Barris Family Papers

MSS 320
approximately 5 linear inches






There are no restrictions on the use of this collection

Access points:

Barris, Willis H., 1820-1901.
Hoyt, Carrie.
Hoyt, S.R.J., 1839-1909.

Finding aid prepared by:

Allison James, 2007


Augustana College Special Collections
Thomas Tredway Library
639 38th Street
Rock Island, Illinois 61201

Acquisition Information
Historical Note
Scope and Content
System of Arrangement
Box List
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Willis Hervey Barris, born July 9th, 1820 in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, was a notable scholar, theologian, paleontologist, and active community member until his death at the age of 80 on June 10th, 1901 in his home in Davenport, Iowa. Barris was known for his intelligence even at a young age; he entered Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania when he was only 14 years old. He received his A.B. degree in 1839, got a post-graduate in civil engineering in 1841, and received an A.M. from his alma mater in 1854. Barris married Caroline M. Harrison on October 7, 1840.

In 1842, Barris started his theological study and graduated from General Theological Seminary in New York City eight years later. He became the rector of parishes including St. Luke's of Brockport, NY (1852), Trinity Church in Iowa City and Christ Church of Bullington, Iowa (1859). He soon after moved to Davenport, Iowa and got a professorship of ecclesiastical history at Griswold College. In 1873 he was elected Chair of Geology at Iowa State University, and though he was an active member of the scientific community, he said that "paleontology is my play, theology is my work." He contributed many papers to the Geological Survey of Illinois and Proceedings of Davenport Academy of Sciences. His eyesight bothered him greatly and by 1890 he finished his theological work but continued on with the Academy until his death. He is most known for discovering and describing a new species of crinoids, a collection that he generously loaned to many institutions including one in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was famously friends with Louis Agassiz, a well-known professor of natural history at Harvard University.

Barris' daughter, (Mary) Elizabeth Barris, married Dr. S.R.J Hoyt in 1869. Dr. Hoyt was born in Meriden, Connecticut Dec 9, 1839. He was a private during the Civil War in Company I of the 40th Iowa infantry and was chaplain of the 50th Iowa infantry during the Spanish-American war. He was later stationed as a missionary in Wuchang, China from 1869 to 1877 and upon his return to the States, served as rector at Sr. Andrew's in Waverly. He brought so much success for the parish that the bishop appointed him Archdeacon of Davenport in 1891 and although he was elected Bishop of China only a year later, he declined on account of his wife's poor health. He took a leave of absence from his work in Waverly to return to China from 1878-1880. He later served as a priest at St. Paul's Episcopal Church. Hoyt died on May 5th, 1909 of heart failure in his home in Harlan, Iowa.

Carrie Hoyt was one of Hoyt's four daughters and worked as a grade-school teacher. She taught seventh and eighth grade in the Harlan public school system through 1906 and then worked as choir director and voice instructor at St. Katharine's Hall, an Episcopal school, for the next 25 years. She left on account of the small enrollment.



The Barris Family Papers collection is comprised of papers and personal belongings of three generations of the Barris family, a family well-known for its contributions in the academic, religious and scientific communities. It contains 6 series: Biographical, Geology, Correspondence, Carrie Hoyt, Photographs, Miscellaneous.

The Biographical series (1839-1909, undated) contains a student roster of Allegheny College where Barris attended in 1839, various biographical sketches in memory of Barris and Hoyt from both scientific and religious publications, and newspaper articles about the Hoyts' later years and their descendents.

The Geology (1883-1937, scattered and undated) series contains scientific pamphlets and essays written by W. H. Barris as well as a journal of his field notes. It also contains material not authored by Barris but about similar subject matter.

The Correspondence series (1864-1931, scattered) contains letters written to Barris, Hoyt and Carrie, including letters written during the duration of leave in China. Also included are letters of recommendation from St. Katharine's for Carrie Hoyt's search for new employment.

The Carrie Hoyt series (1896-1929, scattered and undated) contains her personal effects such as school diplomas, a line-a-day diary, and her Book of Common Prayer. It also contains programs and articles about her musical performances as well as souvenir prints from her trip to Europe.

The Photographs series (undated) contains photographs of Barris and Hoyt as well as his wife Mary Elizabeth Barris.

The Miscellaneous series (1926, 1928, undated) contains the Hoyt family subscriptions to The Iowa Churchman.



Box 1
      Series I. Biographical
            Barris Biographies , 1839, 1901, 1904
            Hoyt Biographies and Articles, 1909 and undated
      Series II. Geology
            Barris Publications, 1883-1897, undated
            Various geological publications, 1901-1935 scattered
            Field Notes, undated
      Series III. Correspondence
            W. Barris Correspondence, 1864
            Dr. Hoyt Correspondence, 1874-1892
            Carrie Hoyt Correspondence , 1905-1929
            Carrie Hoyt Recommendation Letters , 1903/5-1929
      Series IV. Carrie Hoyt
            Diplomas, 1896, 1929 (oversize in Box 2)
            Diary, 1919
            Book of Common Prayer, 1929
            Newspaper Articles + Programs, 1913, 1919, undated
            Souvenirs, undated (presumed 1929)

Box 2
      Series V. Photographs
            Photographs of Barris, undated
            Photographs of Hoyt and his wife, undated
      Series VI. Miscellaneous
            "The Iowa Churchman," 1926, 1928



None known

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