Overview of the Collection
Scope and Content
Overview of the Collection
Title: George H. Mendell Correspondence
Bulk dates: 1897-1899
Collection Number: mssHM 77770-77910
Mendell, George H. (George Henry), 1831-1902
141 items in 2 boxes
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Abstract: This collection consists of letters from George H. Mendell to D.D. Clarke, engineer
of the Water Board for Portland, Oregon, between 1897 and 1899. Mendell
writes detailed letters of instruction and advice for engineering issues raised by
Clarke, particularly regarding drainage, wells, and the sinking of shafts.
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[Identification of item]. George H. Mendell Correspondence, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
Purchased from Ian Brabner, Bookseller on May 1, 2012.
Colonel George Henry Mendell was born in Pennsylvania in 1831 and graduated from the
United States Military Academy in 1852. Mendell joined the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers and served with a variety of topographical surveys before the Civil War,
including the survey of the Northwestern Lakes (1852-1854) and various posts in the
Oregon and Washington Territory (1855-1858). He was also an assistant professor at
the U.S. Military Academy from 1859-1863. During the Civil War he served under
Colonel Miles in the Manassas Campaign (1861) and carried on siege operations in the
Petersburg, Virginia area (1864); was Assistant Engineer of Defenses of Baltimore
(1864); and was Superintending Engineer of the construction of the Defenses of New
Bedford Harbor, Massachusetts (1865) and the Preservation of Plymouth Beach,
Massachusetts (1866). He was made a Colonel for his war service in 1865 and
subsequently became superintending engineer in charge of fortifications of Alcatraz
Island and Lime Point, San Francisco Harbor (beginning 1867) and for defenses of the
Columbia River (1867-1871). He later served on the board of engineers for
fortifications of the Pacific Coast (1867-1886); on the commission for a system of
irrigation for the San Joaquin, Tulare, and Sacramento Valleys (1873-1874); was
Supervising Engineer of Districts in California, Oregon, and Washington in charge of
junior officers (1884-1888); was Division Engineer for Inspection of Engineer Works
in the Pacific territory (beginning in 1888); was Division Engineer of the Pacific
Division (until 1895); and was in charge of construction of defenses of San
Francisco Harbor (1890-1895). In civilian life he worked as Engineer to the Water
Commissioners of San Francisco (1876-1878), was the author of a report on water
supply for San Francisco (1877), and was Consulting Engineer for the State of
California (1878-1880). Mendell retired from the Engineering Corps due to mandatory
age requirements in 1895. Following his military retirement he worked as a
consulting engineer in San Francisco, where he died in 1902. The Battery Mendell at
Fort Barry was named in his honor.
Scope and Content
Collection of letters from George H. Mendell to D.D. Clarke - who was Engineer of the
Water Board for Portland, Oregon – written between 1897 and 1899. Mendell writes
detailed letters of instruction and advice for engineering issues raised by Clarke,
particularly regarding drainage, wells, and the sinking of shafts. The majority of
the letters were written from Mendell’s office in San Francisco, although some
originated in Los Angeles or Springfield, Illinois, where Mendell had traveled “on
account of mental illness of a relative” in 1897. He also mentions meeting with
Clarke in Portland on his return trip from Illinois in September 1897. Also included
in the collection are a few other pieces of miscellaneous correspondence from
1894-1899 relating to water engineering in Portland.
The collection is arranged chronologically in two boxes.
Mendell, George H.
(George Henry), 1831-1902.