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John P. Varnum Family Papers

Identifier:  2002.004

Scope and Contents

The collection consists chiefly of the personal correspondence of Varnum Family members and other correspondents circa 1841-1927, with the bulk of the materials from the family's Jacksonville period of 1877 to 1888. Most of the letters are outgoing correspondence to relatives from Josephine L. Dyer (signed "Josie") Varnum, wife of John P. Varnum.

Miscellaneous materials include several nineteenth century legal documents relating to the family's real estate holdings in Florida. Of special interest in the collection are two letters to John P. Varnum, dated May 12, 1877 and April 25, 1878, from Mrs. Henry Ward Beecher, Mandarin, Florida. She was the sister-in-law of Harriet Beecher Stowe, owner of a Mandarin residence from 1867 to 1884. All items are originals. Most letters are legible and typed transcriptions of selected letters are available.


  • Created: 1841-1927
  • Created: Majority of material found within 1877-1888

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research. For additional information and to make an appointment to view the collection, e-mail

Conditions Governing Access

Materials in the collection may be subject to copyright and are to be used for private study, scholarship, or research in accordance with the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code). Use of reproductions of copyrighted works in excess of " fair use," may result in the user’s liability for copyright infringement and be subject to the civil and criminal penalties of federal law. Visit the United States Copyright Office's website at for further information

Biographical / Historical

Attorney, journalist, publisher, and editor. Born on February 26, 1854. Son of John B. Varnum, Union General and later Adjutant General of Florida during the Reconstruction period of 1870-1877. Early documentation shows John P. Varnum (son) held jobs as citrus grower, Deputy Marshal and Postmaster of Eau Gallie, Florida.

In 1878, he was practicing law in Jacksonville, Florida, under the partnership of Cheney & Varnum. In May 1882, he formed a partnership with the brothers C. H. Jones and George W. Jones, as Jones, Varnum & Co., to publish the newspaper, The Daily Times. In 1883, the firm bought the newspaper, Daily Florida Union, later merging it with the Times to become the Times-Union, with Varnum as City Editor.

In February 1884, Varnum was appointed the first Secretary / Treasurer of the Jacksonville Board of Trade, at a salary of $125.00 per month. He resigned this position on June 1, 1885, and in 1886, after selling his ownership in the Times, he established the Jacksonville Morning News, later the News-Herald (1887), which was absorbed by the Florida Publishing Co. into the Times-Union fold in 1888. He also managed the Florida Literary and News Bureau and represented the United Press in 1888.

Varnum had four children, with wife Josephine L. Dyer: Charles Archibald, Grace, Edith, and Norah. After leaving Jacksonville in May 1888, he died in Massachusetts on December 5, 1888.


2.30 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was purchased by the University of North Florida Carpenter Library Special Collections and University Archives in 2002

John P. Varnum Family Papers
Eileen D. Brady.
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the UNF Library Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1 UNF Drive
Jacksonville FL 32224 US