The collection consists of papers related to the Mathewson family of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York, about their involvement in the early Shaker community of New Lebanon, New York, and the subsequent settlement in the early 19th century of brothers Philip Mathewson (1765-1828) and Jeremiah Angell Mathewson (1769-1841) in Hamilton and Pulaski, New York, respectively.
Series I: Jeffrey Mathewson correspondence, 1801-1822
This series contains 7 letters received by Jeffrey Mathewson (1761-1833), of Lisbon, Connecticut, between 1801 and 1822. The earliest letter is from his brother, Jeremiah Angell Mathewson (1769-1841) and 5 of the remaining ones are from his brother Philip (1765-1828). The remaining letter is from a family friend, Ashbel Cooley. Both Jeremiah and Philip were early settlers of western New York, and their letters include a mix of family news and commentary on the weather, crops, and local and state politics. Points of note include Jeremiah Angell's dispute with his mother and the Shaker community over gravestones (22 Aug.1801), as well as Philip's accounts of New York state politics, the War of 1812 in the western part of the state (19 Jan. 1814), and brief mentions of the Erie Canal's construction and the early days of the Tammany Hall political machine.
Series II: Philip (1737-1796) and Jeremiah Angell Mathewson papers, 1796-1840
The second series chiefly contains papers related to Philip Mathewson (1737-1796) and his son Jeremiah Angell Mathewson (1769-1841), particularly their experience in joining and separating from the early Shaker community in New Lebanon, New York, in the late 1780s and 1790s. Jeremiah's 56-page account contains details about the initial founding of the Shakers, including material related to the group's founders, Elder William Lee and Mother Ann Lee, as well as a lengthy narrative of the difficulty his father encountered with the community over a disputed contract.
Related to this document are the 4-page lease of Samuel Hand's farm in Canaan County, New York, to Philip Mathewson and Peter Wylie, out of which the Mathewson's disputes with the Shakers grew; a short narrative of the failed attempt to prohibit alcohol consumption among the New Lebanon Shakers, accompanied by Jeremiah A. Mathewson's overall judgment of the Shaker experiment; a 1-page note, dated 1840, in Jeremiah's hand about the origins of the family name; and a letter to Jeremiah Mathewson from his nephew Bucklin Mathewson, dated November 13, 1833, relating the death of Jeremiah's brother Jeffrey Mathewson.
Other papers in the series consist of 2 short, undated poems from an unknown author and a letter addressed to Miss Sally Porter of Camden, New York, from her sister, Mary Porter, and mother, Polly Porter, of Taunton, Massachusetts, dated May 16, 1837. The letter describes the effects of the Panic of 1837 in Taunton.