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Telesphor Insse Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: EFB
Date: May 1971

Biographical History

Telesphor Insse, a Civil War soldier, appears to have been a Canadian by birth who emigrated to the area of Canandaigua, New York, with members of his family. Two married sisters, one unmarried sister who worked, and three brothers all lived in the Canandaigua area. He was a painter by trade and lived in Bristol Center, New York. His brothers Boswell and Gregoire volunteered for service early in the Civil War, the former being discharged in 1863 because of wounds and the latter mustered out when his term of service was ended in 1863. Telesphor seems to have entered the Union army in 1862 and to have spent his term of service, which was with the 148th Regiment of New York State Volunteers, in the area of Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia. When released from service at the end of the war, he returned to the Canandaigua area.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Telesphor Insse Papers contain correspondence, financial documents, and miscellaneous items.

Virtually all the Correspondence, 1858-1865, consists of letters addressed to Telsephor Insse. The one exception is a letter dated February 9, 1862, to Boswell Insse from an uncle, William Burch, in Canada. One other letter lacks an identifiable addressee. About half of the letters were written by the soldier's relatives; the other half came from friends in the Canandaigua area. The letters from his brothers in the army contain a small amount of information regarding camp life and the Peninsular Campaign of General George B. McClellan in 1862, but are mostly personal in nature. The bulk of the correspondence deals with people and events in the Canandaigua area during the war. As such, it too is primarily personal in nature. A complete letter list and an alphabetical index of the correspondents are appended to this inventory.

The Financial documents date from 1861 and 1866-1868. A small account book details some of Telesphor Insse's employment as a painter after his return to civilian life. One folder of receipts shows materials purchased by Gregoire Insse.

The section of Miscellanea includes two folders of Civil War memorabilia: a handwritten day pass issued to Telesphor Insse for a visit to friends near his camp and three printed prayer cards, possibly intended for soldiers in the field. A set of painting instructions, apparently for the graining of wood, may be in Insse's hand. Two fliers for Horace Greeley's history of the Civil War, The American Conflict, for which Insse sought to be a sales agent, and the notice granting him the agency in his home town, complete the collection.

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is arranged chronologically, with a group of undated letters at the end. Financial documents and miscellanea are arranged alphabetically.


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.

Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has several collections relating to the Civil War. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

Subject Headings


Greeley, Horace, 1811-1872.
Insse, Telesphor -- Archives.


United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865.

Genres and Forms

Account books.
Military passes.
Receipts (financial records)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Telesphor Insse Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Purchased as part of the Kohen Collection, circa 1964.

Table of Contents


Financial documents


Selected index to correspondence


Selected index to correspondence