Scope and Contents
These letters, though primarily from Charles Langdon Williams to family while he was traveling to southern climes for his health in 1859-60, also cover earlier and later years in the family. Genealogy seems to have been of continuing interest, as is shown in correspondence to Charles Kilborn Williams the elder and the younger. The fact that two brothers (Charles Langdon and Chauncey Kilborn) married two sisters (Louisa and Alexina Bedell) goes some way to explaining Charles’ obviously distressed response to Alexina written only three days after his wife’s death. There is one sympathy letter following Charles’ death in 1861 written to his mother. The 1817 letters to Lucy Green Langdon are the earliest, followed by a few letters to the Governor in the ‘40’s about genealogy, evidently in answer to questions posed by him. The copy of the probate of the will of the late Governor is dated 1854. The letters from and to Charles are dated from 1849 through 1860. Other materials date from 1861 through 1904.
- Creation: 1817-1904
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Biographical / Historical
Charles Langdon Williams, born in 1821, was the eldest son of Governor Charles Kilborn Williams and his wife, Lucy Green Langdon, daughter of Chauncey Langdon of Castleton, Vermont. There were nine children in the family, and we need to identify the ones living at the time of the correspondence for greater clarity. Samuel is the youngest brother, born in 1837; Chauncey, born in 1832, was married to Charles Langdon’s sister-in-law, Alexine Virginia Bedell, in 1858. Charles Langdon married Louisa Indiana Bedell in 1855. Louisa died on March 4, 1858, leaving their son, Charles Kilborn Williams (same name as the Governor, his grandfather), born 8 March 1856, to the care of his father and his family. Sister Lucy Jane is married to John Strong. Caroline Maria is Charles’ unmarried sister who, with their mother, Lucy Langdon Williams, the Governor’s widow, is left in charge of young Charley as his father departs on southern journeys in hope of regaining his health. He does, in fact, die in 1861, a victim of consumption. Sister Charlotte died in 1858, at 33. Sister Mary Augusta is married to Horatio Eugene Mann.In the family tradition Charles Langdon Williams was graduated from Williams College (1839), studied for the bar and opened his law office in 1842. He wrote or edited three publications: Statistics of the Rutland County Bar (1847), Statutes of Vermont, (1855), and Vermont Supreme Court Reports (3 volumes, 1855-1857). Williams was a dedicated Episcopalian, and in correspondence reports on Church of England gatherings in Nassau as well as court hearings and other sights and sounds in his travels. He writes advice to his brother Samuel about studying criminal law and suggests readings. Through letters he tries to keep in close touch with family and family concerns. Many of the letters are written to “my dear brother” or “my dear sister” and are not specifically identifiable, except that legal matters are likely written to Chauncey, as Samuel is but 22 or so, and Caroline is the sister at home. He refers to Alexine as “sister” as well. This collection of letters details Charles Langdon’s travels in Florida and Nassau, and includes four letters written to his 4-year old son, oddly in the third person, perhaps with the understanding that they would be read to Charley by another family member. Letters to other family members suggest prices that might be gotten for his house in Rutland, Vt., as well as other business (legal) matters. In addition to correspondence there is an interesting contemporary copy of the Governor’s will, and also some laboriously copied, copious notes on the Kilborn/Kilbourne family genealogy. Three letters from 1817 to Lucy Green Langdon from her husband-to-be and from her father are the earliest in the group, and correspondence to Charles Kilborn Williams (Charles Langdon’s son) in the l890’s and up to 1904 concerning genealogy are the latest. In between these extremes are several letters, also on the subject of the family forebears, written to Gov. Williams in 1845 and 1847, included with one of which is a laboriously copied record of births and deaths from “the family bible of David Kilbourne.”
Language of Materials
The Charles L. Williams Letters are arranged chronologically. The sole exception is the small number of letters written to Charles Kilborn Williams, Charles’ son, by his father, and later, one from Aunt Alice Bedell, which are all in one folder.
Other Finding Aids
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Purchased from Carmen Valentino, 2956 Richmond Street, Philadelphia, PA.
Twenty letters from C. L. Williams, himself, totaling 74 closely covered pages, written during his travels for health in 1859-60. Seventeen other manuscript letters, notes on family genealogy, contemporary manuscript copy of Gov. Williams’ probated will, copied material from a family bible.
- C-57 Charles Langdon Williams correspondence
- Richard Jenkins
- July 2014
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