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Verstille family papers

Call Number: MS 522
Scope and Contents

The papers, 1754-1858, of the Verstille family of Connecticut consist largely of correspondence, although some business and financial papers are also included. The approximately 600 letters are arranged by family member. Each item and all correspondents are listed in the register.

The papers of the merchant Peter Verstille of Wethersfield and Hartford, Connecticut, and his wife Naomi (Ridgway) Verstille consist of letters from business associates and family members, dealing almost entirely with business matters. One particularly interesting letter comes to Verstille from Enoch Brown (1778 May 12), announcing his decision to sell a favorite slave due to anti-slavery agitation in Boston.

There is a small amount of family and business correspondence of Peter and Naomi's daughter-in-law Eliza Verstille and of her sons William, Tristram, and Seldon, and daughter-in-law Rebecca, but the largest portion of the collection by far is made up of the correspondence of Eliza's daughters Nancy and Charlotte. These are letters which the two sisters exchanged with each other, with family members, and with friends, especially members of the Dabney family of Salem, Massachusetts, during the first half of the nineteenth century. Charlotte taught at the Franklin Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, for some years, and then at a variety of places in New England and the South, as did Nancy, and their activities at their various schools are a frequent topic in their letters. Other often-discussed matters are Charlotte's determination to stay single and devote herself to teaching and religion, news of family and friends, church and social events, and the health of the sisters. Nancy suffered from a tumor that was surgically removed in September of 1817, and her letters describe the disease and recovery; there are also several letters from her doctor, John G. Warren. The letters of the Dabneys are concerned with all these matters and with the bankruptcy of their family in 1818, and a host of other family problems. The letters of William Caton to Charlotte describe his journey to Oswego and Sacketts Harbor, New York, and his duties as a naval surgeon before and during the War of 1812.

The collection contains a small amount of correspondence of Naomi Verstille's third husband, Rev. Joseph Perry, largely letters from fellow ministers concerned with church matters. His correspondents include James Dana, Selleck Silliman, and Chauncey Whittelsey. Also among his papers are a sermon, a letter to his son, and a letter to the father of his slave concerning the boy's purchase (1792). The remaining correspondence in the collection consists of letters, many of them unidentified, to others than Verstille family members. The collection is completed by an assortment of bills, receipts, accounts, estate papers, and miscellaneous items such as lists of furnishings and calling cards, arranged chronologically.

Many of the items are in fragile condition and must be handled with care.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. 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 Richard J. Hooker, 1955.

3.5 Linear Feet (2 boxes, 1 folio)
Related Names
Verstille family
Language of Materials