Guide to the Collection

Collection Summary


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.

Biographical Sketches

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.

Collection Description

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.

Acquisition Information

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

Arranged chronologically.

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.

Box 1Folder 1-9

B. Military correspondence, 1782-1795

Arranged chronologically.

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.

Box 1Folder 10

C. Personal papers, 1785-1816

Arranged chronologically.

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.

Box 1Folder 11-13

D. Letterbook, 1786-1798

Arranged chronologically.

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.

Box 1Folder 14

II. John Bryant, 1803-1864

A. Bills and receipts, 1806-1847

Arranged chronologically.

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.

Box 2Folder 1

B. Tuition bills, 1812-1841

Arranged chronologically.

Receipts for the education of John Bryant's children.

Box 2Folder 2-10

C. Correspondence, 1803-1864

Arranged chronologically.

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.

Box 2Folder 11

III. Mary (Cleveland) Bryant correspondence, 1810-1831

Arranged chronologically.

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.

Box 2Folder 12

IV. Col. David Mason papers, 1764-1779

A. Papers, 1764-1779

Arranged chronologically.

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).

Box 2Folder 13

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.

Box 2Folder 14

V. David Mason, Jr. and Hannah Mason letters, 1792-1798

Arranged chronologically.

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.

Box 2Folder 15

VI. Susan Mason Smith papers, 1796-1845

A. Correspondence, 1796-1845

Arranged chronologically.

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.

Box 3Folder 1-6

B. Writings

Personal writings, mostly relating to reflections on and questions pertaining to religion.

Box 3Folder 7

C. Miscellaneous receipts, etc., 1822-1842

Receipt for fabric and other goods, as well as documents for the lease of her property.

Box 3Folder 8

VII. Sarah Smith papers, 1805-1812

A. Letters, 1805-1812

Arranged chronologically.

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.

Box 3Folder 9-11

B. Writings and poetry

Poems dedicated to family and friends, as well as stories and personal reflections.

Box 3Folder 12-16

VIII. David Mason Bryant letters, 1829-1830

Arranged chronologically.

Letters from Chicopee to brother John Bryant regarding the death of their mother, their father's estate, and other family matters.

Box 4Folder 1

IX. Additional Smith family papers

A. Samuel Mason Smith papers, 1809-1812

Arranged chronologically.

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.

Box 4Folder 2

B. John Wheelock Smith papers, 1803-1814

Arranged chronologically.

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.

Box 4Folder 3

C. Abigail Smith Perkins and Cyrus Perkins papers, 1802-1812

Arranged chronologically.

Letters to Abigail's sister Mary Cleveland Bryant, her father Rev. John Smith, her stepmother Susan Smith, and stepbrother John Wheelock Smith in London.

Box 4Folder 4

X. Cleveland family papers, 1786-1802, 1860-1861

Arranged chronologically.

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.

Box 4Folder 5

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.

Box 4Folder 6-7

B. Mason/Symmes family

Accounts of family history and newspaper articles relating to Col. David Mason's role in the American Revolution.

Box 4Folder 8-10

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.

Box 4Folder 11-13

XII. Miscellaneous

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..."

Box 4Folder 14

XIII. Printed materials

Arranged alphabetically.

Box 4
Allen, Samuel C. Eulogy on the Hon. John Wheelock, LL.D. Hanover, N.H.: David Watson, June 1817.
Box 4
Brown, John. Funeral Sermon For the Reverend Mr. Thomas Symmes. Boston: T. Fleet, 1726.
Box 4
Bryant, William Sohier. Records By Rev. John Smith, D.D., of Hanover, N.H. Boston: reprinted from the New England Historical and Genealogical Register for April 1916.
Box 4
"A Course of Experiments in that Instructive and Entertaining Branch of natural Philosophy, called Electricity, To be accompanied with Methodical Lectures on the Nature and properties of that Wonderful Element, by David Mason. . ." n.p.: n.d. (Broadside).
Box 4
"Description of the View of Moscow, Now Exhibiting at Barker's Panorama Strand, Near Surrey Street..." London: J. Adlard, 1813.
Box 4
Gale, Wakefield. A Sermon Preached at the Re opening of the Congregational Meeting House in Rockport, Massachusetts. Boston: Perkins & Marvin, 1840.
Box 4
The Panopolist and Missionary Magazine, Vol. 9, no. 9, November, (Part 1) 1813.
Box 4
Smith, John. The Duty, Advantages, and Pleasure of Public Worship, Illustrated in a Sermon. Preached at the Dedication of the Meeting House, in the Vicinity of Dartmouth College. Hanover, N.H.: Dunham and True, 1795.
Box 4
Smith, John. A Grammar of the Greek Language... n.p.: n.d.
Box 4
Smith, John. The New Hampshire Latin Grammar... n.p.: n.d.
Box 4
Swett, S. Defence of Col. Timothy Pickering, against Bancroft's History. Boston: Crocker and Brewster, 1859.
Box 4
Wheelock, John. Eulogium on the Rev. John Smith, D.D. Hanover, N.H.: C. & W. S. Spear, 1809.

Materials Removed from the Collection

Photographs Removed

Photographs have been removed to the Bryant-Mason-Smith family photographs, ca. 1885-1910. Photo. Coll. 500.38.

Currency Removed

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.

Preferred Citation

Bryant-Mason-Smith family papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Access Terms

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.


Bryant family.
Bryant family--Genealogy.
Bryant, Hannah Mason, 1727-1829.
Bryant, John, 1743-1816.
Bryant, John, 1780-1865.
Bryant, Mary Cleveland, 1808-1876.
Bryant, Mary Cleveland Smith, 1784-1860.
Cleveland, Ebenezer, 1725-1805.
Cleveland family.
Cleveland family--Genealogy.
Hodgdon, Samuel, 1745-1824.
Knox, Henry, 1750-1806.
Mason, David, 1726-1794.
Mason, David, 1751-1795.
Mason family.
Mason family--Genealogy.
Perkins family.
Smith family.
Smith family--Genealogy.
Smith, John Wheelock, d. 1814.
Smith, Sarah, 1789-1812.
Smith, Susan Mason, 1763-1845.
Symmes family--Genealogy.


Springfield Armory (U.S.).
United States. Army. Artillery.
United States. Army--Firearms.
United States. Continental Army. Continental Artillery Regiment, 3rd (John Crane's).


United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783--Artillery operations.
Women authors.
Women poets.