Through correspondence, diaries, and financial and legal papers, the Selden Huntington Family Papers document the activities of three generations of family members, residing primarily in Middlesex County (Higganum, Haddum, and Middlefield) and Old Lyme, Connecticut during the nineteenth century. Family members represented in the papers include Selden Huntington, his son Joseph Selden Huntington, and his grandson Joseph Selden Huntington, all of whom were involved in mercantile activities and oversaw family property in the area.
Loose correspondence and miscellaneous papers of all family members are arranged in chronological order in folders 1-25. Though these papers date from 1762, documents from the 18th century are very few. One 1793 letter gives the family history.
The bulk of the papers belonged to Selden Huntington, who travelled the East Coast procuring shipping business and speculating in land in Maine. The decline of Huntington's financial fortunes as well as of his health and marriage are detailed in his letters and diaries. Many letters to his business associates are found in his letterbooks (f.32-35).
Huntington married Jeanette Stewart in 1832. His diary records their meeting, courtship, and marriage, their trip to England soon after the marriage, and their subsequent separations while Huntington was away on business. Indications of marital difficulties can be found in the diary beginning in 1837 September, but real tension leading to a final separation can be seen in Jeanette's letter of 1838 September 23 and in letters in the letterbook of 1838 October concerning a forthcoming hearing of the case before the church in Haddam.
Many of Selden Huntington's letters date after his separation from his son Joseph Selden while the elder Huntington was away on business and the son attended school in Kents Hill, Maine. Letters to his son contain the day to day detail of life, of church activities, and temperance work. The letters are full of religious admonitions and concern for the son's financial security.
Joseph Selden writes of his life at school and, following 1837, of his attempts to establish himself in a business or in teaching. Besides his father, his other correspondents include former classmates, his former employer William R. Phelps of Suffield, Connecticut, a New York friend Gordon L. Ford, and his cousins Catherine and Sarah Huntington. Following the failure of his own business in Springfield, Massachusetts, Joseph went to seek his fortune in the South and West. There are letters from his travels from New Orleans, Galveston, St. Louis, Illinois, and Pittsburgh in 1846. Joseph returned home in 1846 to take care of his father's estate. The legal and financial papers (f.26-27) contain primarily documents relating to the settlement of Selden Huntington's estate. These include a complete inventory of personal and real property.
After 1846 the loose correspondence is extremely fragmentary. There are only a few letters from Joseph Selden Huntington to his wife in Old Lyme, some in 1880 sent from Fargo in the Dakota Territory. Folders 23-25 also contain letters of a Richmond family in Connecticut, William Hubbard in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, and Dr. Harmon Sawyer Herrick from Hamilton, Nevada, The relation (if any) of these people to the Huntingtons is unclear.
Joseph Selden Huntington, Jr. is represented in these papers solely by diaries, a letterbook of love letters from "Katheryn," a notebook of compositions, some of which were later published in local newspapers, and a scrapbook of clippings and memorabilia, all dating from Huntington's student days at Yale College. Huntington's papers show him to have been more concerned with social activities than academics. He reports his frequent cuts from class and chapel, an arrest, and eventually his dismissal. His papers end with his departure for Florida to seek employment as a journalist.
The Selden Huntington Family Papers were acquired through several purchases between 1944 and 1949.