Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: McDowell family letters

Abstract

The McDowell family letters (dated 1791-1831, 1930-1942; 0.15 cubic feet; 2 folders) comprises transcriptions of letters between members of the McDowell family that document life in Kentucky in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Descriptive Summary

Title
Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: McDowell family letters
Date
1791-1831, 1930-1942 (inclusive)
Extent
0.15 Cubic Feet
Subjects
Letters.
Families.
Kentucky.
Journals.
Transcripts
The Filson Club History Quarterly (1926-2002)
Arrangement
Collection is arranged by subject. The Wade Hall Collection of American Letters has been processed into discrete collections based on provenance.
Finding Aid Author
Sarah Coblentz
Preferred Citation
2009ms132.1157: [identification of item], Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: McDowell family letters, 1791-1831, 1930-1942, University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.
Repository
University of Kentucky

Collection Overview

Biography / History
The McDowell family of Danville, Kentucky was a prominent family that aided in the founding of Kentucky. At the head of the family was Samuel McDowell (1735-1817), a veteran of three wars (French and Indian War, Lord Dunmore's War, and the American Revolutionary War), a land surveyor, and one of the first district court judges of Kentucky. He married Mary Annette McClung (1734-1827) in 1754 and together they had eleven children: twins Magdalene (1755-1827) and Sarah (1755-1778), John (1757-1835), James (1760-1843), William (1762-1821), Samuel Jr. (1764-1831), Martha (1766-1835), Joseph (1768-1856), Ephraim (1771-1830), Mary (1772-1822), and Caleb Wallace (1777-1811).
Magdalene married Andrew Franklin Reid (1751-1837) in 1776. He was the first clerk of Rockbridge, Virginia. Together they had seven children. Sarah married Caleb Baker Wallace (1742-1814), at the time a Presbyterian minister, later becoming judge in the Superior Court of the District of Kentucky and upon Kentucky's admittance into the union was named judge of the Court of Appeals of Kentucky. He was named a trustee for Transylvania Seminary (now Transylvania University) in 1783. Sarah passed away prior to having any children.
Martha married Abraham Buford (1747-1833), a Virginian and colonel in the American Revolutionary War. After the war, the couple moved to Scott County, Kentucky and helped to found the horse racing industry in Kentucky. The couple had six children. Mary married Alexander Keith Marshall (1770-1825), younger brother of United States Supreme Court Justice John Marshall. Mary and Alexander had three children.
John served in the American Revolutionary War as a Major, after the war he settled in Kentucky and served as a Justice of the Court of Quarter Sessions and was a member of the Fayette County Court. He was married three times, first to Sarah McDowell (1762-1802) in 1781. They had two children together. He married his second wife, Lucy Nash LeGrand (1774-1822) in 1804, and they had one child together. He married his third wife, Jane Lyle (1767-1850) in 1822. They did not have any children.
Samuel Jr. was the first United States Marshal of Kentucky and was the youngest man appointed Marshal by George Washington. He married Anna Irvine (1763-1816) and together they had nine children.
Ephraim was a physician and surgical pioneer, he studied at the University of Edinburgh School of Medicine and then returned to Kentucky where he opened a successful medical practice, where patients included future US-president James Knox Polk. Ephraim performed the world's first ovariotomy in 1809, removing a cystic ovarian tumor weighing more than twenty pounds. He went on to perform the surgery eleven more times, only losing one patient. He was a founder of Centre College and on their Board of Trustees from 1819-1829. He married Sarah Hart Shelby (1785-1846), a daughter of Kentucky's first governor Isaac Shelby, in 1802 and together they had seven children.
James enlisted in the Continental Army at sixteen and served as a private, moving to Fayette County, Kentucky in 1783 after the war. He later served in the War of 1812 and attained the rank of Colonel. He married Mary Paxton Lyle (1763-1843) and together they had four children. Joseph served in the War of 1812 and attained the rank of Colonel. He married Sarah Irvin (1773-1835) and together they had two children. William married Margaret Madison (1765-1821) in 1786 and together they had six children. Caleb Wallace married his cousin Elizabeth McDowell in 1804 and together they had one child.
American Letters collector Wade Hall (1934-2015) was a native of Union Springs, Alabama. Starting in 1962, he lived in Louisville, where he taught English and chaired the English and Humanities/Arts programs at Kentucky Southern College and Bellarmine University. He also taught at the University of Illinois and the University of Florida. He held degrees from Troy State University (B.S.), the University of Alabama (M.A.), and the University of Illinois (Ph.D.). He served for two years in the U.S. Army in the mid-fifties. Dr. Hall was the author of books, monographs, articles, plays, and reviews relating to Kentucky, Alabama, and Southern history and literature. His most recent books include A Visit with Harlan Hubbard; High Upon a Hill: A History of Bellarmine College; A Song in Native Pastures: Randy Atcher's Life in Country Music; and Waters of Life from Conecuh Ridge.
Scope and Content
The McDowell family letters (dated 1791-1831, 1930-1942; 0.15 cubic feet; 2 folders) comprises transcriptions of letters between members of the McDowell family that document life in Kentucky in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The letters discuss daily life, Kentucky politics, visiting with family and friends, the creation of the constitution of Kentucky, legal cases, family marriages, local gossip and reputations, and military service. There are also two copies of The Filson Club History Quarterly journal which includes articles about members of the McDowell family.
The McDowell family letters collection is part of the Wade Hall Collection of American letters, which includes correspondence and diaries from all over North America covering the time period of the Civil to Korean Wars. The materials were collected by Wade Hall and document everyday men and women.

Restrictions on Access and Use

Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open to researchers by appointment.
Use Restrictions
The physical rights to the materials in this collection are held by the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.

Contents of the Collection

McDowell family letters (transcripts), 1791-1831

  • Box WH-172, folder 4
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The Filson Club History Quarterly, 1930, 1942

  • Box WH-172, folder 5
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UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center is open Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 4:00pm. Appointments are encouraged but not required. Schedule an appointment here.

Researchers must have an SCRC Researcher Account to request materials. View account set-up and use instructions here.

Questions? Contact SCRC via our Contact Form.

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You may come across language in UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center collections and online resources that you find harmful or offensive. SCRC collects materials from different cultures and time periods to preserve and make available the historical record. These materials document the time period when they were created and the view of their creator. As a result, some may demonstrate racist and offensive views that do not reflect the values of UK Libraries.

If you find description with problematic language that you think SCRC should review, please contact us at SCRC@uky.edu.