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Alexander Wilson collection, 1845-1846

22 items

The Alexander Wilson collection contains correspondence, trial testimony, and newspaper clippings pertaining to Wilson's attempts to abduct and shoot his sister Caroline in 1845 and 1846. The Wilsons' cousins, Nicholas C. Wilson and William Wilson, Jr., wrote many of the letters about Alexander's criminal activities and their attempts to protect Caroline.

The Alexander Wilson collection (22 items) contains 11 letters, 1 copy of trial testimonies, 1 manuscript copy of a newspaper article, and 7 newspaper clippings related to Wilson's attempt to abduct his sister Caroline in July 1845 and his attempt to shoot Caroline and their cousin, William Wilson, Jr., in August 1846. The collection also includes a letter in which Alexander Wilson apologized to his uncle for using foul language (July 3, 1845) and a letter from Alexander Wilson's nephew, lawyer Erwin N. Wilson of Brazoria, Texas, in which he commented on Alexander Wilson's imprisonment for the murder of a man named Smith and his attempted appeal to the Texas Supreme Court (date unclear).

Alexander Wilson's cousins, Nicholas C. Wilson and William Wilson, Jr., wrote most of the letters about his criminal activities, including descriptions of his attempt to abduct Caroline from Philadelphia in July 1845 and his altercation with Caroline and William at a New York City hotel in August 1846. During the abduction attempt, Wilson was accompanied by Alfred H. Jones, who wished to kidnap and marry a woman named Mary. The Wilsons' cousins claimed that Alexander intended to bring Caroline to Louisiana and take over her share of a large estate they had inherited from their deceased parents; Alexander claimed that the Philadelphia family wished to defraud his sister.

In their letters, Nicholas and William Wilson, Jr., described their efforts to keep Caroline safe, and explained the family's history and relationships. Caroline Wilson wrote a letter to "Judge Dutton," providing her thoughts about the Louisiana property (September 12, 1846). Letters from Alexander Wilson to his sister and aunt are transcribed and enclosed in his cousins' letters dated July 19, 1845, and October 20, 1846, respectively. In the former, Wilson threatened to take Caroline should she leave her uncle's home; in the latter, Wilson justified his actions to his "Aunt Martha."

The collection contains 9 other items related to Wilson's attempted shooting: a manuscript copy of an article from New York Evening Mirror (August 21, 1846), 7 newspaper clippings about the incident and Wilson's trial (August 14, 1946-August 29, 1846), and a manuscript document containing testimonies by Caroline Wilson, Jane B. Wilson, Nicholas C. Wilson, William Wilson, Jr., and other witnesses.


Anne-Louis de Tousard papers, 1659-1932 (majority within 1777-1820)

3.75 linear feet

The Tousard papers contain the correspondence of the army officer and military engineer Anne-Louis de Tousard, relating to his plantation in Saint-Domingue (Haiti), military service, and family life.

The Correspondence and Documents seriescontain 3.75 linear feet of material, arranged chronologically, and spanning 1659-1932 (bulk 1778-1820). The collection contains both incoming and outgoing letters, covering Tousard's service in the American Revolutionary War, his management of a coffee plantation in Haiti, family life, settlement in the United States beginning in 1793, and military activities in Haiti and America. The majority of the material is in French, with a few scattered items in English. Most of the letters have been translated into English; quotes in this finding aid draw from those translations.

After a 1659 inventory of property owned by "M. Touzard," an ancestor of Louis Tousard, the collection opens with several letters pertaining to Tousard's time in North America during the American Revolution. These include several lengthy letters items by Tousard himself with commentary on his French and American Army officers, the progress of the war, his attempts at learning English, and his impressions of several cities. In a long letter dated August 3, 1777, he noted the capture of Fort Ticonderoga by the British and the desire of Americans to put General Philip Schuyler on trial for its surrender. He also stated that everything in Philadelphia cost "a dreadful price" and that "the money here is discredited." In the same letter, he discussed the major generalship that had been promised to, and later taken from, Philippe Charles Tronson de Coudray and called the Americans "vain, disunited, envying and detesting the French." Tousard's relatives, including his mother, wrote the bulk of other letters during the period. These primarily share news of the Tousards' social circle in France and occasionally make brief reference to political turmoil there.

Beginning in 1786, the focus of the collection shifts to the courtship and eventual marriage partnership of Marie-Reine St. Martin, a young widow and native of Saint-Domingue, and Louis Tousard. Their affectionate sequence of letters begins December 23, 1786. In addition to revealing details of their personalities and relationship, the letters also shed light on their shared management of several coffee plantations and dozens of slaves. Louis' letters to Marie discuss politics in Haiti and France, show the difficulty of importing desired goods to Haiti, and express regret that he must frequently spend time away from her. The couple frequently articulated the idea that together they formed an effective partnership; in a letter of January 26, 1788, Louis wrote, "On my arrival I shall tell you my plans. You will tell me yours and from the two we shall make a single one." In another letter, he stated his dependence "entirely on [Marie's] good judgment" in managing their coffee workforce (May 3, 1789). The letters also provide details of plantation life, including the preciousness of wine and bacon and difficulties of obtaining them (June 20, 1787), Marie's hobbies and entertainments on the plantation (May 3, 1789), and the difficulties of feeding the slaves and workmen (April 3 and 6, 1789).

In their letters, the couple also wrote frankly about their slaves. Escape seems to have been a frequent occurrence; after a particular incident, Louis urged Marie not to become discouraged and assured her that "[t]he slaves will soon stop running away…. Try to make them be afraid of me" (December 28, 1787). In another letter, presumably after a similar event, Louis wrote to tell Marie that he had sent "two collars to help the Maroon negroes to walk in the woods or at least able to feel their stupidity in creating enduring shame for themselves" ([No month] 27, 1787; filed at the end of 1787). The Tousards also complained that their slaves stole from them ([1787]) and inspired each other to rebellion (January 17, 1788). In addition to doling out punishments to them, Louis and Marie also sometimes expressed affection for various slaves, and presented them with gifts of clothing and food. In one incident, Marie went further and defended a slave, referred to repeatedly as "The African": "The poor African was beaten by a driver. I have complained, but I could not obtain justice" (January 10, 1793). Louis also commonly worked alongside the slaves that he oversaw, and sometimes even noted, "I worked like a slave," as in a letter of May 3, 1789. The letters are especially valuable for the detailed information they provide on the complexities of the master-slave relationship.

Although Tousard's regiment attempted to put down the Haitian Revolution, the collection contains only a handful of references to fighting. The most direct, dated "September 1791," likely refers to an engagement at Port-Margot. On the subject, Tousard wrote, "I gave a lesson to the cavalry. I taught them to charge. Two cannon shots were fired at us and they had not time to fire again. In one minute we were upon them and cut them down." Thereafter, the collection documents Tousard's imprisonment in France and contains some material concerning his later military career and family life, including letters between Tousard, his daughters, and their husbands. Also among the later items are a small number relating to his consular appointments in Philadelphia and New Orleans. Two letters concern the quarantine imposed on ships arriving in Philadelphia during the yellow fever epidemic of 1798, the first of which (Timothy Pickering to Tousard; June 27, 1798) informs Tousard of the decision of Congress to prevent ships from Saint-Domingue landing at Philadelphia, ordering him to stand by in his capacity as Major of Artillery. The second is a copy of orders to Stephen Decatur to prevent the landing of a ship manned by "Frenchmen and Negroes," the latter of whom "have discovered a Disposition to outrage" (June 28, 1798). Tousard's letter of July 25, 1814, includes a detailed discussion of the attitudes of the French residents of New Orleans toward the Bourbons. Suffice it to say that Tousard, the Royalist, elicited the negative attention of the "Jacobins" of New Orleans. The collection closes with letters between Tousard's daughters, Caroline and Laurette, and several items concerning his death on March 4, 1817.

The Tousard papers also contain many undated items, which have been placed at the end. These include a significant number of letters by Marie, who frequently left date information off her letters, as well as a small printed portrait of Tousard. Also present is an uncut bookplate, showing Tousard's coat-of-arms, motto, liberty cap, artillery, and the right arm that he lost during the Battle of Rhode Island in 1778. Also of interest is a biographical sketch of Tousard, written by one of his nieces sometime after his death.

The Account Book series includes one account book with entries dated from 1813 to 1816. Louis and Laurette Tousard appear several times throughout the volume.

The Printed Items series contains two items, Histoire des Six Dernières Années de l'Ordre de Malte (1805) and Justification of Lewis Tousard Addressed to the National Convention of France. Written and Published from the Bloody Prisons of the Abbaye, by Himself. The 24th of January, 1793 (Philadelphia: Daniel Humphreys, 1793).


Auguste Hervieu Watercolors, ca. 1819-1830

1 volume

The Auguste Hervieu watercolors consist of seven watercolor illustrations attributed to French painter and book illustrator Auguste Hervieu.

The Auguste Hervieu watercolors consist of seven watercolor illustrations attributed to French painter and book illustrator Auguste Hervieu. These illustrations are not known to have been used in any publication(s), and while it is unclear what publication(s) they were originally associated with it is possible that many were produced in relation to Hervieu’s collaboration with Frances M. Trollope during their travels together in the United States of America in the late 1820s. A number of items feature inscribed titles in an unidentified hand.

The title and contents of each watercolor illustration are as follows:
  • [Boy with hogs] - a young barefoot boy wearing tattered clothing wields a stick while opening the door to a hog corral.
  • “Love among the Quakers” - a Quaker man and woman stoically sit near each other while cupid is sat between them. Both the woman and cupid have their eyes closed while the man looks straight ahead.
  • [Fourth of July event] - a tough looking well-dressed young man who has taken his hat off while extending a hand (possibly signifying that he is a ticket-taker) poses near an open stone archway leading to a courtyard occupied by soldiers in uniform listening to a man giving a speech. The stone wall next to the young man bears several inscriptions including “Order of Celebration of the 4th July,” “502 Hog,” “Declaration of Independence,” and a partially illegible inscription reading “Tales ? ? Slaves’.”
  • “The Village Politicians” - two men and one woman holding a child observe a sign that reads “Reportie - Black List.”
  • “Love among the Negroes” - a well-dressed African American couple sit closely next to each other on a park bench while cupid covertly observes their romantic interaction with a smile. The man can be seen using a monocle to intimately examine a miniature portrait kept in the woman’s locket while she uses a fan to partially cover her face. A white waiter carrying a wine bottle and wine glasses also looks on from the background.
  • “A Philadelphia Exquisite” - a well-dressed African American man stands carrying a hat in one hand while holding a stick monocle to his eye in the other.
  • “The sad reality on arrival” - view showing the interior of a house with a group of people (possibly the Trollope family). At the center of the room there is a comically large fire that appears to have been fueled by furniture that was hewn in desperation while several leaks are shown pouring through the roof. The woman at left can be seen holding an umbrella.


Benjamin Gilbert letter book, 1780-1783

202 pages (1 volume)

The Benjamin Gilbert letter book (219 pages) contains copies of 83 personal letters written by Sergeant Benjamin Gilbert during his service in the Revolutionary War (1780-1783). The letters provide a picture of a junior officer's perspective on the progress of the war.

The Benjamin Gilbert letter book (219 pages) contains copies of 83 personal letters written by Sergeant Benjamin Gilbert during his service in the Revolutionary War (1780-1783). The bulk of Gilbert's letters are to his father and other family member, living in his home town of Brookfield, Massachusetts. The letters provide a picture of a junior officer's outlook on the war.

Gilbert wrote these letters during his service in upper New Jersey in late 1780; during his stay at West Point in early 1781; and while fighting with the Marquis de Lafayette's troops at Trenton, New Jersey; Wilmington and Christiana, Delaware; Elkton and Annapolis, Maryland; and Yorktown, Virginia. He wrote the letters dated 1782-1783 from West Point and Continental Village, New York, where the army awaited the withdrawal of Carleton's forces from New York. Gilbert discussed Arnold's treason; the revolt of the Pennsylvania Line; the burning of Manchester, Virginia; southern hospitality; the exhilaration of the impending triumph at Yorktown; widespread desertion of Hessians during the evacuation of New York; and severe shortages of pay, food, and clothing. Throughout the volume, Gilbert wrote reflective comments on the progress of the war.

Several letters concern personal matters. Four are love letters, two to an anonymous recipient (October 14, 1780, October 19, 1780) and two that relate to a paternity claim made by a Patience Converse, with whom he was romantically involved (September 30, 1782 and March 24, 1783). Family news and personal finances are mentioned frequently throughout the volume.

For an annotated transcription of the letterbook, with a comprehensive index, see: Winding Down: the Revolutionary War Letters of Lieutenant Benjamin Gilbert of Massachusetts, 1780-1783


Benjamin Kite, Jr. correspondence, 1825-1828

4 items

This collection is made up of letters that Benjamin Kite, Jr., received from his parents and siblings in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, between 1825 and 1828. The Kite family, who were Quakers, shared news of Benjamin's siblings, discussed his father's retirement, and wrote about their religious views.

This collection is made up of 4 letters that Benjamin Kite, Jr., received from his parents, Benjamin and Rebecca Kite (September 28, 1825, and May 1, 1828), and from his siblings Nathan (March 30, 1827) and Mary (June 1, 1828). The Kite family lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Rebecca Kite expressed her belief that married couples, such as Benjamin and his wife Eliza, shared a common interest; and she provided news of Benjamin's brother Joseph, who was suffering from a grave illness. Nathan Kite wrote a humorous letter of introduction for "W. Kite," remarking that the traveler would be renowned for his trip down the Delaware River.

Benjamin Kite's letter concerns his retirement and his son Thomas's printing establishment; he expected to move in with Thomas, becoming his bookkeeper and errand-man. Mary Kite's letter contains news of each of the Kite siblings and encourages Benjamin to contribute to financial support for their parents. She also wrote about the family's move away from their longtime residence and reflected upon the impermanence of the temporal world.


Boston Mob Pennsylvania Tour and Cross-Country Tour photograph albums, 1891-1893

2 volumes

The Boston Mob Pennsylvania Tour and Cross-Country Tour photograph albums contain pictures taken during travels in the Mid-Atlantic States, the northern Midwest, Colorado, and California in the early 1890s. The photographs show city scenes and buildings, natural scenery, and travelers.

The Boston Mob Pennsylvania Tour and Cross-Country Tour photograph albums contain 213 pictures taken during travels in the Mid-Atlantic States, the northern Midwest, Colorado, and California in the early 1890s. Each album is 29cm x 35cm with titles stamped in gold on the front covers. Most photographs are captioned.

The first volume, "Pennsylvania Tour 1891," contains 77 items, comprised of 15.5cm x 20cm prints pasted one to a page and 9cm x 12cm prints pasted three or four to a page. The first 7 pictures and the final picture were taken at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, including views of battlefield monuments and a military cemetery. The photographer also traveled to Luray, Virginia; Baltimore, Maryland; Washington, D.C.; and Richmond, Virginia. A few shots are group portraits of male and female tourists, who posed once in a railroad car by a banner reading "Boston Mob," and many others are images of city streets and natural scenery, including a series taken in and around a natural bridge and Cedar Creek in Virginia. While visiting Washington, D.C., the compiler photographed landmarks such as the Washington Monument, United States Treasury, White House, and State, War, and Navy Building. Ferries, horse-drawn trolleys (running on tracks), trains, bridges, and railroad depots are visible in many photographs. Of note is an aerial photograph of the White House and surrounding buildings taken from the top of the Washington Monument and a group of 5 items showing African American children playing on a street in Luray, Virginia.

The second volume, "Across the Continent 1892," contains 136 photographs (9cm x 12cm each), usually pasted four to a page. Most items are views of buildings and natural scenery in locations such as Niagara Falls; Sioux City, Iowa; Denver, Colorado; San Francisco, California; Los Angeles, California; Seattle, Washington; and Duluth, Minnesota, as well as other towns in Colorado and California. The pictures show donkeys, town and city buildings, a cattle ranch, and rock formations, particularly in the Garden of the Gods; the photographer visited Seattle during a snowy winter. A number of photographs show a smelter in Denver, Colorado. One group of California photographs features orange trees. Other items of note are a "Spirit Picture" of two overlapped city scenes and a shot of Grover Cleveland's inauguration on March 4, 1893.


Brown Family Photograph Album, 1888-1895

approximately 100 photographs in 1 album.

The Brown family photograph album contains approximately 100 photographs (mostly cyanotypes) showing the home, neighborhood, family members, and friends of Phildelphia textile manufacturer Crosby M. Brown (1857-1906) and his wife Addie O. Brown (1857-?).

The Brown family photograph album contains approximately 100 photographs (mostly cyanotypes) showing the home, neighborhood, family members, and friends of Phildelphia textile manufacturer Crosby M. Brown (1857-1906) and his wife Addie O. Brown (1857-?).

The album (31 x 26 cm) begins with the birth of May Marguerite Brown in October or November, 1888, and focuses on the subsequent visits of relatives and neighbors, including the Mayers, Crosby M. Wright, and Aunt Ellen Smedley. Images include family group portraits, exterior and interior views of the large family home at 63rd and Median Streets, winter scenes at nearby parks, and views of the neighboring homes of John Bell, Mr. Hess, and Jacob Jones. Other photographs depict Brown family visits to Ellen Smedley at "Bala" in Bryn Mawr (Pennsylvania), to Norwalk (Ohio), and a fishing trip to Waterville (New Hampshire). Also included are views of mill clerk F. A. Reinstein in his office, and industrial buildings from 33rd and Walnut Streets in Philadelphia (possibly the family textile mills).


Caleb A. Wall collection, 1835-1850

8 items

This collection is made up of personal letters addressed to Caleb A. Wall of Worcester, Massachusetts. Several items pertain to his time at the Friends' school in Providence, Rhode Island, including correspondence from former schoolmates such as Joseph W. Aldrich.

This collection is made up of 8 letters addressed to Caleb A. Wall of Worcester, Massachusetts, from May 15, 1835-December 31, 1850. The first two letters, written by Caleb's brother Joseph, concern arrangements for Caleb's return home from the Friends' school in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1835 and 1837. In 1839, David Slade wrote to Caleb Wall about his experiences at the school after Wall's departure. Joseph W. Aldrich, a fellow student, wrote 4 of the remaining letters from the school and from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he later lived. Aldrich reminisced about their time in Providence, shared news of the school, commented on the happiness of his marriage, described a recent gathering of Haverford School alumni, and discussed his life in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; he taught languages at the Haverford School in 1850. The final item, a letter from T. W. Butterfield, invites Wall to work at Butterfield's office in Worcester (December 20, 1845).


Centennial Exhibition Judge's Notebook, 1876

1 volume

This partially printed, 208-page volume contains notes kept by Charles Staples, Jr., while he served as a judge of exhibits at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1876. Staples assessed products in classes 280-284 within the manufactures section, which included items such as files, razors, cutlery, nails, and lumberjack tools. He commented most extensively on a variety of "burglar-proof" safes.

This partially printed, 208-page volume contains notes kept by Charles Staples, Jr., while serving as a judge of exhibits at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1876. Staples assessed products in classes 280-284 within the manufactures section, which included items such as files, razors, cutlery, nails, lumberjack tools, and safes.

Charles Staples, Jr., a native of Portland, Maine, attended the Centennial Exhibition sometime between May and November 1876. He served as an exhibit judge for Department II (Manufactures), Group XV, classes 280-284, and recorded his notes in a pre-printed "International Exhibition 1876 Judges' note book." For each exhibit, Staples provided the manufacturers' names, the items' class numbers, the items' places of origin, and his observations. He noted which exhibits won awards, and often mentioned manufacturers who offered low prices. Staples assessed goods from the United States and from a number of foreign countries, which included Germany, Russia, Poland, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Egypt, Jamaica, Norway, Brazil, the Netherlands, Canada, Great Britain, Sweden, and Italy. Many types of items were associated with a particular country; Canada, for example, displayed a large number of axes and other tools used in the lumber industry. Staples also viewed files, scissors and shears, cutlery, axles, nails, hunting and cooking knives, rivets, coffin fittings, locks, and hinges. The final pages hold more extensive notes on safes, many of which were asserted to be "burglar-proof." A brief partial index appears on the last page of the volume.


Charles Cameron letterbook, 1805-1807

1 volume

This volume contains copies of letters sent from Charles Cameron, British officer and governor of the Bahamas. The letters concern dealings with prisoners, interacting with officers, courts martial, colonial law and the state of the colony, crops on the islands, small pox and other sicknesses, and preparing ships for service.

The Charles Cameron letterbook (359 pages) contains copies of letters sent from his governorship in the Bahamas spanning from 1805 to 1807. The volume has an index of recipients, organized alphabetically by last name. Most letters are written by Cameron (signed C.C.) though some are from R. Roberts, possibly Cameron's assistant. Topics include descriptions of dealing with prisoners, interactions with officers, courts martial, orders from governors, colonial law and the state of the colony, crops on the islands, small pox and other illnesses, and the preparation of ships for service. The volume also contains many examples of Cameron's written orders to various naval officers. Several letters are to Major Charles Henry Darling, lieutenant-governor of Tobago, who married his eldest daughter Isabella. Many items are copies of "cover letters," created to accompany documents not present in the letterbook. Of note is mention of a mulatto prisoner named Tannis (September 23, 1805), and discussion of legal issues concerning transporting a group of slaves from Turks Island (August 2, 1806).

Locations mentioned include Jamaica, Crooked Island, Turks Island, Harbor Island, Eleuthera, Santo Domingo, Nassau, Ragged Island, New Providence Island, Andros Island, Cuba, Liverpool, New York, Philadelphia, Spain, and France. Ships mentioned include:

  • Nassau, Felucca John Bull, Packet (page 260)
  • Cartel (page 274)
  • Havana (275)
  • Vesuvius, Viper (page 284)
  • Mars (page 304)
  • Pitt (page 308)
  • RedBridge (page 310)
  • Patent (page 311)
  • Favorite (324)
  • Pike (page 326)
  • Jamaica Mail (page 333)
  • Atlanta (page 341)
  • Swedish Schooner Ulrica (page 353)

Many letters note, in light purple writing, the date they were sent from the Bahamas and the name of the ship.