June in the Archives

Another month, another 162 records added to the CHS online catalog! Earlier this week we reached the 1800th entry. Our original goal being 900, this was a fairly significant accomplishment.

Here is a quick look at some of the items cataloged over the past month:

We begin with an account book kept by Major John Bigelow of Hartford, Connecticut. Bigelow was commissioned Major in 1778 and appointed to manage and oversee the manufacture of clothing for the soldiers in the Continental army. The same year he was appointed by the Governor and Council to purchase cloth suitable for Connecticut’s officers. The papers consist of deeds, receipts, commissions, and similar documents pertaining to the Bigelow and Hillyer families. (Ms 75763)

The Dixon family collection contains two notebooks, some newspapers, and an assortment of correspondence. One notebook is a journal kept by Elizabeth Dixon while living in Washington, DC, as her husband, James Dixon, served in the 29th Congress. The other notebook is a commonplace book filled with politically related news clippings. Many of the clippings pertain to James Dixon. There are several copies of the Supplement to the Courant, the front page of the Connecticut Courant (Jan. 2, 1858), and a copy of the Army and Navy Journal (Oct. 24, 1868). The family correspondence contains a variety of letters and invitations. James Dixon was a native of Enfield, Connecticut and the couple made their home in Hartford. (Ms 76582)

John Cuzner was a soldier with the Sixteenth Connecticut Infantry, Company B between 1862-1865. The letters he wrote were to his fiance, Ellen. Cuzner was a prisoner who was paroled in 1864, after reaching a weight of only 80 pounds. Also includes transcripts of the letters compiled and written by his daughter Jennie Cuzner Sperry, evidently intended for publication. Of interest are two published songs, entitled “When the Sixteenth Marched Away”, and “The Song of the Union Prisoners” and a handwritten sheet with the words and music of the song “Yankee Doodle Dandy Oh!”  These are supplemented by programs for anniversary celebrations of the Battle at Antietam, and assorted printed material about the Civil War from magazines.  Seemingly unrelated but part of the collection are bills and correspondence related to Dorrance Welles of Glastonbury and other members of the Welles family.  (Ms 100904)

Slightly different from many of the collections this month are two volumes, containing the records of the Cornwall Creamery Company (formed in Cornwall, Connecticut in 1889) and a record of Cornwall property deeds from 1754 to 1819. The creamery records include the articles of association, by-laws, and notes from stockholders meetings. Notes from Directors meetings have been removed from the volume. The second volume contains property deed records from 1818 to 1873.

One of the benefits of this project is being able to match manuscript material with objects in our museum collection. Such is the case with the Horace Lay letter. Lay was a soldier with the 16th Connecticut Volunteers, Company I. He wrote to his wife while at Leesboro, Maryland, complaining that his heel was sore, and that there were no provisions yet. In the museum collection we have a plate originally owned by Lay (1950.368.0) and a photograph (2003.176.1-3) taken by him. (Ms 62777)

The account books of  Oliver Wolcott primarily comprise expense accounts and farm records. Wolcott was a Litchfield, Connecticut, farmer, merchant, and Secretary of the federal Treasury. The earliest volume, 1781-1785, includes accounts with the State of Connecticut, Chauncey Goodrich, and Oliver Wolcott Sr. The second volume, 1800-1803, includes accounts with Tapping Reeve, a record of apples that were planted in April 1801, and expenses for labor, meat, seeds, and textiles. Of particular note is an invoice of furnitures sent to Middletown. Several similar lists of furniture and other articles sent to Connecticut can be found in the third volume. Dating from 1800-1826, it records farming accounts, wages, expenses of stock, farming tools and other items at Litchfield, more accounts with Tapping Reeve, and records of purchases of plaster of Paris. One interesting entry near the front of the book records that Wolcott paid William Cox for painting 18 chairs. A record of notes receivable and notes payable are found in the fourth volume, 1809-1814. The record includes the date the note was issued, the length of time to pay it back, by whom it was drawn, in whose favor, by whom endorsed or accepted, the amount due, the date receivable, the amount received, the account credited, and how it was negotiated. Names appearing in the record besides that of Wolcott are James Kelso, Isaac Bell, John Graham, John Colvill, Alexander S. Glass, John Tappan, and A. Gracie & Sons. The final volume, 1817-1831, appears to be the record of Wolcott’s farm manager, who is selling wool, flour, lambs, pigs, fabric, cheese, and is recording wages. It appears from the entries that Wolcott may have had a wool factory. (Account Books/2010.208)

John Avery‘s account book stands out because of the items he was working on. A resident of Preston, Connecticut, Avery was a self-taught silversmith and clockmaker. He recorded repairing a number of different items, including tea kettles, brass buttons, combs, and even an umbrella. Later the volume was used as a farming account book. (Ms 79264)

The Rowland family sermons written by three successive generations  – David Sherman Rowland (1719-1794), Henry Augustus Rowland (1764-1835) , and Henry Augustus Rowland (1804-1859). Includes sermons labeled “West Division June 26th 1766. Thanksgiving for the Repeal of the Stamp Act” and “Occasioned by the taking of Fort William Henry” (21 August 1757). One dated 13 May 1759 is addressed to the soldiers going to Canada. Among other things, it admonished them not to plunder. Another delivered 7 December 1780 carries a four page account of Arnold’s treason and one dated 11 December 1783 is marked “occasioned by the peace.” Most of the later sermons are not dated. Letters are included among the earlier sermons. David Rowland preached in Plainfield, Connecticut, Providence, Rhode Island, and Windsor, Connecticut. His son, the elder Henry Rowland, also served in Windsor. (Ms 79809)

Thomas Williams, Benjamin Huntington, Jr., Jedidiah Lathrop, Levi Huntington and Felix Huntington formed a partnership in 1776 to manufacture saltpeter. Their factory was probably near either Norwich or New London, Connecticut. In this account book they recorded accounts for work, travel, boards, nails, rum, hooks and eyes for the Great Gate, trying Town House dust, cider, pulling down a chimney, watching the mason, digging dust, and procuring tubs, ashes, barrels and tending kettles. (Account Books/2010.215)

As we approach the Fourth of July, it seems fitting to think of parades, such as might have been attended by the New Haven Cornet Band. In their account book, the New Haven, Connecticut band noted  earnings for concerts in parks, church and ethnic parties, encampments, regattas, dedications, and parades between 1867-1879. (Ms 80530)

All of the above collections are open for research. Please come visit, but keep in mind we will be closed on Saturday, July 3 and Monday, July 5 for the holiday.


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