George Suckley Papers, 1853-1863

Overview of the Collection

Suckley, George, 1830-1869 ; Stevens, Isaac Ingalls, 1818-1862
George Suckley Papers
1 folder
Collection Number
Collection 2600, MtBC, us (collection)
The Suckley Papers consist of three autographed letters he received from Isaac I. Stevens, a newspaper clipping, and two engravings of Stevens printed during the Civil War.
Montana State University Library, Merrill G. Burlingame Special Collections
Montana State University-Bozeman Library
Merrill G Burlingame Special Collections
P.O. Box 173320
Bozeman, MT
Telephone: 4069944242
Fax: 4069942851
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

George Suckley was born in 1830 in New York City. In April 1853 Suckley was appointed assistant surgeon and naturalist to the Pacific Railroad Survey of the 47th and 49th parallels between St. Paul, Minnesota, and Fort Vancouver, Washington Territory, under the command of Isaac I. Stevens. His work on the survey included a 1,049 mile, 53-day canoe trip down the Bitter Root, Clark's Fork, and Columbia Rivers to Fort Vancouver, during which he made extensive natural history collections. Although commissioned as a surgeon with the U.S. Army, Suckley resigned to pursue his work as a naturalist during the latter 1850s. On the outbreak of the Civil War, Suckley rejoined the Army and was commissioned Surgeon of Volunteers. He served for the duration of the war, resigning April 22, 1865. Suckley died July 30, 1869, in New York City.

Isaac Ingalls Stevens was born in 1818 in Massachusetts. He was the first Governor of Washington Territory, serving 1853-1857. He also served as a United States Congressman and a brigadier general in the Union Army during the American Civil War until his death at the Battle of Chantilly in 1862.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Suckley papers consist of three autographed letters he received from Isaac I. Stevens, a newspaper clipping, and two engravings of Stevens printed during the Civil War. The earliest letter, dated October 2, 1853, Flathead Village, St. Mary’s Valley, gives Suckley his specific orders for exploration by the most practical route to Olympia, Washington Territory. The second letter, dated April 18, 1853 is a “true copy” of an order written by George Simpson of the Hudson Bay House, Lachine, Canada. The order advises all Hudson Bay employees to extend courtesies and supplies to Isaac Stevens and his surveying party while passing through the northwest on their surveying trip. This letter has a handwritten endorsement by Stevens dated October 3, 1853, St. Mary’s Valley, for Suckley’s use during his reconnaissance. The final letter was written by Stevens on August 4, 1858 from Washington, D. C., requesting that Suckley provide him with specific information on various rapids along the Columbia River and river boat navigation possibilities. The newspaper clipping is from the December 30, 1859 edition of the Puget Sound Herald and concerns a critique of the territorial governor’s recently published message. The engravings are a formal portrait of Stevens and a depiction of his death at the battle of Chantilly, Virginia.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Acquisition Information

Original handwritten letters from Isaac I. Stevens to George Suckley and related materials were donated to Montana State University by Merrill G. Burlingame sometime prior to 1994.

Processing Note

This collection was processed 2015 August 5

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top