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Gilbert L. Thompson papers, 1842-1872

1 linear foot

This collection contains correspondence, documents, financial records, reports, and other items pertaining to Gilbert L. Thompson. The material relates to Thompson's work as the United States Navy's chief engineer from 1842-1844, and his involvement in the coal and transportation industries in the mid- to late 19th century.

This collection (1 linear foot) contains correspondence, documents, financial records, reports, and other items pertaining to Gilbert L. Thompson. The material relates to Thompson's work as the United States Navy's chief engineer from 1842-1844, and his involvement in the coal and transportation industries.

The Correspondence series (155 items) is mostly made up of incoming business letters to Gilbert L. Thompson; outgoing drafts by Thompson and business letters between other persons are also present. The first group of items concern Thompson's service as the United States Navy's chief engineer from 1842-1844, addressing many topics related to naval engineering and United States Navy vessels. The remaining correspondence, dated 1850-1861 and 1865-1872, largely pertains to Thompson's business interests and his stake in various ventures. Thompson wrote and received letters about coal and oil industries, railroads, domestic commerce, and attempts to establish regular steamship trade between the United States and Europe after the Civil War. Many of the latter items pertain to the Norfolk and St. Nazaire Steam Navigation Company and to commerce in the South during the early years of Reconstruction. Thompson's prominent correspondents included Secretary of the Treasury Walter Forward, Secretary of the Navy Abel Parker Upshur, and Virginia governor Francis Harrison Pierpont.

The Documents series is divided into two subseries. The Legal Documents (34 items), which include copies of legislation, by-laws, indentures, and other items, pertain to naval engineering, transatlantic trade between the United States and Europe, and Gilbert L. Thompson's business affairs. Several items relate to the Norfolk and St. Nazaire Steam Navigation Company and to the American Iron Shipbuilding, Mining, and Manufacturing Company. One indenture relates to land that Thompson and his wife owned in Fairfax County, Virginia, and includes a manuscript map of the property (December 13, 1844). Financial Documents (14 items) are made up of accounts and other items pertaining to the Western Virginia Coal Company, the Coal Oil and Paraffin Company of Baltimore, steamship construction and operation, the USS Missouri, and other subjects.

Reports and Drafts (53 items) pertain to the Norfolk and St. Nazaire Steam Navigation Company, steam boiler explosions, coal lands in Pennsylvania and Virginia, the United States Navy, and transportation. Some memorials addressed to the United States Congress mention relevant legislation.

The Notes and Drawings series (90 items) contains technical drawings, manuscript maps, and notes about steam engines, mining and drilling equipment and practices, and other subjects.

Three Newspaper Clippings from the early 1870s concern the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, a property dispute involving General Bradley T. Johnson, steamships, and the sale of an iron furnace.


Lamb-Sykes family papers, 1680-1947 (majority within 1819-1911)

11 linear feet

The Lamb-Sykes family papers contain correspondence, financial and legal documents, daguerreotypes, and other materials related to the Philadelphia families' daily lives and business endeavors. The collection reflects their legal and mercantile affairs, investments, real estate, and involvement with the Mechanics Bank of Philadelphia.

The Lamb-Sykes family papers date from 1683 to 1947, with the bulk of the materials concentrated between 1819 and 1911. They form a record of the lives of the Lamb and Sykes families of Philadelphia, especially their financial, legal, and business activities. The collection includes approximately 300 letters; 9 linear feet of accounts, receipts, tax records, promissory notes, and legal documents; 60 account and expense books; 6 daguerreotypes; and 0.5 linear feet of school papers, family history, printed and ephemeral items, and other materials.

The Correspondence series is made up of approximately 300 letters to and from members of the Lamb, Sykes, and Norris families, between 1819 and 1907. Few writers sent more than a small number of letters to their family and friends. The correspondence reflects a variety of different activities and experiences, and many different geographical locations. Selected examples include:

  • Six letters between the Carswells and the Jacksons. Andrew Jackson and his wife Rachel sent four letters to Margaret and Margaretta Carswell between 1819 and 1822; Margaretta and Andrew Jackson each wrote 1 letter in 1843. These letters refer to historical events, such as the Treaty of Doak's Stand (Rachel Jackson's letter of October 20, 1820). In 1843, Margaretta wrote to Andrew Jackson about her intention to create a school for girls. The former U.S. President commended her for her proposal, and promised to spread the word amongst his female relations.
  • Five letters by Margaret Carswell, cousins, and siblings to Margaretta Lamb, from West Ely, Missouri, in the winter of 1837-1838
  • Approximately 10 letters between Margaretta and her husband, written when Lemuel traveled to London in the late 1830s. In these letters they discussed business and domestic life in Philadelphia.
  • Four letters written by Margaretta's daughter Margaret, during her travels to France and Germany in 1846
  • Six letters to Margaretta Lamb from her (former) pupils in 1851
  • Five letters by Margaretta's son Samuel, written from Panama, then San Francisco, in 1854. By the following year, he moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, where he wrote approximately 15 letters. In his letters from San Francisco, he described the quality of life in the West difficulties finding work, and the influx of people to the area.
  • Approximately 21 letters by Lemuel Lamb, Jr., in the mid-late 1850s from Detroit, Michigan; Superior, Wisconsin; St. Louis, Missouri; Chattanooga, Tennessee; New Orleans; Dubuque, Iowa; Pittsburgh; Marshall, Texas; and others. In letters to his mother and father, he remarked on his journey west, a cholera outbreak, his own good health, and his business affairs.
  • Twenty letters to Isaac Norris, Jr., from Jennie Carlile Boyd in Newport, Rhode Island, between April and July 1890. She wrote 15 of them on mourning stationery.
  • Approximately 27 letters from Harriet Lamb, Charles [Grugan?], and [Anne Grugan?] about their stay in Paris in 1851 and detailing the final illness and death of Margaret Lamb.

The Documents and Financial Records series consists of approximately 9 linear feet of financial, legal, and land documents of the Lamb and Sykes family. The series includes documents related to court cases; estate administration records for Margaretta Lamb, Franklin Wharton, Sarah Moore, and others; documents related to land holdings in Philadelphia, New Jersey, Delaware, and Rhode Island; and papers related to trade, investment, and banking.

The Photographs series includes 6 cased daguerreotypes. One postmortem portrait of Harriet Lamb in her coffin is accompanied by Philadelphia photographer Marcus Root's receipt of sale and the undertaker's bill for funeral expenses (1853). The other daguerreotypes are undated portraits of unidentified individuals and groups.

The Poetry, Recipes, Lists, and Fragments series contains 9 poems and writing fragments, 1 medicinal recipe, 1 recipe for cream pie, 1 book of lists, and 1 blank book. One poem, dated 1850 and titled "Fools and Their Money Parted," laments a decision to provide money to family members for the purposes of investment. The medicinal recipe is a "Cure for Cancer, Erysypelas, Humours, Diseases of the Liver, & Coughs" (undated). The book of lists is a volume of approximately 80 pages, which contains lists of books, Christmas gifts, prints, the contents of trunks, and other household objects (ca. 1880s).

The Printed Materials series consists of 2 circulars, 2 books, 16 stock reports, 23 issues of the serial Infant's Magazine, 2 pamphlets, approximately 60 newspaper clippings, and 2 engravings. See the box and folder listing below for more information about these items.

The Genealogy series consists of approximately 45 genealogical manuscripts pertaining to the Lamb, Norris, Pepper, Sykes, and Wharton families. One document regards Lemuel Lamb's immediate family, with birth and death dates for most of his siblings, and for some of his brothers-in-law. The Norris family genealogical materials include a 395-page family album with original and copied 18th- and 19th-century correspondence, photos and illustrations, newspaper clippings, and other items. A booklet printed by the "Provincial Councilors of Pennsylvania" includes a history of the Norris family. A similar booklet, prepared for an October 19, 1947, family reunion, describes the genealogy of the "Pepper Clan." The Sykes family materials are made up of copies of letters and writings documenting the early history of the family and their emigration to America. The Wharton family items include copied letters and writings, and an incomplete draft of the memoirs of Robert Wharton.

The Realia series includes 2 circular medals from the Bulldog Club of America, 1924 and 1925, and a metal nameplate from the urn of "Isacco Norris," Dr. Isaac Norris, who died in Italy.


Solomon M. Jennings letters, 1858-1877

7 items

This collection is made up of six letters by Solomon M. Jennings and one letter by William H. Mitchell to [Joab?] Stafford of Essex, New York, between 1858 and 1877. Jennings wrote, with phonetic spelling, four letters from Iowa, where he worked as a farmer, 1858-1860; one letter from Denver City, Colorado, where he worked as a blacksmith, 1862; and a letter from Deer Lodge, Montana Territory, where he successfully invested in a quartz mining endeavor, 1877. He discussed prices of agricultural goods and livestock, property, his personal debate over whether or not to move to California, travels and costs of traveling, financial struggles (loans and debts) and successes (investment), and the weather. Mitchell wrote to Stafford from Kansas City, Missouri, about local matters including the need for blacksmiths, in 1865. Both writers tried to convince Stafford to move west.