Katharine Martindale Family Papers, 1699-1977


Scope and Content Note

The Katharine Martindale Family papers chronicle the history and daily lives of an old and prominent La Crosse family and some of its early Vermont branches dating back to the late seventeenth-century. The origin of the Martindale family is somewhat confused, but the most reliable information (see copy of Kent and Martindale genealogies in the Genealogical Materials series) indicates that the earliest American ancestor of the Stephen Martindales was an Edward Martindale who came from Spitalfield, England, a district of London where most the inhabitants were weavers. He settled in Westfield, Massachusetts, in 1730; the first Stephen Martindale was his grandson. Stephen Martindale I, who is not represented in the collection, was born in 1759 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and married Huldah Smith in 1781. He died in Dorset in 1845.

Setphen Martindale II, son of the above, the first Martindale whose papers are included in the collection, married Diantha Kent (who has no papers in the collection) in 1807; they had six children who are represented in the collection. The fifth of these was Stephen Martindale III, born in 1823 and the patriarch of the La Crosse Martindales. He married Katharine Jennette Howard who had ancestors on both her mother's and father's sides in the Revolutionary War. It is through her that some of the earliest and most interesting papers, those of the Howard family, came into the collection. She and Stephen III had three children: Anna Howard, Stephen IV, and Edward “Ned.” Stephen IV was born in La Crosse in 1859 and married Sophie Rosenblatt of Beloit, Wisconsin; they had three children: Henrietta, Katharine, and Stephen V. Katharine, the last La Crosse Martindale, is the principal figure in, and the donor of, the collection. Biographies of the above family members and others, and descriptions of their papers, are found below.

The papers consist primarily of correspondence; business and financial papers; estate settlements; legal documents; detailed nineteenth-century farm records; and papers related to the Martindale home (now listed in the National Register of Historic Places) at 10th and Cass Streets in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The arrangement of the collection is principally in series delimited by individual family member or by groups of family members, although there are a few subject series at the end. The general arrangement of the family's papers from Stephen Martindale II through Katharine Martindale is in reverse order by generation. That is, the collection begins with the papers of the donor, Katharine Martindale, followed by her siblings, then her mother, then her father, Stephen Martindale IV. Stephen IV, in turn, is followed by his siblings, then his mother, then his father, Stephen III. The Martindale Family In-Laws and Distant Relatives are in approximate chronological order. In each of these series is found the outgoing letters; incoming correspondence from relatives, friends, and associates who do not have their own series; business and financial papers; estate papers; school papers; and other items generated by or directly related to that person. Exceptions to the above are notebooks, memorabilia, and some correspondence filed by subject. Although an attempt has been made to keep the ongoing correspondence of all family members who have their own series under their names, occasionally a file will comprise such a unity (for example estate papers) that correspondence from several persons who have their own series will be kept together. In these cases cross references have been made wherever possible. Arrangement within folders is chronological unless otherwise noted in the container list or elsewhere in the register. Throughout the collection original postcards have been separated from the papers because of their pictorial interest, but those containing substantive messages have been Xeroxed and will usually be found in separate folders in series pertaining to individual family members.

Because of the complicated family relationships, the correspondence among family members is very complex. The researcher must keep in mind that it will usually be necessary to consult several files in order to bring the correspondence of two people together. For example, letters from Katharine Martindale to her nephew, Stephen VI, will be found in her correspondence, but his responses will be found in his correspondence. The genealogical chart and the container list should be consulted for details of the extremely complex and confusing family relationships.

NB: The number designations for family members with the same name (for example Stephen Martindale I, Stephen Martindale II, Samuel Howard I, Samuel Howard II) were added by the Archives' processors to prevent confusion.