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Wentworth Adams family papers

Identifier: MC103

Scope and Content Note

The collection is comprised of correspondence of several members of the Wentworth Adams family. It includes original and copies of letters by Edwin Oberlin Wentworth, an itinerant printer and Civil War soldier, to his wife Caroline (Warren) Wentworth and to his father Robert Wentworth of Buxton, Maine. The originals of letters written by Edwin Wentworth while serving in the 37th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment during the Civil War are in the Library of Congress. Handwritten copies of the letters done by Edith Adams before she donated the originals are included here, and discuss soldier life, battles, including Fredericksburg and Rappahannock Station, Virginia, his political opinions, and his concern for the welfare of his family.

The collection also contains letters to and from Anna Wenthworth Adams, daughter of Edwin and Caroline Wentworth, with various people; a detailed history of Bates College in the 19th century written by Edwin W. Adams; genealogical material about the Adams family compiled by either Edwin or Edith Adams, children of Anna Wentworth Adams; the Warren family Bible; tintypes and other photographs; and information about Caroline Wentworth's pension.


  • 1803-1966, n.d. 1849-1864


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

The collection is the physical property of Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library. Bates College holds literary rights only for material created by College personnel working on official behalf of the College, or for material which was given to the College with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication or other purposes that exceed fair use.

Historical Note

Four generations of the Wentworth Adams family are represented in the collection, beginning with Robert Wentworth, who occupied a family homestead in Buxton Center, Maine, through his great grandchildren, Edith and Edwin Wentworth Adams, both graduates of Bates College in the 1910s.

Robert Wentworth was born in Buxton, Maine on September 3, 1786 to Jane Merrill and Ebenezer Wentworth, a farmer, blacksmith, shoemaker, and manufacturer of potash. In 1816, Wentworth built a home next to a tavern owned and operated by his father to house his bride, Sally Hardin, whom he married on October 10, 1816. Early in life, he distinguished himself as a maker of fine clocks, producing a handful of tall clocks of iron and brass before 1820. His clockmaking was cut short when he suffered a severe accident while digging a well. The gunpowder he was using to excavate the well discharged prematurely, severing his left hand and possibly his arm. He later operated a foundry. Following the death of his first wife, Wentworth married Eunice Hardin on June 27, 1832. The couple had four children, including Edwin Oberlin Wentowrth. Following Eunice's death, he married for a third time, to Hannah D. Knight on October 21, 1862. Wentworth died on September 30, 1866.

Edwin Oberlin Wentworth was born on September 5, 1833, the oldest child of Eunice Hardin and Robert Wentworth. He worked as an itinerant printer, traveling as far West as Wisconsin to set type for various newspapers. In 1858, he married Caroline Warren. Caroline resided primarily in Turner, Maine, while Edwin continued to travel the Northeast in search of employment, stopping in Worchester, Cambridge, and Springfield, Massachusetts, among many other towns. Facing dire economic conditions, and with concern for the welfare of his wife and infant child, Anna Louise, who was born June 29, 1861, Wentworth decided to join the Union Army. With his wife's blessing, he enlisted on August 5, 1862 while in Springfield, a town which offered a sizable bounty in addition to what the Federal government provided. He served in the 37th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment from September 1862 until May 12, 1864 when he was killed in the battle at Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia. His widow received a small government pension and worked as a housekeeper until her death in 1880.

Anna Wentworth worked in a shoe shop in Turner, Maine following her mother's death. She married John Quincy Adams, and together they had two children: Edith Adams, born August 12, 1891, and Edwin Wentworth Adams, born August 13, 1895. Shortly before the birth of her son, Anna left her husband, who did not approve of the second pregnancy. She relocated from Turner to Jackson, Maine, where her son was born. She reared her children on her own, eventually relocating the family to the Lewiston/Auburn area. Anna died on September 11, 1953.

Edith Adams attended Bates College largely on a scholarship, graduating with honors in 1914. She went on to earn a master's degree and moved to Connecticut where she worked as a teacher. She produced an anthology of poetry entitled Yesterday and Today and a bibliography of Lincoln's addresses. She never married, and passed away in February 1990. Her brother Edwin began college at the University of Maine, but transferred to Bates, from where he graduated in 1919. He worked as a chemist at the Lewiston Bleachery and Dye Works, eventually heading the department. He amassed a small fortune through investing well in the stock market, and used his wealth to support scholarships at the University of Maine and to fund the building of a new men's dormitory at Bates, known as Wentworth Adams Hall. He also served as a trustee of Bates from 1937-1984, and received an honorary degree from the college in 1970. He died in January 1985.


3 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The collection contains original and copies of letters of several members of the Wentworth Adams family, including: Edwin Oberlin Wentworth, an itinerant printer and Civil War soldier, to his wife Caroline (Warren) Wentworth and to his father Robert Wentworth of Buxton, Maine; Anna Wenthworth Adams, daughter of Edwin and Caroline Wentworth; and Edith and Edwin Adams, Anna's children. The collection also inlcudes a detailed history of Bates College in the 19th century written by Edwin W. Adams and genealogical material about the Adams family.

Organization and Arrangement

Organized into two series: I. Correspondence, and II. Family documents.

Acquisition and Custody Information

Gift of Helen Archambault, 2007. Accession No.: 07-030, 07-074, xx-0.

Related Material

Papers of Edwin Oberlin Wentworth, 1862-1890, Library of Congress Manuscript Division, Washington, D.C.

Wentworth Adams Family Photographs, Maine State Museum, 83 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333-0083

Processing Information

Processed by Kat Stefko, 2007.

Guide to the Wentworth Adams family papers, 1803-1966, n.d.
Edited Full Draft
Kat Stefko
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Description is in: English
Edition statement

Repository Details

Part of the Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library Repository

70 Campus Avenue
Lewiston Maine 04240 United States of America
207-755-5911 (Fax)