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Albert H. Kingman diaries, 1856-1859

2 volumes

These two bound volumes chronicle the sailing voyages and agricultural exploits of Albert Henry Kingman of Keene, New Hampshire. Sailing from Boston to New Orleans and back in 1856, Kingman described shipboard life and provided observations of antebellum New Orleans. Following his return to New Hampshire, the diaries follow his life as a farmer.

These two bound volumes (marked "volume 3" and "volume 4") chronicle the sailing voyages and agricultural exploits of Albert Henry Kingman of Keene, New Hampshire. Sailing from Boston to New Orleans and back in 1856, Kingman described shipboard life and provided observations of antebellum New Orleans. Following his return to New Hampshire, the diaries follow his life as a farmer.

The first volume begins mid-November 1856 and concludes mid-November 1857. He described his efforts to secure work on a sea-going vessel. While in Boston, he attended services at Trinity Church and Tremont Temple. He eventually secured passage, with the assistance of his uncle, as a cook's mate onboard the Milton from Boston, Massachusetts, to New Orleans, Louisiana, by way of Cuba. While at sea, Kingman detailed life aboard ship including the weather, especially the chronic lack of wind, which affected the Milton a sailing vessel. He also commented on marine life, ocean geography, and sightings of other vessels. Notable events included the addition of a hammock ("dream bag") to his cabin, hunting of dolphins, and sighting St. Elmo's fire. He also recorded the date of the inauguration of James Buchanan as President of the United States.

Arriving in March 1856, Kingman discussed homes and sugar plantations along the Mississippi River, and the tugboats towing the Milton to New Orleans. During his sojourn ashore, Kingman noted the architecture of Jackson Square and focused several entries on slavery in the city, including comments on fugitive slave advertisements and witnessing a slave auction. Kingman also discussed local news, such as fires, crime, and prices of goods. After a month in New Orleans, Kingman returned with the Milton to Boston. Kingman returned home to Keene, New Hampshire, to work on the family farm.

The second volume reveals Kingman's life as a farmer from late November 1857 to early June 1859. Most entries include details regarding livestock and tending to crops; however, he also included family news and mentions of social gatherings. He sang in the Congregational Church choir and attended Sunday School. He participated in a debate society for a time, was smitten with several different young women, and discovered a talent for marksmanship. Other topics include local politics, a hot air balloon ascension, and the completion of the transatlantic telegraph cable. Throughout both diaries, Kingman provided notes on various books he read.


Beeson family papers, 1765-1956 (majority within 1765-1898)

137 items

The Beeson family papers consist of genealogical notes, travel journals, business documents, and correspondence relating to several generations of the Beeson family, who settled in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, in the 18th century, and later migrated to Michigan and Wisconsin.

This collection consists of 137 items, including: 55 items relating to financial matters -- receipts, bank and stock records, subscription lists, etc.; 39 items relating to Beeson family history and genealogy, including handwritten notes, and a 33-page typed transcription; 11 letters written by members of the Beeson and Lukens family (related to the Beeson family by marriage); 2 travel journals; 1 daily diary; 1 oversized journal, containing entries on family history, genealogy, and travel; 6 maps, including one pasted onto the flyleaf of the oversized journal; 9 newspaper clippings; 6 legal documents; 7 miscellaneous items; and one unidentified photograph.

The majority of the financial documents consist of lists of stockholders and subscriptions for the Union Bank of Pennsylvania. One document, a receipt for glassware dated 9 August 1827, is written on the illustrated letterhead of the glass manufacturer Bakewell, Page & Bakewell, of Pittsburgh.

The history and genealogy notes concern the branch of the Beeson family that was instrumental in the founding and settling of Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Two descendants of this branch, Edward Beeson and Jacob Beeson (b. 1807), contribute diaries and journals to the collection.

Jacob Beeson's 1829-1830 travel journal (with occasional notes in shorthand) relates, in brief but lively entries, a journey from Uniontown to New Orleans, to help an uncle in the mercantile business. While traveling by steamer down the Mississippi, Jacob Beeson gives colorful descriptions of his fellow passengers and shipboard events. "We had scarce went 500 yds. when we were rous'd by the cry of ‘a man overboard'--drop the Stern Boat, etc. I rais'd my eyes from the book & they were immediately fix'd on the face & arm of a Slave who had pitch'd himself from the Bow of the Boat. He was between the Steamer & her boat when I saw him. By the time he got to where I saw him, he appear'd tired of his sport. He gave a piercing scream & sunk amid the Billows. The Boat was dropped awhile for him but twas to no purpose." (27 March 1829) Jacob describes going to the theater in New Orleans (13 May 1829); the landscape and climate of the area east of New Orleans (8 September 1829); a visit to "Crabtown", at Bayou St. John, where Spaniards subsisted solely by fishing for crabs (23 May 1829); battling a forest fire (14 February 1829); and the inadequacy of his boarding house fare: "For dinner, we have the standby dish of bacon, venison, cornbreads and sour milk served in tea cups, handed round on a waiter that for aught I know to the contrary performed the same service prior to the Revolution. For Supper we have the remains of dinner with the addition of coffee that would be better off than on the table." (16 June 1829) He takes several business trips by boat along the gulf coast. The journal ends with a trip North up the Mississippi in early 1830. A later diary kept by Jacob Beeson in 1873 records the business and personal affairs of a now-settled business and family man living in Detroit Michigan.

Edward Beeson provides much of the family history and genealogy in the collection. His handwritten notes, both loose and in a large bound journal, chronicle Beeson family history and lore, and contain names, dates, and narratives of his direct ancestors, and sketchier details of the wider Beeson clan.

Edward Beeson is also the author of two interesting travelogues. The first is included in the journal he kept in an oversized volume, originally intended for shipping manifests for the shipping agent Monson Lockwood, each page headed with an illustration of ships and a lighthouse. In this journal, Edward recounts a trip he takes from Wisconsin west to Kansas in 1866. He describes the towns he visits on the way, and reflects on the scars left by the Civil War. In Aubry, on the Kansas/Missouri border, his Quaker sense of outrage at the violence perpetrated by both sides is aroused by the abandoned and burnt-out homesteads:

"At this place a cavalry camp was maintained during the greater part of the war. From here the lawless Jayhawkers often started on their thieving raids into Missouri and this was also made a place to be retaliated on by the equally desperate and thievish bushwackers and guerillas of Mo. …Here a voice raised for humanity, honor, mercy, justice or freedom of speech was made the occasion for suspicion, persecution, and defamation, often ending in the murder or robbery of the luckless men who dared to think or speak. These scenes of violence, and the always present danger of life and property, had the effect of almost depopulating the country. The graves of the victims of violence are scattered over the country. The bare chimneys of burned houses loom up on the prairie, monuments of vandalism and violence such as the world has seldom seen. They stand there in the desolate silence pointing upward to heaven -- upward ever -- as if to remind the victims of war who sleep in graves nearby, that mercy and justice alone is to be found above." (9 September 1866, p. 78).

Edward Beeson's second travel journal is an account of a trip to Italy, taken by Edward Beeson and his family in 1877-1878. While his daughter, Abbie Beeson Carrington, takes voice lessons, Edward observes Italian life and customs, largely in and around Milan, and is particularly struck by the overall poverty of the region. Edward reports on the Italian diet, domestic arrangements, attitudes toward religion, and local funeral customs. He is present in Rome for the funeral of King Victor Emmanuel II, and attends celebrations commemorating the 1848 Italian Revolution against Austrian rule.

Five of the maps in the collection are hand-drawn survey maps, likely of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, dated from 1830-1850, with one undated. The sixth map, an undated, hand-drawn map of Uniontown, labeling buildings of significance to the Beeson family, is pasted onto the flyleaf of Edward Beeson's oversized journal.


Fenno-Hoffman family papers, 1780-1883 (majority within 1789-1845)

1.25 linear feet

The Fenno-Hoffman papers contain the personal correspondence of three generations of the Fenno and Hoffman families of New York City. Correspondence from, to, and between the family members of Maria Fenno Hoffman, daughter of John and Mary (Curtis) Fenno of Boston and Philadelphia, and wife of Josiah Ogden Hoffman of New York.

The Fenno-Hoffman papers contain the personal correspondence of three generations of the Fenno and Hoffman families of New York City. It appears that the collection was initially assembled by Maria Fenno Hoffman, who was the bridge linking the Fennos and Hoffmans, or one of her children. The majority of the letters in the collection are addressed to Maria, and those written following her death are mainly from her three children. As a whole, the collection forms a diverse and uniformly interesting resource for the study of family life, politics, and literary culture in the early Republic. The Fennos and Hoffmans seem all to have been blessed with literary talent and excellent educations, enjoying interests ranging from politics and commerce to publishing and writing, but cursed with short lives and disastrous fortune. Their correspondence creates a vivid impression of a once-wealthy family struggling with adversity and personal loss. Yet despite all of their connections to the centers of political and social power, and despite all the setbacks they encountered, the overriding impression gleaned from the Fenno-Hoffman correspondence is of the centrality of family in their emotional and social lives.

The collection can be roughly divided into two, interrelated series: the letters of the Fenno family, and the somewhat later letters of the Hoffmans. Within the Fenno series are 25 letters from John Fenno to his wife, Mary, and six from Mary to John, written primarily during two periods of separation, in the spring of 1789, and summer, 1798. This correspondence conveys a sense of the passionate attachment these two held for each other, expressed with their exceptional literary gifts. John discusses the founding of the United States Gazette in 1789, including a visit with Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia where he had gone to purchase type. His letters are full of political commentary relating to the establishment of the federal government in 1789 and the young nation's Quasi-War with France, 1798. Although Fenno's letters to his wife are filled with political opinions, he urged her not to get involved in political controversies herself, nor to form opinions of her own. Mary apparently felt free to express herself to her husband, but significantly, her letters tend to mirror his staunchly Federalist political sympathies. The collection also contains four letters from John Fenno to his children, in which he discusses the French Revolution (1794) and general political news (1797-98), while doling out some fairly standard fatherly advice.

All nine of the Fenno children who survived infancy are represented as writers in the Fenno-Hoffman Papers, each one of whom seems to have been blessed with literary talent. The most frequent correspondents among the Fennos -- Maria, Charles J., and Edward -- display an intense interest in the affairs of their family, and express a powerful attachment for one another.

The collection contains twenty letters from Maria Fenno Hoffman (1781-1823), wife of lawyer and judge Josiah Ogden Hoffman (1766-1837), and most of the other letters in the collection were addressed to her. The letters written by Maria were nearly all addressed to her children and contain information on the family, laden with large doses of motherly advice. Among her most notable letters is one addressed to Washington Irving, whose fiancée, Matilda Hoffman, Maria's step-daughter, had died shortly before their wedding day.

The young British Navy officer, Charles J. Fenno, wrote thirty-nine letters, all to his siblings, and the collection also includes one letter to Charles from British Navy officer Charles Williamson (1757-1808), advising him to take an appointment in the West Indies. Fenno's letters include detailed descriptions of his attempts to cope with the debts incurred by his brother, John Ward Fenno, his part in the Tripolitan War and the turmoil in Haiti in 1802-3, naval sparring between French and English on the high seas, and family matters. With the typical Fenno style, Charles' letters provide an excellent view of these conflicts from the perspective of a young junior officer. His last letter was written while on vacation at Coldenham, N.Y., five weeks before his death.

Charles' younger brother, Edward, wrote 69 letters to his sister and surrogate mother, Maria, and 31 to his brother, James, along with a few miscellaneous letters. As lengthy as they are literate, Edward's letters provide an engrossing, running commentary on all facets of life in New Orleans during the 1820s and 30s, when it was still more a French city than American. His interests range from politics to business, high society to love affairs (his own, as well as others'), the annual yellow fever season, death and dying, race relations, piracy, and military exploits. They offer an intimate and detailed view of Louisiana during the years in which it was undergoing a rapid Americanization, and Edward's membership in the American militia, and his keen observational abilities provide a memorable account of the changes. His last letter to Maria, written a month before her death, discusses the necessity of family loyalty.

Comparatively speaking, the other Fenno children are represented by only scattered letters. Only two letters survive from the shortest-lived of the adult Fennos, John Ward, both written in 1797. In these, Jack discusses the acute controversy between Benjamin Rush (1745-1813) and the Federalist Gazette of the United States. Three of Harriet Fenno Rodman's letters survive -- containing social news and observations -- along with seven poems, including love poetry to her husband. Harriet's daughter, Anne Eliza Rodman, is represented by 24 letters, mostly addressed to her aunt Maria Hoffman, that include excellent descriptions of politics, society, and race relations in St. Augustine. George Fenno's four letters, also to his sister Maria, reflect the tedium felt by an educated urbanite set down in the countryside. Mary Elizabeth Fenno Verplanck's nine letters describe social life in Philadelphia, Fishkill, and Ballston Springs, and her efforts to mend a serious rift between her fiancée (later husband) and her brother-in-law Josiah. The ill-fated Caroline Fenno apparently had little time to write before dying, leaving only two letters describing life in Albany in 1804. James Bowdoin Fenno's six letters concern the business climate in South Carolina and Georgia and, as with all other Fenno correspondence, underscore the importance of family ties.

The second major series of correspondence in the Fenno-Hoffman Papers is centered on the children of Josiah Ogden Hoffman and his second wife Maria Fenno, Charles Fenno, George Edward, and Julia Hoffman. This series also includes eight letters from Josiah to his wife and sons, consisting principally of advice to his wife on how to run the household and, to his sons, on how to study industriously and become a credit to their "indulgent father." The letters he received in his old age from his children are particularly revealing of Josiah's personality. In these, Josiah appears as a hypochondriac and as a literal-minded businessman obsessed with commerce who had difficulty understanding any mindset other than his own.

As a poet and writer, Charles never ceased to perplex and irritate his father. Charles was a sensitive, observant man and an exceptional literary talent whose ability to express his thoughts and feelings grew as he grew older. His 62 letters to his brother (1826-1834, 1845) and sister (1833-1845) include discussions of many issues close to his heart, from his literary career to the "place" of the artist in society, from the continual rack and ruin of his personal finances to his family relationships, pastimes, politics, and general reflections on life. His letters to George are pun-filled and witty, even when he was in the throes of adversity. Charles wrote nine letters during his famous western trip, 1833-34, some of which were rough drafts intended for publication in the American after his sister Julia edited them. His letter of July 22, 1829 offers a marvelous description of an all-night party, and the single extant letter to his father (April 26, 1834) exhibits an uncharacteristic interest in politics, perhaps to please the elder Hoffman. There are also five excellent letters from a classmate of Charles, written while Charles was recuperating from the loss of his leg in New York. These are enjoyable, but otherwise typical schoolboy letters describing the typical assortment of schoolboy pranks.

The largest run of correspondence in the series of Hoffman letters, and the core of the collection, consists of the 63 letters from Julia to George. Julia's letters (1834-45) relate her experiences in several residences, particularly in the Philadelphia home of Jewish philanthropist, Rebecca Gratz (1781-1869). Julia comments frequently on Charles's literary activities and George's checkered career as a civil engineer. Much of what she writes is commonplace yet her style makes each episode intrinsically interesting. There are no letters from George. Considering that George was Julia's executor in 1861 and was responsible for Charles's well being after being committed to an asylum in 1849, suggests that George may have assembled the collection. The only item in the collection written by George is a love poem written for Phoebe on their first wedding anniversary. He was the recipient of letters from his brother and sister, but also his cousin William J. Verplanck, niece Matilda Whitman, sister-in-law Virginia Hoffman, and nephew Ogden Hoffman, Jr.

There is a single letter from Ogden Hoffman (1794-1856), Josiah's son by his first marriage to Mary Colden, in which he gives friendly advice to his young half-brother Charles. Ogden appears to have been a valued friend to his half-siblings. He was considered the outstanding criminal lawyer of his generation. There are no letters from the servant, Caty, but there are several excellent discussions of her, particularly in Julia Hoffman's letter of February 18, 1837 and James Fenno's letter of December 1, 1821.

Among the few miscellaneous pieces written by non-members of the family are four letters from Rebecca Gratz, a close friend of the family whose name runs throughout the entire collection, particularly in Julia Hoffman's correspondence.


Frank H. Sterns papers, 1862-1863

11 items

Frank Sterns, a 21-year old clerk from Granby, Mass., enlisted as a private in the 52nd Massachusetts Infantry during the Civil War, rapidly earning promotions to Corporal and Sergeant. His seven letters and four incomplete letters cover subjects such as contrabands he guarded at Baton Rouge, a Confederate spy, and a brief description of the skirmish at Indian Bend.

The Sterns letters are a collection of seven letters and four incomplete letters written by Frank Sterns that describe aspects of his Civil War service. Two letters that are particularly noteworthy are the ones in which Sterns describes contrabands he is guarding at Baton Rouge, and a letter in which Sterns discusses a Confederate soldier who deserted, enlisted in the 52nd Infantry, but then deserted back to the Confederate side after gathering information. Sterns also provides a brief account of the skirmish at Indian Bend.


James Silver papers, 1872

12 items

The James Silver papers consist of 12 letters, each of which is several pages long, composed by Silver during his 1872 visit to New Orleans, Louisiana, recounting his journey from New York, where his family resided, to Louisiana, as well as his time spent in and around New Orleans. Silver included 39 ink sketches of people and scenery throughout his letters.

The James Silver papers consist of 12 letters, each of which is several pages long, composed by Silver during his 1872 visit to New Orleans, Louisiana, recounting his journey from New York, where his family resided, to Louisiana, as well as his time spent in and around New Orleans. Silver included 39 ink sketches of people and scenery throughout his letters. The rough voyage took him past Havana, Cuba, before he entered the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River Delta. In New Orleans, Silver wrote about the sights and sounds in detail, paying particular attention to the peculiarity of hearing French in the French Quarter, of taking a train ride to Lake Pontchartrain, and of seeing the Mardi Gras celebrations. The young traveler frequently mentioned African Americans, and included some ink sketches of them in his letters. Also of interest is Silver's discussion of the city's unique burial practices and the social implications of them (February 7). The 39 sketches, interspersed throughout his letters, show buildings, farms, the streets of New Orleans during Mari Gras, and beaches along the Gulf Coast, as well as portraits. Along with the natural and man-made scenery, Silver drew scenes involving local people of all races, including trips to the market, families, fellow passengers on his railroad journeys, and couples dining in restaurants. Additionally, he sketched different events he witnessed during his travels, such as a man with a gun approaching him, a production of Hamlet that included a severed head, a drunkard being arrested by an African American police officer, a bowler hitting him with a ball, and a cluster of "hackmen" arguing about the price of a ride.


John Peterkin journal, 1817-1819, 1837-1838

1 volume

The John Peterkin journal includes letters written by Peterkin, a Scottish immigrant to Virginia and Georgia in 1817-1819, to family and friends in Scotland and Pennsylvania, as well as writings by William Russell, a later owner of the journal. Peterkin wrote about his thoughts on slavery, the displacement of Native Americans, and democracy.

The John Peterkin journal contains approximately 200 pages of entries, including letters written by Peterkin to family and friends in Scotland and Pennsylvania, lists, copies of letters, and writings by William Russell, a later owner of the journal, which are scattered throughout.

The majority of the journal resembles a letterbook and contains correspondence that Peterkin wrote to his family and his sweetheart, Harriet, between 1817 and 1819. In his letters, he described his journey from Scotland, including smuggling a companion onboard the ship (August 14, 1817); his first impressions of the United States; his negative feelings toward slavery and the displacement of Native Americans; and his ideas about democracy and the War of 1812.

On July 5, 1818, he wrote a letter to Harriet describing a visit to Powhatan, Virginia, and for several pages discussed the story of Pocahontas and the treatment of the Powhatan by settlers, which he found reprehensible. He also opined that whites "have no right to this country." In an additional letter of the same date, written to James Ross in Scotland, Peterkin described the brutality of slavery, particularly in the Deep South. He further explored this topic in his last letter in the book, dated August 4, 1819, in which he called Georgia "semibarborous" and stated, "I read in the declaration of the independence of this Country that all men are born free and equal, but I cannot look out door or window that I do not see the directest lie given to the assertion… it certainly appears to any reflecting mind a strange view of contradiction, and were it not that it involves consequences of so tragick a nature, it would be truly laughable." Peterkin also discussed signs of western expansion (July 5, 1818), the aftermath of the War of 1812 (March 27, 1818), and compared his experiences in Virginia and Georgia (March 25, 1819).

The journal also includes writings during the 1830s by a later owner, William Russell, of Augusta, Georgia, who wrote poems, lists, and a few letters in the volume. Several of his poems concern the beauty of nature and his longing to return to Scotland, and his writings describe his travels in New York City (January 24, 1838) and Philadelphia (January 25, 1838). His entries are scattered throughout the volume, but the two hands are easily distinguishable.


Journal of a Voyage from Kennebunk to New Orleans and commonplace book, 1852-1853, 1857-1887

1 volume

This volume contains an anonymous journal of a voyage from Kennebunk, Maine, to New Orleans, Louisiana, and Cincinnati, Ohio, between December 9, 1852, and January 24, 1853, as well as poetry, short stories, and essays composed by a second unknown writer between May 1857 and February 1887. One poem and one story concern the Civil War, and the author composed biographical essays about prominent individuals, families, and other topics.

This volume contains an anonymous journal of a voyage from Kennebunk, Maine, to New Orleans, Louisiana, and Cincinnati, Ohio, between December 9, 1852, and January 24, 1853 (21 pages), as well as poetry, short stories, and essays composed by a second unknown writer between May 1857 and February 1887 (117 pages). One poem and one story concern the Civil War, and the author frequently composed biographical essays about prominent individuals, families, and other topics.

The first 21 pages, titled "Journal of a voyage from Kennebunk to New Orleans," are made up of daily diary entries composed during a voyage from Maine to Louisiana and from Louisiana to Ohio. The author embarked from Kennebunk, Maine, onboard the Golden Eagle (commanded by Captain Nathaniel Thompson) on December 9, 1852, and made daily observations about life at sea. As the Golden Eagle approached Florida in late December, he described the scenery in the Bahamas, the Florida Keys, and coastal Louisiana. On one occasion, the ship encountered a boat transporting slaves to New Orleans. The author arrived in New Orleans on December 28, where he wrote about some of his experiences in the city, such as a visit to the cattle market. On January 12, he boarded the steamer Yorktown for a journey up the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers to Cincinnati. He noted the cities passed along the way, such as Vicksburg and Memphis, and described southern plantations, making note of their use of slave labor. On January 15, he reported that the Yorktown had taken a newly purchased African American family onboard, who entertained the passengers with dancing and music. By the final entry, dated January 24, 1853, the author had just passed Evansville, Indiana.

The volume also contains a commonplace book, in which the writer composed 117 pages of poetry, short stories, and essay. Several poems are translations of German poems by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Ludwig Uhland, and others appear to be original compositions. Among the latter is "Our Native Land," a patriotic verse written in March 1863, and additional poetry dated June 1869. The author wrote one short story in March 1862. An essay, "the Presentiment," consists of recollections of a war-era soldiers' relief society worker and a story respecting a woman's premonition of her own death. Biographical sketches and essays comprise most of the remaining material and are often annotated with small edits. Persons of interest include Horace Walpole, William Cowper, Nassau family members, Michael Faraday, Sir Philip Sidney, Norman Macleod, Dr. John Brown, and Henry of Navarre. Other essays concern the "Besor brook" in Judaea, the rivers of Babylon, and the telegraph.

A financial account between Charles Thompson and Nathaniel L. Thompson, settled in Kennebunk, Maine, on January 1, 1856, is laid into the volume.


Nathaniel J. Wyeth collection, 1831-1853

0.25 linear feet

This collection is primarily made up of incoming letters to Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Wyeth corresponded with his siblings, cousins, and other family members about his travels to Oregon, their personal lives, and finances.

This collection (139 items) is primarily made up of incoming letters to Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Wyeth corresponded with his siblings, cousins, and other family members about his travels to Oregon, their personal lives, and finances.

Between September 1831-February 1832, Nathaniel received 4 letters from Jacob Wyeth, his brother, about preparations for their expedition to Oregon. Jacob later provided news from Galena, Illinois, where he married and settled down after his time in Oregon. From 1834-1848, Nathaniel J. Wyeth, his wife Elizabeth, and other family members received personal letters from members of the Wyeth, Jarvis, and Clark families, often concerning travel, religion, and family news. In 1841, Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth wrote a series of letters to his wife about a visit to New Orleans, Louisiana. The bulk of the letters from 1848-1851 are short missives from Nathaniel's brother Leonard regarding the brothers' financial affairs.


New York Woman's travel journal, 1888-1889

1 volume

The New York Woman's travel journal chronicles two trips undertaken by a woman and her father. In March and April 1888, the pair traveled across the country to New Orleans, and in June 1889 to Scotland and England.

The New York Woman's travel journal chronicles two trips undertaken by a woman and her father. In March and April 1888, the pair traveled across the country to New Orleans (pp. 1-52), and in June 1889 to Scotland and England (pp. 54-93). The cover of the volume bears a silver inlaid illustration entitled "Composition," and opens with the father and daughter embarking on a Pullman car on March 19, 1888, bound for "the West" from Jersey City. During their railroad journey, they traveled through Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and St. Louis, where they remained for a short stopover before heading south. Between St. Louis and Little Rock, their train collided with another vehicle, killing an engineer and delaying their arrival in the Arkansas capital, where they stayed for an additional week. The 12-page narrative of this leg of the trip is colored by anecdotes and descriptions of fellow passengers, and is followed by a lengthy account of the pair's time in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and in New Orleans. In Vicksburg, the tourists made note of Civil War-era caves used during the city's siege, and visited a Civil War cemetery, which the author found profoundly moving. Once in "thoroughly Southern" New Orleans, the writer described in detail the sights and sounds of the city, and frequently mentioned popular tourist destinations; she also noted the "swarms of little darkies" and other African Americans she encountered throughout her time in the city. She and her father left New Orleans on the steamboat Knickerbocker on April 19, and returned to New York via the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic Coast; upon her return, she reflected briefly on the positive impact the trip had on her worldview.

The second portion of the volume is titled "Letters written during our stay in England and Scotland in the summer of 1889," and is about the author's transatlantic voyage from New York to Glasgow on the State of Georgia, and the opening stages of her European adventures. After writing about the pleasant 12-day voyage, the diarist described several sights throughout Scotland, including a detailed depiction of Edinburgh Castle, complete with a brief history of the structure. York was their next destination, and they moved thence by rail to London, where sightseeing resumed in full force. The pair, along with a traveling companion named Leslie, proceeded to take in a thorough tourist's view of London, including several bus trips around the city and the requisite visits to St. Margaret's Church and Westminster Abbey. While in Europe, the author often reflected on how easily she was identified as an American, and on local social customs. The volume also recalls a visit to the British Museum to see the Magna Carta (pp. 92-93), but its final entry, dated July 4, 1889, is cut off just as the author catches a glimpse of Queen Victoria at a garden party.


Samuel C. Taylor journal, 1863; 1890

295 pages

From about 1860 through at least the end of the Civil War, Samuel C. Taylor worked as a salesman for the Philadelphia clothing firm of Charles Stokes & Co. The 1863 portion of his journal contains almost daily entries between February and May, vividly describing his travels from Philadelphia to Memphis and social life in Memphis during the Civil War. The 1890 portion of the journal consists of seven humorous essays, which are highly stereotypical, possibly semi-fictional, depictions of life in the south.

The Taylor journal is a single, 3/4 leather-bound volume in two sequential parts, the first dated 1863, the second, 1890. The journal is probably a transcript made in 1890 or 1891 from the original, based on the style of binding and paper, and the continuity in handwriting and pen between the two dated parts. The 1863 portion, 260 pages long, takes the form of almost daily journal entries from the time of Taylor's departure from Philadelphia on February 16th, through his stay in Memphis, until his return to Philadelphia on May 16th, and is uniformly well written and interesting. It is a far more polished piece of writing than many journals, and may have been corrected or embellished at the time of its transcription. At its best, Taylor's prose has the feeling of Mark Twain's exuberant descriptions of life on the Mississippi, leavened with the cynical undercurrents of Melville's Confidence Man., and though it is brief, covering only a four months' residence, the journal is a valuable social record of life in wartime Memphis as seen by a person come to take advantage of the quick money to be made. Taylor has a preference for the "colorful" aspects of life in Memphis, and includes vivid descriptions of the shoddy accommodations, the venality and corruption, rampant violence and crime, and of soldiers, prostitutes, rebels, drunks and rowdies. Throughout, he displays an eye for the telling detail, a good sense of humor, and an unerring flair for making a good story out of difficult circumstances.

Among the several highlights in the journal is an excellent description of the steamboat trip to Memphis, during which a "Jewish" swindler/gambler managed to con his way out of several tight spots by his using his wits and his finesse with cards. Once in Memphis, Taylor provides memorable descriptions of the city in all its war-time depravity, and vivid accounts of long lines of ragged, worn-out soldiers marching in to town, of murder, robbery and charlatanism, of prostitutes and drunks shouting and shooting in the streets, and of the characters, like himself, who have descended on the city to turn a quick profit, legally or illegally. Taylor was somewhat less accomplished in his poetry, though his poem about life in Memphis during the war is an amusing, sarcastic look at the closet secessionists of the city, Memphis' cheerless, malattired women, crime, and the amusement he occasionally found, including listening to the "darkies" singing. One quatrain summarizes his attitudes well: "What an awfull place to live in / Now I'll stop or freighten you (sic) / Yet upon my word of honor / What I've written you is true" (p. 106).

Taylor's attitude toward Jews, synonymous with swindling merchants in his mind, and African-Americans is highly stereotyped. He is, however, somewhat sympathetic toward slaves and freedmen even as he is willing to have a laugh at their expense. In Memphis, he attended a religious service for freedmen delivered by a mulatto preacher named Revels. Taylor was genuinely moved by the sermon, and seems to have agreed with its message. He is also somewhat sympathetic with the "contrabands" he sees being trampled by Union soldiers, or boating up river, half-dressed and hungry to a mission in Missouri. In general, though, Taylor is inclined toward a cynical view of strangers, and is always on his guard for the cons and crooks that were abundant in Memphis.

The 1890 portion of the Taylor journal consists of seven humorous essays, which are highly stereotypical, possibly semi-fictional, depictions of life in the south. They include:

  1. "Sketches from the South," (Chattanooga, April 3, 1890: p. 263-268)
  2. "A Kentucky Wheelman," (Louisville, Ky., April 20, 1890: p. 269-271)
  3. "A Hodoo Doctor" (Birmingham, Ala., April 30, 1890: p. 272-275)
  4. "The Negro Drill Workers" (Memphis, Tenn., May 2, 1890: p. 276-279)
  5. "The Georgia Cracker, The Alabama Razor Back" (Atlanta, Ga., May 10, 1890: p. 280-284)
  6. "New Orleans, La." (May 20, 1890, New Orleans: p. 285-293)
  7. "Pensacola, Florida" (September 20, 1890, Pensacola: p. 293-295)

These essays are the interesting products of a talented writer, who, though sympathetic observer of southern society, is nevertheless mired in the ingrained attitudes and prejudices of his day. In the first essay, Taylor discusses the phenotype of African-Americans and the several "clases or sets" that comprise the African-American community in the South, from the rich, to the merchants, mechanics, drill men, tramps and the "poor old uncle." "The hoodoo doctor" and "The Negro drill workers" are somewhat longer essays along the same lines, and are written as first hand experiences. In "A Kentucky wheelman" and "The Georgia cracker, the Alabama razorback," Taylor turns his eye to the poor white community in the deep South, and paints a dismal view of the state of their culture. Essays 3, 4, and 5 also include crude, pen and ink illustrations of the subjects of the essay.