21 linear feet — 1 oversize folder — 2.22 GB
0.25 linear feet
This collection contains 18 business letters written by Philadelphia merchant Stephen Girard, as well as approximately 25 legal and financial documents concerning his professional affairs in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Also included are 17 partially printed bank checks drawn on Girard and about 170 bills and receipts related to the expenses of Girard College, a school founded by a bequest in Stephen Girard's will. The collection is arranged in two series: Correspondence, and Documents and Financial Records. The Documents and Financial Records are divided in two subseries: Stephen Girard and Girard College, and Israel Kinsman and Kinsman & Wright bank checks.
The Correspondence series consists of 18 letters from Stephen Girard to business acquaintances concerning his shipping interests between 1787 and 1829. The first 2 letters, dated March and April 1787, were written in French and addressed to Garnier of Spring Hill, New Jersey. Girard wrote one letter to F. D. Petit du Villers of Savannah, Georgia, about the shipment of Georgia pine wood (February 21, 1810); one to Allen M. Lane, an official in Wilmington, Delaware (April 22, 1812); and six to William Adgate, supercargo of Girard's ship Good Friends (August 5, 1811-May 20, 1812). In his letters to Adgate, Girard discussed the Non-Importation Act's effects on foreign trade and provided him with instructions as the Good Friends sailed between Newcastle, England, and Amelia Island, Georgia.
Girard sent 8 letters to eight different recipients between June 19, 1814, and June 27, 1829 - all related to his shipping interests. In a letter to David Parish of Washington, D.C., dated June 19, 1814, he expressed his thoughts on peace and on his recent meetings with John Jacob Astor. On December 3, 1827, he wrote to Secretary of State Henry Clay respecting French spoliation claims originally filed on June 4, 1795. Girard's final letter advised Captain Levi Bardin of the North America that the ship was to sail from Alexandria, Virginia, to Amsterdam, Netherlands, with a load of tobacco (June 27, 1829).
The Documents and Financial Records series is divided into two subseries: Stephen Girard and Girard College, and Israel Kinsman and Kinsman & Wright bank checks. The Stephen Girard and Girard College subseries contains materials related to Stephen Girard's shipping and financial interests ([February] 1781-March 20, 1827) and to the operations of Girard College (March 13, 1857-January 12, 1870). Approximately 25 receipts, bills of sale, accounts, inventories, contracts, and other documents relate to Stephen Girard's business affairs. Many of these items are partially printed documents, signed by Stephen Girard. Several early documents were written in French. Four documents include values of specific ships' cargoes and relevant duties. At least one item, a subscription form, pertains to the Second Bank of the United States (January 14, 1817), and another reflects shipping insurance purchased from Samuel Coates (November 23, 1793).
This subseries also contains approximately 170 bills and receipts issued to Girard College for a variety of supplies, including foodstuffs, cleaning supplies, and clothing. The largest portion concerns vegetables and meats, and everyday items, such as brooms and pails, cloth, and shoes. Others reflect the costs of keeping up the building, such as painting the college, repairing one of its boilers, purchasing coal, and paying wages.
The Israel Kinsman and Kinsman & Wright bank checks subseries consists of 17 partially printed checks, drawn on "Stephen Girard, Banker" by Philadelphia merchants Israel Kinsman and Kinsman & Wright (January 21, 1818-December 22, 1824).
1 linear foot
The John M. O'Connor papers contain 350 letters, 15 financial records, 7 legal documents, and several lists, clippings, and the lyrics to a song, spanning 1810-1826. The correspondence is almost entirely incoming and the majority dates to the period from 1815 to 1824. Approximately 20 of the letters relate to the War of 1812; some discuss official army matters, such as supplies and troops, while others concern popular opinion of the war (June 26, 1813: "The public do not appear to be satisfied with the military acquirements of the Commander in chief, and not a few are so daring as to stigmatize his operations as being tardy & imbecile"). A series of letters in September and October 1812 relate to the death of O'Connor's mother, Margaret.
Correspondence in 1815-1816 mentions and documents the chain of events arising from the feud between O'Connor and Major General George Izard, including O'Connor's court martial and subsequent leave of absence, and his attempts to regain his position and good standing in the army. Slightly later correspondence documents O'Connor's translation of Gay de Vernon's Treatise on the Science of War and Fortifications, and includes a letter from O'Connor to Secretary of War, John C. Calhoun, encouraging him to request more copies of the work in order to ensure the success of the project (March 4, 1818). Approximately 15 letters from this period were written in French.
The majority of the material, particularly later in the collection, relates to national politics and political factions in New York State. On October 12, 1818, William H. Crawford, whom O'Connor would later back in the presidential election of 1824, wrote to O'Connor concerning a visit to the South, including observations on the failure of crops, family news, and French politics. On February 18, 1820, James Taylor provided a long account of the Missouri Compromise to O'Connor, and commented that "I am constrained to believe that the spirit of intolerance & oppression towards the black man, and the determination to perpetuate his bondage…are daily gaining ground in the Southern & Southeastern United States." Letters of November 1823 concern the presidential election of 1824 and New York politics.
Also of interest are letters from O'Connor's sister, Eliza, who seems to have been a governess or lady's companion in Middletown, Pennsylvania, but left because of dissatisfaction with the position: "You say that I was placed with the most respectable family in Middletown and all my wants were provided for, and I was at once raised to a respectable and enviable situation, as to their respectability no one will dispute it, as to my situation being enviable, I do not know how excepting I was independent of them, the want of relations will never be compensated to me by strangers" (August 25, 1820). Many letters throughout the collection also document O'Connor's interest in trading stocks and bonds. Letters from his agent, Thomas Hutchison, show his interest in bank bonds and provide advice and information on securities trading.
Several of the documents in the collection relate to the military, including 1814 General Orders, several financial records, and two certificates. Also included are several bonds, a bill of lading, and lists relating to O'Connor's translation work.
1 linear foot
The Joseph Shipley, Jr., collection (1 linear foot) contains business and personal correspondence related to the Shipley and Bringhurst families of Wilmington, Delaware. The earliest items include letters to Joseph Bringhurst from correspondents in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who commented on the cotton trade and finances from 1813-1817. The bulk of the collection is made up of business and personal letters to Joseph Shipley, Jr., from 1819 to the mid-1850s. Shipley, who lived and worked in Liverpool, England, regularly heard from merchants and family in Philadelphia and Wilmington and sometimes in New York and Manchester. The collection also includes some letters that Shipley wrote to his brothers. The Shipley correspondence often pertains to the shipment of cotton and other goods between the United States and Europe, to banking, and to family news from "Brandywine Mills."
Writers sometimes commented on current events or political affairs, such as elections, the advent of the "Native American" (Know Nothing) party and tensions between nativists and Irish Catholics in Philadelphia (May 14, 1844, and July 14, 1844), the "Oregon question," and the Mexican-American War. A letter from August 15, 1832, informs Shipley about the alarm over the cholera epidemic in Philadelphia. Several letters from the early 1840s mention the decline of the Bank of the United States, such as Richard Price's letter of October 30, 1840, which includes financial figures related to the bank. Shipley's later correspondence concerns personal and family matters, and he often received letters from his nieces and nephews in Delaware and Pennsylvania. The last items are letters written among members of the Bringhurst family. In one letter, Edward Bringhurst wrote to his wife Sarah about attending a religious service at the Sistine Chapel, presided over by the Pope (April 9, 1851). The collection also includes bills of lading, receipts, and indentures.
Letters, Documents, & Other Manuscripts, Duane Norman Diedrich collection, 1595-2007 (majority within 1719-1945)
3.5 linear feet
The Letters, Documents, and Other Manuscripts of the Duane Norman Diedrich Collection is a selection of individual items compiled by manuscript collector Duane Norman Diedrich (1935-2018) and the William L. Clements Library. The content of these materials reflect the life and interests of D. N. Diedrich, most prominently subjects pertinent to intellectual, artistic, and social history, education, speech and elocution, the securing of speakers for events, advice from elders to younger persons, and many others.
For an item-level description of the collection, with information about each manuscript, please see the box and folder listing below.
Letters, Documents, & Other Manuscripts, E. L. Diedrich Collection, 1789-1987 (majority within 1795-1941)
0.25 linear feet
The E. L. Diedrich Collection is a selection of manuscript items compiled by his son Duane Norman Diedrich and dedicated to his memory. The content of these letters, documents, and other manuscripts reflect the life and interests of E. L. "Bud" Diedrich (1904-1988), most prominently subjects pertinent to government, business, and patriotic music. Items include correspondence from early United States politicians, discussing aspects of the developing Federal government and political parties; letters respecting the U.S. Presidency; holograph manuscripts and correspondence respecting patriotic music, such as the Battle Hymn of the Republic; and much more.
The collection is comprised of over 50 letters, documents, manuscript songs, and photographs, and other items. For a comprehensive inventory and details about each item in the collection, please see the box and folder listing below.
2.5 linear feet
The Puffer-Markham family papers (1875 items) is comprised of business letters, personal letters, legal documents, and financial records related to an extended family with business and agricultural interests in Massachusetts, New York, Michigan, and South Carolina. Also present are letters from five Civil War soldiers, containing descriptions of their wartime experiences.
The Correspondence series (1535 items) contains family business and personal letters. These largely document William G. Markham's business activities in selling wheat, cattle, and sheep, as well as personal letters from Guy Markham's children, grandchildren, spouses, and friends from upstate New York. The family letters report on news, daily life, sickness, and courtship. Also present are letters related to Charles C. Puffer's business activities: as a banker in Massachusetts before the war, and as a plantation manager in Reconstruction-era South Carolina. Among the personal papers are many Civil War-era letters, involving both business carried on during the war and letters from Union soldiers on the frontlines.
The papers concerning Guy Markham and his son William Guy Markham are almost exclusively related to business matters. Guy was involved with farming in and around Rush, New York. William G. Markham, who inherited much of his father's land, established himself in the cattle industry. Throughout the 1870s, he received orders for Durham cattle (shorthorn heifers) from New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Georgia, Ohio, Michigan, and as far as Denver, Colorado, and Walla Walla, Washington Territory. Letters concerning his interest in cotton are also represented. He was president of the Sea Island Cotton Company, trustee of the Port Royal Cotton Company, and an associate with the United States Cotton Company. Beginning around1880, Markham became heavily involved with wool production and corresponded with other national and international woolgrowers, including the National Wool Growers Association, headquartered in Springfield, Illinois, which lobbied the House of Representatives against a congressional act that would lift overseas wool tariffs. He had multiple dealings with selling sheep and wool in Australia and South Africa.
Other Markham letters relate to William's siblings Wayne and Mary. Wayne Markham described his agricultural activities and his life in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Mary wrote of her experiences at the Music Institute of New London, Connecticut, and frequently requested money to cover her school expenses.
The Charles Puffer letters cover his business interactions with the Shelburne Falls Bank, and the Puffer-Markham partnership, which purchased plantations in Beaufort and Hilton Head, South Carolina (summer of 1865). In 15 letters to his wife Emma Puffer (1870-1876), Charles, while living in Columbia, South Carolina, described managing plantations for his family, working as an activist for the state’s Republican party (particularly in the 4th congressional district), and his relationship with Governor Daniel Henry Chamberlain. He reported on a disorderly state convention in 1870, and of receiving $16,000 from Governor Chamberlain to distribute to county convention attendees with the promise that Charles would become county treasurer (September 4, 1874). By 1876, Charles had declared that he had left politics.
- January 2, 1870
- January 13, 1870
- March 11, 1870
- June 2, 1870
- July 27, 1870
- August 1, 1870
- January 1, 1871
- February 10, 1871
- August 22, 1874
- September 4, 1874
- October 7, 1874
- December 1874
- January 14, 1876
- April 12, 1876
Between 1887 and 1890, the collection focuses on the lives of sisters Linda and Isabel ("Belle") Puffer, daughters of Charles and Emma Puffer. These comprise 12 items sent from and 39 items addressed to the sisters, while they were attending Wellesley College.
The collection contains 22 letters from five Civil War soldiers: Horace Boughton (9th and 143rd New York Infantry), Morris R. Darrohn (108th New York Infantry), Isaac R. Gibbard (143rd New York Infantry), Charles W. Daily (50th New York Engineers), and Samuel P. Wakelee (54th New York National Guard). Horace Boughton, who wrote eleven of these letters, described his regiment's activities and instructed his friend William Guy Markham on how to allocate his paychecks to his family and business interests. Below is a list of Civil War soldiers' letters.
- October 27, 1861: Horace Boughton at Fort Corcoran
- December 1, 1861: Horace Boughton at Fort Cass
- May 4, 1862: Horace Boughton at a camp near Fort Davis, Virginia
- July 27, 1862: Horace Boughton at Westover, Virginia, concerning recruitment problems and arguing that seasoned troops are much more valuable than new recruits
- July 27, 1862: Horace Boughton at Westover, Virginia
- August 6, 1862: Horace Boughton at Westover, Virginia
- October 28, 1862: Morris R. Darrohn on picket duty near Harper's Ferry; at Bolivar Heights he had a view of the house where John Brown took Louis Washington prisoner; he mentioned meeting the enemy at the battle of Antietam; that day he milked a stray cow so they could have cream in their coffee
- November 14, 1862: Horace Boughton now with the 143rd New York Infantry stationed at Upton Hill, Virginia, and president of a court martial
- February 25, 1863: Horace Boughton at New York 143rd Infantry headquarters, to Susan Emma Markham, discussing his ideas on womanhood and "the yoke of matrimony"
- March 27, 1863: Morris R. Darrohn at Falmouth, Virginia, concerning drills, dreaming of home, and being trapped along the Rappahannock River at the Battle of Fredericksburg
- March 29, 1863: Horace Boughton requesting photographs of the Markham family for his album
- June 5, 1863: Morris R. Darrohn near Falmouth, Virginia
- June 13, 1763: Isaac R. Gibbard near Williamsburg, Virginia, concerning leaving Yorktown with a division led by General Gordon; notes that "miasmas and diseases at West Point came very near whipping our regiment out…the Rebels said they would not attack us but let the diseases do it."
- July 30, 1863: Isaac R. Gibbard sick at the Seminary Hospital at Georgetown, mentioned starting a band of musicians
- August 16, 1863: Horace Houghton at New York 143rd Infantry headquarters, advising William not to join the war if possible
- January 3, 1864: Morris R. Darrohn near Stevensburg, Virginia, cautioning against joining the Masons or the military
- January 31, 1864: Horace Boughton at Bridgeport, Alabama
- April 16, 1864: Charles W. Daily at Rappahannock Station, Virginia, expecting a march on Richmond that may be "the greatest battle of the war within 10 days"
- : Samuel P. Wakelee to Puffer while guarding "Johnnys at Elmira" prison; he paid a prisoner tobacco to mould a Delta Kappa Epsilon ring in silver; he described the prison and wrote: "We have 10,600 Rebs in the Pen [,] Dirty, Lousy, Godforesakin crew[.] The majority of them are stalwart & robust…"
- January 19, 1865: Horace Boughton on board the ship St. Patrick and discussed traveling by railroad
- February 7, 1865: Horace Boughton at Bridgeport, Alabama
- February 26, [1860s]: Cousin William reported on visiting various corps and hearing members of Congress, "the negro minstrels have a dance" and meeting General Fitzgerald
- July 1, 1842: School essays by Margaret G. Greenman
- September 19, 1853: Homer Broughton to Guy Markham concerning picking out a tombstone for their grandmother
- June 7, 1855: Horace Boughton's description of a trip from Rush, New York, to St. Paul, Minnesota, with details on the town
- October 14 and 25, 1855: Wayne Markham in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to his brother, discussing moving into a new house, noting the price of meat in Michigan, and reflecting on the moral and industrious character of the citizens of the town
- December 4, 1860: Mary Markham to her father describing visiting family in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Ionia, Michigan
- November 6, 1763: Certificate for William Markham joining the Lima, New York, chapter of Freemasons
- August 18, 1864: A letter from Mt. Morris, New York, concerning a lawsuit over a $50 cow killed at an Avon railroad crossing
- September 5, 1864: Henry Puffer to Charles Puffer concerning purchasing land in Hilton Head, South Carolina
- January 15, 1865: This letter from Henry M. Puffer and Company contains a drawing of a house on Gardner Plantation
- February 11, 1865: News sent to Charles Puffer concerning land purchased for plantation farming in Beaufort, South Carolina
- March 1, 1865: William Markham concerning returning soldiers purchasing land that is interest free for three years, and other news from South Carolina
- June 19, 1765: Robert C. Clark to William Markham regarding visiting Oil Creek, Pennsylvania, and noting the failure of the Genesee Valley Oil Well
- January 6, 1866: George Fisher of Rochester, New York, concerning the state of the local Delta Kappa Epsilon chapter
- September 13, 1866: Letter from the Cook and Martin Music Dealer in Rochester, New York, concerning the sale of a piano, on letterhead featuring a picture of a piano
- August 26, 1868: From a St. Louis member of Delta Kappa Epsilon providing for a member who can write in shorthand
- April 15, 1869: Brooklyn photographer E. Bookhout gives prices for his services
- [1860s]: M.F. Randolph to William Guy Markham detailing the price of cotton before the Civil War
- January 5, 1870: Homer Broughton in Topeka, Kansas, to his family in New York concerning his productive new farm on an "old Indian field" and the many new settlers in the area purchasing land at "government prices"
- January 13, 1871: A pencil sketch of people standing at podiums
- June 1891: Papers related to shipping ewes and rams to Cape Town, South Africa
- 1892: Print of an Atwood Ram named Wooly Bill, 1549, bred by C.W. Mason in Vergennes, Vermont
- December 28, 1893: Instructions for judging sheep at the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago sent to W.I. Buchanan of the Department of Agriculture
- July 2, 1902: Francis E. Warren of the National Wool Growers Association to William G. Markham concerning a treaty with Argentina that would harm the American wool industry
The Correspondence series contains 172 undated items. Of note is a letter with a hand-sketched map of plots of farm land near St. Joseph, Michigan, and a series of school essays written by Margaret G. Greenman (Mrs. Sumner Clark) on "Broken Friendships," "Penmanship," "Envy and Deceit," and "Buds of Flowers" among others.
The Documents series (114 items) contains legal and business documents relating to the family's land holdings and entrepreneurial endeavors. Included are the land deeds and mortgages of William Markham, Guy Markham, Phoebe Markham, and William Markham (primarily in Genesee County, New York), records for debts, land purchases, whiskey purchases, estate documents, and business agreements between the Sea Island Cotton Company and the United States Cotton Company.
The Accounts and Financial Records series (199 items) consists of material related to the personal and business activities of the Markham and Puffer families, including materials documenting management of the cotton companies during Reconstruction. Personal records amount to accounts and bills for tuition, day labor, magazine and newspaper subscriptions, furniture purchase and repair, insurance, and groceries. The business accounts document the Sea Island Cotton Company, the Hilton Head Cotton Company, and the accounts of C.C. Puffer (1865-1767). Present are accounts for plantation supplies, office expenses, salaries, cotton sold on speculation, sales of stocks, lists of share owners, and various receipts. Of note are the records for salary advances made to South Carolina freedmen in 1866.
- April-October 1840: Accounts of C.S. Boughton
- September-December 1856: Accounts of William Guy Markham
- 1865-1867: Two accounts of William Guy Markham's accounts with D.W. Powers Bank of Rochester
The Printed Items series (21 items) is comprised of blank Sea Island Company stock certificates, and government records related to the regulation of United States wool and fabric production. These records include the following bills from the 57th Congress: H.R. 6565, H.R. 14643, H.R. 14488, and documents concerning "Shoddy vs. Wool" and the National Wool Growers Association (1901-1902). These items were of interest to William Guy Markham, a wool producer and sheep expert.
The Miscellaneous series (6 items) contains photographs, stamps, and other miscellaneous material. One photograph is of Mrs. Hinkley Williams, Mrs. L. Boltwood, and Mrs. E. Boltwood ("Three Generations") sent to Guy Markham in 1892. The second photograph is of 84-year-old Hinkley Williams of Gorham, Massachusetts (1892). Also of interest is a list of Guy Markham's presidential picks from 1824-1888.
This account book kept largely by Jacob, Anne, and Anna True consists of records relating to their family business in Salisbury, Massachusetts. The True family ran a multi-purpose organization and operated it as a tavern, inn, bank, and store for foodstuffs and other goods. The volume also contains a narration and history of the extended True family, a study of with the Webster family, and a 16-page recounting of the American Revolutionary War naval battle between the Bonhomme Richard and the HMS Serapis.
The volume's double-entry bookkeeping includes the name of the client, with running lists of the costs and dates of purchases of goods and services, as well as records of account credits. Sales of alcoholic beverages include rum (occasionally identified as New England or West Indies), toddies, and brandy. Rum seems to be the most frequent item offered by the Trues; at times the drink is not listed by measurement, but instead as variants of "Rum and Drink at Time Taken from the Score." They sold foods, including veal, salt, sugar, molasses, turnips, pork, fish, and more. They sold cloth, linens, and clothing, such as handkerchiefs, swanskin, sheeting, silks, thread, oznabriggs, buttons, blankets, muslin, bearskin, ribbon, "ferrit," combs, sole leather, and more. The Trues also offered services, such as augur maintenance, chair repair, clothing and shoe mending, and more.
One atypical entry is an account for debtors William Temple and Capt. Edward Emerson in 1761, pertinent to expenses for the wreck of a brig, including costs associated with ballast, clearing lumber and pumping out the ship, moving the ship to Newbury, "a Treat to the people that went Down in ye Ship," temporarily storing Naval stores, taking care and sending on the ship three weeks later, and other itemizations.
Clients paid by cash, labor, or barter. Services rendered include ship work such as planking, boring holes, and caulking, raising, and framing; a "day's work," butchering. Goods offered in trade include timber, codfish, corn, silver shoe buckles, lamb, cider, charcoal, and more. Many transactions conclude with a "Settlement" statement and the signature of Jacob, Anne, or Anna True, with the purchaser's sign-off.
The volume includes a list of the crew on board the Bonhomme Richard, including Jacob and Anne's son Jacob, along with a recounting of the engagement of the Bon Homme Richard and the Serapis. A few printed newspaper illustrations were pasted into the volume, including an engraving showing the battle and framed by snakes and a "Don't Tread on Me" banner. Another shows "The Emperor Napoleon in his Coffin."
The final pages of the volume contain genealogical information respecting the Webster family.
16.25 linear feet
The Wilson family papers contains over 4,000 letters relating to the lives and fortunes of three generations of the family of William Wilson, residents of Clermont, N.Y, in the mid-Hudson River Valley. Virtually all of the letters in the collection were received by members of the Wilson family, with only a very few out-going drafts. Together, these present an impressively detailed perspective on many aspects of family life, political culture, agriculture, commerce, and the economy of Columbia and Dutchess County, N.Y., in the fifty years following the end of the American Revolution. As well being educated, energetic members of the social elite, the Wilsons engaged in a variety of pursuits, from the legal and medical professions, to land proprietorship, farming, and politics, and they commented extensively at every turn. A genealogical chart of the Wilson family, detailing the relationships of all those mentioned in the collection can be found in box 42:11.
The core of the Wilson papers consists of the letters received by William Wilson, who shouldered a wide variety of responsibilities in Columbia and Dutchess counties and knew their residents intimately. The breadth of his interests brought him into contact with many of the state's leading citizens, but also with the tenant farmers, medical patients, merchants and clerks. William's major pursuit in life was medicine, and his surviving papers contain seven medical daybooks (40:3; 47:9-14), providing a chronological record of his visits, diagnoses and prescriptions, as well as his fees. He also kept two notebooks dealing with the causes and symptoms of various diseases (47:15, 16), and scattered throughout his papers are letters from patients discussing their illnesses. Of particular importance are the letters relative to the deaths of Chancellor Robert R. Livingston and his wife, for whom Wilson was the attending physician (18:6-10; 19:15, 21, 23). Wilson was also a founding member of the Medical Society of Dutchess and Columbia Counties in 1796, and was associated with the founding of the New York Medical Society, as well as with the effort to establish a medical college (15:69; 16:17, 24, 44, 46, 52, 66, 70, 76, 80; 17:3, 13, 17, 23, 29; 45:19).
William Wilson was also employed as an administrator of landed property, usually for members of the Livingston family, and particularly Henry Livingston (1752/53-1823). The wide-spread unrest among "General Livingston's" tenants is discussed in many of the letters, along with more general discussions of land tenure, proprietary power, and tenant satisfaction. Wilson also served as administrator for the property of Chancellor Robert R. Livingston, especially during the latter's appointment to France, for two absentee landlords from New York City, Walter Rutherford and J. Stark Robinson (41:1, 2); and he was an executor or administrator for the estates of Robert Cambridge Livingston (1742-1794) (42:1), Peter Robert Livingston (1737-1794) (42:7), and the Chancellor (42:3-6). The materials relating to Livingston rental properties consists largely of receipts for rents received, but also include lease agreements, about twenty account books relative to the Chancellor's lands, and negotiations for the sale of land, especially the Chancellor's property in New Jersey after his death. A section of the estate documents for Robert R. Livingston relate to payment of medical, boarding, and clothing bills for Isabella and her son, Stephen, who were enslaved by Livingston (42:4). Some of the documents refer to her as Isabella Bond.
In 1791, Wilson added the office of Deputy Postmaster to his collection of responsibilities, becoming the first such agent for the town of Clermont. He was reappointed in 1803, and continued at his lucrative post until surrendering it to his son in 1825. As with everything else, Wilson saved all of his papers (42:12-15), and this the collection includes Wilson's original appointment commissions, signed by Post Master General Timothy Pickering (1:46 and 12:72), as well as the postal accounts and other records, which are generally of an administrative and bureaucratic nature. There are a few scattered items from correspondents critical of the speed and unreliability of the mails.
William Wilson also filled various political appointments in the county, and was active in state politics. As a Jeffersonian-Republican, befitting a friend of Chancellor Livingston, he played an important local role as judge of the county court, yet while many of his letters are addressed to "Judge" Wilson, virtually nothing pertaining to his official judicial activities survives in the collection apart from a series of receipts from various sheriffs and a few examinations of a woman for illegitimacy (43:44; 41:19). However Wilson corresponded with other judges and lawyers in the region, a fair amount of which has been preserved, especially from Peter Van Schaack and members of the prominent Van Ness family. Wilson's role as one of the first school supervisors in the area is represented by some scant records (41:22), as is his position as a commissioner for the granting of tavern licenses (41:23).
Wilson was involved in two other county-wide projects that had an important impact on Columbia County, and for which there is excellent material. One of these was the construction of the Highland Turnpike, which ran from Westchester County to near Albany, with gates in Columbia County. Wilson sat on its Board of Directors, and was a frequent and regular correspondent with its president, Joseph Howland (43:1, 2). Howland's are among the few letters that bear on broader national issues, and are in many ways the most interesting series of letters in the collection (see especially 17:87). Secondly, Wilson was instrumental in the establishment of the Agricultural Society of Dutchess and Columbia Counties, or the "Farm Club," as it was usually called. As (variously) president, vice president, secretary, or treasurer, Wilson was intimately involved in the operation of the organization. Of particular interest is the material relative to the annual county fairs held by the club, and the notifications from potential participants, the standards for awards, and the lists of winners (41:3-11). These records, together with the information to be gathered from the receipts from merchants, presents a detailed picture of agricultural life in the rural Hudson Valley.
In sum, those portions of the Wilson Papers that deal directly with William Wilson and his many activities provides a comprehensive picture of rural life in Columbia County and the state of New York in the forty years after the American Revolution.
The letters from Wilson's children offer insights into other aspects of life in early nineteenth-century New York. Alexander Wilson wrote many letters to his father while a student, and it is from his papers that one gets a good idea of the nature of legal education at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Alexander's early death means there is little material relating to his career as a practicing attorney, but what is lacking from Alexander is more than made up for by the papers of his younger brother, Robert. Robert kept extensive records of his practice, including a register of cases covering the entire period of his independent practice in New York, 1823-1830 (46:17), and his day books and account books, which list his professional duties preformed on behalf of clients, and his expenses, fees, and collections (40:1; 46:15,16). The Wilson Papers also includes file papers for many of the cases in which Robert participated (43:5-30), providing a broad, and occasionally deep insight into one man's legal practice in the early 19th century.
The letters of Wilson's other sons are less numerous than those of Alexander and Robert. William H. spent most of his life in Clermont, and so wrote less often, and Stephen B. was a secretive man, who simply did not write many letters. William H. wrote several letters during his tour of duty on the Lake Champlain frontier during the War of 1812 (18:43, 52; 19:18, 26, 36, 47, 56, 60, 68; 20:16, 18), but these are preoccupied with descriptions of camp life and military "politics" rather than strategy or the social impact of the war. William succeeded his father as Deputy Postmaster in 1825, and kept the same copious records as his father (42:12-15). He was not, however, as active in politics as his father, and except for a few letters relating to his run for a seat in the state senate in 1839, and some candidate lists and election return broadsides (41:25-27), there is little of political interest in William's papers. Stephen's letters are the more interesting for their rarity. When he does write, it is well worth the reading.
In addition to the letters written and collected by William, William H., and Robert L. Wilson, the Wilson Papers contain a vast quantity of documents. The largest category of this material contains an enormous number of accounts and receipts from merchants with whom the Wilsons did business. In terms of the number of items, fully half of the Wilson Papers is comprised of these accounts. Approximately 800 individual laborers, craftsmen, merchants, and business firms are represented as having done business with one or another member of the Wilson family, and the collection includes accounts for nearly every kind of household goods, from furniture to food to building materials, agricultural supplies, from seeds to fruit trees to sheep, and personal goods, from cheap "segars" to an "invalid chair" for Robert L., to wine.
The accounts (box 44 and 45:1-16) are arranged alphabetically by creditor. A complete list of merchants and firms represented in the collection is included under "Merchants" in the subject index. The accounts are a particularly valuable resource for social historians. For example the accounts of Samuel Haner (44:12) document aspects of blacksmithing; those of the Clermont grocers Bonesteel and Broadhead (44:4) reveal aspects of diet and nutrition; those of Thomas Beekman (44:2) document medicine and medical supplies; and those of Peter Outwater (45:6) provide information on transportation and commerce on the Hudson River. Receipts for payment that do not include goods or services are filed by surname (45:20-23). The collection also includes a number of the Wilsons' account books, especially William's and Robert's, which offer a view of the other side of the ledger (40:5; 46:18; 47:1, 2).
A second subdivision of the collection, and one closely related to the merchant accounts, deals with land administration. In addition to the correspondence of Henry Livingston with William Wilson mentioned above, the collection contains several subject files related to this important issue in Hudson River Valley history. Most important are the folders containing information on absentee landlords (41:1, 2); deeds (41:4); land grants (43:4); leases (43:31, 32); mortgages (45:17); various rental accounts (46:1-7); surveys and surveying (46:8); as well as William Wilson's rental account books (46:17-20).
Finally the collection contains a small body of material of an essentially genealogical or local history value, and a wide, if not very deep, collection of letters of the Livingston family. William Wilson was an executor for some of the Livingston family estates, most notably for Robert Cambridge Livingston (42:1, 2) and Robert R. Livingston (42:3-6), as well as for other estates (41:29; 42:7-10). The information included in the "genealogy" folder (42:11) is particularly helpful in interpreting the material relating to estate settlement and administration.
The local history of the town of Clermont and Columbia County appears throughout the collection, ranging from arrest warrants to local taxes, and including a very important group of papers relating to the establishment of Clermont Academy (41:16-23). As for the Livingstons, while the famous Chancellor does not overpower the collection, the Livingston family does play an important part. Over sixty members of the family are mentioned in some significant way in the Wilson Papers. Some -- like "General" Henry with his tenant problems, the administration of the estates of Walter T. Livingston (1772-1827) and the Chancellor (42:3-7), or the letters of Edward Philip Livingston (1779-1843) concerning his trip to France -- are meaningful parts of the collection (9:78, 86, 98; 10:8, 64). Other Livingstons are merely the signers of documents or letters, such as Janet Livingston Montgomery's (1743-1828) announcement that she plans to enter the Farm Club fair, a request from Mary Thong Livingston Wilson for financial assistance after the birth of Wilson's grandson, or the Chancellor's grandson, Clermont Livingston, who signed a quit claim deed for the benefit of Clermont Academy.
In sum, the Wilson papers are primarily a collection of family papers. While some members of the family participated in significant activities, and while the letters relating to those activities are important, there is a strongly personal aspect about them, and whatever broader historical significance that can be gotten from them must be gotten in the mass.