paris and the war wounded. A September 6, 1917 note from F.E. Carey, an Englishman, comments that an unexploded bomb fell through his roof. Samuel E. Harper reacted to the Kaiser's abdication in November 1918.

The twentieth century portion of this collection mostly concern the life and literary work of J. E(ccleston) Harper. Harper was a writer and playwright in fin de siecle Paris. Original manuscripts for a number of his works, including the play The Red Sphinx, exist. Harper penned numerous children's stories and pieces of short poetry. In addition, he translated various works from French to English.

Harper's letters predominate the portion of the collection from approximately 1912 to the early twenties. His insights regarding World War I, religion and society provide an overview to the times.

Guide to the Shoemaker papers
Under Revision
Robert W. Schoeberlein
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2020-01-06: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Mallory Herberger.

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States