Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Gordon-Kyle Family Papers, 1801-1861

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, November 2009

Summary Information
Title: Gordon-Kyle family papers
Creator: Gordon, Jeremiah Smith, 1829-1904, Gordon, Margaret Beatty Kyle, and Kyle, John Beatty
Inclusive dates: 1801-1861
Extent: 257 items
The Gordon-Kyle family papers contain the letters of two prominent Franklin County Pennsylvania families. The bulk of the collection centers around Reverend Jeremiah Smith Gordon, his wife, Margaret Beatty Kyle Gordon, and her brother John Beatty Kyle.
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:

1998. M-4000.2.

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:

Gordon-Kyle Family Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


This collection is organized into two primary series:

  • Series I: Gordon Papers
    • Subseries I: Jeremiah Smith Gordon Correspondence
    • Subseries II: Maggie Waddell Correspondence
  • Series II: Kyle Papers
    • Subseries I: Kyle Correspondence
    • Subseries II: Business Papers
  • Series III: Unattributed and Miscellaneous Correspondence and Receipts

Each series is ordered chronologically with undated items at the end.


Jeremiah Smith Gordon was born in Shady Grove, Pennsylvania, on August 18, 1829, to Alexander Gordon, Jr., (1803-1886) and Joanna Fullerton (1799-1849). Jeremiah Smith Gordon's siblings include: Martha J. Gordon (b. 1845), Matthew (Mattie) Gordon (1827-1883), David Fullerton Gordon (1825-1881), and Humphrey Fullerton Gordon (1832). His father's second wife was Nancy Waddell, who was related to Maggie Waddell and Sadie Waddell of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.

Gordon graduated from Princeton in 1852 and from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1857. Once out of school, he returned to Franklin County, Pennsylvania, and became a Presbyterian minister. In 1860, Gordon married Mary Catherine Montgomery (1840-1864); they had two sons: James A. Gordon (b. 1861), who became a prominent minister in Ohio, and Robert Fullerton (b. 1864), who died soon after birth. Mary Gordon also died in 1864. Three years later, Gordon married his second wife, Margaret Beatty Kyle (1839-1923); they had six children: Mary Beatty (1869-1956), Clarence McCheyne (b. 1870), Clementine K. (b. 1872), John Kyle (b. c.1877), Donald Smith (1883-1899), and an un-named child who died at birth (1885). Jeremiah Smith Gordon died in Fannettsburg on March 25, 1904.

The Kyles came to America from Northern Ireland in the 18th century and became a prominent family in Fannettsburg, Pennsylvania. John B. Kyle was born in 1826 to David Kyle (b. 1807) and Mary Beatty (b. 1811). He had three siblings: Clementine, who married William McAllen; Margaret Beatty who married Jeremiah Smith Gordon; and David Waugh. John B. Kyle attended Princeton at the same time that Jeremiah Smith Gordon was there; Kyle graduated in 1852.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Gordon-Kyle family papers consist of 245 letters, 8 legal documents, and 4 receipts. The letters concern family life, Pennsylvania social life, church news, preaching and religious matters, education at Princeton and Mt Holyoke Female Seminary, and travel and relatives moving out of state.

The Jeremiah Smith Gordon Correspondence subseries contains approximately 140 letters sent to Gordon. He received letters from his father, Alexander; his siblings Martha J., Mattie, David, and Humphrey Fullerton; his cousins Maggie Waddell, Sade Waddell, and Marion Gordon; his aunt, Kiziah Gordon, and various friends and colleagues. These contain basic family updates regarding births, marriages, travel, education, sicknesses (mumps, chicken pox, cholera, scarlet fever, etc.), and deaths. The Maggie Waddell subseries contains 11 items addressed to Waddell, the cousin of Jeremiah Smith Gordon.

Occasionally, the family discusses anti-slavery issues. For example, Gordon's Father, Alexander, wrote "I still hope there is Christianity enough in our Country yet to save the ship of state from turning pirate or robber by reviving the slave trade" (October 24, 1856. Also of interest is an undated letter reporting on a meeting in Hagerstown where a slave was "dressed in a fine suit of uniform representing general Scott. Several of their men was so much disgusted they left their ranks and came out for Scott" (from A. Gordon, undated).

The early letters in the Kyle Correspondence subseries are addressed to Susan Kyle of Fannettsburg, Pennsylvania, from 1801-1820, and included one letter from her sister-in-law Anny Waugh, 4 letters from brother John Coulter, and one from friend John Hutchison. Also from this time are three business letters to John Kyle of Baltimore (1807-1811). The bulk of the subseries consists of letters to and from John B. Kyle and Margaret "Peggy" Beatty Kyle Gordon, including six letters from John Kyle to his mother and sister (1848-1852), five items from Glenn in Fannettsburg to "Peg" Margaret Beatty (1855-1857), and several undated letters to Margaret from an F. Boggs. The eight business papers (1856-1864) document loans, debts, and an estate inventory officiated by John B. Kyle.

The Unattributed Correspondence and Receipts series consists of 4 receipts and 5 letters to unknown recipients.

Subject Terms

    • Diseases.
    • Education.
    • Families--Pennsylvania--19th century.
    • Fannettsburg (Pa.)
    • Franklin County (Pa.)
    • Greencastle (Pa.)
    • Inventories of decedents' estates--Pennsylvania.
    • Marriage.
    • Mount Holyoke Female Seminary.
    • Newville (Cumberland County, Pa.)
    • Presbyterians--Pennsylvania.
    • Princeton (N.J.)
    • Princeton University.
    • Reading (Pa.)
    • Religion.
    • Shady Grove (Pa.)
    • Travel.
    • Trenton (N.J.) .
    • Waynesboro (Pa.)
    • Willow Grove (Pa.)
    • Boggs, F.
    • Coulter, John.
    • Gordon, Alexander.
    • Gordon, David.
    • Gordon, Humphrey Fullerton.
    • Gordon, Kiziah.
    • Gordon, Marion.
    • Gordon, Martha J.
    • Gordon, Mattie.
    • Hutchison, John.
    • Waddell, Maggie.
    • Waddell, Sade.
    • Waugh, Amy.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Receipts (financial records)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Gordon family papers [series]
    Jeremiah Smith Gordon correspondence [subseries]
    Box   1 Folder   1
     August 17, 1837-December 22, 1849
    Box   1 Folder   2
     February 5-November 30, 1850
    Box   1 Folder   3
     December 2, 1850-May 5, 1851
    Box   1 Folder   4
     May 7-December 19, 1851
    Box   1 Folder   5
     February 7-July 26, 1852
    Box   1 Folder   6
     September 2, 1852-March 3, 1853
    Box   1 Folder   7
     March 30-August 2, 1853
    Box   1 Folder   8
     August 14-November 23, 1853
    Box   1 Folder   9
     February 4-August 5, 1854
    Box   1 Folder   10
     August 23, 1854-July 5, 1855
    Box   1 Folder   11
     July 21, 1855-April 29, 1856
    Box   1 Folder   12
     May 1-October 30, 1856
    Box   1 Folder   13
     November 1, 1856-June 19, 1857
    Box   1 Folder   14
     June 24-October 27, 1857
    Box   1 Folder   15
     October 11, 1858-March 27, 1866
    Box   1 Folders   16-19
    Box   1 Folder   20
    Miscellaneous letters
    Maggie Waddell correspondence [subseries]
    Box   1 Folder   21
     April 7, 1856-February 4, 1861, and  undated
    Kyle family papers [series]
    Kyle correspondence [subseries]
    Box   1 Folder   22
     July 27, 1801-December 29, 1846
    Box   1 Folder   23
     October 24, 1841-May 15, 1857
    Box   1 Folder   24
    Kyle business papers [subseries]
    Box   1 Folder   25
    Unattributed and miscellaneous correspondence and receipts [series]
    Box   1 Folder   26
     1855-1866 and  undated
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    The Clements Library's Jacob Jennings Brown papers contain a letter from John A. Kyle to Kirby, dated May 14, 1837.