Townsend Family

Business Papers; 1802-1883; bulk 1808-1855

SC14831

Quantity: 36 boxes (12.0 cubic ft.)
Access: Open to research
Acquisition: Purchase, Sammachus, May 1957
Processed By: Regina Berry, Student Assistant, State University of New York at Albany, December 2015

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Biographical Note:

From the late 1700s to the late 1800s, Townsend family members played a significant role in Albany and New York State businesses.  As the 1886 Bi-Centennial History of Albany put it: “No single family has done more for the progress of Albany’s manufacturing interests and the promotion of its commercial welfare than that of Townsend.”  Beginning with the involvement of Peter Townsend in the Sterling Iron Works before the Revolutionary War, the family had interests in the purchase, sale, and manufacturing of iron products of all kinds.  Many members of the Townsend family were born in Sterling, Orange County, New York, including brothers Isaiah Townsend (1777-1838) and John Townsend (1783-1854), great-nephews of Peter Townsend.

In 1799 Isaiah Townsend moved to Albany, New York, to become a partner in the firm of Stewart & Townsend, also iron merchants.  When that firm dissolved, Isaiah was joined by his younger brother, John, and together they formed the firm I. & J. Townsend in 1804.  The Townsends’ business involved the buying and selling of both foreign and domestic iron and the production, at their foundry, of mill gearings, machinery castings, chilled and dry sand rolls and railroad car wheels. The firm, under various names, remained in the family until the l890s. While the records overlap at times, the succession of firm names is, generally, as follows:

1799-1802                   Stewart & Townsend
1804-1838                   I. & J. Townsend
1838-1849                   John Townsend
1849-1856                   F. & T. Townsend [Franklin & Theodore]
1856-1867                   Franklin Townsend & Co.
1867-1882                   Townsend & Jackson [George P.]
1882-[1895?]               Rufus K. Townsend [son of Franklin]

The Townsends also helped establish the Townsend & Corning Foundry in south Albany, which manufactured cast iron ploughs and other agricultural equipment.  The brothers had significant interest in the Troy Iron and Nail Works, which eventually became the Burden Iron Works under the ownership of Henry Burden.

In 1824, Isaiah and John Townsend, with William James and James McBride, purchased land at the site of what would become Syracuse, New York.  The Townsends and James contributed to the development of the city, investing heavily in real estate and other businesses.  The Syracuse Salt Company, which they started in 1824, manufactured salt by solar evaporation.  The brothers also had property and other business interests in several other states, notably Vermont and Michigan.

After the death of his brother Isaiah in 1838, John Townsend continued to engage in numerous business and political activities.  He organized the Albany Insurance Company and the Albany Savings Bank, and aided in the development of the Utica & Schenectady Railroad, for which he held the directorship until its consolidation with the New York Central in 1853. He served as the mayor of Albany for three terms (1829, 1830, and 1832). At the time of his death in 1854 he was president of the Commercial Bank, the Board of Water Commissioners, the Albany Exchange Co., the Albany Savings Bank, the Albany Pier Company, the Syracuse Salt Co., the Watervliet Turnpike Co., and was acting president of the Albany Insurance Company.

Franklin Townsend (1821-1898), the son of Isaiah and Hannah Townsend, was born in Albany, New York.  He attended Albany Academy and Williams College.  He appears to have joined the family business about 1840, becoming involved with Townsend Furnace.  When his Uncle John Townsend died in 1849, he became a partner with his cousin Theodore Townsend (1826-1905), son of John.  Franklin’s oldest son, Rufus King Townsend (1853-1895), succeeded him in 1871.  Franklin Townsend served as mayor of Albany in 1850, a member of the state assembly in 1857, and as adjutant general for New York from 1869-1873.

Scope and Content Note:

The Townsend Family Business Papers contain extensive records of the many business ventures in which the family was involved.  The collection includes business correspondence, financial records, orders, account statements, receipts, circulars, legal documents, etc.  While these records have been arranged into four separate series, there is some degree of overlap among them. Incoming correspondence predominates in most of the series.

Various Townsend family members and in-laws were involved in some of the businesses. Thus, there are letters from brothers Samuel Townsend (1785-1849), Peter Townsend (1790-1828?), and Charley Townsend (1795-1822); Ambrose S. Townsend (1812-1841) and Edward Townsend (1836-1884), both sons of John; Isaiah Townsend, Jr. (1813-1859) and Dr. Howard Townsend (1823-1867), both sons of Isaiah.  John Townsend’s father-in-law, Ambrose Spencer (1765-1848), brother-in-law John C. Spencer (1788-1855), and son-in-law Allen Munroe (1819-1884) are also correspondents.  These letters mainly concern business matters, but often contain bits of family or political news.

Series I: I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, 1802-1851
(Boxes 1-13)

Beginning with the earliest years in business as Stewart & Townsend, and continuing until the death of Isaiah in 1838, these papers, arranged chronologically, document in detail the workings of this active iron foundry.  Included are orders, invoices, receipts, account statements, advertising circulars, and banking information from customers around Albany and New York State, and from Philadelphia, Newport, Boston, Baltimore, and Detroit.  The company imported supplies from Sweden, England and even Russia, so there are letters from overseas suppliers, including price lists. Some correspondence give detailed descriptions of items being designed and manufactured. Occasionally there are requests for employment and recommendations for prospective employees.  Many of the letters are between the brothers, discussing the running of the business, while one or the other was out of town.  Samuel Townsend, brother of Isaiah and John, sent reports from the Cornwall Cotton Factory in Cornwall, New York.

Series II: John Townsend Business Correspondence, 1823-1853
(Boxes 14-24)

Comprised almost entirely of letters to John Townsend, these cover the wide range of his business interests across the state of New York and in other places, particularly Vermont and Michigan.  While some personal and political material is mixed in, the majority of the series contains letters regarding I. & J. Townsend, financial transactions, the Watervliet Turnpike Co., the salt business, the Troy Iron and Nail Factory, railroad businesses, commercial banking businesses, building construction in Syracuse, New York, and letters from Detroit, Michigan, regarding the Farmers & Merchant Bank there.  Material is arranged chronologically.

Correspondents include, but are not limited to, Isaiah Townsend writing from Syracuse; Samuel Townsend writing from Cornwall, New York; Charles Rhind from New York City; William Jackson from Syracuse; Ambrose S. Townsend from Syracuse; James G. Tracy from Syracuse; Isaiah Townsend, Jr.; Moses D. Burnet from Syracuse; Solomon Townsend from New York City; Philip Ford from Troy Iron and Nail; Franklin Townsend from New York City; Allen Munroe from New York City; and bankers Prime, Ward and King.  One interesting item of the times is an emotional letter from a Lewis A. Adler begging for employment, August 30, 1841.

Series III: Franklin Townsend Business Correspondence and Papers, 1840-1855
(Boxes 25-31)

While Franklin Townsend’s name was not officially on the masthead until his uncle’s death in 1849, it appears that he became involved in the business around 1840, at the age of 19, probably after finishing at Williams College.  This chronological series consists primarily of letters to Franklin with orders, receipts, production requests, administrative issues, etc., pertaining to the running of the business.  Correspondents include Henry Burden of Troy Iron and Nail Factory; Lemuel Pomeroy of Pittsfield, Massachusetts; his Uncle John Townsend from Syracuse; Samuel Townsend from Cornwall, New York; and Henry Mooers, regarding a plow patent on May 22, 1843.  Also interesting is an apprentice’s indenture for Henry V. DeGroot of Cornwall, New York, on April 28, 1846.

Series IV: Other Townsend Business Papers, 1815-1883
(Boxes 26-36)

This series has been organized into three parts:

  • The first includes general business correspondence regarding some of the family businesses, notably the iron and banking businesses.  It includes letters to Isaiah Townsend, John Townsend, I. & J. Townsend (firm), Franklin Townsend, and a number of other non-family addressees, such as Erastus Corning and Lewis Benedict.  Also included are some papers of Theodore Townsend, son of John Townsend, and specifications for building the Cornwall Cotton Factory in Cornwall, New York.
  • The second part contains the records of the Troy Iron and Nail Factory.  This enterprise, owned by the Townsend brothers, was located on the north side of the Wynantskill Creek in South Troy.  In 1822, Henry Burden (1791-1871) a recent Scottish émigré who was an engineer and inventor, and who had been employed at the Townsend and Corning Foundry, became superintendent there.  Eventually Burden became sole owner of the factory, which later became known as Burden Iron Works.  Much of the correspondence is from him.  Another significant correspondent is Philip Ford, who seems to have been a long-time manager for the firm.

Interesting items in this collection include a description of the buildings belonging to the Troy Iron and Nail Factory in 1824 (valued at $20,000); letters from Henry Burden from Liverpool, England, in 1836; and, in 1842, a salary dispute between Burden and the board of trustees.  Communication from the Troy Iron and Nail Factory can also to be found throughout Series I and II.

  • The third part of this series contains correspondence and papers related specifically to the Townsend business dealings in Syracuse, New York, starting in 1824.  Several business ventures were undertaken there, from the salt company to the construction of homes and stores.  There is correspondence from Harvey Baldwin, a lawyer and future mayor of Syracuse, who was in partnership with the Townsends.  Correspondents in this series include William Jackson, Henry Martin, Henry Raynor, Augustus James, A. Van Patten and Thomas Bennett. There also several files of letters to William Soulden (1787-1851) from the Townsends and others in Syracuse.  Soulden was an Englishman, who married distantly into the Townsend family and appears to have managed property for John Townsend.

Additionally, there are a large number of letters to John Townsend from Allen Munroe (1819-1884) of Syracuse.  Munroe married John Townsend’s daughter, Julia, in 1846 and thereafter settled in Syracuse.  Munroe seems to have served as a business manager and partner for the many Townsend businesses in Syracuse.  His letters contain information on their banking business with the Bank of Salina and the Bank of Syracuse, canal operations, Townsend & Baldwin business, railroad, iron and salt businesses and, in addition, bits of family news, details of life in Syracuse and political news.  He mentions the fugitive slave law in a letter dated October 7, 1850.  Munroe went on to become mayor of Syracuse in 1854, and a member of the New York State Senate and State Assembly.

Related Collections:

The New York State Library also holds the Townsend Family Papers (SC10441), which contains additional records related to the business interests of the brothers Isaiah and John Townsend, as well as personal and family records, and political records from John Townsend’s time as mayor of Albany in 1829-1832.

An extensive collection of Townsend family and business records is held at the New York Public Library under the name Townsend family papers.external link A copy of the finding aid is available in the accession file for this collection. The New-York Historical Society also holds a sizable series of business and personal papers related to various members of the Townsend family of Albany, New York.

Box and Folder List:

Series I: I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, 1802-1851
(Boxes 1-13)

Beginning with the earliest years in business as Stewart & Townsend, and continuing until the death of Isaiah in 1838, these papers, arranged chronologically, document in detail the workings of this active iron foundry.  Included are orders, invoices, receipts, account statements, advertising circulars, and banking information from customers around Albany and New York State, and from Philadelphia, Newport, Boston, Baltimore and Detroit.  The company imported supplies from Sweden, England and even Russia, so there are letters from overseas suppliers, including price lists. Some correspondence gives detailed descriptions of items to be manufactured to design. Occasionally there are requests for employment and recommendations for prospective employees.  Many of the letters are between the brothers, discussing the running of the business, while one or the other was out of town.  Samuel Townsend, brother of Isaiah and John, sent reports from the Cornwall Cotton Factory in Cornwall, New York.

Box Folder Description
1 1 Isaiah Townsend Business Papers, 1802-1803, 1805
1 2 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, 1806-1807
1 3 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, January-June 1808
1 4 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, July 1808
1 5 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, August 1808
1 6 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, September 1808
1 7 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, October 1808
1 8 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, November-December 1808
2 1 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, 1809, 1811, 1812, n.d
2 2 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, 1813
2 3 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, January 1814
2 4 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, February 1814
2 5 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, March/April 1814
2 6 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, May 1814
2 7 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, June 1814
2 8 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, July 1814
2 9 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, August 1814
2 10 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, September-October 1814
2 11 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, November-December 1814
3 1 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, January-February 1815
3 2 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, March-April 1815
3 3 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, May 1815
3 4 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, June 1815
3 5 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, July 1815
3 6 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, August 1815
3 7 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, September 1815
3 8 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, October 1815
3 9 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, November 1815
3 10 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, December 1815
3 11 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, 1816-1817
3 12 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, 1818-1819
4 1 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, 1820
4 2 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, 1822 (There are no papers from 1821)
4 3 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, January 1823
4 4 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, February 1823
4 5 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, March 1823
4 6 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, April 1823
4 7 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, May 1823
4 8 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, June 1823
4 9 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, July 1823
4 10 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, August-September 1823
4 11 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, October 1823
4 12 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, November-December 1823
5 1 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, 1824
5 2 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, January-June 1825
5 3 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, July-December 1825
5 4 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, January 1826
5 5 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, February-September 1826
5 6 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, October 1826
5 7 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, November 1826
5 8 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, December 1826
5 9 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, 1827
5 10 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, January-February 1828
5 11 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, March 1828
5 12 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, April 1828
5 13 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, May 1828
5 14 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, June 1828
6 1 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, July 1828
6 2 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, August-September 1828
6 3 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, October 1828
6 4 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, November 1828
6 5 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, December 1828
6 6 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, January 1829
6 7 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, February 1829
6 8 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, March 1829
6 9 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, April 1829
6 10 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, May 1829
6 11 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, June 1829
6 12 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, July 1829
6 13 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, August 1829
6 14 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, September 1829
7 1 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, October 1829
7 2 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, November-December 1829
7 3 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, January-February 1830
7 4 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, March-April 1830
7 5 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, May 1830
7 6 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, June-July 1830
7 7 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, August 1830
7 8 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, September 1830
7 9 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, October 1830
7 10 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, November 1830
7 11 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, December 1830
8 1 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, January 1831
8 2 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, February 1831
8 3 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, March 1831
8 4 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, April 1831
8 5 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, May 1831
8 6 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, June 1831
8 7 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, July 1831
8 8 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, August 1831
8 9 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, September 1831
8 10 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, October 1831
8 11 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, November 1831
8 12 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, December 1831
9 1 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, January 1832
9 2 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, February 1832
9 3 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, March 1832
9 4 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, April 1832
9 5 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, May 1832
9 6 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, June 1832
9 7 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, July 1832
9 8 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, August-September 1832
9 9 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, October 1832
9 10 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, November-December 1832
9 11 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, January-July 1833
9 12 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, August 1833
9 13 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, September-December 1833
9 14 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, 1834
10 1 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, January 1835
10 2 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, February 1835
10 3 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, March 1835
10 4 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, April 1835
10 5 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, May 1835
10 6 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, June 1835
10 7 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, July 1835
10 8 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, August 1835
10 9 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, September 1835
10 10 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, October 1835
10 11 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, November 1835
10 12 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, December 1835
11 1 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, January 1836
11 2 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, February 1836
11 3 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, March 1836
11 4 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, April 1836
11 5 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, May 1836
11 6 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, June 1836
11 7 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, July 1836
11 8 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, August 1836
11 9 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, September 1836
11 10 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, October 1836
11 11 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, November 1836
11 12 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, December 1836
12 1 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, January 1837
12 2 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, February 1837
12 3 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, March 1837
12 4 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, April 1837
12 5 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, May 1837
12 6 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, June 1837
12 7 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, July 1837
12 8 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, August 1837
12 9 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, September 1837
12 10 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, October 1837
12 11 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, November 1837
12 12 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, December 1837
13 1 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, January 1838
13 2 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, February-December 1838
13 3 I. & J. Townsend Business Papers, 1839
13 4 Petition to Congress regarding tariffs on iron, ca. 1840
13 5 Townsend Co. Orders and Vouchers, 1833-1835
13 6 Townsend Co. Orders and Vouchers, January-June 1836
13 7 Townsend Co. Orders and Vouchers, July-December 1836
13 8 Townsend Co. Orders and Vouchers, 1837
13 9 Townsend Co. Orders and Vouchers, 1838-1839
13 10 Townsend Co. Receipts, 1835-1851, n.d.

Series II: John Townsend Business Correspondence, 1823-1853
(Boxes 14-24)

Comprised almost entirely of letters to John Townsend, these cover the wide range of his business interests across the state of New York and in other places, particularly Vermont and Michigan.  While some personal and political material is mixed in, the majority of the series contains letters regarding I. & J. Townsend, financial transactions, the Watervliet Turnpike Co., the salt business, the Troy Iron and Nail Factory, railroad businesses, commercial banking businesses, building construction in Syracuse, New York, and letters from Detroit, Michigan, regarding the Farmers & Merchant Bank there.  Material is arranged chronologically.

Correspondents include but are not limited to Isaiah Townsend writing from Syracuse; Samuel Townsend writing from Cornwall, New York; Charles Rhind from New York City; William Jackson from Syracuse; Ambrose S. Townsend from Syracuse; James G. Tracy from Syracuse; Isaiah Townsend, Jr.; Moses D. Burnet from Syracuse; Solomon Townsend from New York City; Philip Ford from Troy Iron and Nail; Franklin Townsend from New York City; Allen Munroe from New York City; and bankers Prime, Ward and King.  One interesting item of the times is an emotional letter from a Lewis A. Adler begging for employment, August 30, 1841.

Box Folder Description
14 1 Business correspondence to John Townsend, January-June 1823
14 2 Business correspondence to John Townsend, July-December 1823
14 3 Business correspondence to John Townsend, 1824-1827
14 4 Business correspondence to John Townsend, 1828-1829
14 5 Business correspondence to John Townsend, 1830
14 6 Business correspondence to John Townsend, 1831
14 7 Business correspondence to John Townsend, 1832
14 8 Business correspondence to John Townsend, 1833-1834
14 9 Business correspondence to John Townsend, 1835
14 10 Business correspondence to John Townsend, January-June 1836
14 11 Business correspondence to John Townsend, July-December 1836
15 1 Business correspondence to John Townsend, January-June 1837
15 2 Business correspondence to John Townsend, July-December 1837
15 3 Business correspondence to John Townsend, January-April 1838
15 4 Business correspondence to John Townsend, May-June 1838
15 5 Business correspondence to John Townsend, July-August 1838
15 6 Business correspondence to John Townsend, September-October 1838
15 7 Business correspondence to John Townsend, November 1838
15 8 Business correspondence to John Townsend, December 1838
16 1 Business correspondence to John Townsend, January 1839
16 2 Business correspondence to John Townsend, February 1839
16 3 Business correspondence to John Townsend, March 1839
16 4 Business correspondence to John Townsend, April-May 1839
16 5 Business correspondence to John Townsend, June 1839
16 6 Business correspondence to John Townsend, July-August 1839
16 7 Business correspondence to John Townsend, September 1839
16 8 Business correspondence to John Townsend, October 1839
16 9 Business correspondence to John Townsend, November-December 1839
17 1 Business correspondence to John Townsend, January 1840
17 2 Business correspondence to John Townsend, February 1840
17 3 Business correspondence to John Townsend, March 1840
17 4 Business correspondence to John Townsend, April-May 1840
17 5 Business correspondence to John Townsend, June 1840
17 6 Business correspondence to John Townsend, July 1840
17 7 Business correspondence to John Townsend, August-October 1840
17 8 Business correspondence to John Townsend, November-December 1840
17 9 Business correspondence to John Townsend, January 1841
17 10 Business correspondence to John Townsend, February 1841
17 11 Business correspondence to John Townsend, March 1841
18 1 Business correspondence to John Townsend, April 1841
18 2 Business correspondence to John Townsend, May 1841
18 3 Business correspondence to John Townsend, June 1841
18 4 Business correspondence to John Townsend, July 1841
18 5 Business correspondence to John Townsend, August 1841
18 6 Business correspondence to John Townsend, September 1841
18 7 Business correspondence to John Townsend, October 1841
18 8 Business correspondence to John Townsend, November-December 1841
18 9 Business correspondence to John Townsend, January 1842
18 10 Business correspondence to John Townsend, February 1842
18 11 Business correspondence to John Townsend, March-April 1842
18 12 Business correspondence to John Townsend, May-June 1842
19 1 Business correspondence to John Townsend, July-August 1842
19 2 Business correspondence to John Townsend, September-October 1842
19 3 Business correspondence to John Townsend, November-December 1842
19 4 Business correspondence to John Townsend, January-February 1843
19 5 Business correspondence to John Townsend, March-April 1843
19 6 Business correspondence to John Townsend, May 1843
19 7 Business correspondence to John Townsend, June 1843
19 8 Business correspondence to John Townsend, July 1843
19 9 Business correspondence to John Townsend, August 1843
20 1 Business correspondence to John Townsend, September-October 1843
20 2 Business correspondence to John Townsend, November-December 1843
20 3 Business correspondence to John Townsend, January-February 1844
20 4 Business correspondence to John Townsend, March 1844
20 5 Business correspondence to John Townsend, April 1844
20 6 Business correspondence to John Townsend, May 1844
20 7 Business correspondence to John Townsend, June 1844
20 8 Business correspondence to John Townsend, July-August 1844
20 9 Business correspondence to John Townsend, September-October 1844
20 10 Business correspondence to John Townsend, November-December 1844
21 1 Business correspondence to John Townsend, January-February 1845
21 2 Business correspondence to John Townsend, March-April 1845
21 3 Business correspondence to John Townsend, May-June 1845
21 4 Business correspondence to John Townsend, July-August 1845
21 5 Business correspondence to John Townsend, September-October 1845
21 6 Business correspondence to John Townsend, November-December 1845
21 7 Business correspondence to John Townsend, January-February 1846
21 8 Business correspondence to John Townsend, March-April 1846
21 9 Business correspondence to John Townsend, May-June 1846
22 1 Business correspondence to John Townsend, July 1846
22 2 Business correspondence to John Townsend, August-September 1846
22 3 Business correspondence to John Townsend, October-November 1846
22 4 Business correspondence to John Townsend, December 1846
22 5 Business correspondence to John Townsend, January-February 1847
22 6 Business correspondence to John Townsend, March-April 1847
22 7 Business correspondence to John Townsend, May-June 1847
22 8 Business correspondence to John Townsend, July 1847
22 9 Business correspondence to John Townsend, August 1847
22 10 Business correspondence to John Townsend, September-October 1847
22 11 Business correspondence to John Townsend, November-December 1847
23 1 Business correspondence to John Townsend, January-February 1848
23 2 Business correspondence to John Townsend, March 1848
23 3 Business correspondence to John Townsend, April-May 1848
23 4 Business correspondence to John Townsend, June 1848
23 5 Business correspondence to John Townsend, July 1848
23 6 Business correspondence to John Townsend, August 1848
23 7 Business correspondence to John Townsend, September-October 1848
23 8 Business correspondence to John Townsend, November-December 1848
23 9 Business correspondence to John Townsend, January-February 1849
23 10 Business correspondence to John Townsend, March-May1849
23 11 Business correspondence to John Townsend, June-September 1849
23 12 Business correspondence to John Townsend, October-December 1849
24 1 Business correspondence to John Townsend, January-February 1850
24 2 Business correspondence to John Townsend, March-April 1850
24 3 Business correspondence to John Townsend, May-July 1850
24 4 Business correspondence to John Townsend, August-October 1850
24 5 Business correspondence to John Townsend, November-December 1850
24 6 Business correspondence to John Townsend, January-March 1851
24 7 Business correspondence to John Townsend, April-June 1851
24 8 Business correspondence to John Townsend, July-September 1851
24 9 Business correspondence to John Townsend, October-December 1851
24 10 Business correspondence to John Townsend, January-March 1852
24 11 Business correspondence to John Townsend, April-June 1852
24 12 Business correspondence to John Townsend, July-December 1852
24 13 Business correspondence to John Townsend, January-March 1853
24 14 Business correspondence to John Townsend, n.d.
24 15 John Townsend Miscellaneous Papers, 1835-1851
24 16 John Townsend papers relating to Michigan business, 1835-1852 (More correspondence from Detroit, Michigan, some about his banking business there, can be found throughout this series, especially in correspondence from 1851.)

Series III: Franklin Townsend Business Correspondence and Papers, 1840-1855
(Boxes 25-31)

While Franklin Townsend’s name was not officially on the masthead until his uncle’s death in 1849, it appears that he became involved in the business around 1840, at the age of 19, probably after finishing at Williams College.  This chronological series consists primarily of letters to Franklin with orders, receipts, production requests, administrative issues, etc., pertaining to the running of the business.  Correspondents include Henry Burden of Troy Iron and Nail Factory; Lemuel Pomeroy of Pittsfield, Massachusetts; his Uncle John Townsend from Syracuse; Samuel Townsend from Cornwall, New York; and Henry Mooers, regarding a plow patent on May 22, 1843.  Also interesting is an apprentice’s indenture for Henry V. DeGroot of Cornwall, New York, on April 28, 1846.

Box Folder Description
25 1 Franklin Townsend, “Proposition for Carrying on the Furnace,” February 27, 1840
25 2 Townsend Furnace list of patterns, 1840
25 3 Townsend Furnace labor lists, November 1840-March 1841
25 4 Townsend Furnace orders and receipts, 1840
25 5 Townsend Furnace receipts from suppliers, 1840
25 6 Townsend Furnace receipts from suppliers, 1841
26 1 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, 1840
26 2 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, January-June 1841
26 3 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, July-December 1841
26 4 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, March-June 1842 (There is no correspondence addressed to Franklin Townsend from January-February 1842.)
26 5 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, July-December 1842
26 6 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, January-June 1843
26 7 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, July-December 1843
26 8 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, January-April 1844
26 9 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, May-December 1844
26 10 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, January-June 1845
26 11 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, July-December 1845
27 1 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, January-March 1846
27 2 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, April 1846
27 3 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, May-June 1846
27 4 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, July 1846
27 5 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, August 1846
27 6 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, September 1846
27 7 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, October 1846
27 8 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, November 1846
27 9 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, December 1846
28 1 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, January 1847
28 2 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, February 1847
28 3 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, March 1847
28 4 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, April 1847
28 5 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, May 1847
28 6 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, June 1847
28 7 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, July 1847
28 8 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, August 1847
28 9 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, September 1847
28 10 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, October 1847
28 11 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, November-December 1847
29 1 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, January 1848
29 2 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, February 1848
29 3 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, March 1848
29 4 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, April 1848
29 5 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, May 1848
29 6 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, June 1848
29 7 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, July 1848
29 8 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, August 1848
29 9 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, September 1848
29 10 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, October 1848
29 11 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, November 1848
29 12 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, December 1848
30 1 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, January-February 1849
30 2 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, March-April 1849
30 3 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, May-June 1849
30 4 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, July-August 1849
30 5 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, September-October 1849
30 6 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, November-December 1849
30 7 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, January-March 1850
30 8 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, April-June 1850
30 9 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, July-December 1850
31 1 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, January-March 1851
31 2 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, April-June 1851
31 3 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, July-September 1851
31 4 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, November-December 1851
31 5 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, January-February 1852
31 6 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, March-June 1852
31 7 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, July-September 1852
31 8 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, October-December 1852
31 9 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, 1853
31 10 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, 1854
31 11 Business correspondence to Franklin Townsend, 1855

Series IV: Other Townsend Business Papers, 1815-1883
(Boxes 26-36)

This series has been organized into three parts:

  • The first includes general business correspondence regarding some of the family businesses, notably the iron and banking businesses.  It includes letters to Isaiah Townsend, John Townsend, I. & J. Townsend, Franklin Townsend and a number of other non-family addressees, such as Erastus Corning and Lewis Benedict.  Also included are some papers of Theodore Townsend, son of John Townsend, and specifications for building the Cornwall Cotton Factory in Cornwall, New York.
  • The second part contains the records of the Troy Iron and Nail Factory. This enterprise, owned by the Townsend brothers, was located on the north side of the Wynantskill Creek in South Troy.  In 1822, Henry Burden (1791-1871) a recent Scottish émigré, who was an engineer and inventor, and who had been employed at the Townsend and Corning Foundry, became superintendent there.  Eventually Burden became sole owner of the factory, which later became known as Burden Iron Works.  Much of the correspondence is from him.  Another significant correspondent is Philip Ford, who seems to have been a long-time manager for the firm.

Interesting items in this collection include a description of the buildings belonging to the Troy Iron and Nail Factory in 1824 (valued at $20,000); letters from Henry Burden from Liverpool, England, in 1836; and, in 1842, a salary dispute between Burden and the board of trustees.  Communication from the Troy Iron and Nail Factory can also to be found throughout Series I and II.

  • The third part of this series contains correspondence and papers related specifically to the Townsend business dealings in Syracuse, New York, starting in 1824.  Several business ventures were undertaken there, from the salt company to the construction of homes and stores.  There is correspondence from Harvey Baldwin, a lawyer and future mayor of Syracuse, who was in partnership with the Townsends.  Correspondents in this series include William Jackson, Henry Martin, Henry Raynor, Augustus James, A. Van Patten and Thomas Bennett. There also several files of letters to William Soulden (1787-1851) from the Townsends and others in Syracuse.  Soulden was an Englishman, who married distantly into the Townsend family and appears to have managed property for John Townsend.

Additionally, there are a large number of letters to John Townsend from Allen Munroe (1819-1884) of Syracuse.  Munroe married John Townsend’s daughter, Julia, in 1846 and thereafter settled in Syracuse.  Munroe seems to have served as a business manager and partner for the many Townsend businesses in Syracuse.  His letters contain information on their banking business with the Bank of Salina and the Bank of Syracuse, canal operations, Townsend & Baldwin business, railroad, iron and salt businesses and, in addition, bits of family news, details of life in Syracuse, and political news.  He mentions the fugitive slave law in a letter dated October 7, 1850.  Munroe went on to become mayor of Syracuse in 1854, and a member of the New York State Senate and State Assembly.

Box Folder Description
    General Business Papers
32 1 Business correspondence to Isaiah Townsend, 1816-1837
32 2 Specifications for building the Cornwall Cotton Factory, n.d.
32 3 Business correspondence and papers of Theodore Townsend, 1846-1855
32 4 General business correspondence and papers, 1823, 1830-1834
32 5 General business correspondence and papers, 1835-1839
32 6 General business correspondence and papers, 1840-1844
32 7 General business correspondence and papers, 1845-1846
32 8 General business correspondence and papers, 1847-1849
32 9 General business correspondence and papers, 1850-1851
32 10 General business correspondence and papers, 1850-1883
32 11 General business correspondence and papers, n.d.
32 12 Miscellaneous: Draft evidence notes for an unidentified legal dispute, ca. 1847 (16 p.)
    Troy Iron and Nail Factory Business Correspondence and Papers
33 1 Troy Iron and Nail Factory papers, 1815-1823
33 2 Troy Iron and Nail Factory papers: Description of buildings, 1824
33 3 Troy Iron and Nail Factory papers, 1825
33 4 Troy Iron and Nail Factory papers, 1826-1830
33 5 Troy Iron and Nail Factory papers, 1831-1833
33 6 Troy Iron and Nail Factory papers, 1834-1836
33 7 Troy Iron and Nail Factory papers, 1837
33 8 Troy Iron and Nail Factory papers, 1838
33 9 Troy Iron and Nail Factory papers, 1839
34 1 Troy Iron and Nail Factory papers, 1840
34 2 Troy Iron and Nail Factory papers, 1841
34 3 Troy Iron and Nail Factory papers, 1842
34 4 Troy Iron and Nail Factory papers, 1843
34 5 Troy Iron and Nail Factory papers, 1844
34 6 Troy Iron and Nail Factory papers, 1845-1846
34 7 Troy Iron and Nail Factory papers, 1847-1848
34 8 Troy Iron and Nail Factory papers, 1849-1858
34 9 Troy Iron and Nail Factory: Trustees meeting minutes, 1831, 1835, 1837
34 10 Troy Iron and Nail Factory: Trustees meeting minutes, 1842-1848
34 11 Papers pertaining to the lawsuit Burden vs. Corning, 1845
    Syracuse Papers
35 1 Correspondence to Isaiah Townsend from Syracuse, 1824-1837
35 2 Correspondence and receipts to John Townsend from Syracuse, 1837-1846
35 3 Correspondence and receipts to John Townsend from Syracuse, 1847-1851
35 4 Townsend & Baldwin and Syracuse Co. papers, 1835-1842
35 5 Townsend & Baldwin vouchers, 1837-1838
35 6 Townsend & Baldwin and Syracuse Co. papers, 1843-1851, n.d.
35 7 Syracuse building expenditures, 1839
35 8 Correspondence to William Soulden, Albany, N.Y., from Syracuse, 1835-1839
35 9 Correspondence to William Soulden, Albany, N.Y., from Syracuse, 1840-1842
35 10 Correspondence to William Soulden, Albany, N.Y., from Syracuse, 1843-1848
36 1 Correspondence to John Townsend from Allen Munroe in Syracuse, 1847
36 2 Correspondence to John Townsend from Allen Munroe, Syracuse,
January-June 1848
36 3 Correspondence to John Townsend from Allen Munroe, Syracuse,
July-December 1848
36 4 Correspondence to John Townsend from Allen Munroe, Syracuse,
January-June 1849
36 5 Correspondence to John Townsend from Allen Munroe, Syracuse,
July-December 1849
36 6 Correspondence to John Townsend from Allen Munroe, Syracuse,
January-June 1850
36 7 Correspondence to John Townsend from Allen Munroe, Syracuse,
July-December 1850
36 8 Correspondence to John Townsend from Allen Munroe, Syracuse,
January-May 1851
36 9 Correspondence to John Townsend from Allen Munroe, Syracuse,
June-December 1851
36 10 Correspondence to John Townsend from Allen Munroe, Syracuse,
January-June 1852
36 11 Correspondence to John Townsend from Allen Munroe, Syracuse,
July 1852-March 1853
Last Updated: November 3, 2016