Townshend Family Correspondence [subseries]
Scope note: The Townshend Family subseries, spanning approximately 3 linear feet, is comprised of all letters to and from the members of the Townshend family, including spouses and in-laws, such as the Woods, the Wings, and the Boyntons. The correspondence of Margaret Wing Dodge, granddaughter of Norton S. Townshend, is part of the Townshend Family subseries. "Additional Descriptive Data" contains an index of major correspondents in each subseries. Arranged chronologically, the series sheds light on Norton Strange Townshend’s political, educational, and agricultural activities, as well as his family and personal life. The earliest letters are between family members in Ohio and Northamptonshire and relate family news, religion, and daily life. Correspondence is relatively frequent during1839-1841, when Norton studied medicine in New York City and Europe, and wrote to his parents describing visits to European hospitals, impressions of Paris and London, and thoughts on his career. Joel and Rebecca’s correspondence with their son is filled with religious and philosophical references and advice. Between 1848 and 1854 the period during which Townshend served in the Ohio General Assembly (1848-1849), the U.S. House of Representatives (1851-53), and the Ohio State Senate (1854-55), a great deal of incoming political correspondence addresses such issues as the "balance of power" deadlock upon which Townshend capitalized in Ohio, the debates over the boundaries of slavery, opinion on Ohio’s Black Laws, and other political matters. Also important are Salmon P. Chase’s letters to Townshend, which shed light on their political alliance and the slavery debate in the U.S. Senate. During Norton Strange Townshend’s service as a medical inspector in the Civil War, 1863-1865 he and his wife Margaret exchanged over 100 letters on topics such as Townshend’s work and travels, family news, and farm matters. Townshend also sometimes referenced Margaret’s sister and her husband, Miriam and Thomas Easterly, who were living in St. Louis and struggling financially during the time that Townshend was stationed there. During this period, he also corresponded frequently with his son James, particularly concerning James’ education and thoughts on church and religion. Three letters from his younger children, Arthur Bailey and Mary, also survived. In one letter, dated April 17, 1865, 10-year old Arthur reacts to the death of Lincoln and the attempted assassination of William H. Seward. Family correspondence trails off considerably after the war, although in the mid 1880s Townshend and James exchange a series of letters concerning James’ declining health from tuberculosis.
Margaret Wing’s correspondence with her mother, Alice (Townshend) Wing is included in the Townshend family correspondence. Several dozen of Margaret’s letters were written in 1909 during a tour of Europe. She described sightseeing, visiting art museums, and traveling by rail. Many of the 20th century letters in this subseries are from Margaret’s friend from Vassar College, Elizabeth Schneider, a ghostwriter living in Boston. Schneider was particularly fond of sharing her opinions on books and plays. Other 20th-century letters are mainly to and from Townshend’s children and grandchildren and shed some light on their relationships, travels, and careers.