By Linda Hocking, Leith Johnson, and Nathan Koldys
Primary Creator: Quincy, Mary Perkins (1866-1921)
Extent: 30.0 Linear Feet
The papers are arranged in four series:
Series 1: Deming family
Series 2: Perkins family
Series 3: Quincy family
Series 4: Other papers
Date Acquired: 01/01/1921. More info below under Accruals.
Subjects: African Americans, African Americans - Connecticut - Litchfield, Business enterprises, Champion (N.Y.), Champion, Henry, 1751-1836, Champion family, China - Commerce, Colchester (Conn.), Deming, Julius, 1755-1838, Deming family, Great Britain - Commerce, Indentured servants, Lawyers - Connecticut - Litchfield, Litchfield (Conn.), Merchants - Connecticut - Litchfield, Military pensions - United States - Revolution, 1775-1783, Norwich (Conn.), Perkins family, Quincy, Mary Perkins, Quincy family, Revivals--United States, Rochester (N.Y.), Second Great Awakening, Slavery, United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783, West Indies - Commerce
Forms of Material: Account books, Business records, Checks, Commonplace books, Correspondence, Deeds, Diaries, Estate inventories, Financial records, Inventories, Invitations, Land surveys, Legal documents, Military records, Minutes, Petitions for bankruptcy, Sermons, Taxes
The Deming, Perkins, and Quincy Families Papers document members of several prominent families who lived in the town of Litchfield, Conn. In the late eighteenth century, the patriarchs of each family earned wealth through their activities as merchants, traders, and investors, enabling them and many of the members of the next generations to live lives free from financial concern, if not outright luxury. The papers consist largely of correspondence, and also include collections of financial and legal papers, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, photograph albums, diaries, and calling cards and other printed materials. The papers of Mary Perkins Quincy (1866-1921) comprise most of the collection.
At this time, generally only papers created prior to 1840 have been processed, although all of papers in the collection have been listed in this finding aid. Mary Perkins Quincy's papers have been partially processed and a finding aid is available by accessing the digital content link.
The papers are arranged in four series:
Series 1. Deming family
Series 2: Perkins family
Series 3: Quincy family
Series 4: Other papers
The series related to the three families also include papers of other families associated by marriage.
Series 1. Deming family (2.71 lin. ft.)
Julius Deming (1755-1838) was a leading merchant of Litchfield's most prosperous period. In addition to his various business ventures, Deming was politically active in his town and in the new nation. Born in North Lyme, he moved to Litchfield after his 1781 marriage to his first cousin, Dorothy Champion (1759-1830) of Colchester, Conn. The papers in this series relate to members of both the Deming family and the Champion family.
During the American Revolutionary War, Deming served under Dorothy's father, Col. Henry Champion, the principal assistant commissary general for the Eastern Division of the Continental Army. Deming, who attained the rank of captain of cavalry, was with the convoy that crossed the Hudson River to deliver supplies to Washington's army at Valley Forge. A collection of papers, including account books, daybooks, ledgers, and correspondence document Deming's Revolutionary War activities. After the war, he established himself in trade by obtaining goods directly from England—an unusual practice at a time when most Connecticut merchants got their wares from New York and Boston, and there is extensive documentation relating to a trip he took to London during which he selected goods for importation to America. Deming's merchandise arrived in New Haven Harbor and was brought by wagon to Litchfield. From there, it was sold in shops owned by Deming and his partner, Col. Benjamin Tallmadge. The two had shops in Litchfield and other towns. In addition to their other goods from Europe and the West Indies, they once imported a cargo of horses from England. All of these business activities are documented in the collection. In the early 1800s, Deming bought shares in the Litchfield China Trading Company. The articles of agreement list Tallmadge, Oliver Wolcott Jr., the future secretary of the treasury, and Frederick Wolcott as the original partners. Oliver Wolcott, Jr. maintained an office in New York City, the location of the port from which their ship—the Trident—set sail. The company lasted until 1814, and the venture is represented in the collection. Deming's other business ventures included the manufacture of iron and a paper mill in Bantam. Little is known about the mill, but there is an agreement concerning the venture in his papers and a sample of its paper is in the Historical Society's collections. Deming's land investments in Champion, N.Y. are also documented in the papers.
Though a family genealogy described him as disliking public life, Deming held several elected and appointed offices. He served three terms in the House of Representatives, along with stints as a magistrate and the county treasurer. In addition, he was a member of the First School Society, a body in charge of both the town's schools and the burying ground. Deming was also instrumental in getting a courthouse built in Litchfield, and the papers contain documents detailing construction specifications and two documents related to architect William Spratts, who had a hand in its design and construction. In 1798, President John Adams appointed Deming, Epaphroditus Champion (see below), and three others commissioners "to provide for the valuation of lands and houses, and for the enumeration of slaves." The appointment certificate, signed by Adams, is one of the highlights of the collection.
Julius Deming and Dorothy Champion Deming had eight children and all are represented in the papers. Julius Deming Jr. (1782-1799) died of disease while attending Yale College. Frederick Deming (1787-1860), Charles Deming (1789-1852), and William Deming (1792-1865) moved to New York City and formed a business partnership that lasted until the mid-1810s. The collection contains limited documentation of their enterprise. Frederick remained in New York and became president of the Union Bank, while Charles and William returned to Litchfield. Charles was plagued by bad health, and correspondence in the collection details his efforts to stay well through many doctors’ visits, treatments, and even a respite in the West Indies in the 1830s culminating with a harrowing trip back to the United States. Unfortunately, nothing proved particularly helpful. Three of the Demings’ four daughters remained unmarried. Dorothy Deming (1784-1835), Mary Deming (1798-1847) and Lucretia Deming resided in Litchfield. Lucretia would end up owning the family homestead as the last survivor of her generally unwell siblings. Clarissa Deming (1795-1837) married Charles Perkins (1792-1856) of Norwich, Conn., a Litchfield Law School student about whom more will be found in the discussion of the Perkins family below. In 1830, Perkins underwent a religious conversion, and Clarissa’s letters express her profound joy regarding the event. The siblings wrote many letters among themselves and their parents and chronicle their business activities, rising and falling health, travels in the United States and Caribbean, and news of their extended family and friends.
The wealth of the Deming family is revealed in family members’ journals and account books listing investments, income, and expenses, and for most members, there are estate papers that contain detailed inventories.
The Deming family series also contains a substantial collection of papers relating to the Champion family of Colchester. Henry Champion (1723-1797) began his military career at the age of 18 when he was appointed ensign of an Army company in 1741. He was a captain during the French and Indian War and in 1772 he was appointed a major in the colonial militia. In April, 1775, he was appointed a commissioner to supply all necessary stores and provisions for the American troops. Champion was appointed in 1778 as sole Commissary General of the Eastern Dept. of the Continental Army by Col. Peter Colt. In May, 1780, Col. Champion resigned his army commission the array and returned to his home in Westchester section of Colchester. He had been prominent in politics before he enlisted in the army, and continued to regularly elected in the 1780s and 1790s. Champion was married to Deborah Brainard Champion (1724-1789). They had nine children, including Henry Champion (1751-1836); Epaphroditus Champion (1756-1834); Dorothy Champion Deming (1756-1834), wife of Julius Deming; Mary Champion Bulkley (1762-1843); and Esther Champion Cleaveland (1766-1840). Champion married Sarah Brainard Lewis following the death of his first wife.
Henry Champion (1751-1836) enlisted in the Continental Army in 1775. He was an officer in battle of Bunker Hill, participated in the retreat of the American troops from Long Island, rendered services under Tadeusz Kosciusko in constructing the defenses at West Point, and led the first battalion of Connecticut Light Infantry at the capture of Stony Point, N.Y. Following the war, he returned to Westchester and entered politics and was active in obtaining a charter for the Phoenix Bank. He also had interests in the Connecticut Land Co. and was instrumental in the formation of the School Fund in Connecticut. Champion, Ohio, was named in his honor. Champion married Abigail Tinker Champion (1758-1818) and they had ten children, including Aristarchus Champion (1784-1871) and Abigail Champion Deming (1787-1835).
Epaphroditus Champion (1756-1834) also served in the Continental Army, serving under the direction of the commissary general in New York. In 1777, he returned to Colchester where he remained involved with providing provisions for the army until leaving the service in 1780. He was active in politics and the militia and successfully conducted trade in the West Indies. He married Lucretia Hubbard Champion (1760-1836) and they had three children, including Clarissa Champion (1785-1801).
Of particular note are the letters Epaphroditus Champion (1756-1834), Henry Champion (1723-1797), and his son Henry Champion (1751-1836) wrote during the American Revolutionary War. All three men, along with Julius Deming, were involved in supplying the American army with cattle, pigs, and other provisions. In addition to discussing commissary matters and his desire to leave service, the younger Champion wrote a letter in which he provided a detailed account of the Americans’ attack on Stony Point in 1777. A subsequent letter accuses the official account provided by commanding officer Maj. Anthony Wayne as having been willfully manipulated and flawed and suggests that Gen. George Washington himself had inadvertently perpetuated inaccurate information. Additional documentation related to the Revolutionary War is found in correspondence among family members and Julius Deming as they sought to obtain war pensions in 1834. In 1798, President John Adams appointed Julius Deming (see above), Epaphroditus Champion, and three others commissioners "to provide for the valuation of lands and houses, and for the enumeration of slaves." The appointment certificate, signed by Adams, is one of the highlights of the collection.
The Champions and Demings remained closely connected. They were involved in several business ventures together, including the importation of horses from England, and they are documented in the papers. Epaphroditus Champion wrote to Julius seeking advice. Dorothy Champion Deming, her brothers and sisters, various in-laws, and their children shared a long correspondence. Several of the cousins attended the Litchfield Female Academy together. One letter, from then-15-year-old Clarissa Champion to her cousin Dorothy Deming, is playful and gossipy, and comments in part on Napoleon Bonaparte and an acquaintance’s weight gain and frizzy hairstyle. Clarissa suddenly died one year later, and the families’ grief is expressed in their correspondence.
Letters written by members of Deming and Champion families occasionally mention slaves or servants. There are a number of references to a servant named Vira. Julius Deming’s papers include her emancipation document. The collection contains one letter written by Vira to Dorothy Deming in June, 1802. (Search on “Vira” to find the relevant documents.) Two 1812 letters from Henry Champion (1751-1836) to Julius Deming discuss Kate, a former slave of Champion’s father.
Series 2. Perkins family (1.25 lin. ft.)
Papers in Series 2, Perkins family, relate to the family of Andrew Perkins (1743-1822), a Norwich, Conn., sea captain and merchant. In the 1760s and early 1770s, he made several voyages to the West Indies, England, and possibly elsewhere, and these are documented in Perkins’1763-1769 account book and customs papers. The 1763-1769 account book also contains an accounting entry and a separate statement that include references to “2 Negroes.” During the American Revolutionary War, Perkins and various business associates funded privateers. At this same time, they also organized at least two non-privateering ventures that involved the brigantine Marquis de Lafayette, Elisha Hinman, Commander. The papers contain the ship’s log book documenting two voyages, one in 1782 to the West Indies and one in 1783 to Virginia and The Netherlands.
Perkins was married three times, the first to Anne Turner Perkins (1747-1785); second, Mary Niles (1764-17867); and third, Elizabeth Taylor Perkins (1761-1830). The collection contains several letters from Elizabeth’s father Eldad Taylor (1707-1777) and her brother Rev. John Taylor (1762-1843).
Andrew Perkins had a total of 13 children with his first and third wives. Only five lived into adulthood: Andrew Perkins (1774-1796), Elizabeth Perkins Ingraham Boswell (1776-1835), Charles Perkins (1792-1856), Harriet Perkins (1793-1821), and Abigail Perkins (1795-1875).
Charles Perkins got a taste of the sea when he was 15. A journal found in the papers chronicles a voyage he took to Sandwich Bay in Canada. In 1813, he attended the Litchfield Law School, where he met Clarissa Deming, a daughter of Julius Deming and Dorothy Champion Deming, who would become his wife. After he completed his studies, he returned to Norwich to set up his practice. The papers contain his notebooks and docket books. Although he seems to have enjoyed some success, letters among him, Clarissa, and Julius Deming indicate the young couple needed to borrow $1,800 from Deming to purchase a residence. In 1826, Perkins decided to seek his fortune in Rochester, N.Y. He encountered success there, acquiring properties, collecting rents, and establishing a busy practice, eventually being admitted to the State Supreme Court of New York. A letterbook, daybook, and ledger provide details on his Rochester business dealings. He wrote letters in which he outlined his ambitious plans to relocate in New York City. Clarissa had frequent bouts of bad health leaving her in fragile condition, and she often remained in Litchfield with their children. During the time he was in Rochester, there was an active religious revival, and it had a great impact on Charles; in October, 1830, he wrote a seven-page letter expressing his new-found devotion. Although the letter itself is not in the papers, letters among Charles, Clarissa, and his sister Abigail document its content. The women were overjoyed with his conversion. In the 1830s, Perkins resettled in Litchfield, while still conducting business ventures in New York state. He and Clarissa Deming Perkins had eight children, three of whom lived to adulthood and are discussed below.
The papers contain a large number of letters to and from Abigail Perkins (1795-1875), who never married. She lived in Norwich through the 1820s, but frequently stayed in Rochester and Litchfield. After Charles returned to Litchfield in the 1830s, she settled there, too. The numerous letters between Abigail and her sister-in-law suggest they had a close relationship. Also of interest are the several diaries Abigail kept in the 1820s and 1830s.
Charles’ sister Harriet also took a sea voyage as a child; an 1807 diary describes a journey to Antigua. Also like Charles, Harriet underwent a religious conversion. Her papers illustrate her serious commitment to her faith. By her late teens, she was filling notebooks with passages of spiritual significance to her, and her diaries, which appear to be written almost compulsively, demonstrate her religious struggles. In her papers is the 1818 statement she prepared on the occasion of her conversion. She attended religious meetings and at least one revival, in Providence in 1820, but did not provide any details about them in her writings. Ironically, the Providence revival may have hastened her death; after she returned to Norwich, she complained of a persistent “cold” that worsened. She continued writing in her diary until just weeks before her death in 1821. Harriet’s last hours are chronicled in a lengthy account found in the papers of her sister Abigail.
The collection also contains the papers of Charles and Harriet’s sister Elizabeth Perkins (1776-1835), who married Capt. Solomon Ingraham and after his death, Capt. John Boswell (sometimes Buswell). The three siblings corresponded often, providing documentation of the family’s activities.
Charles Perkins and Clarissa Deming Perkins had three children who survived to adulthood: Mary Deming Perkins Hoppin (1824-1905), Julius Deming Perkins (1830-1911), and Lucretia Deming Perkins Quincy (1832-1883). Their papers are an important part of the collection, but have not yet been processed.
Mary Deming Perkins Hoppin was married to James Mason Hoppin (1820-1906). He graduated from Yale in 1840 and Harvard Law School in 1842. After studying theology, he served as pastor of the Congregational church in Salem, Mass., from 1850 to 1859. He was later professor of art history at Yale and taught homiletics at Union Theological Seminary. He and Mary Deming Perkins had two children. After the deaths of Mary’s sister Lucretia and her husband in 1883, their children Mary Perkins Quincy and John W. Quincy Jr. resided with the Hoppins.
Julius Deming Perkins spent his early life in Litchfield. His career as an importer took him to New York City. He married Margaretta Dotterer and they returned to Litchfield. He was one of the incorporators and the first president of the Shepaug Valley Railroad. After fires in 1886 and 1888 destroyed many of Litchfield’s structures, Perkins funded the construction of a fire department. Perkins was active in politics and served on state boards. His wife and he had two children, Julius Deming Perkins Jr. and Edith Perkins. She married William Woodville Rockville.
Lucretia Deming Perkins Quincy was married to John Williams Quincy (1813-1883), a descendant of the prominent Quincy family of Boston. For more about John William Quincy, see the description of Series 3, Quincy family, below. They had two children, Mary Perkins Quincy (1866-1921) and John W. Quincy Jr. (1868-1950).
Series 3. Quincy family (25.83 lin. ft.)
Almost all of the papers in this series consist of the papers of Mary Perkins Quincy (1866-1921), and includes her correspondence, materials regarding her domestic and international travels, genealogical records, and various items relating to her affiliations with the Daughters of the American Revolution, The Colonial Dames, and other memorial institutions. Her correspondences include letters from all corners of the globe, namely Prussia, Canada, Switzerland, Austria-Hungary, Great Britain, Russia, France, Italy, Morocco, Greece and Egypt. Her correspondents included family, diplomats, and members of the royal families of several nations. Quincy had an especially active correspondence with her aunt, Mary Deming Perkins Hoppin. There is no correspondence to or from Quincy after 1913 although she did not die until 1921. A partial finding aid for her papers is available by clicking on the digital content link.
Mary Perkins Quincy was born in New York City to John Williams Quincy and Lucretia Deming Perkins Quincy. Her father was a descendent of the prominent Quincy family of Boston, Mass. He entered business life as an iron merchant in New York, eventually becoming partner in the firm of Davenport and Quincy. He was married first to Katherine Feeks Allen with whom he had one child, Katherine Allen Quincy Trowbridge. After the death of his first wife, Quincy married Lucretia Perkins Deming in 1864. They had two children, Mary and John W. Quincy Jr. (1866-1950). In the late 1800s, an as-yet-to-determined condition required John Williams Jr. to spend the rest of his life under private institutional care.
After the death of their parents in 1883, Mary and John relocated from New York to New Haven to live with her mother’s sister Mary Deming Perkins Hoppin and her husband James Mason Hoppin. Mary Perkins Quincy also spent a large portion of her life in Litchfield with her uncle Julius Deming Perkins and his wife. In 1904, she had a home built in Litchfield called Ardley where she resided until her death in 1921.
Quincy spent the vast majority of her life pursuing her many passions, which included membership to memorial societies, genealogy, historic preservation, writing and travel. She was an active member of several historical societies, including the Litchfield Historical Society; ancestral groups such as the Colonial Dames of America, and the Daughters of the American Revolution; and art clubs like the Needle and Bobbin Club in Litchfield. She coauthored a privately published book entitled Pages of Azure and Gold with Sarah Gardiner.
The remainder of the series consists of several small collections of correspondence. Of interest are two Revolutionary War-era letters written by Qunicy’s great-great-grandfather Edmund Quincy to his daughters Katherine Quincy and Dorothy Quincy Hancock Scott.
Series 4. Other papers (0.21 lin. ft.)
All papers that cannot be specifically associated with either the Deming, Perkins, or Quincy family have been placed in Series 4, Other papers. Included are such items as third party correspondence, bills and receipts, land records, and publications. Of particular interest are 1801 emancipation documents for Candace, “a Negro servant girl,” and a printed broadside, presumably from 1775, of the petition of Continental Congress of October, 1774.
Mary Perkins Quincy was born on January 13, 1866 in New York, New York to John Williams Quincy and Lucretia Deming Perkins Quincy. She lived in New York until the death of her parents in 1883, at which time she and her brother relocated to New Haven, Connecticut where they became the wards of their maternal aunt, Mary Deming Perkins Hoppin, and her husband James Mason Hoppin. According to an obituary published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Quincy attended Miss Leverett’s School in New York and another school in New York kept by Mesdemoiselle Charbonnier of Paris, in addition to various tutors at home and abroad.
Quincy spent a large portion of her life in Litchfield, Connecticut, where she had a home built in 1904 called Ardley. She resided there until her death in 1921. Litchfield was the seat of her maternal uncle Julius Deming Perkins and his wife, Margaretta Dotterer Perkins. Litchfield was home to several generations of Quincy’s ancestors, including members of the Deming and Champion families.
Quincy spent the vast majority of her life pursuing her many passions, which included membership to memorial societies, genealogy, historic preservation, writing and domestic and foreign travel. She was an active member of several historical societies, including the Litchfield Historical Society; ancestral groups such as the Colonial Dames of America, and the Daughters of the American Revolution; and art clubs like the Needle and Bobbin Club in Litchfield. She coauthored a privately published book entitled Pages of Azure and Gold with Sarah Gardiner.
Her correspondences include letters from all corners of the globe, namely Prussia, Canada, Switzerland, Austria-Hungary, Great Britain, Russia, France, Italy, Morocco, Greece and Egypt. Her correspondents included family, diplomats, and members of the royal families of several nations. Quincy had an especially active correspondence with her aunt, Mary Hoppin.
African Americans - Connecticut - Litchfield
Champion, Henry, 1751-1836
China - Commerce
Deming, Julius, 1755-1838
Great Britain - Commerce
Lawyers - Connecticut - Litchfield
Merchants - Connecticut - Litchfield
Military pensions - United States - Revolution, 1775-1783
Quincy, Mary Perkins
Second Great Awakening
United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783
West Indies - Commerce
The first addition came in 1951 when Ardley, Quincy’s Litchfield home, was sold by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (now Historic New England). After the heirs to the Quincy estate removed the items they wished to have, and an antique dealer removed items for sale, Charlotte Wiggin, then Curator for the Litchfield Historical Society, removed from the attic papers and objects not desired by the other parties. The majority of these papers was, at some point, put in archival folders and boxes and labeled “Mary Perkins Quincy Collection.” Most of the folders were simply labeled “correspondence” while others appear to probably reflect the organization of Quincy herself, saying things such as “charming curiosities of Professor and Mrs. Hoppin.”
The second addition came from Edith Howell Perkins Rockhill, a cousin of Mary Perkins Quincy and heir and executors to her estate. In 1923, she donated an iron strong box said to have been owned by the Deming family. In addition to portrait miniatures, currency, and jewelry, the strong box contained papers pertaining to the Champion and Deming families during the Revolution. These papers are also among the portion of the collection previously cataloged as “Quincy Collection.” They were added to the accession book in the 1950s, but the numbers were not written on the documents.
Finally, a former director of the Historical Society, William Warren, purchased a number of Deming-Perkins family papers from an antiques dealer. He did this shortly after Ardley was sold. Warren was an avid collector who sought items with specific Litchfield provenance. There is no evidence that he sought out the materials that were sold from Ardley by the antique dealer, but it is entirely possible that these papers also came from the Quincy home. The description of this portion of the collection is vague, but it does include records of people who were heavily represented in other parts of the collection.
Access Restrictions: The collection is open for research.
Acquisition Source: Mary Perkins Quincy
Acquisition Method: This collection was received in four major accessions, with several smaller additions. The first came in 1921, with the death of Mary Perkins Quincy. The materials which had been arranged by Quincy were accessioned as 1921-2-1 through 1921-02-15. Included in this accession file is a document created by Quincy titled “Index to the Deming-Perkins Family Memorials, Quincy Collection.” These documents were presumably kept at the Historical Society and thought to be part of this accession, though the actual items were not numbered. These papers do not appear to have been kept together, as some of them were housed in uncataloged boxes labeled “Deming-Perkins Papers” while others appeared in the card catalog and were filed within four cataloged boxes labeled “Quincy Collection.”
Architectural survey of the borough of Litchfield
Records of the Litchfield Needle and Bobbin Club
See also museum collections for objects of material culture
The Quincy Family Papers, of which Mary Perkins Quincy was a donor, are at the Massachusetts Historical Society.
Preferred Citation: Demings, Perkins, and Quincy families papers (1950-01-0), Litchfield Historical Society, Helga J. Ingraham Memorial Library, P.O. Box 385, 7 South Street, Litchfield, Connecticut, 06759
Other Note: This collection was processed with support from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the Connecticut Humanities Council (CHC), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.