Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Lee Goodwin Family Letters, 1822-1868

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, May 2012

Summary Information
Title: Lee Goodwin family letters
Creator: Goodwin family
Inclusive dates: 1822-1868
Bulk dates: 1822-1856
Extent: 25 items
The bulk of this collection (24 items) is the incoming and outgoing correspondence of Lee Goodwin, of the New York City mercantile firm Fitch, Goodwin & Company. The letters are predominantly by Lee and his siblings, respecting local and family news, and health updates from East Hartford and New York City.
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:

1991. M-2662u.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

Lee Goodwin Family Letters, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged chronologically.


Richard Goodwin (1753-1821), a tavern owner in East Hartford, Connecticut, had five surviving children with his wife, Ruth Roberts (1766-1834): Eli (1785-1860), Emily (1787-1859), Hester (1794-1864), Lee (1798-1876), and Mary (1802-1826). Eli worked as a merchant in Monson, Massachusetts, and Hartford, Connecticut, before moving to New York City in 1817. He had two wives: Eliza Eaton (1795-c. 1814) and Mary Ann Lee (1793-1830). Emily Goodwin married James Fitch (d. 1846) in December 1811. Hester married Abraham Waterhouse, a merchant, and lived in Albany, New York; New York City; and Hartford, Connecticut. Lee Goodwin worked with James Fitch, his brother-in-law, at Fitch, Goodwin & Company in New York City, and returned to East Hartford between 1846 and 1848. While in East Hartford, he lived with the Waterhouse family.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The bulk of this collection (24 items) is incoming and outgoing correspondence of Lee Goodwin, of the New York City mercantile firm Fitch, Goodwin & Company. The letters are predominantly by Lee and his siblings, respecting local and family news, and health updates from East Hartford and New York City.

Lee Goodwin wrote 17 letters and received 7. His incoming correspondence includes 2 letters from his sister Hester Waterhouse (née Goodwin), from East Hartford, Connecticut, in which she described her home, family members' health, local acquaintances, and attendance at the local Unitarian church (April 1843, and June 6, 1846). Lee's other incoming correspondence includes a letter from his brother Eli, who wrote of business affairs in New York City (April 1, 1825), and 2 from his brother-in-law, James Fitch, who provided family news from New York City, such as Emily's foot injury (September 16, 1823, and October 18, 1825). Goodwin also received a partially printed letter from the Farmer's Loan and Trust Company on August 8, 1868.

Lee Goodwin's 17 outgoing letters include two that he wrote to Andrew Milbray, a merchant from Edinburgh, Scotland. Goodwin wrote a brief letter of introduction for Samuel and James Fellows on February 25, 1836, to which Milbray responded on September 19, 1836, offering his apologies for having met them too late to give them assistance. In the same letter, Milbray introduced James Aikman, a young man seeking employment, and provided news of his imminent move to St. John's, Newfoundland, to take charge of a branch of the Bank of British North America. Goodwin wrote Milbray a second time, in June 1837, and discussed economic effects of the Panic of 1837, particularly on New York City.

The remaining 15 letters and drafts of letters by Lee Goodwin date from August 1, 1837, to October 1856. His brother Eli received most of them between 1848 and 1851; they provided Eli with local and family news, and mention several aspects of Lee's life in East Hartford, Connecticut. Lee often wrote about his sister Hester, with whom he lived after returning to his hometown, and, in one letter, discussed his discipline of a female housekeeper named Cecilia, whom he "shut in a chamber" for 24 hours following one of her outbursts of anger (March 14, 1850). Lee advised his nephew Richard about life and the business climate in New Orleans, Louisiana, in a draft dated April 29, 1851. He also wrote an unidentified sister about family news and sent a letter to Eli about his intent to purchase stock of the American Exchange Bank (October 30, 1856).

The final letter in the collection is from Hester (Goodwin) Waterhouse to her sister Emily, Mrs. James Fitch (July 2, 1822). In it, Hester described her boarding house and life in Albany, New York.

Subject Terms

    • Albany (N.Y.)--Social life and customs.
    • Depressions--1836-1837.
    • East Hartford (Conn.)--Social life and customs.
    • Families--Connecticut--East Hartford.
    • Merchants--New York (State)--New York.
    • New York (N.Y.)
    • Goodwin, Eli, 1785-1860.
    • Goodwin, Lee, 1784-1876.
    • Milbray, Andrew.
    • Waterhouse, Hester Goodwin, 1794-1864.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   9, Small Collections  
    Lee Goodwin family letters [series]
    Folders   2-3  
     July 2, 1822-August 8, 1868
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    The Book Collectors collection holds a letter from Horace Goodwin to Lee Goodwin, dated August 16, 1818.


    Goodwin, James Junius. The Goodwins of Hartford, Connecticut[,] Descendants of William and Ozias Goodwin. Hartford: Brown and Gross, 1891.