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Baxter-Sutton Collection

Identifier: FMS-144

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of correspondence, business materials, and photographs from the Baxter and Sutton families. The collection is arranged into two series, one of correspondence and business records, and one of photographs. The letters to William Baxter by Mary Barker prior to their marriage are especially rich.  The correspondence primarily consists of letters to William Baxter. Some of the other correspondents include Alfred Baxter and Esther Wilson. The series also includes cemetery lot information, deeds and preservation issues associated with the Sutton House and Cliffside, and miscellaneous business records primarily from Wayne County. The series also includes some grammar and arithmetic books owned by William and Mary Baxter. The photographs include members of the Baxter and Sutton family. There are also numerous pictures of property including Cliffside, Brooks Farm, and land in Iowa along with a few travel photos. There are also some negatives and some postcards. The series is arranged first by individuals that were clearly identified. Unidentified photos were then placed together.  Eventually the pictures may be identified, but to make the collection available to researchers we did not identify every individual photo. Researchers are free to look at the unidentified photos.


  • 1851-2006
  • Other: Date acquired: 07/10/2008

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open without restriction.

Conditions Governing Use

Some materials may be protected by copyright. Permission to reproduce and to publish for commercial purposes must be requested from the Archivist.

Biographical or Historical Information

William Baxter was an influential Quaker, businessman, and politician of Richmond, Indiana.  This collection documents his life, that of his wife Mary (Barker) Baxter, and his children, especially his daughter Mary Ellen (Baxter) Sutton and the family of her husband, John G. Sutton. William Baxter was born in Appletreewick, Yorkshire, February 11, 1824, the son of John and Mary Baxter.  He immigrated to the United States in 1848 and settled in Philadelphia.  As his biography in the 1872 Wayne County history states: “By his unusual industry, application, and business capacity, he soon gained the unbounded confidence of his employers, and after the short space of eight months, one of the partners retiring from the firm, offered him a partnership in the wool trade. . . . In 1864 he retired with an ample fortune.” William Baxter’s first wife was Mary Wickett, who died soon after they arrived in Philadelphia. In 1856 Baxter was married under the care of the Whitewater Monthly Meeting here in Richmond to Mary Barker (1830-1918), daughter of Enoch and Sophia (Davis) Barker. They had seven children.  In 1864, the family returned to Richmond, where William Baxter took up the life of a gentleman farmer west of the city at a home the family christened “Cliffside.”  He also invested heavily in the Wayne Agricultural Works company, of which he was the vice-president. In Richmond, Baxter became active in civic affairs, especially in the cause of temperance.  In 1872, he was elected as a Republican to the Indiana House of Representatives, and in 1876 was elected to the state senate.  He was best known as the author of the controversial “Baxter Law,” passed by the legislature in 1873, which required applicants for liquor licenses to obtain signatures from a majority of the legal voters in the ward or precinct in which sales would take place.  It proved so unpopular that it was repealed in 1875. William Baxter died of typhoid fever in Richmond, September 6, 1886.  He had already sold most of his farm to support his Wayne Works investment, and the rest had to be disposed of to settle his estate. The second child of William and Mary (Barker) Baxter was Mary Ellen, born in Philadelphia November 1, 1860, and died in Richmond November 24, 1945.  She was married January 11, 1882, to John Gough Sutton (1854-1925), a nephew of David Sutton (1827-1902), whose family often appears in the collection.  John G. and Mary (Baxter) Sutton had one daughter, Helena Sutton (1888-1967), a teacher in Richmond. Sources: Andrew W. Young, History of Wayne County, Indiana; Henry Clay Fox, Memoirs of Wayne County, Indiana, vol. II; Obituary, Christian Worker, 2nd Mo. 3, 1887; Beverly Yount, Tombstone Inscriptions in Wayne County, Indiana, vol. I; Stephen Anshutz.

Note written by


13 Boxes

Language of Materials



Correspondence, business records, deeds, and photographs documenting the Baxter and Sutton families, primarily 1855-1910.

Method of Acquisition

Purchase, Stephen Anschutz

Related Materials

There may be related materials at the Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College, Philadelphia.

Archon Finding Aid Title
Anne Thomason
Description rules
Other Unmapped
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Repository Details

Part of the Friends Collection and Earlham College Archives Repository