Eugene Carlos Bartholomew Papers
An Inventory of the Collection
Eugene Carlos Bartholomew, son of Orange Adams and Sarah Chapin Wright Bartholomew, was born in Hanover, Michigan, on January 3, 1839, and moved to Jonesville, Michigan with his family at age 11. He graduated from Hillsdale College (MI) in 1861, and then entered the Union Army as a civilian employee in 1864. In 1865, he became chief clerk in the Quartermaster's Division of the Fourth Army Corps, a unit that was relocated from Nashville to Victoria, Texas in 1865. Thereafter he worked with the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands in Galveston, Texas. As an agent of the Bureau he was transferred to Austin in 1867 to oversee the establishment of schools. In 1870, he was appointed Superintendent of Education, having also served as Chief Clerk for both the State House of Representatives and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instructions. By 1873 he had become involved in the real estate and loan business, which occupied him for the remainder of his life. He was one of the founders and original director of the Austin National Bank, in which both his son and grandson later became executive managers. From 1909 to 1919, he served as one of the first city commissioners and assisted in the funding of the first city park, named in honor of Mayor Wooldridge. Bartholomew also headed the Water and Light Department during which time he managed to lower utility costs by reducing the water rate to 50 cents per month, which proved highly beneficial to over 20,000 residents. In this official capacity in 1917 he was integral in negotiations in the Colorado River dam reconstruction. Among his other accomplishments include his role as Commissioner of Parks and Public Property, and his many years as a United States grand jury commissioner.
Bartholomew married Elizabeth Morley Brown on February 1, 1870, and they had one son, Claude Morley. Bartholomew was a Republican, an Episcopalian, and a Freemason. He died in Austin on October 27, 1923, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery. In 1959, the city’s Bartholomew Park was named in honor of him and his family.
Source: Bartholomew, Eugene Carlos (https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fba91: accessed September 12, 2017)
The collection documents the activities of Eugene Carlos Bartholomew from the years before entering college in 1857 until approximately two weeks before his death in 1923. There are five series, grouped as Diaries, Account Books, Letters Sent, Letters Received and Assorted Materials.
The outstanding feature of the collection is evidenced in 26 Diaries (1854-1923) that span 69 consecutive years of entries, with intermittent chronological gaps. Bartholomew was very meticulous in his note-taking and devoted to a regular habit of recording his observations and collecting news of the world in which he lived. It is worth mentioning that the entries bear witness to events from his recent past and ongoing present, and refer to those anticipated in the near future. This "journalistic" approach contrasts with other diarists whose efforts may be regarded more in terms of personal memoirs and introspective reflections.
Some noteworthy highlights from the diaries include the first two volumes, which are devoted to his high school life in Jonesville, Michigan; the cover of the initial diary bears his name misspelled. Diary 3 chronicles his first calendar year at Hillsdale College, in Hanover, Michigan, during which time he mentions purchasing a rooster. Diaries 5 through 7 continue to portray his college life, in which he discusses his coursework, his friendships and his general activities as an ambitious youth. His painstaking log of his personal accounts becomes first apparent at this stage. For instance, extensive lists of what he paid for individual food items and articles of clothing are kept on an almost daily basis. Diaries 8 and 9 have much to say of his civilian employment as a clerk in the Chief Quartermaster's Office of the Union's Fourth Army and, more generally, of life during the Civil War. For example, he refers to popular discussion of General Sherman’s next course of action, and of witnessing a transport of Confederate prisoners-of-war. To illustrate the breadth of experience Bartholomew recorded, Diary 11’s entry for March 27th (which is also one of the shortest) mentions that "nothing remarkable occurred", while a later entry in October features a newspaper obituary of his younger brother Henry. Diary 12 continues his habit of recording social encounters among friends and family, including engagements, weddings, and a two-page list of the deaths of everyone he has personally known to that point. Diary 12 also includes information about the day of Texas' readmission to the Union and the beginning of Reconstruction. It was during this time he started work in the Freedmen's Bureau, after having been transferred to Victoria, Texas. By Diary 16, Bartholomew, while continuing with all of his previous diary habits mentioned above, has made much of his work in Austin as the Superintendent of Education. At this stage he had been performing many other municipal functions in the city. For example, he also refers to his appointment as Inspector of Hides and Animals, a title which no longer exists. Diary 24 discusses his first business with and subsequent directorship at the Austin National Bank, and, continuing on various city council roles, also records local election results. Diary 26 refers to the catastrophic hurricane in Galveston, Texas, as well as the Austin Dam collapse, and his efforts in negotiating later reconstruction. Diary 27 records the 1905 yellow fever epidemic in New Orleans, one of the last in the nation. Diary 28 mentions the death at age 77 of "one of Austin's oldest residents", and that Bartholomew paid for the installation of a public drinking fountain. In his final diary from the year of his death, in which only 79 of the 152 pages were used, he laments the passing of Warren G. Harding, "a good President and an honest man gone." Bartholomew was fond of including information about disasters foreign and domestic, and the occurrence of various meteorological phenomena (shooting stars, eclipses, etc.) His final diary entry is about rainfall. In fact, previous entries about rainfall served two corroborate witness testimony in two separate court cases. The range from the general to the specific of Bartholomew's writing illuminates both the particularities of his daily experience as well as that of life in late 19th century/early 20th century Austin.
Regarding its physical nature, each diary consists of approximately 200 hand-numbered pages. Bartholomew indexed on the inside front and back covers and within the page margins the persons and subjects referred to in the entries. interleaved among the pages of the diaries are various paper items that include but are not restricted to the following: loose correspondence; scraps of notes; business and entertainment memoranda; certificates; licenses; telegrams; advertisements; newspaper clippings (often pasted); greeting cards; accounting slips; and fragments from other journals. Please note that Diaries 14, 15, and 19 were omitted prior to donation. Diary 13 is in fact Account Book 1, although a great number of diary entries also included the accounting of daily expenses. Among the latter diaries this practice was replaced by the inclusion of more newspaper clippings, as the account books had assumed this function more specifically.
There are four Account Books (1868-1906) which record his personal transactions, with some omissions. Account Book 3 primarily records business related to his Masonic activities.
The series of Letters Sent (1876-1909) are collected in eight volumes of original books of letter press tissue copies that document Bartholomew's outgoing correspondence, with some omissions. Some replies to the sent letters are included.
The series of Letters Received (1861-1883), also with gaps in the sequence, is pasted on the pages of five bound volumes. Contained in a folder housed in a separate document box are about 40 letters removed from their original binding. Amomg this handwritten correspondence are printed invitations and announcements. Many of the above books have detached covers and loose bindings.
Assorted Materials (1854-1923, undated) consists of a copy of the Book of Common Prayer, bound to an accompanying hymnal; a folder of Austin National Bank documents, much of it on official letterhead, that communicate Bartholomew's operations as bank director; another folder containing a miscellany of paper materials which include, among other items, a dog tax receipt, social club invitations and ballroom tickets, a stage coach bill, magazine subscription renewals, and commencement programs for UT and Austin High School graduation ceremonies; and a copy of the most widely-used educational primer of its time, McGuffey's Fourth New Eclectic Reader, which belonged to Bartholomew's son Claude Morley. The last folder contains an assortment of loose scrapbook items (holiday cards, autographs, and clippings).
Open to all users.
The Austin History Center (AHC) is the owner of the physical materials in the AHC collections and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the AHC before any publication use. The AHC does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.
Some of the volumes are fragile and require care in handling for preservation purposes. Please consult repository for details and assistance with handling.
The collection was donated by Eugene Carlos Bartholomew's granddaughter on September 8, 1965.
Eugene Carlos Bartholomew Papers (AR.D.007). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/1956/004
Donation Date: September 8, 1965
Processed by Jim Rizkalla, August 2017
Finding aid encoded by Jim Rizkalla, September 2017
Detailed Description of the Collection