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Abel Blanchard Family Correspondence

Identifier: MSN/EA 5031

Scope and Contents

The Blanchard correspondence consists primarily of personal letters directed to the homestead at Peacham by family members in Canada and New York state. The principal authors are Benjamin Blanchard (9 letters); Lewis (8 letters); Mark (6 letters); Abel, Jr. (5 letters); and Barnes (6 letters). Twenty-seven of the 42 letters in the collection were written prior to 1820. Internal evidence suggests that most of the letters written home by the five principal authors, especially during the 1810s, have survived in the collection. Because the Blanchards wrote only occasionally, their letters typically provide an overview of recent movements, activities, and intentions (as well as those of their brothers, when known). Before settling as farmers, the Blanchards pursued a great variety of (frequently seasonal) occupations, most notably brickmaking (which may have been a family trade). There is a great deal in the letters on business prospects in the Holland Purchase, on prices and the accessibility of markets (in the period before western New York was opened up by the completion of the Erie Canal). In the letters of 1812-1815 there is frequent mention of the War of 1812 and its profound impact on residents of western New York and Canada. There is mention of internal improvements, like the Erie and Oswego canals and a railroad line through Centerville. Later letters show a preoccupation with evangelical Christianity that is not previously evident; this may or may not be attributable to the religious revivals that swept the "burned-over district" in the 1820s and after. The collection also includes a number of other family letters, as well as five land deeds of uncertain relevance to the rest of the material.


  • Creation: 1795-1852
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1810-1836


Conditions Governing Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical / Historical

Capt. Abel Blanchard (1761-1827) was a native of Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, the son of Benjamin Blanchard and Keziah Hastings. After serving in the Revolutionary War Blanchard married Elizabeth Eastman of Concord (1784). Around 1785 the couple moved to what is now Caledonia County in northeast Vermont, to the town of Peacham, where Blanchard served as captain of the militia and, on several occasions in the 1780s and 90s, as selectman. Abel and Elizabeth Blanchard had 10 children who survived to adulthood: Ruth (1785-1862); Benjamin (1786-1869); Lewis (1788-1847); Mark (1790-1839); Hazen (1792-1867); Judith (1793-1891); Clarissa (1796-1851); Abel, Jr. (1798-1867); Cynthia (1802-1881); and Barnes (1807-1878). Of the Blanchard sons, Benjamin, Lewis, Mark, Abel, and Barnes all left Peacham, unmarried, in their late teens or early twenties (Benjamin by 1809; Lewis in 1809; Mark in 1811; Abel in 1817; and Barnes in 1827). Each, with the apparent exception of Lewis, married 3-5 years after leaving. Hazen Blanchard, the fourth son, remained with his parents on the family farm at Peacham. On leaving Vermont the Blanchards sought to establish themselves at various locations in Upper and Lower Canada (the present provinces of Ontario and Quebec) and in New York state. By 1811 Benjamin and Mark Blanchard had acquired land near Batavia, in the Holland Purchase (which comprised what are now the ten westernmost counties of New York). By the 1820s the Blanchards and their families had congregated around Centerville, in present-day Allegany County, where they raised grain, produce, and livestock.


.42 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



A group of around 50 manuscripts retained by the Abel Blanchard family of Peacham, Vermont. Most are personal letters dating from the 1810s and 20s, written to Vermont by family members newly migrated to Canada or western New York state.


Correspondence (folders 1 to 42) is arranged chronologically, one item per folder. Miscellaneous material (folders 43 to 48) is arranged in the same manner.

Abel Blanchard Family Correspondence
Scott W. Young and George Rugg
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Rare Books & Special Collections Repository

102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame IN 46556