William Davis Ely family papers
Scope and Contents
Folders 10-13 contain letters written by Anne Crawford Allen, later the wife of William D. Ely, to different members of her family. Eighteen were written between December 1834 and May 1835, when Anne was visiting relatives in Georgia. In these and other letters, she writes primarily about relatives and her social activities, but in a December 3, 1834 letter she discusses a solar eclipse and in several talks briefly about slavery. She displays a sympathetic attitude towards the institution of slavery, saying in one letter, "I only wished that an abolitionist was present....He could not, I am sure, wish to change the situation of these poor but happy people."
The provenance is unknown.
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
0.25 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
Biographical / Historical
After graduation he remained in New Haven as a resident student, taking courses in the Divinity and Medical Schools in 1837 and 1838. The next year he became Tutor in Natural Philosophy in the College, and also began his course in the Law School. In the spring of 1842 he resigned his tutorship and went abroad spending much time in the study of art and antiquities, and during the winter and spring having the companionship of the sculptor, Philippe Grass. After a year in Europe he returned to Hartford and entered the law office of Governor Ellsworth. He was admitted to practice in the Connecticut courts, November 18, 1843, and March 6, 1849, to practice in the Supreme Court of the United States. In 1852, he made a second trip to Europe. After vigorous opposition from established companies he secured a charter for a railroad across Connecticut, the first section built being between Hartford and Willimantic. He was made Secretary and a director of the company. His efforts to secure a continuous line to Providence brought him in contact with the leading men of that city, to which he removed in 1856. This railroad extended to Waterbury soon after, and finally to the Hudson River at Fishkill, opposite Newburg, N. Y., was called the Hartford, Providence & Fishkill Railroad, and now forms part of the Highland Division of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad.
Upon his removal to Providence, he gave up active law practice and engaged with the Allendale Company in the manufacture of cotton. Of this company he was President and Treasurer at the time of his decease. He was a member of the Connecticut and Rhode Island Historical Societies, and of several patriotic societies.
He married in 1854, Anne Crawford, daughter of the Hon. Zachariah Allen, LL.D., a graduate of Brown University in 1813 and for over fifty years a trustee of that institution. She died in 1888, and a daughter is also deceased, but his only son, William Ely (Ph.B. Brown 1878), who was a graduate student at Yale in 1878-79, survives him.
Mr. Ely died from heart failure following an illness of ten days, at his home in Providence, June 11, 1908, having nearly completed his 93d year.
In 1886 he presented a set of magnetic instruments to the Yale Observatory.
(Taken from Obituary Record of Graduates 1907-08, pp. 843-845).
- Guide to the William D. Ely Family Papers
- Under Revision
- compiled by Bruce P. Stark
- December 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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