The collection consists of the following items:
19 letters, 39 pp., dated 4 September 1809 to 11 December 1821; 8 letters are not dated, but are from the same period, early 19th century, as the rest of the letters in the collection, which includes:
John Casey to Joshua Casey, [Ferrisburgh], 1809.
Charles Smith to Edward Casey, 1815.
Beloved Mother to Beloved Friend and Respected Husband, Lanesborough, 1816.
Alexander Ely to Eli Garlish, dated Pittsfield, 1816.
Edward Casey to Mary Casey, New York, 1816.
J. Bis[sup] to Edward Casey, Pittsfield, 1817.
? to Edward Casey, Mr. [Stanneys], 1817.
Gideon Norton to Edward & Mary Casey, Pittsfield, 1817.
Lucy Norton to Edward & Mary Casey, Lanesborough, 1818.
Sally Norton to Mary N. Casey, Lanesborough, 1819.
Edward Casey to ? , Pittsfield, 1821.
Remaining letters are not dated, they were written by: J and A. Casey to C. and M. Casey; Sally Norton to Mary Casey; to Edward Casey; Eliza Phelps to Edward Casey; others incomplete.
10 manuscript papers, totaling 77 pages, dated 12 April 1806 to 1 May 1829, as follows:
44-page manuscript dated 12 Apr 1806 to 26 July 1807, which is a religious reflective diary of sorts, by an unknown author, but the author does tell us he was 18 years old on 12 April 1806, giving the author a birth year of 1788, which suggests Joshua Casey, Mary Norton Casey as prospective authors.
16-page manuscript dated 1 May 1829, "Town Clerk's Office Whiting, [VT]," distribution of estate of Ezra Allen, Esq.
2-page manuscript dated 1 October 1818, estate distribution of Charles Norton, Lanesborough, Massachusetts.
1-page manuscript dated 10 February 1818, for 25 acres in Whiting, Vermont for the poor.
1-page manuscript not dated, includes 3 epitaphs for gravestones of Timothy S. Norton, Daniel C. Norton, and Charles Norton.
1-page manuscript, dated January 1813, concerns part of a quarry being sold by J. Elijah Phelps, of Lanesboro, to Edward Casey, also of Lanesboro.
12 pages of miscellaneous manuscript writings, some with religious content.
15 manuscript ephemeral items, including receipts, invoices, memoranda, notes, etc., dated 26 February 1810 to 23 February 1817.
Some of the manuscript material and correspondence in the collection consists of correspondence between family members and friends. Much of the material has highly religious content which specifically references and deals with the Second Great Awakening, a period of strong religious revival that took place in America during the first several decades of the 19th Century.
While it occurred in all parts of the United States, the Second Great Awakening was especially strong in the Northeast and the Midwest. This religious awakening was unique in that it moved beyond the educated elite of New England to those who were less wealthy and less educated. The center of revivalism was the so-called Burned-over district in western New York, the region produced dozens of new denominations, communal societies, and reform. The correspondents in this collection lived in towns in Massachusetts and Vermont that straddled the border of New York State. Closely related to the Second Great Awakening were other reform movements, such as Temperance, which is touched on in one letter.
"Pittsfield Augt 29, 1816
Mr. Eli Garlish
Mr. Casey informs me that you refuse to let him quarry on your land either as agent for Elisha Ely or myself. That you are abusive & threaten to use all legal & illegal methods in your power to prevent his working the Quarry.
A man possessing a Lordship of six or eight hundred acres of land ought in order to command respect to be a gentleman. At least he ought to be above pocketing $500 for a lease of part of his estate and then refuse the lease the right of occupying the premises agreeable to the tenor of the lease. And he further ought to be ashamed of pocketing a large sum for work done on the quarry & then in the face of & contrary to the tenor of his own instrument appropriate the Quarry to his own use, and when called on for a settlement break out into a passion – go to a tavern, quarrel with the hostler, & swear that he 'will whip Ely like an honest man' – Believe me Mr. Garlish a man possessing a Lordship ought to hold such conduct in the utmost abhorrence, for if such abuses were tolerated in the community the vilest wretch would have the same right to fall on & give you a bruising that you would have to assault another man – be assured that I lay no claims to the character of a bully or blackguard, neither am I to be intimidated.
Get yourself cool my good friend. Lay your hand upon your heart, call on your conscience, follow the dictates of your better judgement & my head for it you will at once see the folly of your present proceedings and the necessity of a speedy adjustment with Casey who has full powers to act for Elisha Ely and also a settlement with me for you may rest assured that you are entangled in a web of your own manufacture & unless by honorable means you extricate yourself it will eventually prove very detrimental to your interest. I am &c. Alexander Ely"
"Lanesborough Jan the 11 1818
Dear Brother & Sister,
I have been informed this evening that Mr. Stone is in the neighborhood tho it a late hour I will not fail of writing a few lines to inform you of the health of our friends. Father Norton's family are much as they were when brother left here except Sally who for five days was very feeble, and I think rather lower that when you left, here since that time she has been on the gaining hand, but is not able to sit up much now. Isaac Smith fails very fast and today I have been informed that his mouth is very sore.
It has been a [xxxxxx] time amongst professors of Religion this fall and fore part of winter, but for a few days past I am informed their attention has been called, conferences have been very full and some that have been very careless and stupid are now enquiring to know what shall I do to be saved. Otis Smith came forward in conference a few evenings ago and made a very humble acknowledgement for his treatment of professors and asked their forgiveness and is wondering if Christians saw such a beauty in the character of [xxxxxxx] he now discovers why they never told him and I hope [that] he will be a bold soldier of the cross as was Paul the persecutor. And my dear Sister while I am informing you of the prosperity of Zion in Lanesborough me thinks I hear you anxiously enquiring after the little branch of Zion in Pittsfield, it has been a dark and trying day amongst us in general since you left as but some seem to be more engaged of late and feel as tho God was about to visit us by his spirit. Today I have been to meeting and five of the sisters spoke and some if I am a judge really possessed the spirit of the meek and lowly Jesus. It reminded me of the milk's kin carrying the ark to its place. Affectionately yours, Lucy Norton"
"Thursday April 3
With acclamations of joy and songs of praise, I would inform you the Lord is in this place and I think we may adopt the language of the Prophet, great is the Holy one of Israel in the midst of thee. Mr. Ebenezer Squire came here yesterday to inform us they had such a meeting to Mr. L. Clarkes the night before as had not been in town for twenty years, about forty or fifty people were assembled and no appearance of an idle spectator some were speaking forth the wonders of redeeming love, others inquiring to know what they should do to be save, not scarcely one but what had some thing to say. They have meetings every evening and Mr. S says there is not a family on the street but what there is more or less awakened in it, this awaking has not appeared very visible until about a fortnight or three weeks, and now Sister I suppose you may well think that by this time I am ready to ask the question why, I should be confined when the day has come, that I have so many years prayed for, desired to have, and at times believed would come, yet I think I am truly say I rejoice in the government of that God that orders my trials and changes in life and believe will be my object of love and adoration in a boundless eternity.
Saturday April 5, Doctor Roberts came here yesterday to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, he said from Mr. Collins down to Pittsfield line there is fifteen or twenty hopefully converted within a week. The Doct. observed it and the Lord's doings and marvelous in his eyes and so marvelous that he scarcely could believe when he sees amongst those that have attend a hope Mr. Morrell, Squire Rust Long, and Betsey Smith, Otis' wife, and some three of Mr. L. Clarkes children, Sully Squire in our neighborhood.
Sister you will at once discover from my different dates it is some time since I began to write and from my many pieces I know not when or where to stop, I think I am some better but not able to be about,
Adieu my much love, Sister Sally Norton"
"Having had it on my mind time after time, to sit down the texts of scripture which I have preached from it had my mind to set down the following which I began in the 18 years of my age the 12th day of April 1806.
I at this time attempt to set down some of my life passing through God's grace it may be for the honor of his cause and praying if it should ever fall into the hands of those that know not God, they would consider as no man knows the things of a man but by the spirit of a man so no man knows the things of God but by the spirit of God and feeling myself a dying creature and believing when I quit this earthly tabernacle, I shall praise God in nobler strains than here we can conceive of. I wish to do this is the fear of God hoping that it might be the means of doing good to his cause. I hope that I shall strive to not build up pride and paint it over to such the natural ear. But wishing to do it not knowing but it might fall into the hands of tempted lambs of Christ, which are in the same way that God by his almighty grace has commanded me to go…" (Inventory #: 30815)