Mary Deyo Papers (ca. 1850 - 1932)

Finding Aid Completed by Eric Roth, May 28, 1999
Last revised April 22, 2004
Volume: 0.9 cu. ft.
Acquisition: Most of the papers were donated to the Historic Huguenot Street by Mrs. Royce R. Spring on January 9, 1980. The photographs were probably donated by Mary Deyo Barnes. Date is unknown.
Access: Unrestricted.
Copyright: Request for permission to publish materials from these records should be discussed with the Archivist and Director of the Huguenot Historical Society.

Special thanks to Alexis Ruda and Tara Ticomb for their assistance in processing this collection.

Biographical Note

Mary Deyo G-36 (1), Christian missionary to Japan, was born to Jonathan N. Deyo and Maria LeFevre on January 8, 1858 in the town of Gardiner in Ulster County, NY. She graduated from Normal School at New Paltz, NY in 1887 and taught the first grade at the Union Free School in Livingston, Columbia County, NY from 1884 to 1886 (2). In 1885 Miss Deyo began correspondence with the Women's Board of Foreign Missions of the Reformed Church in America for the purpose of traveling to Japan as a Christian missionary.

The Board approved her application and Miss Deyo left for Japan in 1888. She spent the most of her next 18 years teaching English and literature at the Ferris Seminary in Yokohama, with a brief two-year return visit to Gardiner 1892-1894. While in Japan, Mary became a member of the Yokohama Literary Society and was elected Vice-President in 1890. She wrote articles on missionary work in religious publications such as the Christian Intelligencer and became involved in several reading clubs. She again returned to Gardiner in 1906, where she resided until her death on December 15, 1932.

Collection Description

This collection primarily documents Mary Deyo's career as a missionary in Japan in the 1880's and 1890's. Letters between Miss Deyo and Henry N. Cobb, Corresponding Secretary of the Women's Board of Foreign Missions in New York City, document the many processes involved in becoming a missionary, including the application process and securing travel and financial arrangements. The other major correspondent in the collection is Miss Deyo's cousin Solomon LeFevre. These letters written to Mary Deyo (often referred to as Polly throughout the correspondence) in the 1880's primarily discuss life in Burden, NY; the railroad and mining businesses in New York and North Carolina; engineering projects of the Hudson River Ore and Iron Company and family matters such as illnesses and deaths and other news. Other topics mentioned include the Temperance Movement and other religious matters, fruit farming, and local and national politics.

While Mary Deyo was in Japan during the 1890's, she frequently wrote to her cousin to describe her situation in Japan and to inquire about United States news. Most of these letters were handwritten on long strips of Japanese rice paper in a faint ink pen that is very difficult but not impossible to read. In the letters, Miss Deyo describes her fellow missionaries and Japanese students at the Ferris Seminary in Yokohama. She also writes of the Japanese economy, travels to the cities of Nikko and Tokyo, and United States and Japanese national politics. In particular, Miss Deyo followed the HRRR strike in Japan and the "Silver Legislation" in 1891 with great interest and discusses how each development would affect the missions in Japan. In addition to the letters from Miss Deyo to her cousin, there are other letters pertaining to the mission in Japan. In one letter from 1894, the unidentifiable author inquires about a recent trip made by Miss Deyo to Europe. The author also discusses the resignation of prominent missionaries at the Seminary, Japanese residential architecture, and the growing popularity of bicycles in Japan. Another letter to Miss Deyo from Shiju Nakamura written in 1895 discusses attitudes of indigenous Japanese population toward the missionaries.

Other items of interest include letters to Mary Deyo from Lizzie Beatty, a student at Vassar College during the 1870's. In these letters, Miss Beatty writes of her studies at Vassar, coping with illness, and courting rituals. And one letter written in 1865 by Andrew L.F. Deyo discusses life in Houma, Louisiana at the end of the Civil War. In the letter Mr. Deyo discusses plantation life, cotton farming, church business, and the suffering of the southern people as a result of the war.

There are several gaps in the correspondence, most notably in 1892 and 1893, and from 1895 to 1905. The correspondence from 1906 to 1932 almost exclusively consists of greeting cards and poems written by Mary Deyo to her niece Hattie B. Deyo.

Also housed in this collection is one box of photographs, including loose daguerreotype, ambrotype, tintype, albumen print, and paper photographic prints kept by Mary Deyo. There are several photographs of Mary Deyo, showing her as a child, and then as an elderly woman. Other images depict family members and friends such as Fred Deyo, Rachel Brodhead Elting, Ralph LeFevre, Peter LeFevre in Civil War Uniform, Margaret DuBois, and local physician Stephen Gerow, and A.P. LeFevre. Other images show Fred Deyo's graduating class from the late 19th century taken in Aurora, NY, a graduating class in front of the New Paltz Normal School (ca. 1880's, a group of young women in costume for an event entitled the "Crawford March" (1903), and oversized photographs and postcards of the Nathaniel Deyo House in Gardiner, NY and other unidentified houses, and an unidentified train. A small photograph album dating from the mid-19th century contains tintypes of primarily unidentified people, although Maggie B. Elting, Katherine Elting (Hasbrouck), and Mrs. Bruyn Hasbrouck are identified. All of the daguerreotypes and ambrotypes are unidentified.

In addition to the correspondence files and photographs, the collection contains several other materials of historic interest. Such records include poems, greeting cards, photographs, copies of newspaper clippings, programs, pamphlets and reports. In particular, poems written by Mary Deyo provide insight into her creative ability and thoughts on subjects such as aging, housekeeping, seasonal change, death, farm life, local personalities and social life, and her religious faith. Other papers of interest include Miss Deyo's passport in Japanese (ca. 1888), articles, reports, programs and membership certificates pertaining to the Women's Board of Foreign Missions, the Yokohama Literary Society and the Reformed Church at New Paltz, NY. The collection also contains a memorial notice for the death of Solomon LeFevre Deyo.

Other materials in the Huguenot Historical Society collections pertaining to the Deyo family include the Deyo Family Papers (1675-1870), John Winfield Deyo Collection (1795-1906), Jessie B. VanWagenen Deyo Papers (1889-1929), and the William S. Deyoe Papers (1892-1972). Also, the Huguenot Historical Society Bible and Religious Book Collection contains a Bible of Mary Deyo (#335), and a Bible of Emma LeFevre (#336), as well as other Deyo family Bibles. The Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection at the Elting Memorial Library in New Paltz also maintains three collections relating to Mary Deyo and other members of her family. The Mary Deyo Papers are comprised of articles written by Miss Deyo in the Christian Intelligencer and other religious publications between 1893 and 1902. The Bertha Deyo Personal Letters (1895-1905) include three letters from Mary Deyo to Bertha Deyo in 1897 and one in 1901. The Leah Catherine Deyo Personal Letters (1845-1855) contain letters between Mary Deyo's mother Maria LeFevre Deyo and Leah Catherine Deyo.

Series Descriptions

The papers are organized into three series: 1) Correspondence, 2) Miscellaneous Papers, and 3) Photographs and Photograph Albums.

Series 1: Correspondence (1865-1932)
Includes handwritten and few typed letters between Mary Deyo, her cousin Solomon LeFevre, her brother Solomon LeFevre Deyo and other family members, the Women's Board of Foreign Missions, and friends from Vassar College and the Ferris Seminary in Yokohama, Japan. Letters are organized chronologically. Access to envelopes from the correspondence is available by special request only.

Series 2: Miscellaneous Papers (1885-1932)
Records include poems and articles written by Mary Deyo; reports, programs, membership certificates and other materials pertaining to the Women's Board of Foreign Missions, the Yokohama Literary Society and the Reformed Church at New Paltz; Miss Deyo's passport to Japan; New Paltz State Normal School Yearbook from 1900; handwritten lecture notes; newspaper clippings, memorial notice of Solomon LeFevre Deyo; and genealogical research notes on the DeWitt and Brodhead families. This series also includes an undated notebook containing study notes on poetry, history and religion. Papers in this series are organized roughly by format and thereunder chronologically.

Series 3: Photographs and Photograph Albums (ca. 1850-1932)
This series includes daguerreotype, ambrotype, tintype, and paper photographic prints of Mary Deyo, various members of her family, the State Normal School at New Paltz, and local historic houses during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Of note is a photograph of Civil War soldier Peter Elting. Several of the photographs are unidentified. This series is currently unprocessed.

Box and Folder List

Box 1
Series 1: Correspondence (1865-1932)

(1865-1932 and undated) - seven folders

Box 2
Series 2: Miscellaneous Papers (1885-1932)

Miscellaneous (1885-1932 and undated) (Membership certificates, programs, reports, school yearbooks, pamphlets, passport, etc.)
Newspaper Clippings - copies (1890-1932 and undated)
Notebook (undated)
Poems (1887 and undated)

Box 3
Series 3: Photographs and Photograph Albums (ca. 1850-1932)

Loose daguerreotypes and ambrotypes (mid-19th century)
Loose oversize photographs (early 20th century)
Photographs, loose (mid-19th century - 1932) - in folder
Photograph Album (mid-19th century)


1. Hasbrouck, Kenneth E. and Heidgard, Ruth P. The Deyo (Deyoe) Family, revised & enlarged. Deyo Family Association, Huguenot Historical Society, Inc., New Paltz, NY (1992): p. viii.

2. Mac Dowell, Ruth Ellen. Biography of Mary Deyo. Unpublished report (1980).