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Guide to the James Witter Nicholson Family Letters

MSN/EA 5002

 

Collection Summary

Title: James Witter Nicholson Family Letters
Dates: 1804-1848
Collection No.: MSN/EA 5002
Creator: Nicholson, James Witter, 1773-1851
Creator: Montgomery, Maria Nicholson, 1775-1868
Creator: Few, Catharine Nicholson, 1764-1850
Creator: Christie, Thomas, 1808-1880
Extent: 58 letters; 1 container
Language: Collection material in English
Repository: University of Notre Dame. Hesburgh Libraries, Department of Special Collections. 102 Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Abstract: The collection consists mostly of family letters directed to James Witter Nicholson of New Geneva, Pennsylvania, during the first half of the nineteenth century. The chief correspondent is Nicholson's sister, Maria Nicholson Montgomery

Selected Search Terms

New York (N. Y.) -- Social life and customs -- 19th century
Baltimore, Battle of, Baltimore, Md., 1814
Gallatin, Albert, 1761-1849

Administrative Information

Restrictions: There are no access restrictions on this collection

Preferred Citation: James Witter Nicholson Family Letters, Department of Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.

Acquisition and Processing Note: The Nicholson letters were purchased by the Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame in 2003, from Dan Casavant Rare Books of Waterville ME. They were arranged and described in 2003, by George Rugg. Finding aid 2008, by George Rugg.

Biographical Note

The majority of the letters in this family correspondence were directed to James Witter Nicholson (1773-1851), of New Geneva, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Most were written by Nicholson's sisters, especially Maria Nicholson Montgomery (1775-1868), of New York and Baltimore. The Nicholsons' father, James Nicholson (1737-1804), was a Maryland native who, like others in the family then and later, went to sea at an early age. In 1763 he made an advantageous marriage to Frances Witter (1744-1832), the only child of a prosperous Bermudian merchant, and settled in New York. With the coming of the Revolution Nicholson joined the Continental navy, commanding vessels in several actions and becoming, through a Congressional resolution of October 1776, the young service's senior captain—hence the "Commodore" familiarly attached to his name in later life. After the war Nicholson turned his attention to politics. From his home on William Street, and from his summer residence at Greenwich, north of New York City, he became an influential figure in the local anti-Federalist circles, serving for a time as president of the Democratic Society of the City of New York. Four of his five daughters married men active in public life. The eldest, Catharine (1764-1850), wed Colonel William Few (1748-1828), who represented Georgia at the Constitutional Convention and served as one of that state's original U. S. Senators. Hannah Nicholson (1766-1849) was the second wife (m. 1793) of Albert Gallatin, the chief architect of Democratic-Republican financial policy and Secretary of the Treasury under Jefferson and Madison. Gallatin's intimacy with his in-laws—he typically spent a good part of the summer with the Nicholsons, at least until his departure for Europe in 1813—confirmed the family's position among New York's Republican elite, even after the death of James Nicholson in 1804. Also contributing to the family's political prominence was "Cousin Joseph," Joseph Hopper Nicholson of Maryland (1770-1817), elected as a Republican to the Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Congresses. The Nicholsons' third daughter, Frances (1771-1851), married Joshua Seney (1756-1798), who served Maryland in both the Continental and United States Congresses. Jehoiadden Nicholson, called Adden (1783-1828), youngest of the five daughters, married a Presbyterian clergyman named James W. Chrystie (1786-1863).

The fourth Nicholson daughter (and primary author of the letters), Maria Nicholson, did not marry until her thirty-fourth year, and so spent her young adulthood at the William Street and Greenwich homes during the heyday of the family's political influence. In 1809 she wed a Republican congressman, John Montgomery (1764-1828) of Harford County, Maryland, then in the midst of three consecutive terms in the U. S. House of Representatives. The couple moved to Baltimore in 1811, when Montgomery became state attorney general, and were still residing there during the British campaign of 1814; both Montgomery and Joseph Nicholson fought in defense of the city. Maria Montgomery would remain in Baltimore through her husband's tenure as the city's mayor (1820-26), moving back to New York only after his death in 1828. The couple's only child, James Nicholson Montgomery, died in 1814. In her later years Maria appears to have remained financially independent, though the tone of her letters darkens, and their content is increasingly informed by her Presbyterian faith. She died in 1868, aged 93.

James Witter Nicholson, the recipient of most of the letters, was the only son of James and Frances Nicholson to survive to adulthood. His settlement on the western Pennsylvania frontier was an immediate consequence of his sister's marriage to Albert Gallatin. Nicholson was one of five original investors in Albert Gallatin & Co., a partnership aimed at developing business interests along the Monongahela River in Fayette County, where Gallatin owned land. In 1795 Nicholson went west with his partners to found the community of New Geneva, working to establish a general mercantile store, mills, and subsequently a glassworks. The partnership ended in 1799, with Gallatin assuming complete ownership of the group's assets. Because Gallatin's political obligations limited the amount of time he could spend in the West, James Nicholson stayed on to oversee his interests. He would remain in New Geneva for the rest of his life, though to no enduring financial advantage; the Gallatin glassworks failed in 1822, and the rest of the western properties were sold off in the early 1830s. During the 1820s Nicholson served as New Geneva's postmaster. To judge by his sisters' letters, his later years were unhappy ones, plagued by debt, family difficulties and tragedies (including the deaths, between 1832 and 1847, of his wife and four of his children), and poor health. He died at New Geneva in 1851.

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains two discrete series of letters. The larger and more significant consists of 51 letters sent to James Witter Nicholson in New Geneva, distributed rather evenly over the years 1804 to 1842. Thirty-nine of these were written by James's sister Maria Nicholson Montgomery, and nine more by his sisters Catharine Nicholson Few (7) and Jehoiadden Nicholson Chrystie (2). These are personal letters, written first and foremost to maintain contact with a distant brother who made only occasional journeys to the Nicholson family enclaves in New York and Maryland. In the letters of Maria Montgomery family news is paramount; common topics include the whereabouts and activities of family members, their visits and travels, their health and illnesses. Persons most frequently mentioned include Maria herself and her husband; her mother; and her sisters and their families (the Fews, Gallatins, Seneys, and Chrysties). Later letters are increasingly filled with news of her sisters' children, their education and prospects. Hannah Nicholson's husband, Albert Gallatin, is often mentioned, even when in Europe (as he was for most of the period 1813-1829). Mention is also made of more distant relatives (like Joseph Hopper Nicholson), and of family acquaintances. Politics, and national affairs in general, are touched on in some of the earlier letters; Maria was clearly an interested (if partisan) observer of public life. The later letters show an increasing preoccupation with religion. Of particular interest are Maria's letters of September and November 1814, relating to the British attack on Baltimore in the War of 1812.

Eight additional items in the collection are personal letters written by or to the children of James and Adden Nicholson Chrystie, dating from 1825 to 1848. Most relate to one or the other of the two oldest Christie sons, Thomas (1808-1888) and James, Jr. (b. 1811).

Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged chronologically, one item per folder.

Container List

  • Letter. M[aria] Nicholson, Greenwich, New York, to James W. Nicholson Esqre, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1804 May 7. Folder 1 (MSN/EA 5002-01).
    ALS, 1 page on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
    Brief news of various family members, including two cousins in the Navy (John and Joseph Nicholson) then embarking for the Mediterranean. The Nicholsons' father, James Nicholson (1737-1804), "continues better, gains strength—but slowly." There is a short postscript of political news: "The President has lost his beautiful daughter Mrs Eppes and is in great affliction — Demos will have a majority of 6 or 8 thousand — Langdon is elected in N.H. by a small majority —"
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    • Letter. A[dden] Nicholson, Greenwich, New York, to Mr. James W. Nicholson, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1804 September 11. Folder 2 (MSN/EA 5002-02).
      ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
      Adden Nicholson writes James of the death of their father, and of the recent sickness and distress of their mother (Frances Witter Nicholson, 1744-1832). Speaks of the possibility of renting out the Nicholson property in Greenwich (the area was still rural, and a summer refuge for many residents of New York City), to live more permanently in town. Notes that Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin, with his wife Hannah Nicholson Gallatin and children, has departed for Washington; they had evidently spent much of the summer at Greenwich. Urges her brother to write, "as I am the only one of your sisters that has not received a letter from you since you left us."
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      • Letter. Maria Nicholson, Greenwich, New York, to Mr James W. Nicholson, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1806? August 19. Folder 3 (MSN/EA 5002-03).
        ALS, 2 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
        Notes that Albert Gallatin and family have been "with us" about four weeks. On politics: "I wish you would let me know how your election will go — sad times in your State I think. As you know I am half a Fed. though John Randolph told me I came of too good a stock for me to ever turn Federalist — but I think that in quarreling with each other the Demos are all in the wrong, and thus far I am opposed to them —"
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        • Letter. Adden [Nicholson] Chrystie, New York, New York, to Mr James W. Nicholson, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1807 May 12. Folder 4 (MSN/EA 5002-04).
          ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf. Page 3 contains an editorial addendum on the virtues of Adden Chrystie, signed "C. N."
          Adden announces to her brother her marriage to James Chrystie (1786-1863) of New York, on 2 May 1807; within weeks the couple will take up residence in New York City. Mentions that the Albert Gallatin family "will spend the summer with Mama as usual."
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          • Letter. Catha[rin]e [Nicholson] Few, New York, New York, to Mr James [W.] Nicholson, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1807 December 14. Folder 5 (MSN/EA 5002-05).
            ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
            News of the feebleness of Albert and Hannah Gallatin's youngest child, Hannah; necessity of having "our affections disengaged from earth" and fixed on the eternal; arrival at New York of cousin John Nicholson on the U.S.S. Revenge; talk of war with Britain; observes that Adden Chrystie seems "comfortably situated, I hope they will do well, but I cannot tell much about her Husband's prospects . . . ."
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            • Letter. Maria [Nicholson] Montgomery, New York, New York, to James W. Nicholson Esqre, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1809 April 3. Folder 6 (MSN/EA 5002-06).
              ALS, 2 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
              Announces to James that "on Monday evening last [27 March 1809] my dear Brother I gave my hand to John Montgomery member of Congress from Maryland." Will accompany her husband to Washington, for the first session of the 11th Congress; plans to reside at Belle air (Bel Air), in Harford County, Maryland. John Montgomery "bids me tell you that in case of war Mama is engaged at Belle air, it being a much less fatiguing journey for her than crossing the mountains to your dwelling — but I believe war is not much expected now —"
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              • Letter. Catha[rin]e [Nicholson] Few, Greenwich, New York, to Mr James W. Nicholson, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1810 December 14. Folder 7 (MSN/EA 5002-07).
                ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                Relief at James's safe return to New Geneva. Most of the rest of the letter is given over to religious exhortation.
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                • Letter. Maria [Nicholson] Montgomery, Baltimore, Maryland, to Mr James W. Nicholson, New Geneva, Pennsylvania 1812 October 19. Folder 8 (MSN/EA 5002-08).
                  ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                  Writes of her disappointment at James's resignation of an unspecified, and apparently briefly held, position in New York. Montgomery goes on to provide a highly partisan overview of the Federalist-Republican riots in Baltimore in the summer of 1812, and the ensuing trial: "You no doubt often hear of the abuse bestowed on Mr. M. [President James Madison] in the federal papers, but those who know him despise the calumny, and feel nothing but contempt and indignation towards the Authors of it. a federal judge (Tory Chase) and packed Jury have acquitted all those honorable Men, who associated together with arms and ammunition in Charles street under pretense of defending the liberty of the press—but in reality to try which were the strongest party, and to cause the streets of Baltimore to flow with democratic gore, if they met with any resistance. they were themselves the mob, they were themselves the murderers, for many were awfully wounded by them, and two killed dead upon the spot who were endeavoring to suppress the riot . . . their [the Federalists'] lies and misrepresentations unanswered by the democratic party, have caused federal returns to the legislature, but even this will be of advantage I trust, it is a republican principle to wish a change."
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                  • Letter. Maria [Nicholson] Montgomery, Baltimore, Maryland, to James W. Nicholson Esqre, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1813 June 4. Folder 9 (MSN/EA 5002-09).
                    ALS, 2 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/ integral address leaf.
                    News of the war, including the fact that a cousin, Benjamin Nicholson (1788-1813), was killed at the battle of York in Upper Canada, 27 April 1813. Also, "Baltimore has been in great commotion in expectation of a visit from the British, they are again very near us, and their having burned so many little Towns around us, makes them a dreadful foe — most of the females have left the place, and but that Mr Montgomery [now Attorney General of Maryland] would be here to fight, I suppose if I had had a place of refuge I should have flown too —" Hannah Nicholson Gallatin's distress at the death in Washington of "Black John," a slave or servant; news of Maria's young son, James Nicholson Montgomery, called Nicholson; departure of Albert Gallatin for Russia (where he was to be one of the envoys seeking to negotiate a peace with Britain).
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                    • Letter. Maria [Nicholson] Montgomery, Baltimore, Maryland, to James W. Nicholson Esqre, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1813 December 27. Folder 10 (MSN/EA 5002-10).
                      ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                      Mentions John Montgomery's purchase of a house on the York Turnpike, a mile outside Baltimore; has now not seen "my Brother, my only, my dear Brother" for six years; Hannah Nicholson Gallatin's distress at not having heard from her husband since his arrival in Europe, though "the British papers make frequest mention of him and Mr Bayard in Russia"; death of Lt. Col. John Chrystie, brother of James (Adden Nicholson Chrystie's husband), and a friend since childhood of the author (Chrystie played a central and controversial role in the American defeat at Queenston Heights, Upper Canada, 13 October 1812); high prices of foodstuffs because of the war.
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                      • Letter. Catha[rin]e [Nicholson] Few, New York, New York, to Mr James [W.] Nicholson, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1814 August 13. Folder 11 (MSN/EA 5002-11).
                        ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                        Removal of Frances Witter Nicholson (the author's mother) to the country home of William and Catharine Nicholson Few, in Dutchess County, New York; death of Maria Nicholson Montgomery's son, James Nicholson Montgomery.
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                        • Letter. Maria [Nicholson] Montgomery, Baltimore, Maryland, to Mr James W. Nicholson, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1814 September 19. Folder 12 (MSN/EA 5002-12).
                          ALS, 4 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                          Account of the British attack on Baltimore, 12-14 September 1814 (the author herself was not in the city during the battle): "My beloved Husband has gained great credit to himself being Capt of a large Artillery Company [the Baltimore Union Artillery] who first met & slaughtered the haughty savage foe in great numbers at their landing at North Point — he was assisted by two or three Regiment of Infantry, but being overpowered by numbers were obliged to Retreat — the enemy followed them, but thank God were so completely defeated and cut up that they dare not venture a second attack, and the (weak timid policy shall I term it?) of our commander in chief would only allow our troops to act on the defensive — they at the same time continued firing bombs into the fort [Fort McHenry], where as gallant a set of men as ever lived, commanded by Major Armstead of the Regulars were stationed, our valued cousin Judge Nicholson [Joseph H. Nicholson (1770-1817)] with his company of Artillerists formed a part of them — several times they were demanded to surrender, but by the signal deliverance of Providence, that although in general the guns of the fort fell short of their vessels, yet when they made a dash at it they were so much injured, particularly their bomb vessels that they were obliged to haul off — thus were they doubly defeated, by land & water — few of our troops were engaged although we had them here in great force — Mr Montgomery claims the credit of having killed Genl Ross their commanding Officer, they lost many Officers in the battle and are most inveterate against Baltre we expect another attack but know the impossibility of their returning without reinforcements, & the season I think is too far advance for this — they threw more shells into our Fort than at the bombardment of Copenhagen, for 24 hours it continued without intermission. 2 Officers were killed in it & several men — but my dear Friends, tho' so emminently exposed to danger, are well, and safe; how shall I be sufficiently thankful for this.—" Still mourning, but not sorrowing, for her son; all well in New York. Montgomery adds a postscript on the American naval victory at Plattsburgh on Lake Champlain (10 September 1814), which she mistakenly locates on Lake Erie.
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                          • Letter. Maria [Nicholson] Montgomery, Baltimore, Maryland, to Mr James W. Nicholson, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1814 November 4. Folder 13 (MSN/EA 5002-13).
                            ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                            ". . . the last four months has changed my looks more than as many years of repose would have done, sorrow [at the death of her son] has affected my health as well as my spirits." Mother "very snugly fixed" in New York for the winter; hopefully the British will think it too late in the year to attack; "it is said that Lord Hill's destination is for the Mobile and New Orleans . . . . my dear James you know not the hardships of the military life, many Boys in this place enamoured with the fame of Perry who commands the Java building here, have entered the service & ruined their health by it — and as to military life I know by the fatigue and privations that my Husband undergoes what a life of hardship it is." With her letter Montgomery enclosed a newspaper printing of Francis Scott Key's "Defence of Fort McHenry," which had already been set to music as "The Star Spangled Banner:" "I send you in the Baltre paper some beautiful verses written under the circumstances described, by a friend of Mrs Nicholson Mr Key a federalist. would they were all such federalists.— Cousin Joseph had them published, and wrote the annexed relation of the circumstances under which they were written; you recollect he was with his company in the fort, where he had two of his officers killed & many of his men maimed & wounded." Joseph H. Nicholson was in fact Key's brother-in-law; he had received Key's manuscript and was responsible for its first publication, in broadside form, on 17 September.
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                            • Letter. Maria N[icholson] Montgomery, Baltimore, Maryland, to James W. Nicholson Esqre, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1816 December 24. Folder 14 (MSN/EA 5002-14).
                              ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                              News of various family members, including the Gallatins, now in Paris, where Albert Gallatin was United States Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of France.
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                              • Letter. Maria N[icholson] Montgomery, Baltimore, Maryland, to James W. Nicholson Esqre, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1817 March 8. Folder 15 (MSN/EA 5002-15).
                                ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                Death of Joseph H. Nicholson, the author's cousin, on 4 March 1817. ". . . he was a constant visitor and friend interested in my concerns like a Brother . . . . The Mayor & Common council, The Bar who have agreed to wear Black, The free people of color to whom he was a tried friend in releasing all unjustly confined &c &c all and hundreds more followed in procession to the Tomb".
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                                • Letter. Maria N[icholson] Montgomery, Baltimore, Maryland, to James W. Nicholson Esqre, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1817 May 13. Folder 16 (MSN/EA 5002-16).
                                  ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                  Facts relating to the inheritance of a Mrs. Bond, a matter with which John Montgomery and James W. Nicholson were apparently involved; news of relatives in Paris, New York, and elsewhere.
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                                  • Letter. W[illiam] Few, New York, New York, to Mr James W. Nicholson, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1818 August 29. Folder 17 (MSN/EA 5002-17).
                                    ALS, 1 page on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                    A business letter from the New York banker and lawyer (and former member of the Constitutional Convention) Col. William Few (1748-1828), husband of Catherine Nicholson Few. The letter relates to a sum of money deposited with Few by James Blake of Ireland, which Nicholson is to receive and divide among five relatives in America.
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                                    • Letter. Maria N[icholson] Montgomery, Baltimore, Maryland, to James W. Nicholson Esqre, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1820 January 4. Folder 18 (MSN/EA 5002-18).
                                      ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                      News of James's daughter Mary (1807-1840), then residing with the Montgomerys in Baltimore; John Montgomery away at Annapolis, serving in the Maryland state legislature; ". . . old folks say it has not been so cold for 40 years."
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                                      • Letter. Catha[rin]e [Nicholson] Few, n. p., to James W. Nicholson Esqe, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1820 March 6. Folder 19 (MSN/EA 5002-19).
                                        ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                        Writing for William Few, who is unwell, Catharine Few describes complications in the Blake affair (see Folder 17 above). Discouraging news of Thomas W. Nicholson (1803-1869), James W. Nicholson's second eldest son, then living in New York with the Fews: has abandoned a course of study marked out for him by William Few, and . . ."his habits have rendered him mentally indolent, and I fear the prospect of his pursuing any of the learned professions with advantage to himself is but poor, & would be very expensive to you . . . ."
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                                        • Letter. Maria N[icholson] Montgomery, Baltimore, Maryland, to James W. Nicholson P. M., New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1822 July 19. Folder 20 (MSN/EA 5002-20).
                                          ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                          News of various family members, including James' daughter Frances, called Fanny (1808-1843), then staying with the Nicholsons' mother at Greenwich; the Gallatins yet in Paris; the Montgomerys' loss of a valuable servant, an Englishman, "whom Mr M. can not afford to keep"; the Chrysties now at Albany.
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                                          • Letter. A[dden Nicholson] Chrystie, Greenwich, New York, to James W. Nicholson Esqre, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1822 November 2. Folder 21 (MSN/EA 5002-21).
                                            ALS, 2 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                            Adden currently visiting with "our dear old Mother"; Fanny Nicholson (James's daughter) to spend the winter at Albany with the Chrysties.
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                                            • Letter. W[illiam] Few, New York, New York, to James W. Nicholson Esqe, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1822 December 31. Folder 22 (MSN/EA 5002-22).
                                              ALS, 1 page on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                              More on the matter of the Blake legacy.
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                                              • Letter. M[aria] N[icholson] M[ontgomery], Baltimore, Maryland, to James W. Nicholson Esqre P. M., New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1825 January 26. Folder 23 (MSN/EA 5002-23).
                                                ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                Writes of purchasing articles in Baltimore "according to your direction"; mention of many Nicholson and Gallatin nieces and nephews.
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                                                • Letter. M[aria] N[icholson] Montgomery, Baltimore, Maryland, to James W. Nicholson Esqre P. M., New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1825 June 1. Folder 24 (MSN/EA 5002-24).
                                                  ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                  News of Maria's sisters and their children. Word that Jane Ingraham Seney, daughter-in-law of Maria's long-widowed sister Frances Nicholson Seney (1771-1851) has inherited a great fortune: "Robert, Jane & their Babe were at Greenwich and Sister Fanny I suppose delighted with her little Grand daughter. Jane proves to be one of the 100 heirs to, I forget how much, but her portion is 50,000 dollars, fifty thousand dollars, the agent had arrived from Hamburgh, and the poor Methodist preacher Robert S. has married a great fortune. Mary R. Rodgers tells me all this & I know no more about it, wonderful are the ways of Providence." Mention of the Marquise de Lafayette, then touring the United States: "the dear old Genl La Fayette we grieve at the approach he had to a watery grave and rejoice at his escape from death. the Girls must write us all about his visit to yr neighborhood . . . . Tell the Genl La Fayette that we hope to see him again in Baltre".
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                                                  • Letter. T[homas] W. Chrystie, n. p., to Rev. James [W.] Chrystie, Albany, New York, 1825 October 19. Folder 25 (MSN/EA 5002-25).
                                                    ALS, 2 pages on 1 sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                    The earliest letter in the group not directed to James W. Nicholson, this was written by Thomas W. Chrystie (1808-1888), oldest son of Adden Nicholson Chrystie and Rev. James W. Chrystie, then pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Albany. Thomas Chrystie was a student then living with his grandmother, Frances Witter Nicholson, in New York.
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                                                    • Letter. A[dden Nicholson] Chrystie, Albany, New York, to Master Thomas W. Chrystie, New York, New York, 1826 January 5. Folder 26 (MSN/EA 5002-26).
                                                      ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                      Rev. Chrystie safely returned from New York; news of family and friends.
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                                                      • Letter. J[ames] W. Chrystie, Albany, New York, to Master Thomas W. Chrystie, New York, New York, "thursday morning" [1826 March]. Folder 27 (MSN/EA 5002-27).
                                                        ALS, 2 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                        Instructions regarding a saddle of mutton being sent by Rev. Chrystie to Frances Witter Nicholson.
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                                                        • Letter. Maria N[icholson] Montgomery, New York, New York, to James W. Nicholson Esqre P. M., New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1826 April 8. Folder 28 (MSN/EA 5002-28).
                                                          ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                          Frances Witter Nicholson has sold a New York property ("this old Mansion") at auction for $33,000, and next week will move into a rented, 3-story brick house on Hammond St. "Mama bids me tell you that she has been induced to sell this property chiefly on your account, that you may be enabled thereby to get out of debt, and hopes you will yourself & teach your children, never to live beyond your income . . . . their habits I fear are rather extravagant for their situation . . . ."
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                                                          • Letter. Maria [Nicholson] Montgomery, Baltimore, Maryland, to James W. Nicholson Esqre, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1827 August 7. Folder 29 (MSN/EA 5002-29).
                                                            ALS, 2 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                            Accounts of recent visits in New York with sisters Frances and Catherine.
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                                                            • Letter. John M. Harris, Baltimore, Maryland, to James W. Nicholson Esqre, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1828 July 19. Folder 30 (MSN/EA 5002-30).
                                                              ALS, 1 page on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                              John Harris, nephew of John Montgomery, writes to inform Nicholson of Montgomery's sudden death from apoplexy, the previous day.
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                                                              • Letter. Ja[me]s Chrystie, New York, New York, to Rev. James [W.] Chrystie, Albany, New York, 1829 January 16 Folder 31 (MSN/EA 5002-31).
                                                                ALS, 4 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                                The author, James Chrystie (b. 1811), was the second son of Adden Nicholson Chrystie and Rev. James W. Chrystie. Describes in some detail a trip by stage from Newburgh, New York to the Fews' residence in New York City. On the following day Chrystie, accompanied by his uncle Albert Gallatin, visits with several professors at Columbia College, to discuss his entrance examinations. Alludes to the death of his mother, on 28 December 1828: "I went out to see Grand mother [i. e., Frances Witter Nicholson] to day, she was much distressed at the time I was there, and expressed a great deal of sympathy with you & the boys, she very frequently mentioned her darling, and favorite child, saying those words."
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                                                                • Letter. Maria [Nicholson] Montgomery, New York, New York, to James W. Nicholson Esqre P.M., New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1829 June 5. Folder 32 (MSN/EA 5002-32).
                                                                  ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                                  Response to a letter from James W. Nicholson sent care of Maria for Albert Gallatin, now in Washington. Word of family members, particularly the Chrysties, in the wake of Adden Chrystie's death. Reflections on her father, James Nicholson, and on her husband James Montgomery: "Oh! dearly did I love my Father! never was there a more noble heart than his — he rests in peace, and lives in more than filial tenderness in my remembrance. He whom I last lost I thought bore in character and disposition many traits of resemblance to my Father. and never wife loved Husband more fondly than I did mine — now both are gone — all are gone — and I feel like a blasted Tree — oh may Jesus from this time forth be my all and in all!!—"
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                                                                  • Letter. Maria [Nicholson] Montgomery, New York, New York, to James W. Nicholson Esqre P.M., New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1829 September 26. Folder 33 (MSN/EA 5002-33).
                                                                    ALS, 2 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                                    Recent trials of an (unidentified) young woman named Amelia. Wishes to send Albert G. Nicholson (1814-1857), the fifth child of James W. and Fanny Nicholson, her gold watch.
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                                                                    • Letter. Maria [Nicholson] Montgomery, New York, New York, to James W. Nicholson Esqre P.M., New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1829 December 11. Folder 34 (MSN/EA 5002-34).
                                                                      ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                                      News of James W. and Fanny Nicholson's sixth child, William Few Nicholson (1816-1847), now at school in the East. Albert Gallatin still in Washington. Comments on President Jackson's First Annual Message to Congress (8 December 1829): "Well! we have the President's message to day. he has provided work, with reforming and overturning, for a long time to come — it is well written and very plausible. but I hope the Supreme, will over rule, even this ruler, for his glory and the good of the nation . . . ."
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                                                                      • Letter. Maria [Nicholson] Montgomery, New York, New York, to James W. Nicholson Esqre P.M., New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1831 January 4. Folder 35 (MSN/EA 5002-35).
                                                                        ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                                        Safe arrival in Savannah of Matilda Few (b. 1794), daughter of William and Catherine Nicholson Few, apparently traveling south for her health; the four Chrystie sons are returned to New York from Fishkill, where they spent the holidays. Maria writes of her own poor health, and her melancholy "at the remembrance of the past."
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                                                                        • Letter. "J B", Fishkill Landing, New York, to Mr James Chrystie Jr, Fishkill Landing, New York 1832 August 6. Folder 36 (MSN/EA 5002-36).
                                                                          ALS, 2 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/ ntegral address leaf.
                                                                          A letter to James Chrystie, Jr., from an individual identifiable only as "J B", regarding complications arising from the purchase of a lottery ticket.
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                                                                          • Letter. Maria [Nicholson] Montgomery, New York, New York, to James W. Nicholson Esqre P.M., New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1832 August 15. Folder 37 (MSN/EA 5002-37).
                                                                            ALS, 1 page on 1 sheet, with integrated address leaf.
                                                                            A brief letter relaying news of the death, on 14 August 1832, of Frances Witter Nicholson.
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                                                                            • Letter. Maria [Nicholson] Montgomery, New York, New York, to James W. Nicholson Esqre P.M., New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1832 September 11. Folder 38 (MSN/EA 5002-38).
                                                                              ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                                              Albert Gallatin and family are arrived in New York. Unhealthy conditions in New York City have caused Maria to remain at Greenwich: "at present there is still apprehension of Cholera — more deaths of that disease occurring last week than the preceding, owing probably to the return of our citizens generally, greatly increased population, and eating forbidden fruit & vegetables, and absence of proper precaution in ventulating their Houses — but still tending to shew that the air is infected with pestilence . . . ." Mentions illness of James Nicholson (son of James Witter Nicholson), and of James Chrystie, Jr.
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                                                                              • Letter. Maria [Nicholson] Montgomery, Greenwich, New York, to James W. Nicholson Esqre P.M., New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1832 November 21. Folder 39 (MSN/EA 5002-39).
                                                                                ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                                                Mention of James Witter Nicholson's sons William (whose erratic course has been the cause of much family concern), Albert, and James; James Chrystie's consumptive illness apparently abating.
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                                                                                • Letter. Maria [Nicholson] Montgomery, Greenwich, New York, to James W. Nicholson Esqre, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1833 January 26. Folder 40 (MSN/EA 5002-40).
                                                                                  ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                                                  In response to James's inquiries in the wake of his mother's death, Maria writes of the whereabouts of various heirlooms, including silver and several family bibles. Alludes to the death (in late 1832) of James Nicholson, oldest son of James Witter and Fanny Nicholson.
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                                                                                  • Letter. Maria [Nicholson] Montgomery, New York, New York, to James W. Nicholson Esqre, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1834 January 3. Folder 41 (MSN/EA 5002-41).
                                                                                    ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                                                    Just returned from the Albert Gallatins, where she spent the holidays; their abiding kindness to her. Engagement of Matilda Few, and attendance at the wedding of a granddaughter of her uncle, Samuel Nicholson. Thankful that James's wife Fanny is "considered out of danger".
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                                                                                    • Letter. Maria [Nicholson] Montgomery, New York, New York, to James W. Nicholson Esqre, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1834 March 5. Folder 42 (MSN/EA 5002-42).
                                                                                      ALS, 2 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                                                      Consolation on the death of James's wife, Fanny.
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                                                                                      • Letter. Maria [Nicholson] Montgomery, New York, New York, to James W. Nicholson Esqre P.M., New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1834 May 17. Folder 43 (MSN/EA 5002-43).
                                                                                        ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                                                        Maria writes at length of her disillusion with the world (including her feelings of being neglected, since her husband's death, by many in the family), but affirms that such worldly trials are a small price for the blessings of eternal life. "In this wilderness world weeds grow and choke the heavenly seed but ere long my heavenly Father will take me to that celestial Paradise where we need not the light of the Sun nor of the Moon . . . ." Continued illness of James Chrystie; his peculiar (and somewhat profligate) lifestyle. Comments on Albert Gallatin: "Mr Gallatin is much occupied with those Poles whom persecution has cast upon our shores — dear old Mr Gallatin how interesting he is endeavoring to do all the good he can. Old age cannot quite check the vigour of his Intellect or the ardour of his virtuous emotions Oh what a bright and glowing testimony would his be for Jesus . . . ." The evangelical tenor of this letter is not typical of Maria's earlier writings to her brother.
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                                                                                        • Letter. Catharine [Nicholson] Few, n. p., to James W. Nicholson Esq, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1835 February 7. Folder 44 (MSN/EA 5002-44).
                                                                                          ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                                                          Catharine alludes to James's weakened health and depressed spirits in the wake of the deaths of his son and wife; religion must be his consolation. "Maria [Montgomery] seems very much engaged in Societies &c—and as I mentioned to you before, very well off in her circumstances & property, which with her habits, must accumulate exceedingly . . . ." Sister Frances living with her son in New Haven; Gallatins well. The poor in New York suffering from the cold weather: "emigrants crowd our city, indeed our country — & there is much cause to fear, will at last give laws to us —"
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                                                                                          • Letter. Maria [Nicholson] Montgomery, New York, New York, to James W. Nicholson Esqre P.M., New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1835 May 23. Folder 45 (MSN/EA 5002-45).
                                                                                            ALS, 2 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                                                            Maria seeks to alleviate her brother's distress at his son William's plan to go to sea. News of others of her siblings' children, and grandchildren.
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                                                                                            • Letter. Catharine [Nicholson] Few, n. p., to James W. Nicholson Esq, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1835 June 9. Folder 46 (MSN/EA 5002-46).
                                                                                              ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                                                              Catharine likewise seeks to encourage James regarding his son William's sea-faring: he will not be tempted by idleness, at least, and temperance and tract societies have done much to improve the moral climate aboard ship. James's daughters surely a consolation to him. "Mr Gallatins family are all in health & as to the things of this world, I should say very prosperous—but how devoutly to be wished that Young and Old were more occupied in the things that make for their everlasting peace —"
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                                                                                              • Letter. Maria [Nicholson] Montgomery, New York, New York, to James W. Nicholson Esqre P.M., New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1835 August 5. Folder 47 (MSN/EA 5002-47).
                                                                                                ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                                                                Albert Gallatin occupied with work "relative to the Indians;" alludes to the waywardness of James's children, with the exception of the deceased James; mentions the Pittsburgh General Assembly of 1835, and increasing tensions within the Presbyterian Church.
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                                                                                                • Letter. Maria [Nicholson] Montgomery, New York, New York, to James W. Nicholson Esqre P.M., New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1836 February 15. Folder 48 (MSN/EA 5002-48).
                                                                                                  ALS, 2 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                                                                  Maria responds with alarm and affection to an apparent health crisis of James's.
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                                                                                                  • Letter. M[aria Nicholson] Montgomery, New York, New York, to James W. Nicholson Esqre P.M., New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1839 March 29. Folder 49 (MSN/EA 5002-49).
                                                                                                    ALS, 1 page on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                                                                    Maria pleads with James, on her own part and for the family, not to entrust his son William with a (New Geneva?) postmaster position, lest it be "a public Trust betrayed."
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                                                                                                    • Letter. M[aria Nicholson] Montgomery, New York, New York, to James W. Nicholson Esqre P.M., New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1839 August 1. Folder 50 (MSN/EA 5002-50).
                                                                                                      ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                                                                      News of numerous family members, mostly grandchildren of Maria's sisters; Albert Gallatin indisposed with rheumatism but his mind "in full vigour;" reports the departure from New York, that very day, of the huge steamships British Queen and Great Western: "who could have believed this and many other occurrences in the march of Intellect for the last few years".
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                                                                                                      • Letter. Maria [Nicholson] Montgomery, New York, New York, to James W. Nicholson Esqre P.M., New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1840 July 16. Folder 51 (MSN/EA 5002-51).
                                                                                                        ALS, 2 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                                                                        Consolation on the death of James's wife, Mary.
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                                                                                                        • Letter. Catharine [Nicholson] Few, New York, New York, to James W. Nicholson, Esq, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1841 June 29. Folder 52 (MSN/EA 5002-52).
                                                                                                          ALS, 2 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                                                                          Catharine sends word of Maria Montgomery's diminished eyesight (something about which she had occasionally complained in her letters to James). She has lost the sight in one eye and can only use the other "with great precaution"; hence her failure to write as usual. News of Catharine's daughters Frances and Matilda, her granddaughter Mary, and other family members.
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                                                                                                          • Letter. M[aria Nicholson] Montgomery, New York, New York, to James W. Nicholson Esqre, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1841 October 27. Folder 53 (MSN/EA 5002-53).
                                                                                                            ALS, 2 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                                                                            Maria's weakened eyesight now allows her to read only her Bible. Departure of Albert and Frances Chrystie and family for Europe, "in quest of health" for daughter Mary (Albert Chrystie was the brother of Rev. James Chrystie; his wife Frances was the daughter of William and Catharine Nicholson Few). Maria mentions her address as No. 630 Broadway.
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                                                                                                            • Letter. M[aria Nicholson] Montgomery, New York, New York, to James W. Nicholson Esqre, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1841 December 19. Folder 54 (MSN/EA 5002-54).
                                                                                                              ALS, 2 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                                                                              News of family. Also, "These Men complain of great pressure in the money market—yet there are Balls given every night—our city is filled with foreign paupers—yet as provisions are plentiful & cheap, while they are starving in great Britain I say let them come—but Oh they bring the corruptions of the old world with them and vice stalks abroad in our streets, undismayed—"
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                                                                                                              • Letter. Maria [Nicholson] Montgomery, New York, New York, to James W. Nicholson Esqre, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1842 April 16. Folder 55 (MSN/EA 5002-55).
                                                                                                                ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
                                                                                                                James's son William now in Texas. Removal of rheumatic ulcers from her formerly blind eye has improved Maria's vision, "and at times [I] can read and write for a short time." Poor health of Mary Chrystie in Europe.
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                                                                                                                • Letter. Maria [Nicholson] Montgomery, New York, New York, to James W. Nicholson Esqre, New Geneva, Pennsylvania, 1842 April 26. Folder 56 (MSN/EA 5002-56).
                                                                                                                  ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf. Preceding Maria's letter, on the first and second pages of the folded letter sheet, is an obituary for Mary Chrystie (1824-1841), in the hand of "Rev Dr Knox".
                                                                                                                  News that Mary Chrystie, Maria's niece, died at Nice in the last week of February 1842.
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                                                                                                                  • Letter. F[rances Few] Chrystie, n. p., to Thomas Chrystie Esqre, Windsor Hill near Newburgh, New York, [1849]. Folder 57 (MSN/EA 5002-57).
                                                                                                                    ALS, 1 page on 1 folded sheet, w/integral address leaf. Beneath Chrystie's text on page 1 of the folded letter sheet, in an unidentified later hand, is the pencilled notation "Albert Gallatin Born Jan. 29, 1761 Died Aug. 12, 1849". Pages 2 and 3 of the sheet, as well as the address leaf, are filled with a list of book titles.
                                                                                                                    The author of the letter is Frances Few Chrystie (1789-1885), wife of Albert Chrystie and daughter of William and Catharine Nicholson Few. It reports on the condition of Albert Gallatin, who by the winter of 1848-49 was confined to his bed and in decline.
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                                                                                                                    • Letter. [Chrystie], Albert [N.], n. p., to Thomas W. Chrystie Esqre, Newburgh, New York, n. d. Folder 58 (MSN/EA 5002-58).
                                                                                                                      ALS, 1 page on 1 sheet, with integrated address leaf.
                                                                                                                      A letter of unknown date addressing legal, professional, and personal matters, written to Thomas Chrystie by his brother Albert (b. 1815).
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