Alfred Galpin Family Papers, 1861-1966

Summary Information
Title: Alfred Galpin Family Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1861-1966

  • Galpin, Alfred Maurice, 1901-1983;
  • Galpin, Alfred, 1841-1924
Call Number: Mss 182

Quantity: 0.8 c.f. (2 archives boxes)

Archival Locations:
Wisconsin Historical Society (Map)

Papers documenting the lives of three generations of Galpins from Appleton, Wisconsin, including Civil War letters and diaries, and literary publications and letters of H. P. Lovecraft. The letters and diaries of Alfred Galpin II relate primarily to his service in Co. H of the First Wisconsin Infantry Regiment and other units in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Alabama, and describe camp life, medical treatment, and prison conditions. The papers of Alfred Galpin III include an active correspondence between him and a fellow member of the United Amateur Press Association, supernatural writer H. P. Lovecraft. Present too are copies of poems, short stories, and critical essays written by Lovecraft and Alfred III.

Language: English

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This collection concerns three generations of Alfred Galpins. Alfred I (1813-1882) was born and raised in England, and was a draper by occupation. In his native town of Weymouth, Alfred married Mary Scott, who died in 1857. Soon afterwards he married a native of New York state, Frances M. Galpin, referred to among the family as “F.M.” Galpin or “the sainted Maria,” who died in 1877. In 1848 Alfred and his family emigrated to the United States and located on a farm in Eagle Township, Waukesha County, Wisconsin, and for the following eight years earned their living by farming. In July 1856 the family moved to Appleton, Wisconsin where Alfred ran a planing mill and later a hardware business.

Alfred II was seven years old when the Galpin family came to Wisconsin. After his primary school education, Alfred attended Lawrence University, Appleton for three years and then taught school for two winters at Onion River, Wisconsin. At the end of that time he began learning the drug business as a clerk in Farnsworth's drugstore in Sheboygan Falls, where he worked until September 16, 1861, when he enlisted in the Union army.

He was assigned to Company H of the First Wisconsin Volunteers, and was sent to Camp Scott in Milwaukee where he remained until approximately October 25, 1861. His young brother Harold also enlisted on August 15, 1862 as a drummer in Company D, 21st Wisconsin Volunteers, and was often in the same camp with his brother. Alfred's regiment was transported to Kentucky, and by February 6, 1862 it was in Nashville, Tennessee. Because of his knowledge of pharmacy Alfred was frequently detached from his regiment for service with other units, although he remained in the same area of operations as the First Wisconsin. For instance, after the battle of Perryville (September 1862) Alfred was assigned as steward to hospital number seven at Danville, Kentucky. He rejoined his Wisconsin regiment in December 1862, but the following February was detailed to the First Independent Battery of Kentucky Artillery, in which he served while stationed at Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Then in October 1863 he was detailed to the Fourth Indiana Battery in Chattanooga, remaining there until December 1863, when he rejoined his Wisconsin regiment, then in reserve in Chattanooga. In February 1864 Alfred became hospital steward for his own First Wisconsin Volunteers and served in various hospital capacities as the regiment moved south to Atlanta, which Alfred entered on September 4, 1864.

According to his diary he remained in Atlanta until September 21, 1864, when he left for Wisconsin. He was discharged October 12, 1864.

After leaving the service Alfred II entered the banking business, first as a bank clerk in Neenah, Wisconsin, and later as first cashier of the Manufacturers National Bank in Appleton, and was at the time of his retirement a wealthy financier.

Alfred III was born in Appleton on November 8, 1901, and his godfather was H. P. Lovecraft, an early 20th century author of tales of terror and the supernatural. When he was 18, Alfred served as an officer of the United Amateur Press Association, in which Lovecraft was also active. The association published a periodical The United Amateur to publish members' works and to stimulate constructive criticism among the membership.

In Appleton Alfred III attended the public schools and Lawrence College. He received a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin in 1923; an M.A. in French from the University of Chicago in 1926; an M.A. in music from Northwestern University in Chicago in 1930; attended the Sorbonne in 1931-1932; and received a Ph.D. in French from the University of Wisconsin in 1940. While completing his education Galpin taught French at Rice Institute in Houston, at Chicago's Northwestern University, and at Lawrence College. After receiving his doctorate, he accepted an appointment in the Department of Romance Languages at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. His wife Isabella is a lecturer in the same department.

Scope and Content Note

The Alfred Galpin family papers, spanning the years 1861 to 1970, are composed of correspondence, diaries, and literary publications. They are arranged into two groups: material on Alfred II in the Civil War, and material on the literary association of H.P. Lovecraft and Alfred III.

The Civil War material includes correspondence and diaries of Alfred II. From Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, and Milwaukee's Camp Scott, Galpin wrote his family in Appleton concerning his opinions of the war and its leaders on both sides, camp life, descriptions of local country and climate, and the movements of the regiment. A few letters written home by Galpin's younger brother Harold can also be found here, and there is one letter from Galpin's father Alfred I concerning his son's decision to enlist. Supplementing the information in this correspondence are the three diaries Alfred II kept from 1862 to 1964 and their more legible manuscript copies made at a later date.

The papers on the Lovecraft-Galpin literary association include 28 Xerox and type transcribed copies of letters that Lovecraft wrote to Alfred III between 1918 and 1936. He wrote of anecdotes re The United Amateur, poetry, and critical commentary on the works of classical and contemporary authors. The publications, 1897-1966, include Xerox copies of short stories, poems, and critical essays written by Lovecraft and Alfred III.

Administrative/Restriction Information
Acquisition Information

The State Historical Society of Wisconsin purchased the 55 Civil War letters in this collection on November, 1960. The Civil War diaries, donated by Gerald Galpin of Appleton on July 20, 1965, were subsequently added to the collection. This material was previously catalogued as Wis Mss 93S. Then on August 30, 1971, Professor Alfred Galpin of Madison joined to these materials the Lovecraft-Galpin correspondence and publications. Music scores in the collection were transferred to the University of Wisconsin's Mills Music Library Description in 1989 at the request of Mrs. Isabella Galpin.

Processing Information

Processed by Eleanor Niermann, October 15, 1971.

Contents List
Box   1
Folder   1
Civil War correspondence, 1861, May-1864, Jan.
Civil War Diary and Copy
Box   1
Folder   2
, 1862 (Vol. 1-2)
Box   1
Folder   3
, 1863 (Vol. 3-4)
Box   1
Folder   4
, 1864 (Vol. 5-6)
H.P. Lovecraft-Galpin Correspondence
Box   1
Folder   5
, 1918 Jan.-1927 July (pp. 1-104)
Box   1
Folder   6
, 1930 June-1934 June (pp. 105-194)
Box   2
Folder   1
, 1934 July-1936 Aug. (pp. 195-206)
Box   2
Folder   2
Xerox copies, 1918 Jan.-1936 Aug.
Box   2
Folder   3
H. P. Lovecraft-Galpin Publications, 1897-1966