Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Lindsley Family Papers, 1696-1832

Finding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, October 1989

Summary Information
Title: Lindsley family papers
Creator: Lindsley family
Inclusive dates: 1696-1832
Bulk dates: 1796-1832
Extent: 68 items
The Lindsley Family papers consist primarily of letters from and relating to Eleazer Lindsley, Jr., and his son-in-law, James Ford, early settlers of Lindley, NY and local politicians.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1984. M-2182.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


No copyright restrictions.

Preferred Citation:

Lindsley Family Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan.

Biographical/Historical Note

In 1788 and 1789, Lt. Col. Eleazer Lindsley (1737-1794), a Revolutionary War veteran who held commissions in Spencer's Regiment, the Jersey Blues, and the Continental Army, traveled through the frontier areas of south central New York State to find land on which to settle. After rejecting the area around the Finger Lakes as unhealthy, he purchased a "rugged and uncompromising tract" of approximately 30 square miles from Gorham and Phelps in township No. 1 of the second range.

The following spring, Lindsley and his party of about forty traveled overland from Roxbury, Morris County, N.J., to Wilkes Barre, Pa. There they transferred their belongings onto seven ton boats and poled up the Susquehanna River to the Cowanesque, arriving at their property on 7 June 1790. The party included Lindsley and his wife, Mary Miller (d. 1806), and many of the Lindsley children and their families: Elizabeth (1764-1852) and Capt. John Seelye (1757-1813); Sally and Ebenezer Backus; Nancy (d. 1813) and Dr. Ezekiel Mulford (1764-1813); Samuel Lindsley and his wife, Lois; Phebe and David Paine; and Eleazer Lindsley (d. 1825) and his wife, Eunice Halsey. Lindsley's sons-in-law Dr. Mulford (New Jersey Militia) and Capt. Seelye (Pennsylvania Militia) were, like Lindsley, Revolutionary War veterans and loyal members of the Masonic Brotherhood. The settlement they established, one of the earliest in Ontario (now Steuben) County, New York, was alternately called Irwin, Erwin or Irwintown, but subsequently the name was changed to Lindsleytown (also Lindsley Town), Lindsley, and finally to Lindley. Another daughter and son-in-law, Jemima and Stephen Hopkins, migrated with the Lindsley party, but settled in nearby Luzerne County, Pa.

The Lindsleys were among the wealthiest and politically most influential families in the Painted Post district. In the 1790 census, Lindsley is recorded as owning 6 slaves, one of the highest totals for the lower tier region of New York state. In 1792, Lindsley's prominence in local affairs led to his election as representative for Ontario County to the state House. He died on his way to the legislature in January, 1794. Lindsley's son, Eleazer, Jr., continued in the family's political and social tradition in the community, serving as chair of the town council and judge of the county court, and his appointment as post master in 1804 places him among the earliest post masters in the district. Lindsley was considered a political conservative, joking in 1810 that he was considered a Tory by some. During the War of 1812, though too old for active service, he volunteered to supply American troops with provisions and lodging.

Lindsley married Eunice Halsey of Bridgehampton, N.Y., prior to 1787. Their daughters, Maria (b. ca.1789), Jerusha (ca.1790-ca.1824) and Emily (b. ca.1795), were each educated at the prestigious Miss Pierce's School in Litchfield, Conn., and each returned home to settle into married life. Maria married James Ford in 1806, Jerusha married Michael C. Tharp in about 1823, and Emily married George M. Hollenback prior to 1825.

Born in Middlesex Co., N.J., in 1783, James Ford migrated to Lindsleytown at the age of 20. He entered into local political life as secretary at town meetings, and during the War of 1812, he helped to organize the provisioning of American troops encamped on Lindsley property. In 1816, he moved a short distance down the Cowanesque to Tioga County, Pa., where he founded the town of Lawrenceville, and where he operated a sawmill and gristmill until his death in 1859. Ford served in the state House of Representatives in 1823-1824 and represented Tioga, Lycoming, Potter and McKean Counties, Pa., as a Jacksonian Democrat in the 21st and 22d U.S. Congresses (1829-1833).

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Lindsley Family papers consist primarily of letters from and relating to Eleazer Lindsley, Jr., and his son-in-law, James Ford, with much of the collection relating to local politics. Of particular interest are five letters written to Ford by Samuel Wells Morris (1786-1847), who later served in the 25th and 26th congress as a Democrat from Pennsylvania. In these letters Ford discusses the political, social and economic benefits of internal improvement schemes (primarily canals), and includes some interesting comments on the election of 1824 and the strong political tensions between the adjacent counties in New York and Pennsylvania. A few letters contain information on the early political life of Lindley, however these are comparatively scant and do not cover the earliest years of the settlement.

Among other aspects of the collection, the following may be of some interest:

  • Five documents relating to Eleazer Lindsley, Jr.'s appointment as post master, including the certificate of appointment (1804). The certificate of appointment and two letters bearing early post marks from Lindsleytown have been transferred to the Postal History Collection.
  • Six letters written to Eleazer Lindsley's daughters while they were resident at Miss Pierce's School. These contain some information on the education of girls during the period and on family relationships.
  • Two items relating to slavery in New York: a letter from Stephen Ross to Eleazer Lindsley, Jr., 1798 May 7, requesting assistance with a troublesome slave he wishes to sell, and a manumission contract dated 1808 August 1 from Lois Lindsley for her slave, Jack.
  • Six items relating to religious life and revivals. Two of Eleazer Jr.'s daughters, Maria and Jerusha, appear to have been very pious. During the upsurge in revival activity in the 1830's, the family helped form a Bible Study class and the women formed a prayer circle.
Subject Terms

    • Legislators--Pennsylvania.
    • New York (State)--Politics and government.
    • Pennsylvania--Politics and government.
    • Postal service--New York (State).
    • Public works--Pennsylvania.
    • Revivals.
    • Slaves--New York (State).
    • Steuben County (N.Y.).
    • United States--History--War of 1812.
    • United States. Army--Supplies and stores.
    • Women--Education--Connecticut.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   1  
    Lindsley family papers,  1696-1832 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Alternate Locations

    Eleazer Lindsley, Jr.'s certificate of appointment as post master and two letters bearing early post marks from Lindsleytown have been transferred to the Postal History Collection.


    McMaster, G.H. History of the settlement of Steuben County, N.Y. (Bath, [N.Y.]: R.S. Underhill & Co., 1853).

    Partial Subject List
    AdulthoodAmerican Eagle (Newspaper)Andover CollegeBankruptcyBasketsBetrothalBible--StudyBirthsBuilding materialsCanalsCanals--PennsylvaniaCarpentryCoal miningCoatsConnecticut--Description and travelCourtshipCrime and criminals--New York (State)DebtDebtor and creditorDebts, Public--Pennsylvania--Tioga CountyDeedsDemocratic PartyDiseaseDistilleriesEducation of women--ConnecticutElectioneering--PennsylvaniaElectionsElections--PennsylvaniaEpidemics--New York (State)EstatesFarm tenancyFathers-in-lawFreedmen--New York (State)Freemasons--RitualsGambling--Law and legislation--New York (State)House constructionIndentured servantsIndustrial relations--New York (State)Land settlement--PennsylvaniaLegislators--PennsylvaniaLindsleytown (N.Y.)--Politics and governmentLove lettersMaps--New York (State)Maps--New York (State)--Steuben CountyMaps--PennsylvaniaMarriageMassachusetts--Description and travelMurder--New York (State)Music educationNew York (State)--Description and travelNew York (State)--GovernorsNew York (State)--Politics and governmentNew York (State)--StatisticsPainted Post (N.Y.)--DescriptionPennsylvania--Emigration and immigrationPennsylvania--Politics and governmentPensionsPhiladelphia (Pa.)--DescriptionPhiladelphia (Pa.). Prison CommissionPoliticians--PennsylvaniaPostal service--AccountingPostal service--History--New York (State)Postal service--New York (State)Postal service--PostmastersPresidents--United States--Election--1824Presidents--United States--Election--1832PrintersPrisons--PennsylvaniaPublic worksPublic works--PennsylvaniaRailroadsReal property--New York (State)ReligionRevivalsRevivals--New York (State)Revivals--PennsylvaniaRoadsRoads--New York (State)Slavery--EmancipationSlavery--New York (State)Slaves--New York (State)SteamboatsSteuben County (N.Y.)----Politics and governmentSteuben County (N.Y.)--DescriptionSteuben County (N.Y.)--HistoryTariffTioga (N.Y.)--DescriptionTioga County (Pa.)--Economic conditionsTransportationTravelUnited States--History--War of 1812United States. Army--Infantry Regiment, 4thUnited States. Army--Infantry Regiment, 20thUnited States. Army--Supplies and storesUnited States. Congress. HouseWillsWills--Massachusetts