George B. Walbridge papers (1851-1852)

Collection processed and finding aid created by Rob S. Cox
Manuscripts Division, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

Summary Information

Title: George B. Walbridge papers
Creator: Walbridge, George B.
Inclusive dates: 1851-1852
Extent: 18 items
The George B. Walbridge papers consist of the correspondence of an entrepreneurial businessman in the areas of groceries and shipping around Buffalo, NY.
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

1997. M-3354.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation

George B. Walbridge Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


George B. Walbridge worked in the wholesale grocery trade in Buffalo, N.Y., before 1835, operating alone or in the firm Walbridge & Harvey for over a decade. In about 1847 he began to diversify the scope of his enterprises, entering into partnership with his nephew, Wells D. Walbridge, to form a forwarding, shipping, and commercial mercantile firm, George B. Walbridge & Co.

For at least four years, Walbridge & Co. operated steamers (including the Albany , Diamond , and Fashion ) and propeller ships (including the Buffalo , Saginaw , Pocahontas , and Troy ) connecting the rail termini at Cleveland, Ashtabula, and Dunkirk, Ohio and Erie, Pa. with Buffalo, establishing a vital link for the transportation of freight between rail and shipping systems. The flush days of the firm, however, were quite brief. George Walbridge died in 1852 or 1853, and although Wells attempted to maintain the business for another two years, by 1856, he had accepted a position with the American Transport Company.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Walbridge papers consists of 17 letters from Wells D. Walbridge to his uncle and partner, George B. Walbridge, written between November, 1851, and August, 1852, plus one letter from a business associate, Andrew Parker. During these several months, George Walbridge was resident in Savannah, Ga., and Jacksonville, Fla., suffering to some degree from ill health. The letters concern the routine, but fairly diverse business interests of the Walbridges, and include commentary on the commercial climate in Buffalo, and the various rail and steam lines which connected the city with markets to the east and west.

While few in number, the letters in the Walbridge Papers are useful for providing a taste of the business climate of the early 1850s, and particularly for the importance that rail and shipping held for one another. Both Walbridges emerge as aggressive, speculative businessmen who kept an attentive eye on their extended finances and on the somewhat fickle winds of the business world.

Subject Terms

  • Buffalo (N.Y.)--Commerce.
  • Railroads.
  • Steamboats.

Contents List (Request Materials)

Request materials for use in the Clements Library
Container / Location Title
Box   3, Small Collections  
George B. Walbridge papers,  1851 November 19-1852 August 8 [series]

Additional Descriptive Data

Partial Subject Index

Buffalo (N.Y.)--Commerce
  • passim
Erie & Ashtabula Railroad
  • 1852 March 7
  • 1852 March 14
Fires--New York (State)--Buffalo
  • 1851 December 28
  • 1852 January 25
New York & Erie Railroad
  • 1851 December14
Ohio--Description and travel
  • 1852 January 25
Railroads--New York (State)
  • 1851 December 14
  • 1852 March 23
  • 1852 March 7
  • 1852 March 14
  • 1852 March 7
  • 1852 March 14
  • 1851 November 24
Steamboats--Great Lakes
  • passim
Steamboats--New York (State)
  • passim