Emerson J. Short and Haskell Family Correspondence Collection, 1899-1923

Overview of the Collection

Emerson J. Short and Haskell Family Correspondence Collection
1899-1923 (inclusive)
.25 linear feet of shelf space, (1 box)
Collection Number
Cage 829 (collection)
Collection of more than one hundred items, predominantly letters. Many are associated with the legal and mining business interests of Emerson J. Short, others with the Haskell family, and a handful of others associated with neither Short nor the Haskells. All items share a Denver, Colorado, origin. Besides being of interest to researchers in mining finance, those investigating women's roles in early twentieth century America may also plumb this collection for the letters to and from women recruited as stock agents for a western mining company in New York, as well as other cities, and for the profiles of two never-married sisters who were Denver school teachers.
Washington State University Libraries' Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC)
Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections
Terrell Library Suite 12
Pullman, WA
Telephone: 509-335-6691
Access Restrictions

This collection is open and available for research use.

English, with a few items in German.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Emerson J. Short was born in Ohio in 1860, settled in Denver, Colorado, and practiced law there from 1891 until his death early in 1920. That year's U.S. Census identified him as a lawyer married to Olive K. Short with an adult daughter Genevieve J., born in 1887 and working as a teacher. Olive Short continued to live with her daughter at 1531 South Washington until her death in 1927, after which Genevieve stayed in the house until 1934 when she disappeared from the Denver householders' directories.

The Short-related letters in this collection concern his law practice and his involvement in two mining companies: the Hecla Copper and Gold Mining, Milling and Smelting Company (later simply the Hecla Mining Company) with offices in Denver and operations in Laramie County, Wyoming; and the Union Mining and Development Company with offices also in Denver and mine properties in Boulder County, Colorado. Denver city directories indicated that Short shared a law practice with Elmer M. Sheridan when Short first arrived in Denver in 1891. Short practiced alone after 1894, except for a few years of partnership with George C. Norris, until Norris left Denver in 1902. An officer for each mining company, Short was president of the Union Mining and Development Company until his death, after which Mrs. Olive Short was listed as president and treasurer (source: 1922 "Mines Handbook"). Short served briefly as secretary for the Hecla Mining Company from its 1901 founding into 1903, when he resigned due to objections to stock marketing techniques promoted by the company's president Henry Schwartz. Short's Denver law partner George C. Norris remained a company officer even after his move to New York in 1902.

Connected to Emerson Short by neither blood nor marriage, members of the Haskell family also contributed to this collection. Thomas Nelson Haskell was a pastor who moved his family from Massachusetts to Colorado in 1873. That same year he founded Colorado College and became its first financial officer. Despite increasingly poor health precluding him from serving as a full-time pastor in Denver, Haskell wrote extensively, from poetry to political addresses, and was appointed chaplain to the Colorado State Senate in 1891. Married to Annie (or Ann) E. (Eliza Edwards) Haskell, Haskell had two surviving daughters, Annie (or Ann) N. (Nelson), born in 1862, and Mary (or May) E. (Eliza), born in 1869. According to Denver's Fairmount Sexton Cemetery records, Thomas Haskell died in 1906, his wife in 1921, daughter Annie in 1945, and daughter Mary in 1956. The Haskell family home, built in 1892 at 1651 Emerson Street, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Most of the correspondence is between the two daughters, and especially letters from Mary to Annie. Selected Denver city directories from 1894 to 1905 identified both Annie N. and Mary E. as teachers. Mary later appeared as a secretary and by the 1920s as librarian at East Side High School. Annie appears to have lived in California through the 1910s, until being listed again in the 1923 Denver city directory as a teacher.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

These letters were purchased as philatelic materials by the donor Charles Gardner Shaw, a professor of plant pathology at Washington State University. The letters are, for the most part, associated with Emerson J. Short, but two dozen are between the Haskell sisters whose connection to Short, if any, is unclear. The collection also includes a small number of miscellaneous items.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Preferred Citation

[Item Description] Emerson J. Short and Haskell Family Correspondence Collection, 1899-1923

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


This collection of about one hundred items is arranged in six series. Series 1-4 contain correspondence related to Emerson Short and his legal practice and mining business, Series 5 contains correspondence of members of the Haskell family, and Series 6 contains miscellaneous correspondence that could not be connected to either Emerson Short or the Haskell family.


Series 1: Short Law practice (1899-1916). Letters to and from Short about a variety of legal cases including one involving the German Consulate at St. Louis.

Series 2: Short-Culman Letters (1901, 1903). Three letters from Harry or Henry Culman who evidently knew Short when Culman lived in Denver before 1901. Culman wrote to Short from San Francisco after Culman had been rounded up and interrogated by Secret Service agents due to a remark he reportedly made to a neighbor after President McKinley was shot on 14 September 1901. Culman was never charged, but wrote Short to ask him if he would take on a slander suit that Culman wished to pursue because the publicity surrounding his arrest had made it difficult for him to find work. Culman included newspaper clippings about being detained by Secret Service agents with his letter. In them he is referred to as a Socialist, a "Member of Anarchist Band," and someone who admitted that he attended lectures delivered by Emma Goldman when she visited San Francisco. Culman explained to Short the activism of the Socialist Party of California, the challenging conditions for working people in San Francisco, and the labor tensions due to many strikes. Culman wrote to Short again in 1903 by which time he was a jeweler in Hawaii.

Series 3: Short-Hecla Mining Company (1902-1905 and undated). The Hecla Copper and Gold Mining, Milling and Smelting Company was founded in 1901 and then reorganized in 1904 as the Hecla Mining Company with offices in Denver and operations in Laramie County, Wyoming. The company was listed as "[p]robably dead" in the 1922 "Mines Handbook." This group of nearly thirty letters concerns the early history of the company and especially the sale of stock. The company employed stock agents, among whom the most prominent was Edith Velaro, represented here by numerous letters on stationery with the letterhead "Mrs. Edith Velaro" and "Fiscal Agent for the Hecla Copper and Gold Mining, Milling and Smelting Company." Velaro was an entrepreneur not only in stock but also cosmetic sales. Historian Kathy Peiss in "Hope in a Jar: The Making of America's Beauty Culture" identified Velaro as Ida Lee Secrest of Chanute, Kansas, who became the "cosmetic artiste" Madame Edith Velaro in New York City. George C. Norris, Hecla Vice President, evidently recruited Mrs. Velaro in New York, repeatedly praised her sales ability to his Denver partners, and predicted she could sell $25,000 worth of Hecla stock in the second half of 1902. Another stock agent in the first years of the company was Eleanor Kirk. Kirk wrote for the suffragist newspaper "The Revolution," authored "how to" guides such as "Periodicals that Pay Contributors," and founded the magazine "Eleanor Kirk's Idea." Kirk mailed out the company prospectus to 1200 to 1500 "Idea" subscribers. The letters list at least three other women engaged in the sale of Hecla stock from Tacoma, Washington, to West Virginia. In the handful of letters from male stock agents, one in Oakland, California, wrote to the company about stock sales to Chinese investors and sought approval to continue such transactions. The last letter detailed mismanagement of funds by the company president and possible defrauding of investors as a result.

Series 4: Short-Union Mining and Development Company (1916). The Union Mining and Development Company was founded in 1903 with offices in Denver and mine properties in Boulder County, Colorado. A 1908 "Engineering and Mining Journal" article noted that Chicago men had purchased the mine and that Short and associates planned to develop it. In the correspondence here, all from 1916, Short was listed as the company's president and the letters solicited the addressees to purchase stock in the company. The letters cited the tungsten ore and the increased price, due to the war and tungsten's use to alloy with steel. By 1922 the "Mines Handbook" described the company as "[i]dle since 1917" and identified Short's widow as the company's president and contact.

Series 5: Haskell Family Correspondence (1905-1920 and undated). This correspondence is primarily between the surviving Haskell daughters, Mary E. or May, and Ann N. or Annie, and in particular the letters from Mary to Annie. Mary often signed them with the initials "B" and "M." "B" or Bedelia was never identified. Only Mary and her mother Ann were listed in Denver city directories as residents of 1651 Emerson Street. Mary wrote to her sister Ann N. or Annie who seemed to be in California, resided for some time in Berkeley, and in 1915 attended the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. Mary's letters often encouraged Annie to attend college in California and referred to changing requirements in Colorado that required high school teachers to have a college degree.

Series 6: Miscellaneous (1917-1923 and undated). Unrelated to the Emerson Short and Haskell family correspondence are several letters from unknown correspondents, some on United States Geological Survey stationery, and a couple of documents connected to J. Stanley Edwards and his insurance office in Denver in the first decades of the 20th century.

Acquisition Information

Charles Gardner Shaw donated this collection to the Washington State University Libraries in 1994 (MS.1994.54). A donor note preserved in the processing file indicates that Shaw, a stamp collector, purchased these letters for their philatelic value.

Processing Note

Susan Vetter processed this collection in 2015.

Related Materials

At Colorado College: Thomas Nelson Haskell Papers, Ms0013, includes papers of Annie N. and Mary E. Haskell.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series 1. Short Law practice, 1899-1916Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1
Correspondence: approximately 12 letters to and from Short regarding various legal matters, holograph and typewritten.

Series 2. Short-Culman letters, 1901, 1903Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 2
Correspondence: three letters (holograph and typewritten) to Short from H. Culman including newspaper clippings.

Series 3. Short: Hecla Mining Company, 1902-1905 and undatedReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 3
Correspondence: approximately 25 holograph and typewritten letters, primarily to the Hecla Copper and Gold Mining, Milling and Smelting Company, and a couple of stock orders from Jan Chong and Nellie Holms in California.

Series 4. Short: Union Mining and Development Company, 1916Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 4
Correspondence: holograph letter from Short recruiting a stock salesman and more than 20 typewritten form letters from Union Mining and Development Company over Short's signature to individuals, men and women, in various states, extolling the guaranteed high return on an investment in the company. The first set described the mine's investment prospects and included blank stock orders with the 37 cents cash and 38 cents installment plan prices. The second set was to stockholders and encouraged them to buy more stock.

Series 5. Haskell Family correspondence , 1905-1920 and undatedReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 5
Holograph letters (approximately 24 items), almost all to Ann or Annie Haskell from her sister in Denver, May or Mary Haskell.

Series 6. Miscellaneous, 1917-1923 and undatedReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 6
Miscellaneous items (materials without clear connection to either Emerson Short or the Haskell family): eight holograph letters to and from various individuals, and three printed documents from J. Stanley Edwards and his Aetna Life Insurance Company agency in Denver, Colorado.
Processing file (collection documentation)

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top