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Main Title:
John M. Williamson Collection

Type of Material: Family and professional correspondence, estate and guardianship materials, Town of Brookhaven and Suffolk County records, legal documents, and financial records.
Personal Name: John M. Williamson
Collection ID: Collection 303
Creator: John M. Williamson
Extent: 1.6 cubic ft.
Span Dates: 1779-1877


John M. Williamson Collection
Collection 303

Biographical Sketch
Series Description
Box and Folder Listing


The papers of John M. Williamson of Stony Brook, New York reflect his business, professional and political activities. Also included in the collection are letters and documents relating to other members of John Williamson's immediate family, specifically Seth Williamson (John's brother), William S. Williamson (John's half-brother), and Anne Williamson Davis (John's niece).

In addition to the approximately sixty family letters, there is extensive business correspondence, most of it addressed to John M. Williamson, correspondence and documents related to John M. Williamson's law practice, records on the settlement of several estates, letters and documents related to John M. Williamson's political career, and hundreds of receipts relating to various legal, business and personal matters.

The material is almost entirely handwritten and comprises 1.8 cubic feet and 3,000 separate items. Most of the documents date from the 1830s - 1850s; the date span is from the 1770s through the 1870s.

Of particular interest is the insight provided into daily life on Long Island in the mid-19th century. Also, the inventories included in the estate files and the various financial records provide data on financial matters of the day, especially the type, extent and nature of personal property held by Long Islanders. The law office files, although very incomplete and containing many draft documents, reveal the method and type of legal work undertaken by 19th century Long Island lawyers.

The personal correspondence provides intimate and sometimes touching accounts of family activities. Besides births, deaths and marriages, accounts of journeys to other parts of Long Island and New York City are included. Although incomplete, the files on the Town of Brookhaven and Suffolk County offer an interesting view of the local political scene.

Other substantial collections of Williamson family materials are known to reside in the Suffolk County Historical Society Library at Riverhead, the Smithtown Library and The Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages in Stony Brook.

The papers came to the Department of Special Collections in 1981 as a loan deposit from Mr. Cornell Jaray of Nassau County. Their provenance before coming into Mr. Jaray's possession is not known. A second accession of correspondence was purchased in 2004 from Ms. Shirley Bennett (Box 5).

Arrangement and Processing Note
Processed and described by John B. Smith, January 1983. Finding aid updated in January 2008 by Kristen J. Nyitray. Updated in February 2014.


Restrictions on Access

The collection is open to researchers without restriction.


Restrictions on Access

The collection is open to researchers without restriction.

Rights and Permissions

Stony Brook University Libraries' consent as the physical owner of the collection does not address copyright issues that may affect publication rights. It is the sole responsibility of the user of Special Collections and University Archives materials to investigate the copyright status of any given work and to seek and obtain permission where needed prior to publication.

[Item], [Box], John Williamson Collection, Special Collections and University Libraries, Stony Brook University Libraries.

Biographical Sketch

John M. Williamson was born in the hamlet of Stony Brook, New York on September 27, 1787, the second son of Jedidiah Williamson and his wife, Charity Mowbray Williamson. During childhood he attended the local district school and learned the trade of a carpenter with his father. During the War of 1812 he took part in the movements of the Militia at Sag Harbor as a Captain and was later elevated to the rank of Major.

John M. Williamson exhibited early an inclination toward scholarship and entered the practice of law. He also early showed an inclination toward politics. He carved out a distinguished career in such capacities as Supervisor of Town of Brookhaven, Member of the New York State Assembly (representing the western district of Suffolk County), Judge of the Court of Sessions, Inspector of Elections and counsellor and referee in the settlement of numerous estate and civil cases. (Some records, but clearly not the complete records, of all of these activities are included in the collection.) He never married and died in Stony Brook at the advanced age of 90 years. He lies buried next to his father in the churchyard of the Setauket Presbyterian Church, of which he was a devoted lifetime member.

John M. Williamson's immediate family consisted of: his father, Jedidiah; his mother, Charity, who died about 1800; his step-mother, Sophia; a brother, Seth; a sister, Amy; and five half-siblings, Charity, Deborah, Nancy, William S. and Mary Ann. It was not possible to establish the dates of birth and death for these other family members, except for Jedidiah, who was born about 1757 and died in 1837. Some letters of subsequent generations also are in the collection, especially, Richard (possibly the son of William S.), Richard's wife, Louisa, Jedidiah (grandson of the first Jedidiah), and Jedidiah's wife, Sallie. Several single letters, probably from distant relatives, also are included.


Fix, Edward B. "Jedidiah Williamson, a Biographical Profile of the Stony Brook Farmer/Carpenter." Long Island Forum (March 1979): 52-57.

History of Suffolk County, New York: Munsell and Company, 1882. (Town of Brookhaven section, p. 74.)

Klein, Howard. Three Village Guidebook, Port Jefferson Station, N. Y.: St. Gerard Press, 1976.

Series Description

  1. Family Correspondence
    • 1813-1869
    • Arranged alphabetically by writer with a category for mementos, and a few single letters at the end. Also a category for military correspondence.
    • Personal letters from one member of the Williamson family to another.

  2. Business, Legal and Political Correspondence
    • ca. 1820-1860
    • Arranged alphabetically by writer.
    • Letters mostly addressed to John M. Williamson, but to other family members as well, dealing with a wide variety of subjects including: governmental matters, financial matters, contracts, wills, etc.

  3. Estates and Guardianships
    • ca. 1813-1857
    • Arranged alphabetically by the name of the estate or guardianship.
    • Inventories, judicial petitions, receipts, wills, affidavits, letters, etc., dealing with the administration and settlement of estates and guardianships.

    • Town of Brookhaven and Suffolk County
      • ca. 1834-1865
      • Arranged in original order as packeted.
      • Records of Brookhaven Board of Supervisors and Commissioner of Highways; Statements on inspection of "common" schools; Rosters of workers on the highways. Also some material on Brookhaven and Suffolk County elections, including election tickets, tallies and reports of the County Commissioners.

  4. The Law Practice of John M. Williamson
    • ca. 1834-1877
    • Arranged in original order as packeted with categories for correspondence, legal documents, financial records and property boundary sketches added.
    • Contains many draft documents and various other records related to John M. Williamson's law practice.

  5. John M. Williamson's Service in the N.Y. State Assembly and as Suffolk County Judge.
    • ca. 1835-1857
    • Arranged by subject.
    • Contains a few documents, mostly in draft form, concerning John M. Williamson's work in the Assembly and on the bench. Some correspondence also is included.

  6. Financial Records
    • ca. 1779-1867
    • Arranged in random order.
    • Consists of two account books. The first is William S. Williamson's, covering the period 1857-1867, which contains many entries recording services rendered. The second, of one of the younger Jedidiahs, contains only a few entries for 1887. The remainder of this series consists of about 50 receipts for goods and services.

Box and Folder Listing

Series 1: Family Correspondence

Box 1

1. Davis, Ann Maria (Williamson)
2. Williamson, David
3. Williamson, James
4. Williamson, Jedidiah
5. Williamson, Jedidiah (Mrs.)
6. Williamson, John M.
7. Williamson, Louisa
8. Williamson, Richard
9. Williamson, Seth
10. Williamson, William S.
11. Williamson family, letters, mementos, etc.
12. Williamson family, military correspondence

Series 2: Business, Legal and Political Correspondence

1. B Correspondence
2. C Correspondence
3. D Correspondence
4. Davis, James H. and Elizabeth
5. Davis, Silas; Shadrach; James and others
6. Ellis, John
7. F Correspondence
8. Floyd, Charles A. and Augustus
9. G Correspondence
10. H Correspondence
11. Hallock, Ebenezer
12. Hawkins, Eleazer; Elnathan and others
13. Halsey, Hugh
14. Hodgkinson, Williams J. and Elizabeth
15. J Correspondence
16. L Correspondence
17. M Correspondence
18. N Correspondence

Box 2

19. P Correspondence
20. Phillips, George S., Samuel and Charles
21. R Correspondence
22. S Correspondence
23. Satterly, John R.
24. Scudder, Isiah and others
25. Smith (several)
26. Smith, J.
27. Smith, Jonas
28. Smith, Joshua
29. Smith, Richard
30. Strong, S.B.
31. T Correspondence
32. W Correspondence

Box 3

Series 3: Estates and Guardianships

1. Brewster, John (Estate of)
2. Corwin, Isaac (Estate of)
3. Davis, Jonas (Estate of)
4. Jayne, Isaac (Estate of)
5. Mills, Charles Alanzo (Estate of)
6. Newton, William J. and Deborah (Guardianship)
7. Smith, Fordham (Estate of)
8. Smith, Henry (Estate of)
9. Williamson, Daniel (Estate of)
10. Williamson, Ezra (Guardianship)

Town of Brookhaven & Suffolk County

1. Brookhaven, Town of (Packet containing a variety of correspondence, receipts and other records)
2. Brookhaven, Town of and Suffolk County (Packet containing election materials, highway rosters and other documents)

Series 4: The Law Practice of John M. Williamson

Box 4

1. Correspondence General
2. Draft correspondence, documents, etc.
3. Draft documents, indentures and letters
4. Law office account book (April, 1841-December, 1842)
5. Receipts
6. Receipts
7. Judicial Petitions, etc.
8. Philip Longbotham's Notes, Receipts, re: Shadrach Davis' estate
9. Estate
10. Property Boundary Sketches
11. Releases, Receipts, etc.

Series 5: John M. Williamson's Service in the N.Y. State Assembly and as Suffolk County Judge

1. Oneida Indian Affairs, letters, drafts, etc.
2. Pilots and pilotage
3. Suffolk County Court, correspondence, forms, documents

Series 6: Financial Records

1. Account books of Williams S. Williamson and Jedidiah Williamson
2. Receipts

Second Accession

Box 5

1. 1872 John M. Williamson G.W. Barke & Co. - men's store opening.
2. 10/27/68 Judge J. Williamson Mrs. E. Selleck - Invite to Ladies Fair & Festival.
3. 10/27/56 JMW J.J. (Barton?) - notice of rally for democracy.
4. 4/29/57 JMW J. Smith - Planting.
5. 5/22/59 Jedidiah Williamson Richard W. - horse race.
6. 3/28/63 Jed. W. Louisa Williamson - finding house.
7. 9/18/64 Jed. W. Ann M. Davis - coat.
8 1/19/60 Judge W. ? - memorial to legislature.
9. 11/1/59 Jed. W. Horace - Newton trunk.
10 12/23/60 Jed. W. Louisa W. - much news-fire, 7 story building.
11 9/19/82 Friend Jed James Weir, Jr. - sick horse (Wier Florist letterhead).
12.3/7/60 JMW ? Charles going to Wash. - send team
13 3/28/58 William S. W. Ann M. Davis - very lonely; give sister hat.
14.Wed. JMW N. Smith - bad sea, sickness; chickens
15.------ JMW N. Smith - vessels fitting out; food.
16.6/16/? JMW Nancy Smith - supplies; "I sent two oranges."
17.4/10/53 Jed. W. Jedidiah Hawkins - "My rooster will beat R.'s shanghi."
18.6/25/66 Jed J. Smith Harness - 8 cents for pressing hay.
19.11/30/63 Judge W. Thomas S. - Captain. J. Smith's real estate tax.
20.4/1/62 JMW N. & J. Smith - vessels fitting out; rent
21.4/2/65 Jed. W. Jonas Smith, Jr. - staying in Poughkeepsie.
22.? JMW N. Smith Grand - procession-Wash. greys.
23.3/30/58 JMW ?
24 5/16/62 JMW ?
25.7/9/64 Jed. W. Jonas Smith - go Monday and help the men.
26.4/19/? JMW J L - house; bridge Rebels burned.
27.3/31/? Jed. W. J. Smith - see to drying sails.
28 2/11/53 JMW C.Ball, C.Smith & B. Wells Party at Cap't. Donovans' house.
29.5/30/64 JMW Jonas Smith per JW - send carriage, Aunty is coming.
30.6/11/66 Col. WSW Seth W. - am safe in Milford.
31.6/22/6? JMW E. Guthile (?) - Funeral, Brother Dayton.
32.5/5/57 JMW J. Smith – health, bad weather for moving
33.10/64 Jed. W. George Hawkins - wood for Clerk & S. for "sherif"
34.2/56 JMW J. Smith (can't decipher)
35.3/11/65 Jed. W. George Hawkins - time to do something.
36.3/28/57 JMW J. Smith – Mr. Wood on board, nothing new
37.9/29/5? J.W., Supervisor George Raynor (?) - keep Roe house as Public House
38.2/22/62 JMW J. Smith
39.9/?/? Jed W. Ann M. Davis - Birth (berth) on the Oceanic.
40.7/21/59 JMW J. Smith - mumps.
41.4/5/57 JMW J. Smith - put up a shanty.
42. 5/8/58 JMW J. Smith – pieces of chain, Tommy leaves this morning
43. Thurs. 10/9/? Jed W.? N. Smith – Oliver sailed, food requests
44. n.d. JMW ? – mark the parcels allowed
45. 3/15/56 JMW ? - pay your company
46. 3/21/57 JMW J. Smith – Mrs. Wheeler stone house, Nancy sausages would spoil
47. 9/16/58 JMW M.H. Smith – Communication about relatives
48. 11/64 Jed W. George Hawkins – man to board, health
49. 3/30?/61 JMW J. Smith
50. 2/9/72 J.W. Harry Dexon – bad health, family news, deaths
51. n.d. JMW Nancy Smith – trunk and pails in house
52. n.d. JMW N. Smith – people coming
53. 4/20/61 JMW ? - much confusion
54. 1853 JMW J.B. Nichols – send the food
55. 3/22/63 JMW J. Smith – letting house, $3.75/cord
56. 9/12/65 Jed W. George Hawkins – stallion
57. 8/19/65 Jed Jonas Jr. – hearing nothing from you
58. 1/21/58 JMW J. Smith and N.S. – George, children
59. 7/16/65 JMW Jonas Smith – under the weather, Uncle George sow turnips
60. 4/16/61 JMW J. Smith & N. Smith – stormy weather, George can have house – 2 shirts
61. 5/17/? William S. Williamson Ann M. Davis – news to parents
62. 4/?/03? JMW ? – Capt. Smith went to Connecticut
63. 9/19/? Mortimer? Hobard College; Clara
64. 6/9/35? JMW ? – papers hard to send
65. 3/23/57 JMW J. Smith
66. n.d. JMW Nancy Smith – treat cold, Seth lost boy
67. 3/16/61 JMW J. Smith – Democracy of village
68. n.d. Jed W. Nettie Charlotte – take me out to ride some
69. 12/2/69 JMW Maria H. Smith – thank you for stay, family info
70. 6/5/64 Jed W. A.M. Davis – health, 4th of July plans
71. 6/29/? JMW N. Smith – send small pot of butter
72. n.d. JMW N. Smith – snowstorm, package to Mrs. Wheeler
73. March? JMW Nancy Smith – Jonas is ill, sleepy, Mr. Jones to cut wood
74. 5/17/69 Jed W. A.M. Davis – safe arrival, Silas is sick
75. 1/11/? JMW N. Smith – Ed Mills, great dinner, baskets
76. 1/20/59 JMW Jonas Smith – injunction, caught cold
77. 4/6/69 JMW J.S.
78. 4/28/62 JMW J. Smith – look in desk
79. 3/3/? JMW Lawrence Smith? – regarding case of death of a lunatic
80. 1/1/56 Mr . R. Randall JMW - $30, one years interest
81. 2/21/65 JMW Jonas Smith – Mr. Edwards tax
82. 2/1/5/57 JMW J. Smith and N. Smith – Mr. Wood to come down, eggs, measles
83. 8/2/? Jed W. A.M.D. – Silas visit to mother
84. 9/29/62 Jed W. J. Smith – sending feed, trip to Riverhead
85. 9/25/59 William S. Williamson Ann M. Davis – money, school, rain
86. 2/12/48 JMW ? - purchaser for house
87. 2/24/? Jed W. ? – offer to drive cart
88. 2/26/59 JMW J.S.
89. 8/11/67 JMW Bellows – visit, talk of the bible
90. 2/3/58 JMW J. Smith
91. 5/21/63? JMW J. Smith - sending money, visit
92. 9/21/59 JMW Robert M. Jayne? – request to be a witness
93. 9/25/52 William S. Williamson Ann M. Davis – tell all we are well, send response to Philadelphia
94. 9/30/65 JMW E. Tuthile? – Grand lecturer will be at house tonight, please come
95. 6/14/62 JMW J.S. – Ebenezer Hawkins can have calf for 5 ½ cents
96. 5/6/66 JMW N.H. Cranston - $19 enclosed
97. 11/12/70 JMW Chat? E. Jayne – sent 2 undershirts
98. 9/14/44 ? W. Cummin, G. Blothenberger, J. Jackman, F. Rinehart, J. Stanley, J.T. Mussleman – invite to attend Democratic Meeting
99. n.d. JMW N. Smith – put butter on board the Native, send eggs
100. 3/13/56 Jed W. Seth Williamson – family and friend’s health, thank you letter
101. 12/2/58 Jed W. Louisa Williamson – can’t come for Christmas, children are well
102. 5/3/53 JMW James Bloeper? – painting of offices
103. n.d. JMW N. Smith - can’t come home tomorrow, hat not done
104. 5/1/? Jonas Smith George Hawkins – request to work for 5 months
105. 2/4/63 JMW J. Smith - did not come yesterday – cold
106. 11/6/64 Jed W. A.M. Davis – sickness, death, butter
107. 10/18/? JMW Lanas Hines – should he pay for lot?
108. 1/16/48? Cornelia Wright Persis Mallory? - much news
109. empty envelopes addressed to Jedidiah Williamson and John M. Williamson

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