Special Collections Department
George Alfred Townsend
Manuscript Collection Number: 296
Accessioned: Gift of Robert H. Richards, 1945.
Extent: .3 linear ft.
Content: Letters, clippings, bookplates, essays, book reviews, brochures, and short stories.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: Preliminary processing in 1945, completed in 1994 by Anita A. Wellner.
Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
Table of Contents
Townsend's first full-time employment began in 1860 as a news editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer. In 1861, he moved to the city editorship of the Philadelphia Press, and in the same year, his play, The Bohemians, was published. Although Townsend's stories and poems had been published in high school newspapers and, in fact, Townsend had published a small high school magazine, this play is his earliest known surviving publication.
By 1866, Townsend had become a noted news journalist, as a war correspondent covering the Civil War for the New York Herald, the New York World, and later, as a ghost writer, for The New York Times.
His reports of Lincoln's assassination (part of which was later published as Life, Crime and Capture of John Wilkes Booth ) and General Sheridan's victory at the Battle of Five Forks, Virginia, brought him considerable recognition. Townsend, who was the only correspondent present for the battle on March 31, 1865, conveyed word of the Union Army's decisive victory, which resulted in the Confederate abandonment of Petersburg and Richmond, Virginia.
Townsend's reflections on the Civil War and on his two year journey in Europe during the war were collected in his Campaigns of a Non-Combatant and his Romaunt Abroad during the War (1866). Townsend's recognition as a war correspondent led to his popularity as a lecturer. He traveled throughout the United States, lecturing on the Civil War, European politics and U.S. government.
By 1867, Townsend had made his home in Washington, D.C., choosing the capital because of his desire to report on political news and issues. His books, The New World Compared with the Old (1869), Washington Outside and Inside (1873), and Events at the National Capitol and the Campaign of 1876 (1876), explore American government, the nation's capital, and political topics.
During the 1860s and 1870s his columns, articles, and letters appeared in newspapers throughout the United States, including papers in Boston, Baltimore, New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Washington, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Cincinnati. Some of these articles, as well as some of his books, were written using a number of pen names, including "G.A.T.," "Swede," "Laertes," "Johnny Bouquet," and his favorite, "Gath."
Several of Townsend's books, written during the 1880s, are set in Delaware and Maryland. The first, Tales of the Chesapeake (1880), was a collection of poems and stories about Delaware and the Maryland shore. Townsend's first historical novel, The Entailed Hat (1883), tells the tale of Patty Cannon, the slave "runner," and her adventures in what is today the Governor's House in Dover. The sequel to The Entailed Hat was Katy of Catoctin (1884), set in Western Maryland.
In 1884, Townsend purchased land near Burkettsville, Maryland, and established an estate, which he named Gapland. It was on this estate, in 1896, that he built the only national memorial to Civil War correspondents. Located near the Antietam Battlefield, the monument bears the names of 157 correspondents and artists.
After Townsend's death in 1914, and following a succession of other owners, the estate was deeded to the Maryland State Department of Forests and Parks in 1949. The estate was renamed Gathland State Park, using Townsend's popular pen name "Gath." The park honors George Alfred Townsend as one of America's most important journalists and novelists of the Reconstruction Era.
Source:Frank, Bill. "Famed Sussex War Correspondent," The News Journal (Wilmington), February 23, 1987.
Hindes, Ruthanna. George Alfred Townsend: one of Delaware's Outstanding Writers. Wilmington: Hambleton Printing & Publishing Co., 1946.
Scope and Content Note
The first bound volume (F1) consists of ten short stories and essays written by Townsend, between 1865 and 1892, and published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, Harper's New Monthly Magazine, The Century Magazine, The Forum, Baltimore Home Journal, and Scribner's Monthly. The essays include "An American War Correspondent in England," "Hearing My Requiem," "How Wilkes Booth Crossed the Potomac," and "New Washington." Stories include "Birth of the Telegraph" and "His Lost Marriage Fee - a love story."
The second volume (F2) includes five letters from George Alfred Townsend to General William Belknap, Mr. Stoddart, J.B. Stillson, M.D. Conway, and Edmund C. Stedman. In addition, the volume includes a signed typescript of Townsend's essay, "Hearing My Requiem," (see F1 for the published version), which bears extensive revisions. A six-page autograph poem, "The Memorizing of the Continent," is also present. The essay and poem provide a small sample of Townsend's writing and revision technique.
The third volume (F3) is a scrapbook containing clippings of Townsend's writings; tear sheets of pictures of Townsend, his family, and the Gapland estate; his business card and bookplate; an autograph list of Townsend's publications; a photocopy of his article, "Two Days of Battle;" and a letter regarding the Willard S. Morse bookplate in this collection (designed by Howard Pyle).
The fourth volume is titled "Johnny Bouquet's Walks" and is a scrapbook of clippings of Townsend's articles which appeared in the New York Tribune under his pen name Johnny Bouquet.
The fifth volume is a scrapbook of two articles about President Garfield, written by Townsend, as well as pictures and articles on other assassins and victims in history.
The newspaper clipping and a brochure about Gathland State Park (F4), describing the park and its history, were later additions to the collection.
The original Richards collection also included twenty books written by Townsend. These books have been cataloged for either Special Collections or the University of Delaware Library general stacks. A list of these books and their locations is included at the end of this finding aid.
Related collections:Autograph poem (1893) by Townsend on fly-leaf of Henry Dickson Capers's The Life and Times of C. G. Memminger (Spec E415.9 .M4 C2).
Eighteen slides of selected items in the George Alfred Townsend Papers, taken by the Maryland Department of Forests and Parks for an exhibition on Townsend. See Manuscript Librarian.
1 F1 Bound volume of printed stories and essays, 1865-1892 Volume bears the bookplate of Willard S. Morse and contains the following titles: "Birds of the Telegraph," from Clover Leaves (Philadelphia: Clover Club, 1885). "His Lost Marriage Fee - a Love Story," Baltimore Home Journal, September, 1888. "The Chesapeake Peninsula," Scribner's Monthly, March, 1872. "An Interviewer Interviewed, a talk with Gath," Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, November, 1891. "Hearing My Requiem," Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, October, 1892. See F2 for an typescript draft of this article. "Recollections and Reflections," Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, November, 1886. "An American War Correspondent in England," Harper's New Monthly Magazine, January, 1865. "New Washington," Harper's New Monthly Magazine, February, 1875. "How Wilkes Booth Crossed the Potomac," The Century Magazine, April, 1884. "Jay Gould," The Forum, September, 1886. F2 Bound volume of letters and manuscripts, 1886-1898 All letters are from Townsend. [n.d.] ALS 2p to General Wm Belknap 1892 Nov 24 ALS 1p to Mr. Stoddart. [n.y.] Mar 10 ALS 1p to J. B. Stillson 1886 Dec 8 ALS 2p to Mr. M. D. Conway 1898 Dec 11 ALS 1p to [Edmund C.] Stedman "The Memorizing of the Continent," Autograph poem, 6p. "Hearing My Requiem," Ts, signed, with autograph corrections, 11p. See F1 for published version. 1 F3 Bound scrapbook, 1866-1945 Includes newspaper clippings; Townsend's business card and his bookplate; tear sheets of pictures of Townsend, his parents, and Gapland; an autograph list of publications by Townsend; and a photocopy of Townsend's article, "Two Days of Battle (The Californian, January 6, 1866). Also includes a 1945 letter from Mrs. W. A. Brewer to Mr. Lewis concerning the W.S. Morse bookplate (designed by Howard Pyle). F4 Newspaper article and brochure related to Gathland State Park, Maryland, 1946 F5 Two articles on President Garfield by Townsend, 1881 Also includes articles and pictures of other assassins and victims in history. Originally cataloged for Special Collections (Safe Del E 687 .T68). F7 "The Chesapeake Peninsula," Scribner's Monthly, March, 1872. Original copy of the periodical includes Townsend's articles 2 F6 "Johnny Bouquet's Walks," 1881 Preservation photocopy of this scrapbook of clippings of Townsend's articles which appeared in the New York Tribune under his pen name Johnny Bouquet. The bound volume of clippings was cataloged for Special Collections (Safe Del PS3089 .T748 J65 1881). Books Associated with the George Alfred Townsend Papers Books are in Special Collections unless otherwise noted (designated "Morris"). Bohemian Days: three American tales (New York: H. Campbell & Co., 1850). [Morris] PS3089 .T748 A16 1880. Campaigns of a Non-Combatant, (New York: Blelock & Co., 1866). [Morris] E470.2 .T74. "Columbus in Love," (Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, April, 1893). Bound with General Alfred T. A. Torbert Memorial (1922). [Morris] PS3089 .T748 C72 1893. The Entailed Hat, or Patty Cannon's Times, (New York: Harper & Bros., 1884). [Morris] PS3089 .T748 E61 1884 copy 2. "Johnny Bouquet's Walks," (Scrapbook of clippings from the New York Tribune, 1881). Johnny Bouquet one of Townsend's pen names. Safe Del PS3089 .T748 J65 1881. *Preservation photocopy available in F5. Katy of Catoctin, or, the Chain-Breakers, (New York: Appleton, 1886). With a tipped in ALS from Townsend to Dr. Holland (1873, 2p). Spec PS3089 .T748 K19 1886. The Life, Crime, and Capture of John Wilkes Booth, (New York: Dick & Fitzgerald, 1865). Spec E457.5 T74. Life of the Honourable Levi P. Morton, bound with The Life of General Benjamin Harrison, by Lew Wallace, (Philadelphia: Hubbard Bros., 1888). [Morris] E702 .W28. Lost Abroad, (Chicago: Gibbs & Nichols, 1870). [Morris] PS3089.T748 L88 1870. Mrs. Reynolds and Hamilton, (New York: E.F. Bonaventure, 1890). [Morris] PS3089 .T748 M67 1890 copy 2. The New World Compared with the Old, (Hartford: S.M. Betts & Co., 1869). Spec Del JF125 .T27. The Parson of the Islands, by Adam Wallace (Philadelphia: Methodist Home Journal, 1872). Includes an inscription to Townsend by his father, a printed poem signed by Townsend, and a tipped-in letter from Henry C. Conrad, to Willard S. Morse (July 24, 1929). Spec Del BX8495 .T57 W3 1872. Poem...read at the Drawyer's Presbyterian Church, New Castle County, Delaware, (Society of the Friends of Old Drawyer's, 1902). With Townsend's Poetical Addresses. Spec Del E174 .S13 copy 2. Poems, (Washington: Rhodes & Ralph, 1870). Spec Del PS3089 .T748 A18 1870 copy 2. Poems of Men and Events, (New York: E.F. Bonaventure, 1899). Spec Del PS3089 .T748 A18 1899 copy 2. Poems of the Delaware Peninsula, (Wilmington: 1911). Spec Del PS3089 .T748 A18 1911 copy 2. Poetical Addresses of George Alfred Townsend, (New York: E.F. Bonaventure, 1881). Spec Del PS3089 .T748 A18 1881 and Spec E174 .S13 copy 2. President Cromwell, (New York: E.F. Bonaventure, 1884). No. 17 of 200, signed. [Morris] PS3089 .T748 P93 1884. The Queen's Domain, by William Winter, (Boston: E.O. Libby & Co., 1859). Townsend's copy, signed by author. Spec Del PS3341 .Q4 1859. Rustics in Rebellion: a Yankee reporter on the road to Richmond, 1861-1865, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1950). [Morris] E470.2 .T74 1950. Tales of the Chesapeake, (New York: American News Co., 1880). [Morris] PS3089 .T748 A16 1880a copy 2. Washington, Outside and Inside, (Hartford: J. Betts & Co., 1874). [Morris] F194 .T742.
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