Smith-Love Family Papers, 1821-1901

Held by The Filson Historical Society

Creator:  Smith-Love family

Title:  Papers, 1821-1901

Rights: For information regarding literary and copyright interest for these papers, contact the Curator of Special Collections.

Size of Collection:  .33 cu. ft.

Location Number:  Mss. A S642

Scope and Content Note

The Smith-Love family papers document the public life and career pursuits of an Indiana family.  Oliver H. Smith (1794-1859) was a lawyer and Whig politician who served two terms in the United States Congress as a representative from Indiana.  Smith’s son-in-law, John Love (1820-1881), pursued a military career, achieving the rank of Brigadier General during the Civil War.  Correspondence in the collection documents national politics, especially the affairs of the Whig Party.  John Love’s role as a representative of the Gatling Gun Company in both the United States and abroad is also documented.  In addition, the collection contains the correspondence of other politicians, including the correspondence of other representatives from Indiana such as Oliver P. Morton and William Hendricks, as well as individuals from the national political arena such as John C. Calhoun.  Finally, the collection contains a number of autographs of prominent individuals; the autograph collection was likely assembled by Mary F. (Smith) Love.

Folders 1-2 contain correspondence written to Oliver H. Smith.  Smith’s correspondents often write of political affairs and Whig party politics.

Folders 3-4 contain correspondence written to John and Mary F. Love.  Many letters written to the Loves are concerned with business and military matters.  Several of John Love’s correspondents are former classmates from the United States Military Academy.  Other correspondence relates to Love’s role as a representative of the Gatling Gun Company.  There are also a number of invitations to social functions.

Folders 5-6 contain the correspondence of other individuals, many of them politicians.  Some letters concern political matters, including those written to Indiana politician Oliver P. Morton and a letter authored by John C. Calhoun.  Others concern routine matters and meetings.

Folder 7 contains a collection of autographs of prominent individuals.  Some autographs were most likely collected during John & Mary Love’s post-war European travels.  Included are the signatures of several bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church.  There is also an envelope with the handwriting and monogram of Florence Nightingale.  In addition to autographs, there are also calling cards for some individuals, including General & Mrs. W. T. Sherman.

Folder 8 contains miscellaneous material.  Included are two commissions for Oliver H. Smith, one as a circuit prosecuting attorney for Indiana, and a second as an aid de camp to the Commander in Chief of the Indiana militia.  Other miscellaneous material includes a pamphlet entitled “Uses of Astronomy” by Edward Everett and a copy of a song “Rock Me to Sleep Mother” by Elizabeth Akers Allen.  There is also a list of Chinese, Turkish, and Japanese alphabets (probably collected by Love during his European travels.)  Finally, there is a Nov. 1887 issue of “The Literary News” containing an article about D. M. Mullock Craik.


Biographical Note

Oliver Hampton Smith (1794-1859) was a Whig politician in the state of Indiana.  Smith was born near Trenton, New Jersey in 1794.  He moved west, settling in Lawrenceburg, Indiana in 1818 where he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1820.  Smith became involved in politics; he was elected to Indiana’s House of Representatives in 1822.  Smith went on to serve two nonconsecutive terms in the United States Congress.  He was elected to the Twentieth Congress (1827-1829), but failed in his reelection campaign.  He was then elected to the United States Senate, where he represented Indiana as a Whig politician from 1837-1843.  After another unsuccessful reelection bid, Smith moved to Indianapolis where he became involved in the railroad business.  His daughter, Mary F. Smith, married John Love in 1849.

John Love (1820-1881) was born in Culpeper County, Virginia, the son of Richard H. Love.  Love attended West Point from 1837 to 1841, and then embarked on a military career.  He was assigned in the West: to Fort Gibson in Indian Territory, and to Fort Scott and Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. He fought in the war with Mexico in 1846-1848, and was brevetted captain for his part in the assault on Santa Cruz de Los Rosales in March 1848.

Love resigned from the nomadic life of the Army in 1852, and moved to Indianapolis, probably because in 1849 he had married Mary F. Smith, a daughter of Oliver Hampton Smith, a prominent lawyer and Whig politician. He and his wife joined Christ Church (Episcopal), and from 1853 on he was a vestryman there.

In Indianapolis Love was in the real estate business, and also had a large farm. The West Point Biographical Register also lists him as a railroad contractor. At the same time, Love kept up his interest in military matters. During the first year of the Civil War, he served first in West Virginia under Brigadier General Morris, and then was involved in training the volunteer troops raised by Governor O. P. Morton.  Love was later promoted to brigadier. In the last months of 1862, Love commanded a division in defense of Cincinnati. He resigned from the Army on 1 January 1863, having been requested by Governor Morton to help in his administration as a War Democrat.  However, Morgan’s raid in July 1863 called him back to service.

During the period of the war, Love began his connection with the Gatling Gun. The gun, a breech-loading cannon made like a revolver and originally firing 250 rounds a minute, was developed in 1861-1862 by Richard J. Gatling.  The inventor settled in Indianapolis in 1854 and had previously patented agricultural products including a steam plow (1857). The U. S. Navy adopted the gun in 1862 and used it aboard several gunboats; the Army, experiencing difficulty with its models, held back until 1866. However the mere sight of three Gatling Guns quelled a draft riot in New York City in 1863.

Gatling set up his factory in Indianapolis. General Love bought stock in the company, and also represented the company as it presented the gun, now improved to fire 1200 rounds a minute, for sale to the United States and also to Great Britain, France, Prussia, Russia, Spain, Romania, Serbia, China, Japan, and eventually Turkey.

In 1880, Love was appointed by Congress to be a manager of the National Soldiers Home, which had four branches: in Dayton, Ohio; Augusta, Maine; Hampton, Virginia; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He also worked to get Democratic veterans to support General W. S. Hancock for President in 1880.


Oliver H. Smith, Biographical Directory of the United States Congress


John Love papers finding aid.  Indiana Historical Society.



Folder List

Box 1

Folder 1: Correspondence to Oliver H. Smith, 1821-1838.

Folder 2: Correspondence to Oliver H. Smith, 1841-1858.

Folder 3: Correspondence to John and Mary F. Love, 1859-1869.

Folder 4: Correspondence to John and Mary F. Love, 1872-1889, undated.

Folder 5: Correspondence, 1842-1885.

Folder 6: Correspondence, 1889-1901, undated.

Folder 7: Autographs.

Folder 8: Miscellaneous, 1824-1887.


Subject Headings


Agriculture – United States – 19th century

American fiction – 19th century

American fiction – Women authors


Banks and banking – United States

Booksellers and bookselling

Buckner, Simon Bolivar, 1823-1914

Calhoun, John C. (John Caldwell), 1782-1850

Clay, Henry, 1777-1852


Equal Rights Party (N.Y.)

Gatling Gun Company (Hartford, Conn.)

Gatling guns

Harrison, Caroline Lavinia Scott, 1832-1892

Hendricks, William, 1782-1850

Indiana Asbury University (Greencastle, Ind.)

Indiana – Economic policy

Indiana – Politics and government – 19th century

Indiana – Social life and customs – 19th century

Indianapolis and Bellefontaine Railroad

Indians of North America – Commerce

Leslie, Preston H. (Preston Hopkins), 1819-1907

Letterheads – United States

Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865

Love, John, 1820-1881

Love, Mary F. Smith

Loyson, Hyacinthe, 1827-1912

Military law – United States

Military pensions – Indiana

Military weapons

Morton, Oliver P. (Oliver Perry), 1823-1877

Smith, Oliver H. (Oliver Hampton), 1794-1859

United States Military Academy

United States – Politics and government – 1829-1837

United States – Politics and government – 19th century

Van Buren, Martin, 1782-1862

Wallace, Lew, 1827-1905

Whig Party (U.S.)

Women and literature – United States

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