University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Devall Payne Collection 1809-1829

© 2016 University of Chicago Library

Descriptive Summary


Payne, Devall. Collection




0.25 linear feet (1 box)


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


Devall Payne (1764-1830) was a major in the War of 1812, serving in Colonel R. M. Johnson’s regiment of mounted infantry and leading the pursuit of General Proctor after the Battle of Lake Erie. He was later promoted to the position of colonel in the United States military. The Collection contains six letters sent by Payne to his wife, Hannah and one letter sent to Payne by John Chambers, aide-de-camp to General Harrison.

Information on Use


The collection is open for research.


When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Payne, Devall. Collection, [Box #, Folder #], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

Biographical Note

Devall (alt. Duvall) Payne was born in 1764 to Colonel William Payne. William had served in the Revolutionary War. During a heated political argument with George Washington, William allegedly knocked down the future president; he did, however, still serve as a pall-bearer for Washington’s funeral. Little is documented about Devall Payne’s early life. He settled in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1787 where he worked as a surveyor. He later moved to Mill Creek, where he remained until his death. He had at least one son, Colonel John Payne, with his wife, Hannah Payne.

Most notably, Payne served as a major in Colonel R. M. Johnson’s regiment of mounted infantry during the War of 1812. He served valiantly throughout the war and commanded the division that broke British lines at the Battle of Lake Erie. General Henry Procter, a British officer, fled the battle, and, under orders by General William Henry Harrison, Payne and fifty soldiers pursued him. Though General Procter escaped on horseback, Payne acquired a number of valuable spoils, including Procter’s sword, carriage, and many important documents. The story was reported in The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Kentucky, under the title “Story of True Courage.”

At some point in the later part of the war, Payne was promoted to the position of Colonel in the United States military. He died in 1830.

Scope Note

The Devall Payne Collection six letters sent by Payne to his wife, Hannah from 1809 to 1829. Two letters sent during a session of the Kentucky Assembly in 1809 provide details of a duel fought by political adversaries Henry Clay and Humphrey Marshall. The second letter dated January 21 includes a vivid description of the wounds both men suffered. Other early letters contain details of orders issued by General William Henry Harrison and the general proceedings of the war. Also included is a letter from John Chambers, aide-de-camp to General Harrison, to Payne regarding a delivery of horses to Harrison. The letters are dated between 1809 and 1829. Many letters also included the envelopes in which they were sent.

The collection was previously part of the Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection.

Related Resources

Browse finding aids by topic.

Subject Headings


Box 1   Folder 1

Letters, Devall Payne to Hannah Payne, 1809-1829

  • May’s Lick, KY, January 18 and 21, 1809
  • May’s Lick, KY, January 7, 1810
  • Washington, KY, August 1813
  • May’s Lick, KY, December 6, 1828
  • May’s Like, KY, January 4, 1829

View digitized documents.

Box 1   Folder 2

Letter: John Chambers to Devall Payne, Headquarters, Mouth of the Portage River, September 18, 1813

View digitized documents.