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Munger Family Register


The Munger Family Correspondence was donated to the University Archives by Dixie Huntington on November 14, 2001. The collection contains 175 individual letters written on 255 pages covering the years 1870-1936, with the majority of the letters written before 1900. All of the letters were hand written, except for two typed letters. Included with the correspondence are 170 envelopes, all with canceled stamps, and 159 envelopes without letters for the years 1873-1942, all with canceled stamps. The letters and the envelopes are contained in two document boxes.

The majority of the collection contains incoming and outgoing correspondence between the Munger and Riggle families (George Munger's daughter, Belle, married a Riggle) living in different locations, primarily Kansas, Illinois, California and Indiana. The contents include personal and business matters as well as weather, health and current events. These letters provide a wealth of historical information about the locations from which they were written, business and economic matters, social and cultural life, family relationships, and conditions of the United States during this lengthy period.

In addition to the Munger correspondence donated by Dixie Huntington, the University Archives contains two other collections of Munger/Riggle papers. The first was donated by George Merrick Munger Riggle (grandson to George Munger) in 1985. It consists of seven journals of George Munger. George Merrick Munger Riggle also made the second donation in 1986, consisting of eleven diaries.

Processing of the Munger Family Correspondence and the preparation of the register, including the biographical information on the Munger family, were completed by Christy Birney in the fall of 2003 and the spring of 2004. The University Archives accession number for the collection is P2001.06

Biographical Sketch

George Merrick Munger Sr. was born on January 17, 1839 in Bergen, Genesee County, New York, the son of Lyman and Martha Munger. In 1865, George Munger started a laundry business with two of his brothers in Chicago. On May 2, 1865, George married Susan Bingham Owens, daughter of John and Martha Owens. They had seven children (four of whom died in infancy). Alice Owens, Agnes Stoddard, Anna Pearce, Gaius M., Martha Louise, George Merrick, Jr., and Belinda Torrence; the latter three lived. George served as a Regent of Kansas State Agricultural College from 1897-1901. In 1887, George and his family moved to Greenwood County, Kansas seven miles north of Eureka. George named the property Catalpa Knob, an area of 2000 acres where he raised fruit trees as well as Catalpas. On August 9, 1908, George and Susan moved to Los Angeles where George died on October 29, 1919. Susan died six years later on May 23.

Martha Louise Munger, their oldest child, was born February 24, 1866 in Chicago, Illinois. She was the first white woman to cross the Chilkoot Pass, near Skagway, Alaska, and have a child in the Yukon Territory. Later she became the second woman in the Canadian Parliament and was a member of the House of Commons. She wrote My Seventy Years, published in 1938. Another book, My Ninety Years, detailing the latter years of her life and career, was published in 1976. She married her first husband, Will Amon Purdy, in August or September of 1887, and together they had three children, Lyman, Donald, and Warren. On August, 1904, Martha married her second husband, George Black. He was a lawyer, who served as a captain during WWI, before being elected speaker to the Yukon Council three times and appointed seventh Commissioner of Yukon. Martha died October 31, 1957 in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. At the funeral, her casket had both the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack flags laid across the top. George remarried after Martha's death and died on August 23, 1965 in Shaughnessy Hospital, Vancouver, Canada.

George Merrick Munger, Jr., the middle of the three children, was born June 8, 1872 in Chicago, Illinois. He helped run his father's laundry business in St. Louis, Missouri. During the Gold Rush of 1897, he, along with his sister Martha, crossed the Chilkoot Pass to the Yukon Territory where they both lived fairly comfortably. George died February 1, [1938?] in State Tuberculosis Hospital, Salem Oregon.

Belinda (Belle) Torrence Munger, the youngest, was born April 3, 1883, in Chicago, Illinois. While in college she attempted a degree in engineering but found that women were not allowed in this field. On October 7, 1903, Belle married her first husband, Edward Palmer Riggle, son of John and Mary Riggle. Together they had two children, George Merrick Munger Riggle and Ed Palmer Riggle, Jr. When Belle's father and mother moved to California, she and Ed took over Catalpa Knob, Greenwood County, Kansas. Belle married her second husband, Irvin Hays Rice, after Ed's death on June 10, 1915. Mr. And Mrs. Rice were divorced on January 9, 1929. Belle died October 22, 1966 in Glendale, California.

Additional information about the Munger family is included in the three appendices at the end of this register: 1) biographical sketch of Martha Louise Munger Black, 2) Munger family chronology, 3) Munger generational line.

Scope and Contents Note

The Munger and Riggle letters, 1870-1936, document three generations of the family. The focus of the collection is on the family in general and, to some extent, their businesses within these years.

The collection contains correspondence between George Munger, Sr. and Martha and Belle while the girls attended St. Mary's in Notre Dame, Indiana; little mention is made of George, Jr. throughout most of the years. Most of the letters are either to Belle (Munger) Riggle from various people, including her father (George Munger), husband (Ed Riggle), mother (Susan Munger), second husband (Irvin Hays Rice); or to George Munger from his brother (Pliny Munger), father (Lyman Munger), wife (Susan Munger), or daughters (Belle and Martha Munger).

Letters from Ed Riggle to his wife Belle (Munger) Riggle discuss business at Catalpa Knob, Greenwood County, Kansas, and other places Ed worked, as well as the welfare of their children. Ed Riggle took over Catalpa Knob after George and Susie Munger moved to California.

Many of the letters written to and from George Munger, and his wife Susie Munger, deal with business, how Susan was doing while she was in the hospital, or their children, mainly Belle and Martha. Some reference is made about how George, Jr. was getting along in Kansas City. These letters also illustrate how Susan kept control of her house while she was in the hospital for rheumatism from approximately April to December of 1903.

Other letters are sent to George Munger from either his father Lyman Munger, or from George's brother, Pliny Munger. These consist manly of business matters and some mention of health by George's father. Pliny helped run one of George's laundry businesses.

In all of these letters there is mention of the different places in which the family members lived: Colorado, Kansas, and California; however, little mention is made of the surroundings; there is some mention of the yields of Catalpa Knob's fruit trees.

The correspondence is housed in one document box while the envelopes without letters are housed in another. Folders in box one are numbered one through seven and contain letters addressed to George Munger; they are filed in chronological order from the earliest to most recent. The folders numbered eight through sixteen house letters addressed to Belle (some letters are sent to her using her first husbands surname, Riggle; some are sent using her second husbands surname, Hays; and some are sent to her using her maiden name). They are also in chronological order from earliest to most recent.

There are two related collections of Munger family material in the University Archives, both donated by George Merrick Munger Riggle (grandson of George Munger). The first, donated in 1985, consists of seven journals of George Munger recorded while he lived at Catalpa Knob, 1885-1904. The second, donated in 1986, contains eleven journals (1907-1936) written by: Belle Munger Riggle (1910-1915, 1934-1936), Susan Munger (1907-1925), and George Munger (1906-1915).

Container List

  01   01      September 22, 1870 to November 30, 1874 
                 To George Munger to his wife Susan Munger (1 letter)
                 To Lyman Munger to his son George Munger (7 letters)
       02      Jan 20, 1875 to December 21, 1875
                 To George Munger from his father Lyman Munger (6 letters)
                 To George Munger from his brother Pliny Munger (4 letters)
       03      March 14, 1876 to February 13, 1877
                 To George Munger from Lyman Munger (9 letters)
       04      October 20, 1880 to October 21, 1883
                 To George Munger from his daughter Martha Munger (5 letters)
       05      September 23, 1891 to December 8, 1897
                 To George and Susie Munger from Lyman Munger (10 letters
                 To Susie Munger from Martha Munger (Lyman's wife) (1 letter)
                 To George Munger from Edwin Taylor (1 letter)
       06      February 2, 1898 to May 1, 1901
                 To George Munger from Lyman Munger (2 letters)
                 To George and Susie Munger from Lyman Munger (9 letters)
                 To Susie Munger from Lyman Munger (2 letters)
       07      March 15, 1903 to December 26, 1914
                 To George Munger from Susie Munger (13 letters)
                 To George Munger from Lyman Munger (1 letter)
                 To Susie Munger from Charles Morse (Susie's brother) (1 letter)
       08      July 13, 1894 to September 4, 1903
                 To Belle Munger from her father George Munger (5 letters)
                 To Belle Munger from her mother Susie Munger (1 letter)
                 To Belle Munger from Ed Riggle (her first husband) (4 letters)
       09      May 7, 1904 to December 19, 1907
                 To Ed Riggle from Susie Munger (his mother in law) (1 letter)
                 To Belle Munger from Clara (Ed Riggle's sister) (1 letter)
                 To Belle Munger from Ed Riggle (7 letters)
       10      August [8 or 9], 1908 to November 24, 1908
                 To Belle Munger from Ed Riggle (20 letters)
       11      March 19, 1910 to December 5, 1913
                 To Belle Munger from George Munger (1 letter)
                 To Belle Munger from Ed Riggle (6 letters)
       12      January 1, 1914 to July 21, 1914
                 To Belle Munger from Ed Riggle (7 letters)
                 To Belle Munger from Susie Munger (3 letters)
       13      August 5, 1914 to December 31, 1914
                 To Belle Munger from Ed Riggle (7 letters)
                 To Ed Riggle From Clara (Ed's sister) (1 letter)
       14      January 23, 1915 to October 14, 1915
                 To Belle Munger from Ed Riggle (7 letters)
       15      August 22, 1921 to November 16, 1921
                 To Belle (Munger) Riggle from Irvin Hays Rice (her second 
                 husband) (13 letters)
       16      December 19, 1927 to August 21, 1936
                 To Belle (Munger) Rice from Bess (1 letter)
                 To Belle (Munger) Rice from Ross & Ross Attorneys at Law (1 letter)
                 To Belle (Munger) Riggle from Merrick Riggle (her son) (2 letters)
                 To Belle (Munger) Riggle from John W. Owens (her uncle) (1 letter)
                 To Belle (Munger) Riggle from Mary (Merrick Riggle's wife) (1 letter)
       17      No Dates
                 To Belle Munger from Ed Riggle (2 letters)