- Home ›
- Abel Blanchard Family Correspondence ›
Abel Blanchard Family Correspondence
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.