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About this collection

The Rufus and Charles King Collection consists primarily of correspondence, most of which is between family members. Additionally, there are letters written to Rufus King on a variety of personal and professional subjects, newspaper clippings, certificates, diaries, photographs and a travel journal written by King’s mother-in-law.  

The majority of the family correspondence is letters from Charles King to his wife and daughter Carolyn about daily matters, his involvement in the Indian Wars of the American West and the Philippines, battles with Native Americans. Most of the collection has been digitized and is available online in this collection. There is a full finding aid for the collection, items not digitized have been noted in the finding aid. 

Photograph of Charles King


Rufus King (January 26 or July 26, 1814– October 13, 1876), a graduate of West Point, worked for the Army Corps of Engineers and was a journalist, editor and part owner of the Milwaukee Sentinel newspaper. Rufus King was the son of Charles King (1789–1867), ninth president of Columbia College (now Columbia University) and grandson of Rufus King (1755-1827), a signer of the Constitution, US senator from New York, and 1816 presidential candidate.

King was active in Wisconsin politics in state formation, education and the abolitionist movement. King was appointed by President Abraham Lincoln as Minister to the Papal States in 1861, but returned to the United States, but took a leave of absence to join the Army at the outbreak of the Civil War. He was appointed a brigadier general of the Wisconsin militia, helped to organize the Iron Brigade, which he commanded briefly, and then was division commander of the First Corps of the Army of the Potomac. He returned to his minister duties at the Vatican in 1863 after resigning his military commission for health reasons. He returned from Rome in 1867 and was briefly the deputy comptroller of customs for the Port of New York before retiring. 


Charles King (1844 -1933), son of Rufus King, was also graduate of West Point. He served in the U.S. Army in the Indian Wars of the American West and as a General in the Philippines during the Philippine Insurrection. Later, he served in Wisconsin as the Adjutant General, and ended his military career as an instructor at St. John's Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin. King married Adelaide Yorke in 1872. They had four children, Adelaide, Carolyn, Eleanor, and Rufus. King died in Milwaukee in March of 1933 and is buried at Forest Home Cemetery. He wrote and edited over 60 books and novels, many of which are military and western themed. Among his list of titles are Campaigning with Crook, Fort Frayne, Under Fire, and Daughter of the Sioux. His son Rufus and grandson Charles both graduated from St. John's Military Academy, and both had accomplished military careers.


Acquisition Information The King papers were given to Carroll College in 1962 by the family of Leonard E. Serr (Leonard Serr's daughter Judith Serr graduated from Carroll in 1962.) The papers were found in Charles King's room at the Carlton Hotel (razed 1965) in Milwaukee following his death in 1933 by Leonard Serr’s father, Emanuel Serr, who was the hotel manager at the time. The papers were loaned to the Wisconsin State Historical Society and microfilmed in the 1970s- the Historical Society holds the microfilmed copy.


Digitization Notes The collection was digitized to further academic research and increase access to this collection. Please note in digitizing hand written documents, items had to be transcribed in order to make them keyword searchable. Due to paper condition and handwriting some words were difficult to decipher and have been marked by sqare brackets. Also, due to the subject matter of the correspondence some of the letters are graphic and contain strong language and subject matters. All material has been preserved to ensure historical accuracy.




Collection Use The Rufus and Charles King Collection is free to use for educational and research purposes. We ask that all information retreived from this site be properly cited. Mass reproductions of the collection are strictly prohibited. For photo reproduction or publishing permission you must receive written permission from the Carroll University Archives. For more information see see our orders and copyright policy.


Citing the Collection (Chicago\Turabian Style)

[Letter writer to recipient], [date(s)]. Rufus and Charles King Collection, in the Carroll University Digital Collections, (accessed [date]).


Collection Contributors

Contributors on this project include:
Michele Crew, Student Assistant
T. J. Wendel, Student Assistant
Alex Eisold, Student Assistant
Brittany Bayer, Evening/Weekend Supervisor
Amelia Osterud, Web Services Librarian
Katie Sanders, Archivist


Further Readings About Rufus King

  • Gomez, Kathleen A. Code, Rufus King: civic and political leader in the development of the city of Milwaukee. Thesis (Ph. D.)--Marquette University, 1996.
  • Miller, Curtis W. Rufus King and the problems of the era. Thesis (M.A.)--Marquette University, 1963.
  • Oplinger, Jill. A sentinel for statehood: Rufus King and Wisconsin politics, 1845-1861. Thesis (M.A. in History) --University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee, 1998.
  • Sifakis, Stewart. King, Rufus (1814-1876). in Who Was Who in the Civil War. New York: Facts on File, 1988.
  • Wisconsin. Supreme Court. Unconstiutionality of the Fugitive Slave Act. Milwaukee: Rufus King & C.o., Printers, 1855.

Further Readings About Charles King

  • Bailey, John W. The Life and Works of General Charles King, 1844-1933: Martial Spirit. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1998.
  • Burton, Wilfred Charles. The Novels of Charles King -- 1844-1933. Thesis (Ph. D.)--New York University, 1962.
  • Flock, Hazel Manning. Frontier Army Life Revealed by Charles King, 1844-1933. Fort Hayes Kansas State College, 1965.
  • Gregory, Alice Katherine. Captain Charles King: the Army's Novelist. Thesis (B.A.)--Reed College, 1945.
  • Green, Curtis E. Captain Charles King: Popular Military Novelist. Tucson: Arizona Pioneers' Historical Society, 1961.
  • Hanson, Jon H. Brigadier General Charles King and His Role in the Philippine Insurrection. University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, 1974.
  • Hedren, Paul L. Captain Charles King at Sunset Pass: Journal of Arizona History, 1976.
  • Russell, Don, and Paul L. Hedren. Campaigning with King: Charles King, Chronicler of the Old Army. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1991.

More information about Charles and Rufus King can be found at the Kenosha Civil War Museum and the Wisconsin Historical Society.


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