1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

    List of finding aids

    R.I.H.S. Library page

    R.I.H.S. home page

 Nicholas Congdon Family Papers

 Of Cranston, R.I.

 Family papers, 1785-1900. Bulk, 1818-1889.

 Size: 0.25 linear feet

 Catalog number: MSS 1056

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, October 2000

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Nicholas Congdon (1769-1848) was the son of Ephraim Congdon. He was a resident of Cranston, R.I. for all of his life. Among his children was Caleb Congdon (1795-1878), who married Mary Lippitt (1795-1881).

            Caleb and Mary raised several children in Cranston, including Mary L. Congdon (1819-1900), who married David S. Harris (1812-1895) and Dorcas Victoria Congdon (1836-1889), who never married, and generally used her middle name. Among the children of David and Mary Harris were Mary C. Harris (1857-1948), who married Edward H. Mason; and Elisha Harris (1845-1876), who married Lydia C. Lord (1844-1932).



Crandall, Earl P. Great-Grandma Was a Congdon, 58, 115. Catskill, N.Y.: Published by author, 1997.

Rhode Island Cemetery Database

Return to top

Scope and content:

            Half of this collection consists of letters addressed to Nicholas Congdon between 1815 and 1848. Most prominent among the correspondents are Nicholas' brother James Congdon (1759-1834), who emigrated to Dutchess County, N.Y.; and James' sons George (1792-1874), James Jr. (1794-1868) and Jarvis (1798-). These letters are almost all from male Congdon and Battey relatives, mostly in Dutchess County, with a few in Connecticut and northern New York. The content is mostly regarding family matters and the Society of Friends (Quakers). For example, nephew George Congdon of Arthursburgh N.Y. wrote about the Quaker's Yearly Meeting on 6th Mo. 6 1848: "they had hardly ever witnessed such a meeting, very much united and hardly a dissenting voice, Wilburism not showing itself in the least... Friends are becoming more united and settled in the quiet."

            The other half of the collection consists of letters dated 1878-1889 from Nicholas' grand-daughter Victoria Congdon to her late nephew's widow Lydia C. (Lord) Harris. The two were only eight years apart in age. These letters were all written in Cranston or while visiting in Providence. The letters discuss family matters, which are sometimes interesting reading. The April 9 1880 letter reads in part, "I went in Prov last Wed. to ask Miss M-- if I could come stay with her a while, for I cannot stay here. Never before did I see Mother so unreasonable and I cannot bear it. She will not abuse anyone else as she does me... Surely I don't want to live if it is only to endure such as this."

            The collection also includes four miscellaneous folders relating to other family members. The family has retained the originals of about ten of the letters, but has provided photocopies that have been interfiled with the original letters.

            One related collection at the R.I.H.S. is the Ponagansett Reservoir Company Records (Mss 9, sg 8), which include the accounts of David S. Harris as agent for the company. The Harris Family Papers (Mss 17) and William Harris Family Papers (Mss 480) apparently relate to David S. Harris' extended family.

Return to top


            Mary C. (Harris) Mason apparently inherited the papers of her great-grandfather Nicholas Congdon, and of her sister-in-law Lydia (Lord) Harris. The papers then descended in the Mason family to her son Ralph E. Mason, and then his son Lee Mason. After his death, the papers were inherited jointly by his three sons: David H., Robert H. and William C. Mason. These three sons donated the letters to the Rhode Island Historical Society in 2000.

Return to top

Processing note:

Return to top


Subgroup 1: Nicholas Congdon. Letters received.

Folder 1. 1815-1824

Folder 2. 1828-1832

Folder 3. 1834-1835

Folder 4. 1836-1838

Folder 5. 1842-1845

Folder 6. 1846-1848

Folder 7. Undated

Subgroup 2: Lydia C. (Lord) Harris. Letters received from Dorcas Victoria Congdon.

Folder 8. 1878-1880

Folder 9. 1881-1882

Folder 10. 1883

Folder 11. 1884-1885

Folder 12. 1886

Folder 13. 1887-1889

Folder 14. Undated

Subgroup 3: Miscellaneous

Folder 15. Victoria Congdon. Essay on "October," 1850; Letters from cousins, 1866, 1872

Folder 16. Victoria Congdon. Letters from Ida Hollingsworth 1881-1883 and Eliza Small, 1885

Folder 17. Ephraim Congdon. Tax receipt from Nehemiah Knight, 1785

Folder 18. Mary L. (Congdon) Harris. Tennyson poem read at funeral, 1900.

Return to top


x Congdon, Dorcas Victoria (1836-1889)

Congdon, Victoria (1836-1889)

Cranston, R.I. - Social life and customs

Harris, Lydia C. (Lord) (1844-1932)

New York - Social life and customs

Society of Friends - New York

End of finding aid - return to top