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Street family papers

Call Number: MS 946

Scope and Contents

This collection contains papers from several generations of the family of General Joseph Montfort Street, Indian agent in Iowa in the 1820s and 1830s. Included are correspondence (arranged in chronological order), writings, legal and financial papers, genealogical papers, memorabilia, and other miscellaneous items.

The correspondence falls roughly into three groups: that of Joseph M. Street (1782-1840) and his wife, Eliza Maria (Posey) Thornton (1792-1846), with other family members, particularly Alexander Posey, from 1805 through the 1840s; that of their sons Anthony Waddy Street (1831-) and William B. Street (1819-) from the 1840s to the 1890s; and that of Ida Maria Street, daughter of William B. Street, from the 1880s through the 1930s. Throughout, the correspondence reveals the efforts of the large Street and Posey families to keep in touch despite their dispersal across the southern United States and along the frontier. While it is true that family disputes arose from time to time (see letters for 1811 Oct 28, 1816 Feb 22, 1836 May 17, 1850 Oct 29, 1851 May 30, 1852 May 23), for the most part great affection is expressed, not only between husband and wife (e.g. 1809 Dec 18), but also among members of widely separated branches of the family. Financial problems are shared and the consolation of religion is offered in times of sickness and death (1809 Jan 27, 1815 Feb 6, 1832 Sep 18, 1840 Sep 2, 1845 Apr 11). Other matters of interest include letters on local politics and corrupt elections (1808 Feb, 1831 Feb 17, 1839 Dec 4) and a campaign appeal on behalf of Abraham Lincoln (folder 30), letters about slaves owned by the Street family (1807 Oct 4, 1811 Jul 22, 1818 Feb 2, 1836 Oct 16), an indenture between Joseph M. Street and a free black woman (folder 48), certificates attesting the loyalty of William B. and Anthony Waddy Street during the Civil War (folder 48), a receipt for the sale of a slave (folder 50), and photographs of Ulysses S. Grant and of members of the Street family (folder 56).

Materials relating to Indian affairs include a letterbook kept by Joseph M. Street as Indian agent for the years 1830-1832 (the second half of the volume has been used by William B. Street as an account book); letters for the dates 1833 Jul 28, 1834 Jan 7, Jun 3-4, 1835 Dec 13, 1836 Oct 4, 1839 May, Aug 6, Dec 4, 1840 Jan 7, Feb 1, Feb 23, 1841 Apr 11, 1842 Nov 15, 1843 Feb 20; and a few other items concerned for the most part with the finances of the Indian agency (folder 47). In these materials are documented Joseph M. Street's views on the treatment of the Indians and his hopes for treaties with them, disputes among the various tribes around Prairie du Chien, and events leading up to the Black Hawk War in the 1830s. Also discussed are financial and legal difficulties in which Joseph M. Street became mired as Indian agent. Materials dealing with other aspects of Joseph M. Street's career include letters to his children describing his early travels to and life on the frontier (1836 Oct 16, 1837 Jan 25), a copy of a letter from Henry Clay (1829 Feb 16), papers, including a printed prospectus, concerning Western World (1806 Jul 31, Sep 2, Nov 8), and memorabilia such as his commission as brigadier-general (folder 48). In addition, most of the writings deal with Joseph M. Street and Indian affairs in Iowa and Wisconsin.

Information about the Street and Posey family trees can be found in folders 51 and 52, which contain notes on the two families and a copy of The Street Genealogy, published in 1895. The only item in the collection not directly related to the Street and Posey families is a daybook for 1795-1802 (folder 49) belonging to George Cheney, whose family was later connected by marriage to the Anthony Waddy Street family. It was members of this branch of the Street family, Mr. and Mrs. George Cheney, who in 1976-1977 donated the Street Family Papers to Yale University.


  • 1795-1933


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 Mr. and Mrs. George Cheney, 1976-1982.


1.75 Linear Feet (4 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The major figure in these papers is Joseph Monfort Street, who was an Indian agent in Iowa in the 1820s and 1830s. Half of the collection is made up of family correspondence (1805-1931). Included is the correspondence of Joseph M. Street with his wife, Eliza Maria Posey Thornton, and his sons, and members of the Street and Posey families.Topics discussed in the letters include religion, health, national politics and slavery, particularly in reference to slaves owned by the Street family. Joseph M. Street's experiences on the frontier are documented in letters and financial records. Also in the papers are writings by Ida M. Street, William B. Street, and others on Indian affairs in the Iowa territory (1899-1901) and a day book (1795-1802) belonging to George Cheney.

Guide to the Street Family Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Janet Elaine Gertz
November 1982
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

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