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Ashley W. Cole Letters

An inventory of his correspondence at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Cole, Ashley W., 1841-1920.
Title: Ashley W. Cole Letters
Inclusive Dates: 1882-1916
Quantity: 0.25 linear ft.
Abstract: Papers of the American editor, railroad commissioner, executive secretary to New York State Governor Levi P. Morton. Incoming correspondence concerning railroads (Avery Andrews, Paul D. Cravath, Chauncey M. Depew, James Jerome Hill, Jeremiah Jenks, Theodore Roosevelt); politics (Thomas Collier Platt, L. Bradford Prince); the John Ericsson monument in New York City (Jonathan Scott Hartley); and the personal life of actress Louise D. (Mrs. Leslie) Carter.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Ashley W. Cole (1841-1920) was born in Hampshire, England. He came with his parents to the United States in 1849, and attended public school in New York City. After serving in the Tenth New Jersey Volunteers he found work as a journalist, working for the New York Herald as city editor and foreign correspondent (South America and Cuba). He later worked on the city staff of the New York Times and served as their Albany correspondent. In 1887 he became city editor of The Press and then manager of the New York News Bureau. Cole became private executive secretary to New York State Governor Levi P. Morton in 1895 and in December of 1896 Morton appointed him State Railroad Commissioner, a position he held until 1902. In 1904 he went to London as representative of a manufacturing firm. Although he was not a career military officer, he was known as "Colonel Cole" for much of his life, including in his obituary in the New York Times.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Ashley W. Cole Letters consists of letters from friends, acquaintances, and business associates in connection with Cole's positions of newspaperman, railroad commissioner, executive secretary to New York State Governor Levi P. Morton, and London representative for a manufacturing firm.

As railroad commissioner, appointed by Governor Morton and later retained by Theodore Roosevelt, Cole received correspondence concerning commission reports (Robert Avery), requests for hearings (Avery Andrews, Paul D. Cravath), speaking invitations (Chauncey Depew, James Jerome Hill, Jeremiah Jenks), and offers of assistance (Frank Julian Sprague). Perhaps the most interesting letter among those pertaining to his association with the Railroad Commission is an item to Theodore Roosevelt asking if the President had referred to that agency as "the most worthless of all the State bureaus." In an answer from secretary George Cortelyou, Roosevelt denies both the opinion and the statement.

There is a considerable amount of correspondence from actress Louse D. (Mrs. Leslie) Carter in which she appeals to Cole for money, and to intervene with the New York newspapers on her behalf, as she felt she was being treated unfairly by them. Other letters relating to Mrs. Carter are from William Brookfield and Dr. Oscar King.

There are also a number of letters from sculptor Jonathan Scott Hartley concerning the commission for the John Ericsson monument in New York City. The letters recount the execution of the project from the awarding of the commission through the unveiling ceremony for the finished sculpture. Hartley's letters also mention his father-in-law, painter George Inness.

The correspondence contains a number of letters from Thomas Collier Platt in which he discusses his successes and defeats in various political campaigns. In addition there is a substantive letter from L. Bradford Prince in which he reminisces about his public career in New York and the political situation in Mexico, to which territory he had been appointed to serve by President Rutherford B. Hayes (15 Nov 1901): "My only mistake was in coming away, when the glamour of historic interest enticed me finally to accept as Chief Justice, after I had declined the Governorship of Idaho and 4 other places."

The remainder of the correspondence centers around arrangements for meetings (A.J. Dittenhoefer, A.H. Green, Thomas Lemuel James, Victoria Woodhull) and recommendations for appointments (Amos J. Cummings, Frank Hatton). There are two personal letters from Robert J. Wynne, and an appeal from poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox to intercede for release of a prisoner whom she believes was unfairly prosecuted because of his interest in the occult sciences.

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Arrangement of the Collection

Letters are arranged alphabetically by correspondent.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Subject Headings


Andrews, Avery.
Andrews, Charles Bartlett, 1836-1902.
Avery, Robert.
Boynton, Henry V. (Henry Van), 1835-1905.
Brookfield, William.
Carter, Leslie, Mrs., 1862-1937.
Cole, Ashley W., 1841-1920.
Cornell, Alonzo B., 1832-1904.
Cortelyou, George B. (George Bruce), 1862-1940.
Cravath, Paul D. (Paul Drennan), 1861-1940.
Cummings, Amos J. (Amos Jay), 1841-1902.
Depew, Chauncey M. (Chauncey Mitchell), 1834-1928.
Dittenhoefer, Abram J. (Abram Jesse), 1836-1919.
Fairchild, Charles S. (Charles Stebbins), 1842-1924.
Grant, Lewis A., 1829-1918.
Green, A. H. (Andrew Haswell), 1820-1903.
Hartley, Jonathan Scott, 1845-1912.
Hatton, Frank, 1846-1894.
Hill, James J. (James Jerome), 1838-1916.
James, Thomas L. (Thomas Lemuel), 1831-1916.
Jenks, Jeremiah Whipple, 1856-1929.
Jerome, William Travers, 1859-1934.
King, Oscar.
Lamont, Daniel Scott, 1851-1905.
Lounsbury, Phineas Chapman.
Morton, Levi P. (Levi Parsons), 1824-1920.
Philip, John.
Platt, Thomas Collier, 1833-1910.
Porter, John Addison, 1856-1900.
Prince, L. Bradford (Le Baron Bradford), 1840-1922.
Rice, Graham L.
Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919.
Sandow, Eugen, 1867-1925.
Sprague, Frank Julian.
Tracy, Benjamin Franklin, 1830-1915.
Wallace, William C.
Washington, Booker T., 1856-1915.
Whitney, William C. (William Collins), 1841-1904.
Wilcox, Ella Wheeler, 1850-1919.
Woodhull, Victoria C. (Victoria Claflin), 1838-1927.
Wynne, Robert John.

Corporate Bodies

Republican Party (N.Y.)


Patronage, Political -- New York (State)
Railroads and state -- New York (State)


New York (State) -- History -- 1865-
New York (State) -- Officials and employees -- Selection and appointment.
New York (State) -- Politics and government -- 1865-1950.

Genres and Forms


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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Ashley W. Cole Letters
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Finding Aid Information

Created by: KM
Date: Oct 1987
Revision history: Feb 1989 - revised (KM); 12 Mar 2007 - converted to EAD (MRC); 5 Sep 2008 - fixed box numbers (MRC)

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Box 1 Andrews, Avery 27 Jul 1900
Box 1 Andrews, Charles Bartlett 14 Nov 1894
Box 1 Avery, Robert 7 Aug 1902
Box 1 Boynton, Henry Van Ness 13 May 1896
Box 1 Brookfield, William 9 Jul 1895
Box 1 Carter, Mrs. Leslie (Louise D.) undated - 11 letters
Box 1 Cornell, Alonzo B. 29 Apr 1882
Box 1 Cortelyou, George Bruce 25 Sep 1901
Box 1 Cravath, Paul D. 10 Feb 1902
Box 1 Cummings, Amos J. 6 Mar 1894
Box 1 Depew, Chauncey Mitchell 12 Mar 1900
Box 1 Dittenhoefer, Abram Jesse 6 Dec 1894
Box 1 Fairchild, Charles Stebbins 5 Mar 1898
Box 1 Grant, Lewis Addison 25 Apr 1893
Box 1 Green, Andrew Haswell 1895, 1898
Box 1 Hartley, Jonathan Scott 1892-1894 - 10 letters, 1 photograph
Box 1 Hatton, Frank 1893, 1894, undated - 4 letters, includes 1 letter from Mrs. Hatton
Box 1 Hill, James Jerome 1900-1901
Box 1 James, Thomas Lemuel 1895, 1897 - 2 letters
Box 1 Jenks, Jeremiah Whipple 26 Oct 1899
Box 1 Jerome, William Travers 21 Nov 1905
Box 1 King, Oscar A. 3 Feb 1890
Box 1 Lamont, Daniel Scott 1894-1896 - 4 letters, includes 1 from a third party
Box 1 Lounsbury, Phineas Chapman 19 Oct 1906
Box 1 Philip, John W. 29 Jan 1900
Box 1 Platt, Thomas Collier 1894-1903 - 11 letters
Box 1 Porter, John Addison 11 Mar 1898
Box 1 Prince, Le Baron Bradford 15 Nov 1901
Box 1 Rice, Graham L. 11 Apr 1900
Box 1 Roosevelt, Theodore 1 Jan 1902 - 2 letters, includes 1 outgoing letter
Box 1 Sandow, Eugen 22 Jan 1906
Box 1 Sprague, Frank Julian 5 Jan 1903
Box 1 Tracy, Benjamin Franklin 1891, 1896 - 2 letters
Box 1 Wallace, William C. 28 Oct 1896
Box 1 Washington, Booker T. 1898, 1899 - 2 letters
Box 1 Whitney, William Collins 9 Feb 1899
Box 1 Wilcox, Ella Wheeler 12 Jan 1899
Box 1 Woodhull, Victoria Claflin 1892, 1910 - 2 letters, 1 photograph
Box 1 Wynne, Robert John 21 Apr 1902, 29 Oct 1916 - 2 letters
Box 1 Unidentified 17 May 1904, undated - incoming letter, funeral card "In affectionate memory of Sir Henry Morton Stanley"

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