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.
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.
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.
6 December 1861 to 16 January 1862 (19 Letters)
20 January 1862 to 9 March 1862 (13 Letters)
12 March 1862 thru 31 March 1862 (10 Letters)
1 April 1862 thru 29 April 1862 (14 Letters)
3 May 1862 to 30 May 1862 (13 Letters)
2 June 1862 thru 31 August 1862 (25 Letters)
2 September 1862 thru 30 September 1862 (13 Letters)
3 October 1862 thru 31 October 1862 (10 Letters)
4 November 1862 thru 21 April 1863 (11 Letters)
17 June 1863 thru 29 June 1863 (5 Letters)
2 July 1863 thru 9 August 1863 (13 Letters)
10 August 1863 thru 30 October 1863 (18 Letters)
31 October 1863 thru 25 November 1863 (8 Letters)
27 November 1863 thru 13 December 1863 (7 Letters)
16 December 1863 thru 3 January 1864 (7 Letters)
1 March 1864 thru 29 March 1864 (12 Letters)
1 April 1864 thru 29 April 1864 (12 Letters)
3 May 1864 to 29 May 1864 (8 Letters)
1 June 1864 to 2 July 1864 (11 Letters)
3 July 1863 to 31 July 1864 (8 Letters)
4 August 1864 to 3 September 1864 (10 Letters)
8 September 1864 to 2 October 1864 (8 Letters)
7 October 1864 to 14 December 1864 (10 Letters)