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John M. Williamson Collection

Collection Number
SC 303

OCLC Number

John M. Williamson, 1787-1878
Williamson family

The collection was donated by Cornell Jaray in 1981. Its provenance before coming into Jaray's possession is not known. A second accession of correspondence was purchased in 2004 from Ms. Shirley Bennett (Box 5).

Extent, Scope, and Content Note 
The papers of John M. Williamson (1787-1878) 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 housed at 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.

Arrangement and Processing Note
Processed and described by John B. Smith, January 1983.
Finding aid updated by Kristen J. Nyitray in January 2008 and April 2019.
Last updated in April 2020.

Series 1: Family Correspondence
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.

Series 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.

Series 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.

Series 4: 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.

Series 5: 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.

Series 6: John M. Williamson's Service in the New York 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.

Series 7: 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.


Restrictions on Access
The collection is open to researchers without restriction.

Rights and Permissions 
Stony Brook University Libraries' consent to access 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 M. WIlliamson Collection, Special Collections and University Archives, Stony Brook University Libraries.

Historical Note        
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. Williamson died at the age of 90 on February 18, 1878 and was buried at Setauket Presbyterian Church Cemetary in Setauket, New York.

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.

Williamson, John M., -- 1787-1878.
Williamson, John M., -- 1787-1878 -- Archives.
Williamson family.
New York (State). -- Legislature. -- Assembly.
Families -- New York (State) -- Suffolk County.
Estates (Law) -- New York (State)
Decedents' estates -- New York (State) -- Suffolk County.
Guardian and ward -- New York (State)
Practice of law -- New York (State) -- Long Island.
Finance, Personal -- New York (State)
Brookhaven (N.Y. : Town) -- Politics and government.
Long Island (N.Y.) -- Politics and government.
New York (State) -- Politics and government.
Guardian and ward.
Decedents' estates.
Estates (Law)
Finance, Personal.
Politics and government.
Practice of law.
New York (State)
New York (State) -- Brookhaven (Town)
New York (State) -- Long Island.
New York (State) -- Suffolk County.


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)

Series 4: 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 5: 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
8. Philip Longbotham: notes, receipts, re: Shadrach Davis estate
9. Estate
10. Property boundary sketches
11. Releases, receipts, etc.

Series 6: John M. Williamson's Service in the New York 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 7: 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. 10/27/1868 Judge J. Williamson Mrs. E. Selleck - Invite to Ladies Fair & Festival.
3. 10/27/1856 JMW J.J. (Barton?) - notice of rally for democracy.
4. 4/29/1857 JMW J. Smith - Planting.
5. 5/22/1859 Jedidiah Williamson Richard W. - horse race.
6. 3/28/1863 Jed. W. Louisa Williamson - finding house.
7. 9/18/1864 Jed. W. Ann M. Davis - coat.
8. 1/19/1860 Judge W. ? - memorial to legislature.
9. 11/1/1859 Jed. W. Horace - Newton trunk.
10. 12/23/1860 Jed. W. Louisa W. - much news-fire, 7 story building.
11. 9/19/1982 Friend Jed James Weir, Jr. - sick horse (Wier Florist letterhead).
12. 3/7/1860 JMW ? Charles going to Wash. - send team
13. 3/28/1858 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. 4/10/1853 Jed. W. Jedidiah Hawkins - "My rooster will beat R.'s shanghi."
18. 6/25/1866 Jed J. Smith Harness - 8 cents for pressing hay.
19. 11/30/1863 Judge W. Thomas S. - Captain. J. Smith's real estate tax.
20. 4/1/1862 JMW N. & J. Smith - vessels fitting out; rent
21. 4/2/1865 Jed. W. Jonas Smith, Jr. - staying in Poughkeepsie.
22. ? JMW N. Smith Grand - procession-Wash. greys.
23. 3/30/1858 JMW ?
24. 5/16/1862 JMW ?
25. 7/9/1864 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  2/11/1853 JMW C.Ball, C.Smith & B. Wells Party at Cap't. Donovans' house.
29. 5/30/1864 JMW Jonas Smith per JW - send carriage, Aunty is coming.
30. 6/11/1866 Col. WSW Seth W. - am safe in Milford.
31. 6/22/6? JMW E. Guthile (?) - Funeral, Brother Dayton.
32. 5/5/1857 JMW J. Smith – health, bad weather for moving
33. 10/1864 Jed. W. George Hawkins - wood for Clerk & S. for "sherif"
34. 2/1856 JMW J. Smith (can't decipher)
35. 3/11/1865 Jed. W. George Hawkins - time to do something.
36. 3/28/1857 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. 2/22/1862 JMW J. Smith
39. 9/?/? Jed W. Ann M. Davis - Birth (berth) on the Oceanic.
40. 7/21/1859 JMW J. Smith - mumps.
41. 4/5/1857 JMW J. Smith - put up a shanty.
42. 5/8/1858 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. 3/15/1856 JMW ? - pay your company
46. 3/21/1857 JMW J. Smith – Mrs. Wheeler stone house, Nancy sausages would spoil
47. 9/16/1858 JMW M.H. Smith – Communication about relatives
48. 11/64 Jed W. George Hawkins – man to board, health
49. 3/30?/1861 JMW J. Smith
50. 2/9/1872 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. 4/20/1861 JMW ? - much confusion
54. 1853 JMW J.B. Nichols – send the food
55. 3/22/1863 JMW J. Smith – letting house, $3.75/cord
56. 9/12/1865 Jed W. George Hawkins – stallion
57. 8/19/1865 Jed Jonas Jr. – hearing nothing from you
58. 1/21/1858 JMW J. Smith and N.S. – George, children
59. 7/16/1865 JMW Jonas Smith – under the weather, Uncle George sow turnips
60. 4/16/1861 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. 6/9/1835? JMW ? – papers hard to send
65. 3/23/1857 JMW J. Smith
66. n.d. JMW Nancy Smith – treat cold, Seth lost boy
67. 3/16/1861 JMW J. Smith – Democracy of village
68. n.d. Jed W. Nettie Charlotte – take me out to ride some
69. 12/2/1869 JMW Maria H. Smith – thank you for stay, family info
70. 6/5/1864 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. 5/17/1869 Jed W. A.M. Davis – safe arrival, Silas is sick
75. 1/11/? JMW N. Smith – Ed Mills, great dinner, baskets
76. 1/20/1859 JMW Jonas Smith – injunction, caught cold
77. 4/6/1869 JMW J.S.
78. 4/28/1862 JMW J. Smith – look in desk
79. 3/3/? JMW Lawrence Smith? – regarding case of death of a lunatic
80. 1/1/1856 Mr . R. Randall JMW - $30, one years interest
81. 2/21/1865 JMW Jonas Smith – Mr. Edwards tax
82. 2/1/5/1857 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. 9/29/1862 Jed W. J. Smith – sending feed, trip to Riverhead
85. 9/25/1859 William S. Williamson Ann M. Davis – money, school, rain
86. 2/12/1848 JMW ? - purchaser for house
87. 2/24/? Jed W. ? – offer to drive cart
88. 2/26/1859 JMW J.S.
89. 8/11/1867 JMW Bellows – visit, talk of the bible
90. 2/3/1858 JMW J. Smith
91. 5/21/1863? JMW J. Smith - sending money, visit
92. 9/21/1859 JMW Robert M. Jayne? – request to be a witness
93. 9/25/1852 William S. Williamson Ann M. Davis – tell all we are well, send response to Philadelphia
94. 9/30/1865 JMW E. Tuthile? – Grand lecturer will be at house tonight, please come
95. 6/14/1862 JMW J.S. – Ebenezer Hawkins can have calf for 5 ½ cents
96. 5/6/1866 JMW N.H. Cranston - $19 enclosed
97. 11/12/1870 JMW Chat? E. Jayne – sent 2 undershirts
98. 9/14/1844 ? 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. 3/13/1856 Jed W. Seth Williamson – family and friend’s health, thank you letter
101. 12/2/1858 Jed W. Louisa Williamson – can’t come for Christmas, children are well
102. 5/3/1853 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. 2/4/1863 JMW J. Smith - did not come yesterday – cold
106. 11/6/1864 Jed W. A.M. Davis – sickness, death, butter
107. 10/18/? JMW Lanas Hines – should he pay for lot?
108. 1/16/1848? Cornelia Wright Persis Mallory? - much news
109. empty envelopes addressed to Jedidiah Williamson and John M. Williamson