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About Don Carlos Newton

Don Carlos Newton “was born in Wyoming county, New York, in the town of Alexander, between Attica and Batavia, August 26, 1832. His father, Levi Newton, was born in Darien, New York, April 12, 1810, and arrived in Batavia, Illinois in September 1854. Here he established the Newton Wagon Company and built up a mammoth concern, turning out four thousand wagons per year. He continued an active factor in the business life of the community until June 29, 1879, when his life’s labors were ended in death. He married Rachel Cooley, a daughter of Thomas and Rachel (Taggart) Cooley and a sister of the great jurist, Thomas Cooley.

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Mary (Prindle) Newton and her daughter May (Batavia Depot Museum)

Captain Don Carlos Newton was educated at the Alexander Academy and in Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania. He then went into business with his father in wagon manufacturing at Attica, New York, and in 1854 the plant there was destroyed by fire. [See The Making of the Newton Wagon Company] On account of the large sales which the firm enjoyed in northern Illinois, especially in Kane County, they removed their business to Batavia and Captain Newton remained a factor in the control of the enterprise until his death, which occurred October 8, 1893…

At the time of the Civil War, Captain Newton responded to the country’s call for aid, enlisting in the 52nd [Illinois] Regiment at Geneva. He helped to form Co. D, was elected lieutenant, and in December of the same year, was promoted to the captaincy. He then went to the front for three years and was mustered out in December 1864 in Savannah, Georgia. He participated in many important battles including the engagements at Shiloh, the siege of Corinth, Chattanooga, the Atlanta campaign, and Sherman’s march to the Sea. At the close of the war he returned to Batavia and resumed his manufacturing interests.

On the 27th of October 1853, Mr. Newton was married to Miss Mary Marie Prindle, a daughter of Abijah Legore and Caroline (Pearl) Prindle of New York.” [Source: History of Kane County, Illinois, Vol. 2, page 304, by Rodolphus Waite Joslyn]

In his letters, Capt. Newton refers frequently to his brother, Orrin Waters Newton (1834-1876). Orrin was married first in November 1855 to Helen Frances Hoyt. He married his second wife, Margaret (“Maggie”) Powers, on 25 July 1863. Orrin served in the 15th Illinois Infantry.

There are also frequent references to Jason Richards Prindle (1844-1900), a younger brother of Mary (Prindle) Newton. Jason served as a private and a musician in Co. D, 52nd Illinois with his brother-in-law, Capt. Newton. Also serving in the same company were Jason’s brothers, James (“Jim”) Prindle and Legore Prindle—the latter dying of disease during the war. Though advanced in years, Abijah Legore Prindle (Mary’s father), also served in Company D with his three sons but he was sent home after the Battle of Shiloh, unable to withstand further the rigors of camp life. Jason Prindle is the only son who served out his enlistment, though he was absent for several months after the battle of Shiloh suffering from ill health.

Finally, I should mention that Capt. Newton writes often of his home in Batavia which appears to have been of relatively recent clapboard construction—not yet even painted on the exterior when he volunteered for service. The Captain’s current brick home, built in 1878, still stands at the corner of Wilson and Batavia Avenue in Batavia but I often wondered while transcribing the letters where the home he and Mary shared in Batavia was located during the Civil War. Through the solicitation of assistance  from George H. Scheetz, Director of the Batavia Public Library, he informed me that the Captain’s residence was located on the same plot of land as his current house, sandwiched between the property of his father’s residence and that of his neighbor, Charles A. Wright. George also discovered that Newton purchased his lot for $500 in November 1860. In January 1861, Newton borrowed $690 from William Coffin (the Coffin Bank was the first bank in Batavia) which was probably used to build the home. The debt was paid and the mortgage released in September 1863.

Newton’s Letters

In 2020, I had the rare opportunity to transcribe most of these letters for a client who had held them in a private collection for many years. He planned to sell them and wished for the historical content to be preserved as a virtual archive. Some of Newton’s letters were found in the archives of the Batavia Historical Society and I have transcribed these and added them to this webpage as well, making in total over 260 letters—an incredible number. Most certainly there would have been more had Capt. Newton’s wife not visited and stayed with him in the field, both at Corinth, Mississippi, and later at Germantown, Tennessee. At Corinth, Mary Newton was with her husband for six months, during which time no letters were written. Some of Mary’s letters are also in the Batavia Historical Society but I have not transcribed them. I may yet add them to this collection at some point. To find the letters held in Batavia, go to Civil War Letters and Diaries.

Blog Pages

Still at this God-forsaken hole

6 December 1861 to 16 January 1862  (19 Letters)

I shall never die on the battlefield

20 January 1862 to 9 March 1862  (13 Letters)

We leave tomorrow for Tennessee

12 March 1862 thru 31 March 1862  (10 Letters)

The citizens of Batavia are not ashamed

1 April 1862 thru 29 April 1862  (14 Letters)

Corinth is a myth

3 May 1862 to 30 May 1862  (13 Letters)

I miss the prairie breezes of Illinois

2 June 1862 thru 31 August 1862  (25 Letters)

Without an enemy to fight

2 September 1862 thru 30 September 1862  (13 Letters)

A great move is anticipated

3 October 1862 thru 31 October 1862 (10 Letters)

Let us fight & have the thing concluded

4 November 1862 thru 21 April 1863 (11 Letters)

They don’t fool Uncle Sam Grant

17 June 1863 thru 29 June 1863 (5 Letters)

A tremendous hole in the Reb army

2 July 1863 thru 9 August 1863  (13 Letters)

Thank God the Union still stands

10 August 1863 thru 30 October 1863  (18 Letters)

The boys are making the rails fly

31 October 1863 thru 25 November 1863  (8 Letters)

He would die a thousand deaths first

27 November 1863 thru 13 December 1863  (7 Letters)

Old Longstreet has gone to reinforce Lee

16 December 1863 thru 3 January 1864  (7 Letters)

What a noble spectacle to the world

1 March 1864 thru 29 March 1864  (12 Letters)

Changing pastures makes fat calves

1 April 1864 thru 29 April 1864  (12 Letters)

They can whip their weight in wildcats

3 May 1864 to 29 May 1864  (8 Letters)

I never was born for Rebels to kill

1 June 1864 to 2 July 1864  (11 Letters)

Fortune seems to favor the brave

3 July 1863 to 31 July 1864  (8 Letters)

Take hold, hold fast, and never let go

4 August 1864 to 3 September 1864  (10 Letters)

Welcome silence, welcome rest

8 September 1864 to 2 October 1864  (8 Letters)

Johnny Rebs got a lesson

7 October 1864 to 14 December 1864  (10 Letters)

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The “Newton War Memorial” erected in the Batavia Cemetery as a gift from Don C. and Mary (Prindle) Newton as requested by Capt. Newton in his will. Placards on the sides and back of the memorial contain the names of all the soldiers from Kane county who served during the Civil War, by regiment.
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Capt. Don Carlos Newton’s grave marker in the Batavia Cemetery
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Example of a wagon made by the Newton Family in Batavia, Illinois

Batavia, Illinois

Spared & Shared 21

Saving history one letter at a time.

Spared & Shared 20

Saving history one letter at a time

Notes on Western Scenery, Manners, &c.

by Washington Marlatt, 1848

Spared & Shared 19

Saving History One Letter at a Time

Recollections of Army Life

by Charles A. Frey

The Civil War Letters of William Kennedy

Co. B, 91st New York Infantry

The Glorious Dead

Letters from the 23rd Illinois Infantry, the 111th Pennsylvania Infantry, the 64th New York Infantry, and the 14th Pennsylvania Cavalry

Cornelius Van Houten

1st New Jersey Light Artillery

Letters of Charley Howe

36th Massachusetts Volunteers

Sgt. Major Fayette Lacey

Co. B, 37th Illinois Volunteers

"These few lines"

the pocket memorandum of Alexander C. Taggart

The Civil War Letters of Will Dunn

Co. F, 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteers

Henry McGrath Cannon

Co. A, 124th New York Infantry & Co. B, 16th New York Cavalry

Civil War Letters of Frederick Warren Holmes

Co. H, 77th Illinois Volunteers

"Though distant lands between us be"

Civil War Letters of Monroe McCollister, Co. B, 6th OVC

"Tell her to keep good heart"

Civil War Letters of Nelson Statler, 211th PA

Building Bluemont

The Origin of Bluemont Central College

"May Heaven Protect You"

14th Connecticut drummer boy's war-time correspondence with his mother

Moreau Forrest

Lt. Commander in the US Navy during the Civil War

Diary of the 29th Massachusetts Infantry

Fighting with the Irish Brigade during the Peninsula Campaign

"Till this unholy rebellion is crushed"

Letters of Dory & Morty Longwood, 7th Indiana

"I Go With Good Courage"

The Civil War Letters of Henry Clay Long, 11th Maine Infantry

"This is a dreadful war"

The Civil War Letters of Jacob Bauer, 16th Connecticut, & his wife Emily

Spared & Shared 16

Saving History One Letter at a Time

Lloyd Willis Manning Letters

3rd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, Co. I

The Yankee Volunteer

A Virtual Archive of Civil War Likenesses collected by Dave Morin

William Henry Jordan

Co. K, 7th Rhode Island Infantry

No Cause to Blush

The Bancroft Collection of Civil War Letters

William A. Bartlett Civil War Letters

Company D, 37th Massachusetts Infantry

The John Hughes Collection

A Virtual Archive of his Letters, 1858-1869

The Civil War Letters of Rufus P. Staniels

Co. H, 13th New Hampshire Volunteers

This is Indeed A Singular War

The Civil War Letters of Henry Scott Murray, 8th New York Light Artillery