Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Laidley Family Papers, 1838-1886

Finding aid created by
Abby Smith, June 2011

Summary Information
Title: Laidley family papers
Creator: Laidley, John Osborne, 1791-1863 and Laidley, W. S. (William Sydney), 1839-1917
Inclusive dates: 1838-1886
Bulk dates: 1838-1861
Extent: 392 items
Abstract:
The Laidley family papers consist of letters written by members of the Laidley family regarding family news, politics, and life in the military. The collection also contains fiction written by William Sydney Laidley, a travel journal, legal documents, photographs, and genealogical materials.
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
Acquisition Information:

1980. M-1898.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

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

Preferred Citation:

Laidley Family Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Arrangement

The Laidley family papers are arranged in series

  • Series I: Correspondence
  • Series II: Diary
  • Series III: Financial and Legal Documents
  • Series IV: Creative Writing
  • Series V: Personal and Genealogical Materials
  • Series VI: Business Cards
  • Series VII: Newspaper Clippings
  • Series VIII: Photographs

Biography

John Osborne Laidley was born in Morgantown, Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1791, the fourth child of Thomas Laidley and Sarah Osborne. John served as a volunteer in the Virginia Artillery during the War of 1812. He returned to Cabell County, Virginia, in the winter of 1814 to practice law. He was appointed the prosecuting attorney of the county and continued in that position for the rest of his life. In 1816 he married Mary Scales Hite (1801-1876), the daughter of Jacob Hite and Sarah Scales, with whom he had fourteen children. He was a member of the Virginia Convention in 1829 and 1830, where he opposed secession from the Union. John Osborne Laidley died in 1863 of pneumonia.

Amacetta Laidley was the first child of John Osborne Laidley. She was born in Cabell County, Virginia in March 1818. In 1833 she married Judge George W. Summers (b.1804) and moved to Charleston, Virginia (now West Virginia). George was a congressman from Virginia from 1841-1844. He campaigned to be governor of Virginia in 1851, but was defeated after running on an anti-secessionist platform. He continued to be a judge in Virginia after his election defeat. Amacetta and George had six children, but only two of them survived infancy. Amacetta died in 1867 after many incidents of poor health, and George died in 1868.

Theodore Thaddeus Sobieski Laidley was born April 14, 1822, the third child of John Osborne Laidley and Mary Scales Hite. Theodore entered the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1838, graduating four years later ranked sixth in his class. He joined the Ordnance Department as a second lieutenant, and served in the Mexican War and later at arsenals in New York, Virginia, and North Carolina. Theodore married Jane Webb Averill in 1848, and they had one daughter, Jane Laidley, born in 1849. Theodore served in the Union Army during the Civil War. After over 40 years in the military, he retired and travelled to Florida to improve his health, which had plagued him his entire life. He died April 4, 1886, in Palatka, Florida.

William Sydney Laidley, the eleventh child of John Osborne Laidley and Mary Scales Hite, was born in June 1839 at the family home, Lamartine, in Cabell County, Virginia. William studied law and moved to Charleston, West Virginia, in 1863 to begin practicing as an attorney. He married Virginia Brown in 1869, and they had nine children together. William was Kanawha County’s delegate to the West Virginia State House from 1872-1873. William died in 1917 after a long career as an attorney, genealogist, and writer.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The Laidley family papers are comprised of letters, a travel diary, miscellaneous documents, creative writing, genealogical materials, business cards, newspaper clippings, and photographs.

Correspondence: The bulk of the letters are from Theodore T.S. Laidley to his father, John Osborne Laidley, between 1838 and 1861. The collection also contains letters from Theodore to his brother William Sydney Laidley, and letters from various friends and family members, including Amacetta Laidley and George W. Summers, to John Osborne Laidley.

Theodore's early letters describe his life at the United States Military Academy at West Point. After graduating from West Point, Theodore spent time at the Watervliet Arsenal near Troy, New York. He wrote to his father monthly about military life, his enjoyment of New York State, and his health. Theodore took an interest in politics, and was very much concerned about bills, policies, and appointments that he felt were detrimental to the future of the army.

Letters from Theodore contain news about his family, his wife's family, and their health. He also wrote to his father with advice about his siblings. Fewer letters exist from the other Laidley children, and Theodore refers to them being infrequent correspondents. Amacetta did write her father from Washington, recounting politicians and writers she had met. Amacetta's husband, George W. Summers, wrote to John Osborne Laidley about legal matters and his future in politics. Laidley's friends and children wrote frequently about faith and church matters. Following John Osborne Laidley's death in 1863, the bulk of the letters are from Theodore Laidley to his brother, William Sydney Laidley.

Diary: The travel diary is the record of an unidentified family member's journey from Charleston, West Virginia, to Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1879. It contains several pencil drawings including sketches of bridges, a ship, the Chesapeake Bay, and a chandelier.

Documents: The miscellaneous documents consist of receipts, a bill of sale, and a deed.

Creative Writing: The creative writing series contains two poems and a short novel of the Civil War written by William Sydney Laidley.

Personal and Genealogical Materials: The personal and genealogical materials consist of Thomas Laidley's report cards, including some from West Point, a large family tree, information about individual family members, and records of births, deaths, and marriages.

Business Cards: The business card series is made up of the business cards of Theodore Laidley and William Sydney Laidley. William Sydney Laidley's business card features a pencil drawing of an infant on the reverse.

Newspaper Clippings: The collection includes two newspaper clippings. The first is a report of the sinking of the steamer Sultan and the death of Sarah Laidley Poage. The second is a report of a trip to Europe by a member of the Laidley family.

Photographs: The photographs series is composed of three photographs, including two of William Sydney Laidley and one of an unidentified member of the Laidley family.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Cabell County (W. Va.)
    • Family life--Virginia.
    • Family life--West Virginia.
    • United States. Army--History.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Fiction.
    • United States Military Academy.
    • United States--Politics and government--1783-1865.
    • United States--Religion--19th century.
    • Virginia--History--1775-1865.
    • Watervliet Arsenal (N.Y.)
    • West Virginia--History.
    Contributors:
    • Laidley, Theodore, 1822-1886.
    • Laidley, W. S. (William Sydney), 1839-1917.
    • Summers, Amacetta Laidley, 1818-1867.
    • Summers, George W. (George William), 1804-1868.
    Genre Terms:
    • Business cards.
    • Correspondence.
    • Diaries.
    • Drawings.
    • Financial records.
    • Legal documents.
    • Newspaper clippings.
    • Photographs.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
     
    Correspondence [series]
    Box   1 Folder   1
     1838 June 4-1840 September 1 (6 items)
    Box   1 Folder   2
     1841 January 17-1842 December 8 (7 items)
    Box   1 Folder   3
     1843 March 12-1844 April 12 (7 items)
    Box   1 Folder   4
     1844 May 16-1845 March 3 (7 items)
    Box   1 Folder   5
     1845 April 10-1847 December 15 (8 items)
    Box   1 Folder   6
     1848 January 3-1849 January 17 (6 items)
    Box   1 Folder   7
     1849 May 17-1849 August 3 (7 items)
    Box   1 Folder   8
     1849 September 8-1850 January 11 (7 items)
    Box   1 Folder   9
     1850 January 18-1850 April 13 (7 items)
    Box   1 Folder   10
     1850 May 6-1850 September 4 (8 items)
    Box   1 Folder   11
     1850 September 2-1851 May 1 (7 items)
    Box   1 Folder   12
     1851 May 3-1851 December 23 (8 items)
    Box   1 Folder   13
     1852 January 10-1852 March 21 (8 items)
    Box   1 Folder   14
     1852 April 2-1852 July 12 (7 items)
    Box   1 Folder   15
     1852 July 14-1852 October 25 October (7 items)
    Box   1 Folder   16
     1852 November 20-1853 February 15 (8 items)
    Box   1 Folder   17
     1853 March 15-1853 July 13 (7 items)
    Box   1 Folder   18
     1853 July 19-1853 October 21 (7 items)
    Box   1 Folder   19
     1853 November 15-1854 March 15 (8 items)
    Box   1 Folder   20
     1854 March 20-1854 August 8 (8 items)
    Box   1 Folder   21
     1854 August 26-1854 December 3 (8 items)
    Box   1 Folder   22
     1854 December 18-1855 May 15 (8 items)
    Box   1 Folder   23
     1855 June 15-1855 November 14 (8 items)
    Box   1 Folder   24
     1855 November 26-1856 April 17 (8 items)
    Box   1 Folder   25
     1856 April 21-1857 May 4 (7 items)
    Box   1 Folder   26
     1857 June 18-1858 January 19 (7 items)
    Box   1 Folder   27
     1858 January 25-1858 April 6 (8 items)
    Box   1 Folder   28
     1858 April 13-1858 May 18 (8 items)
    Box   1 Folder   29
     1858 May 22-1858 October 9 (9 items)
    Box   1 Folder   30
     1858 October 11-1859 February 6 (9 items)
    Box   1 Folder   31
     1859 January 19-1859 March 12 (9 items)
    Box   1 Folder   32
     1859 March 18-1860 February 22 (10 items)
    Box   1 Folder   33
     1860 February 26-1860 June 16 (9 items)
    Box   1 Folder   34
     1860 June 22-1860 November 18 (8 items)
    Box   1 Folder   35
     1861 February 5-1861 April 11 (8 items)
    Box   1 Folder   36
     1861 April 14-1869 January 11 (9 items)
    Box   2 Folder   1
     1869 July 15-1870 August 6 (7 items)
    Box   2 Folder   2
     1871 August 25-1881 January 4 (6 items)
    Box   2 Folder   3
     1884 February 2-1886 April 11 (6 items)
    Box   2 Folder   4
     Undated. Amacetta Laidley (Mrs. George W. Summers) (7 items)
    Box   2 Folder   5
     Undated. Amacetta Laidley (Mrs. George W. Summers) (8 items)
    Box   2 Folder   6
     Undated. Jane B. Laidley (4 items)
    Box   2 Folder   7
     Undated. John Hite Laidley (5 items)
    Box   2 Folder   8
     Undated. Mortimer Laidley (1 item)
    Box   2 Folder   9
     Undated. Sally C. Laidley (3 items)
    Box   2 Folder   10
     Undated. Sarah E. Laidley (3 items)
    Box   2 Folder   11
     Undated. George W. Summers (4 items)
    Box   2 Folder   12
     Undated (6 items)
    Box   2 Folder   13
     Undated (6 items)
     
    Diary [series]
    Box   2 Folder   14
     1879 June 3-June 23 (1 item)
     
    Documents [series]
    Box   2 Folder   15
    Financial and Legal Documents (8 items)
     
    Creative Writing [series]
    Box   2 Folder   16
     Undated
    Box   2 Folder   17
    Novel (1 item)
    Box   2 Folder   18
    Novel (1 item)
     
    Personal and Genealogical Materials [series]
    Box   2 Folder   19
    Report Cards (8 items)
    Box   2 Folder   20
    Genealogical Materials (5 items)
    Box   2 Folder   21
    Genealogical Materials (6 items)
    Box   2 Folder   22
    Genealogical Materials (1 item)
     
    Business Cards [series]
    Box   2 Folder   23
    Business Cards (2 items)
     
    Newspaper Clippings [series]
    Box   2 Folder   24
    Newspaper Clippings (2 items)
     
    Photographs [series]
    Box   2 Folder   25
    Photographs (3 items)