Guide to the Collection
Representative digitized documents from this collection:
This collection consists of papers of the interrelated Fay and Mixter families, primarily cotton merchant Joseph Story Fay, including family and personal correspondence; business, financial, and legal papers; and genealogies and memoirs.
Samuel Prescott Phillips Fay (1778-1856) married Harriet Howard (1782-1847) and had the following children: Samuel Howard Fay (1804-1847), who married Susan Shellman (1808-1887); Richard Sullivan Fay (1806-1865), who married Catherine Saunders Pickman (1810-1900); Charles Fay (1808-1888), who married first Charlotte Emily Hopkins (1817-1856) and second Sophronia Adams White (1828-1892); Harriet Howard Fay (1810-1885), who married William H. Greenough; Joseph Story Fay (1812-1897), who married Sarah Smith Bryant (1812-1887); Maria Denny Fay (1820-1890); and Eliza Davis Fay (1825-1885), who married first Heman Allen (1779-1852) and second Robert R. Fox (1809-).
Joseph Story Fay (1812-1897), known as "Story," was born in Cambridge, Mass. and became a cotton merchant, industrialist, and businessman. As a young man, he worked as a shipping agent in New York in partnership with L. H. Brigham. In 1838, he moved to Savannah, Ga. and joined his brother Samuel H. Fay in the cotton trade as part of the firm Padelford, Fay & Co. He worked in that business until 1861, when the company dissolved and he moved back to Massachusetts. He eventually settled in Woods Hole, Mass., where he had bought a summer home and land in 1850.
In 1840, Joseph S. Fay married Sarah "Sally" Smith Bryant (1812-1887), the daughter of John (1780-1865) and Mary Cleveland (Smith) Bryant (1784-1860). The couple had three children that lived to adulthood: Joseph Story Fay, Jr. (1847-1912), who married first Rebecca Rodman Motley (1849-1905) and second Mabel Grace Ely (1865-1950); Henry Howard Fay (1848-1929), who married Elizabeth Elliot Spooner (1851-1945); and Sarah Bryant Fay (1856-1936). Dorothy Fay (1886-), the daughter of Henry and Elizabeth (Spooner) Fay, married William Jason Mixter (1880-1958) in 1911.
William R. Mixter (1809-1884) was the son of Jason (1772-1850) and Susan (Cutler) Mixter (1777-1861). Three of his siblings lived to adulthood: Charles (1811-1873), Susan (1814-1894), and George (1815-1897). Mixter was a merchant and banker in Boston. He married Mary Ruggles (1818-1904) and had the following children: George Mixter (1842-1910); Mary Ann "Mamie" Mixter (1845-1922); Fanny Louise Mixter (1850-), who married Daniel Waldo Howard (1847-); Samuel Jason Mixter (1855-1926), who married Wilhelmina "Willie" Galloupe (1858-1925); and William Anson Mixter (1856-1859).
Samuel Jason Mixter (1855-1926) was born in Hardwick, Mass. and graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1875 and Harvard Medical School in 1879. From 1879-1881, he lived in Vienna and studied medicine, returning to practice in Boston as a surgeon at various hospitals and to teach at Harvard Medical School. He married Wilhelmina "Willie" Galloupe (1858-1925) and had the following children: William Jason Mixter (1880-1958), who married Dorothy Fay (1886-); Charles Galloupe Mixter (1882-1965), who married Helen Worthington McIntosh; Roger Conant Mixter (1885-1886); George Mixter (1889-1968), who married Muriel Eaton (1892-); and Samuel Mixter (1891-1967), who married Anne Dudley Williams. The two oldest sons, William and Charles, also became doctors.
This collection contains papers of the interrelated Fay and Mixter families, including family and personal correspondence; business, financial, and legal papers; and genealogies and memoirs. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence, business papers, an account book, and other papers of cotton merchant Joseph Story Fay. Business papers relate primarily to the cotton trade in Savannah, Ga. in the 1840s and 1850s and the firm of Padelford, Fay & Co. Material in the collection related to slavery includes deeds for people enslaved by Fay, correspondence between Fay and John Bryant on the issue, and letters about the slave-trading vessel Wanderer. Papers related to the Civil War include letters by Henry Bryant of the 20th Mass. Regiment and a letterbook of Daniel Nicolson Spooner containing material on the 5th Mass. Cavalry, an all-Black regiment. Additional topics of correspondence include family matters and politics.
Members of the Fay and Mixter families represented in the collection include Charles Fay, Elizabeth Elliot (Spooner) Fay, Harriet (Howard) Fay, Henry Howard Fay, Maria Denny Fay, Richard Sullivan Fay, Samuel Howard Fay, Samuel Prescott Phillips Fay, Sarah Bryant Fay, Sarah Smith (Bryant) Fay, Harriet Howard (Fay) Greenough, Charles Mixter, Fanny Louise Mixter, George Mixter, Jason Mixter, Mary Ann Mixter, Mary (Ruggles) Mixter, Samuel J. Mixter, Wilhelmina (Galloupe) Mixter, and William R. Mixter. Non-family correspondents include Alexander Dallas Bache, L. H. Brigham, Marie Depage, and Edward Padelford. The collection also contains wills, family trees, memoirs, printed material, and papers related to World War I relief work.
Gift of Elizabeth B. Gardner, February 2013. With additions, April 2015.
Detailed Description of the Collection
I. Family correspondence, 1813-1958
This series consists of correspondence of the Fay and Mixter families arranged in two subseries. The letters date almost exclusively from before the marriage of William Jason Mixter and Dorothy Fay in 1911.
A. Fay family correspondence, 1813-1925
This subseries contains correspondence between members of the Fay family and related families, primarily letters of two generations, those of Joseph Story Fay and his children. Related families include the Bryant, Spooner, Torrey, and Nicolson/Nicholson families.
The bulk of the subseries consists of correspondence of Joseph Story Fay, 1835-1890, including letters from his parents Samuel Prescott Phillips Fay and Harriet (Howard) Fay and his siblings Samuel Howard Fay, Richard Sullivan Fay, Charles Fay, Harriet Howard (Fay) Greenough, and Maria Denny Fay. Also included is extensive correspondence between Joseph Story Fay and his father-in-law John Bryant of Bryant, Sturgis & Co., 1838-1858, about personal matters, politics, and the cotton, railroad, and steamship businesses in Savannah, Ga. Some letters contain detailed tables of cotton prices, as well as correspondence from Edward Padelford written jointly with Fay. Among the personal subjects covered in this subseries are Fay's proposal to Sarah Smith Bryant, his prospects, family births and deaths, health, and household matters. Letters written during the 1840s and 1850s discuss events leading up to the Civil War and the issue of slavery, including the question of whether Fay should become an enslaver. Bryant family members represented in the correspondence include Mary Cleveland (Smith) Bryant, John Bryant, Jr., and Henry Bryant. A few letters from Henry Bryant were written during his Civil War service as surgeon of the 20th Mass. Regiment, 1861-1862.
The subseries also contains correspondence of Sarah (Bryant) Fay with family members, 1832-1880, including her mother Mary (Smith) Bryant, her grandmother Susan Smith, and her brother Henry, as well as undated letters from Maria Denny Fay. In one long letter to her mother, dated 28 July 1858, Sarah Fay describes her experiences during a hotel fire.
Correspondence of the next generation consists primarily of letters to and from Henry Howard Fay, his sister Sarah Bryant Fay, and his wife Elizabeth Elliot (Spooner) Fay. Correspondence of Henry Howard Fay includes letters to his parents and sister from Europe, 1865, 1870, and to Elizabeth "Lizzie" Spooner during their courtship, 1874-1875. Papers of Sarah Bryant Fay include correspondence with her parents and letters she wrote to Alice Nicholson, possibly one of the Nicholson/Nicolson relatives of Elizabeth (Spooner) Fay. Some of these letters to Nicholson contain sketches. Also included in this subseries are letters from Ellen Otis Spooner in Macao and Singapore to her young niece Lizzie Spooner, 1857-1861.
B. Mixter family correspondence, 1839-1958
This subseries contains correspondence between members of the Mixter family and related families, primarily letters of two generations, those of William R. Mixter and his son Samuel Jason Mixter. Related families include the Ruggles, Galloupe, and Cutler families.
The bulk of the correspondence to 1863 consists of letters to William R. Mixter, with a few to his wife Mary (Ruggles) Mixter. Also included are several letters from William's brother, Boston merchant Charles Mixter, to William and their father Jason Mixter on business. Additional correspondents are George Mixter, David R. Stevenson, Daniel Ruggles, and others. Most of the letters relate to family matters, including estates, but also include references to events before and during the Civil War and to family members serving.
Correspondence of the next generation, primarily between Samuel J. Mixter, his parents William and Mary (Ruggles) Mixter, and his siblings George, Mary Ann ("Mamie"), and Fanny Louise Mixter, begins in 1857. Included are letters to and from Samuel J. Mixter at boarding school in Amherst, Mass. and from Fanny L. Mixter at school in Stamford, Conn., as well as many letters from Samuel and Wilhelmina "Willie" (Galloupe) Mixter while they lived in Vienna after their marriage, 1879-1881, mostly to William R. Mixter, Mary (Ruggles) Mixter, and Wilhelmina's aunt Helen "Nell" Maria Kittredge (1831-1902). These letters discuss social activities and sightseeing; trips to Greece, Turkey, France, England, and other places in Europe; Samuel's medical studies; and family matters, including the birth of William Jason Mixter in 1880.
II. Joseph Story Fay papers, 1831-1907
This series consists of personal and business papers of Joseph Story Fay, including his correspondence with non-family members; correspondence and other papers related to his business interests but written by or to other individuals; and an account book.
A. Personal correspondence, 1836-1897
Joseph Story Fay's personal correspondence up to 1861 consists primarily of letters on business and political matters from L. H. Brigham, Edward Padelford, and Alexander Dallas Bache, superintendent of the U.S. Coast Survey. Many letters discuss the Civil War and secession. Other correspondents include Isaac Scott and Edwin Parsons. This subseries also contains letters documenting disputes with newspaper editors, including Fay's public denial of support for abolition; a letter from Minda Campbell (1793?-1886) about her children and grandchildren enslaved by Fay, 28 Aug. 1860; papers related to the constitution of the Union Club of Boston, 1863; two letters from George B. McClellan, 6 July 1863 and undated; and papers related to Fay's protest of the suspension of habeas corpus in the case of the Charleston, Ill. rioters in 1864, including a letter of support from Amos A. Lawrence.
B. Business papers, 1839-1907
This subseries contains papers related to Joseph Story Fay's business interests of Brigham & Fay and Padelford, Fay & Co., primarily letters to and from people other than Fay. Also included are papers related to the slave-trading vessel Wanderer.
These papers relate to the insolvency of Brigham & Fay due to the New York fire of 1835 and the settlement of the firm's accounts. Included are receipts for dividends; letters from L. H. Brigham to William Sturgis and Bryant, Sturgis & Co. explaining the firm's losses; and a list of creditors.
Papers of Padelford, Fay & Co. of Savannah, Ga. consist primarily of letters from Molyneux, Taylor & Co. of Liverpool, Baring Bros. & Co. of Liverpool and London, and William Barber, 1861-1862, related to trade in cotton and iron with England and the effects of the U.S. blockade on international shipments. Included are some printed circulars and four letters from Edward Padelford to John Bryant, July-Dec. 1843.
Included are letters from Charles Augustus Lafayette Lamar, Gazaway Bugg Lamar, and C. R. Moore to E. D. Brigham, Jan.-Apr. 1860, related to the Wanderer, a luxury yacht refitted as a slave trader in 1858 and engaged in the illegal Atlantic slave trade until seized by the U.S. government. Letters discuss the upcoming trial and the Lamars' attempts to recover the vessel. Joseph Story Fay held a bond of indemnity for the Wanderer. Henry Howard Fay sent the papers to Sarah Bryant Fay in 1907.
C. Account book, 1856-1866
This volume contains Joseph Story Fay's personal and business accounts in Savannah, Woods Hole, and Boston. Accounts beginning in May 1865 are kept in another hand.
D. Notes, 1831-1854, undated
Included are memoranda on legal cases and other miscellaneous notes.
III. Personal papers, 1801-1962
This series contains personal papers of other Fay and Mixter family members, as well as John Bryant and Daniel Nicolson Spooner.
A. Fay family personal papers, 1807-1927
This subseries contains personal (non-family) correspondence of members of the Fay and related families, primarily Sarah Smith (Bryant) Fay, but also Mary (Cleveland) Bryant, Sarah Bryant Fay, Elizabeth (Spooner) Fay, and Ellen Spooner. Included are letters from Mary Jackson, who had been wet nurse for the Fay children, and letters from Grace (Fletcher) Webster, Joseph Story, Francesca "Fanny" Alexander, and Dorothea Lynde Dix. Sarah (Bryant) Fay's record of household staff documents her dealings with servants, including Mary Jackson and the enslaved man Scipio, with notations of start dates, pay and expenses, disputes and dismissals, etc. The subseries also contains letters related to Daniel Webster, receipts of Samuel Prescott Phillips Fay, reports on school exercises of Sarah Smith Bryant at the Boston Lyceum for the Education of Young Ladies, and a subscription book for the New England Refugees' Aid Society listing contributions by Fay, Spooner, and Bryant family members. The New England Refugees' Aid Society was a charitable organization founded in 1865 "for the relief of the Unionists in the Border States who are suffering from the devastations of the war."
B. Mixter family personal papers, 1843-1962
This subseries contains personal (non-family) correspondence of members of the Mixter and related families, including letters to Jason and William R. Mixter on business, financial, and political matters. Correspondents include John Milton Niles, Jabez C. Howe, and Horace Greeley. The subseries also contains a long letter from James Warren Sever about the Hoosac Tunnel, recent Massachusetts elections, and related political subjects, 1857; a letter from Civil War officer Henry H. Granger asking for a loan, 1863; and three letters from Phillips Brooks to members of the Galloupe family.
The Samuel J. Mixter World War I papers relate to Madame Marie (Picard) Depage and the Belgian Red Cross. In 1915, Depage traveled to the United States to raise money for Belgian field hospitals, and Dr. Mixter served as treasurer of the Boston fund. Included are letters from Depage and others, newspaper clippings, and lists of donations. Depage was killed in the sinking of the Lusitania on 7 May 1915. The Wilhelmina (Galloupe) Mixter papers document her World War I relief work with the Special Aid Society for American Preparedness and Emergency War Relief. Included are detailed notes of meetings and lectures, newspaper clippings, and sewing patterns for hospital clothing. The subseries also contains the 1903 passport of William Jason Mixter, signed by John Hay, and a scrapbook of clippings, invitations, and other material related to the debut of Elizabeth Elliot Mixter.
C. John Bryant personal papers, 1801-1866
John Bryant (1780-1865) was the father of Sarah Smith Bryant, who married Joseph Story Fay. This subseries contains receipts, bills of lading, insurance policies, acknowledgements of gifts, and other personal papers. Included is a receipt signed by Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1 Jan. 1825, for instruction of Bryant's daughter Mary Cleveland Bryant (1808-1876). Receipts from Canton, China, dated Sep.-Nov. 1809, include Chinese characters.
D. Daniel Nicolson Spooner letterbook, 1864-1869
Boston merchant Daniel Nicolson Spooner (1819-1869) was the father of Elizabeth Elliot Spooner, who married Henry Howard Fay. Spooner had been a China trade merchant in the 1840s and 1850s. This letterbook contains copies of his outgoing correspondence on business and financial matters to William Sturgis, J. B. Pearson, Samuel Hooper, members of the Torrey and Spooner families, and many others. Also included are letters related to the recruitment of the 5th Mass. Cavalry, an all-Black Civil War regiment, and to the Massachusetts Soldiers Fund (of which Spooner was treasurer), as well as letters written to or about Spooner's young brother-in-law Rollins Torrey, who died in Dec. 1865. Many of the letters in this volume are faded and difficult to read.
E. Unidentified personal papers, 1868, undated
This subseries includes an 1868 autograph of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and other miscellaneous personal papers.
IV. Legal papers, 1775-1945digital content
This series consists of legal papers of the Fay, Mixter, and related families, including wills, deeds for land, and deeds for enslaved people.
A. Family wills, 1778-1945
Included are wills of Edward Ruggles, Jonathan Fay, Daniel Ruggles, John Bryant, Joseph Story Fay, Joseph Story Fay, Jr., Henry Howard Fay, Sarah Bryant Fay, and Elizabeth Elliot (Spooner) Fay, as well as legal notes related to Sarah B. Fay's inheritance rights. Some wills are photocopies, typed transcripts, or printed copies.
B. Deeds, 1775-1894digital content
Included is a deed for land in Rowley, Mass. sold by Benjamin Cheney to Joseph Smith; a grant of 80 acres of land in Lincoln, Neb. to H. Spencer Black, signed by Ulysses S. Grant; and a typed transcript of a deed for Goodwill Park in Falmouth, Mass., sold to the Trustees of Public Reservations by Joseph S. Fay for one dollar.
Included are six deeds for the following enslaved people: a "mulatto" girl named Isabel, 18, sold in Savannah to Thomas J. Walsh by James Potter for $300; Cornelia, 27, William, 6, Stephen, 4, and Douglass, 5 months, sold in Savannah to Thomas J. Walsh by James Potter for $600; [Demmock], 55, sold in Savannah to Benjamin Gammon by William M. Davidson for $570; Robert, 18, sold in Savannah to Joseph S. Fay by William Wright for $1,000; Judy, 28, and her two children Lucy and Henrietta, sold in Savannah to Joseph S. Fay by George W. Lavinder for $1,600; and Tom, 18, sold in Savannah to Joseph S. Fay by James A. Templeton for $1,000. The deeds are enclosed with a note by Fay, 15 Dec. 1858, that reads: "The enclosed Bills of Sale belong to Minda Campbell, and are of her children who she has bought from time to time, and now holds as free." Fay's note may refer to all six deeds or only the first two.
V. Genealogy and family history, 1788-1960
This series contains material related to the genealogy and history of the Fay, Mixter, and related families. Included are memoirs written by various family members, transcripts of original letters and diaries, family trees, and genealogical notes.
A. Memoirs and recollections, 1886-1930, undated
Arranged chronologically by generation.
B. Transcripts, 1788-1852
This subseries consists primarily of typed transcripts of original documents, including a letter from Sally (Mason) Lyman to her sister Hannah (Mason) Bryant, 14 Oct. 1797; letters and diary entries by Samuel Prescott Phillips Fay, 20 June-20 Aug. 1813; and letters from Maria Denny Fay to her cousin Mary Green (White) Elliott, 15 Oct. 1851-25 Feb. 1852. Also included are manuscript copies of letters of Frances Theodora Apthorp, 1788.
C. Family trees and notes, 1871-ca. 1960
This subseries contains a letter from William Mixter to the editor of the Barre Gazette in Barre, Mass. about the family's name change from Mixer to Mixter, 1871; a printed volume entitled The Record of My Ancestry, filled out in manuscript by Dorothy (Fay) Mixter, ca. 1960; family trees; and genealogical notes.
D. Mixter genealogy, undated
VI. Printed material, 1803-1927
This series consists of miscellaneous printed items, including books, pamphlets, and newspaper clippings.
For a list of printed material removed from this series and cataloged separately, see Materials Removed from the Collection below.
This pamphlet is signed, "For Mrs Bryant; from her old & true friend, Danl Webster," and was sent by Webster to Mary Cleveland (Smith) Bryant. The envelope is also signed.
Included are newspaper clippings and a small booklet entitled Oak Hall Pictorial (Boston: Oak Hall Clothing House, 1854).
This volume relates to Samuel J. Mixter's cattle breeding and contains, bound together, two different issues of the Guernsey Breeders' Journal (Peterboro, N.H.: American Guernsey Cattle Club, 1925); the Dispersal Sale Catalogue of the Mixter Farm Guernseys (Sparks, Md.: Herrick-Merryman Sales Co., 1925); and scrapbook pages of newspaper clippings and photographs.
This map was sent to Dr. William J. Mixter.
Fay-Mixter 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 Fay-Mixter family photographs (Photo. Coll. 232).
Artifacts from this collection have been removed to the MHS Artifacts Collection.
The following printed materials have been removed from the collection and cataloged separately:
American Colonization Society. [Membership certificate, 1846].
Beacon Theatre. Grand Complimentary Testimonial...April 18, 1854...
Boston Art Club. School of Drawing. Circular.
Gilman, Caroline. Concerning Major John Lillie, Officer in the Revolutionary War of 1776; Aid to General Knox (1838).
National Aegis. [Subscription blank], 1851.
Notice. Wednesday the 30th January 1811 at the Royal Theatre of St. Carlos...
O'Hart, John. The Ancient Family of Fay (Asbury Park: Martin & Allardyce, n.d.).
Second Annual Banquet of the Society of the Army of the Tennessee, Nov. 14, 1867.
Senate Chamber of the United States (Washington: J. V. N. Throop, 1846).
Song of the Savannah Fire Company, composed and sung by the Chief (Savannah, 1850).
Washington Fire Company, Number Nine (Savannah, Ga.). Act of Incorporation and By-laws of... (Savannah: G. N. Nichols, 1850).
Webster Bank. Sixth Semi-Annual Report, Sept. 26th, 1856.
Trade bills and cards: Moulton, Terry & Co.; East India Bedding Co.; Frederic N. Benson Employment Bureau; Bouquet Millinery Store; Albert E. Parsons; Vincent Ballard; Terry & Cook; Richard Briggs, European Commissions; J. P. Clark, florist.