Wilbur Family Papers, Doc , MSA 269

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1 Wilbur Family Papers, Doc , MSA 269 Introduction This collection contains family letters of Vermont lawyer and historian LaFayette Wilbur ( ), his wife Mercy Jane Morse Wilbur, and their sons Earl and Ralph. This collection was given to the Vermont Historical Society in two installments. The first group of papers was given to the Vermont Historical Society by William Nelson, husband of LaFayette s granddaughter Elizabeth (Ms acc. no. 90.5) in January 1990; the second group, consisting primarily of handwritten lectures of LaFayette Wilbur, was given by the Graduate Theological Union of Berkeley, California, in May 2001 (Ms. acc. no ). The collection is housed in two document storage boxes and one flip-top archival box and consumes 2.5 linear feet. Biographical Notes LaFayette Wilbur ( ) was a Vermont lawyer, first admitted to the bar in Lamoille County in 185l, and mostly working in Chittenden County, with his office in Burlington or Jericho. He lived in Jericho, Vermont, except for twelve years spent in Burlington. He was the son of William Wilbur ( ) and Betsy Fuller Wilbur, ( ) of Waterville, Vermont. William represented his town in the legislature, served as town postmaster, and was active in the Congregational church, and in the Whig and Republican Parties. LaFayette received his early education in Waterville, Vermont, and later attended schools in Bakersfield, Underhill Center, Fairfax, and Morrisville, Vermont. He studied law under Thomas Gleed and specialized in civil law. He wrote a four-volume history of Vermont, Early History of Vermont, published in , and Life of LaFayette Wilbur and Family Genealogy, He was a member and clerk of the Congregational church in Jericho and later became a member of the Unitarian church in Burlington. LaFayette married Mercy Jane Morse (b. 1840) of Underhill, Vermont, in 1861, and they had two sons, Earl Morse Wilbur and Ralph Williams Wilbur. Earl Morse Wilbur ( ) graduated from the University of Vermont in 1886, graduated from the Harvard Divinity School in 1890, and was ordained a Unitarian minister. He preached in Portland, Oregon, from 1890 to Then in Meadville, Pennsylvania, he served both as minister and instructor in the Theological School there. He moved to Berkeley, California, where, in 1904, he co-founded the Starr King School for the Ministry (Unitarian), and became President and Professor of Practical Theology at the Pacific Unitarian School for the Ministry. Earl married Dorothea Dix Eliot, daughter of Thomas L. Eliot, D.D., in Portland, Oregon, in His papers are at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. Ralph Williams Wilbur ( ) attended the University of Vermont (class of 1890) and the Burlington Business College. He graduated from Boston University Law

2 Wilbur Family Collection 2 School in He practiced law in Portland, Oregon, and married Alice Dunbar Heustis of Boston, in Organization The papers are organized in 5 series: Scope and Content I. LaFayette Wilbur Correspondence II. Mercy Wilbur Correspondence III. LaFayette Wilbur s Legal Documents IV. Genealogical Material V. LaFayette Wilbur s Lectures. Series I contains correspondence from LaFayette to his son Earl, (and to Ralph, when the two boys were together), giving advice on where Earl should settle, how he should finance his home, other financial and legal advice, details of loans made to Earl, discussions of some of the court cases LaFayette was handling, and religious discussions of sermons LaFayette had heard or of sermons Earl had sent to him, and soul-searching when LaFayette joined the Unitarian church. There is also discussion of trips made to the west coast, questions about how to dispose of the Jericho home and belongings when LaFayette and Mercy moved to the Pacific coast, and some details on the sale of his History of Vermont. There are a few letters to Cousin Flora about Wilbur genealogy. Series II contains many letters from Mercy Wilbur, mostly to Earl and family, some to Ralph. These are weekly, sometimes daily, accounts of life in Jericho, births, marriages, and deaths, fires and floods, the weather, the state of Mercy s and LaFayette s health. Mercy speaks of her work in the church and occasional feuds with the church, (she and three other women were censured and banned by her church and she moved into Unitarianism), her activities as secretary for the Home for Friendless Women in Burlington, Vermont, and as editor of Our Home Guards, the publication of the Woman s Christian Temperance Union of Vermont. In later years her letters get shorter and deal more with ill health and the weather, less with causes that had interested her. In general her letters are much more chatty and informal than those of her husband, who was all business. She shared her husband s interest in the suffrage movement (LaFayette was Vice President of the Vermont Woman s Suffrage Association), she was strongly against alcohol and tobacco, and visited jails to try to reform drinkers. Series III consists of ledger books belonging to LaFayette, and a book of court dockets for , which lists 153 cases LaFayette handled. Series IV contains a variety of genealogical sources, including Asa Wilbur s Genealogical Record of the Wilbur Family, records of the Morse, Fuller, Mead, Eliot, and Wilbur lines, photographs of homes and graves, deeds, draft records, and correspondence

3 Wilbur Family Collection 3 relating to genealogical questions. There are also some early (1830s-1840s) Wilbur letters and a scrapbook kept by LaFayette. Series V is made up of lectures LaFayette gave to many audiences, including the Jericho Literary and Scientific Club. The subjects ranged from historical topics (early English history, Lee and Grant, the Huguenots in Florida), politics (the courts and the law, free trade, conservatives vs. progressives), and women s suffrage. Inventory I. LaFayette Wilbur Correspondence Doc 469: Miscellaneous II. Mercy Wilbur Correspondence Doc 470: Doc 470:

4 Wilbur Family Collection to granddaughter Elizabeth, III LaFayette Wilbur s Legal Documents IV Genealogical Material 10 Ledger Books Ledger Books Ledger Books Court Docket for Asa Wilbur s genealogical book 15 The Morse line 16 The Eliot-Mack lines 17 The Fuller line 18 The Wilbur line 19 The Mead line 20 Photographs of Wilbur and Eliot lines 21 Deeds, lawyer license taxes, insurance policy, Civil War draft documents, estate matters 22 Notes and letters 23 Wilbur letters of 1830s and 1840s 24 Scrapbook of LaFayette Wilbur 25 Earl Morse Wilbur-Toward the End of my Father s Life V. LaFayette Wilbur s Lectures 26 Woman Suffrage Addresses MSA 269:1 Bonaparte Youth and Egypt Campaign 2 Conservatism vs. Progressivism 3 Mexico and its Primitive Races 4 The Universe and the Laws of Nature 5 Rivalry of the French and English; Rapid Growth of the U.S. 6 Relation of the Sabbath School to the Commonwealth; The Ideal Man 7 Early History of Britain; Address to Sabbath School 8 Powers of Agricultural Board; Protection vs. Free Trade 9 Prohibition from a Political Standpoint; Discovery of America before Impeachment of Andrew Johnson; Dignity of Law; Coin and Legal Tender 11 Progress; Courts of the U.S.; Opening Address of the Club MSA 269:12 Huguenots of Florida; Slavery, Cotton gin, Tobacco; Tables are Turned 13 Grant and Lee; Texas; Dred Scott

5 Wilbur Family Collection 5 14 English History: Richard I, Battle of Lincoln, Magna Charta, Robert Bruce, Edward III, Henry V, Earl of Somerset, James II 15 Evolution; Memory and how to Strengthen it; Primitive Man and his Development; Plants, their Life and Growth. 16 The Old and New Earth; Ramble among Characters; Usury 17 Rights of Persons; Science of Medicine Ethan Bisbee July 2001

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