Letters and Papers of the Ebenezer Foote Family
Many of these letters were transcribed by Katherine Adelia Foote in her book about her great grandfather, Ebenezer Foote, the Founder (abbreviated here as —kaf). She mentions a "trim bookshelf" that stood in her great-grandfather's home, filled with his letters. At the time of Ebenezer's death these letters were among the household effects that passed to Ebenezer Foote Maxwell, who appears to have done a good job of keeping in touch with all family members. As he had no children of his own, these would have included his cousins, children of Harriet (Foote) Foote—she had at least 6 children who lived to adulthood, and the five children of Charles A. Foote, which included his granddaughters, Margaret Marvine, daughter of Frances (Foote) Marvine, and Katherine Adelia Foote, daughter of Charles jr.
Family gatherings, therefor, must have been fairly large. Katherine Foote laments periodically in her book that letters had disappeared. Yet she also recollects seeing articles in magazines and books in the New York Public Library that she could not relocate, or read again. And already in the 1830s and 40s Rensselaer Foote was complaining that "some relatives" had "absconded" with the Revolutionary War officer's Commission of his grandfather, Ebenezer. It had been signed by George Washington.
Safe to say, in all houses, books and letters are looked at, read, handed around, loaned out, and misplaced. In the case of Ebenezer's papers, with signatures of Hamilton, Burr, John Jay, and so many others, it is not surprising that items were not taken out of curiosity or for monetary gain.
Katherine Foote's book of transcriptions is in rough chronological order, and that seems an orderly manner in which to proceed. The transcriptions here will also be chronological. As of the present date, 2019, this is a work in progress.
Pages containing Letters and Papers
- The papers on this website are split into groups, letters before 1790 are here.
- Letters and papers from 1790 to 1799 are on this page.
- Documents from 1800 to 1819 are here and
- The last grouping: Foote Family Papers, 1820–1861
About the Letters and their Locations
Transcribed letters and other written materials concerning the Foote Family can be read here. In 1999 number of Foote family letters and papers were found in a small trunk belonging to R.W. Foote, which mainly held his letters and epaulets, etc. An additional trunk contained additional papers of Rensselaer's grandfather Ebenezer, his father, Charles A. Foote, his brother in law, Charles Marvine, some papers and clippings of Margaret Maxwell Marvin and Isaac Horton Maynard, and others of the family, along with the genealogical papers of Katherine Adelia Foote, assembled by her in the early twentieth century.
There are newspaper clippings, business receipts and even a Masonic apron in the family collection, but in general, the bulk concerns family matters. Letters to be found today in libraries and other repositories relate to business, real estate and politics. A number of papers and significant autographs connected to both Ebenezer and Charles Augustus Foote were sold at auction in the 1940s by Frances Maynard Ford. Most of these are in the manuscript department of the Library of Congress, Washington D.C., but other letters reside at depositories around the Eastern U.S., especially Princeton University, the University of Virginia, Yale, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, and even in Detroit and Florida. Due to their quantity, it is beyond my ability, or desire, to transcribe all of these papers. Many of them deal exclusively with real estate, legal proceedings in civil and estate cases, and business proceedings. Letters, papers and direct quotes from other sources dealing with family matters, politics and other pertinent material, will be transcribed and put on this website, as a kind of primary source portrait of this family. As additional relevant papers come to light, they will be transcribed here.
- But alas, with thousands of other letters, from Washington down to persons of little importance, preserved by Judge Foote, and a common subject of conversation with the elders of his family during his life, no proofs are left except the comparatively few contained in this volume. All through my girlhood the trim cases stood, from floor to ceiling, filled with the precious letters, which must have been mutely beseeching us to want and care for them, but all were too busy, and now I, at least, am filled with unspeakable chagrin over having helped to lose the treasures that at last have come to seem priceless to his family, if to no one else. We loved the traditions but were willing to take them on hearsay, instead of looking for ours ourselves, until fifty years after Ebenezer's death the house was sold, the letters destroyed, and opportunity fled forever. As I am about to die, I have determined to take the time and save from oblivion a good many facts concerning the life and times and friends of a man who was a soldier in the Revolution, a man of affairs in the State, and who died here at Delhi, New York, in 1829.