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Ebenezer Wells Webster papers

Call Number: MS 1174

Scope and Contents

The Ebenezer Wells Webster Papers consist almost entirely of the papers of Webster's carriage business in Plainville, Connecticut. Webster and Jeremiah Sanford Corban, his son-in-law and successor, were active in the carriage industry from the late 1850s to the 1890s.

The bulk of the papers is in the section Correspondence and Papers, which is arranged in chronological order. From 1858 to 1861 there is nearly a folder of material per month, each containing business correspondence, receipts, accounts, shipping invoices, and bills of lading, which document the brisk trade in the carriage industry prior to the Civil War. Webster was known as a manufacturer of side-spring "Concord" buggies, which sold for about $70.00 each. The bills and receipts document an array of transactions with dealers in lumber, wheels and wheel stuffs, hardware, shafts and shackles, oils and varnishes, carpet and upholstery, saddlerly, and coach lamps. Suppliers are from the New England region, most being in Hartford or New Haven, but orders come from a larger area. The shipping invoices note frequent sales to customers in the South, notably Albany and Griffin, Georgia.

With the advent of the Civil War, carriage makers in general suffered economic hardship. Not only was a principal market eliminated, but those individuals who extended credit to Southern customers were unable to collect oustanding debts. Webster makes reference to his economic troubles in a few letters to business associates. The quantity of papers for the period of the war is diminished, and receipts from wholesale grocery and newspaper vendors suggest that Webster may have turned to retailing to help stave off bankruptcy.

Webster continued in the carriage trade after the war, but apparently left the business to his son-in-law in 1868, when he and his second wife moved to Wisconsin. From this date the papers contain bills and receipts of Jeremiah Corban, who continued in the carriage trade in Plainville into the 1890s. Records of Corban's business dealings are more fragmentary than those of Webster.

The papers contain only scattered items of family correspondence which relate little information about the Webster family. Folders 94-96 contain receipts and other records of the Plainville Graded School from the 1890s, when Jeremiah Corban served as the secretary of the school board. Printed Material includes several illustrated carriage issues of periodicals such as Hub News, Carriage Monthly, and Varnish News.

The Yale University Library purchased the Webster Papers from S. Tenenbaum. The Library also purchased additional papers from Whitlock's Inc. in 1954.


  • 1850-1899


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

Purchased from S. Tenenbaum and Whitlock's, 1954.


2 Linear Feet (7 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The papers consist of business correspondence and other business papers concerning Ebenezer Wells Webster's carriage business and that of his successor, Jeremiah Sanford Corban, in Plainville, Connecticut.

Guide to the Ebenezer Wells Webster Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Diane E. Kaplan and William E. Brown, Jr.
October 1985
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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