Biographical / Historical
Civil War paymaster Erastus Phelps (1839-1916) was born in Ticonderoga, NY, and later lived in Fair Haven, VT. Phelps was a member of the Middlebury College class of 1861, and began teaching following his graduation. Phelps taught in Vermont and then in Chatham, Mass (1893), and wrote reguarly about his students, and writing and poetry. Phelps resigned his teaching job in 1864 with the intention of obtaining a clerk's position in the army. Phelps was soon awarded a position with a clerkship working in the Paymaster's Department in Hilton Head, SC. Phelps' diaries and letters begin with letters written to him while he was a student at Middlebury College, during his time as a teacher on Cape Cod, his military career during and after the Civil War, and his life after the war had ended. Phelps studied law in Albany, NY following his time in the service, and ultimately settled in Fair Haven, VT. His post-war letters contain news of friends and family, as well as details about his life in Fair Haven and his courtship of Mary Miller, who lived in Northfield, Minn.