Manuscripts Division William L. Clements Library University of Michigan
Finding aid for Jonathan S. Wilcox Diaries, 1844-1875
Finding aid created by Shannon Wait, June 2011
Title: Jonathan S. Wilcox diaries Creator: Wilcox, Jonathan S., 1791-1875 Inclusive dates: 1844-1875 Extent: 13 items Abstract:
The Jonathan S. Wilcox diaries document nearly 30 years in the life of a storekeeper in Madison, Connecticut, including his support for the Democratic Party, his religious and business activities, and his opposition to the Civil War.
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: www.clements.umich.edu
Access and Use
The collection is open for research.
Copyright status is unknown
Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.
Jonathan S. Wilcox Diaries, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
The diaries are arranged chronologically.
Jonathan Samuel Wilcox was born on November 1, 1791, in East Guilford, New Haven County, Connecticut, the son of Jonathan Wilcox and Elizabeth Todd. He worked as a merchant, and around 1816, married Chloe Hand (b. 1791), with whom he had six children who lived to adulthood: Eliza Maria, Jonathan Samuel (b. ca. 1822), Catherine Artemisia, Daniel Hand (b. ca. 1824), Sarah Elizabeth, and George Augustus (b. ca. 1827). By 1844, Wilcox owned a store in Madison, Connecticut, and was president of the town's Total Abstinence Society. In 1849, he was the president of the Connecticut State Democratic Convention. He died in February 1875.
Collection Scope and Content Note
The Jonathan S. Wilcox diaries consist of 13 volumes, spanning 1844-1875, with 1848, 1856-1858, and 1864-1865 lacking. They document nearly 30 years in the life of Wilcox, a storekeeper in Madison, Connecticut. In the various volumes, Wilcox discussed a wide variety of topics, but consistent themes are religion and the salvation of himself and his family, his involvement in the community (including democratic politics and the Total Abstinence Society), health and business concerns, and the weather.
An intensely pious man, Wilcox frequently described his church attendance and evaluated the sermons he heard (sometimes three per day spread among several churches), and gave occasional updates on the religious involvement of his children. He worried about several sons who had moved to Augusta, Georgia, whom he described as "too much engaged with the world," and noted which children had made "religious profession[s]" (January 1, 1844). On his birthday (November 1) and New Year's Day, he annually took stock of his life and professed his gratitude and devotion to God.
Wilcox sometimes described local and national politics, including his hostility toward the abolitionists, support for democratic candidates, and his opposition to the Civil War. On November 7, 1844, he expressed his support for presidential candidate James K. Polk, and criticized Henry Clay for his habits of gambling and dueling. On February 8, 1851, he recounted a trip to New Haven to participate in the Democratic State Convention, and noted the selection of Colin M. Ingersoll as candidate for the House of Representatives. He also expressed his hope for a law prohibiting the sale of "ardent spirits" (April 4, 1854), repeatedly discussed his opposition to the Civil War, which he called "bloody" and "suicidal" (January 1, 1863), and sharply criticized the Radical Republicans during Reconstruction (April 1, 1867).
Wilcox also described several extended travels, including a business trip to New York, where he and his wife saw a 13-year old Tom Thumb in 1847; an 1852 trip around Georgia and South Carolina to visit several of his sons; and a journey to Montreal, Canada, in 1868, during which he visited an Indian village.
Later entries focus more on Wilcox's health problems, especially his rheumatism, which prevented him from writing as frequently. He also noted additional family news, such as the birth of grandchildren, and the death of his son, Jonathan, Jr., during a family reunion in the Wilcox home on September 1, 1869.
Democratic Party (Conn.)
Total Abstinence Society (Madison, Conn.)
Container / Location
Jonathan S. Wilcox diaries [series]
January 1, 1844-November 1, 1844
November 2, 1844-May 16, 1846
May 17, 1846-October 31, 1847
December 30, 1849-January 1, 1852
January 1, 1852-October 9, 1852
October 11, 1852-January 30, 1854
February 1, 1854-October 28, 1854
October 29, 1854-October 31, 1855
June 1, 1859-December 31, 1861
January 1, 1862-February 28, 1863
January 1, 1866-March 23, 1868
March 24, 1868-March 6, 1870
March 7, 1870-January 2, 1875
Additional Descriptive Data
The Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Georgia has the Wilcox family papers, 1836-1893, Ms 2924 (40 items), which relate to Jonathan and Chloe (Hand) Wilcox and their children.
Nash, Elizabeth T. Fifty Puritan Ancestors, 1628-1660: Genealogical Notes, 1560-1900. New Haven: The Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor Co, 1902.