Myrick family papers  1845-c. 1900
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The Myrick papers document the personal, business, and legal affairs of a major mid-Victorian purveyor of grave stones and monuments from western New York state. The central figures in the collection, Albert G. Myrick, his son, William W., and brother John William, engaged in an active and highly successful business manufacturing stone monuments for graves and other purposes, but their varied interests took them into the world of New York state politics, Gold Rush California, western land speculation, and the Civil War. Only a small portion of the collection has been catalogued at the item level, with the remainder organized into series.

Box 1 of the collection contains items that have been catalogued individually, arranged in chronological order, 1845-1889. Many of the letters were written by John William Myrick to his brother Albert, describing his myriad schemes to make a fortune in California. More literate than many 49ers, John's letters offer an intriguing social and political perspective on California during the Gold Rush, notably the violence and lawlessness prevalent in the gold fields. His letters also describe the journey across the Isthmus of Panama and then by ship to California.

The Civil War content in the collection is less extensive, but Albert Myrick corresponded with several men who were more directly affected by the war than he, either as soldiers or in other capacities. Of particular interest are John's letters describing California politics during the war (1:76, 80, 90, 114), Edward C. Boyle's letters on military and political affairs in Kentucky (1:82-83, 92), and Christ Siminger's account of the terror to which Democrats were subjected following Lincoln's assassination (1:117). Among the miscellaneous items of interest are James Tibbits' letter announcing his divorce from a wife of ill repute (1:124), and Sophia Myrick's letter dispensing a dose of motherly of guilt upon Albert, "my once beloved son" (1:78).

The bulk of the collection, boxes 2-4, consists of correspondence, accounts, and receipts kept by Albert and William Myrick. The greatest proportion of material in these boxes is comprised of the business records of the Myricks' monument company, providing a wealth of detail about their operations, from the purchase of raw marble to the production of stones and the handling of customer orders and complaints. The correspondence between the Myricks and their many agents enables a fairly thorough reconstruction of their sales techniques and their methods for keeping track of potential customers. The accounts, while not complete, provide valuable information on costs for various grades of marble and for shipping, and, of course, on customer orders.

Also included in Box 2 are some personal accounts of the Myricks and a series of accounts with and relating to the town of Palmyra, including tax records, documents relating to the local cemetery, and records of work performed for the town.

Box 4 contains additional family, personal, political, and legal correspondence. Albert's family correspondence, in particular, often goes beyond the usual familial exchange of pleasantries, particularly in the case of Mary G. Myrick, who became embroiled in a scandal when an attempt was made to take her daughter from her. These letters suggest how deeply Albert was influenced by his participation in Freemasonry, his significant role in the American Party, in the formation of the Constitutional Union Party, and in the Democratic Party, and his entanglement in a legal battle dating from his days in the New York Canal Department. A small clutch of letters from family members who had settled in the west provides some interesting descriptions of life in Michigan and in the upper Midwestern states.

Show all series level scope and content notes