Stillwell/Johnson Family Papers (1789-1943)

Finding Aid Completed by Eric Roth, August 13, 1999
Last revised June 12, 2001
Volume: 1.5 cu. ft.
Acquisition: The papers were donated to the Huguenot Historical Society by Mrs. Richard Ordway in 1978. Several subsequent undocumented accretions were made between 1978 and 1999.
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.

Collection Description

The papers generally document the lives of the families of Dr. William Johnson of Princeton, New Jersey; Rev. Aaron L. Stillwell (d. 1905) of Bergen Neck, New Jersey; and Rev. John L. Stillwell (d. 1943) of Somerville, New Jersey. Records include family letters, wills deeds, leases, and other estate papers, marriage and membership certificates, photographs, daguerreotypes, poems, essays, speeches, an account book, genealogy notebooks, and scrapbooks of newspaper clippings. The records are organized into three series: papers, bound volumes, and photographs.

The records of primary interest are the correspondence files. As a whole, the handwritten letters of the Johnson and Stillwell families chiefly focus on domestic issues such as travel, illnesses, births, deaths, marriages and other family news. Letters between Dr. William Johnson, his sons James and Thomas Johnson, and William J. Parson and Jacob Green of Philadelphia (1808-1856) chiefly discuss trips to Philadelphia, contemporary philosophy, book auctions, church and religious matters; comparisons between Philadelphia and New York City, illnesses and medical conditions of family members and Dr. William Johnson's patients, mortgage law, the Penn Library Company, a steamboat accident, clothing fashions, tours of Naval vessels, descriptions of "foreigners" (British and French). Of particular interest is a letter written to William Johnson from his son James in 1839 discussing the execution of an Irish "mail robber" named Porter. He writes that the event "produced a great excitement among the lower class of Irish who think Porter was not reprieved because he was Irish." Another execution is discussed in an 1852 letter written by E.G. Kenderdine.

Another primary correspondent is the collection is Rev. Aaron L. Stillwell, minister of the Dutch Reformed Church in Bergen Neck, NJ, and son-in-law of Dr. William Johnson. Correspondents of Rev. Stillwell include an unidentified niece named Hattie, Elting Cuddeback, Corneilus E. Cuddeback of Port Jervis, NY, and Ann B. Elting. In addition to domestic issues, these letters chiefly discuss Civil War news, church business at various Dutch Reformed Churches in New Jersey, and medical epidemics. Of particular interest are: an 1867 letter from David E. Elting of San Francisco, which describes Indian attacks on settlers and travelers out west; an 1882 letter to Rev. Stillwell urging him to preach Reformed Dutch Church at Bloomingbergh; and several letters from Rev. Stillwell during the 1860's to his niece Hattie providing religious advice. One of these letters discusses her wish that she was a man so she could become a soldier. The correspondence of Rev. Stillwell's son, Rev. John L. Stillwell, primarily focus on the history and genealogy of the Johnson family (1902-1936).

Other papers of note include speeches and sermons given by Rev. Aaron L. Stillwell at Bergen Neck (1858-1860); two travel diaries of Aaron L. Stillwell discussing churches and events in various New Jersey cities and towns; undated poems and essays written by Ann B. Elting; (a will of Sarah Stillwell (1905); letters testament of Andries A. DuBois (1911); an undated, handwritten speech on women's rights; a scrapbook of Eliza C. Stilwell made out of an old account book containing newspaper clippings of songs, obituaries, and other articles (1868-1875 and undated); a genealogical pedigree chart of Blandina Maria Cuddeback Stillwell (1884); and a scrapbook containing primarily obituaries and family information kept by Rev. John L. Stillwell (1902-1943). The collection also includes framed and loose daguerreotype, tintype, albumen, and paper photographic prints of the Stillwell, DuBois, Elting, Cuddebac, Johnson, Jenkins, Mullenix, Schoonmaker, Freer, Barnts, Basten, Wright, and Davenport families, as well as the Decker and Cuddeback homesteads, presumably in Port Jervis, NY.

Series Descriptions

Series 1: Papers (1789-1943) .5 cu. ft.
Records include family letters; deeds, wills and other estate papers, speeches, songs, essays, travel diaries and newspaper clippings. The papers are organized into folders by format and thereunder by date. Folders are filed alphabetically.

Series 2: Bound Volumes (1854-1864)
Includes an account book, genealogy notebooks and scrapbooks of newspaper clippings.

Series 3: Photographs (ca. 1850-ca. 1940) .5 cu. ft.
Includes loose and framed daguerreotype, albumen, tintype, and paper print photographs of the Stillwell, DuBois, Elting, Cuddebac, Johnson, Jenkins, Mullenix, Schoonmaker, Freer, Barnts, Basten, Wright, and Davenport families. Many are still unidentified. Other images include the Decker and Cuddeback homesteads, presumably Port Jervis, Orange County, NY.

Box and Folder List

Box 1
Series 1: Papers (1789-1943) .5 cu. ft.

(1852-1936 and undated)

Creative Writings (1858-1860 and undated)

Estate and Legal Papers 1841-1911 and undated)

Miscellaneous (1854-1943 and undated)

Box 2
Series 2: Bound Volumes (1854-1864) .5 cu. ft.

Account Book, Rev. Aaron L. Stillwell (1854-1864)

Genealogy Notebooks:
(1934) Elting Stillwell
(undated) Johnson Family
(1884) Blandina Maria Cuddeback Stillwell

(1868-1875 and undated) Eliza C. Stillwell
(1905-1932) Rev. John L. Stillwell

Box 3
Series 3: Photographs (ca. 1850-ca. 1940) .5 cu. ft.

Albumen and tintype photographic prints (mid-late 19th century)
Albumen photographic prints (late 19th century)
Paper prints (late 19th - early 20th century)

This box also includes numerous loose and framed daguerreotypes and paper prints.