Isely Family Papers


Christian Isely
Marie Elizabeth “Eliza” Dubach Isely

Christian and Marie Isely Family
Image courtesy of John Mattox

The Isely Family Papers contain correspondence and other documents dating from the late 1850s through the 1930s. A significant portion of the collection consists of letters written during the Civil War between Christian H. Isely and his wife, Marie Elizabeth “Eliza” Dubach. Christian served in the 2nd Kansas Cavalry and they traveled throughout Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma; which was then Indian Territory. The Isely’s were a profoundly religious family and their correspondences depict the deeply rooted connection between religion and political convictions and how their beliefs often divided their family.

During the war, Eliza went to live with Christian’s parents in Ohio, rather than stay with her father in Willow Dale, Kansas, due to the unstable conditions in the Kansas-Missouri border region. Eliza’s in-laws did not share the same religious or political views as she and Christian, so they often belittled and berated her in German. She expressed to Christian in her letters the difficulties she faced living alone in such a hostile environment and her desire to return to the life they had prior to the war.

The collection also consists of Christian’s correspondence with other prominent individuals, such as, Edmund R. Colhoun, U.S.N., and William H. Smallwood, who became Kansas’ Secretary of State from 1871 – 1875.

Only a portion of the correspondents have been digitized, and researchers are encouraged to contact Wichita State University to view the entire collection.

Contributed by the Wichita State University Special Collections and University Archives.

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