This collection is comprised of the papers of the family of prominent businessman Jeptha Homer Wade, Sr., the founder of Western Union Telegraph Co. The business papers of Jeptha Homer Wade are an excellent source of information pertaining to the telegraph industry, from its inception in the 1840s as a group of independent regional systems through the creation and operations of the Western Union Telegraph Company in the 1860s. They provide a day-to-day view of Jeptha Homer Wade's involvement in the development and construction of some of the first telegraph systems in the Midwest, evidencing his extraordinary entrepreneurial prowess throughout this period. Additionally, Wade's correspondence with Amos Kendall, attorney for Samuel F. B. Morse; Hiram Sibley, president of Western Union and its forerunner, the New York and Mississippi Valley Telegraph Company; and Isaac R. Elwood, secretary of the New York and Mississippi Valley Telegraph Company, provides a behind-the-scenes perspective of an emerging, unregulated industry in the mid-nineteenth century.
Jeptha Homer Wade's personal correspondence with his son, Randall Palmer Wade, during this time period also provides information on Wade's dealings with Ezra Cornell regarding the telegraph companies controlled by Cornell after the breakup of the Cornell-Wade Speed alliance in 1854. A copybook of letters written by Jeptha Homer Wade while he was in California in 1860-1861 details his negotiations in the consolidation of several telegraph companies which would become part of the network that would help build parts of the first transcontinental telegraph system.
Also included here are genealogical and personal papers of this prominent Cleveland family. The collection consists of correspondence, wills, diaries, autobiographical sketches, memoranda, deeds, contracts, drawings, financial records, passport documents, land grants, notes, receipts, newspaper clippings, and scrapbooks.