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Giles P. Ransom Family Collection (Roscoe)


Scope and Contents

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Personal Correspondence

Volumes and Ephemera

Business Records


Addendum 1

Addendum 2

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Giles P. Ransom Family Collection (Roscoe), 1839-2009 | Northern Illinois University

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Collection Overview

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

Predominant Dates:1850s-1930s

ID: RHC/RC/275

Extent: 26.5 Linear Feet. More info below.


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.

Date Acquired: 06/22/2006. More info below under Accruals.

Subjects: Court Street Methodist Episcopal Church, Diaries-- 1840-1869, Diaries-- 1870-1909, Diaries-- 1910-1960, Family life--History, Frontier and pioneer life, Genealogy, Giles Paddock Ransom Family, Hoover Dam (Ariz. and Nev.), Jenks Family, Leland Family, Love-letters, Medical care, Mental health, Methodist Episcopal Church, National Grange. Charter Grove Grange (DeKalb County, Ill.), Nielsen Family, Physician, Prohibition, Ransom Family, Rockford (Ill.), Roscoe (Ill.), Sanitariums, Sherman Family, United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865, United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Correspondence, Winnebago County (Ill), World War II

Forms of Material: Photographs

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

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.

Collection Historical Note

Dr. Giles Paddock Ransom was born in 1824 and was an early settler to Winnebago County.  He worked as postmaster in Belvidere, graduated from Rush Medical School in 1850, and briefly served as assistant surgeon for the 2nd Illinois Artillery during the Civil War.  Giles Ransom was best known for his many years of medical assistance to residents of the area.  He married Mahala Jenks (whose father, Solomon Jenks, resided in Roscoe and was the first physician in the Winnebago area) and the two had 6 children: Wilmont, Lydia Elizabeth, Penn, Giles Norman, Susan Grace, and Charles Art.

Dr. Wilmont Leland Ransom, son of Giles, was born in 1852 and resided in the family’s Roscoe home during his youth.  He attended medical school in Chicago and married Sylvia Sherman (daughter of Daniel J. Sherman) in 1889.  Wilmont was also a highly respected physician, especially after the passing of his father in 1892, and his brother, Penn, in 1910.  The three men had worked together to manage the Ransom Sanitarium (circa 1888-1892), a place of rest and healing specializing in mental and nervous diseases.  The Sanitarium relied upon spring water and other natural methods for their medicinal properties.

Wilmont was also an avid investor, engaging in many business ventures throughout his life.  He promoted and centered a medical practice around the “Fidelity Rupture Cure,” invested in oil, and purchased land in South Dakota that was farmed and leased under his remote supervision.  He worked to trace the family’s genealogy and was, like his father, a strong advocate of temperance.  In his later life Wilmont devoted much of his time to the local Boy Scouts.  

Wilmont and Sylvia had two children, Daniel Leland (often referred to as Leland) and Florence.  Leland studied to be an Osteopathic doctor and moved many times, eventually settling in California.  He had an estranged relationship with his family for reasons that are not entirely clear, although they seemed to make amends around the time of Wilmont’s death in 1934.  Florence remained in Rockford; she married Arthur Nielsen.  They had 5 children: John, Nancy, Daniel, Arthur, Sylvia.

Subject/Index Terms

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

Administrative Information

Repository: Northern Illinois University

Accruals: Additional supplementary records were added at a later dates.

Alternate Extent Statement: 671 digital files (2.40 MB)

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.

Use Restrictions: Property rights in the collection belong to the Regional History Center; literary rights are dedicated to the public.

Acquisition Source: John and Mary Nielsen

Acquisition Method: John and Mary Nielsen donated the Dr. Giles Paddock Ransom Family collection to the Regional History Center on June 22, 2006.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series I: Personal Correspondence],
[Series II: Volumes and Ephemera],
[Series III: Business Records],
[Series IV: Oversize],
[Addendum 1],
[Addendum 2],

Series I: Personal Correspondence
Sub-Series A: Leland Family
Box 1
Folder 1-2: Correspondence to Solomon Leland, Roscoe, 1837-1857
Note: transcription available
Folder 3: Correspondence to Alvan Leland, 1837-1844, no date
Note: transcription available
Folder 4: Correspondence to Alvan and Solomon Leland, 1841-1845
Note: transcription available
Folder 5: Correspondence to Julia (Jenks) Leland, 1850-1890
Folder 6: Correspondence to Julia (Jenks) Leland and  empty envelopes, no date
Folder 7: Correspondence from Julia (Jenks) Leland, no date
Sub-Series B: Sherman Family
Box 2
Folder 1: Correspondence to Judge John Sherman, 1835-1846
Folder 2: Correspondence to William Morrison, 1841
Folder 3: Correspondence to Daniel J. Sherman, 1841-1865
Folder 4: Correspondence to Daniel J. Sherman from L.J. Covell, 1842- 1858
Folder 5: Military service waivers concerning Daniel J. Sherman, 1862
Folder 6: Correspondence to Daniel J. Sherman, 1868-1894
Folder 7: Correspondence to Mina Sherman, 1841
Folder 8: Correspondence to and from Alexander Hamilton Sherman, 1841-1866
Folder 9: Correspondence to Cyrene (Jenks) Sherman, 1842-1870, no date
Folder 10: Correspondence to Polly Maria (Lewis) Sherman, 1851-1865, no date
Folder 11: Correspondence to John S. Sherman, 1858, 1887, 1889, 1896, no date
Folder 12: Correspondence to Hiram J. Sherman, 1864-1895
Folder 13: Correspondence to Hattie (Blakeslee) Sherman, 1869, 1888, no date
Folder 14: Correspondence to Thomas Sherman, 1909
Folder 15: Correspondence to Grandma Sherman from Cyrene, no date
Folder 16: Correspondence to unknown Sherman, no date
Folder 17: Empty envelope to Hiram Lewis, no date
Sub-Series C: Jenks Family
Box 3
Folder 1: Correspondence to Harriet and Mahala (Jenks) Ransom; Julia (Jenks) Leland and Mahala (Jenks) Ransom, circa 1840- 1880s
Folder 2: Correspondence to Solomon Jenks, 1841-1862
Folder 3: Correspondence from Solomon Jenks, 1841
Folder 4: Correspondence to Jane (Randall) Jenks, 1844
Folder 5: Correspondence to Lydia (Walker) Jenks, 1844-1854, no date
Folder 6: Correspondence to Edwin Jenks, 1846-1851, no date
Folder 7: Correspondence to Sylvia Jenks, 1847-1854
Folder 8: Correspondence from Julia Jenks, 1848
Folder 9: Correspondence to Minnie Jenks, 1849
Folder 10: Correspondence to Ernest and James Wilson, 1849-1868
Folder 11: Correspondence to Louisa Emma Jenks, 1850-1893
Folder 12: Correspondence to Alma (Jenks) Lawrence, 1850-1853
Folder 13: Correspondence to Cyrene Jenks, 1853-1857
Folder 14: Correspondence from C.W. Jenks, 1859
Folder 15: Correspondence to Harriet (Jenks) Wilson, 1867-1869, no date
Folder 16: Correspondence to Ella Jenks, 1880-1930, no date
Folder 17: Correspondence to Susan (Jenks) PaDelford, no date, 1881
Folder 18: Correspondence to Gertrude (Jenks) Billings, 1888
Folder 19: Correspondence to Louisa Emma and Ella Jenks, 1903-1916
Folder 20: Correspondence to unknown Jenks, 1851-1865, no date
Sub-Series D: Ransom Family
Box 4
Folder 1-2: Correspondence to Doctor Giles Ransom, 1840-1859
Folder 3: Correspondence to Doctor Giles Ransom, 1860-1865
Access Restriction: transcription available; copies
Folder 4-6: Correspondence to Doctor Giles Ransom, 1866-1879
Box 5
Folder 1-4: Correspondence to Doctor Giles Ransom, 1880-1899, no date
Folder 5: Envelopes from correspondence to Doctor Giles Ransom, no date
Folder 6: Miscellaneous correspondence from Doctor Giles Ransom, 1866- 1889
Folder 7: Correspondence to Doctor Giles and Mahala (Jenks) Ransom, 1850-1892
Box 6
Folder 1-2: Correspondence to Mahala (Jenks) Ransom, 1834-1859
Folder 3: Correspondence to and from Mahala (Jenks) Ransom, 1860- 1863
Originals or Copies Note: transcription available; copies
Folder 4-6: Correspondence to Mahala (Jenks) Ransom, 1870-1904, no date
Folder 8: Miscellaneous correspondence from Mahala (Jenks) Ransom, 1900, no date
Box 7
Folder 1-5: Correspondence to Doctor Wilmont Ransom, 1860-1889
Box 8
Folder 1-3: Correspondence to Doctor Wilmont Ransom, 1900-1919
Folder 4: Correspondence to Doctor Wilmont Ransom concerning (wife) Syliva (Sherman) Ransom's health, 1912, 1920-1921
Folder 5-6: Correspondence to Doctor Wilmont Ransom, 1920-1925
Box 9
Folder 1-4: Correspondence to Doctor Wilmont Ransom, 1926-1934, no date
Folder 5: Correspondence to Doctor Wilmont Ransom, empty envelopes, 1885-1932, no date
Folder 6: Miscellaneous correspondence from Doctor Wilmont Ransom, 1893-1930
Box 10
Folder 1-4: Correspondence to Sylvia (Sherman) Ransom, circa 1888-1922, no date
Folder 5: Correspondence to Sylvia (Sherman) Ransom regarding cousin  Mary Luthe, 1879-1919
Folder 6: Correspondence to Doctor Wilmont Ransom on Mary Luthe's  medical condition, 1917, no date
Folder 7: Wedding ephemera, Doctor Wilmont Ransom to Sylvia (Sherman) Ransom, 1889
Folder 8-12: Correspondence to Doctor Wilmont and Sylvia Ransom Family, 1890-1927, no date
Box 11
Folder 1-5: Correspondence to Sylvia (Sherman) Ransom, 1879-1914
Box 12
Folder 1: Correspondence to Erasmus Ransom, 1840-1848
Folder 2: Correspondence to Erasmus Ransom from Doctor Giles Ransom, 1858
Originals or Copies Note: transcription available; copies
Folder 3: Correspondence to Elizabeth (Willard) Ransom, 1853
Folder 4: Correspondence to Daniel Ransom, Junior, 1855
Folder 5: Correspondence to Susan Anna Grace (Ransom) Shaw, circa  1870-1880s
Folder 6: Correspondence to Lydia "Lizzie" E. (Ransom) Worden, 1870-1934
Folder 7: Correspondence transcription of letters to Lydia (Ransom) Worden from Doctor Wilmont Ransom (compiled  by Homer W. Weaver), 1873-1874
Folder 8: Correspondence transcription of letters to Lydia (Ransom) Worden (and Mahala (Jenks) Ransom) from Doctor Penn  Ransom (compiled by Homer Weaver), 1877-1881
Folder 9: Correspondence to Doctor Penn Ransom, 1871-1892
Folder 10: Correspondence from Susan Anna Grace (Ransom) Shaw, 1883
Folder 11: Correspondence to Alton M. Worden, 1885
Folder 12: Correspondence to Elizabeth "Bessie" Worden, 1882, 1889, no date
Folder 13: Correspondence to Norman Haskins, 1910
Folder 14: Correspondence to Sara Clift (Brown) Ransom, 1938
Folder 15: Correspondence from Giles Norman Ransom, no date
Folder 16: Correspondence from Kathryn Shaw, no date
Folder 17: Correspondence to unknown individuals, 1842-1936
Folder 18: Correspondence to unknown individuals, no date
Folder 19: Empty envelopes to unknown individuals
Folder 20: Correspondence to Charles A. Ransom, 1936
Folder 21: Correspondence to Mrs. James A. Wilson and son, 1866
Box 13
Folder 1: Correspondence to Daniel Leland Ransom, 1890-1911
Folder 2: Correspondence to Admiral George Dewey from Daniel Leland Ransom, circa 1901
Folder 3: Correspondence to Daniel Leland Ransom, 1911-1919
Folder 4: Correspondence to Carol (Frost) Ransom from Daniel Leland Ransom, 1918
Folder 5: Correspondence to Daniel Leland Ransom, 1920-1925
Folder 6: Correspondence to Daniel Leland Ransom  and empty envelopes, no date
Box 14
Folder 1: Correspondence to Florence (Ransom) Nielsen, 1905-06
Folder 2-3: Correspondence to Florence (Ransom) Nielsen, Evanston Academy, 1911-1912
Folder 4: Correspondence to Florence (Ransom) Nielsen, Rockford and Chicago, 1913-1917
Folder 5-7: Correspondence to Florence (Ransom) Nielsen, 1920-1939
Box 15
Folder 1: Correspondence to Florence (Ransom) Nielsen, 1941-1965
Folder 2: Correspondence to Florence (Ransom) Nielsen and empty envelopes, no date
Folder 3: Correspondence to Florence (Ransom) Nielsen from Gregg Marshall, 1920-1922
Folder 4: Correspondence to Florence (Ransom) Nielsen concerning the  death of her father (Doctor Wilmont Ransom), 1934
Folder 5: Correspondence to Florence (Ransom) Nielsen from Arthur Nielsen (Hoover Damn/ Bolder City, Utah), 1936-1937
Folder 6: Correspondence to Florence (Ransom) Nielsen from contacts in Poland, 1946-1960, no date
Box 16
Folder 1: Correspondence to Vanetta (Nielsen) Fovall, 1925, 1934
Folder 2: Correspondence to Arthur H. Nielsen, 1925-1955
Folder 3: Correspondence to Wilhelm Nielsen, Anna Marie  (Rasmussen) Nielsen, and Peggy from Sylvia Maria  (Nielsen) Etnyre, 1934
Folder 4: Correspondence to Sylvia Maria (Nielsen) Etnyre, 1936
Folder 5-7: Correspondence to Arthur and Florence Nielsen Family, 1936- 1939-1966
Folder 8: Correspondence to Arthur and Florence Nielsen Family, empty  envelopes, no date
Folder 9: Correspondence to Daniel and John Nielsen from Arthur Ransom Nielsen, 1946
Folder 10: Correspondence to Art Ransom Nielsen from Arthur H.  Nielsen, circa 1954
Folder 11: Correspondence to Nancy (Nielsen) Townsend, 1960

Browse by Series:

[Series I: Personal Correspondence],
[Series II: Volumes and Ephemera],
[Series III: Business Records],
[Series IV: Oversize],
[Addendum 1],
[Addendum 2],

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