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Noyes Family Papers

Identifier: MS 295

Scope and Content

The bulk of the collection is comprised of Civil War era correspondence between members of the Noyes family and the Denhams, Steeles, and Millers. These letters are arranged first by the family writing to the Noyes family, and secondly by the correspondent and recipient.

Of special interest are Marie Maxwell "Max" Miller's letters to Ella Noyes. In these she touches upon the Yankee blockade on the South, attitudes of and feelings toward the Yankees, hardships of life during and after the war, economic prospects, and the effects of abolition. There are a few letters that deal with significant events like Abraham Lincoln's assassination, the Battle of Natural Bridge, the attempt to capture Tallahassee, and Jefferson Davis' capture and trial.

Some of the Noyes letters refer to the battle between General Sherman and General Johnston in North Carolina, and A.B. Noyes Jr. talks about his experiences in "soldier school." The Civil War correspondence from the Denham and Steele families deals with day-to-day life during the war, primarily focusing on family life and gossip.

The remainder of the collection consists of post war activities, from Reconstruction to the mid-1900s and World War II. This part of the collection consists of newspaper clippings concerning Edward Prescott Noyes Jr.'s involvement in World War II, his military career, and personal matters. Charles W. Horsey's file includes an article written for a newspaper regarding the spread of a yellow fever epidemic in Fernandina (1877), accompanied by some of the sources used to try to discover its cause. Nell Noyes's file includes her involvement in a woman's garden club called the Amaryllis Circle. Other generations of the Noyes family are represented in personal correspondence, newspaper clippings, and miscellaneous materials.

Most of the people represented in the collection are also represented in photographs, daguerreotypes, and ambrotypes, which are identified by name.

Included in the collection is a typescript for a book written by Margaret Noyes, in which she transcribed the Civil War letters and organized them into family groups. She also included short biographies on family members, correspondents, and other people mentioned in the letters.


  • Creation: 1854-2011
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1854-1945



The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

Alonzo B. Noyes (1813-1876) moved to Florida in the late 1830s and married Jane Frances Cowan Hall (1815-1884) in 1841. They had five surviving children: Elvira (Ella), Emily A., Alonzo B. Jr., Edward Prescott, and Charles Albert. A.B. Noyes served as a Customs Collector and the Superintendent of Lights at St. Mark's, Florida. He also served as a major in the Confederate Army.

Ella Noyes (1844-1924) married Dr. Charles W. Horsey in 1871 after the family moved to Fernandina, Florida. After a long illness Dr. Horsey died in 1878; Ella did not remarry. Ella and her sister Emily Noyes (1846-1934) continued to live in Fernandina near their brother A.B. "Lonnie" Noyes (1848-??). Lonnie received his education from the Virginia Military Institute. When Ella died, Emily inherited her estate, including her letters and papers. The papers later were passed to Ella "Nell" Thackera Noyes (1891-1991). She was active in the Amaryllis Circle Garden Club of Fernandina, Florida, and served as Secretary of the Fernandina Library Association.

Edward Prescott Noyes, Jr. (1885-1973), grandson of A.B. Noyes Sr. graduated from Georgia Tech University in 1906. He served as a Colonel in World War II.

Alonzo Noyes and his family forged relationships with the Denham, Miller, and Steele families of Florida. Many of the letters in the collection are from the Denham family, especially Isabella Denham (1850-1910), daughter of John Denham. She wrote the letters at the young age of 16. Jessie and Jane Pringle Denham are also the writers of some letters. The Denham family settled in Monticello, Florida after the Civil War.

Marie Maxwell ("Max") Miller (1827-??) married her first cousin William Miller (1820-1909). Prior to the Civil War, the Millers lived near Pensacola and ran the 'Miller' lumber mill. William Miller was active during the Mexican American War with Zachary Taylor, after which he received land in Florida. During the Civil War, Miller formed a militia unit and served as its major; he later enlisted in the 1st Florida Infantry and became its first colonel in August 1862. On August 1864 he was appointed to organize and coordinate the state's reserve troops as new commander of the Florida District. He raised and commanded the 1st Florida Reserves. His most prominent action came at the Battle of Natural Bridge in March 1865, where he defeated Union forces. The Millers were close friends with the Noyes family. "Max" was a regular correspondent with Ella, and A.B. Noyes Sr. lived at times with the Millers in Tallahassee during the Civil War.

Augustus Steele (1792?-1864) of Cedar Key was a business acquaintance of A.B. Noyes. Augusta "Gussie" Steele (1847-?), his daughter, was about the same age as Ella Noyes and her sisters and they grew up as friends. During the Civil War and after Augustus's death the Steeles grew closer to the Noyes family, eventually moving to Newport to live with them. Gussie Steele later married James Matheson of Gainesville, Florida.


1 Linear feet (4 boxes)

Language of Materials



Correspondence, photos, daguerreotypes and ambrotypes, newspaper clippings, and land contracts pertaining to the Noyes family of Florida and family acquaintances.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

Acquired from Margaret Noyes in 2011.

Related Material

The University of Florida holds the Alonzo B. Noyes Papers and some Steele family correspondence. The Matheson Museum in Gainesville, Florida, has more information on this family.

A Guide to the Noyes Family Papers
Finding aid created by Pamela M. Battistini
November 2011
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America