Giles P. Ransom Family Collection (Roscoe), 1839-2009
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Brief Description:

Records in the Dr. Giles Paddock Ransom Family collection date from 1789 to 2009 with the majority of the records from the 1850 through 1930 time period.  They document the personal and business aspects of individuals living in Rockford and Roscoe, Illinois.  There are four main families represented in the collection–Jenks, Sherman, Leland, and Ransom; the Ransom family is most predominant.  The other families are associated by marriage or settled near the Ransoms or both.  Documents include personal correspondence, diaries, clippings, business records, deed records, school records, and lineage documentation.  Some original documents are restricted do to their historical value or personal nature; however, most have copies available for public viewing.

The key figures in the collection are Dr. Giles Ransom and his son, Dr. Wilmont Ransom who were best known for their medical practice and Sanitarium, which was founded by Dr. Penn Ransom (son of Giles).  Giles and Wilmont were meticulous in their record keeping, both personal and business related, and the collection reflects this through their extensive letters, diaries, medical notes, and personal ephemera.  A missing aspect of the collection is documentation of Penn’s life.  Items relating to him are scarce throughout the collection.

Addendum 1 consists of correspondences between Daniel Leland Ransom, Norman Haskins, and C.C. Forrester regarding their business with the King Fissure Mining Company and other financial endeavors. Other miscellaneous letters are from Mary Haskins, and other distant relatives of the Ransom family. Further correspondences with Daniel Leland Ransom can be found in Box 13 (Series I, Subseries D). There is also a speech regarding the President Lincoln given by Daniel Sherman, who as a newspaper editor in Ohio.

Addendum 2 contains mainly photographs of individual family units from 1898 to 1981 as well as photographs of residences and churches. Also included is correspondence of the Nielson Family and letters between Robert and David Etnyre, father and son.

The collection also contains electronic files of digitized photographs, correspondence, ephemera, and family genealogy that are mostly copies of what can be found in paper form in the collection.

Held at:
Northern Illinois University
Founders Memorial Library
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115
Phone: 815-753-1779
Email: rhcua [at]
Record Series Number: RHC/RC/275
Volume: 26.5 Linear Feet
Acquired: 06/22/2006. Additional supplementary records were added at a later dates.

The collection is divided into three series: Personal Correspondence, Volumes and Ephemera, and Business Correspondence.  The first series contains the family’s personal correspondence.  Each subseries represents an individual family: (A) Leland, (B) Sherman, (C) Jenks, and (D) Ransom.  Notable elements are letters to brothers Solomon and Leland Jenks who were pioneers to the Rockford area, Giles and Mahala Ransom’s Civil War correspondence (located in the folders “Correspondence to Dr. Giles Ransom, 1860-1865" and “Correspondence to Mahala (Jenks) Ransom, 1860-1869"), a personal account of a Lincoln-Douglas speech, and Arthur Nielsen’s letters to his wife while on site of the Hoover Dam’s construction.  For the ease of the researcher, transcriptions of many of these items can be found in Series I, Subseries C: Roscoe History, Genealogy, and Additional Research.

Series two contains volumes and ephemera, including diaries, personal expense records and receipts, clippings, school reports, volumes, pamphlets, and genealogical research.  The subseries are divided between items belonging to specific family members (A) and items with no known owner (B).  Subseries C contains the documents relating to historical aspects of Roscoe and supplementary materials documenting the family’s history.  Many  items in this subseries were collected by researchers of the Ransom lineage prior to the complete processing of the collection.  Included are genealogy and lineage documentation, duplicates of photographs provided by the donor, additional materials concerning the late Arthur Nielsen, and transcriptions of letters within the collection.

Series three provides the business records from the family.  Subseries A contains the records relating to the medical practices of Drs. Giles, Penn, Wilmont, and Daniel Leland Ransom.  Items include medical school notebooks, licenses & certificates, patient logs (Physician’s Handbooks), Ransom Sanitarium records, and medical pamphlets.  Although ownership and management of the Ransom Sanitarium played a significant role in these men’s lives, the records from the business are sparse.  The Ransom doctors were meticulous with their records and the collection reflects this with a strong presence of “Physician’s Handbooks” and other log books for patient visits and payments.  The additional subseries relate to (non-medical) business records and are organized by the individual family units: (B) Sherman, (C) Jenks, (D) Leland, and (E) Ransom.  Included are  deed records, receipts, business correspondence, and wills.  Notable aspects of this series include Dr. Giles Ransom’s documents while serving as a surgeon in the Civil War and the correspondence and records regarding remote land ownership in South Dakota.

Addendum 2 is arranged by subject in alphabetical order.

Access Restrictions: There are some restrictions on access to the collection due to preservation purposes, although copies of the materials are available for viewing in most cases.
Subject Index
Court Street Methodist Episcopal Church
Diaries-- 1840-1869
Diaries-- 1870-1909
Diaries-- 1910-1960
Family life--History
Frontier and pioneer life
Giles Paddock Ransom Family
Hoover Dam (Ariz. and Nev.)
Jenks Family
Leland Family
Medical care
Mental health
Methodist Episcopal Church
National Grange. Charter Grove Grange (DeKalb County, Ill.)
Nielsen Family
Ransom Family
Rockford (Ill.)
Roscoe (Ill.)
Sherman Family
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Correspondence
Winnebago County (Ill)
World War II
Genres/Forms of Material
Languages of Materials
English [eng]
Rights/Use Restrictions: Property rights in the collection belong to the Regional History Center; literary rights are dedicated to the public.
Acquisition Notes: John and Mary Nielsen  John and Mary Nielsen donated the Dr. Giles Paddock Ransom Family collection to the Regional History Center on June 22, 2006.