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Charles Evans Collection

Identifier: WHC-M-992

Scope and Contents

Correspondence between Lt. Lyle Garrett of the 23rd Iowa Infantry and his wife, Mary Garrett, during the Civil War, describing camp life, attitudes toward officers, troop movements in Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, and the general conduct of the war.


  • Creation: 1862-1893


Restrictions on Access

On June 26, 2023, the Western History Collections began a preservation project that has made many of its collections unavailable for a period of time. This collection is among the materials temporarily unavailable. Please contact Western History Collections if you wish to be added to a contact list to be notified when this collection becomes available.

Available for public access.

Biographical / Historical

Lyle Abraham Garrett was born in Madison Township, Highland County, Ohio, March 18, 1823. He was the oldest child of William and Mary (Dean) Garrett who were farmers. Lyle married Martha Ann Patterson on June 1, 1843 in Highland County, Ohio, but she died within two years, leaving no children. After his wife’s death, Lyle and his brother, Austin, went west to Colorado and spent time exploring the front range of the Rocky Mountains, and climbing Pike’s Peak. They both returned home after about a year’s absence. Lyle married Elenor Blain Stuart as his second wife on November 5, 1845 in Highland County, Ohio. They moved to Polk County, Iowa about 1847 with Lyle’s parents and siblings and with other family members where they purchased farms just five miles west of Des Moines. The couple had two children, Margaret W., born about 1846 in Ohio, and Cyrus W., born about 1848 in Iowa. Both Elenor and Margaret died in July 1849 in Polk County, Iowa. Once again, Lyle left home to join the California gold rush from 1852 to 1856. He returned home to Iowa in 1856 and turned his attention back to farming. Lyle married Mary A. Hamilton as his third wife on October 13, 1858 in Iowa. She was a schoolteacher and was 17 years his junior. Mary was born April 16, 1840, in Illinois. Her family was, for the most part, strongly sympathetic to the southern cause during the Civil War. Mary was most definitely a supporter of the Union and barely tolerated her Copperhead relatives. The 23rd Iowa Volunteer Infantry was mustered in September 1862 and Lyle was one of the first to enlist as a private. He was assigned to Company “C” in which he served for the duration of his enlistment. He was promoted to lieutenant in late 1863 after the death of one officer and the resignation of another. The bulk of the correspondence in the Charles Evans Collection is between Lyle and Mary Garrett during the three years of his enlistment in the Union Army. Lyle rented his farm to tenants during his absence and Mary lived with his parents at Cottage Home when she wasn’t traveling or teaching. Lyle’s son, Cyrus, enlisted in the 8th Iowa Cavalry in 1863 when the unit was created and spent most of his service along the Tennessee Valley. He was injured in 1864 and spent several months recuperating in various Army hospitals before going back to duty. He survived the war and was living in Indian Territory [Oklahoma] in 1871. After the war, most of the Garrett family moved to the Kansas City, Missouri area in 1867. They bought a fruit farm there and stayed for about 10 years. Then Lyle and his brother, Austin, moved to Cottage Grove Township, Allen County, Kansas in May 1879, where they both bought farms. Austin had moved on to California by 1888. It does not appear that Lyle and Mary ever had children of their own, although Ida F. Bilsland, Lyle and Mary’s niece, lived with them in Kansas and there is mention in one of Mary’s war letters of adopting her.


.1 Cubic Feet (.1 ft.)

Language of Materials