Make your own free website on Tripod.com
THE AMLAW FAMILY     |   Home  Links  Contents
The Addoms Collection


THE ADDOMS COLLECTION
Special Collections
Benjamin F. Feinberg Library
Plattsburgh State University College
Plattsburgh, N.Y. 12901
By
James J. Reh
June, 1979

Introduction
Two of the best ways to understand daily life in the past are to read the Correspondence of the people of that period and to read their thoughts. The Addoms (also spelled Addams) Collection offers both methods of giving insight into the realities of nineteenth century life in the North Country with records encompassing the years 1763-1872. During this time three generations of one of Plattsburgh's earliest families conducted business, wrote to each other, about each other and put down in diaries, journals and school compositions their feelings and observations about their life and times. The result is a fascinating story of early American life.
The earliest records in the collection concern John Addoms (17371823). He originally came from Dutchess County, New York where he owned a large tract of land granted him by King George III prior to 1776. He joined the American cause at the outbreak of the revolution and rose to the rank of major as a surveyor and civil engineer. He is said to have commanded the troops who laid the chain across the Hudson River at West Point to block the passage of British ships. Also, according to tradition, he held the hat of condemned British spy, Major John Andre' as he was led to the gallows for his part in Benedict Arnold's plot to betray West Point to the British in 1780.
After his service in the revolution, John Addoms obtained land in Plattsburgh, settled his family there and was instrumental in attracting other settlers to the area. Addoms built a farm around 1790 on Cumberland Head with the help of slave labor and here he remained until his death. Today, the farm still stands and contains the family cemetery as well as a separate burial ground for the slaves.
His son, John Townsend Addoms (1781-1868) became a well known North Country Methodist Episcopal minister and a leader in the early temperance movement. His wife, Harriet Young Addoms of West Plattsburgh, was also involved in the temperance movement. They had eight children, five of whom died between the ages of thirteen and twenty. One died in infancy.
The majority of records (correspondence, diaries, journals, school compositions, etc.) in the collection are those of Reverend J. T. Addoms and his family between the years 1820-1872. They relate to family life, the development of the children, their schooling, interaction with friends and each other, and finally, the tragic period between February 25, 1839 and May 20, 1844, when five of them died. Included in the records are the poignant diary passages of a sister who watched two of her siblings pass away within three months of each other and additional entries where elegies were composed for them. Apparently, because of these deaths and because Reverend Addoms was constantly involved with deaths within his congregation, many of the miscellaneous materials in the collection concern death and dying in the form of poems and scrapbooks of obituaries, memorials, and religious literature.
The collection also contains two letters from the War of 1812 era and eight from the Civil War era. however, the primary value of this collections lies in its first-hand descriptions of life in nineteenth century Plattsburgh and should be of particular interest to anyone who would like to study the social history of that era.

BACKGROUND SOURCES LOCATED IN SPECIAL COLLECTIONS LIBRARY
Everest, Allan S. Pioneer Homes of Clinton County, 1790-1870. Plattsburgh, N.Y. 1966, Clinton County Historical Association. 96p.
Microfilms
   MF C26 Historical Department: John Townsend Addoms, Plattsburgh Republican, Nov.20, 1909, p. 3, col. 3.
   MF C26 Sketch of life of Major John Addoms, Plattsburgh Republican, Oct. 1, 1910, p. 4, col. 2-4.
Files
   85/3 A list of descendants of the Reverend John Townsend Addoms and pertinent dates.

CONTENTS OF THE ADDOMS COLLECTION
The collection is housed in three Hollinger boxes and further subdivided by consecutively numbered folders. Box 1 contains correspondence and business papers, Box 2 contains miscellaneous materials and Box 3 contains a bible, a wallet and original correspondence of special value designated AUTOGRAPH - THEFT VALUE MATERIALS. Photocopies of these materials are filed in the appropriate folders within the boxes and the originals are not available except through permission of the Special Collections Librarian.
Box 1 CORRESPONDENCE 1793-1872
   Folder 1 Jan. 16, 1793-Aug. 24, 1809 16 ITEMS
   Folder 2 Sept. 9, 1809-March 6, 1816 16 ITEMS
   Folder 3 May 13, 1816-Nov. 10, 1819 16 ITEMS
   Folder 4 Dec. 8, 1819-Jan. 30, 1826 15 ITEMS
   Folder 5 July 10, 1826-Jan. 26, 1836 15 ITEMS
   Folder 6 March 2, 1837-May 26, 1844 15 ITEMS
   Folder 7 Oct. 25, 1846-March 13, 1860 15 ITEMS
   Folder 8 Aug. 12, 1860-Nov. 30, 1860 16 ITEMS
   Folder 9 Nov. 30, 1866-April 1, 1872 15 ITEMS
   Folder 10 UNDATED CORRESPONDENCE 11 ITEMS
ACCOUNTS, BUSINESS - BILLS AND RECEIPTS 1787-1856
   Folder 11 1787-1799 4 ITEMS
   Folder 12 1801-1810 23 ITEMS
   Folder 13 1811-1815 28 ITEMS
   Folder 14 1816-1820 34 ITEMS
   Folder 15 1821-1830 29 ITEMS
   Folder 16 1831-1840 26 ITEMS
   Folder 17 1841-1850 28 ITEMS
   Folder 18 1851-1856 8 ITEMS
   Folder 19 UNDATED BUSINESS ACCOUNTS 3 ITEMS
CHECKS, CASHIER 1823-1824
   Folder 20 Oct. 7, 1823-Sept. 20, 1824 18 ITEMS
CONTRACTS, BUSINESS 1763-1829
   Folder 21 March 14, 1763-May 5, 1829 6 ITEMS
   Folder 22 UNEXECUTED CONTRACTS 2 ITEMS
MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS
Box 2
   Folder 23 BAPTISMAL CERTIFICATE 1 ITEM
   Folder 24 COMPOSITION BOOK 1 ITEM
   Folder 25 COMPOSITIONS-ELIZABETH ADDOMS 16 ITEMS
   Folder 26 COMPOSITIONS-HARRIET ADDOMS 3 ITEMS
   Folder 27 COMPOSITIONS-JANET ADDOMS 12 ITEMS
   Folder 28 COMPOSITIONS-JULIA ADDOMS 26 ITEMS
   Folder 29 COMPOSITIONS-JULIA ADDOMS 26 ITEMS
   Folder 30 COMPOSITIONS-MARY ADDOMS 19 ITEMS
   Folder 31 COMPOSITIONS-WILLIAM ADDOMS 9 ITEMS
   Folder 32 DATES - BIRTH, DEATH, MARRIAGE 5 ITEMS
   Folder 33 ESTATE PAPERS - JOHN ADDOMS, ESQ. 20 ITEMS
34 ESTATE PAPERS - JOHN T. ADDOMS 8 ITEMS
   Folder 35 ESTATE PAPERS - JONAS ADDOMS 6 ITEMS
   Folder 36 FASHION CUTOUTS 29 ITEMS
   Folder 37 INSPIRATIONAL MESSAGE 1 ITEM
   Folder 38 JOURNALS 5 ITEMS
   Folder 39 MEMORANDUM BOOK 1 ITEM
   Folder 40 MORAL REFORM SOCIETY - RECORDS 7 ITEMS
   Folder 41 OBITUARY 1 ITEM
   Folder 42 PHOTOGRAPH 1 ITEM
   Folder 43 POEMS 8 ITEMS
   Folder 44 REAL ESTATE - LOCATIONS, DESCRIPTIONS 3 ITEMS
   Folder 45 SCHOOL ASSIGNMENTS 5 ITEMS
   Folder 46 SCHOOL WORKBOOKS 4 ITEMS
   Folder 47 SCRAPBOOKS 2 ITEMS
   Folder 48 SUMMONS - COURT. 2 ITEMS
   Folder 49 TEACHING CERTIFICATES 2 ITEMS
   Folder 50 UNRELATED MATERIALS - FRAGMENTS 7 ITEMS
   Folder 51 UNRELATED MATERIALS - WRAPPING PAPER 14 ITEMS
   Folder 52 WEDDING MEMENTO 1 ITEM
Box 3
   Folder 53 BIBLE 1 ITEM
   Folder 54 WALLET 1 ITEM
NUMBER OF ITEMS:
Box 1 358
Box 2 245
Box 3 2
TOTAL 605