Scope and Content
Title: Rix Family Correspondence
Collection Number: mssHM
The Huntington Library,
Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2191
Abstract: Correspondence to Sarah Rix of
Connecticut from various family members, including her brother Charles Allen Rix in
Dunlap, Iowa. Charles' correspondence, as well as that of his nephew George Tracy
Rix, describes life in Iowa from 1870-1903. Other letters in the collection trace
family connections and events in Connecticut in the later part of the 19th century.
Language of Material: The records are in English.
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[Identification of item]. Rix Family Correspondence, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
Purchased from Cowan's Auctions, Inc., on June 23, 2011.
Sarah Rix (1817-1889) was born in Connecticut on August 30, 1817. She never married and spent
many of her adult years living with her sisters and brothers-in-law. She died in
Charles Allen Rix was born in Preston, Connecticut, on January 21, 1820. In 1859 he
married Sarah Elizabeth Chapman (d. 1893) and the couple moved to Dunlap, Iowa.
Charles Rix was one of the nine children of Thomas Tracy Rix (1774-1859) and Mary
Jennings (1778-1876). Rix, his brother Thomas, and their sisters married extensively
into the Chapman and Burdick families.
Scope and Content
The collection consists almost entirely of letters sent to Sarah Rix by her family
members, primarily her brother Charles and sisters Nancy, Phebe, and Eunice, as well
as various nieces and nephews. Included are 61 letters sent by Charles Rix in
Dunlap, Iowa, from 1870-1894. Charles describes his life in Iowa extensively,
including notes on the landscape, his crops and success at farming, and his general
happiness with living in the West. He describes in detail the prices of agriculture,
livestock, and other living expenses over the course of the twenty years his letters
cover, and notes that in general the “cost…for provision and clothing is low.”
Charles also writes of family members, business affairs in Connecticut (he writes to
Sarah about selling their “old home” for a low price, for which he blames their
in-laws the Burdicks, noting “I have not much reason to Respect [them]”), of an 1883
cyclone, of an influx of immigrants from Illinois seeking to buy land, and of his
worry over his wife Sarah’s many illnesses. A series of letters written by Charles’
nephew George Tracy Burdick to his sister Mary Adelaide Burdick from 1901-1903 also
describe life in Iowa, where George worked in La Moille at the Kimball and Burdick
General Store. George writes of a great increase in land speculation in Iowa in
1901, but also notes that “the great rush has been on the Dakotas and Minnesota.” An
earlier letter describes his trip to Chicago in 1885.
The remaining letters mainly consist of those written to Sarah Rix from her sisters
and nieces in Connecticut. The majority of these cover news on family members and
acquaintances, including weddings, births, deaths, marriages, and illnesses,
particularly scarlet fever, pneumonia, and “deranged spells.” An unsigned letter
chronicles the Centennial International Exhibition in Philadelphia (1876). Another
letter by an unknown friend of Ella Burdick Burton written in 1887 relates details
of religious fervor in Manchester, New Hampshire, which the friend writes is “unlike
any ordinary place because there are so many Christians who have had deep religious
experiences.” Also included in the collection are several cartes-de-visite and other
The correspondence is arranged chronologically in three boxes, followed by ephemera:
Box 1: Correspondence, 1868-1882
Box 2: Correspondence, 1883-1903
- Box 3: Correspondence, photographs, and ephemera, undated
Centennial Exhibition (1876:
Frontier and pioneer
(Ill.)--Description and travel.