Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Inventory of the Guernsey Family Papers, 1837-1957
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (116.87 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Family History
  • Cataloguer's Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing: Subjects
  • Bibliography

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Guernsey Family Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1837-1957
    Acquisition number: 1706
    Creator: Guernsey Family
    Repository: The Huntington Library
    San Marino, California 91108
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    The collection was given to the Huntington Library by Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Brown in March 1994. It contains 1,419 items and spans the dates 1837-1957, with the bulk of the collection between 1840-1900.


    Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information please go to following URL .

    Publication Rights

    In order to quote from, publish, or reproduce any of the manuscripts or visual materials, researchers must obtain formal permission from the office of the Library Director. In most instances, permission is given by the Huntington as owner of the physical property rights only, and researchers must also obtain permission from the holder of the literary rights. In some instances, the Huntington owns the literary rights, as well as the physical property rights. Researchers may contact the appropriate curator for further information.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Guernsey Family Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Family History

    Biographical Note

    Emeline Donaldson Guernsey, born in 1819 in Pennsylvania, was one of ten children born to Asa and Delia Allen Donaldson. She married Peter Buell Guernsey of Tioga, Pennsylvania, in the late 1830s. Peter died in a railroad accident in 1852. Six years later, in 1858, Emeline moved to Stacyville, Mitchell County, Iowa, to be near her sister and brother-in-law. There she settled on a farm bought and worked by her and her five children: William D. Guernsey, Henry A. Guernsey, Sarah Guernsey Beebe, Fannie Guernsey Orcutt, and Emma Guernsey Flint. In 1861 William, her oldest son, enlisted in the Fourth Iowa Cavalry and fought in the Civil War; Henry soon followed. With her sons gone, Emeline successfully managed the farm by herself while still managing to raise her three daughters. After the war, all of Emeline's children eventually married and moved away. In 1872, she sold her farm and moved to Illinois to live with her daughters. In the early 1880s, however, they all moved back to Iowa, including Emeline. Sarah Guernsey Beebe and her family remained in Iowa. Fannie Guernsey Orcutt and her family eventually moved to South Dakota. In the early 1900s, Emma Guernsey Flint and her family moved to Washington. Emeline's son, William D. Guernsey died of a sudden illness in 1879, at the age of 39. Henry A. Guernsey, her other son, moved out west to California, Oregon and Washington, where he lived for several years.

    Genealogy Chart

    Peter and Emeline's Family

    Peter B. Guernsey (1812-1852) m. Emeline Donaldson (b. 1819, Dec. 20)

    • 1. William D. (b. 1840, July 7-buried 1879, June 11) m. Ellen "Nellie" Flint (b. 1844, Jan. 5) Jan. 1868
      • Guy (b. 1872, Jan. 11)
      • Eleanor Louise
      • William D. (b. 1879?)
    • 2. Henry A. (b. 1844) m. Theisa McFarland (d. 1879?) 1866
      • Peter B. (b. 1869?)
      • Roy (b. 1874?)
      • Ruth L. Guernsey Bellah
    • 3. Sarah "Sadie" D. m. James Beebe, -married by 1874
      • Amy E. (alive by 1874)
      • Jessie Hollis (alive by 1877)
      • Ray G. (b. 1878, July 14)
      • Grace
    • 4. Fannie A. m. Joseph Wilson "Will" Orcutt (d. 1895, Oct. ) -married by 1877
      • Mary E. (b. 1879, Sep. 3, d. 1924, Oct. 9)
      • William G. (d. 1881)
      • Della D. (b. 1883, July 9)
      • Oren Guernsey
    • 5. Emma Buell (b. 1853, Apr. 3) m. Benjamin F. "Frank" Flint -married by 1893

    Guernsey Family

    Joseph Guernsey m. Sarah Rexford

    • 1. Joseph Warren m. Anna Brewster
      • Henry
        • Sady (d. 1864)
      • Brewster J. (b. 1827) m. Mary D. Donaldson in 1853
        • Edward S. m. May Stratton (d. 1892)
        • Ellen "Ella" A. (d. 1884)
        • Sereno E.
        • Peter B. m. Margaret
        • Lucius W. m. Martha Brown
        • Adelia E.
      • Joseph W. m. Julia
      • Alexander
      • Catherine A.
      • Charles B.
      • Anna B.
    • 2. Hiram m. Mariah W.
    • 3. Sophia m. Peter Williams
      • Charles G. m. Sarah
        • Elmer (b. 1861)
      • John
      • James W.
    • 4. Levi B.
    • 5. Eliza m. M. William Alworth
    • 6. John Warren (b. 1811, Jan. 28-d. 1882, Nov. 29) m. Susan Marriot Morris
      • Sophia m. (in 1871) John W. Putnam (b. 1847, Nov. 28)
      • daughter (Anna M.?) m. Oscar Farr
      • daughter died at age of 20
    • 7. Peter B. (b. 1812, Aug.20-d. 1852, Nov. 22) m. Emeline Donaldson (b. 1819) (Detailed family tree on page 4)
    • 8. Charles

    Donaldson Family

    Asa Donaldson m. Delia Allen - children not in order, except when noted

    • 1. John W. Donaldson (oldest son) m. Elizabeth Dorr 1840, and Harriet - 2 children
      • Edwards S. (b. 1845 July) m. Anna C.
      • Edson Burrit (b. 1848, Apr. 1)
    • 2. Emeline (b. 1819, Dec. 20) m. Peter B. Guernsey - Detailed family tree on page 4
    • 3. Dwight Dana (3rd oldest brother, 1821, Aug. 10-1865, Aug. 27) m. Adaline W.
      • Lucius Allen (b. 1850, Oct. 7) m. Minnie H.
        • Eunice Donaldson-France
      • George Field m. Carolyn A.
        • Harriet Wilkinson
    • 4. Amelia Lucinda m. Homer J. Stacy 1846?
      • Delia O.
      • Amy
      • B.F.
      • Emeline "Emma" Stacy Wall
        • Charlotte Wall
        • Ruth Wall Baker
        • Della S. Wall Berry - 1 child
          • Noreen Berry Nagy
      • Asa I.
        • Burton
          • Betty Stacy Hollatz
          • Miriam Stacy McCoy
          • Jeanne Stacy Neal
        • William H.
        • Esther Stacy Wright
      • Harriet Stacy Reeves - 1 child
        • Francis Reeves Lewis
      • Edmund m. Ella M.
      • Homer Isaac (b. 1847, d. 1850)
    • 5. Alfred E. (b. 1826) m. Lucretia Morrell 1856?
      • Frank E.
        • Maurine Donaldson Burgess
      • Carrie
      • Eunice
      • Florence
    • 6. Charles B. (d. 1865)
      • Charles A. m. Amy
        • Charles Weller
      • Charles O.?
      • Hattie Donaldson Mix
        • Olive Donaldson Mix
    • 7. Erasmus Joel Hawes m. Maria
      • Charles Norman m. Anna F.
        • Charles V.
      • Horace Allen
        • Eyla Donaldson Nelson
          • Alice Nelson Lee
          • Betty Nelson Wills
      • Alice Donaldson Stevens
        • Irma M. Stevens
    • 8. Henry Chapman, M. D. m. Bethiah 1849
      • Ira Bardwell (b. 1850) m. Ellen Smith 1873
      • Evelyn Amelia (b.1853)
      • Earl Sereno m. May Belle Delong
        • Olive (b. 1890)
        • Lula Bell (b. 1892)
        • Earl Sereno (b. 1898)
        • Ruby June (b. 1900)
      • Lizze E. Donaldson Duffin
    • 9. Lucius (d. 1849, Dec. 8)
      • Charles V.
      • Mary Perry Donaldson
    • 10. Mary D. m. Brewster Guernsey (*nephew of Emeline)
    • 11. Sereno (youngest) m. Frances Ellen Cushing
      • Fannie Donaldson Booth
        • Ermina Booth
        • Oscar Donaldson Booth
          • Norman Booth m. Marjorie
      • May Sereno Waynick
      • Josephine "Josie" Delia Donaldson Bull m. James G. Bull
        • Mary Bull James
      • Alice C. D. Riley

    Cataloguer's Note

    Will Orcutt's real name is Joseph Wilson Orcutt.
    Nellie Flint Guernsey's real name is Ellen Flint Guernsey.

    Scope and Content

    The collection is semi-catalogued and arranged alphabetically by author. It contains 1,384 letters, written by 158 different authors, and 33 pieces of ephemera. The collection spans several generations of the Guernsey and Donaldson families. The correspondence centers around Emeline Donaldson Guernsey, her immediate family, relatives and friends. The letters give a detailed account of the lives of farmers, millers, shop keepers and school teachers in 19th century Midwestern America. The letters cover a wide range of aspects of their lives, such as family events, their day-to-day activities, trips to visit family and friends, farming, financial hardships, business interests and real estate transactions. Because the majority of the correspondence was written by women, the letters also give a strong female perspective of life on the frontier. There are over two hundred "Round Robin" family letters, spanning the years 1899 to 1957, that were sent to each family member. When the letters arrived, the family member would write a letter, add it to the group and send it on to the next person on the route card. The collection includes over 250 letters of Civil War interest written by William D. Guernsey, Henry A. Guernsey and several other soldiers. Both William and Henry wrote letters home dealing with army life and their experience in the war. The ephemera consists of biographical information, Confederate currency, printed materials, and three photographs.

    Indexing: Subjects

    Donaldson, Alfred E.
    Subject in Biographical Information. Box 5, Folder 25
    Guernsey, William D., 1840-1879.
    Subject in Biographical Information. Box 5, Folder 25


    Scott, William Forse. Roster of the Fourth Iowa Cavalry, Veteran Volunteers, 1861-1865. New York: Press of J. J. Little & Co., 1902.
    Webb, Anne B. "Forgotten Persephones: Women Farmers on the Frontier," Minnesota History, Winter 1986: 134-148.