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

Summary Information
Title: Jonathan S. Wilcox diaries
Creator: Wilcox, Jonathan S., 1791-1875
Inclusive dates: 1844-1875
Extent: 13 items
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:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1995. M-3197.1.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

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.

Subject Terms

    • Democratic Party (Conn.)
    • Madison (Conn.)
    • Temperance--Societies, etc.
    • Total Abstinence Society (Madison, Conn.)
    • Travel.
    Genre Terms:
    • Diaries.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   1  
    Jonathan S. Wilcox diaries [series]
    Folder   1  
     January 1, 1844-November 1, 1844
    Folder   2  
     November 2, 1844-May 16, 1846
    Folder   3  
     May 17, 1846-October 31, 1847
    Folder   4  
     December 30, 1849-January 1, 1852
    Folder   5  
     January 1, 1852-October 9, 1852
    Folder   6  
     October 11, 1852-January 30, 1854
    Folder   7  
     February 1, 1854-October 28, 1854
    Folder   8  
     October 29, 1854-October 31, 1855
    Folder   9  
     June 1, 1859-December 31, 1861
    Folder   10  
     January 1, 1862-February 28, 1863
    Folder   11  
     January 1, 1866-March 23, 1868
    Folder   12  
     March 24, 1868-March 6, 1870
    Folder   13  
     March 7, 1870-January 2, 1875
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    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.