The Winterthur Library

 The Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera

Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, Winterthur, DE  19735

302-888-4600 or 800-448-3883





Creator:          Watson family                                      

Title:               Papers

Dates:             1786-1874

Call No.:         Col. 189          

Acc. No.:         [various – see detailed description]

Quantity:        4 boxes

Location:        16 B 2






The bulk of this collection pertains to John Fanning Watson, well known historian of Philadelphia and New York City, and his immediate relatives.  Watson was born in Batsto, New Jersey, the son of William and Lucy Fanning Watson.  A paternal ancestor, Thomas Watson, emigrated from Dublin, Ireland, and settled in Salem, New Jersey, in 1667. His maternal ancestors settled in Groton, Connecticut, about 1645.  His maternal grand-parents, John Fanning and Abigail Miner, moved their family of three sons and three daughters to New Jersey.  One of the daughters married into the Backus family and was the mother of Azel Backus, D.D., first president of Hamilton College, New York.  The third daughter, Lucy, married William Watson in 1772.


William Watson was a sea captain and owned several vessels prior to the Revolutionary War.  When the war started he sold his vessels and volunteered on a private ship, General Mifflin.  After the war the Watsons settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  William was involved in coastal trade.  He and John's brother, Wesley, died in a shipwreck off Cape Hatteras in 1804.


Lucy Fanning was a Methodist mystic and poet.  John had a good relationship with his mother and often spoke affectionately of her.  Her interest in genealogy and stories of her own youth in New England probably fostered her son's appreciation for history. Although Lucy received suitors following the death of her husband, she never remarried.


The details of John Fanning Watson's education are not known, but he did obtain some business training in James Vanuxem's Philadelphia counting house.  In 1798, he was dismissed because of his involvement with the Macpherson Blues militia company.  He spent the next two years in Mount Holly, New Jersey.  In 1800, he moved to Washington, D.C., to accept a clerkship in the War Department.  Watson entered into a business deal in 1804 and moved to New Orleans, Louisiana.  He returned to his native Philadelphia in 1806 and opened a mercantile house.  By 1810, he was listed as a bookseller and stationer.  He published American editions of English works and acted as an agent for foreign magazines.  In 1814, Watson accepted a position as cashier of the Bank of Germantown and received a notary public commission.  He remained with the bank until 1848.  He then became the secretary-treasurer of the Philadelphia, Germantown and Norristown Railroad, where he remained until 1859.


Watson was also an amateur historian and a pioneer in the use of oral histories and public opinion questionnaires.  He published, among other works, Annals of Philadelphia, Historic Tales of Olden Time Concerning the Settlement and Advancement of New York City and State, and Historic Tales of Olden Time Concerning the Early Settlement and Progress of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania.  In addition, he wrote newspaper and magazine articles that focused on history.  Watson was a founder of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the Society for the Commemoration of the Landing of William Penn. 


In 1812, John Fanning Watson married Phebe Barron Crowell, daughter of Thomas Crowell of Elizabethtown, New. Jersey. (The Crowells were lineal descendants of Oliver Cromwell.)  Phebe had several brothers and sisters, including Esther (Mrs. James) Bogert with whom she frequently visited in New York State.  The couple had seven children, of which three daughters, Lavinia Fanning, Selina, and Myra, and two sons, Barron Crowell and John Howell, survived to adulthood.  Lavinia married Harrison Whitman of Maine, and Selina married Charles Willing of Philadelphia.  After studying at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Barron became a physician in New England and married Julia Willis, the daughter of Hon. William Willis from Portland, Maine.  John Howell was not married at the time of his father's death in 1860 and served as the executor of his father's estate. 





The papers relate mostly to personal and family matters, rather than to John F. Watson's work.  They have been divided into five groups: diaries, family history, correspondence, photographs, and miscellaneous.  John F. Watson apparently liked to travel and kept diaries of his journeys.  He worked briefly in New Orleans in 1804-1805 and kept diaries of his travel there (going down river starting from Pittsburgh) and back again (by sea, stopping in Havana, Cuba, and Charleston, South Carolina).  He also traveled to the New Jersey shore, around Pennsylvania, to Wilmington, Delaware, New York City and state, and even to New England, where his mother was born.  He traveled on several canals in eastern Pennsylvania.  As well, there are travel diaries from his daughter Selina Watson (later Mrs. Charles Willing) and his sister-in-law Esther Crowell (Mrs. James) Bogert, and diaries, chiefly religious in nature, of his mother Lucy Fanning Watson, a Methodist mystic and poet.  Some of the diaries are illustrated with sketches.  In most of them, notes were made not just about the scenery, but also about people seen on the trip, the quality of hotels and transportation, and about history.  Transcriptions of John Fanning Watson’s diaries are available.


As a historian, John F. Watson was also interested in his family origins.  The collection includes some genealogical material about the Watsons and Fannings, as well as other related families.  These include Crowell (his wife's maiden name; the family was related to Oliver Cromwell), Barron (from his wife's family), and Willing (a son-in-law).  Some family history may also be found in letters and diaries.


Some scattered correspondence is found in the collection.  Most of the letters are by or to John F. Watson, many containing family news or history.  Letters between John Howell Watson (son of John F.) and J.B. Lippincott & Co. concern the republication of Annals of Philadelphia, by John F. Watson.  Some Watson letters are available at this repository only on microfilm.





The collection is divided into five series: Diaries, Family history, Correspondence, Photographs, and Miscellaneous.





The materials are in English.





Collection is open to the public.  Copyright restrictions may apply.





Purchases and gifts from various sources.






                        Backus, Charles.

                        Backus, Frederick F.

                        Backus, Frederick W.

                        Backus, Azel.

                        Barrow, James.

                        Bogert, Esther Fanning (Mrs. James).

                        Crowell, Thomas.

                        Eakin, James.

                        Fanning, Edmund, 1769-1841.

                        Watson, John F. (John Fanning), 1779-1860.  

                        Watson, Lucy Fanning.

                        Watson, Phebe Crowell.

                        Watson, Selina.

                        Barron family.

                        Crowell family.

                        Fanning family

                        Willing family.



            Men - Diaries.

            Women - Diaries.


            Religious life.

            Hymns, English - United States.


            Voyages and travels.

            Girls - Diaries.

            Pittsburgh (Pa.) - Description and travel.

            New Orleans (La.) - Description and travel.

            Cuba - Description and travel.

            Charleston (S.C.) - Description and travel.

            New Jersey - Description and travel.

            Pennsylvania - Description and travel.

            Schuylkill Canal.

            Chesapeake and Delaware Canal (Del. and Md.)

            New York (State) - Description and travel.

            Wilmington (Del.) - Description and travel.

            New Hampshire - Social life and customs.


            Commonplace books.









            Notaries - Pennsylvania.






Location: 16 B 2



Series 1: Diaries and commonplace books


Box 1A:


Folder 1: Travel diaries of John Fanning Watson


Note: transcriptions are available for the diaries of John Fanning Watson.  It is suggested that researchers use the transcriptions first.


58x29.1           Journey to New Orleans and Observations there in 1804-1805.

            In this volume, Watson comments on the cities and towns he passed through in his travels from Philadelphia to New Orleans and describes his stay in the latter city.  While in Pittsburgh, he observed that the widespread burning of coal made the houses look more like forges than dwellings.  Once in New Orleans, Watson was informed of the deaths of his father and brother.  Of New Orleans, Watson noted that it was larger then he had expected and that the residents were more engaged in business than in Philadelphia.  In addition, he witnessed few high houses, rampant disregard for observing the sabbath, many lizards, expensive tailors, a lot of shrimp and gumbo to eat, and people of different ancestries--French, Spanish, and American--keeping separate societies.


58x29.2           Journal of a voyage from New Orleans to Havannah and Charleston and land route from Charleston to Washington City and to New England 1805.  Also a trip to Cape May, N.J. 1822.

            Watson left New Orleans on November 11, 1805 and arrived in Cuba on the 26th.  The first things he noticed in Havana were the forts and walls surrounding the city.  Overall, he did not like the city, finding its streets dirty, crowded, and full of beggars.  The buildings were constructed with oblong stones and featured little ornamentation.  He felt that "living here is extremely unpleasant."  He did enjoy the Cuban countryside, describing it as "a perfect Paradise."  In the volume, Watson offers descriptions of the people encountered and local customs.


            After arriving in Charleston on December 15, 1895, Watson gave a brief description of the city, comparing it to Baltimore.  He left five days later and traveled through Raleigh, Richmond, and Washington, D.C.  He arrived at his home in Philadelphia on February 21st.  On March 8th he left again to travel to New England with his mother.  The two visited with relatives.  At the end of the journey, Watson commented that he was sorry that he did not enter details about what he saw.


            In his writings on an 1822 trip to Cape May, Watson described his passage via steamboat, Aaron Bennett's boarding house, his activities at the shore, and socializing with other boarders, including Roger B. Taney.



Folder 2: Travel diaries of John Fanning Watson


Note: transcriptions are available for the diaries of John Fanning Watson.  It is suggested that researchers use the transcriptions first.


58x29.3           A Trip to the Sea Shore, 1823.

            In this volume, Watson recorded his trip to and activities at Tuckerton Beach.  He notes features of the landscape in Tuckerton and surrounding areas.  He goes into particular detail about Little Egg Harbor, noting that is was a good refuge for privateers during the Revolutionary War.  He also frequently comments on changes to the inlets and beach over 50 years.


58x29.4           Summer Excursions--Schuylkill Canal to Reading. Pa. 1825; Canal leading from Delaware to Chesapeake, 1826; Pennsbury and Point Breeze, 1826.

            This volume opens with a list of 37 "Queries of aged Person of Philadelphia," probably asked by Watson in compiling his Annals.  The rest of the manuscript is devoted to three short trips.  While traveling on the Schuylkill Canal with his daughter, Lavinia, he noted the scenery and he sketched the boat and another scene.  He also sketched the dwellings and buildings along Market St. in Reading and commented on them.


            The Delaware Canal trip was a day journey undertaken on July 4, 1826 so that Watson could show his daughters river scenery.  Watson remarked on scenes that were significant during the Revolutionary War.


            On July 8, 1826 Watson and a friend, Reuben Haines, went to Pennsbury to see where William Penn lived.  Included is a piece written about an incident in Pennsbury in 1701.  The two left Pennsbury and went to Point Breeze, where they visited King Joseph and Prince Charles of Spain.  He wrote about his impressions of them.  Also featured is a detailed sketch of Robert Crozier's dwelling in Pennsbury and pages from Watson's account with the Louisiana Bank.



Folder 3: Travel diaries of John Fanning Watson


Note: transcriptions are available for the diaries of John Fanning Watson.  It is suggested that researchers use the transcriptions first.


58x29.5           Tour to Niagara, 1827.

            Watson traveled to Niagara by stagecoach and boat.  He describes towns in which he stopped and views of mountains in New York State.  He also sketched his impressions of what he saw.  Watson was particularly impressed with Rochester, N.Y. and noted its architectural innovation.  Watson was in awe at Niagara Falls and remarked on its splendor.  He also sketched it from several vantage points.  On the return trip, Watson stopped at Trenton Falls.  He included John Sherman's A Description of Trenton Falls in the volume.


58x29.6           Summer Tour to Union Canal, Pottsville, Mauch Chunk, Morris Canal, 1829.

            On the first leg of this trip, Watson went to Reading.  He noted that most of its residents were German.  He was distressed with their inability to speak English.  Watson gives details on Pottsville's scenery, comparing it with Rochester.  At Mauch Chunk, Watson observed the way railroad cars were used to move coal.  He sketched the scene as he saw it from his hotel window. A newspaper clipping about Mauch Chunk was placed in the volume.  On the trip home, Watson made remarks about Easton, Pa. and Morristown.  Before boarding a steamliner for Philadelphia, Watson went to New York City and spent a day at Coney Island.


            The manuscript also contains a four page account of a trip to Pottsville on April 4, 1831.  Although it is not very descriptive, Watson commented on the impact of the coal industry on the town.



Folder 4: Travel diaries of John Fanning Watson


Photocopy of the diary of the trip to Niagara Falls, 1827 (acc. 58x29.5, above)



Folder 5: Travel diaries of John Fanning Watson


Note: transcriptions are available for the diaries of John Fanning Watson.  It is suggested that researchers use the transcriptions first.


83x174.7         Summer Excursions of year 1831--Trip to Wilmington; Trip to Burlington and Mt. Holly; Trip through Chester County; Reminiscences of New York Harbor; Trip to Poetsquessink and Bake House, July 1832.

            This volume contains descriptions of four short trips taken by Watson with various members of his family.  He traveled to Wilmington in 1831 so that his son, Barron, could experience transportation by steamboat.  During the journey, he reflected upon his youth and changes in perceptions of distances.  He also sketched the Old Sweden Church and noted houses with significance to him.


            Watson headed to Burlington and Mt. Holly on July 4, 1831.  He noted that Burlington retained its "peaceful, graceful `Green bank'."  At Mt. Holly, he addressed the issue of people ageing, while "the houses and streets seemed to have renewed their age by improvements, and the glare of paint and ornament."


            While on his way to Chester County, Watson remarked on a number of historic sites and villages.  He noted that the farms around West Chester were indicative of a great deal of wealth.  This section also contains a list of nine properties he inherited along with what he called "memoranda of relatives--Chester Co."  He listed relatives of his father's first wife, Ann Beeson.


            Watson devoted two pages to the New York harbor, remarking that "I can conceive of nothing more lovely."  He depicts the surrounding land and ocean.


            Watson's trip to Poetsquessink on July 4, 1832 afforded him with the opportunity to reflect on the spot that was once chosen as the location of Philadelphia.  While he was there with Dr. Gibbon, he was entertained at the Bake House, which he described in detail.  He also visited the estate of Benjamin Rush and sketched the homestead.


            The volume closes with a two page record of his trip to Franconia Town in May 1833.  He commented on the history of the area and German settlers.


58x29.7           Traveling Notes--Trip to Manahawkin, 1833; Trip to Cape May Island, 1834; Trip to Harrisburg, Duncan Island and Carlisle, 1835.

            On the way to Manahawkin, Watson and his wife stopped in Burlington and Mt. Holly.  He continued to be impressed with the Green bank.  Watson drew the "Mansion of Health," where he stayed in Manahawkin.  He described experiencing sun burn, plunging in the surf, and sailing down the sound.


            From July 4 to July 10, 1834, Watson journeyed to and stayed in Cape May.  He described the Bennett boarding house in words and with a small illustration.


            In 1835, Watson ventured to Harrisburg because he had never been there.  Passing through Lancaster, he claimed the place was "very primitive in its appearance, having still many brick and frame houses..."  He found Harrisburg to be "prettily situated along the Susquehanna River.”  He noted that the business of legislation pervaded everything.  He described and sketched the chair that John Hancock sat in when he signed the Declaration of Independence.  Watson commented on the churches, public square and market in Carlisle.



Folder 6: Travel diaries of John Fanning Watson


Note: transcriptions are available for the diaries of John Fanning Watson.  It is suggested that researchers use the transcriptions first.


58x29.8           Excursion to Trenton, N.J., 1835; The Great Conflagration of New York, 1835.

            Watson ventured to Trenton on a newly built railroad with his son, Barron, in 1835 for the Fourth of July celebration.  In Trenton, he wrote about John Adams' 1798 residence at the Trent family house.  He reflected upon the Battle of Trenton and expressed dismay at not being able to find any persons that could provide him with local particulars of the Hessian battle.  In his comments, Watson reveals himself to be an admirer of old fashioned social relations.


            Watson arrived in New York City about eight days after the great fire in December, 1835 and reviewed the remains.  The area that had burned had recently been rebuilt "in costly grandeur," said Watson, having been the site that the Dutch had originally occupied.  According to Watson, the only building standing was owned by John Benson, a cooper, located at 83 Water Street.  Many out-of-town people were touring the area, while the wonder of native New Yorkers had subsided.  Watson thought that much of the destruction was due to inferior construction methods that featured walls that were too thin and cheap lime from New England.  Watson included a diagram of the area of the fire.


83x174.5         Journey to Greenwich, N.J., July 1843.

            Watson undertook this journey to see the home of his forefathers and for recreation.  He met some of his relatives in Greenwich and went to the graveyards to record the birth and death dates of family members buried there.  He provides brief biographical sketches of many of his ancestors.



Folder 7: Travel diaries of John Fanning Watson


Note: transcriptions are available for the diaries of John Fanning Watson.  It is suggested that researchers use the transcriptions first.


83x174.8         Excursions and Notes by the Way--Trip to Cape Island, August 1839; Trip to Mansion of Health, Long Beach, 1844; A Drive through the Neck to Penrose's Ferry, 1845; Visit to Tinicum Island, 1852; Trip to New York and Long Island, 1855.

            In this volume, Watson reflects and contemplates incidents that occurred on five trips.  He noted at the outset: "Having before experience the benefits of preserving recollections of incidents seen and noticed in travel, I still incline to continue the practice."  In each of these reminiscences, Watson remarked about other passengers and hotel guests, methods of transportation used, scenery, houses, and the cities and towns visited.  In Tinicum, he met with members of the local historical society.  He noted the rebuilding of the house in which Gov. Printz resided.  (It had burned in 1822.)


            While on the New York City trip, Watson took notice of many changes en route.  He found that "former towns had grown into cities."  He mentioned that Long Island had always seemed little visited until the railroad made transportation easier.  After recalling memories from his youth, Watson noted that the New York of his old age was a busy, pushy, noisy, vainglorious show where there were abundant riches and palatial expenditures.  "I felt," Watson confided," that New York was a place to visit & see wonder, but not to abide."


83x174.6         Excursion Notices--Trip to Atlantic City Surf, 1855; Trip to Batsto and Bass River, 1856; Trip to Cape Island Surf, 1856; Tour to New England, 1856; Visit to Mount Holly, 1858; Visit to Morristown, N.J., 1858.

            This volume consists of brief reflections on six short trips taken by Watson.  In 1856, he ventured to Batsto to visit his birth place.  He found the town full of family associations.  After a vacation in Atlantic City, he determined that the place was destined to become great.  At Cape Island, he commented on the "aspiring vanity." 


            The trip to Morristown was taken to see his son, Barron.  There he had an opportunity to view Washington's headquarters.  He discussed the significance of the location.  A sketch of Barron's house is also included.  The pages devoted to the Mount Holly trip just record the people with whom Watson visited.


            In 1856, Watson had the opportunity to visit New England and Plymouth Rock.  Along the way, he stayed with Sister Bogert in New York.  During the trip, Watson expressed concern over the lack of curiosity on the part of other passengers.  He noted changes in the region since his last excursion.  He was particularly fond of Bridgewater and sketched several houses in it.



Folder 8: Commonplace books--John Fanning Watson


83x174.2         Memorandum and Common-place book, 1809-

            Watson stated that his intention for this volume was to record his impressions of the signs of the times.  The first entries from October, 1809 record Watson's opinions of the Napoleonic Wars and Bonaparte's activities in Spain and Germany.  He then addressed the differences between Tories and Whigs, the death of a friend, and Rousseau's death.  The remainder of the volume is devoted to extracts from books, articles, and sermons read by Watson.  He occasionally includes his own comments after citing other works verbatim.  The extracts are religious in nature and focus on such topics as preaching, extravagance in religion, faith, Christian courage, Methodism, and John Wesley.  Watson also discussed the nature of the bookselling trade.



Folder 9: Commonplace books--John Fanning Watson


83x174.10       Bible thoughts.

            After completing this volume, Watson wrote a note to his children and descendants on the first page stating that he had spent a great deal of time informing himself on numerous subjects in theology and wanted that to benefit from his work.  In the 457 pages of this volume, he covers such topics as worship, fanaticism and enthusiasm, capital punishment, inconsistencies of Calvinism, marriage, divorce, "what I must do to be saved," the Book of Revelations, revivals, religious educations, suicide, baptism, original sin, the evil of grief, woman's duty, etc.  Watson also included several pages of family phrenology and copied the familiar letters of Rev. Azel Backus.  There is an index to the topics covered in the back of the volume.



Box 1B: transcriptions of the diaries of John Fanning Watson


It is requested that researchers use the transcriptions before using the original diaries. 



Box 2:


Folder 1: Travel diary--Selina Watson

58x29.10         Journal of a Journey to New York, 1837

            This account was written when Selina was a young girl and documents her first trip to New York City in October, 1837.  She reports on walks that she took on Broadway and other streets in the city, visits with relatives and family friends, and church attendance.  She noted her impression of Castle Garden, remarking that "it was surprising that a man could invent anything so magnificent," but generally did not offer substantive comments on her activities.  Returning to her home in Germantown, Pa., she wrote of New Jersey: "The scene from Brunswick to Bordentown was nothing worth mentioning..."  The volume also includes pencil sketches of views of New York City and Philadelphia.



Folder 2: Travel diary--Esther Bogert

58x29.18         Diary of a Western Tour, 1839.

            This volume describes a short trip taken by the Bogert family from their home at 46 Bleeker St., New York City to Niagara Falls in the summer of 1839.  They traveled through Albany, Utica, Syracuse, Auburn, Geneva, and Rochester on their route.  Mrs. Bogert recorded their modes of transportation (she disliked the railroad and fast carriages), friends met along the way, and hotel accommodations.  She also noted her impressions of the falls from the Canadian side.



Folder 3: Diaries--Lucy Fanning Watson


58x29.9           Memory and account of new settlers in the American woods--1762, chiefly at Walpole, N.H.

            Lucy Watson was 71 when she dictated her childhood experiences to her son, John Fanning Watson, and asked that he write them down.  In 1860, John copied his original manuscript into this small volume.  (Apparently the original was given to Ferdinand J. Dreer).  In 1762, Lucy Fanning left Stonington, Ct., with her family to settle in Walpole, N.H.  The volume opens with an account of the move, on which the family traveled by sloop up the Connecticut River and then switched to a wagon and oxen for the remainder of the journey.  When they arrived at Walpole, the Fannings purchased 150 acres of land and constructed a house.  The family raised corn and wheat, fished, hunted, tapped maple trees for sugar, picked berries, and made their own clothes.  Lucy recounted the details of village life and described buildings in town.  After four years, the Fannings moved to Batsto, N.J. to take advantage of the warmer climate.



Folder 4: Diaries--Lucy Fanning Watson


58x29.14         Experiences & Incidences in the Life of Mrs. Lucy Watson, who died at Germantown, Pa. 5th June 1834, aged 79 years.

            This manuscript contains three sections.  The first is a narrative of the life of Lucy Watson, the second a diary she kept intermittently between 1805 and 1828, and the third a copy book containing some of her letters.  The volume was assembled sometime after 1834 by her son, John Fanning Watson.  The orientation of all of her writings is religious.  She dwells on her spiritual development.  As a child she was deeply religious, believing God spoke to her.  She lost sight of God when moving to Little Egg Harbor, N.J., a town she considered ungodly, and then marrying.  Eventually a country minister persuaded her to rejoin a church; she become an active member of a Methodist church.


            In her diary, Lucy revealed her morbid preoccupation with death.  As a child she believed that she was close to death at least four times and as an adult she experienced the loss of her husband, William, and a son, Wesley, as the result of a shipwreck.  She regularly dreamed of her dead relatives and wrote in her diary about conversations with them.



Folder 5: loose materials from the diary of Lucy Watson, acc. 58x29.14




Series 2: Family History/Genealogy


Box 2:


Folder 6:


58x29.12         Wesley M. Watson Family History by his mother in 1803.

            This manuscript is a genealogical account of the Fanning family compiled by Lucy Watson.  The geographic orientation of the account is primarily New England and the few dates that are mentioned are from the late 18th century.  Most of the account concentrates on familial relationships without the benefit of any record of time periods.  The last page contains a description of the Watson coat of arms.


83x174.11       Family tree and genealogy

            Traces the origins of the Watson, Fanning, Crowell, Barron, and Willing families in the 17th and 18th centuries in Great Britain, Ireland, and Scotland.  It also includes a description of arms, the crest, and the motto for each family.


83x174.25       Mrs. Phebe Watson's death, 1859.

            A list of family activities on the day preceding Phebe's death, some accounts associated with her estate, and a copy of her tombstone inscription.



Folder 7:


83x174.9         Watson family and Cognate branches including Fanning & Backus, Crowells & Cromwell, Barrons et al.

            The material in this volume was collected by John Fanning Watson in 1856.  It consists primarily of responses to letters Watson wrote to relatives in an effort to collect data on family members.  Among the papers is a 1685 order for Thomas Watson to survey and lay out a town in Cohanzey (now Greenwich, N.J.).  Biographical sketches of members of the Fanning family are included.  There are a few pages labeled pedigree of the Crowell family done in 1850 by Andrew Cotheal.  There is also a significant amount of material related to Oliver Cromwell.  The Crowells traced their early origins back to the Cromwells.


83x144.46       Life of Charles Backus.

            A newspaper clipping of an article describing Charles Backus' life.  It discusses the role he played in establishing religious education in Connecticut.




Series 3: Correspondence


Box 2:


Folder 8: letterbook of John Fanning Watson and Lucy Watson


58x29.15         Letterbook, 1798-1815.

            The volume contains 33 items.  It opens with the coat of arms of Capt. Thomas Fanning and a poem by Lucy Watson.  There are drawings of Havana and Baltimore, followed by Crowell family history.  The volume also has a specimen of John Watson's writing as a 10 year old.  The bulk of the manuscript consists of a series of letters between John and his mother, Lucy Watson.  John's letters describe his impressions of Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh and send notice of his arrival in New Orleans.  He also told her about preachers he heard and a visit with his father.  After the death of his father and brother, John wrote a letter to his mother in an effort to console her that is very spiritual in nature.  Lucy's letters to her son contain family news and religious materials.  A poem Lucy wrote about the death of her husband and son is also included.


            The compilation also contains material relating to John Watson's business activities. There are two letters from J. Coke concerning Watson's desire to reprinted his commentaries on the Old Testament and New Testament as part of his publishing venture.  There is a paper that documents his election as Cashier of the Bank of Germantown and another that certified him as a notary public.  The volume also has an engraving of Azel Backus in it.



Folder 9: letterbook of John Fanning Watson and Phebe Crowell


83x174.1         Letterbook, 1812; John Watson had the letters bound; written on the spine is “Matrimonial Letters” (the front cover is detached – use care when handling)

            Contains 26 letters between John Watson and Phebe Crowell during their courtship and first months of marriage.  Their correspondence began when John sent Phebe some religious tracts that his publishing firm reprinted.  John responded with a lengthy explanation on why he sent them.  Many of the letters from Phebe are brief, covering the arrangements of a visit or responding to a letter.  In one of the letters to Phebe there is a watercolor sketch of the book shop Watson owned at the southwest corner of Third and Chestnut in Philadelphia, noted as "a picture of your intended residence."


            Two letters written to Phebe from a friend, Margeretta, in 1806 were laid in.  In addition to exchanging niceties, Margeretta discussed a man she liked, but did not love and how this impacted their future together.



Folder 10:


PH 1241, Mic. 2671    Letters.

            Copies of letters to John Fanning Watson in the Huntington Library (San Marino, Ca.)  The photocopies include 12 letters from Lucy Watson dated from 1804 to 1806.  Many are responses to John's letters that are in the letterbook described above.  In addition to describing her activities, including painting and repapering the parlor, she offered him advice.  She also provided him with information on her financial situation after her husband's death.  Five letters from Lavinia to her parents, John and Phebe, record her activities while staying in Genesee and Rochester, N.Y. in 1839; her sister Selina was with her.  The two stayed with the Backus family for the summer and traveled throughout New York State. 


            The remaining photocopies are of letters from Anthony Benezet and Benjamin Chew, both of whom were business associates.  Benezet was also a doctor and wrote about trying to establish a medical practice.  Chew's letters are brief and pertain to a note issued from the Bank of Germantown.


            The reel of microfilm contains letters to Watson from Frederick F. Backus (22), Frederick W. Backus (8), James Barrow (8), Thomas Crowell (4), James Eakin (14), and Edmund Fanning (9).  The letters from Backus are full of references to New York State, various Protestant denominations, and family history.  Backus also worked with Watson on publishing his father's (Azel Backus) sermons.  In his letters, Edmund Fanning discussed publishing some of the diaries of Watson's voyages.  The remainder of the letters concern general business and family matters.



Folder 11: letters of John Fanning Watson


83x174.23       John F. Watson to his family, Sept. 15, 1856.

            Describes Watson's activities during a trip to Bridgewater.  Lavinia accompanied him on the trip.


88x204                        John F. Watson to Wilkins Updike, Jan. 11, 1847.

            Watson wrote to Updike to comment on a manuscript prepared by Updike.  He offered suggestions based on historical anecdotes he had collected.  Watson also included part of his family genealogy in the letter.



Folder 12: letters of John Fanning Watson


83x174.46       John H. Watson to his sisters.  Jan 30, 1840.

            John wrote this letter to his sisters, Lavinia and Selina, while they were in New York staying with the Bogerts.  In addition to sharing family news, John described a meeting in the Reformed Church.


83x174.16-.18                         J.B. Lippincott & Co. correspondence, 1867.

            These three documents pertain to an agreement that John H. Watson made with Lippincott to reprint his father's Annals of Philadelphia.  Watson supplied the plates and engravings, in exchange for 75 cents for each copy of the book sold.


83x174.19       "My dear H,"  September 23, 1876

            The letter is about a Minor and Fanning family crests.



Folder 13: letters of John Fanning Watson


Miscellaneous correspondence.

            Seven letters are related to John F. Watson's efforts to compile his family's history.




Series 4: Photographs


Box 3



            "John Fanning Watson, taken when about in his 80th year," written on the back in pencil.

            "J.E. McClees, Artist, 910 Chestnut St., Philadelphia," printed on the back.

            The photograph show his head only.



            Crayon photograph of John Fanning Watson in a seated pose also taken when he was about 80.

            "J. Haldt, Agt., Crayon Gallery," is printed on the back along with a description of the process used to make crayon photographs.



            Photograph of a young boy, perhaps one of Watson's sons.  A stamp on the back covers the name of the photographer.



            John Fanning Watson, ca. 1850-ca. 1860.

            William F. Spieler of Spieler's Photograph Room, No. 720 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, was the photographer.



Series 5: Miscellaneous


Box 3:



Scraps and seals.

            Three fragments of documents containing impressions from seals.  One is dated 1841 and bears Thomas Crowell's signature.



Watson's seal as a notary public in Germantown, Pa.    



Card addressed to Harriet Willing.

            The card has a decorative border and contains a poem entitled "The Gift."


83x174.9         Sacred Music, 1793.

            A book of hymns with accompanying music written by John Fanning Watson when he was a boy.  He states that they were sung by his mother, Lucy.


58x29.13         Lucy Watson's Hymns and poems, 1786.

            Consists of poems and verses written by Lucy Watson with religious themes.  Volume is covered with wall paper.


58x29.11         "Family Medecine [sic] and Recipes."

            Most of this volume is devoted to remedies and cures for such illnesses as dropsy, toothaches, stammering, cancer, dog bites, dysentery, dyspepsia, scalds and burns, weak stomachs, wards and corns, gout pains, bleeding of the lungs, lock jaw, cholera, asthma, consumption, rheumatism, frost bite.  Hints for destroying cockroaches and driving away rats are also given.  In addition, advice for keeping apples, potatoes, tomatoes, and peaches is provided.  A recipe for stuffing birds is laid in.


            A list of the recipes included in the volume is filed with it.


83x174.3         Copy of Memoir of John Fanning Watson by Benjamin Dorr, 1861.

            This copy was presented to Charles Willing by Lavinia F. Whitman in 1861.  Two silhouettes of unidentified women are laid in.


83x174.20       Passport from Philadelphia to Charleston, S.C., for Mrs. Elizabeth Tilghman (wife of Edward Tilghman) and her family (daughters Elizabeth and Anne Mary and son Edward) and her servant Hannah Stille, November 5, 1800; signed by Thomas M. Kean and A. I. [or J.] Dallas


83x174.44a-d  Copies of Watson's Annals of Philadelphia, and Pennsylvania


                        All include only pages 577-633, plus indexes.  There are variations in the paper covers.


                        Acc. .44a has two items laid into it: a document signed by Jno. Lukens in 1789 and part of a bill from William Fisher, 1771.  It includes an engraving of the Willing House.


            Acc. .44c includes a portrait of Charles Willson Peale and the engraving of the Willing House.


            Acc. .44d was presented to Phebe B. Watson by the author, her husband.  It includes an engraving of the Anthony House. 



71x109.1-.2     Lithographs [from Watson's Annals?]

            One is of Arch Street Bridge at Front Street and the other is the Slate Roof House (Residence of William Penn, 1700).  Both were done in Philadelphia in 1830.


83x174.24       Deed, July 1857 between John F. Watson, trustee of Thomas Crowell's estate and Phebe Watson.

            The deed grants Phebe Watson the right to collect ground rent for property that was owned by her father.


83x174.12       Certificate of the "National Museum," in Independence Hall.

            Issued to John H. Watson in 1874 for his contribution of the "William Penn" chair given to his father by Deborah Logan.


[none]  photocopies of entries in the transcription of Deborah Norris Logan’s diary in which she mentions John Fanning Watson.  The transcription is in the Downs Collection, Col. 359 (Barbara Jones, Research notes on Deborah Logan).