Fortuitous Lineage

Today’s post is written by Robert Ripson, a Processing Archivist in the Textual Records Division at the National Archives at College Park.

1430 hours, 28 December 2016, quittin’ time and I am heading towards the sign out sheet and to begin an afternoon of chores. However, I decide to stop and chat with a coworker to enquire what new project they are working on. “An audit of digitized papers,” was the reply. I stoop over the open folder and begin to read the context of the letter: From the War Department, 5 August, 1847. “Sir, I would respectfully request you to inform this Department at your earliest convenience. . .” Signed W.L. Marcy, Secty. of War. This was just the beginning as I noticed a second signature on the bottom left of the page. It reads, J.L. Fenimore, Esq. Bank of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia. Pausing a moment, I re-read the name, pause again and think, no, it can’t be, this isn’t a relative. NO WAY!

604142_box1_folder8-026

Letter from W.L. Marcy, Secretary of War, to J.L Fenimore, August 5, 1847. As payment from the War Department is being readied, Secretary of War Marcy looks for fiscal assurances that money is available for disbursement.

Transcription:

War Dept.
August 5th, 1847

Sir,

I would respectfully request you to inform this department at your earliest convenience whether [illegible] or its equivalent will be in readiness to honor my draft on your, when presented for the semi annual [sic] dividend due the 1st inst. on Pennsylvania five percent stock held in trust by this Department on Indian account.

Very re,
W L Marcy
Secty of War

J.L. Fenimore
Bank of Pennsylvania
at Philadelphia


The reason for the pause and reflection of this moniker? My mother’s maiden name is Fenimore and my family has a long history in the Philadelphia area. I snap a picture and send it to my sister who immediately shows it to mom. I can hear the screech of excitement from mom 200 miles away as she exclaims, “That’s my father’s signature!” My sister relates the echoed exclamation by text to me. I pause and calmly suggest that they might want to take another look at the date. Silence, or pause in texting ensues, and then the ahh, yes, not my father. But it has to be, it is his signature. I posit that it could be a great-great or even, great-great-great something or other, grandfather, uncle, nephew once removed?

The echoes of the past quickly rebound through mother’s memory and she recollects that there was a banker prior to her father in the family. My grandfather managed a local branch of a small bank in the suburbs of Philadelphia during the 1940s and 1950s. My brother then chimes in and says that through his genealogy research, at Ancestry.com, that there is/was indeed a Jason L. (J.L.) Fenimore of Philadelphia/Wayne, Pa. and was born 1808, died 1869, and buried Upper Darby, PA. Tellingly, that is also the name of my grandfather. A strong family name that has been handed down through the generations. My middle name is given from those previous namesakes.

Upon further review, while searching through the documents, J.L. Fenimore signed other requests made by the Secretary of War and was also named in the body of at least four other documents requesting payment of interest due or to have payments made on behalf of the Indian Bureau. Further research is necessary and required, however, I am 99.99999999% sure that this is my great-great-great Grandfather.

604142_box1_folder8-087

Letter from W.L. Marcy, Secretary of War, to J.L. Fenimore, February 1, 1847. This appears to be the first correspondence regarding payments due the War Department for Indian trusts to J.L. Fenimore.

Transcription:

War Dept.

Feby. 1st, 1847

Sir,
I would respectfully request you to inform this Department at your earliest convenience of whether funds will be in readiness to honor my draft on yours, when presented for the semiannual dividend due this day on Pennsylvania five percent Stock held in trust by this Department on Indian account.

Very re,
W.L. Marcy
Secty. of War

J.L. Fenimore
Bank of Pennsylvania
at Philadelphia

604142_box1_folder8-073

Letter from W.L. Marcy, Secretary of War, to J.L. Fenimore, February 23, 1847. Further requests made of Mr. Fenimore for payment or disposition of an early request from Secretary Marcy.

Transcription:

$2005 69/100

War Department
Feby. 23rd, 1847

At sight please pay to the order of J. Roach Esq Assistant Treasurer U.S. two thousand & five 69/100 dollars , being the semi annual [sic] dividend ^less State taxes^ due the first with an Pennsylvania five percent loan Stock, held in trust by this Dept. on Indian account.

W.L. Macy
Secty. of War

To: J.L. Fenimore
Bank of Pennsylvania
at Philadelphia
[Side margins carry additional signatures and notations] J. Roach Feby 23 1847; J. Roach Feby. 22/47; Stock book 1/194; MB? 27? /20 ]?

604142_box1_folder8-048

Letter from W.L. Marcy, Secretary of War, to J.L. Fenimore, June 18, 1847[6]. The War Department indicating certain payments are being readied on behalf of the Bank of Pennsylvania. Evidently, Mr. Fenimore holds custody or authority over funds to be dispersed.

Transcription:

War Dept.
June 18th, 1847[6]

Sir;

I take leave to inform you in the settlement of the claims of I have this day assigned to Joseph Bryan Esq Atty in fact for Chickasaw Orphans, I have this day assigned to [illegible] three certificates of Stock of the State of Pennsylvania for fifty dollars each, nos. 1134, 1135 & 1136 dated Feby. 28th, 1846 held in trust by this Department for the benefit of said Indians. The interest from last dividend day (Feby. 1, 1847) on said bonds will of course, be collected by the holder.

Very re,
WLM
Secty. of War

J.L. Fenimore Esq
Philadelphia
Pennsylvania

604142_box1_folder8-024

Letter from W.L. Marcy, Secretary of War, to J. L. Fenimore, August. 9, 1847. The Secretary of War writing to J.L. Fenimore to make payment of Pennsylvania’s obligation to the national trust for Indian subsidies. This is the first letter observed in the series that caught my eye with G.G.G. Grandfather’s signature.

Transcription:

$2002 13/100
War Department
August 9th, 1847

At sight please pay to the order of James Ross Snowden Esq. Treasurer of the U. States Mint & Assistant Treasurer of the U. S. two thousand and two 13/100 dollars, being the semi annual [sic] dividend (less state tax) due the 1st with an Pennsylvania five percent stock, held in trust by the Secretary of War, for the time being, an Indian account.

W.L. Marcy
Secty. of War

To:J.L. Fenimore Esq
Bank of Pennsylvania

604142_box1_folder8-023-1

Letter from W.L. Marcy, Secretary of War, to James Ross Snowden, Treasurer of the U.S. Mint, August 9, 1847. After many months of correspondence final disbursement of previous requests is detailed and made ready for payment.

Transcription:

War Dept.
August 9th. 1847

Sir,
You will find hereto appended my draft on J. L. Fenimore Esp. payable at sight to your order for two thousand and two 13/100 ($2002 13/100) being the semi annual [sic] dividend (less state taxes) due the 1st inst. an $84,300 Pennsylvania five percent loan, held in trust by this department an Indian account, which dividend, which you will please to collect deposit the amount thereof in the Treasury of the United States to the credit of the Treasurer and forward duplicate certificates of said deposits to this department an account of trustfund [sic] interest for the tribes of Indians named below, to wit:

Chipps Otts & Potts [?] (Mills)$672 13
Chipps Otts & Potts [?](Ed.)201.87
Chippewas [sic] & Ottowas384.75
Minomonies 285.”
Creek Orphans 380.”
Kanzas [sic] Schools 47.50
Chickasaw Orphans 30.88
$2002.13

Very re,
W.L. Marcy
Secty. of War

James Ross Snowden Esq
Treasurer of the U.S. Mint &
Assistant Treasurer U. States At Philadelphia


Ultimately, had I not stopped to pause and chat for just a few moments, or if my coworker had turned that page to look at the next document, or had I just whizzed on by and checked out for the day, I would have never found this gem of family history.

Source: Special Files Relating to Indian Trust Funds, 1849-1898, (NAID 604142), Department of the Interior. Indian Division. Record Group 48, Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, 1826 – 2009

This entry was posted in Archives II, Genealogy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Fortuitous Lineage

  1. dlabinsky says:

    Wow, what an amazing coincidence! Almost spooky.

    Perhaps the illegible word in the first letter is “specie”?

    Like

  2. Chad Milliner says:

    I agree with the previous comment. It is clear that the word is “specie”. Wikipedia states that the word means, “money in the form of coins rather than notes.”

    Like

    • Chad Milliner says:

      One more note. At the time, coins were made from precious metals. So they were “hard currency” because they had intrinsic value whereas notes were (and still are) instrically worth only whatever minimal value the paper on which they are printed possesses. So the Secretary was asking the bank if the bank had sufficient “real money” on hand.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I just love the handwriting. We really should be teaching cursive in schools so it is not a foreign language to today’s under 30 crowd.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nom says:

    What beautiful letters, and how cool to recover some family history!

    Notes:
    -I agree on “specie.”
    -The second illegible entry (letter dated June 14 1847[6], in the struck-through sentence) says “I have this day assigned to him.”
    -All letters say something like “…due the 1st. inst. on $xxx loan” which I’m fairly sure translates to “first installment” which makes the most sense, although it could be instance, or interest.
    -Chipps Otts & Potts is the Chippewa, Ottowa, & Potawatomi Tribes. Not sure what locations Mills & Ed would refer to – Mills might be the Bay Mills Reservation.
    -Menomonies is the Menominee Tribe.
    I wonder how much of the Indian Trust Funds ever made it to back to the Tribes?

    Nom

    Like

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