Skip to main content

Waterman family papers

Call Number: MS 793

Scope and Contents

Papers of four generations of the Nehemiah Waterman family of Connecticut make up this collection. Details of the family's genealogy may be found in The Waterman Family by Donald Lines Jacobus. The materials are arranged by family member, followed by general family correspondence and a miscellany of items not attributable to a specific family member.

The oldest items in the collection are a daybook and a writ of Nehemiah Waterman (1736-1802). The daybook contains records of meetings, deaths and marriages in Norwich, Connecticut, between 1757 and 1789, notes about the weather, family records and similar matters, and Waterman's records as Justice of the Peace for New London County, 1788-1789.

The papers of Nehemiah's son Elijah Waterman (1769-1825) are composed primarily of correspondence and writings. His correspondence consists of letters from fellow ministers with originals and copies of Waterman's letters to ministers and to his publisher. The letters written before 1810 are mainly from a few close acquaintances, while the later correspondence includes many letters from strangers interested in Waterman's work on John Calvin. A list of select correspondents follows the folder list. Waterman's writings include several lectures and addresses, "Memoirs of the Life and Writings of John Calvin," approximately 125 sermons, and short histories of several Connecticut towns. Other papers are the sermon preached by James Dana (1735-1812) at Waterman's ordination, a small assortment of estate papers, and notes on Waterman's life by his son Thomas Tileston Waterman (1801-1873).

Thomas Tileston Waterman's papers also largely consist of professional correspondence and writings. While most of the correspondence concerns his services as minister to various parishes, there are also letters from a number of temperance and moral reform societies. Among his writings are several hundred sermons and an assortment of other religious addresses and publications, including several lectures delivered at Yale College in 1821. Thomas Tileston Waterman's papers also incorporate a notebook containing genealogical notes along with minutes of the Providence (Rhode Island) Association of the Friends of Moral Reform, a few legal and financial papers, anonymous "Recollections of the Ministry of Rev. Thomas T. Waterman with the Richmond St. Church," and printed matter dealing with religion and moral reform.

Journals for the years 1848-1880 make up the bulk of the papers of Delia (Storrs) Waterman (1806-1881), wife of Thomas Tileston Waterman. These journals contain short essays and meditations on religion and history, some household accounts, and notes about Thomas Tileston Waterman's life, as well as diary entries which narrate Delia Waterman's travels about the country with her husband to his parishes in Illinois, Minnesota, and New England, and descriptions of her life, the raising of her children, and the recurrent illnesses and the deaths of family members and friends. Other papers include Delia Waterman's record book for 1825, a short record of her correspondence for 1878-1879, an account book and other financial papers, and several short writings. Estate papers of Zalmon Storrs, Delia Waterman's brother, are also present (see Box 10, Folder 85).

Thomas and Delia Waterman's son Thomas Storrs Waterman (1828-1913) is represented by five scrapbooks filled largely with handwritten notes and sequences of newspaper clippings and other printed matter on politics, religion, and history arranged by subject. There are also a few loose printed items and some notes by Thomas Storrs Waterman.

The Waterman family correspondence, arranged chronologically, consists mainly of letters exchanged between members of the Waterman family and of the related Southworth and Storrs families, but there are also a few professional letters of Thomas Storrs Waterman and Alfred Tileston Waterman (1832-1909). Enclosed in a letter of 1908 Mar 19 is an essay by the latter, "The Infinite in Human Education and Development."

The majority of the family letters are exchanged among Thomas Tileston Waterman, Delia (Storrs) Waterman, and their children, and describe the travels of Thomas Tileston Waterman and his sons, their careers, and their families. Of particular interest are two letters dating from the Civil War, one from Edwin Southworth Waterman (1845-1925) describing anti-draft riots in New York City (1863 Jul 18), and another from George Isham Waterman (1834-1884) while serving with the Army of the Cumberland in Georgia (1864 Jun 16). The Waterman family was deeply religious, as might be expected with three successive generations of ministers, and the letters are much concerned with questions of faith and the comforts of religion in times of bereavement.

The remaining papers in this collection include a sermon, journal fragments and other writings by unidentified Waterman family members, family financial papers, recipes, genealogical papers, seven photographs of family and friends, memorabilia such as locks of hair and pressed flowers, and an assortment of pamphlets, periodicals, newspaper clippings, and other printed matter dealing with political, moral, and religious issues, as well as with family members.

The Waterman Family Papers were donated to Yale University in two gifts by Mrs. Howard F. Reed in 1977 and 1981.


  • 1757-1954
  • Majority of material found within 1757 - 1911


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown, though much of the material in this collection is likely in the public domain. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mrs. Howard F. Reed, 1977 and 1981; and Fay C. Kaynor, 1990 and 1994.


Arranged alphabetically by name of family member.


5.75 Linear Feet (13 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The papers represent four generations of the Nehemiah Waterman family of Norwich, Connecticut. The principal figures are Elijah Waterman and his son Thomas Tileston Waterman, both Congregational ministers. The papers of Elijah Waterman consist of correspondence with other ministers, approximately 125 sermons, and histories of Woodstock, Pomfret, Lebanon and Hampton, Connecticut. The papers of Thomas Tileston Waterman also contain professional correspondence, sermons and religious publications. His wife, Delia Storrs Waterman's journals for the years ca.1848-1880, as well as essays, poetry and financial papers are included. There is also a series a scrapbooks kept by their son, Thomas Storrs Waterman with clippings and notes on politics, religion and history. General family correspondence, chiefly for the period 1795-1876, genealogical papers, photographs, financial documents, printed matter and memorabilia complete the collection.

Biographical / Historical

THOMAS TILESTON WATERMAN died August 2, 1873. He was the son of Rev. Elijah (Y. C. 1791) and Lucy (Abbe) Waterman, and was born in Windham, Conn., Sept. 24, 1801.

In 1805, Bridgeport, Conn., became his home. Here he was prepared for college in a private school kept by his father, with whom, after graduating, he pursued a course of theological study. He was licensed to preach by the Fairfield East Association, June 1, 1825, and was ordained pastor of what afterwards became the Richmond Street Congregational Church, in Providence, R. L, Dec. 13, 1826.

In Jan., 1837, he removed to Philadelphia, Pa., the change being made necessary by the state of his health, the result of a severe sickness. Here he remained until early in 1843, as pastor of the Fifth Presbyterian Church. Returning to Providence, he was instrumental in organizing the Fourth Congregational Church, and continued with them until the spring of 1852. He then removed to Galena, Ill., and on Dec. 15, was installed pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church. Leaving Galena early in 1856, he became acting pastor of the Congregational Church in Winona, Minn., and was active in securing the building of the house of worship upon which was raised the first spire north of Dubuque, and west of the Mississippi river.

In 1857 he returned to the East, and became pastor of the Congregational Church in Danielsonville, Conn. In 1861 he removed to Spencer, Mass., and was installed pastor of the Congregational Church there, June 5, closing his labors in Dec., 1862. In 1863, he removed to Monroe, Conn., of which place he was a resident until his death. He acted as pastor of the Congregational Church there until the latter part of 1868. During this time and afterwards, he assisted in establishing churches in Springfield, Ill., and Marshall, Mich. In the last three years of his life, he was prostrated several times by severe attacks of a chronic complaint, but continued to preach occasionally, until very near the end of life. He died in Stratford, Conn., at the residence of his daughter, which he had made an occasional and temporary home for a year or more previous.

He married, Dec. 11, 1827, Delia, daughter of Dan Storrs, of Mansfield Center, Conn. His widow, a daughter and four sons survive him. One son was graduated at this college in 1855; another at Beloit College in 1856. Yale College Obituary Record, 1871-1880. pp. 127-128.


ELIJAH WATERMAN, son of Nehemiah Waterman, Junior, of Bozrah, then a parish in Norwich, Connecticut, and of his wife, Susanna Isham, was born in Bozrah on November 28, 1769. He spent his early years in assisting his father on the farm, but exhibited, even in childhood, great precocity.

His preparation for College was completed under Stanley Griswold (Yale 1786) in Norwich. He came under discipline in December of his Senior year, for disobedience to the President's orders requiring him to room in College, but was restored to his rank in the Class three months later.

In May before graduation he took charge of a select school in Wethersfield, Connecticut; and in October after receiving his degree, he became the head of a similar school at Hartford, in which he continued until March, 1792.

It had been his intention, when he left College, to pursue the study of law; but during his residence in Wethersfield his mind received a religious direction, which deterimined him to enter the ministry. Accordingly, in June, 1792, he began the study of theology under the direction of the Rev. Dr. Timothy Dwight, at Greenfield Hill. He subsequently continued his studies under the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Edwards of New Haven, being at the same time a private tutor in the family of Judge Charles Chauncey.

He was licensed to preach by the New London Association of Ministers in May, 1793, and continued his studies until 1794.

In April of that year he went to preach as a candidate to the First Church and Society of Windham, Connecticut; and on June 23 a unanimous call was extended to him, offering him an annual salary of £145.

He was ordained and installed in Windham on October 1, 1794, and the sermon preached on that occasion by the Rev. Dr. James Dana, of New Haven, was afterwards published.

On November 18, 1795, he married Lucy, eldest child of Shubael Abbe (Yale 1764), of Windham.

He found his church cold, backward, and almost without influence in the community; while irreligion was rampant and aggressive throughout the parish. He devoted himself to his work with great earnestness, and soon aroused a new religious interest in the community. But his energy and zeal in opposing vice made many enemies, and after a few years so many of his congregation joined other denominations that his support became precarious. Finally, the sudden death of his wife's father, in April, 1804, removed one of the strongest pillars of the Society, and Mr. Waterman yielded to the advice of friends and sought a dismission, which was granted on February 12, 1805.

He was then employed for some time to supply the vacant pulpit in New Milford, Connecticut; and on January 1, 1806, he was installed pastor of the Congregational Church of forty-seven members in Stratfield, now Bridgeport, Connecticut. The installation sermon was preached by his friend and former neighbor, the Rev. Dr. Moses C. Welch (Yale 1772), of Mansfield, and was subsequently published.

He continued to minister to the congregation at Bridgeport with great acceptance till the close of his life, and about three hundred and sixty members were added to the church during this period.

His wife died on March 17, 1822, in her 44th year; and he was married, on December 24, 1823, to Lucy, second daughter of George and Alethea (Rowland) Wolcott, of Windsor, Connecticut, and widow of Captain Henry Talcott, of Windsor. She was born on January 31, 1780, and survived Mr. Waterman many years. He died of an inflammatory fever, while on a visit at Springfield (where his wife resided at the time of their marriage), on October 11, 1825, aged nearly 56 years.

By his first marriage he had five daughters and two sons, and by his second marriage one daughter. The eldest son was graduated at Yale in 1822, and entered the ministry.

Mr. Waterman was a preacher of considerable power, and of fervent piety. His theology was more strictly Calvinistic than that of most of the New England clergy of his dav.

He was for several years during his ministry in Bridgeport a successful teacher, both of students in theology and younger pupils. His interest in local history was peculiarly active and intelligent.

[bibliography omitted]

Franklin B. Dexter, Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College, Vol. TV, 1778-1792 (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1907), pp. 734-737.

For a chart outlining the genealogical relations of the Waterman family, please consult the Genealogical Chart.

Select Correspondence of Elijah Waterman


Chauncey, Charles (1777-1849; Y. 1792)1794, 1799

Dana, James (1735-1812)1794-1796

Flint, Abel (1765-1825; Y. 1785)1792-1800,1807

Lyman, William (1764-1833; Y. 1784)1806

Perkins, John D. (1769-1847; Y. 1791)1800

Swift, Zephaniah (1759-1823; Y. 1778)1794-1796


Austin, David (1759 1831; Y. 1779)1813-1814

Badger, George E.(1795-1866; Y. 1813)1814

Barton, Edward1812-1814

Barton, George1812-1813

Clark, Jehu (1767-1839; Y. 1794)1814

Dodge, David Low (1774-1856)1810

Dodge, Stephen1811

Eliot, Andrew (1780-1829; Y. 1799)1814

Green, Ashbel (1762-1848)1810, 1814

Hale & Hosmer, publishers1810-1814

Huntington, Ebenezer (1754-1820; Y. 1775)1811

McClure, David (1748-1820; Y. 1769)1813-1814

Ralston, Robert (1761-1836)1810-1811

Stebbins, Josiah (1766-1829; Y. 1791)1814

Stuart, Moses (1780-1852; Y. 1799)1813-1814

Yates, Andrew (1773-1844; Y. 1794)1814

Guide to the Waterman family Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Marguerite S. Witkop and Susan Grigg
April 1983
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Yale University Library
P.O. Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520-8240 US
(203) 432-1735
(203) 432-7441 (Fax)


Sterling Memorial Library
Room 147
120 High Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours