Manuscripts Division William L. Clements Library University of Michigan
Finding aid for William Young Papers, 1765-1900
Finding aid created by Rob S. Cox, July 1996
Title: William Young papers Creator: McAllister, W. Y. (William Young), 1812-1896 Inclusive dates: 1765-1900 Extent: 2 linear feet Abstract:
The William Young papers center on the lives of William Young and his son-in-law John McAllister, Jr. The strengths of the collection are its documentation of William Young's careers as printer, publisher, bookseller and paper maker; the Associate Presbyterian Church; John McAllister's antiquarian interests; and the personal lives of the Young and McAllister families.
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: www.clements.umich.edu
This William Young papers were apparently assembled by William Young McAllister (b. 1812). The Clements Library acquired the collection partly from a private collector in Philadelphia and partly from dealers.
William Young Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
The collection is organized into correspondence, arranged chronologically, followed by other material, arranged alphabetically by topic.
William Young was born near Irvine, Scotland, June 27, 1755, the eldest of the ten children of John Young and his three wives. The Youngs belonged to a Presbyterian subdivision known as the "Associate Presbyterian" or "Seceder" Church, which had severed ties with the Church of Scotland in 1733, protesting the larger body's doctrinal laxity. The Associate Presbyterians suffered a further schism in 1747 on a point of political practice, and the Youngs sided with the "Anti-Burgher" faction of this split, which founded congregations in America that eventually came to be called the Associate Presbyterian Church.
Described by a grandchild as "rather undersize and not stout," yet "very quick in his movement when young," William Young entered the Associate Presbyterian seminary in Scotland and while still a student in about 1779, married Agnes McLaws, the daughter of an Associate Presbyterian family. Young never completed his studies at the seminary, opting instead to try his hand in a career as a book dealer. At the age of twenty-eight, he left Scotland with his wife and son for America, and never returned. The family arrived at Philadelphia in June, 1784, greeted by a well established Associate Presbyterian community planted by missionaries almost thirty years earlier. The Rev. William Marshall, pastor of the thriving Philadelphia congregation, was on hand to help acclimate the Youngs to their new culture.
In Philadelphia, Young continued in the business that he knew best, the book trade. Opening a bookshop and printing establishment at his home on the corner of Second and Chestnut Streets, Young prospered, and for some years shared his success with his partner, John McCulloch (d. 1824), possibly a relative (Agnes McLaws Young's mother was Elizabeth McCulloch). The success that Young experienced at business, however, was leavened by personal tragedies. The couple had five more children in Philadelphia, two of whom died of childhood diseases, and in the great yellow fever epidemic of 1793, William and Agnes themselves were taken ill. After several painful days, William managed to recover, but Agnes did not, despite receiving the personal attentions of Benjamin Rush, allegedly the best therapeutic for the disease. She was buried in an unmarked grave at the Walnut Street Associate Presbyterian Church, which the Youngs had helped build in 1790.
In 1802, William sold his printing business to William W. Woodward, married Rachel Anderson, a woman fifteen years his junior, and moved his family to a newly built mansion at Rockland, Del. The Youngs had eight more children at Rockland, including two sets of twins, and William once again helped found an Associate Presbyterian congregation. He started a paper manufactory, which provided much of the stock used by Woodward in the Philadelphia printing shop. In 1804, Young was awarded a gold medal for developing a new paper. The mill was profitable and the Youngs lived comfortably despite the fact that Woodward still owed Young enormous sums of money on the business and was chronically behind in payments. In 1814, the paper mill burned and was reopened as a woolen mill, but Young overextended his financial resources. The woolen mill soon swallowed most of his ready cash, expansion became impossible, and when Woodward declared bankruptcy in 1825, the assets he had in the enterprise evaporated. Over the years, Young had received large credits and loans from the firm of John McAllister & Son (the son being his own son-in-law), and upon Young's death in 1829 his estate was found to owe the McAllisters over $57,000.
The woolen mill did not provide the income of the paper factory, and the Youngs returned to Philadelphia in 1816 in search of a less expensive lifestyle. The collapse of Woodward's printing establishment placed them in even more stringent circumstances and they moved to "the upper part of the house then no. 18 South 3rd Street opposite Elbow Lane -- a very uncomfortable residence -- the kitchen in the cellar." It was in this dwelling that William Young signed his will from his deathbed, and died the following day, May 12, 1829. His body was taken the following afternoon to Rockland on a Delaware River boat, and taken by hearse the five or so miles from Wilmington to Rockland for burial in the Associate Presbyterian churchyard. In Philadelphia, his executors began, on the day of his death, to seek ways of keeping the estate solvent until lands could be sold and the bills paid -- a process which proved to take thirty years.
Rachel Young, William's widow, returned to Rockland to live with a daughter. She died in Wilmington in 1836 and was buried beside her husband at Rockland. In 1851, the entire Young plot was removed to the Delaware Avenue cemetery in Wilmington.
John McAllister Jr. was born on June 19, 1786, the son of John and Frances (Wardale Lieber) McAllister, who then lived at the corner of Market and Second Streets. His father had emigrated from Scotland to New York in 1775 where he spent six years as a journeyman carpenter. His mother, a native of Yorkshire, came to America in 1773 with her first husband, but nine years later he was drowned in the Delaware River. The McAllisters, both widowed and childless, were married in 1783. John Jr. was their only son; they had twin daughters, Frances and Sarah, in 1784. John Sr. moved from New York to Philadelphia in order to be under the pastoral care of the Rev. William Marshall (1740-1802), preacher at the Philadelphia Associate Presbyterian Church. In Philadelphia he began a manufactory of whips and canes, and in 1799 purchased an eyeglass business, which he added to his other products. In 1800, he opened a retail shop for these goods in partnership with James Matthews at 50 Chestnut Street. The McAllisters lived next door at No. 48, a three-story brick house that John Sr. built in 1794.
John Jr. began his formal education at the age of four. He enjoyed music and painting, but after a very brief foray into dance, declined to pursue the study further. Only ten when he entered the University of Pennsylvania in 1796, McAllister graduated just before his seventeenth birthday in 1803, and at the time of his death, three-quarters of a century later, he had become the University's oldest living alumnus. Following graduation, McAllister entered the "counting house" of Montgomery & Newbold, where he acquired a general knowledge of business and international trade. He left the firm in 1807 and took an extended vacation on horseback to western Pennsylvania, as he later wrote, "for the benefit of my health." On returning to Philadelphia he went into business with his father, as John Sr. and James Matthews had dissolved their partnership. John Jr. took complete charge of the Chestnut Street retail outlet and his father devoted himself to the manufacturing end of the enterprise.
In 1811, John Jr. married Eliza Melville Young (1790-1853), a childhood friend who had grown up in the same church, the daughter of his father's intimate friend, William Young. The couple set up housekeeping at 48 Chestnut Street as John McAllister Sr. had moved to Auburn, N.Y., the previous year in order to superintend the manufacture of silver fittings for whips. Over the next twenty years, John and Eliza had ten children.
The firm of McAllister & Son prospered, eventually centering its production on optical and scientific instruments. On his father's death in 1830, John Jr., the only surviving child (his sisters were both deceased), became a wealthy man. A shrewd businessman, he was appointed co-executor of his father-in-law's tangled estate in 1829, and it was owing largely to his efficient management as well as his frequent personal loans that the estate did not default. John operated his business alone for five years and in 1835 turned it over to his eldest son, William Young McAllister, and retired to the life of a leisured gentleman, though not yet fifty years old. In his retirement, he was able to devote much time to his hobby, historical research. A member of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania since 1828, he was one of Philadelphia's most notable antiquarians, whose research shows a careful weighing of evidence and an attention to detail. He assisted William B. Sprague in preparing the Annals of the American Pulpit largely in the biographies of Associate Presbyterian pastors and the Episcopal clergy who had been his University of Pennsylvania professors. John and Eliza McAllister left the Associate Presbyterians over the issue of church discipline, joining the Episcopal Church, where they were faithful members and generous givers.
Widowed in 1853 when nearing seventy, John McAllister Jr. survived another quarter century. On his death, December 17, 1877, he left five children, fourteen grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren. The cash residuary estate alone, not including real estate and stocks, amounted to $38,000.
Collection Scope and Content Note
The William Young papers center on the lives of William Young and his son-in-law John McAllister, Jr., and through these lives document a wide scope of business, cultural, family and religious history both in America and Scotland. The strengths of the collection are its documentation of William Young's careers as printer, publisher, bookseller and paper maker; the Associate Presbyterian Church; John McAllister's antiquarian interests; and the personal lives of the Young and McAllister families.
The earliest papers in the collection date from William Young's days as a Scottish seminarian, and include valuable information on the Associate Presbytery of Scotland. A group of letters written after the Youngs' removal to America, 1784, documents European interest in the new nation: the immigrants received many letters from Scottish friends (and potential emigrants) inquiring into the details of America life. Young kept certain business concerns in Scotland; his brother Stephen and Agnes Young's brothers, William and John McLaws, were all active in the book trade, and their correspondence provides some insight into the burgeoning international book business.
The backbone of the collection is the correspondence relating to William Young's diverse business enterprises from the 1780s through 1820s. Among the later material, the correspondence between William Young McAllister and his thirty-year-old son, William Mitchell McAllister (7:54 and 56), stands out as illustration of a father's displeasure over his son's mismanagement of affairs during the disastrous panic of 1873. Also interesting is a plaintive letter written by the 52 year-old Thomas H. Young (7:59) in 1876, asking his aging father to bail out his business with a handout of $5,000.00. Box 8 contains a large quantity of receipts, accounts, and other business papers of Young's, along with information on the tangled settlement of Young's estate (8:30) and information on the settlement of other estates. Additional information on Young's estate is located with the oversized material (see Separation Record).
The Young Papers also contains rich resources for study of the history of the Associate Presbyterian Church in America. One of the smallest Presbyterian denominations, the Associate Presbyterians preserved few primary resources and little survives from their presence on the American scene; the Young Papers contain some of the earliest records known for that church (folder 8-37). Among other Associate Presbyterian ministers represented in the collection is Rev. Thomas Hamilton (1776-1818), William Young's son-in-law. Much of the work compiled by John McAllister Jr. in compiling the Associate Presbyterian volume of Sprague's Annals of the American Pulpit, is preserved in folder 8:10.
Yellow fever in Philadelphia (1793) and the nation's first major cholera epidemic (1832) are both well documented through letters containing medical information, largely confined to home remedies and professional advice on medicines. There is some discussion of Frances Stevenson's illness which cost her the use of a leg, resulting in her use of a prosthesis (6:88). In addition, there is a detailed report on the body of Dr. William R. Grant in 1852 (folder 7:6).
The photographs associated with the collection include valuable insights into family relations within both the Young and McAllister families (1:1 to 1:8), particularly when seen in conjunction with the large number of personal letters between family members. William Young's instructions to his housekeeper (3:54), John McAllister's consultations with his wife on business matters, race relations in Philadelphia (5:9, 6:11), relations with a mother-in-law (4:58), and the execution of Robert Morris's seldom-mentioned and ne'er-do-well son Charles (4:21) are among the topics discussed. Perhaps the wittiest correspondent is Mary Ann Hunter, a friend of Eliza Young McAllister, whose observations on Philadelphia society in the first decades of the 19th century are trenchant and insightful and read almost like a novel.
Please see Additional Descriptive Data below for a list of maps housed in the Map Division.
Additional Descriptive Data
Young Family Genealogy
1. William Young (died before 1754)
2. John Young (1730-1802) of Mickelwood, Kilmarnock Parish, Scotland. Married 1754 Agnes Wallace (1729-1761), daughter of William Wallace of Rewallen Muir, Timinack Parish.
Married second, Elizabeth Wallace (1730-1786), and married a third time after her decease.
3. William Young (1755-1829) Married ca.1779 Agnes McLaws (1754-1793).
Married second at Philadelphia or Rockland, Del., Rachel Anderson (1770-1836).
4. John Young, died a child in Philadelphia, 1787.
4. Agnes Young (1785-1866) married 1802 Robert Craig (1773-1835), a native of Scotland. They moved to Scotland where their children were born, and returned to America in 1808. Lived at Indiana, Pa.
5. Robert Craig (b. 1803) married twice.
5. Agnes Craig (b. 1804) married Peter Kinter
5. Helen Craig (b. 1806) married Hans Robinson.
4. Margaretta Marshall Young (1786-1827) married at Rockland, 1807, Rev. Thomas Hamilton (1776-1818), an Associate Presbyterian minister from New York.
5. Eliza Young Hamilton (1809-1834) died unmarried.
5. William Young Hamilton (1811-1860) became a clergyman and died unmarried.
5. Thomas Fenton Hamilton (1814-1837) was in optical business in Baltimore; died on board ship and was buried at sea.
5. Agnes Hamilton (1816-1817)
5. John Hamilton (1818-1820)
4. William Young, died a boy in 1789.
4. Eliza Melville Young (1790-1853) married 1811 John McAllister, Jr. (1786-1877). See list of children in McAllister Family Tree.
4. William Wallace Young (1792-1863) married 1815 Julia E. Anderson (1794-1877).
5. Rachel Sophia Young (1816-1857) died at Memphis, Tenn., unmarried.
5. William Wallace Young (b. 1818)
5. Agnes Alecia Young (b. 1820)
5. Julia Young, died in infancy
5. John McAllister Young (b. 1824)
5. Irenee Dupont Young (b. 1827) became a physician at Bordentown, NJ, married Bethia Allen.
5. Julia Mary Young (b. 1830) married Oliver Miller of Ripley, Mississippi.
6. W. Wallace Miller (d. 1884)
6. Lilie Miller (b. 1857), married 1882 S. Hardie Carter of Dardanelles, Ark.
6. Sarah Etter Miller (b. 1861)
5. Joseph Evans Young (1835-1866) married Elizabeth Bergen who married second Enoch Taylor, and died 1884.
6. Joseph Evans Young Jr., married Katherine Spencer Scovel, 1891.
4. Mary Isabella Young (1803-1833), twin, married 1826 John Steward of New York. She was buried in the Steward lot at Goshen, New York.
5. Daughter, married Mr. Van Allen
4. Jean Stroud Young (1803-1871), twin, married Joseph T. Warner (1799-1877) of Wilmington, Del. No children.
4. Euena Hannah Young (1805-1829)
4. Williamina (b. 1806) married Edward Warner
4. Rachel Young (1808-1815), twin.
4. Craig Hamilton Young (1808-1809), twin
4. Evans John Young (1811-1850)
4. Alexander Stephen Young (1812-1823)
3. John Young (1757-1787) was in medical school at the time of his death. Buried at Paisley, Scotland.
3. Alexander Young (1759-1806) married and left a wife and children at his death. One daughter was born in 1795.
3. James Young (b. 1761) apparently died before his half-brother James was born in 1764.
3. James Young (b. 1764) married and by 1795 had daughters:
4. Mary Young
4. Elizabeth Young
3. Stephen Young (1766-1829/30) married 1806 Jane Loree
4. Janet Young (b. 1807)
4. Elizabeth Young (b. 1809)
3. Agnes Young (1768-1812)
3. Andrew Young (1770-1831)
3. Robert Young (1773-ca. 1855)
3. Anne Young married James Wilson and was living in Fenwick, Ayrshire, Scotland, in 1860.
McLaws Family Genealogy
1. John McLaws (ca.1705-1768) of Arngibbon, near Stirling, Scotland.
Married twice and fathered seventeen children. Only one daughter by his first wife survived childhood. He married second, 1748/49, Elizabeth McCulloch (ca.1728-ca.1770).
2. Daughter by first wife, married Michael McCulloch, brother of John McLaw's second wife, Elizabeth.
2. Mary McLaws (1750-1827) married, 1780, James Risk
3. John Risk (1780-1857), lived in Glasgow; did not marry.
3. Elizabeth Risk (d. 1827) married 1814 John Gray
4. John risk Gray (1815-1835)
4. Mary, died in infancy
4. James Gray (1821-1857), married, two daughters; lived at Liverpool, England.
3. James Risk died in infancy.
3. Margery Risk did not marry; lived with brother John in Glasgow.
3. Charles Risk married, 1835, Helen Dun
2. Janet McLaws (b. 1752) married, 1776, Charles Stewart
3. Sandy Stewart died of smallpox?, 1783
3. Jacky Stewart died of smallpox?, 1783
3. Charles Stewart (b. 1781) did not marry
3. At least one other child died in infancy
2. Agnes McLaws (1754-1793) married William Young (1755-1829). See Young Family Tree, above, for list of descendants.
2. John McLaws (1756-1792)
2. Margaret McLaws (1758/59-1832) married, 1786, William Wilson
3. Elizabeth Wilson did not marry
3. Janet Wilson (d. 1832)
3. Mary Wilson (d. 1832)
3. Margaret Wilson (d. 1837) married 1826 George Henderson. No children.
2. Isabella McLaws (1762-1794) married, 1793, her cousin Joseph Morrison.
3. Son (1794-1826) died unmarried
2. William McLaws (1764-1830) married. Went to Philadelphia, 1794 and later returned to Scotland where he died.
3. Euphemia McLaws
3. Robert McLaws
3. Arthur McLaws
3. Eliza McLaws
3. William McLaws
3. Beatrix McLaws
3. Colin Sharp McLaws
McAllister Family Genealogy
1. John McAllister Sr. (1753-1830), son of John and Isabel (McAllister) McAllister, first cousins, born in Scotland; moved to New York, 1775.
Married, 1778, Elizabeth Duncan (1759-1782) by whom he had two children who died in infancy.
Married second, 1783, Frances Wardale Lieber (1746-1814), widow of John Henry Lieber who drowned in the Delaware River, 1782. He married third, 1816, Elizabeth Douglas (d. 1838), a widow.
2. Frances McAllister (1784-1823), twin, married 1817 William Stevenson (d. 1844) of Cambridge, New York, son of William and Jane Stevenson. Both were reared in the Associate Presbyterian Church.
3. John Stevenson (b. 1818)
3. James Stevenson
3. William Stevenson, married
3. Anna Maria Stevenson married and had children; was dying in 1851.
3. Frances W. Stevenson lost a leg after an illness in the 1840s.
3. Jane Stevenson?
2. Sarah McAllister (1784-1806), twin, was engaged in 1806 to James Kelso but died before the wedding could take place.
2. John McAllister Jr. (1786-1877) married 1811 Eliza Melville Young (1790-1853). Lived at Philadelphia. Left the Associate Presbyterian Church and became Episcopalians.
3. William Young McAllister (1812-after 1892) married 1842 Ann Jane Mitchell (b. 1816), daughter of William and Margaret (Conchy) Mitchell.
4. William Mitchell McAllister (b. 1843) m. 1866 Emily Turner
4. Eliza Young McAllister (b. 1845)
4. John McAllister (1846-1863)
4. Anna Mitchell McAllister (b. 1849) became an M.D.
4. Frances Wardale McAllister (b. 1853)
4. James Cook McAllister (b. 1856)
4. Harry McAllister (b. 1858)
4. Oswald McAllister (b. 1860)
3. Frances Wardale McAllister (1815-1892) married George D. Bruce M.D. (d. 1891), son of Robert Bruce (1776-1846) who was an Associate Presbyterian minister. They had no children but adopted a nephew of his.
3. Agnes Young McAllister (1817-1879) was the family genealogist. She left her estate exclusively to several nieces, but no nephews.
3. Sarah Allister McAllister (1819-1870) married 1840 William Robertson Grant, M.D. (d. 1852), son of _____ and Mary (Bobertson) Grant. All their children were dead by 1892.
4. Allister M. Grant (b. 1842?)
4. Mary Robertson Grant (1844-1845)
4. Elizette Melville Grant, living in 1880
4. Jessie Margaret Grant, living in 1880
3. John Allister McAllister (b. 1822) married Ann Mc. Steinbruner
3. Thomas Hamilton McAllister (b. 1824) married Mrs. Warren and adopted her son, who took the name:
4. Caldwell McAllister. Married and had children.
3. Rachel Jane McAllister (1826-1826)
3. Eliza Euena McAllister (1827-1853) died unmarried
3. Wardale Gaskill McAllister (1829-1874) married Henrietta Phillips
4. Estelle Henrietta McAllister
4. Adele Wardale McAllister married James W. Vogdes
3. Julius Wallace McAllister, died in infancy
The following items are housed in the Book Division: