Guide to the Collection
This collection consists of the papers of the interrelated Bryant, Mason, and Smith families, including personal and military correspondence. The collection also contains genealogical and biographical information on the Bryant, Mason, Symmes, Smith, and Cleveland families.
Col. David Mason (1726-1794) was the son of David and Susanna (Stevens) Mason. During the American Revolution, he was an officer in Crane's Artificer Regiment and was stationed at Springfield, Mass. as Lt. Col. of Artillery Artificers and Director of Ordnance. He was succeeded in the position by his son-in-law John Bryant. With his wife Hannah (Symmes) Mason (d. 1788), he had five children who are represented in this collection: Hannah Mason, who married Capt. John Bryant (see below); Susan Mason, who married Rev. John Smith (see below); Sally Mason (1770-1798), who married Capt. Lyman; Mary Mason, who married David Tuttle; and David Mason, Jr. (1751-1795).
Rev. John Smith (1752-1809) was a tutor (1774-1778), Professor of Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Oriental Languages (1778-1809), librarian (1779-1809), minister of the College Church (1782-1805), and a trustee (1788-1809) of Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. With his first wife Mary (Cleveland) Smith (1759-1784), the daughter of Ebenezer Cleveland (1725-1805), he had two children: Abigail (later Perkins, 1781-1870) and Mary Cleveland (later Smith, 1784-1860), wife of John Bryant (the merchant, see below). With his second wife Susan Mason Smith (1763-1845), daughter of David and Hannah Mason (see above), he had three children represented in this collection: Sarah Smith (1789-1812), Samuel Mason Smith (d. 1813), and John Wheelock Smith (d. 1814).
Capt. John Bryant (1742-1816), Deputy Commissary of Military Stores at the Springfield (Mass.) Armory, married Hannah Mason (1757-1829), the daughter of David and Hannah Mason and sister of Susan Mason Smith (see above). Their son John Bryant (1780-1865), a Boston merchant in the firm of Bryant and Sturgis, married Mary Cleveland Smith (1784-1860), the daughter of Rev. John Smith and his first wife, Mary Cleveland Smith (see above). Their children were: Mary Cleveland Bryant (1808-1876), John Bryant (1811-1847), Sarah Smith Bryant (1812-1887), Mason Bryant (1814-1815), Susan Bryant (b. 1815), Elizabeth Sturgis Bryant (1818-1843), Henry Perkins Bryant (1820-1867), Julia Mason Bryant (1822-1842), and Abigail Perkins Bryant (1826-1837). John Bryant the merchant, then, was the nephew of Susan Mason and Rev. John Smith through Hannah Mason Bryant, and their son-in-law and stepson-in-law, respectively, because he married the daughter of Smith's first wife, Mary Cleveland Smith. See the Curator of Manuscripts for genealogical chart.
The Bryant-Mason-Smith family papers encompass the years 1767-1861. Each of the collection's fourteen series contains either the papers of an individual family member or papers relating to the family as a whole, as well as printed material. The papers of Capt. John Bryant and Col. David Mason relate primarily to their military service. The remainder of the papers are primarily personal correspondence and receipts, as well as some personal writings and poetry.
This collection was placed on deposit by Mrs. H. Thomas Ballantine in March 1993. The papers of Rev. John Smith were originally part of this collection, but were donated to the Dartmouth College Special Collections in 1935.
Detailed Description of the Collection
I. Capt. John Bryant papers, 1767-1816
A. Military receipts and records, 1767-1798
Documents related to his work as Deputy Commissary of Military Stores at the Springfield Armory, 1782-1798. Includes payrolls, enlistment lists, accounts, disbursements, returns, and receipts from the U.S. for military stores.
B. Military correspondence, 1782-1795
Official letters to Bryant as Deputy Commissary from Samuel Hodgdon, Colonel of Military Stores. Also included is a set of instructions issued to Capt. Bryant.
C. Personal papers, 1785-1816
Primarily receipts for accounts with Byers and Bliss, William Smith, Frances Lipton, and John Cotton for various items and services. Also included are letter from Bryant to his brother-in-law Rev. John Smith.
D. Letterbook, 1786-1798
Letterbook containing retained copies of Capt. Bryant's military correspondence, including letters to Henry Knox, Samuel Hodgdon, Alexander Hamilton, Samuel Meredith, and Joseph Howard. The letters are primarily regarding ordnance supplies and the payment of wages to Bryant's men.
II. John Bryant, 1803-1864
A. Bills and receipts, 1806-1847
Personal receipts for advertisements in a newspaper, payment of taxes, furniture, linens, and other goods. Also contains a receipt of money from Daniel Tuttle for the care of his son John, a cousin of John Bryant.
B. Tuition bills, 1812-1841
Receipts for the education of John Bryant's children.
C. Correspondence, 1803-1864
Personal letters written to his daughters Mary and Julia, uncle Rev. John Smith, aunt (and stepmother) Susan Smith, and one from his sister S. Hatch. Also included are a letter and response from John Richards regarding cemetery plots and a letter from Josiah Quincy, Jr.
III. Mary (Cleveland) Bryant correspondence, 1810-1831
Primarily contains letters to her daughters Mary Cleveland Bryant and Julia Bryant. Other letters are to her sister Hannah, from Dr. William Ellery Channing, and from relations in St. Louis, as well as correspondence between her daughters Mary Cleveland Bryant and Sarah Smith Bryant.
IV. Col. David Mason papers, 1764-1779
A. Papers, 1764-1779
Relating mostly to his military service, Mason's papers include a receipt for Prospect Hill ammunition (1776), a letter to Gen. Putnam (1777), orders from Major General Horatio Gates (1779), a transfer order for Robert Bancroft (1779), and a letter from Mason to his daughter Susan Smith (1784).
B. Notebook, [177?-178?]
Mason's notebook kept during his service in the Revolution, containing measurements, calculations, and notes relating to his position in the Artillery.
V. David Mason, Jr. and Hannah Mason letters, 1792-1798
Personal letters from siblings David Mason, Jr. and Hannah Mason to their parents Col. David and Hannah Mason and to their brothers-in-law Daniel Tuttle and Rev. John Smith.
VI. Susan Mason Smith papers, 1796-1845
A. Correspondence, 1796-1845
Letters to her sister Hannah, nephew and stepson-in-law John Bryant, stepdaughter Mary (Cleveland Bryant), granddaughter Mary Cleveland Bryant, and grandson John Bryant, as well as a letter from Daniel Tuttle, primarily concerning family matters.
Personal writings, mostly relating to reflections on and questions pertaining to religion.
C. Miscellaneous receipts, etc., 1822-1842
Receipt for fabric and other goods, as well as documents for the lease of her property.
VII. Sarah Smith papers, 1805-1812
A. Letters, 1805-1812
Letters to her stepsister Mary Cleveland Bryant, brothers John Wheelock Smith and Samuel Smith, mother Susan Smith, and friends Miss Millen, Miss Kent, and Maria Malleville Wheelock. Also included is a letter written after her death addressed to Mary Cleveland Bryant, probably from one of her admirers.
B. Writings and poetry
Poems dedicated to family and friends, as well as stories and personal reflections.
VIII. David Mason Bryant letters, 1829-1830
Letters from Chicopee to brother John Bryant regarding the death of their mother, their father's estate, and other family matters.
IX. Additional Smith family papers
A. Samuel Mason Smith papers, 1809-1812
Contains a geometry diagram, a reward for application to study at Berwick Academy, a letter to his sister-in-law Mary Cleveland Bryant, and a letter from his cousin William Bryant.
B. John Wheelock Smith papers, 1803-1814
Contains letters to his parents Rev. John Smith and Susan Smith; to William Sturgis, business partner of his cousin John Bryant; to a friend in New York; and from Robert Dickson. Also included are an oration, a commencement speech, his Dartmouth diploma signed by President John Wheelock, some personal receipts, a silhouette cut-out, and an inventory of his belongings taken after his death in London in 1814.
C. Abigail Smith Perkins and Cyrus Perkins papers, 1802-1812
Letters to Abigail's sister Mary Cleveland Bryant, her father Rev. John Smith, her stepmother Susan Smith, and stepbrother John Wheelock Smith in London.
X. Cleveland family papers, 1786-1802, 1860-1861
Letters from Ebenezer Cleveland to his daughter Mary Cleveland Smith and son-in-law Rev. John Smith. The other family letters are signed Mary Cleveland, presumably a relation from another branch of the family.
XI. Genealogical/biographical materials
Arranged by family.
A. Bryant family
Loose papers include epitaphs from gravestones, accounts of family history, and a genealogical chart. A journal kept by Mary Cleveland Bryant contains birth dates of family members and accounts of family history.
B. Mason/Symmes family
Accounts of family history and newspaper articles relating to Col. David Mason's role in the American Revolution.
C. Smith/Cleveland family
Contains a genealogical chart, character sketch of Polly (Mary) Cleveland, an account of the Smith family history, an address to Dartmouth students given by Susan Smith, and a sermon delivered at her funeral.
This folder contains a map by Jeremy Belknap, A New Map of New Hampshire, 1791, fragments of notes, some with lists of dates of baptisms; newspaper clippings; "Dementions of a fine wall for the Magazine at Springfield..."; unidentified letters; an unidentified manuscript map; and "history of the desent of Samuel Phillips Prescot Fay through fifteen generations..."
XIII. Printed materials
Materials Removed from the Collection
Photographs have been removed to the Bryant-Mason-Smith family photographs, ca. 1885-1910. Photo. Coll. 500.38.
The following currency was removed to the MHS currency collection.
Five dollars, Continental Currency : Printed by Hall and Sellers, 1775.
Sixty dollars, Continental Currency : Printed by Hall and Sellers, 1778.
Bryant-Mason-Smith 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.