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Woodruff family collection


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

George C. Woodruff correspondence

Other correspondence

Legal papers

Business papers

Financial papers

Family papers

Newspaper clippings


Contact us about this collection

Woodruff family collection, 1779-1966 | Litchfield Historical Society

By Anna Chen

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Collection Overview

Title: Woodruff family collection, 1779-1966Add to your cart.View associated digital content.

Predominant Dates:1815-1919

Primary Creator: Woodruff, George C. (George Catlin) (1805-1885)

Other Creators: Seymour, Lucy Morris (Woodruff) (1807-1894), Woodruff, George M. (George Morris) (1836-1930), Woodruff, Henrietta Sophronia (Seymour) (1806-1892), Woodruff, James Parsons (1868-1931), Woodruff, Lewis B. (Lewis Bartholomew) (1809-1875), Woodruff, Morris (1777-1840), Woodruff, Reuben M. (Reuben Morris) (1811-1849)

Extent: 21.5 Boxes


The collection is arranged in 8 series:

I. George C. Woodruff correspondence

II. Other correspondence

III. Legal papers

IV. Business papers

V. Financial papers

VI. Family papers

VII. Newspaper clippings

VIII. Miscellany

Date Acquired: 03/23/1953. More info below under Accruals.

Subjects: Collecting of accounts--United States, Connecticut--Politics and government, Epidemics--New York (State)--New York, Genealogy--Connecticut, Land titles--Connecticut, Law--Connecticut, Law--United States--Study and teaching, Lawyers--Correspondence, Litchfield (Conn.) - History, Litchfield Law School, Medicine--United States--History--18th century, Postmasters, Real property, Reeve, Tapping, 1744-1823, Southern States--History--1775-1865, Speculation--United States, United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783, United States--Politics and government--1775-1783., United States--Politics and government--1783-1865, United States--Politics and government--1865-1933, United States--Social life and customs--1783-1865

Forms of Material: Account books, Autograph albums, Correspondence, Diaries, Drawings, Greeting cards, Notebooks, Receipts

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Woodruff Collection primarily documents the personal life and professional career of George Catlin Woodruff, who not only practiced law for several decades in Litchfield but also served as Litchfield's postmaster and held elected positions both locally and in the United States Congress.  

His law career is extensively represented in his business correspondence with clients concerning suits in progress and with other law professionals; his law school notebooks; and his own notes on pending lawsuits.  These papers document the education and routine work of a lawyer in this period, as well as the networks among lawyers in New England and their relationships with judges, courts, and other members of the judicial system. 

The collection also illuminates the central position of the postal service in the early republic through letters sent to Woodruff in his capacity as postmaster of Litchfield.  These include not only correspondence with other postmasters concerning mail schedules and misdirected letters, but also correspondence from individuals from other towns seeking information about Litchfield inhabitants, reporting suspicious activities, and asking for assistance in publicizing their own careers.

Additionally, Woodruff's extensive personal correspondence with his family sheds light on his personal life, especially in letters to and from his brothers Lewis B. Woodruff, a lawyer in New York, and Reuben M. Woodruff, a physician.  These letters record their efforts to establish and develop their careers, their travels along the east coast and the southern United States, and family and social news.  Moreover, the collection includes Woodruff's personal papers, which trace his interest in genealogical research, the history of Litchfield, and his autobiographical efforts.

The collection follows Woodruff's political career through newspaper clippings and his own handwritten records of local and national election results, as well as documents his other business ventures, including investments in railroads, canals, and banks, and his involvement in the Litchfield Mutual Fire Insurance Company.  By extension, these papers reveal political processes and economic developments during this time period.

Also present in this collection are the papers of numerous Woodruff relatives, as well as those of other prominent and lesser-known Litchfield families.  For example, the collection documents the extensive land transactions executed by Woodruff's father, Morris Woodruff, especially in partnership with Simeon Harrison; the law career of his son George M. Woodruff; and his grandson James P. Woodruff's law and political careers.    The collection also includes many personal and business papers from members of the Seymour and Wolcott families, as well as from the family of Henry E. Gates, who served as a physician during the Civil War, and from Grant Wickwire, a prosperous Litchfield farmer.

Biographical Note

George Catlin Woodruff (1805-1885) was born in Litchfield, CT in 1805.  He graduated from Yale College in 1825, after which he studied law with James Gould at the Litchfield Law SChool.  In 1827 he was admitted to the bar and began practice in Litchfield.  He also served as postmaster of Litchfield from 1832 to 1846.  Afterwards, he became involved in local and national politics, becoming a member of the State House of Representatives in 1851, 1866, and 1874, and elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-seventh Congress (1861-1863). 

In 1829, he married Henrietta Sophronia (Seymour) Woodruff, the sister of Origen S. Seymour, who married Woodruff's sister Lucy.  They had two children: George and Henrietta.  George C. Woodruff died in Litchfield, CT in 1885.

Subject/Index Terms

Collecting of accounts--United States
Connecticut--Politics and government
Epidemics--New York (State)--New York
Land titles--Connecticut
Law--United States--Study and teaching
Litchfield (Conn.) - History
Litchfield Law School
Medicine--United States--History--18th century
Real property
Reeve, Tapping, 1744-1823
Southern States--History--1775-1865
Speculation--United States
United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783
United States--Politics and government--1775-1783.
United States--Politics and government--1783-1865
United States--Politics and government--1865-1933
United States--Social life and customs--1783-1865

Administrative Information

Repository: Litchfield Historical Society

Accruals: Additions include gifts from George M. Woodruff (1922); Mrs. James P. Woodruff (1952, 1953, and 1956); Mrs. John M. Ellis and Miss Isabell Woodruff (1957);  Lillian (Woodruff) Ellis (1978); Julie Hallaway (1984); estate of Agatha Ryan (1986);  Malcolm and Carol Bramley (2005); and Yale University Sterling Library (2010).

Acquisition Source: Mrs. James P. Woodruff

Acquisition Method: Donated

Separated Materials: Library books (2010-366-0): REFERENCE F104.L7W58 - Alain C. White History of the town of Litchfield 1720-1920 [2 copies]; REFERENCE F104.L7W6 - George C. Woodruff, Genealogical register of the inhabitants of the town of Litchfield, Conn.; RARE  F104.L7W7 - George C. Woodruff, History of the town of Litchfield, Conn., 1845.

Original/Copies Note: Transcriptions are available for some documents.

Related Materials:

Seymour family papers, 1777-1923, Litchfield Historical Society

Brooklyn Historical Society, Brooklyn, NY

Rutherford B. Hayes Library, Fremont, OH

Preferred Citation: Woodruff family collection, 1953-02-2-8, Litchfield Historical Society, Helga J. Ingraham Memorial Library, P.O. Box 385, 7 South Street, Litchfield, Connecticut, 06759.

Other Note:

Material objects at the Litchfield Historical Society relating to the Woodruff Family Collection include:

-portrait miniature of Morris Woodruff (1978-02-1)

-portrait of Lucy Morris (Woodruff) Seymour (1918-06-3)

-portrait of Origen S. Seymour (1918-06-1)

-portrait of Candace (Catlin) Woodruff (1981-08-0)

-sign belonging to George M. Woodruff (1978-02-6)

-portrait of George C. Woodruff (2004-26-1)

-portrait of Henrietta Sophornia Seymour Woodruff (2004-26-2)

-portrait of George M. Woodruff (2004-26-3)

-portrait of James P. Woodruff (1978-02-91)

-desk, made in Litchfield, belonging to Morris Woodruff (1929-02-11)

-desk used by George C. Woodruff, George M. Woodruff, and James Woodruff (1924-04-0)

-wallet used by Origen S. Seymour (1949-03-4)

-portrait of Seth Preston Beers (1907-16-1)

-portrait of Lewis B. Woodruff (1917-03-2)

-document box belonging to Lewis B. Woodruff (1995-10-1)

-fire bucket belonging to Morris Woodruff (1971-08-10)

Contact museum curator for further information at curator@litchfieldhistoricalsociety.org

This collection was processed with support from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: George C. Woodruff correspondence, 1821-1884],
[Series 2: Other correspondence, 1775-1932],
[Series 3: Legal papers, 1762-1911],
[Series 4: Business papers, 1829-1925],
[Series 5: Financial papers, 1737-1931],
[Series 6: Family papers, 1777-1973],
[Series 7: Newspaper clippings, 1800-1931],
[Series 8: Miscellany, 1765-1932],

Series 8: Miscellany, 1765-1932Add to your cart.
This series contains miscellaneous items, primarily without attribution.  It has been arranged alphabetically.
Sub-Series 1Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Ancient confession of faith, 1807 Sep 24Add to your cart.
List of religious precepts, accompanied by a note which declares, "Confessn of Faith Covt as formerly used 1st Church in Litchd.  To be sent to Mrs Ruth Crosswell from her friend Susan Tracy...Mrs Croswell of Coats-Kilb. sister of Mary Pierce."
Folder 2: Anecdote concerning Merritt Todd, undatedAdd to your cart.
Anecdote describing Merritt Todd's murder of his father over a financial dispute.
Folder 3: Antonio and Shylock, 1637 Feb 23Add to your cart.
"Legal" document between Antonio and Shylock, in a later hand, binding Antonio to Shylock for 3000 ducats or one pound of his flesh.  Includes a seal.
Folder 4: Article for a medical society, undatedAdd to your cart.
Copy of Article #13, which declares that every member is entitled to wear a medal or watch key, and describing the inscriptions on the medal.
Folder 5: Bill of fare, 1858 Mar 21Add to your cart.View associated digital content.
Printed bill of fare of a meal to be served on board the Louisville and New Orleans packet steamer.
Folder 6: Broadside concerning Rev. B. E. Hale, 1850Add to your cart.View associated digital content.
Printed broadside attacking the character of Rev. B. E. Hale, editor of a political paper called The Fountain and a temperance preacher.  Notes in the hand of George C. Woodruff appear in the margin.
Folder 7: Confederate bonds, 1861Add to your cart.
Two Confederate bonds for five and ten dollars.
Folder 8: Description of land at Elizabethtown Point, 1836 Aug 23Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Drawings and sketches, 1842-1875, undatedAdd to your cart.
Three sketches: one of a series of musicians drawn on a postcard directed to Dr. William Deming; symbols labeled State of New York Bank; and pencil sketches showing a domestic scene and a carriage scene, with speech bubbles.
Folder 10: East Bloomfield Society constitution, undatedAdd to your cart.
Constitution "for the promotion of good morals."
Folder 11: Epitaphs, 1765-1789Add to your cart.
Copies, in a later hand, of eighteenth-century epitaphs of Dr. Jonathan Bull; Anna Strong; and Caleb and Martha Bull.
Folder 12: Foliage, undatedAdd to your cart.
Dried leaves in a wrapper on which is printed a poem about gardens.  Written on the outside of the wrapper: "Came of a rock 50 years."
Folder 13: Funeral invitation, 1884Add to your cart.
Invitation to the funeral services of "Grandma Walton."  Accompanied by an envelope labeled "A present from Great Grandma Woodruff to her first great grandchild."
Folder 14: General Assembly resolution to Mansfield petition, 1825 MayAdd to your cart.
Resolution to annex the town of Mansfield to Tolland County.  The document is endorsed by Oliver Wolcott.
Folder 15: Gould, Henry Guy, 1872, undatedAdd to your cart.
Anecdotes, in the hand of Henry Guy Gould, the son of Judge James Gould, of the "Sheddon family"; Sarah Pierce's family and school; and the melting of a lead statue of George III in 1776.
Folder 16: Graduate abolishment of slavery, 1862Add to your cart.
Printed message from Abraham Lincoln recommending government aid to states which adopts the gradual abolishment of slavery.
Folder 17: Hansbrough, J. S., undatedAdd to your cart.
Brief essay, written in the first person, titled "History of a Cent."
Folder 18: Ladies' Declaration of Independence, 1839 Jul 4Add to your cart.
A possibly lighthearted or parodic imitation of the Declaration of Independence which centers on women's declarations of their refusal to be oppressed by men.
Folder 19: List of law books, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 20: Litchfield Circulating Library Association, 1902, undatedAdd to your cart.
Contains a pen sketch of ladies entering the library, on which is pasted a newspaper clipping about the library; and a letter from George A. Hickox concerning the inception of the library.
Folder 21: Litchfield County Peace Society constitution, 1832Add to your cart.
Includes a list of signatures to the constitution.
Folder 22: Pamphlets, 1860, undatedAdd to your cart.
Pamphlets concerning The Kenmore Association; the capture of Louisburg; a legal document; and an excerpt from The Children's Magazine.
Folder 23: Photostat, 1853Add to your cart.
Photostats of two legal agreements involving John H. Brownnig.
Folder 24: Poems, undatedAdd to your cart.
Contains a riddle and a poem in praise of the king.
Folder 25: Recipe for blacking, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 26: Ribbons, 1878, undatedAdd to your cart.
Includes two Phillips Academy ribbons.
Folder 27: Rudiments of music, undatedAdd to your cart.
Two leaves from a printed booklet.
Folder 28: Wickwire recipes, undatedAdd to your cart.
Includes medicinal and household recipes, as well as one for making "leppard skin."
Folder 29: Second Connecticut volunteer heavy artillery, undatedAdd to your cart.
Inclues a list of daily regimental calls as well as a list of subscribers' names.
Folder 30: Strong, Jedediah, undatedAdd to your cart.
Copy, in a later hand, of Jedediah Strong's lists of soldiers in the American Revolution, and notes concerning service pay and widows' pensions.
Folder 31: Subscription for Souths Council, 1847 Jul 5Add to your cart.
List of names of those who have subscribed money for the council to celebrate July 5, 1847.
Folder 32: Tallmadge, Frederick Samuel, 1906Add to your cart.
Memorial booklet produced by the Sons of the Revolution, commemorating the death of Frederick Samuel Tallmadge.  The booklet is written on parchment and bound in gray morocco.
Folder 33: United States Post Office, 1956 May 31Add to your cart.
Certificate honoring Albert J. Hausmann's career in the United States Postal Service.  Accompanied by a typed letter, dated 1857, from the Postmaster General to Hausmann.
Folder 34: Scraps and fragments, 1829-1837, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 35: Wrappers and envelopes, 1870-1932, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 36: Wrappers and envelopes, undatedAdd to your cart.
Sub-Series 2: AccrualsAdd to your cart.
Documents added after the initial finding aid was completed.
Folder 1: Fremont coach for Salt River broadside, undatedAdd to your cart.
Broadside with illustration of a coach for overland route. J.C. Fremont, proprietor.
Folder 2: Connecticut. Treasury Department, 1890 Sep 1Add to your cart.
Printed circular to Town Selectmen annoucing the passing of a resolution imposing a state tax.
Folder 3: List of house frame pieces, undatedAdd to your cart.
A list with dimensions and count of beams, girts, braces, plates, trimers and rafters.
Folder 4: Prescriptions, undatedAdd to your cart.
Three undated prescriptions for unknown ailments.
Folder 5: Recipes for cologne, undatedAdd to your cart.
Two undated recipes for cologne.
Folder 6: Sermons, 1832-1900?Add to your cart.
Two sermons, one dated 1832 & 1840, and one typed and undated.
Folder 7: United States Department of the Treasury, 1892Add to your cart.
Two notices from the U.S. Department of the Treasury: one a customs notice to passengers arriving from foreign countries concerning baggage inspection and personal items date March 3, 1892; and another is an undated report from the Secretary of the Treasury concerning revenues from duties levied on imports.
Folder 8: CurrencyAdd to your cart.
Colonial, continental and state paper currency; and bank currency. Most are dated 1771-1779.
Sub-Folder 1: Continental currency, 1775-1776Add to your cart.
Sub-Folder 2: Continental currency, 1777-1779Add to your cart.
Sub-Folder 3: State currency, 1771-1776Add to your cart.
Sub-Folder 4: Bank currency, 1851-1863Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Washington, George, 1783 June 4Add to your cart.
Discharge certificate for private Able Cobb of the 5th Mass. Regiment who faithfully served over five years in the American Army. The certifcate also states that Able Cobb was honored with the Badge of Merit for his servce. It is signed by G. Washington and Moses [  ], major of the 5th Massachusetts Regiment.
Folder 10: Hall, Ephraim, 1800Add to your cart.
On the title page of the booklet is : "A rate bill made on the list of 1799, granted by the inhabitants of South Farms Society, of 1 cent & 6 mills on the dollar. Collected 1800 where of Ephraim Hall is collector."

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: George C. Woodruff correspondence, 1821-1884],
[Series 2: Other correspondence, 1775-1932],
[Series 3: Legal papers, 1762-1911],
[Series 4: Business papers, 1829-1925],
[Series 5: Financial papers, 1737-1931],
[Series 6: Family papers, 1777-1973],
[Series 7: Newspaper clippings, 1800-1931],
[Series 8: Miscellany, 1765-1932],

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