Anthony Wayne family papers  1681-1913
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The Correspondence and Military Documents series (Volumes 1-17) contains approximately 1,450 items (3.5 linear feet), spanning 1756-1853, and arranged chronologically. The bulk of the series is correspondence, but it also contains various types of documents, including legal materials, military returns, land surveys, and lists.

Anthony Wayne

The 18th-century material in the collection (Volumes 1-10) relates primarily to the career of Anthony Wayne, including his surveying activities; acquisition and maintenance of a plantation near Savannah, Georgia, and the activities of Native Americans in its vicinity; service in the Revolutionary War; and leadership as commander-in-chief of the Legion of the United States during the Northwest Indian War. It includes incoming correspondence from numerous notable government and military officials, as well as a considerable amount of Wayne's outgoing correspondence and memoranda.

A portion of materials in the collection shed light on Wayne's activities and opinions during the American Revolutionary War, in which he served as a brigadier general. On November 22, 1777, Wayne wrote to Thomas Wharton, the "president" (i.e., governor) of Pennsylvania, on the subject of recruitment, arguing that allowing the hiring of substitutes and the paying of an "enormous bounty" would hinder efforts to attract soldiers. He also discussed the importance of uniforms to morale, arguing that they caused "a laudable pride which in a soldier is a substitute for almost every other virtue." Additionally, Wayne exchanged several letters with a friend, Colonel Sharp Delany, in which they discussed various war-related matters. On July 26, 1780, he provided a defense of his raid on Bull's Ferry, which failed and resulted in substantial American casualties. Other letters pertain to Wayne's injury from a musket-ball lodged in his thigh (November 12, 1781), his uniform (May 10, 1783), and the concerns of Savannah merchants who feared the loss of protection after the British evacuation (June 17, 1782). Also of interest is a memorandum spanning the dates June 20, 1777-October 21, 1780, in which Wayne gave his criticisms of the decisions of the Executive Council and of the Continental army in Pennsylvania, and complained of demoralization of the troops, especially the Pennsylvania Line.

A large number of letters and documents, particularly in the late 1780s, pertain to Wayne's rice plantation in the vicinity of Savannah, called Richmond and Kew, which was given to him by the state of Georgia for his wartime service there. Wayne took out large loans in order to revive the estate in 1785, two years after he left it "in a depreciating state" (June 29, 1783) to return to Pennsylvania. Wayne's letters describe his great difficulty in purchasing affordable slaves to work the land, his efforts to produce and sell rice and corn, and the scarcity of currency in Georgia, which compounded his troubles turning a profit. The papers also document Wayne's struggle to repay his loans and his dispute with his creditors, which became particularly intense in 1787, and resulted in his loss of the plantation in 1791. On that subject, he wrote, "I have been in treaty with my Persecutors " (March 1, 1791). His primary correspondents on these matters were William Penman, James Penman, Adam Tunno, Samuel Potts, Sharp Delany, and Richard Wayne.

Several items during this period also refer to the ongoing conflict between white settlers in Georgia and Native Americans there. One letter to Wayne from Benjamin Fishbourn concerns a Creek uprising in Georgia, during which the natives burned homes and absconded with corn and rice ([October 1786]). Although Wayne claimed that "the Indian depredations in this State have been so much exaggerated as to deter any purchasers" (February 20, 1788), he nonetheless kept track of many strife-filled incidents. On October 7, 1788, he wrote, "We are all confusion here on account of the Indians and Spaniards - the first carrying off our Negroes and other property - the latter Countenancing and protecting them!" He also described the imprisonment of his tenants by Native Americans (October 7, 1788), the abandonment of plantations by white settlers out of fear of "depredations" by natives (December 5, 1788), and the arrival of troops in the south to challenge the Creeks (December 5, 1791). On October 21, 1789, he wrote that he and his neighbors expected an "Indian war" at any time. After Wayne left the south permanently, he continued to receive periodic reports on conflicts between natives and white settlers, including an attack on Creeks at "Buzzard Town," during which whites killed and imprisoned many natives, as described in letters dated October 26 and December 17, 1793. Also of interest is a list of settlements in the Upper and Lower Creek Nation, including towns and villages called "The Buzzard Rost," "New Youga," "Swagelas," and "Cowetaws" (July 2, 1793).

The collection also documents several aspects of Anthony Wayne's political career, and includes his notes on the Constitutional Convention, including his assertion that "The Constitution is a Dangerous Machine in the hands of designing men" (filed at the end of 1788). Also of note are his several letters to President George Washington, requesting favors for himself and his friends, and a letter describing Washington's visit to Savannah, during which Wayne escorted him around the city (May 18, 1791). Well-represented is the conflict between Wayne and James Jackson over the election of 1791 for a seat in the 2nd United States Congress to represent the 1st District of Georgia.

A large portion of the collection concerns Wayne's prosecution of the Northwest Indian War as commander-in-chief of the newly created Legion of the United States between 1792 and 1796. Early letters and documents record the Legion's travel across Pennsylvania, gathering recruits en route (June 8, 1792); the smallpox inoculations for the soldiers (July 6, 1792); the arrangement of men into sublegions (July 13, 1792); Secretary of War Henry Knox's decision to delay operations until after the winter (August 7, 1792; August 10, 1792); and the foundation of Legionville, Pennsylvania, the first formal military basic training facility in the United States (November 23, 1792). Numerous letters concern military administration, including provisioning, appointments and promotions, furloughs, and other routine matters. Discipline of the troops was also a frequent concern, and Wayne and his correspondents frequently made references to desertion, disciplinary measures, the distribution of whiskey as a reward for successful target practice, and courts martial. Examples of the latter include the court martial of Captain William Preston, whom Wayne called "a very young Officer-with rather too high an idea of Equality " (June 25, 1795); the case of a private, Timothy Haley, who was convicted but released under pressure from the civil courts (July 1, 1795); and the proceedings against Lieutenant Peter Marks for "ungentleman and unofficer-like conduct" (July 20-21, 1794). A booklet covering July 19-August 2, 1793, contains a number of court martial proceedings, for such offenses as drunkenness while on guard duty and use of abusive language.

The correspondence and documents created during this period also shed some light on various Native American tribes in the Midwest and their encounters with Wayne's forces. In a letter to Wayne, Henry Knox frets over the yet-unknown fate of Colonel John Hardin, who died in an ambush by the Shawnee (August 7, 1792).

Also addressed are the following conflicts:

  • Attack on Fort Jefferson by a Potawatomi force (September 9, 1792)
  • Attack on a forage convoy near Fort Hamilton by Native Americans (September 23, 1792)
  • Attack on Fort Washington, resulting in the capture of three prisoners by native forces (October 2, 1792)
  • Attack on Fort St. Clair by 250 Native Americans under Little Turtle (November 6, 1792)
  • Skirmishes with Native Americans in southern Ohio (October 22, 1793) in which "the Indians killed & carried off about 70 officers leaving the waggons & stores standing"

Also of interest is a description by Israel Chapin of a Six Nations council at "Buffaloe Creek," which lists some of the attendants: "the Farmer's Brother, Red Jacket and Capt Billy of the Senkas; the Fish Carrier, head Chief of the Cayugas,; Great Sky head chief of the Onondagas; and Capt Brandt of the Mohawks; and great numbers of inferior Chiefs" (December 11, 1793). On January 21, 1794, Wayne voiced his suspicions concerning peace overtures from "Delaware, Shawanoes and Miami tribes" and accused them of buying time in order to "secure their provisions, and to remove their women and children from pending distruction." Jean-Francois (sometimes known as John Francis) Hamtramck, commandant of Fort Wayne, wrote very informative letters to Wayne, discussing the Native American traders in the area and the possibility of starting a trading house at Fort Wayne (February 3, 1795), the arrival of Potawatomi at the Fort (March 5, 1795), and a meeting with the Le Gris, chief of the Miamis, whom he called a "sensible old fellow, in no ways ignorant of the Cause of the war, for which he Blames the Americans, saying that they were too extravagant in their Demands in their first treaties" (March 27, 1795).

The Battle of Fallen Timbers receives only minor attention in the collection in the form of letters, expressing praise for Wayne's victory, from army paymaster Caleb Swan (October 19, 1794) and Francis Vigo (February 22, 1795). However, efforts to end hostilities are well documented with such items as a copy of the Treaty of Greenville (August 3, 1795), Wayne's account of the signing and its impact on various tribes and their leaders (August 14, 1795), and letters from several civilians requesting help in locating family members captured by Native Americans (June 1, 1795; July 27, 1795).

Isaac and William Wayne

After Anthony Wayne's death in December 1796, the focus of the series shifts to his son, Isaac Wayne, and then to Wayne's great-grandson, William Wayne (née William Wayne Evans); the activities of the two men occupy much of the material in Volumes 11-16. Early letters mainly pertain to the family matters and finances of Isaac Wayne, including the ongoing settlement of his father's estate and various claims against it. Several items relate to his career, including an acceptance of the resignation of a soldier from Erie Light Infantry Company during the War of 1812 (March 27, 1813), and a circular letter urging support for his candidacy for governor of Pennsylvania (October 3, 1814), which was ultimately unsuccessful. Other topics include his refusal of a nomination to Congress (February 1824); requests for information about his father by historians and biographers; the August 1828 death of his son Charles, who served in the navy; and other political and family matters discussed by Wayne. His primary correspondents include William Richardson Atlee, Charles Miner, Callender Irvine, Samuel Hayman, and various members of Evans family, to whom he was related through his sister Margaretta.

The bulk of the letters postdating 1850 relate to William Wayne. Early correspondence concerns his courtship with his future wife, Hannah Zook, in 1852, the death of Isaac Wayne on October 25, 1852, and various social visits and family concerns. On March 14 and 15, 1860, Wayne wrote to his wife about travel through Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Erie to Meadville, Pennsylvania. Though he stayed in the prominent Monongahela House, he described Pittsburgh as a "dirty village," and unfavorably compared the "Western Penitentiary" to its counterpart in Philadelphia, "the Castle on Cherry Hill." He noted that Cleveland "is said to be the handsomest City in the Union," but reserved his opinion on this point.

The collection also contains six letters written by Wayne during his Civil War service with the 97th Pennsylvania Infantry. On June 27, 1862, he wrote to his wife from James Island, South Carolina, concerning his regiment's role in building fortifications and mounting guns. He also commented on General George McClellan and his cautious strategy. Wayne wrote the remainder of the letters from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. On October 13, 1862, three days after the Confederate raid on Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Wayne wrote about rumors concerning "the movements of 'secesh' along our border" in what he suspected was an attempt to interfere with the election of 1862. In another letter, he expressed disappointment that he had arrived at camp too late to accompany a group of new recruits to Washington (November 3, 1862). Of interest are four letters from Wayne's friend, Joseph Lewis, which relate to Wayne's attempt to resign from the army, as well as five items relating to General Galusha Pennypacker. The Pennypacker correspondence includes a sketch of his service, written by Edward R. Eisenbeis (December 24, 1865), and letters concerning his recovery from severe wounds received at the Second Battle of Fort Fisher in 1865. Also of interest are several postwar letters to and from General George A. McCall concerning his meetings with Wayne.

The Manuscripts Division has created a list of the names of the letter-writers in the collection: Wayne Family Papers Contributor List.

The Letter Books series contains three volumes of Anthony Wayne's outgoing military correspondence. The periods covered are June 4, 1792-October 5, 1793 (Volume 30), April 12, 1792-June 21, 1794 (Volume 31), and October 23, 1793-September 20, 1794 (Volume 32). The letters are official and semi-official in nature and pertain to army administration, encounters with Native Americans, troop movements, provisioning, and other topics.

The Land Documents series (Volume 17) contains land indentures, surveys, and deeds relating to several generations of the Wayne family, 1681-1879. This includes numerous documents relating to the Waynesborough estate and illustrating its possession by various family members. The surveys pertain to such matters as the line between Easttown and Willistown in Pennsylvania, several surveys performed for James Claypool in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and a drawing (including several trees) of the land of James Rice. Also included is a vellum land indenture dated October 3, 1732, between Anthony Wayne's father, Isaac, and a widow named Mary Hutton.

For other land documents, see the following surveys by Anthony Wayne in the Correspondence and Documents series:

  • Land in Tredyffrin Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania (December 15, 1764)
  • Wayne property in Easttown and Willistown, Pennsylvania (January 12, 1767)
  • Newtown, Chester County, Pennsylvania (January 12, 1767)
  • Waynesborough, Chester County, Pennsylvania ([ca. 1784])
  • Survey notes on a tract of land reserved by Wayne on the Little Setilla River, Georgia (July 23, 1786)

The Other Legal Documents series (Volume 17) spans 1686-1868 and contains wills, inventories, certificates, financial agreements, and other document types. Included are several documents related to the death of Samuel K. Zook, brother-in-law of William Wayne, at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 2, 1863; certificates related to the Ancient York Masons, Pennsylvania Society of the Cincinnati, and the American Philosophical Society; and several articles of agreement concerning financial transactions between various members of the Wayne family. Also of note are the wills of Anthony Wayne, Mary (Penrose) Wayne, Elizabeth Wayne, William Richardson, and others.

The Diaries and Notebooks series (Volumes 17-20) contains 19 diaries and notebooks written by various members of the Wayne family between 1815 and 1913. Of these, Charles Wayne wrote one volume, an unknown author wrote one, William Wayne wrote ten, and William Wayne, Jr., wrote seven. The books have been assigned letters and arranged in chronological order. The Charles Wayne notebook, labeled "A," covers 1815-1816 and contains algebraic equations and notes from Charles' lessons at Norristown Academy in Pennsylvania. Volume "B," written by an unknown author, dates to about 1820 and contains a number of medicinal cures for ailments such as cholera, snakebite, consumption, jaundice, and dysentery, as well as notes on the weather and references to agriculture and a few daily events.

William Wayne, the great-grandson of Anthony Wayne, wrote volumes "C" through "L," documenting the years 1858 to 1872, with a gap from November 11, 1861-August 13, 1862. The volumes record Wayne's pre-Civil War agricultural pursuits, his service with the 97th Pennsylvania Infantry, and his postwar activities. Of particular interest are the entries that Wayne wrote while posted on Hilton Head Island in August 1862, as well as his brief descriptions of the arrival and processing of recruits at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in October of the same year. He also referenced Pennsylvania politics, the elections of 1863 and 1864, and the reaction of Philadelphians to the news of Lincoln's assassination. Also worth noting are Wayne's accounts of the Confederate cavalry raids on Chambersburg in November 1862, the Gettysburg campaign, and Wayne's attempts to recover the body of his brother-in-law after Gettysburg. Postwar, Wayne wrote on such topics as Reconstruction (August 14, 1866), a cholera outbreak in New York (November 4, 1865), and election fraud and rioting in Philadelphia (October 14, 1868).

William Wayne, Jr., wrote diaries "M" through "S," 1883-1913, with a gap between September 30, 1902, and April 19, 1911. These contain near-daily brief entries on weather, family life, health, and Wayne's interest in politics. Included is a description of an unveiling of a Sons of the Revolution monument (June 19, 1893), the illness of his wife, Mary (Fox) Wayne (February 28, 1884), and Wayne's work during an election (February 19, 1884).

The Account Books series contains 24 volumes, spanning 1769-1856. The earliest volume ("A") covers approximately 1769 to 1780, and contains accounts for unknown transactions, as well as scattered memoranda concerning travel between Ireland and North America and several references to schooling. Volume "B" is Anthony Wayne's military account book for 1793-1794, which lists monthly pay to various members of the Legion of the United States. Volumes "C" through "S" encompass a large amount of financial information for Anthony Wayne's son, Isaac, for the years 1794-1823. Volumes "T" through "X" are overlapping financial account books for William Wayne, covering 1854 through 1877. Also included is an account book recording tannery transactions and activities of the Wayne family in the 18th century (Volume 29), and a book of register warrants drawn by Anthony Wayne on the paymaster general in 1796 (Volume 34)

The Anthony Wayne Portait and Miscellaneous series contains an undated engraved portrait of Wayne by E. Prud'homme from a drawing by James Herring. Also included are various newspaper clippings, genealogical material, and printed matter representing the 19th and 20th centuries.

Show all series level scope and content notes