Suckley family papers  1791-1885
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Collection Scope and Content Note

This Suckley collection is only a small residuum of a much larger collection, yet what remains provides important documentation of several aspects of nineteenth century life, particularly relating to commercial life in antebellum New York City and the Methodist Church.

Boxes 1 and 2 consists primarily of in-coming correspondence dated between 1791 and 1839, centering on the personal and professional life of George Suckley, with the earliest material originating in the family of his first wife, Miss Lang, in England. The letters contain some information on English Methodism (1:1-6, 16-18). Of particular interest are the letters of the Methodist missionary, Francis Asbury (1:10-11) and of the wife of Richard Reece, who began his itinerant ministry in 1787 (The Christian Advocate and Journal, May 13, 1846, contains a brief sketch of Reece's life). The letters of Catherine Rutsen Suckley and Joseph Holdich include discussions of the Methodist Church in America, and the missionary Freeborn Garretson, is discussed in several letters (1:21-23,25,26,32).

George Suckley's business correspondence includes dealings with the English firm of Holy, Newbould and Suckley (1:33-42,47) and two sets of letters from agents who Suckley retained to manage his vast land holdings, John Reed in upstate New York and John Rangeley in Maine. Among the personal correspondence are several letters from Philadelphia lawyer(?) Cornelius Comegys and letters from three of George Suckley's sons. John Lang Suckley wrote frequently to request money to pay his servants; Rutsen Suckley assisted in managing his father's properties, and Thomas Holy Suckley was a college student.

Box 3 contains family correspondence written after George's death in 1846. Among the family members represented are George's children Rusten, Mary, and Thomas Holy Suckley, and his grandson Dr. George Suckley (1830-1869). George's letters are the most intrinsically interesting, as they were written during a period in the 1850s when he was practicing in Oregon and Washington Territory and considering land investments in California. During this same period, Dr. Suckley was the recipient of several letters from David and Jack Green (apparently cousins of some sort). One item (3:39) relates to George's Civil War service. The later correspondence heavily concerns New York charities. One interesting letter (3:52) is a stableman's apology for drunkenness on Christmas.

Boxes 4 and 5 are arranged in folders by subject. Of particularly interest are folders 5:7-13, which contain documentation on the various New York City rental properties owned by Rutsen Suckley, recording rents collected and upkeep expenses between the 1840s and 1870s. The cost of living in New York can be calculated from bills and receipts for a wide range of products and services (5:4-6).

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