William F. Vermilion Papers, 1853-1900 (MSS 417)

Restrictions: Researchers are required to use the microfilm or digital surrogates of the Civil War correspondence.

Extent: 5 Linear feet (9 archive boxes, 1 flat box, and 2 map case folders)

View OnlineCivil War correspondence and one diary from this collection have been microfilmed and digitized.

Papers of William F. Vermilion, physician, Civil War captain (1862-1865), Iowa state senator, and lawyer. The collection includes materials from Vermilion's military service in Company F of the 36th Infantry Regiment of Iowa Volunteers, such as wartime correspondence with his wife, company morning reports (May 1864-August 1865), administrative documents, and several diaries. The collection also contains business records, family memorabilia, and ephemera.

William F. Vermilion was born in Mercer County, Kentucky, in October 1830. His obituary article in The Daily Citizen stated that he studied medicine at Rush Medical College and built a large practice in Iconium, Iowa. In 1859, he married Mary A. C. Kemper.

Vermilion served as a captain in the Union Army during the Civil War. He was commissioned on October 4, 1862 to command Company F of the 36th Infantry Regiment of Iowa Volunteers and continued that assignment until his discharge on August 24, 1865. Between December 12, 1863 and April 21, 1864 Vermilion was absent from his unit while recruiting soldiers in Centerville, Iowa. He was promoted to the rank of major on May 11, 1865, shortly before the end of the war.

After the Civil War, Vermilion was elected state senator (1869-1872) from Appanoose County to the Thirteenth General Assembly of Iowa, which met in Des Moines.

Vermilion's career in business and law began before the Civil War with his appointment as Appanoose County notary public in 1861. The Daily Citizen's account of his life relates that he read law and was admitted to the bar after the war and later formed a partnership with Captain Fee, a former member of his regiment. He was admitted to the U.S. Circuit Court, District of Iowa, on May 15, 1877. Vermilion formed the law practice of Vermilion and Harris (1871-1876) with Judge Amos Harris and, later, Vermilion and Haynes (1876-1880) with Col. E. C. Haynes. In 1880 Vermilion's brother, Reason R. Vermilion, joined the firm. Vermilion, Haynes and Vermilion became Vermilion and Vermilion in 1884 when Haynes left the firm. Later, Reason Vermilion moved to Wichita, Kansas, as a partner in Harris, Harris and Vermilion, while William F. Vermilion entered into practice with his son, Charles W. Vermilion. In 1894, Vermilion and Vermilion became Vermilion, Vermilion and Valentine.

William F. Vermilion's law practice included matters of contracts, collections, estates, litigation and property transaction. During the 1870s and 1880s, he served as the local attorney for the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad in issues of right of way, contracts and litigation growing out of the building of railroads.

Vermilion was actively involved in land acquisition and speculation and often secured titles through tax delinquency sales. In 1870, he became a partner in D. G. Campbell, a private banking business. During the 1880s, he invested in real estate in Wichita, Kansas, probably in association with his brother, Reason Vermilion, president of the Rock Island Town Company (1890). Although he primarily invested in land, Vermilion also speculated in the commodities market.

Vermilion's wife, Mary, died on January 3, 1883. Their son, Charles W. "Willie" Vermilion, graduated from De Pauw University in 1885, studied law, joined his father's law practice, and held the position of Appanoose County Attorney in 1895. William F. Vermilion's second wife was Kate B. Day.

William F. Vermilion died on December 28, 1894.

Papers of William F. Vermilion, physician, Civil War captain (1862-1865), Iowa state senator, and lawyer. The collection includes materials from Vermilion's military service in Company F of the 36th Infantry Regiment of Iowa Volunteers, such as wartime correspondence with his wife, company morning reports (May 1864-August 1865), administrative documents, and several diaries. The collection also contains business records, family memorabilia, and ephemera.

Notably absent from the collection is any documentation of Vermilion's activity as a physician, other than anecdotal references in his correspondence and newspaper accounts.


Container List


Scope and Content of Series

Series 1) PERSONAL MATERIALS. Arranged in four subseries: A) Family Correspondence, B) Land Deeds, C) Legal Documents and D) Memorabilia and Ephemera.

A) Family Correspondence: Letters between 1853 and 1860 are primarily from Mary Kemper to friends and relate many of the hardships of frontier life. Correspondence between Mary Vermilion and W. F. Vermilion dominates the 1870-1874 file. Mary remained in Centerville, Iowa, with their son Willie while William served a four-year term as a state senator in Des Moines. The 1883-1886 correspondence contains letters from Willie to his father, W. F. Vermilion, written from De Pauw University. Correspondence written during the Civil War (1862-1865) between William and Mary Vermilion and relatives is located in the CIVIL WAR MATERIALS series.

B) Land Deeds: Deeds that were bought or sold by W. F. Vermilion as personal business investments. In the early 1890s, William and Kate Vermilion conveyed numerous holdings into the name of Charles W. Vermilion for a nominal fee.

C) Legal Documents: Three documents, including a pre-nuptial agreement between William and Kate, a power of attorney assigned to Reason R. Vermilion, and a lease for Vermilion's farm, Woodside.

D) Memorabilia and Ephemera: Calling cards, event programs, newspaper clippings, railroad passes, and photographs (a tintype of C. W. Vermilion as a boy and a carte-de-visite of a namesake child). Of interest is W. F. Vermilion's Free Mason's certificate.

Family Correspondence

Box 1 Folder 1
Correspondence, 1853 - 1863

13 leaves.

Box 1 Folder 2
Correspondence, 1870 - 1874

51 leaves.

Box 1 Folder 3
Correspondence, 1881 - 1882

10 leaves.

Box 1 Folder 4
Correspondence, 1883

81 leaves.

Box 1 Folder 5
Correspondence, 1884

112 leaves.

Box 1 Folder 6
Letters from C. W. Vermilion to W. F. Vermilion, circa 1883-1884

11 leaves.

Box 1 Folder 7
Correspondence, 1885 - 1897

38 leaves.

Land Deeds

Box 1 Folder 8
Land conveyed by W.F. Vermilion, 1886 - 1890

12 leaves.

Box 1 Folder 9
Land conveyed to C.W. Vermilion, 1891 - 1900

8 leaves.

Box 1 Folder 10
Land conveyed to W.F. Vermilion, 1860 - 1875

22 leaves.

Box 1 Folder 11
Land conveyed to W.F. Vermilion, 1878 - 1892

35 leaves.

Legal Documents

Box 1 Folder 12
Lease on Vermilion farm, 1864 February 13
Box 1 Folder 13
Power of attorney - W. F. Vermilion and Kate B. Vermilion appoint Reason R. Vermilion, 1887 February 2
Box 1 Folder 14
Pre-nuptial agreement between W. F. Vermilion and Kate B. Day, 1884 December 9

Memorabilia and Ephemera

Box 2 Folder 1
Calling cards of friends and relatives

10 leaves.

Box 2 Folder 2
Diary by C.W. Vermilion, 1883

This diary by W.F. Vermilion's son, Willie, begins two days before the death of his mother.

Box 2 Folder 3
Directory of the Law Class of '90 - University of Michigan, 1893

1 leaf.

Box 2 Folder 4
Forty-sixth Commencement, De Pauw University, 1885

C.W. Vermilion's university, 1 leaf.

Box 2 Folder 5
Free Mason's Certificate for W.F. Vermilion for the Degree of Master Mason, 1853 April 2
Box 2 Folder 6
Funeral notice card for Mrs. Mary A.C. Vermilion

William F. Vermilion's first wife, died January 3, 1883, 4 leaves.

Box 2 Folder 7
Letter of recommendation (draft) for Lee Simmons
Box 2 Folder 8
Note card for Mrs. L. A. Montgomery's Boarding House
Box 2 Folder 9
Newspaper clippings

A published letter by Abraham Lincoln on the issue of slavery, April 4, 1864.

Oversize MC-049-03
Newspaper clippings

Three poems and two newspaper pages. Three leaves.

Box 2 Folder 10
Obituary newspaper clipping and funeral notice for W.F. Vermilion, 1894

3 leaves.

Box 2 Folder 11
Photograph of C.W. Vermilion as a boy

Tintype that was once cased, 1 leaf.

Box 2 Folder 12
Photograph of Fletcher Vermilion Wright

Age 3 years, 8 months, 28 days - Carte de visite print, 2 leaves.

Box 2 Folder 13
Poem - "To a Poet"

2 leaves.

Box 2 Folder 14
Railroad passes

11 leaves.

Box 2 Folder 15
University of Michigan. Class Day (3 leaves), 1889 June 25


Scope and Content of Series

Series 2) CIVIL WAR MATERIALS. Arranged in three subseries: A) Correspondence, B) Company Administrative Documents and C) Miscellaneous Materials.

A) Correspondence: The largest subseries in the collection, available digitally. This subseries comprises letters exchanged between William and Mary Vermilion from the time of his commission in the Union Army in 1862 to his discharge in August 1865. Also included are letters from W. R. and Mathew Kemper (Mary's brothers and Union soldiers), Jane Vermilion (William's sister), other relatives, and friends. The correspondence is arranged chronologically.

Letters from William exceed the letters from Mary in the exchange. Almost all of William's letters indicate his location and reflect his movements with the 36th Infantry Regiment of Iowa Volunteers, which was deployed near the Mississippi River in Arkansas. Locales include Helena, Clarendon, De Valls Bluff, Little Rock, and St. Charles. Vermilion's company was part of the force that threatened the Confederate position at Vicksburg. Vermilion participated in the Yazoo Pass Expedition (March 23, 1863), but missed the action at Pine Bluff (May 12, 1864) that decimated his company and led to the capture of Will Kemper.

William Vermilion's letters describe many of the day-to-day events in camp and military actions, provide news of the condition of individual soldiers in his command, and discuss attitudes toward national and local politics. Because of his medical background, Vermilion felt himself well suited to analyze the causes of his company's maladies. Indeed, he asserted to Mary (November 19, 1862) that "sickness is worse than fighting." Much of the content of the correspondence, on both sides, discusses the loneliness and melancholy of separation and the small talk of a marriage, including Vermilion's advice and instruction to Mary on how to conduct her affairs and manage their property.

B) Company Administrative Documents: As company commander, Vermilion was responsible for maintaining his part of the regimental history, which involved making duplicates of documents he submitted to headquarters. This subseries includes orders, inventories of the effects of deceased soldiers, lists of clothing, quarterly returns of clothing, camp and garrison equipage, returns of ordnance and ordnance stores, and surgeon's certificates of disability. The bound volume of company morning reports provides detailed information on Company F's location, strength, composition of ranks, and noteworthy daily occurrences. The muster roll contains the names of individual volunteers, where they enlisted, their rank, and when they were last paid.

C) Miscellaneous Materials: Certificates documenting Vermilion's commission, promotion and discharge from the Union Army. Also included are two small diaries and a tintype studio portrait of Captain Vermilion in uniform.


Box 2 Folder 16

23 leaves. [Reel 1, Frame 1]

Box 2 Folder 17

46 leaves. [Reel 1, Frame 40]

Box 2 Folder 18

21 leaves. [Reel 1, Frame 155]

Box 2 Folder 19

35 leaves. [Reel 1, Frame 226]

Box 2 Folder 20

33 leaves. [Reel 1, Frame 314]

Box 2 Folder 21

36 leaves. [Reel 1, Frame 391]

Box 3 Folder 1

45 leaves. [Reel 1, Frame 477]

Box 3 Folder 2

41 leaves. [Reel 2, Frame 1]

Box 3 Folder 3

35 leaves. [Reel 2, Frame 111]

Box 3 Folder 4

39 leaves. [Reel 2, Frame 211]

Box 3 Folder 5

37 leaves. [Reel 2, Frame 326]

Box 3 Folder 6

42 leaves. [Reel 2, Frame 436]

Box 4 Folder 1

28 leaves. [Reel 2, Frame 557]

Box 4 Folder 2

4 leaves. [Reel 2, Frame 628]

Box 4 Folder 3

5 leaves. [Reel 2, Frame 638]

Box 4 Folder 4

1 leaf. [Reel 2, Frame 651]

Box 4 Folder 5

7 leaves. [Reel 2, Frame 656]

Box 4 Folder 6

25 leaves. [Reel 3, Frame 1]

Box 4 Folder 7

22 leaves. [Reel 3, Frame 75]

Box 4 Folder 8

23 leaves. [Reel 3, Frame 145]

Box 4 Folder 9

15 leaves. [Reel 3, Frame 216]

Box 4 Folder 10

11 leaves. [Reel 3, Frame 262]

Box 4 Folder 11

9 leaves. [Reel 3, Frame 298]

Box 4 Folder 12

20 leaves. [Reel 3, Frame 329]

Box 4 Folder 13

14 leaves. [Reel 3, Frame 378]

Box 5 Folder 1

15 leaves. [Reel 3, Frame 409]

Box 5 Folder 2

16 leaves. [Reel 3, Frame 443]

Box 5 Folder 3

17 leaves. [Reel 3, Frame 488]

Box 5 Folder 4

15 leaves. [Reel 3, Frame 540]

Box 5 Folder 5

13 leaves. [Reel 3, Frame 576]

Box 5 Folder 6

12 leaves. [Reel 3, Frame 618]

Box 5 Folder 7

11 leaves. [Reel 3, Frame 653]

Box 5 Folder 8

9 leaves. [Reel 3, Frame 683]

Company Administrative Documents

Box 5 Folder 9
Blank forms

11 leaves.

Oversize FB-183 Folder 1
Bound volume of Company Morning Reports, 1864 May-1865 August
Oversize MC-049-02
Muster Roll of Capt. William F. Vermilion's Company F, 36th Regiment of Iowa Volunteer Infantry, 1863 October 31-December 31
Box 5 Folder 12
Company documents, circa 1862-1865

3 leaves.

Box 5 Folder 13
Company documents, 1862

23 leaves.

Box 5 Folder 14
Company documents, 1863

56 leaves.

Box 5 Folder 15
Company documents, 1864 January-June

49 leaves.

Box 6 Folder 1
Company documents, 1864 July-December

53 leaves.

Box 6 Folder 2
Company documents, 1865

50 leaves.

Miscellaneous Materials

Oversize FB-183 Folder 2
Certificates - Captain's Army commission, and Promotion to Major, 1862, 1865
Box 6 Folder 3
Discharge from the Army, 1865 August 24
Box 6 Folder 4
Diary, 1862 December 30-1864 April 21

Includes observations of daily weather conditions and events.

Oversize MC-049-03
Newspaper clipping from The Loyal Citizen with letter from W. F. Vermilion, 1864 November 8
Box 6 Folder 7
Printed circular - Office Supt. Vol. Recruiting Service, and Chief Muster'g and Dis'Bg Officer for Iowa, 1863 November 28
Box 6 Folder 8
Tintype photograph of W. F. Vermilion in uniform, undated

5 leaves.


Scope and Content of Series

Series 3) POLITICAL MATERIALS: The bulk of this series comprises letters (1869-1871) to Senator Vermilion from various constituents and political opportunists.

Oversize FB-183 Folder 3
Printed broadside - List of men by city in Iowa
Box 6 Folder 10

Contains lists of men for the townships of Independence, Lincoln, Franklin and Udall.

Box 6 Folder 11
Thirteenth General Assembly

List of Senators and Representatives (State Legislature). W.F. Vermilion is listed as senator from Appanoose County, 1 leaf.

Box 6 Folder 12
Political correspondence, 1869 - 1871

Includes requests for political support, 60 leaves.


Scope and Content of Series

Series 4) BUSINESS MATERIALS. Arranged in six subseries: A) Account Books, B) Business Correspondence and Documents, C) Cancelled Checks, D) Certificates, E) Land Deeds, and F) Miscellaneous.

A) Accounts Books: Includes a pocket-size account book (1884-1889), probably in the handwriting of W. F. Vermilion, for the firm of Walker and Vermilion, which records checks and account balances with Campbell and Company, Bankers. The other account book, written in pencil and possibly in the handwriting of George Bratt, lists expenses.

B) Business Correspondence and Documents: Records of the various legal partnerships in which W. F. Vermilion engaged in over his career. The correspondence usually involves letters from clients requesting services, often the collection of a debt or enforcement of a contract. In addition to correspondence are wills, lists of cases, insurance policies, receipts of payments, and tax accounts. Arranged chronologically.

C) Cancelled Checks: Checks arranged by author, reflecting the different partnerships in which W. F. Vermilion was involved.

D) Certificates: Documents the notary public offices held by Vermilion and his brother, Reason R. Vermilion. It also includes Vermilion's certification to practice law in the U.S. District Court.

E) Land Deeds: Deeds that are not assigned to W. F. Vermilion. The PERSONAL MATERIALS series holds evidence of his business in land ownership. Arranged chronologically.

F) Miscellaneous: Business ephemera, promotional brochures, notes, tax receipts, and documents associated with Vermilion's work for the Chicago and South Western Railroad Company.

Account Books

Box 6 Folder 13
In account with Walker and Vermilion. Campbell and Company, Bankers, 1884 - 1889
Box 6 Folder 14
Notebook of accounts, 1881 November 26-1883 June 16

Business Correspondence

Box 6 Folder 15
Business correspondence, undated

15 leaves.

Box 6 Folder 16
Business correspondence, 1864 - 1868

7 leaves.

Box 6 Folder 17
Business correspondence, 1869 - 1879

72 leaves.

Box 7 Folder 1
Business correspondence, 1881 - 1884

84 leaves.

Box 7 Folder 2
Business correspondence, 1885 - 1889

50 leaves.

Box 7 Folder 3
Business correspondence, 1890 - 1898

63 leaves.

Cancelled Checks

Box 7 Folder 4
C.W. Vermilion, 1900

2 leaves.

Box 7 Folder 5
E.C. Haynes, 1875

17 leaves.

Box 7 Folder 6
E.C. Haynes, 1876

39 leaves.

Box 7 Folder 7
E.C. Haynes, 1877

33 leaves.

Box 7 Folder 8
J.M. Walker and Vermilion, 1883

21 leaves.

Box 7 Folder 9
J.M. Walker and Vermilion, 1884

13 leaves.

Box 7 Folder 10
Vermilion and Vermilion, 1882

Also includes J.M. Walker, 28 leaves.

Box 7 Folder 11
Vermilion and Vermilion, 1883

20 leaves.

Box 7 Folder 12
Vermilion and Vermilion, 1884

29 leaves.

Box 7 Folder 13
W.F. Vermilion, undated

2 leaves.

Box 7 Folder 14
W.F. Vermilion, 1869

5 leaves.

Box 7 Folder 15
W.F. Vermilion, 1875

93 leaves.

Box 7 Folder 16
W.F. Vermilion, 1876

15 leaves.

Box 7 Folder 17
W.F. Vermilion, 1880

24 leaves.

Box 8 Folder 1
W.F. Vermilion, 1881

103 leaves.


Oversize FB-183 Folder 4
Certificate of Admission - W. F. Vermilion - U.S. Circuit Court, District of Iowa, 1877 May 15
Oversize FB-183 Folder 5
Certificates of Appointment of Notary Public for County of Appanoose, Iowa - W. F. Vermilion, 1861, 1868 and 1872
Oversize FB-183 Folder 6
Certificates of Appointment of Notary Public for County of Appanoose, Iowa - Reason R. Vermilion, 1876, 1879 and 1882

Land Deeds

Box 8 Folder 5
Land deeds, 1866 - 1893

23 leaves.

Oversize FB-183 Folder 7
Land deeds (oversize), 1855 - 1869

3 leaves.


Box 8 Folder 7
Bradstreet Company credit reporting forms
Box 8 Folder 8
Business card of Vermilion and Haynes, Attorneys at Law
Box 8 Folder 9
Business cards - Attorneys

44 leaves.

Box 8 Folder 10
Business cards - General

95 leaves.

Box 8 Folder 11
Chicago and South Western Railroad Company, 1869 - 1876

Promissary notes and other documents, 151 leaves.

Box 8 Folder 12
Chicago and South Western Railroad Company, 1872 - 1875

Stock certificates, 11 leaves.

Box 8 Folder 13
Complete Directory of Iowa Attorneys. By Council Bluffs: New Nonpareil Company, 1895
Oversize FB-183 Folder 8
Daily Trade Bulletin. By Edgerton and Winans, Receiving Commission Merchants, 1893 May 6-June 3

18 leaves.

Box 8 Folder 15
Grain and Provision Statistics, 1896

Chicago: Financial Publishing Company. Contains holograph entries.

Box 8 Folder 16
Mills and Company, Publishers, Manufacturing Stationers and Lithographers, 1874 - 1876

Business cards and receipts, 8 leaves.

Box 8 Folder 17
Mitchell Patent Coal Tipple

Promotional brochure and list of parts and suppliers, 1 leaf.

Box 8 Folder 18
Notes on a legal case

Probably notes by C.W. Vermilion, 4 leaves.

Box 8 Folder 19
Property tax receipts, 1858 - 1869

105 leaves.

Box 8 Folder 20
Speculation and How to Trade - Pamphlet for investors
Box 8 Folder 21
Sullivan Diamond Prospecting Drill promotional brochure

Microfilm of Civil War Correspondence

Scope and Content of Series

Series 5) MICROFILM OF THE CIVIL WAR CORRESPONDENCE: Two users copies--Library and Interlibrary Loan--of the microfilm of the Civil War Correspondence.

Box 9 Folder 1
User Copy, Reel 1

Civil War Correspondence--undated to June 1863.

Box 9 Folder 2
User Copy, Reel 2

Civil War Correspondence: June 1863 to May 1864.

Box 9 Folder 3
User Copy, Reel 3

Civil War Correspondence: May 1864 to September 1865.

Box 9 Folder 4
Interlibrary Loan Copy, Reel 1

Civil War Correspondence: undated to June 1863.

Box 9 Folder 5
Interlibrary Loan Copy, Reel 2

Civil War Correspondence: June 1863 to May 1864.

Box 9 Folder 6
Interlibrary Loan Copy, Reel 3

Civil War Correspondence: May 1864 to September 1865.