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Guide to the Seymour Howard Stone Letters

MSN/MN 5016

 

Collection Summary

Title: Seymour Howard Stone Letters
Dates: 1884-1895
Collection No.: MSN/MN 5016
Creator: Stone, Seymour Howard (1867-after 1930)
Extent: 59 folders; 1 container; .42 linear feet
Language: Collection material in English
Repository: University of Notre Dame. Hesburgh Libraries, Department of Special Collections. 102 Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Abstract: A group of nearly 200 personal letters from the 1880s and 90s written home to Delaware by a young man named Seymour Howard Stone. Many are from the San Luis Valley of south-central Colorado, where Stone was trying to establish a farm.

Selected Search Terms

Adirondack Mountains (N.Y.) -- 1880-1890
Colorado -- History -- Sources
Conejos County (Colo.) -- History
Polk County (Fla.) -- History
Phosphate industry -- Florida

Administrative Information

Restrictions: There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Preferred Citation: Seymour Howard Stone Letters, Department of Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.

Acquisition and Processing Note: The Stone letters were purchased by the University Libraries in 2011, from Michael Brown Rare Books of Philadelphia (List 114, no. 41). Arranged and described 2012, by Mairead O'Malley. Finding aid 2012, by Mairead O'Malley and George Rugg.

Biographical Note

Seymour Howard Stone was born on 11 June 1867 in Hampton, Virginia, the son of George Whitefield and Catherine Graupner Stone. He and his younger brothers Ralph and Fred were raised in Wilmington, Delaware, where his father owned a successful marine machinery business and was active in civic and Republican Party affairs. In the mid-1880s Stone attended the Swarthmore Preparatory School in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania; the enthusiasms mentioned in his letters home—sports, the outdoors, minerology and natural history—had little to do with his coursework. In fact, the young Stone was preoccupied with the idea of farming or ranching in the West. This wish was realized in 1888, when with his father's somewhat reluctant support he filed a claim on 160 acres of land near La Jara in the high San Luis Valley of south-central Colorado (Conejos County). Prior to improving his claim Stone worked as a hand at North Farm ranch near Monte Vista, in Rio Grande County (May to August 1888). In 1889 he lived on and worked his property at La Jara, growing wheat and other crops, but by the end of the season was ready to assent to his father's wish that he return east. In the early 1890s Stone was involved in the Florida phosphate boom, working at a plant owned by the Pharr Phosphate Company of Bartow, Polk County (whose ownership appears to have had Wilmington connections). By the summer of 1894 the phosphate bubble was collapsing and Stone was seeking alternate employment. By 1900 he had settled in Boston, and soon thereafter married Amy Wentworth of Danvers, Massachusetts. By 1911 he was Secretary of the Boston Association for the Relief and Control of Tuberculosis, and appears to have been employed by American anti-tubercular societies for many years. He died after 1930.

Scope and Content Note

The collection includes 195 personal letters and postal cards written by Seymour Stone, mostly to his parents, from September 1884 to May 1895. The letters fall fairly readily into distinct chronological groups. Sixty-six letters and postal cards (September 1884 to August 1886) date from Stone's schoolboy years at Swarthmore. These are typically brief, and deal most commonly with Stone's recreational interests, including the Swarthmore College football team and outdoor activities like hiking and skating. A second group of 35 letters and cards was written in the spring and summer of 1887, after Stone's departure from Swarthmore. Many of these were written from Felsenheim cottage in the Adirondacks' Keene Valley; others (May to July 1887) were occasioned by an initial trip west, to a farm in Goodhue County, Minnesota, where Stone was taken on as an unpaid hand. A third group of 64 letters and cards (May 1888 to November 1889) dates from Stone's time in Colorado. These treat conditions in what was still, in the 1880s, sparsely settled country. Stone writes of ranching and agriculture, irrigation and controversies over water rights, efforts to develop the San Luis Valley, working with the local Spanish-speaking population, and related topics, often in considerable detail. Finally, there are 30 letters written in 1894-95 from Bartow, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia, during the period when Stone was employed in the phosphate industry. It is apparent that the letters and postal cards in the collection were once pasted down, probably to the pages of a scrapbook or album.

Arrangement Note

Items in Series 1 (Letters) are arranged chronologically. Series 2 contains one photograph.

Container List

  • Series 1: Letters 
    • Folder 1 (MSN/MN 5016-1) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1884 September 14-28. 3 letters (8 pages).
      The earliest of many letters (September 1884 to June 1886) written by Stone to his parents from Swarthmore Preparatory School in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.
      • Folder 2 (MSN/MN 5016-2) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1884 October 5-13. 3 letters (6 pages).
        • Folder 3 (MSN/MN 5016-3) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1884 November 8-December 7. 6 letters (18 pages).
          The author notes the victory of the Swarthmore College Freshmen over the Haverford Freshmen in a football game (letter of 16 November).
          • Folder 4 (MSN/MN 5016-4) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1884 December 16-1885 January 11. 3 letters (8 pages).
            • Folder 5 (MSN/MN 5016-5) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1885 January 18-February 7. 3 letters (6 pages).
              • Folder 6 (MSN/MN 5016-6) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1885 February 15-25. 4 letters (10 pages).
                • Folder 7 (MSN/MN 5016-7) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1885 March 15-29. 4 letters (11 pages).
                  The 22 March letter is addressed to the author's mother in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
                  • Folder 8 (MSN/MN 5016-8) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1885 April 2-May 10. 4 letters (13 pages).
                    • Folder 9 (MSN/MN 5016-9) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1885 May 17-June 7. 4 letters (9 pages).
                      • Folder 10 (MSN/MN 5016-10) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1885 September 27-October 3. 3 letters (8 pages).
                        • Folder 11 (MSN/MN 5016-11) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1885 October 11-25. 3 letters (8 pages).
                          The author mentions Swarthmore's loss to the University of Pennsylvania in football (letter of 19 October).
                          • Folder 12 (MSN/MN 5016-12) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1885 November 11-December 6. 4 letters (10 pages).
                            The author discusses a lecture at Swarthmore by William Blaikie, the physical fitness enthusiast (letter of 1 November).
                            • Folder 13 (MSN/MN 5016-13) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1886 January 24-February 8. 4 letters (10 pages).
                              The author announces his decision not to return to school (letter of 31 January).
                              • Folder 14 (MSN/MN 5016-14) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1886 February 14-March 1. 3 letters (6 pages).
                                • Folder 15 (MSN/MN 5016-15) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1886 March 7-27. 3 letters (9 pages).
                                  • Folder 16 (MSN/MN 5016-16) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1886 May 2-29. 5 letters (14 pages).
                                    In the 29 May letter the author expresses a desire to travel to Southern California.
                                    • Folder 17 (MSN/MN 5016-17) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1886 April 12-August 21. 6 postal cards and 1 letter (8 pages).
                                      • Folder 18 (MSN/MN 5016-18) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1887 April 14-May 11. 4 letters and 2 postal cards (24 pages).
                                        Writing from Felsenheim cottage in the Adirondacks, the author tells his parents of his plan to travel west.
                                        • Folder 19 (MSN/MN 5016-19) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1887 May 12-28. 4 postal cards and 2 letters (18 pages).
                                          Stone writes from various locales on his trip west and finally from his destination, a farm near Skyberg, Goodhue County, Minnesota.
                                          • Folder 20 (MSN/MN 5016-20) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1887 June 5-18. 3 letters (13 pages).
                                            Letters from Skyberg.
                                            • Folder 21 (MSN/MN 5016-21) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1887 June 26. 1 letter (4 pages).
                                              Due to the illness of his travelling companion's father, Stone must leave Minnesota.
                                              • Folder 22 (MSN/MN 5016-22) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1887 June 30-July 11. 7 postal cards and 1 letter (10 pages).
                                                Cards written on the return trip from Minnesota to Felsenheim.
                                                • Folder 23 (MSN/MN 5016-23) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1887 July 17-24. 3 letters (16 pages).
                                                  Back in the Adirondacks, Stone writes his brother Ralph of a trip to Ausable Chasm near Keeseville, New York.
                                                  • Folder 24 (MSN/MN 5016-24) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1887 July 26-August 7. 3 letters and 1 postal card (13 pages).
                                                    Letters from Felsenheim.
                                                    • Folder 25 (MSN/MN 5016-25) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1887 August 14-September 11. 2 letters and 2 postal cards (8 pages).
                                                      Letters from Felsenheim.
                                                      • Folder 26 (MSN/MN 5016-26) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1888 May 24-June 24. 3 letters (24 pages).
                                                        The first of Stone's letters from Colorado, written from North Farm ranch near Monte Vista, where he is initially employed.
                                                        • Folder 27 (MSN/MN 5016-27) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1888 July 1-15. 3 letters (12 pages).
                                                          Stone writes of digging irrigation canals and cutting alfalfa at North Farm.
                                                          • Folder 28 (MSN/MN 5016-28) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1888 August 1-20. 3 letters (14 pages).
                                                            Stone leaves the "hard crowd" at North Farm and heads for La Jara.
                                                            • Folder 29 (MSN/MN 5016-29) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1888 August 30-September 9. 3 letters (16 pages).
                                                              Stone writes from La Jara, where he has begun work at the Ferro del Ojito ranch.
                                                              • Folder 30 (MSN/MN 5016-30) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1888 September 16-October 14. 3 letters (14 pages)
                                                                Letters from La Jara.
                                                                • Folder 31 (MSN/MN 5016-31) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1888 October 5-21. 3 letters and 1 postal card (12 pages).
                                                                  Letters from La Jara.
                                                                  • Folder 32 (MSN/MN 5016-32) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1888 November 4-19. 3 letters (12 pages).
                                                                    Letters from La Jara.
                                                                    • Folder 33 (MSN/MN 5016-33) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1888 December 12-27 3 letters and 1 postal card (13 pages).
                                                                      Letters from La Jara.
                                                                      • Folder 34 (MSN/MN 5016-34) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1889 January 6-22. 4 letters (16 pages).
                                                                        Letters from La Jara.
                                                                        • Folder 35 (MSN/MN 5016-35) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1889 February 9-19. 2 letters (9 pages).
                                                                          Letters from La Jara.
                                                                          • Folder 36 (MSN/MN 5016-36) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1889 March 10-20. 3 letters (18 pages).
                                                                            Stone begins developing his claim in earnest, while living at the neighboring Atkinson ranch.
                                                                            • Folder 37 (MSN/MN 5016-37) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1889 March 28-April 18 4 letters (23 pages).
                                                                              By 18 April Stone, having completed construction of a one-room house, is settled on his claim and has begun planting.
                                                                              • Folder 38 (MSN/MN 5016-38) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1889 April 25-May 10. 3 letters (17 pages).
                                                                                Letters from La Jara.
                                                                                • Folder 39 (MSN/MN 5016-39) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1889 May 15-June 9. 4 letters (20 pages).
                                                                                  Stone continues to put in crops and dig ditches for irrigation. From the beginning of June he is alone on the ranch.
                                                                                  • Folder 40 (MSN/MN 5016-40) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1889 June 23-27. 2 letters (16 pages).
                                                                                    By 23 June Fred Stone is on his way to Colorado to join his brother. In the 27 June letter Stone discusses the Alamo Ditch Company and water rights in general.
                                                                                    • Folder 41 (MSN/MN 5016-41) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1889 July 11-August 13. 4 letters (15 pages).
                                                                                      Fred has arrived in Colorado safely. Continued problems with irrigation.
                                                                                      • Folder 42 (MSN/MN 5016-42) Seymour Howard Stone and Frederick E. Stone. Letter, 1889 August 18. 1 letter (6 pages).
                                                                                        • Folder 43 (MSN/MN 5016-43) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1889 September 5-9. 2 letters (14 pages).
                                                                                          Stone writes of his loneliness, and of his disillusionment with the valley and with farming.
                                                                                          • Folder 44 (MSN/MN 5016-44) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1889 September 20-27. 2 letters (5 pages).
                                                                                            Stone agrees to an apparent proposal from his father that he return east.
                                                                                            • Folder 45 (MSN/MN 5016-45) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1889 October 6-27. 3 letters and 2 postal cards (11 pages).
                                                                                              Stone writes of selling his team and wagon, and making other preparations for his departure.
                                                                                              • Folder 46 (MSN/MN 5016-46) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1889 November 6-16. 2 letters (5 pages).
                                                                                                Stone further details his preparations to move back east.
                                                                                                • Folder 47 (MSN/MN 5016-47) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1894 August 29-September 10. 2 letters (10 pages).
                                                                                                  Nearly five years after leaving Colorado Stone writes from Barstow, Florida, where he is employed by the Pharr Phosphate Company. Stone tells his father of the company's precarious financial situation, and seeks his advice on a personal course of action.
                                                                                                  • Folder 48 (MSN/MN 5016-48) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1894 September 16-October 30. 4 letters (12 pages).
                                                                                                    Prospects for employment elsewhere in the phosphate industry.
                                                                                                    • Folder 49 (MSN/MN 5016-49) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1894 November 11-18. 3 letters (9 pages).
                                                                                                      Celebrating Republican successes in the 1894 elections, and more confidential words to his father on the troubles of the Pharr Phosphate Co.
                                                                                                      • Folder 50 (MSN/MN 5016-50) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1894 November 26-December 16. 3 letters (12 pages).
                                                                                                        The company in receivership.
                                                                                                        • Folder 51 (MSN/MN 5016-51) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1895 January 6-15. 3 letters (14 pages).
                                                                                                          News of the company and of Florida in general.
                                                                                                          • Folder 52 (MSN/MN 5016-52) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1895 January 20-February 3. 2 letters (7 pages).
                                                                                                            Prospects for the company are dim, as the storebins are full of mined phosphate rock with little prospect of sales.
                                                                                                            • Folder 53 (MSN/MN 5016-53) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1895 February 10-14. 3 letters (10 pages).
                                                                                                              Pharr still open. A second freeze has badly damaged Florida's crops, and further weakened the local economy.
                                                                                                              • Folder 54 (MSN/MN 5016-54) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1895 February 17-March 3. 3 letters (10 pages).
                                                                                                                • Folder 55 (MSN/MN 5016-55) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1895 March 9-April 19. 2 letters (11 pages).
                                                                                                                  Affairs at the company still uncertain; Stone writes of possible alternate careers, including journalism.
                                                                                                                  • Folder 56 (MSN/MN 5016-56) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1895 April 22-May 2 3 letters (12 pages).
                                                                                                                    The 22 April letter is addressed to Stone's brother Fred. The 2 May letters are written from Atlanta, Georgia, where Stone is seeking work (though still employed by Pharr).
                                                                                                                    • Folder 57 (MSN/MN 5016-57) Seymour Howard Stone. Letters, 1895 May 5-8. 3 letters (10 pages).
                                                                                                                      Additional letters from Atlanta.
                                                                                                                      • Folder 58 (MSN/MN 5016-58) Seymour Howard Stone. Letter, n.d. 1 letter (3 pages).
                                                                                                                      • Series 2: Photographs 
                                                                                                                        • Folder 59 (MSN/MN 5016-59) [Seymour Howard Stone]. Photograph, 1888-89. 1 photograph.