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Charles B. Safford and Clara Safford Brooke Correspondence

Identifier: MSS-4288

Scope and Contents

This collection contains letters to and from Charles B. Safford, an Illinois soldier who led Company H of the 107th Regiment of the United States Colored Troops during the US Civil War, and his wife Clara Safford Brooke, who remarried after his death in 1868. Wartime letters from Charles to Clara were primarily sent from locations in Kentucky and Tennessee, including hospitals in Nashville, Tennessee, and Lexington, Kentucky; and from Camp Distribution, Virginia, with a few from North Carolina. Some of his letters use racist language. There are also letters to Charles from Clara, mainly sent from Malta, Illinois, as well as a January 11, 1866, letter to him from Fort Ellsworth, Virginia, by a Doc Willson of the 107th Regiment, Company H, asking for Charles's help getting him out of an unspecified situation. One letter to Clara from the Headquarters Department of North Carolina, dated April 2, 1865, refers to her failed attempt to petition the president for her husband's release from the army. There are a number of letters to Clara from Thomas S. Brooke, whom she married in 1871, as well as letters related to property issues sent from a J. V. Willett in Malta to "Thomas Brooks." One of the Willett documents is signed by Thomas S. Brooke. The collection also contains letters from other friends and family members, including Edward P. Safford, Charles’s brother and a Civil War soldier; Charles’s mother, Mary L. Estabrook; Clara’s cousins Mary and Sophy Palmer in South Grove, Illinois, and Samuel E. Gill in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The collection contains five undated, unidentified photographs (including one ambrotype), as well as empty envelopes and newspaper clippings. Some of the letters are incomplete.


  • 1853-1886 and undated

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Due to the nature of certain archival formats, including digital and audio-visual materials, access to certain materials may require additional advance notice.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are responsible for using the materials in conformance with United States copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials. The user assumes all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any copyright claimants in collection materials. Copyright for official University records is held by The University of Alabama. The library claims only physical ownership of many manuscript collections. Anyone wishing to broadcast or publish this material must assume all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants of literary property rights or copyrights. Please contact Special Collections ( with questions regarding specific manuscript collections.For more information about copyright policy, please visit: Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals without the consent of those individuals may have legal implications, for which the University of Alabama assumes no responsibility.

Biographical / Historical

Charles B. Safford was born in Gilmanton, New Hampshire, in 1833 to Charles Gilman Safford (1804-1847) and Mary L. Brigham Safford (1808-1882), who married Charles H. Estabrook in 1848 after her first husband died. Charles B. Safford had a brother, Edward P. Safford (1837-1919), who was in Company A of the 105th Illinois Infantry during the US Civil War. Clara (?) was born in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, in January 1845. Charles B. Safford married Clara Safford around 1860, and they lived in Malta, DeKalb County, Illinois. They had three children: Charles G. Safford (1862-1904), George Brigham Safford (1866-1956), and Clara Safford, who died in infancy (1868-1869).

Charles B. Safford enlisted in the Union army on September 2, 1862, as a private in Company K of the 105th Illinois Infantry, serving in Tennessee and Kentucky before he was injured at Resaca, Georgia, on May 15, 1864, during the Atlanta Campaign. In the summer of 1864, he was assigned to the 116th Regiment of the United States Colored Troops (USCT). The USCT were regiments of African American soldiers (with white commanding officers) who fought for the Union in the Civil War. By January 1865, Charles B. Safford was captain of Company H of the 107th Regiment, USCT. The 107th fought in North Carolina and Virginia during 1865. After the Civil War ended in spring 1865, Safford continued working at Camp Distribution, Virginia, until late 1866. He died on October 4, 1868. He is buried in Malta Cemetery, DeKalb County, Illinois, along with his son Charles G. and his daughter Clara.

Clara Safford married Thomas Shaner Brooke of Pennsylvania on March 13, 1871. By 1910, Clara Safford Brooke was widowed again and living in Chicago with her son George, his wife Luetta, and his stepbrother, S. Gill Brooke. She lived with George and Luetta later in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Clara Safford Brooke died on April 9, 1926, and is buried in Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis.


0.8 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



This collection contains letters to and from Illinois soldier Charles B. Safford, who served as a captain in the United States Colored Troops during the Civil War, and his wife Clara Safford. Many of the letters date from the time of her second marriage to Thomas S. Brooke.


The files in this collection remain in the same arrangement that was imposed by the collection's former owner.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The University of Alabama Libraries acquired the Charles B. Safford and Clara Safford Brooke Correspondence in 2018.

Related Materials

See: Free Military School for Applicants for Commands of Colored Troops, MSS.4287, The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections.

Processing Information

Processed by Erin Ryan, March 2021.
Guide to the Charles B. Safford and Clara Safford Brooke Correspondence
Erin Ryan
March 2021
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections Repository

Box 870266
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0266