Creator: Cobleigh, William Merriam, b. 1872

Provenance Note: The William Merriam Cobleigh papers were donated to Special Collections by the Museum of the Rockies in 1984. A second batch of five letters were donated by the museum in 1985 and initially placed in the University Archives as accession number 89-004.

Historical Note: William Merriam Cobleigh was an early professor at Montana Agricultural College (MAC) and was later the head of the chemistry department at Montana State College, Bozeman. His parents were Reverend William and Julia Cobleigh of Corvallis. His father later moved to pastorates in Idaho and Washington. Their original home seems to have been in the Boston area. William Merriam, the only child of the Reverend and his wife, was born in 1872 in Haverstraw, New York. In addition to his teaching, Cobleigh worked for the Missoula Mercantile in Corvallis and matriculating at the College of Montana in Deer Lodge from 1891 to 1894. He also worked as the assistant chemist for the Anaconda Mining Company. In 1894, Cobleigh began looking for a place to do his post graduate education and decided on Columbia University where he earned his master's degree in chemistry in 1899. His parents were in Ilwaco, Washington and later Hoquiam during that time. He continued his post-graduate work at Harvard and the University of Chicago. He was also acting President of Montana State College from 1942-1943. Cobleigh married Esther Rose Cooley, the relative of R. A. Cooley on the MAC staff, in 1901. She graduated as a kindergarten teacher in 1899 and taught in Bozeman after she married William in 1901. They had three children together, Winifred, Lois, and Norman. In addition to his work at the college, Cobleigh was a member of the American Public Health Association and the State Board of Health. He was also a trustee of the Presbyterian Church and a member of the Bozeman Lodge No. 18, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons. He died in the early 1950s after a long career in chemistry.

Content Description Note: The William Merriam Cobleigh papers consist mainly on his correspondence with his parents and Esther Rose Cooley from 1894 to 1901. Topics include: experiences at Montana Agricultural College at Bozeman and the College of Montana at Deer Lodge; social life and customs in Bozeman during the turn of the century; courtship and marriage. Newspaper clippings, various programs from recitals he attended, photographs, and pamphlets have been retained with the letters. In addition to letters Cobleigh wrote is one letter written to his father. Also in the collection are two letters to his mother, one from a niece and one from Cobleigh's sister, Elma Gallager. Several letters written to Esther Rose Cooley from her friends are also in the papers. A few picture of friends and relatives from California and some place cards are also included. The collection is arranged by topically arranged series.


Series 1 William M. Cobleigh to Rev. William and Julia Cobleigh Letters, 1891 to 1901.
Series 2 William M. Cobleigh to Esther Rose Cooley Letters, 1901.
Series 3 Esther Rose Cooley Letters, 1899-1901.
Series 4 Julia Cobleigh Letters, 1894, 1929.
Series 5 Miscellaneous Papers of William M. Cobleigh, 1899-1920.
Series 6 Photographs.

Series 1: William M. Cobleigh to Rev. William and Julia Cobleigh Letters, 1891 to 1901

In his letters to his parents from 1891 to 1894, Cobleigh was working at the College of Montana in Deer Lodge, the Missoula Mercantile in Corvallis where his father had a farm, and the Anaconda Company in Anaconda. From 1894 to 1901 Cobleigh writes to his parents mainly from the Montana Agricultural College in Bozeman. These letters are more detailed than the letters to Esther Rose Cooley. In 1901 Cobleigh writes to his parents about his courtship and marriage honeymoon at Mt. Holyoak, Vermont in August 1901. Also included in this series is a letter written to Cobleigh in 1896 from J. Perry Miner and one to his father in 1898 from F. L. Ludden, a general merchandise retailer.

Box 1
1. Letters from February 15 to June 25, 1891.
2. Letters from June 27 to December 13, 1891.
3. Letters from January 5 to March 27, 1892.
4. Letters from April 3 to October 30, 1892.
5. Letters from November 13, 1892 to February 15, 1894.
6. Letters from February 17 to October 13, 1894.
7. Letters from June 9, 1896 to August 19, 1897.
8. Letters from August 21 to September 28, 1897.
9. Letters from October 3, 1897 to April 13, 1898.
10. Letters from May 2, 1898 to July 14, 1898.
11. Letters from July 5 to August 24, 1901.
12. Letters from September 8 to November 17, 1901; Letter to his mother in July 1929.

Contents | Special Collections

Series 2: William M. Cobleigh to Esther Rose Cooley Letters, 1901

After matriculating at Columbia University in 1901, Cobleigh became engaged to Esther Rose Cooley. This series are the letters he wrote to her during their engagement. The letters span from January 29 to July 29, 1901. They describe social life in Bozeman and the customs of the time.

Box 1 (cont.)
13. Letters from January 29 to March 15, 1901.
14. Letters from March 16-25, 1901.
15. Letters from March 26 to April 3, 1901.
16. Letters from April 4-14, 1901.
17. Letters from April 15-26, 1901.
Box 2
1. Letters from April 27 to May 5, 1901.
2. Letters from May 7-15, 1901.
3. Letters from May 16-25, 1901.
4. Letters from May 26 to June 3, 1901.
5. Letters from June 4-17, 1901.
6. Letters from June 18 to July 29, 1901.

Contents | Special Collections

Series 3: Esther Rose Cooley Letters, 1899-1901

Included in this series are letters Esther Rose Cooley received from friends. Most of the letters are from Burton J. Baldwin, a friend of hers from college. Also included his Esther's certificate from the Kindergarten Normal School.

Box 2 (cont.)
7. Letters from Burton J. Baldwin from October 9, 1899 to September 29, 1900.
8. Letters from friends of Esther Rose Cooley from 1899 to 1901.
9. Kindergarten Normal School Certificate, May 1899.

Contents | Special Collections

Series 4: Julia Cobleigh Letters, 1894, 1929

Two letters are included in this series. One letter his from Elma Gallager, Julia Cobleigh's daughter written in 1929. The other letter is from one of Julia's nieces.

Box 2 (cont.)
10. Letters to Julia Cobleigh; 1894, 1929.

Contents | Special Collections

Series 5: Miscellaneous Papers of William M. Cobleigh, 1899-1920

Included in this series are three papers from Columbia University written in 1899; manuscript by William M. Cobleigh comparing Columbia University and Montana Agricultural College, 1900; a Property Assessment list from 1904; papers from the Gallatin Laundry Company from 1920; and several calling cards.

Box 2 (cont.)
11. Comparison of Columbia and MAC, 1900.
12. Miscellaneous papers of William M. Cobleigh, 1899-1920.
13. Calling cards.

Contents | Special Collections

Series 6: Photographs

Three photographs are included in this series. Few of the people are identified, but are believed to be friends and relatives from California.

Box 2 (cont.)
14. Photographs

Contents | Special Collections

Updated: 4/2/09