1770-1919; bulk: 1820-1900
Guide to the Collection
This collection contains the papers of the interrelated Slade and Rogers families of Boston. Materials in the collection include family correspondence, personal correspondence, legal and financial papers, deeds, wills, patent information, genealogical notes and research, and printed material.
Below are brief biographical sketches of the members of the Slade and Rogers families who are represented most prominently within the collection. The sketches are arranged by date of birth.
Jacob Tilton Slade (1778-1854), a Boston merchant, was the son of Benjamin Slade and Susanna Tilton. He married Elizabeth Rogers (1798-1826) in 1819 and fathered three children: Elizabeth Bromfield Slade, Daniel Denison Slade, and Mary Ellen Slade. After the death of his wife in 1827, he went to Europe on business and never returned to the United States. While in St. Petersburg in 1829, Slade observed the poor condition of the locks and canals, and used his knowledge of hydraulics and mechanics to invent a device that could raise water in canals and lower workmen into mines. He obtained a patent for his mining elevator in 1832. Slade died in Paris of cholera in 1854.
Henry Bromfield Rogers (1802-1887) was a prominent Boston lawyer and the brother of Elizabeth Rogers Slade. After his sister’s death and his brother-in-law's move to Europe, Rogers became the legal guardian of his nephew, Daniel Denison Slade, and oversaw his successful education. Henry married Ann (Annette) Perkins in 1832 and died in Boston in 1887.
Elizabeth Bromfield Slade (1821-1880) was the daughter of Jacob Tilton Slade and Elizabeth Rogers, and the sister of Daniel Denison Slade and Mary Ellen Slade. After her father’s return to Europe, she was placed in the care of her grandmother, Elizabeth Rogers, and her aunt, Hannah Rogers. She attended school during the 1830s and was briefly a student of Dorothea Dix. She married Henry Schmidt in 1841 and had six children.
Daniel Denison Slade (1823-1896) was born in Boston to Jacob Tilton Slade and Elizabeth Rogers. After his mother’s death, he was raised by his uncle Henry Bromfield Rogers, who sent him to school in Waltham when he was ten and later to Northborough where he lived in the charge of Rev. Joseph Allen. After graduating from Harvard Medical School, he continued his studies in Europe. Upon his return to Boston, he opened his own practice and regularly published articles and essays on medical and veterinary subjects. He also maintained a strong interest in horticulture and zoology and eventually went on to study and teach both. He married Mina Louise Hensler in 1856 and fathered twelve children. He died in 1896 in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.
Elise Hensler, Countess d’Edla (1836-1929) was the sister of Mina Louise Hensler (wife of Daniel Denison Slade). An actress and singer, Elise joined the Italian Opera after finishing her education, and at age nineteen gave birth to an illegitimate daughter, Alice Hensler. In 1869, she married Ferdinand II, the former king of Portugal. The two shared interests that included sculpture, painting, architecture, and horticulture and spent much of their free time engaged in these activities. After her husband’s death in 1885, Elise was involved in a dispute with the royal family over his estate. She spent time in Paris and throughout Europe, leaving her home in Portugal when it was raided during World War I. She died of uremia at her estate in Lisbon in 1929.
Denison Rogers Slade (1857-1914) was the second child and first son of Daniel Denison Slade and Mina Louise Hensler. He was a writer and had great interest in tracing his family’s ancestry through genealogical research. He died in 1914.
The Slade-Rogers family papers consist of seven document boxes spanning the years 1780 to 1919, with the bulk of material dating from 1820 to 1900. The collection is divided into six series: Family correspondence; Personal correspondence; Jacob Tilton Slade mining patent papers; Legal and financial papers; Genealogical papers; and Printed material. Family correspondence is the largest series in the collection and contains letters from several generations of the Slade and Rogers families. It includes letters discussing the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, family events, education, travel; and descriptions of daily life in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Letters from Jacob Tilton Slade, his wife Elizabeth Rogers Slade, his children Daniel Denison Slade and Elizabeth Bromfield Slade, and his father-in-law Henry Bromfield Rogers comprise a significant portion of the collection. Starting in 1860 and continuing through 1919, Elise Hensler (countess d’Edla), the sister of Daniel Denison Slade's wife, Mina Hensler Slade, is a frequent correspondent. In addition to personal and family matters, she discusses her marriage to Frederick II, the former king of Portugal, her dispute with the royal family after Frederick's death, the 1910 revolution in Portugal, the exile of the royal family, and the raid on her home during World War I.
Personal correspondence contains that of the Slade-Rogers family with their friends, acquaintances, and business associates. Letters discuss the education of the Slade children, including Daniel Denison Slade's education at Harvard University; funeral arrangements for Henry Bromfield (1751-1837) and Jacob Tilton Slade; and Denison Rogers Slade’s search for information regarding the family’s ancestry. The Jacob Tilton Slade mining patent papers include letters, a diagram, and a volume containing a narrative description of the elevator he invented in 1832. A memoir describes the process leading to Jacob T. Slade’s patent and excerpts from correspondence with those consulted before the machine’s invention.
Legal and financial papers include accounts and receipts related to the guardianship of Daniel Denison Slade, wills of family members, and estate papers of Henry Bromfield. Genealogical papers contain notes written and compiled by Daniel Denison Slade and Denison Rogers Slade, letters received from New England Historic Genealogical Society, and memoirs.
Gift of Daniel C. Wagnière, Georges H. Wagnière, and Frédéric Wagnière, April 2013.
Detailed Description of the Collection
I. Family correspondence, 1784-1919
This series consists of correspondence between members of the Slade, Rogers, and related families. Correspondents include Benjamin Slade (d. 1813), his second wife, Susanna Tilton Slade (1741-1808); and their children William, Samuel, John, Susanna, Mary, and Jacob Tilton. Of particular interest is correspondence between Benjamin Slade and his son William in Tobago from 1788 to 1789, including letters discussing the ratification of the U.S. Constitution and the emerging American system of government. Other subjects include the day-to-day life of the family, religion, travel, and death.
Correspondents among the Rogers family include Daniel Denison Rogers (1751-1825); his wife, Elizabeth Bromfield Rogers (1763-1833); his wife's father Henry Bromfield (1727-1820); and Daniel's sister, Martha Rogers (d. 1840). Also included are Daniel's children and their spouses: Elizabeth Rogers Slade (1798-1826) and her husband Jacob Tilton Slade (1778-1854); Henry Bromfield Rogers (1802-1887?) and his wife, Ann Perkins Rogers (1805-1880); and Hannah Rogers Mason (1806-1872). Many letters dating from the 1830s are written between the children of Jacob Tilton Slade and Elizabeth Rogers Slade: Daniel Denison Slade (1823-1896), Elizabeth Bromfield Slade Schmidt (1821-1880), and Mary Ellen Slade (1823-1845). This correspondence provides insight into educational practices during the time, as well as the children’s relationships with their aunts, uncles, and cousins. The letters also discuss Daniel Denison Slade’s education at Harvard and travels abroad.
A large portion of the family correspondence dates from 1860-1870 and is from Daniel Denison Slade to his wife Mina Louise Hensler. Subjects include daily activities, travel throughout Europe and the United States, relations with various family members, and the health and hobbies of their twelve children. Correspondence to and from their children, Denison Rogers Slade (1857-1914), Ellen Louise Slade (b. 1860), and Margaret Bromfield Slade (b. 1862) can also be found here.
Letters to Mina Hensler Slade from her sister, Elise Hensler, the Countess d’Edla (1836-1929) begin around 1860 and continue through 1918. This substantive portion of the collection details Elise’s marriage to Ferdinand II, former king of Portugal, her financial troubles with the royal family after his death, the revolution in Portugal, the exile of the royal family in the early 1900s, and the raid of her home during World War I.. Her wax seal, containing her coat of arms, can be found in good condition on a letter dated 27 October 1872.
Also found in this series are resolutions, prayers, and remembrances.
II. Personal correspondence, 1782-1913
This series contains the personal, non-family correspondence of Jacob Tilton Slade, Daniel Denison Slade, Henry Bromfield, and Henry Bromfield Rogers. It includes an 1827 letter to Jacob Tilton Slade from William Ellery Channing and papers related to the education of Daniel Denison Slade and Elizabeth Slade Schmidt (1835-1837), including the letters of Joseph and Lucy Clark (Ware) Allen, report cards for the children, and an undated note from Dorothea Dix. Also included are letters from Sophia Willard (Dana) Ripley and an unidentified girl at Brook Farm to Mary Ellen Slade (ca. 1840); and an 1859 letter from Samuel Abbott Green to Daniel Denison Slade. Several letters, beginning in 1837, discuss the death and property of Henry Bromfield. There is also some correspondence with Thomas Dwight in Paris regarding the funeral arrangements and tomb of Jacob Tilton Slade in 1854. Denison Rogers Slade is responsible for much of the correspondence after 1897, which is primarily concerned with tracking the ancestry and effects of the Slade-Rogers family.
III. Jacob Tilton Slade mining patent papers, 1832-1855
This series includes papers related to the patent held by Jacob Tilton Slade for a mining elevator he invented in 1832. It includes letters, a diagram, and a volume containing a narrative description about the invention of the machine in 1832. Slade’s “Memoir of the Invention of a Machine” describes the creation of an elevator designed for the safe transportation of men and materials up and down mine shafts and the process of obtaining a patent, and contains copies of correspondence with those people instrumental in the machine’s development.
IV. Legal and financial papers, 1770-1897
This series contains legal and financial documents including early deeds for land in Portsmouth, N.H., receipts from land purchases and transactions of Benjamin Slade, receipts related to the guardianship of Daniel Denison Slade (1835-1836), estate documents and the will of Henry Bromfield (d. 1837), and a record of a donation of volumes to Harvard University by Daniel Denison Slade (1844).
V. Genealogical papers, 1820-1909
This series contains genealogical research notes and correspondence regarding the Rogers, Slade, and related families. Notes were compiled by Daniel Denison Slade and continued by his son Denison Rogers Slade. Also included in this series are a handwritten index of biographical sketches, copies of memoirs of Mrs. Ichabod Goodwin and Henry Bromfield Rogers, letters from Denison Rogers Slade to attorneys and researchers at the New England Historic Genealogical Society and in England, and a copy of the Slade family tree.
VI. Printed material, 1856-1911
Printed material includes a biographical sketch of Daniel Denison Slade, an 1828 list of members of the First Church of Christ in Portsmouth, N. H., an 1832 pamphlet by I. H. F. Blanchard entitled Christian Doctrine of Regeneration, an 1878 list of steamship passengers, and directions on the preservation of teeth. 19th century newspaper clippings can also be found in this series.
Slade-Rogers family papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.
Materials Removed from the Collection
Photographs from this collection have been removed to the MHS Photo Archives