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Thomas Mather Papers

Identifier: VAULT folio Graff-2707

Scope and Content of the Collection

Small collection consists of letters, two manuscript diaries (with transcriptions), an account book and a map which concern Mather’s activities as one of three commissioners appointed to survey a route from Missouri to Santa Fe in 1825. The letters, and copies of official letters, relate to Mather’s appointment as one of the commissioners of the Santa Fe Road Commission, and include communications to and from George C. Sibley and Benjamin H. Reeves (the other two commissioners) and other officials, plus two letters to his wife Hannah. Also, a memoir of Mrs. Hannah G. L. Mather and two newspaper clippings.


  • Creation: 1825-1886



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Thomas Mather Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Thomas Mather Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of Thomas Mather

Illinois businessman and legislator.

Thomas Mather was born in 1794 in Connecticut, but established himself in business in Illinois, where he married Hannah G. Lamb in 1825. Mather was not only a businessman but also served in both branches of the Illinois Legislature. As a member of the lower house, in the 1822-1823 session, he conspicuously opposed a resolution for a convention that would amend the constitution with the view of admitting slavery to the state.

In 1825 Mather was appointed by the Department of War under President John Quincy Adams to be one of three commissioners to survey the route from Independence, Missouri to Santa Fe. The assignment of the commissioners – Thomas Mather, Benjamin H. Reeves and George C. Sibley - was to survey and map the route, negotiating agreements with Indian tribes to secure safe passage along the line. By the time the commissioners submitted their report in October, 1827, there was already constant traffic on the Santa Fe Road.

In 1835 Mather, who held an honorary title of Colonel, moved to Springfield, where he organized and became president of the State Bank of Illinois. He also was connected with the organization of the Illinois Central and Galena Union Railroad Companies and several other Midwest railroads. He served a number of years as a Trustee of the Illinois College in Jacksonville, and contributed liberally to that and other institutions of learning.

Hannah and Thomas Mather had no children, but adopted several, including R. Pennell Lamb and Susan R. Lamb. Mather died in 1853.


0.2 Linear Feet (1 box)


Letters, diaries, account book, map and biographical sketch, most in connection with Mather’s activities as one of three commissioners appointed by the government to survey and mark a route from Missouri to Santa Fe in 1825.


The letters are arranged chronologically, with diaries, map, memoir and clippings at the end.

Collection Stack Location

Vault 40 4


Forms part of the Everett D. Graff Collection of Western Americana, Newberry Library.

Existence and Location of Copies note

Collection has been digitized as part of “The American West”, an Adam Mathew collection available through subscription. For digital copies, contact Digital Imaging Services, Newberry Library (

Existence and Location of Copies note

Collection also available on microfilm.

Processed by

Virginia Hay Smith, 2013.

Inventory of the Thomas Mather Papers, 1825-1886
Virginia Hay Smith
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States