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RG0844.AM:  Charles Henry Van Wyck, 1824-1895

Papers:  1860-1929

Wyoming, Otoe County, Nebraska:  U.S. Senator

Size:  One box


Charles Henry Van Wyck was born in Poughkeepsie, New York on May 10, 1824, the son of Theodore C. and Elizabeth Mason Van Wyck. He received a law degree from Rutgers College at the age of 18 and remained in the east for some time in the legal profession. He served in the 36th, 37th, 40th and 41st US Congresses from New York 10th district and also served as a Colonel in the 56th NY Volunteers during the Civil War. In 1865, he was appointed brevet Brigadier General. The 56th Regiment served in the Peninsular Campaign, participating in such battles as Williamsburg and Fair Oaks, and was also engaged in battles at Honey Hill, Deveaux Neck, Kingsville, and Dingle Mill.

Van Wyck married Kate Brodhead on September 15, 1869 in Washington, D.C. He had an interest in land development in Nebraska Territory and belonged to an investment firm (all members of the Van Wyck family) that preempted land in Nebraska as early as 1857. The bulk of the Van Wyck estate in Nebraska lay in Otoe County near Wyoming. However, Van Wyck also owned land in Thayer and Fillmore Counties. In 1874 he moved to Nebraska permanently and settled in Otoe County. He served in the Nebraska Constitutional Convention in 1875; as state senator from 1876-1880; and as U.S. Senator from 1881-1887, elected on the Republican ticket. He violently opposed the interests of the large corporations and railroads. This attitude led to his defeat in 1886 by A.S. Paddock. He changed his party affiliation to Populist, ran and was defeated for the office of Governor in 1892. After this defeat he left the political scene and moved to Washington, D.C. where he died on October 24, 1895.


This collection consists of manuscript material arranged in five series: 1) Correspondence 1928-1929; 2) Manuscripts; 3) Biographical Data; 4) Addresses; 5) Certificates.

This collection consists of materials gathered by Marie Harmer and J.L. Sellers during the preparation of an article on Charles Van Wyck which appeared in Volume 12 of Nebraska History Magazine. Also included is a copy of Marie Harmer’s MA Thesis on Charles Van Wyck.


Series 1 – Correspondence, 1928-1929

Box 1


  1. Correspondence between Sellers and county clerks on land holdings of Van Wyck

Series 2 – Manuscripts

  1. “The life of Charles Henry Van Wyck” by Marie Harmer (MA Thesis, University of Nebraska, Department of History, 1929)

  2. Van Wyck material arranged for use in Nebraska History, vol. 12, #2

  3. Van Wyck material arranged for use in Nebraska History, vol. 12, #2

Series 3 – Biographical data

  1. Biographical data regarding Charles Henry Van Wyck

Series 4 – Addresses

  1. Speech at Norfolk, Nebraska, July 4, 1885

    Speech before New York House of Representatives March 7, 1860

    Speech at Ag. College, Lincoln, Nebraska, September, 1885

Series 5 – Certificates

  1. Certificates of military appointments including Colonel and Bvt. Brigadier General


Subject headings:

Nebraska — Politics and government

United States — Politics and government

Van Wyck, Charles Henry, 1824-1895


Revised TMM       04-19-2007