The collection consists of letters written between various members of the Flinn family between 1847 and 1873.
The majority of the letters are addressed to New York farmer Samuel Flinn (1806-1873) from his brothers, nieces, and nephews
in Ohio and Michigan. Major topics covered in the correspondence
include western expansion and travel, farming and agriculture, Michigan and Ohio state politics, national politics, land tenure
and the settlement
of estates, Ohio state banking laws, the practice of ophthalmology, religious revivals in Ohio, the Spiritual Knockers movement
in New York state,
emigration to California, and family relationships, including courtship and marriage, in New York, Michigan, and Ohio.
The Flinn brothers were the sons of Peter Flinn (1780-1850) and Castilla Richardson
(1786-1854), residents of Union Springs, New York, and early settlers of the Cayuga
reservation. The eldest brother, Samuel Flinn (1806-1873) was a farmer in
Springport, New York, who inherited his father’s homestead. He married Mary J. Penny
and had two surviving sons, Glenn (b. 1860) and Edward (b. 1867). Morris Flinn
(1811-1891) lived in Rushville, New York, and served on the New York State Assembly.
He married Harriet Amelia Whitney (1818-1900). Chester Flinn (1818-1900) was a
sometime surgeon who spent time farming with his brothers in Ohio and Michigan. John
Flinn was an ophthalmologist and farmer who lived in Springfield and Norwalk, Ohio,
and Albion, Michigan. Abram Flinn farmed with John in Norwalk and Albion, and may
have owned land in Missouri in the 1850s. Edward Flinn departed New York for St.
Louis before dying of fever while on a trip to New Orleans in 1850. DeWitt Clinton
Flinn (b. 1825) emigrated to California before a series of failed investments led to
his returning home, destitute and ill, to live with his brothers in 1873. The Flinns
also had two other brothers, Edwin and James, and a sister, Louisa "Lizzie" Clark,
whose son John moved later moved in with his grandfather Peter.
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