|Quantity:||1 box (0.25 cubic ft.)|
|Access:||Open to research|
|Acquisition:||Purchase: Mrs. L.W. Drumheller, May 1953|
|Processed By:||Fred Bassett, Senior Librarian, Manuscripts and Special Collections, February 2014|
David Thomas, a self-taught engineer and later botanist, was born in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, June 6, 1776. About 1790, he moved to Cayuga County, New York, settling near Aurora. During the time he lived there, he was primarily engaged in farming, studying land surveying in his spare time. Eventually he acquired the knowledge and expertise to pursue a career in the field.
In the summer of 1816, he traveled to Indiana, and did a comprehensive study of the natural history, antiquities, topography, agriculture, commerce, and manufacturing of the state. His observations, published in 1819, attracted the interest of New York State Governor DeWitt Clinton. This led to Thomas being appointed, in the spring of 1820, superintendent and chief engineer of construction of the Erie Canal between Rochester and Buffalo, New York. After the completion of the Erie Canal in the fall of 1825, he supervised the construction of the Cayuga and Seneca Canal, which connected to the Erie Canal at Montezuma. When the Cayuga and Seneca Canal was completed in November 1828, he took up a one year contract with the Welland Canal.
During the 1830s Thomas shifted his interest from canal engineering to horticulture and botany. Eventually, he purchased a farm near Union Springs, Cayuga County, New York, where he devoted most of the last three decades of his life researching horticulture, floriculture, and pomology. He wrote numerous articles for the Genesee Farmer, an agricultural periodical, and frequently gave speeches at agricultural society meetings. He died November 5, 1859.
Scope and Content Note:
These papers consist chiefly of letters addressed to Thomas in regards to his work related to the construction of the Erie Canal and the Cayuga and Seneca Canal from 1818 to 1828. Also included is a notebook on the theory of canal cutting, reports to the New York State Canal Commission regarding the proposed route of a canal between Bath and Penn Yan, and the canal route between Geneva and Lyons, New York. The papers also include a report, by Thomas, to the New York State Legislature related to the draining of the Cayuga marshes. Correspondents represented in the papers include DeWitt Clinton, Myron Holley, Henry Seymour, and Benjamin Wright.
Box and Folder List:
|1||1||Letters to David Thomas, 1818-1819
|1||2||Letters to David Thomas, 1820
|1||3||Letters to David Thomas, 1821
|1||3||Letters to David Thomas, 1822
|1||5||Letters to David Thomas, 1823
|1||6||Letters to David Thomas, 1824
|1||7||Letters to David Thomas, 1825
|1||8||Letters to David Thomas, 1826
|1||9||Letters to David Thomas, 1827-1828
|1||10||Drafts of letters, reports, etc. ca. 1820-1828
|1||11||Note book relative to the theory of canal cutting, ca. 1820 (42 p.; 16 cm.)|