Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Gridley Family Papers, [1798]-1885

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, November 2009

Summary Information
Title: Gridley family papers
Creator: Gridley, Fanny, 1789-1871
Inclusive dates: [1798]-1885
Extent: 0.5 linear feet
The Gridley Family papers contain the letters of a highly educated New York family, who were drawn to evangelical religion and progressive causes in the 1820-1830s. The letters are all personal in nature about daily family life and matters of religion, education, and travel.
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-3370.1.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

Gridley Family Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


This collection is organized chronologically with undated items filed at the end.


Orrin Gridley (1786-1847) was the third son of Ruth Green and Hezekiah Gridley and was born in Hanover, New York. In 1811, Orrin married Fanny Kellogg (1789-1871), daughter of Rachel Porter and Amos Kellogg, who owned land next to Hezekiah's property in Clinton, New York. Gridley joined the American Army and fought as a captain in the War of 1812. After the war, Orrin made his living as a merchant and established a bank in Clinton, New York. He was also a deacon of the Congregational Church. Orrin and Fanny had seven children: Wayne, Albert G., Henry K. (1815-1816), Adelaide, Amos Delos, Frederick, and Charles.

Wayne Gridley (1811-1846) graduated from Hamilton College in 1836. He continued his theological education at Andover Theological Seminary until 1839, when he was ordained a Congregational minister. Also in that year he was married to Juliet Hastings (1811-1848), daughter of Dr. Seth Hastings; they had a daughter Adelaide. In 1840, Wayne became the minister at the Kirkland Congregational Church in Clinton, where he remained until 1845, when he became too ill to serve the church. He traveled to Europe to recuperate from what may have been tuberculosis, but died upon his return to Clinton in November 1846.

Albert G. Gridley (1813-1888) helped his father run the Kirkland Bank and took it over in 1847, when his father died. He managed it until 1854, when it went out of business. He married Sophia Dunham Hickox in 1839; they had two children: Francis Amelia (1840-1921) and Granger (1841-1844). After the Kirkland Bank closed, Albert and his family moved to Buffalo, New York, where he became the junior partner in Hunt and Gridley, a firm that dealt with ship chandlers, grocers, and commission merchants.

Adelaide Gridley (1817-1841) married Reverend John Finley Smith (1813-1843), also of Clinton, New York, in 1840. Adelaide died just over a year later, and Smith died soon after, in 1843.

Amos Delos Gridley (1819-1876) married Ellen Marie Bristol in 1844. She died in 1870. His second wife was Mary A. Twining of New Haven, Connecticut, whom he married in 1872. Following the path of his brother Wayne, Amos pursued a life in the church. He attended Hamilton College (1839), Auburn College (1840-1842), and graduated from Andover Theological Seminary in 1843. He was ordained in 1846 and served as the pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Waterville from 1847 to 1850. Amos earned a doctor of divinity at Olivet College just before his death in 1876. Amos Gridley wrote The History of the Town of Kirkland, New York.

Frederick Gridley (1821-1876) married Harmony Luce and moved to Buffalo, New York, where he established himself as a banker. They had four children: Orrin R.( b. 1846), Charles (b. 1852), Frederick (b. 1855), and Harry (b. 1857). He died in 1876 in San Francisco.

Youngest brother Charles Edward Gridley was born in 1829 and died while traveling in Paris, France, in 1850.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Gridley Family papers (212 items) are comprised of 210 letters, 1 legal document, and one speech. The Gridley family of Clinton, New York, maintained regular correspondence with relatives in Rochester, Aurora, Hamilton, and other towns in western New York. The 210 letters, spanning the years 1808-1885, are entirely personal in nature and document a highly educated New York family, who were drawn to evangelical religion in the 1820-1830s. The letters show a family that held abolitionist, temperance, and other progressive views.

The earliest items are a printed notice from 1798 directed to the inhabitants of Connecticut informing them of an upcoming property tax recently enacted by congress, and a deed transferring land in New York State to Orrin Gridley in [1807?].

Ten letters from 1815-1828 are from Orrin to his wife Fanny, written during his travels to Albany, New York, and Baltimore. He speaks of his business dealings and of religious services he attends. In one letter from April 17, 1820, he described a church service that included missionaries who were about to travel west to convert the Osage Indians "on the Arkensaw." Other letters from this period include nine items from Rachel Kellogg Strong, Fanny's younger sister, and a few from her husband S. Strong, addressed to Orrin. As with most of the letters in the collection, these discuss family, health, business, and religion.

Wayne Gridley's earliest letter is from 1825, written when he was 14 years old. His letters from Andover provide a sense of student life at the Seminary and include discussions of his education (such as learning about missionary work and encounters with "heathen Indians" from North America and the Pacific Islands), as well as his evolving thoughts on religion and social issues. In a letter from 1837, he voices anti-slavery sentiments to his parents. Wayne's letter from November 20, 1836, contains a large lithograph letterhead of Andover Theological Seminary; a letter from July 31, 1849, has a colorful letterhead depicting buildings in Hamburg, Germany.

Through 1849, most of the letters are addressed to Fanny and Orrin from their children, including ten items written to Fanny from her youngest son Charles, when he was in Saratoga Springs, New York, and when he traveled in Europe. In a long letter to Albert G. Gridley, a friend in Paris described his brother Charles' illness and death, and enclosed a carte-de-visite, presumably of Charles.

Letters written by Amos Delos Gridley and his wife Ellen, while on a tour of Georgia and Florida in 1851, include extensive commentary on slavery and the South. For instance, the Gridleys mention that rarely does one see anyone from the South being waited upon by a white person. They also discuss the issue concerning the conversion of slaves to Christianity. In one note, they remark about the steamboat Magnolia exploding on the Ohio River. The latter part of the collection contains many letters sent to George Bristol, Harriet E. Bristol, and Cornelia Bristol of Clinton, New York, from Ellen and Amos Delos Gridley.

The collection contains 48 undated family letters. In the last undated folder is an ink illustration of a house drawn by Amos Delos Gridley. This folder also contains an 18-page speech written upon the death of Adelaide G. Smith, the only daughter of Orrin Gridley.

Subject Terms

    • Andover Theological Seminary.
    • Aurora (N.Y.)
    • Clinton (N.Y.)
    • Clinton Female Seminary (Clinton, N.Y.)
    • Conversion--Christianity.
    • Europe--Description and travel.
    • Families--New York (State)
    • Florida--Description and travel.
    • Funeral sermons.
    • Georgia--Description and travel.
    • Indians of North America.
    • Missionaries.
    • Oneida County (N.Y.)
    • Second Great Awakening.
    • Seminarians.
    • Slavery--Florida.
    • Slavery--Georgia.
    • Slaves--Religious life--Southern States.
    • Temperance.
    • United States--Foreign relations--1783-1865.
    • Gridley, A. D. (Amos Delos)
    • Gridley, Albert G.
    • Gridley, Orrin.
    • Gridley, Wayne.
    • Gridley, Charles.
    • Gridley, Ellen.
    • Strong, Rachel Kellogg.
    • Strong, S.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Correspondence [series]
    Box   1 Folder   1
     [1798]-November 17, 1819
    Box   1 Folder   2
     April 17, 1820-November 8, 1824
    Box   1 Folder   3
     January 2, 1825-July 9, 1826
    Box   1 Folder   4
     [August 25, 1826]-October 24, 1827
    Box   1 Folder   5
     February 7, 1828-July 13, 1828
    Box   1 Folder   6
     September 4, 1828-May 20, 1834
    Box   1 Folder   7
     June 14, 1834-February 3, 1836
    Box   1 Folder   8
     July 7, 1836-November 9, 1836
    Box   1 Folder   9
     November 28, 1836-March 3, 1837
    Box   1 Folder   10
     April 8, 1837-November 14, 1837
    Box   1 Folder   11
     November 20, 1837-February 2, 1839
    Box   1 Folder   12
     February 2, 1839-November 20, 1839
    Box   1 Folder   13
     January 28, 1840-September 6, 1841
    Box   1 Folder   14
     February 6, 1843-August 25, 1843
    Box   1 Folder   15
     August 28, 1843-August 2, 1844
    Box   1 Folder   16
     December 10, 1844-June 9, 1845
    Box   1 Folder   17
     July 2, 1845-November 23, 1845
    Box   1 Folder   18
     December 2, 1845-December 20, 1846
    Box   1 Folder   19
     July 17, 1847-May 16, 1849
    Box   1 Folder   20
     May 23, 1849-November 1, 1849
    Box   1 Folder   21
     January 16, 1850-March 5, 1850
    Box   1 Folder   22
     March 19, 1850-June 20, [1852]
    Box   1 Folder   23
     April 3, 1856-December 24, 1857
    Box   1 Folder   24
     January 22, 1858-October 11, 1885
    Box   1 Folders   25-29
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Grayson, William J., and Wayne Gridley, Wayne. Slavery in the South, a review of Hammond's and Fuller's letters, and Chancellor Harper's memoir on that subject. [Charleston]: Walker & Burke, printers, 1845.