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Cephas Rockwood letters

Identifier: C-95

Scope and Contents

The Rockwood letters paint a picture of the life of Cephas Rockwood, an up-and-coming lawyer from Chester, Vermont. The letters are mostly between Cephas and Louisa Foote of Canton, New York, regarding their courtship and future life together. These letters are quite intimate and also demonstrate the inherent difficulty in holding a long distance relationship during the 19th century. Furthermore, the letters document Cephas's rise to legal prominence, both in Vermont and later in Wisconsin when he was nominated to be Register of the Land Office at Milwaukee, in the Territory of Wisconsin. Though he did not receive the position, it nonetheless showed he was a man held in high esteem at the time. The correspondence of Cephas L. Rockwood is a gift from Edward Thomas Stephenson and Michele Hedding Stephenson of Hollister, San Benito County, California. Collection contains 25 holograph letters represetning correspondence with Lovisa Foote, Joel Doolittle, Emma Willard (Louisa's friend and colleague), and Cephas' friend and colleague, William Slade. Two letters of recommendation from Cephas' colleagues in Vermont and the deed to his land in Chester, Vermont are also included.


  • Creation: 1810-1841


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

For permission to publish materials, contact: Special Collections & Archives Middlebury College Phone: (802) 443-2387 Email:

Biographical / Historical

Cephas Leland Rockwood (1786-1844) was born in Bellingham, Massachusetts to John and Eunice Smith Rockwood. After John Rockwood's death in 1786, while Cephas was an infant, Eunice married Rev. Aaron Leland of Chester, Vermont. Leland, a Baptist minister and prominent Vermont politician, adopted Cephas Rockwood, and encouraged him to study at Middlebury College. Cephas studied law in Middlebury with Joel Doolittle, and at the urging of his father, returned to Chester, where he opened a law practice. He married Louisa Foote on October 10, 1816, in Canton, New York, founded by her family after they left Middlebury in 1800. Rockwood practiced law in Vermont, New York, and Wisconsin.


1 Box (1 box, 1 folder)

Other Finding Aids

Custodial History

The letters were saved by Cephas' wife, Lovisa Foote Rockwood, who passed them on to their youngest daughter, Louise Rockwood Wardner. Louise Wardner, who had no children, spent her last years in Hollister, California, at the home of her niece Josefa "Josie" Rockwood Winn. Upon Louise's death in 1923, the Rockwood correspondence went to Josie, who had no children. After Josie's death in 1962, the correspondence ended up in the care of her grand-nephew Edward Thomas Stephenson and his wife Michele Hedding Stephenson of Hollister. Edward is the grandson of Jose's half-brother, Robert Proxides Stephenson, the publisher of the Hollister Free Lance newspaper.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gifted to Middlebury College by Edward Thomas Stephenson and Michele Hedding Stephenson of Hollister, San Benito county, California.

Existence and Location of Copies

Transcription of letters available at: C-95 Cephas Rockwood letters transcription

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Repository Details

Part of the Middlebury College Special Collections & Archives Repository

Middlebury College
Davis Family Library
110 Storrs Avenue
Middlebury Vermont 05753 United States