Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Mary S. Clarkson Papers, 1850-1851

Finding aid created by
Mary Parsons, July 2009, and Meg Hixon, October 2011

Summary Information
Title: Mary S. Clarkson papers
Creator: Longworth, Mr.
Inclusive dates: 1850-1851
Extent: 4 items
The Mary S. Clarkson papers contain four items written by Clarkson while she lived on the Wyandot Indian Reserve in what is now eastern Kansas. The collection includes two letters written to a "Mr. Longworth," as well as two essays, one based on Wyandot folklore and the other on a Wyandot woman's recollections about her family.
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:

2009. M-4748.1.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

Mary S. Clarkson Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged chronologically.


Mary S. Clarkson was born on February 10, 1794, in Woodford County, Kentucky. Her mother, Sarah Watkins Field, was murdered in 1799, and her father was executed for the crime shortly thereafter. Henry Clay acted as his defense attorney and the case, decided on circumstantial evidence, remained contentious even after Field's execution. Following the death of Mary's parents, her aunt, Elizabeth McClanahan, of Bourbon County, Kentucky, raised Mary and her four sisters. Mary later married David Clarkson. After his death, she lived with her sister, Sallie Moseley, and Sallie's husband, Thomas. Thomas Moseley, Jr. (1792-1858) served as a subagent on the Wyandot Indian Reserve in what is now eastern Kansas and later headed the Kansas Agency. Mary S. Clarkson died on April 18, 1871, in St. Louis, Missouri.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Mary S. Clarkson papers contain four items written by Clarkson while she lived on the Wyandot Indian Reserve in what is now eastern Kansas. The first item in the collection, entitled "On asking a Wyandott woman how came the Deleware the Nephew of the W. she related the following Tradition," relates a traditional Wyandot story about the origin of the Delaware Indians, said to be relatives of the Wyandot tribe. Clarkson transcribed the story from the recollections of William Walker. Two letters composed by Clarkson and addressed to "Mr. Longworth," provide details about various aspects of Clarkson's life among the Wyandot Indians. Clarkson discussed the "Paris grape" at length, and included details on the local climate and existing flora in the area. Her prose reflected the degree to which she felt comfortable amidst the tribe, and she told Longworth, "…we contemplate adopting you into the Nation at the next New Corn feast" (March 10, 1851). In the same letter, Clarkson went into greater detail about the customs and stories of the Wyandots, and included an entry in her diary regarding a February 4 council meeting. The final item in the collection is a story about the family of "Ma an-za," a local Wyandot woman, as told to Mary Clarkson. Clarkson, who contemplated compiling a volume of Wyandot stories and legends, displayed an understanding of Wyandot culture throughout her writings.

Subject Terms

    • Indians of North America--Kansas.
    • Kansas--History.
    • Walker, William.
    • Wyandot Indians--Folklore.
    • Clarkson, Mary S., 1794-1871.
    Genre Terms:
    • Legends (folk tales)
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   43, Small Collections  
    Mary S. Clarkson papers [series]
    Folder   39  
     July 13, 1850-March 10, 1851