Geddes and Randall Families Papers: 1771-1950 (bulk 1825-1918)
Summary Information
Title: Geddes and Randall Families Papers
Creator: Geddes family.
Inclusive dates: 1771-1950
Bulk dates: 1825-1918
Extent: 4 linear feet
Abstract:
This collection is comprised of papers of John Geddes, an early Washtenaw Country settler. The highlight of the collection is the correspondence between John Geddes and his brother William from the first half of the nineteenth century, large portions of which were transcribed by the donor, Russell E. Bidlack. The collection also contains papers from John Geddes' daughter--Sarah Geddes Randall--and her family, as well as notes and correspondence regarding the collection and secondary source material compiled by Professor Bidlack.
Call number: 03173 Aa 2
Language: The materials are in English.
Repository: Bentley Historical Library
1150 Beal Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113
Phone: 734-764-3482
Fax: 734-936-1333
e-mail: bentley.ref@umich.edu
Home Page: http://www.bentley.umich.edu/
Finding aid prepared by: Leilani Dawson

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

The Geddes and Randall Family papers were put on deposit by the estate of Mr. Russell E. Bidlack (donor no. 2635) in 2003.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

To protect fragile audiovisual recordings (such as audio cassettes, film reels, and VHS tapes), the Bentley Historical Library has a policy of converting them to digital formats by a professional vendor whenever a researcher requests access. For more information, please see: http://bentley.umich.edu/research/duplication/.

Copyright:

Copyright is held by the Regents of the University of Michigan but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright is not held. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.

Preferred Citation:

item, folder title, box no., Geddes and Randall Families Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


Biography

John Geddes (1801-1889) was a major figure in Washtenaw County's early history. He was one of the first settler's in Woodruff's Grove, a town (now under Ford Lake) that would become Ypsilanti. In addition, he and his brother Robert Geddes (1797-1866) contributed to the development of millwork along the Huron River, owning properties in Ann Arbor Township, Geddes(burg), Ypsilanti, and Pittsfield and Superior Townships. In 1857, John Geddes called for the founding of the Washtenaw County Historical Society, and was one of its active members. John Geddes also held various political offices, including Justice of the Peace, State Representative, and County Supervisor.

John and Robert Geddes migrated to Michigan (from Londonderry, PA and Romulus, NY, respectively) in 1824, and shortly settled in Washtenaw County near where Fleming Creek joins the Huron River. The farm on which the brothers settled grew to contain the Geddes' saw and paper mills, as well as the several homes of the village of Geddes/Geddesburg. In 1829, Robert Geddes married Maria Lane; two years after she died in 1837 he married her sister, Chloe Lane. Similarly, John Geddes first married Fanny Savage (1806-1855) in 1837, and then in 1856 married her sister, Julia Ette Savage. John and Fanny Geddes had three children, Sarah, Rachel, and John Jr.

In 1862, Sarah Geddes married William T. Randall, also involved in paper milling and manufacture. Their several children include Earle Chapin Randall (b.1869), Charlotte O. Randall (also called Lottie, b.1865), Julia (b. 1871), John (b. 1873), and Sarah Gertrude (called Gertie, b. 1877). William Randall's work with the Red Rock Paper Company took the family out of Washtenaw County to Beloit, Wisconsin and Marshall, Michigan, from where they kept up correspondence with the Geddes and Randalls back home. One of these correspondents was Hellen Randall-Rash, William T. Randall's sister, who married James Rash. James Rash was a descendent of George Rash, another early Washtenaw County settler.

Over the years, other Geddes migrated from Pennsylvania to Washtenaw County, including Robert and John's brother William Geddes (1802-1877) in 1844. In the 1880s, John sold the Geddes farm to the Francis and Catherine Monaghan, workers on the farm and great-grandparents of Domino's Pizza magnate Thomas S. Monaghan.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The Geddes and Randall families collection is arranged into four series: Geddes Family, 1771-1889; Randall Family, 1860-1950; Rash Family, 1832-1924; and Historical Material Collected by Russell E. Bidlack. The collection is very much a product of Mr. Bidlack's research and archival processing. Not only does the collection contain copious photocopies, both of materials originally in the collection and of supporting materials, it also includes transcriptions and notes created by Mr. Bidlack. Besides extensive material on the Geddes and Randall families and the history of Washtenaw County, the collection also may be useful for researchers studying Nineteenth century mills and related manufacturing in the midwest. The researcher should note that the library has a second portion of the papers of the Geddes and Randall families which came from a different donor. This collection has been separately cataloged.

Subject Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the finding aid database and catalog of The Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan. Researchers desiring additional information about related topics should search the catalog using these headings.


  • Millwrights -- Michigan.
  • Washtenaw County (Mich.) -- History.
  • Geddes family.
  • Geddes, John.
  • Geddes, William.
  • Randall family.
  • Bidlack, Russell E. (Russell Eugene), 1920-
  • Geddes, John.
  • Geddes, William.
  • Randall, William T.
Contents List
Request materials for use in the Bentley Library
Container / Location Title
 
Geddes Family 1771-1889 [series]

The first series, Geddes Family, 1771-1889, is divided into sub-series of the correspondence between William and John Geddes, John Geddes' papers, and mixed Geddes family papers. This series, and specifically the first sub-series, is the highlight of the overall collection. These are letters between John and William Geddes, arranged chronologically, numbered, and largely transcribed by Russell E. Bidlack. (The only exception to his numbering scheme is the letter #30A from John Geddes to William Geddes. While the original was not in the series, Mr. Bidlack's transcription was among the other John Geddes transcriptions, so the letter was given number in the series by the processor.) According to Mr. Bidlack's notes, a couple of the original letters were sold; the collection includes photocopies and/or transcriptions of these pieces. The sub-series also contains a few other Geddes family letters--such as from Robert Geddes to William, or from John to their father--in the numbered sequence. Another notable piece of correspondence in John Geddes' papers is a letter from James T. Allen (brother of Ann Arbor founder John Allen) to John Geddes.

Other material in the series include the Geddes' land deeds and John Geddes' statements and collections reflecting his awareness of his role in Washtenaw County and Geddes family history. Many of the folders include photocopies in addition to original materials, and some include Russell E. Bidlack's notes and transcripts as well. It should be noted that the second folder of William Geddes' (in the Geddes Family sub-series) consists of material not originally in the Geddes family collection. This folder consists of photocopies of material that one of Russell Bidlack's correspondents, Hannah Wright, found in a trunk in her mother's house, which at one time belonged to William Geddes. These papers include correspondence to William Geddes from friends and relatives around the country and ancestral papers from the Geddes, Sawyer, and McCallen families.

 
John and William Geddes Correspondence 1825-1844 [subseries]
 
Originals
Box   1  
Letters from John to William 1828-1844 (43 folders)

(numbered 1-30, 30A, 31-42)

Box   1  
Letters from William to John 1825-1844 (64 folders)

(numbered 1-34, 34A, 36-43, 43A, 44-46, 46A, 47-63)

 
Transcripts
Box   1  
Letters from John to William 1828-1844

(numbered 1-30, 30A, 31-42)

Box   1  
Letters from William to John 1825-1844

(numbered 1-34, 34A, 36, 37, 61)

 
Photocopies
Box   1  
Letters from John to William 1828-1844

(numbered 1-8, 10-30, 31, 33-42)

Box   1  
Letters from William to John 1825-1844

(numbered 1-13, 16-34, 34A, 36-43, 43A, 44-46, 46A, 47-62)

 
John Geddes [subseries]
 
Correspondence
Box   2  
Family Correspondence 1830-1837, 1885-1889
Box   2  
Letter from James T. Allen 1878
Box   2  
Other Correspondence 1829-1876, undated

(Includes Russell E. Bidlack's notes on later sales)

Box   2  
Land Deeds and Indentures 1827-1867
 
Historical and Genealogical
Box   2  
Correspondence on Family History 1875-1887
Box   2  
McCallen Letters 1776

(photocopies of letters from John Geddes' paternal grandmother's family)

Box   2  
Material on Family History and Genealogy
Box   2  
Historical Material on Washtenaw County
Box   2  
Miscellaneous 1830-1888, undated
 
Geddes Family [subseries]
Box   2  
William Geddes--Portions of letters from John, prior to 1835

(Not in numbered sequence)

Box   2  
William Geddes--Family Correspondence 1771-1885, undated

(Photocopies given to Russell E. Bidlack by Hannah Wright.)

Box   2  
Geddes Family Correspondence 1840 1820s, 1880s
 
Randall Family 1860-1950 [series]

The second series, Randall Family, 1860-1950, is also divided into sub-series by family member, specifically William T. Randall, Sarah Geddes Randall, Charlotte Randall, Earle Randall, and then mixed Randall family papers. This series contains extensive Randall family correspondence, both among the Randalls and between the Randalls and Geddeses. Russell E. Bidlack's photocopies of these materials is included with the originals. It also includes William T. and Earle Randall's business correspondence (in the paper and lumber businesses, respectively). Charlotte Randall's papers include her genealogical notes and correspondence on the Geddes, Randall, Chapin, and other related families, as well as papers related to her involvement with the Daughters of the American Revolution. The family's folders of miscellaneous materials includes a wide variety of documents, including Sarah Geddes and William Randall's marriage certificate, a couple of the children's diplomas, contracts and agreements, and numerous financial records (such as invoices, account books, statements, receipts, etc.). It should be noted that, in the case of William T. Randall's papers, there is some overlap between business correspondence and miscellaneous business papers, such as invoices and receipts. Researchers interested in the most complete view of his business and financial dealings should thus look in both places.

 
William T. Randall [subseries]
 
Family Correspondence
Box   2  
Correspondence from John Geddes Jr. 1870-1877
Box   2  
Correspondence from John Geddes 1880-1883
Box   2  
Other Family Correspondence 1870-1896, undated
Box   2  
Other Correspondence 1863-1896, undated (4 folders)
Box   2  
Miscellaneous circa 1860-1895 (2 folders)
 
Sarah Geddes Randall [subseries]
 
Correspondence
Box   2  
Correspondence from John and Julia Ette Savage Geddes 1870-1887, undated
Box   2  
Other Correspondence 1860, 1871-1894, 1923, undated
Box   2  
Miscellaneous 1862-1923, undated
 
Charlotte O. Randall [subseries]
Box   2  
Correspondence 1872-1882, 1899-1914, 1924-1946, undated
Box   2  
Genealogical Material
Box   2  
Miscellaneous 1876, 1895-1947, undated
 
Earle Chapin Randall [subseries]
Box   3  
Business Correspondence 1905-1917
Box   3  
Personal Correspondence 1907-1918, 1930, undated (4 folders)
Box   3  
Miscellaneous, circa 1900-1950
 
Randall Family [subseries]
Box   3  
Correspondence from Herbert and Rachel Geddes Bishop to William T. and Sarah Geddes Randall 1870-1903, undated (2 folders)
Box   3  
Various Papers 1871-1912, 1930, undated

(mostly correspondence)

 
Rash Family 1832-1924 [series]

The next series, Rash Family, 1832-1924, contains somewhat more peripheral material--almost exclusively photocopies and photo reprints--added by Russell Bidlack for more information on Randalls. These papers were apparently kept by William T. Randall's sister, Hellen Randall Rash, and include portrait photographs of various Randalls, Rashes, and Geddeses, correspondence from William and Sarah Geddes Randall to James and Hellen Randall Rash, and Rash papers not from the Randalls. As Hellen and William Randalls' mother (and possibly sisters) seem to have lived with Hellen Randall Rash, the correspondence include letters to mother Julia A. Randall and sisters Julia and Lydia Randall as well.

Box   3  
Photocopies of Correspondence from William T. and Sarah Geddes Randall 1852-1894, undated
Box   3  
Randall, Rash, and Geddes Portraits circa 1860s-1870s

(photo reprints)

Box   3  
Photocopies of other Rash Family papers 1832-1891, 1919-1924, undated

(Includes Russell E. Bidlack's notes on the family)

 
Historical and Genealogical Material Collected by Russell E. Bidlack [series]

The last series, Historical Material Collected by Russell E. Bidlack, consists of secondary and background material, and it provides an overview of the core collection. It includes Mr. Bidlack's correspondence with others interested in the Randall and Geddes families, as well as with other devotees of Washtenaw Country history. Mr. Bidlack's notes pertaining to his processing of the collection are also included. Secondary source materials consist of copies of books and articles on Washtenaw County history, notably from the 1881 Washtenaw County History. Other materials include maps of Washtenaw County land plots (both county wide and specifically for Ann Arbor and Superior Townships), and information on Ypsilanti's First Presbyterian Church (where John Geddes served as an elder), the Geddes' connection to the Underground Railroad, area mills, the Geddes school, and the Geddesburg Historic District proposal of the mid-1990s.

Box   3  
General Materials on Washtenaw County and the Geddes family
Box   3  
Geddes References in the 1881 Washtenaw County History
Box   3  
Geddesburg Historic District/Dixboro Road Area
Box   3  
First Presbyterian Church, Ypsilanti
Box   3  
Maps and Title Abstracts
Box   3  
Pennsylvania
 
Russell E. Bidlack's Notes and Correspondence
Box   3  
On Geddes Family History and Genealogy
Box   3  
On Randall Family History and Genealogy
Box   3  
U-M Homeopathic Hospital Photographs circa 1913

(modern reprints)

Box   4  
Research files on Geddes family papers

(letters, lectures, and collected items)