Monday, August 27, 2012

The Mabee Family Papers

The original 1705 deed for what is now know as the Mabee Farm. In this deed, dated Jan. 22, 1705, Daniel Johnson conveys to John Pieterse Mebie a certain piece of land eight miles above the town of Schenectady on the South side of the Mohawk River containing 63 acres and 79 rood. This document is number M-Deed-06 in the Mabee Family Papers.

The Mabee Family Papers, a gift of George Franchere of Dunedin, Florida, consists of almost 600 items, including deeds, wills, correspondence, inventories, legal documents of many kinds, bills of sale for slaves, student exercises, and receipts for a wide variety of purchases. As a part of Mr. Franchere’s larger gift of the Mabee Farm, the Mabee Family Papers provide a wealth of information about the Mabee Farm and family. The wide breadth of materials in the collection are of interest to genealogy researchers as well as researchers interested in the history of the area. The documents in the collection give researchers a lot of information; not only about the Mabee family specifically, but also more broadly about commerce, farming, education, slavery, colonial Dutch language, cookery, war, and many other aspects of life and community. The personal correspondence, handwritten poems, and the elaborate calligraphy included in the student exercises provide a unique look into the personal lives, aesthetics, and personality of the people who created them.

The Mabee Family Papers are arranged and numbered by categories, in a style that parallels the system used for the Library's main Historic Manuscripts Collection. This introductory notebook begins with a listing of the categories used, followed by a categorized numerical list of the documents with an abstract summary of the contents of each item. See a complete finding aid for the collection here.

Below are just a few examples of some of the interesting documents included in the Mabee Family Papers.

This sketch map of an unidentified piece of land includes an interesting representation of scale information. “For Jacob Mabee, Esq.” is written on back of the map. Document number M-Misc-25 in the Mabee Family Papers.

Order by Col. John Bradstreet dated May 1, 1760, for “Jacob Mabie or a Sufficient Driver with a span of Horses, Harness and Waggon” to be “employed in his Majesty’s Service.” Document number M-Mil-05 in the Mabee Family Papers.


This slightly bawdy poem appears to have been written out by Pieter Mabee. “She thought to have pleasure but found it was small, she fell for his looks but found nothing at all.” M-Poem-03 from Mabee Family Papers.


Portion of a letter written by John V.P. Mabee to his cousin, Jacob Mabee, written while John was at Camp Vogdes, Fort Ringgold, Virginia in 1864 during the Civil War. John Mabee writes to his cousin for honey and beeswax and details the hardships of camp life. "I hope and pray I will see the day that I can meet Lieutenant Edward Smith in the streets of Schenectady when my term of service expires," he writes. "you can bet high he will either whip me or I will him[.] he is a very over bearing officer indeed." M-Letters-32 from Mabee Family Papers.


Bill of sale for a male slave named Cato, dated January 27, 1800. He was sold by Peter Conyne, Henry Funda, Peter Mabee & Simon Mabee to Jacob Mabee, for the sum of eighty-five pounds. M-Slaves-3 from the Mabee Family Papers.



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