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George W. Patterson collection, 1841-1878

7 items

The George W. Patterson collection is comprised of correspondence related to the New York state textile industry and to New York and United States politics in the 1840s and 1870s. The collection includes 6 letters to Patterson and 1 letter that Patterson wrote to manufacturer Simon Newton Dexter.

The George W. Patterson collection is comprised of 7 letters related to New York textiles and to New York and United States politics in the 1840s and 1870s. Patterson's letter to cloth manufacturer Simon Newton Dexter of Whitestown, New York, concerns wool that Patterson and others shipped to Dexter; Patterson added a postscript about the destruction of the steamer Erie (August 9-10, 1841). The remaining 6 items are letters that Patterson received on October 13, 1843; on November 20, 1847; and from January 9, 1878-July 11, 1878. Correspondents such as Thurlow Weed and Charles G. Maples discussed political issues including appointments, the actions of Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel J. Tilden, and the Republican Party; Weed also briefly commented on Belgium and France (October 13, 1843). J. A. Upton, one of Patterson's constituents during his time in the United States House of Representatives, offered his opinions on the currency question, the Silver Bill, and greenbacks (April 26, 1878). William Henry Seward, Jr., requested advice about a potential land deal in his letter of July 11, 1878.


Patterson Family papers, 1825-1931

3 linear feet (in 4 boxes)

New York State and Ann Arbor, Michigan family; family correspondence, business papers, student notebooks, photograph albums.

The Patterson family papers have been arranged as much as possible by family member name. To avoid confusion and because the name George Washington Patterson was passed down from father to son, the series names have been given a Roman numeral to distinguish one family member from another.


Samuel Lyman scrapbook, 1827-1869 (majority within 1828-1839)

1 volume

This scrapbook contains correspondence, newspaper clippings, and other material related to Samuel P. Lyman, a lawyer from Utica, New York. Most items are incoming letters to Lyman about his involvement with the Anti-Masonic Party and Whig Party in the 1820s and 1830s.

This scrapbook (10" x 14") contains correspondence, newspaper clippings, and other material related to Samuel P. Lyman, a lawyer from Utica, New York. The volume's primary contents consist of around 230 letters, newspaper clippings, and documents about Samuel P. Lyman's political interests and professional career. Lyman frequently received letters from New York residents such as Robert H. Backus, Thomas Beekman, and William N. Maynard, and his nationally prominent correspondents included Thurlow Weed, Edward Everett, Daniel Webster, Millard Fillmore, William H. Seward, Henry Clay, and Rufus Choate. Most of the correspondence pertains to the Anti-Masonic Party, the Whig Party, and New York state politics. Some letters from the mid-1830s concern national elections and the careers of John C. Calhoun and Daniel Webster.

Other manuscript items include speech notes and occasional diary entries. Newspaper clippings often reprint accounts of Anti-Masonic Party conventions, in which Lyman frequently participated. Other clippings, circular letters, and reports relate to temperance societies, the Utica Female Academy, and the New York and Erie Railroad. Also included are invitations, menus, certificates, a political cartoon, a ribbon, and numerous calling cards.


Solomon G. Haven family papers, 1839-1895

0.5 linear feet

The Solomon G. Haven family papers contain the business and personal letters of Solomon Haven, a Buffalo, New York, lawyer and politician, as well as many letters concerning his wife, Harriet Newell Scott, and daughters Mary and Ida Haven.

The Solomon G. Haven family papers contain the business and personal letters of Solomon Haven, as well as many letters of his wife and daughters. The collection holds 185 letters.

The Solomon Haven Correspondence series consists of 103 letters written from Haven to James Smith, his law partner in Buffalo, New York; 33 letters to his wife; and several letters addressed to various political acquaintances. Most of the letters were written during the period of Haven's congressional career, with the heaviest concentration being from 1853 to 1856.

The letters to Smith contain scattered commentary on the Supreme Court, before which Haven argued three times, on Erie County politics, and on their legal practice in Buffalo. These also offer extensive commentary on New York state politics, including discussions of most of the major figures in the state at the time; references to the various intraparty factions; and discussion of the role of political newspapers during this period of political volatility. Of particular note is the detailed commentary on congressional politics surrounding the struggle over the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, the election of the Speaker of the House (1855-56), and a description of various party conventions in 1856, especially the Know Nothing convention in Philadelphia. By this time, Haven had become a fierce American Party supporter, a fiscal conservative, and an ardent critic of the political games being played by most of the Democratic, Whig, and Republican schemers in Washington and Albany. In a letter to his friend James Osborne Putnam (1818-1903), Haven wrote: "You ask for the Whig party. You would as yet ask in vain for any party here -- there is but little doing effective here for the future -- Cass and Douglass are playing high at the game of Weasel" (December 20, 1851).

Solomon’s letters to his wife Harriett (Hatty) were written between 1839 and 1858, and have an affectionate tone; their focus is largely on the many Washington, D.C., social events, such as parties, celebrations, balls, dinners, and other social/political gatherings, which he typically found tiresome. He was a regular guest for dinner at the White House. His letters relay information about who attended the parties, such as the wives of generals, congressmen, and the President, what the ladies’ were wearing and how they interacted with the men. An 1856 letter mentions the reaction of Elizabeth Spencer Cass (wife of lawyer and politician Lewis Cass) to the caning of Charles Sumner (1856).

The Mary and Ida Haven Correspondence series (39 items) documents two trips taken by Mary Haven to Europe. The first commenced sometime before December 1877 and ended in 1879. Mary spent her time primarily in Paris, leaving only for short excursions to Cannes, France, and Geneva, Switzerland. Her second trip began in June 1884, and lasted until sometime after August of the same year. This trip started with short visits to several cities in Germany and Switzerland, and, by August 29, 1884 (the last letter of her correspondence), she had returned to Paris.

Mary, also known as Ninnie, wrote her letters to her sisters, Ida and Antoinette, and to her mother, all of whom lived at the same address in Buffalo, New York. She traveled with other Americans including a traveler named “Puss,” who, as internal evidence suggests, is her husband, Charles Day. She often discussed her activities in Paris and the differences between life at home and life in Paris, her membership in an Art club, other social engagements, and her trips to other European countries. Her letters show, however, that she spent much of her time socializing with other Americans and British friends. While in Europe, she attended “English church.” As a member of an Art Club, Mary spent some of her time painting and taking art classes.

In two letters from Paris (April 29 and May 16, 1878), Mary wrote about attending the opening of the Exposition Universelle: she waited amidst hordes of other people and saw celebrities who passed near her, such as Queen Isabella and her daughter; the Prince of Wales; the Prince of Denmark; foreign ambassadors and generals of the French Army; and many others. Mary wrote a particularly interesting anecdote about a dressmaker, Madame Connelly from New York, who, in a state of drunkenness, told her that she purchased dresses and belts in France very cheaply and re-sold them in New York for an enormous profit (March 26, 1878). A letter from May 16, 1878, mentions the divorce of a woman whose husband cannot support her, possibly because he was an alcoholic. When traveling to Europe in 1884, Mary noted that writer Mariana Griswold Schuyler Van Rensselaer was on the same ship.

Seven incoming letters to Mary and a single miscellaneous item complete the series. Her sister Ida wrote two letters while she traveled abroad in Germany in the summer of 1880. At this time, Mary was living in New York. Alice Craven Jones, a family friend in Hampstead, London, wrote five letters in the 1890s. Alice offered hopes that her family would come to visit them overseas, offered condolences for the death of a loved one in 1890 (likely Mary’s sister, Antoinette), and related the news of Minnie Jones’ marriage to a lawyer by the name of Perks (1895). Finally, an 8-page unsigned letter to Ida Haven describes visits to small villages in Italy; the writer worked with the Red Cross and commented extensively on the manner, dress, and religion (Catholic) of the citizens.

Two items contain decorated letterheads: the letter from August, 24, 1879, has scenic pictures of famous locations on stationary from a hotel in Zurich, and an undated item (marked only July 15) features printed pictures of the buildings Sprudel-Colonnade and Muhlbrunn-Colonnade.


William S. Burns papers, 1860-1864;1886

64 items

The William S. Burns papers consist of correspondence and a scrapbook that document Burns' time as a well-connected Union officer during the Civil War.

The collection includes a series of 57 letters and documents written by Burns to his brother, Charles, plus a scrapbook assembled for his son, Ned, in December, 1886. The scrapbook includes a mounted albumen photographic portrait of Burns, and consists of a series of articles written by Burns for a newspaper. These articles include excerpts of his war-time letters (some included in the collection), but are more fleshed out, including more anecdotes and information than the surviving correspondence. They appear to be very faithful accounts of his experiences, based on first-hand notes. Among the better accounts in the scrapbook are lengthy descriptions of the Battles of Pea Ridge and Pleasant Hill, a good narrative of the Meridian and Red River Campaigns. For Pleasant Hill and the Red River Campaign in general, Burns comments extensively on the course of the battle and where blame for the defeat should lie, suggesting that despite the best efforts of Smith, Banks lost the day.

Strongly committed to the Union cause, but not an abolitionist, Burns had the unusual benefit of high level connections that allowed him to negotiate fairly effectively for military appointments that suited his tastes and abilities. Burns appears to have been very highly regarded by his superior officers and his subordinates, and maintained very high standards that led him to be a harsh critic of the military inefficiency of several "political generals," particularly Samuel Curtis and Nathaniel Banks. His high standards did not preclude foraging (stealing) food from civilians, though he was repulsed - not to the point of taking disciplinary action - at the summary execution of guerrillas and at being ordered by A.J. Smith to burn the residence of Jacob Thompson, Secretary of the Interior during the Buchanan administration, in retaliation for offences committed by Lee's army in Virginia. Burns was not keen to set fire to Thompson's house, but after allowing the removal of personal and family items, he followed orders.

Burns seems either to have loved or hated his commanding officers, and was as fixated on them as he was critical. He comments extensively on the performance of Union generals under whom he served, reserving his highest praise for A.J. Smith and Sherman, a sort of bemused appreciation of Asboth, and scorn for any who crossed them.