Answer to the question “Whatever became of the Gillett collection?”


In our last “hard copy” print issue of this journal, datelined Spring 2010, on page 65, we ran a story about the collection of Hezekiah Gillett who passed away in 1917. We knew “who had it then”, but wondered “who’s got it now?” We reprint a recent exchange of letters which answers that question to a great degree.
Dear Don–
My great-grandfather, Hezekiah M. Gillett, was 13 when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated and that may have been the impetus for his collecting books, pamphlets, newspapers, and articles about Lincoln. Attached to this email is a Catalogue (listed by author) of his collection, which is in my possession [ed. note: 143 books, pamphlets and scrapbooks]. I am sorry to be in the position where this collection cannot stay in the family, so I am looking for advice on how best to part with it. While it would be nice to be able to donate it to an institution specializing in Lincoln, we must consider the financial value and ability to sell this collection too. I do not know how to classify condition. Some items appear to me to be in ‘great’ condition, while others are ‘poor.’ I have little idea as to overall value, but am hopeful because almost all of them are first editions, a few are signed or numbered, and some may be rare (Volck’s Confederate War Etchings; Nicolay & Hay Abraham Lincoln complete set; ???)
I would appreciate any counsel you can provide regarding this.
Tom Gillett
Zeke’s Great-Grandson
Hi Tom—
As an update, I am the editor of an online journal for Lincoln collectors, The Rail Splitter. We currently are an online journal only. Prior to that (1995-2010), we published print issues. Our web site has pdf files for all our past issues. If you download our very last print issue (Spring 2010), and go to page 65, you will see a picture and story about your great grandfather! I knew the name was familiar! Did he collect other Lincoln items besides books? Anyway, we asked in the article “Whatever became of the Gillett collection?” Now we know.
Don Ackerman
Dear Don–
Well I’ll be!!! Thank you so much for alerting me to this article on Hezekiah and I look forward to perusing the rest of The Rail Splitter.
I am only aware of or heard about the items I sent you in the Catalogue (i.e. books, etc.), but I only know Zeke’s great grandchildren sired through his son John (Zeke – John – John Ken – Me). Based on this new info, I am going to try and track down his great grandchildren via his other children and see if some of the “stuff” mentioned is around or at least what happened to it.
Thank you again!
PS One fun bit of info about Hezekiah … he was a Knight Templar. Maybe hidden in that closet depicted in the caricature is the Holy Grail.

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