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RG4011.AM:  LaMaster Family

Correspondence (on microfilm):  1849-1917

California; Nebraska City, Otoe County and Tecumseh, Johnson County, Neb.:  

Size:  2 reels of microfilm containing approximately 100 letters


Milton F. LaMaster, son of Hugh and Caroline J. (Iambe?) LaMaster, was born in Scott County, Indiana, March 23, 1828. His early life was spent in Lewiston, Ill. In 1852 LaMaster caught “gold fever” and went to California, where he was a miner until 1860. He then joined an expedition to the Frazer River in British Columbia. Afterward, he went to Nebraska City, Otoe County, Nebraska, stayed a short time, and went back to Illinois. In 1861 he returned to settle in Nebraska City, engaging in farming and freighting. When his brother, J.E. LaMaster, was chosen for the position of Internal Revenue Collector in 1867, Milton became his deputy. In 1872 Milton LaMaster was appointed Assistant Assessor for the district south of the Platte and held the office until it was abolished. He was appointed in 1878 as U.S. Government Storekeeper at the Willow Springs Distillery in Omaha, then moved to Lincoln in 1885. In 1902 he moved to St. Joseph, Missouri, for medical treatment. He died in St. Joseph in 1909.

Joseph Erwin LaMaster was born near Canton, Illinois, in June of 1830. He grew up in Lewiston, Illinois, where he learned the printing trade. LaMaster attended Knox College in 1849, then entered the mercantile business. Following his marriage in 1858 to Catherine (Kate) E. Rice, he settled in Nebraska City, Nebraska. He used his printing skills to found the Peoples Press, a Republican newspaper. He was later associated with the management of the Daily Chronicle. J.E. LaMaster was prominent in the early Republican politics of Nebraska. From 1867 until 1872, he served as Internal Revenue Collector for the state. He was chosen Contingent Congressman for Nebraska in 1870, but was never seated. In 1874 he was elected to the State Senate from the Third District. Around 1876 LaMaster moved to a farm near Tecumseh in Johnson County, and switched to the Democratic party. He held a number of offices during different Democratic administrations, and also served as a director of the State Normal School at Peru for several years. In 1886 the LaMasters moved to Lincoln. When his wife died in 1890, he moved back to Tecumseh. He lived there with his daughter until his death in 1902.


This collection is arranged in one series: 1) Correspondence: 1849-1917. The approximately 100 letters include some written by Milton F. LaMaster, and some received by Joseph E. LaMaster. Milton’s letters describe his situation in California during the gold rush days of the 1850s and his experiences in British Columbia. In these letters to his brother, Milton discusses the costs of food and provisions, his trip across the plains, the value of livestock in California, various business ventures and his financial situation.

Also of interest are the letters written to Joseph during the 1860s, 70s and 80s, which describe political plans and alliances. Joseph was allied with several prominent Nebraska politicians during this period and their letters discuss bills affecting Nebraska, appointments for political allies, Robert Furnas, J. Sterling Morton and other political activities. Correspondents include Lorenzo Crounse, Phineas W. Hitchcock, Thomas J. Majors, George L. Miller, J. Sterling Morton, Alvin Saunders, John Taffe, Thomas W. Tipton, C.H. Van Wyck, W.H.H. Waters and Jefferson B. Weston.

Other letters in the collection are from relatives, including several from E.A. Weddell, an aunt of Joseph LaMaster’s wife, and one from Hugh LaMaster, Joseph’s son. A few letters from friends are also present. Several of the gold rush and political letters were filmed with typed transcripts, provided by the donor. In some instances, however, only a brief section of the letter is transcribed. The material was filmed in this order: (a) original letter, (b) typed transcript (if included); (c) envelope (if included). Sometimes only the envelope was provided for a particular date. This was then filmed by itself.

Note:  Only the microfilm copies are available at NSHS; the original letters are in the collections of the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.


Series 1 – Correspondence, 1849-1917

Reel 1

Correspondence, 1849-1917 (Filmed in August, 1980)

Reel 2

Correspondence, 1853-1859 (3 letters – Filmed in October, 1980)



Crounse, Lorenzo, 1834-1909

Gold mines and mining — California

Gold mines and mining — Canada — British Columbia

Hitchcock, Phineas Warrener, 1831-1881

LaMaster, Hugh, 1869-1909

LaMaster, Joseph Erwin, 1830-1902

LaMaster, Milton F., 1828-1909

LaMaster family

Majors, Thomas Jefferson, 1841-1932

Miller, George Lorin, 1831-1920

Morton, Julius Sterling, 1832-1902

Overland journeys to the Pacific

Politicians — Nebraska

Politics and government — Nebraska

Republican Party — Nebraska

Saunders, Alvin, 1817-1899

Taffe, John, 1827-1884

Tipton, Thomas Weston, 1817-1899

Van Wyck, Charles Henry, 1824-1895

Waters, William Henry Harrison, 1835-1892

Weston, Jefferson Burns, 1821-1905


AIP/lm   10-29-1980

kfk   04-20-1999

Encoded TMM   05-26-2010