Vail Family Papers (1796-1878)

Quantity: 16 boxes (ca. 6 cubic ft.)
Access: Open to research
Acquisition: Gift: Lydia S.P. Vail Doughty, Williamstown, Mass., and Phebe Hart Vail Tate, Springfield, Mass., December 1944
Processed By: Fred Bassett, Senior Librarian, Manuscripts and Special Collections, January 2012 (revision of inventory originally done by Edna Jacobson, ca. 1945)

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Genealogy and Family History Note

The members of the Vail family documented in these papers can trace their ancestry back to seventeenth-century settlers of the Nine Partners Patent in Dutchess County, New York. Several descendants moved to Troy, Rensselaer County, New York, in 1794, to engage in mercantile pursuits. Among them was Moses Vail (1753-1815), who was the father of Henry Vail (1782-1853), who served in the U.S. House of Representatives, and of George Vail (1798-1872). Arthur James Weise, in The City of Troy and Its Vicinity, (Troy, N.Y.: Edward Green, 1886; page 94) writes that Henry and George were the “originators of the wholesale dry goods business in Troy.” George Vail married Jane Thomas, the daughter of David Thomas, an officer in the New York State militia, and a member of Congress.

David Thomas (D. Thomas) Vail (1814-1882), the son of George Vail and Jane Thomas Vail, was a prominent landowner and businessman in Troy. He and his wife, Phebe Hart, had three children who lived to adulthood. For many years he managed the property and investments of his cousin, Aaron Vail, Sr., a career official with the United States Department of State. Aaron’s son, Aaron (1841-1907), married D. Thomas Vail’s daughter, Jane (Jeanie) Vail (1848-1934). Aaron and Jane lived for a number of years, until 1886, at Riverview, an estate on Mount Ida in Troy.

Aaron Vail (1755-1813), the brother of Moses Vail, was a merchant and ship owner in New York, and the United States consul to France from 1803 until his death. He apparently lost most of his ships and his fortune during the Napoleonic wars. He and his wife, Elizabeth DuBois des Corbières (1762-1847), had at least nine children whose lives are considered in these papers: Eliza (1792-1876), Anne “Nancy” (1794-1872), Eugene (1795-1843), Aaron (1796-1878), Benjamin (1798-1859), Clementine (?-1833), Jefferson (?-1835), Robert (?), and Edward (1805-?).

Elizabeth Vail returned to France about 1835 and took up residence in Saint Servan, a small village in Brittany, where she lived until her death in 1847. Daughters Eliza and Nancy accompanied her and they, too, remained in France for rest of their lives. Eliza eventually married Isaie Longueville, while Nancy never married.

Benjamin Vail (1798-1859) came to the United States in 1814 and settled in Troy, New York, finding work in the mercantile business operated by Moses Vail. Eventually he ventured into business on his own but the business apparently had failed by 1833. That same year he took up the position in the State Department that had been vacated by his brother, Eugene. He married Eliza Archer about 1826.  

Jefferson Vail, a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, became an officer in the regular U.S. Army. Early in his career he was stationed at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and was involved in topographical survey expeditions.  Later he was stationed primarily at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, where it was said that he drew sketches of native people of the region.  He attained the rank of captain in 1833, and, according to family correspondence, died of a fever in October 1835 at Baton Rouge.

Edward Vail pursued a career in the United States Navy.  Information in the collection indicates he was appointed a midshipman and served on the U.S.S. Shark in expeditions against pirates in the West Indies.  Later he served on vessels in the Mediterranean Sea.  He was married to Jane Fettyplace of Marseilles, France, in July 1837, and appears to have passed away by the 1870s.

Robert Vail apparently died quite young as there is little mention of him in the papers.

Eugene Vail (ca. 1795-1843), the eldest son of Aaron and Elizabeth, was born in Lorient, France. In October 1813 he became the private secretary of William H. Crawford, a close family friend who was serving as the United States minister to France.  In 1815 he received a clerkship position in the American embassy in Paris and remained there until June 1816, when he rejoined his family which had moved to Washington, D.C., in 1815. There he became a clerk in the Office of the Secretary of the Treasury and was later transferred to the State Department. He remained with the State Department, working in various capacities, until 1833. He and Aaron studied law and were admitted to the bar in Washington, D.C., in April 1823, though neither one ever practiced law. During this time Eugene and Aaron were the sole support of their family, except for Benjamin, who was in business with relatives in Troy, New York.

About 1824 Eugene Vail married Julia (Jane) Salles, the daughter of Laurent and Jeanne la Forgue Salles. Laurent Salles, a wealthy French importer, had come to New York City in 1807 and had amassed a fortune by the time he died there in 1832. Eugene and Julia had several children, three of whom reached adulthood: Laurence Eugene (1828-?), Jules Jefferson (1836-?), and Juliette (1838-?). Eugene Vail was able to leave his post at the State Department in 1833, having become wealthy because of his wife’s inheritance. He moved to New York where he considered entering the brokerage business with his cousin, Henry Vail, but this plan was abandoned in June 1834 when he moved his family to Paris, France. In Paris, Eugene was active in several learned societies and was engaged in artistic and literary endeavors. From 1837 to 1841 he wrote books about Native Americans and American culture and society geared primarily to a French audience. He died in Paris on January 18, 1843.

Aaron Vail, the second son of Aaron and Elizabeth, was born in Lorient, France, October 26, 1796.  He spent much of the early years of his life in France before coming to the United States about 1815 with his mother and siblings. They settled first in Baltimore but soon afterwards moved to Washington, D.C., at the urging of William H. Crawford.  Then serving as Secretary of the Treasury, Crawford helped him obtain a clerkship in the Treasury Department. As noted above, he and Eugene studied law and both were admitted to the bar in 1823. In 1827 he transferred to the State Department as a translator and supervisor of diplomatic correspondence.

In April 1831 Aaron Vail was selected by Martin Van Buren, the newly appointed U.S. minister (ambassador) to Great Britain, to accompany him as the secretary of the legation. Failing to receive Senate confirmation, Van Buren departed in July 1832, leaving Aaron in London as chargé d’affaires. The ambassador position remained vacant until July 1836, and so Aaron acted as the chief American officer in London during the interim. After closing out his affairs in London, Aaron appears to have spent some time with family in France before returning to the United States by mid-1837.  

In August 1835 Aaron Vail married Emilie Salles (1815-1860), a younger sister of Julia Salles.  They had five children: Emilie (1836-1838), Clementine (1838- ), Aaron (1841-1907), Emilie L. (1845- ), and Albert A. (1849-1872). 

In April 1838 he was given a special diplomatic assignment in Canada to help resolve a boundary dispute between the United States and Canada as well as other issues that had arisen from the Canadian rebellion the previous year. In June 1838 he was appointed chief clerk of the Department of State, which was the second-ranking position behind the Secretary of State. In May 1840 he was appointed chargé d’affaires to Spain, and was dispatched to Madrid to represent the United States there until August 1842, when he was relieved by Washington Irving.  

Aaron Vail and family returned to America and established official residence in New York City.  Having married a wife with a comfortable income, he was not obliged to take up a profession. Records found in this collection indicate that he had substantial investments in real estate and bank stock. He declined the newly created position of assistant secretary of state in 1853, offered by President Franklin Pierce, and the position of minister (ambassador) to France, offered by President James Buchanan.

In June 1855 he and his family departed for Europe, going first to Saint Servan, France, then to Geneva, Switzerland, where they remained for five years. After his wife died in December 1860, he left Geneva, and divided his time between, Paris, Rome, and Saint Servan until 1869, when he settled in Pau, France. There he remained the rest of his life, summering always at Saint Servan.  He died at Pau on November 4, 1878

Aaron Vail, Jr., was born in Madrid, Spain, September 12, 1841, and spent much of his childhood in New York City.  In 1855 he went to Europe with his family, and finished his schooling in Geneva, Switzerland.  By 1861 he was living and working for financial firms in England.  He returned to the United States in May 1865 and settled in Troy, New York, to assist D. Thomas Vail in the management of the family’s finances and real estate holdings. Troy was his primary place of residence until August 1888, by which time he had settled his father’s estate, and had departed for London, England.  He married Jane (Jeanie) Eliza Vail on August 27, 1869.  There is no record indicating they had any children. He died July 14, 1907, in Biarritz, France.  His wife died July 21, 1935, in Switzerland, where she had spent most of the later years of her life.

Scope and Content Note

The Vail family papers relate chiefly to the activities and experiences – personal, family, social, business, and professional – of Aaron Vail (1796-1878).  These papers include correspondence and diaries along with a wide array of financial, legal, and estate records. 

The correspondence of Aaron Vail, Sr., is generally personal in nature and addressed mostly to his family.  From the 1830s to the mid-1850s, much of his correspondence was with his mother and siblings. Thereafter, his correspondence was chiefly with his wife and children.  His career with the State Department is mentioned frequently in his letters, particularly his time of service at the legation in London during the 1830s, and later at Madrid from 1840 to 1842. His letters detail meetings with prominent American and European statesmen of the time, including William H. Crawford, Martin Van Buren, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Lord Palmerton, the Duke of Wellington, and Prince Tallyrand. He also wrote of having met King William of Great Britain and his daughter, Princess (later Queen) Victoria, and Emperor Napoleon III of France.  His letters indicate he enjoyed the friendship of many of the rich and famous of the time in both America and Europe.

Private family matters such as births, deaths, and marriages, personal finances, employment, schooling, and travels, are frequently considered in the correspondence.  Many of the letters are written in French; several family members married into French families and spent much of their lives in France.   

Correspondence of Aaron Vail and other family members with individuals outside of the family are quite sparse in this collection.  Evidently many letters, particularly those of prominent statesmen of the time became part of an autograph collection that Aaron Vail donated to the New-York Historical Society. However, in Box 1, Folder 2, there is a letter from Washington Irving to Aaron Vail of March 17, 1842, regarding the safety of travel on the roads from Paris to Madrid. Irving was concerned about the prospect of encountering robbers and whether or not it was necessary to have an escort to accompany his party on the journey. Also in that folder are two letters from James Buchanan and one from William Trescot, regarding diplomatic posts being offered to Aaron Vail.

A detailed account of Aaron Vail’s time in Spain is found in the diary he kept from July 15, 1840 to July 23, 1842.  He comments on international relations between the United States, Great Britain, France, Spain, Austria, and Russia. Details of family activities and experiences are found in the diaries kept by Aaron’s wife, Emilie Salles Vail, from 1842 to 1852 (Box 8). Her story begins with an account of their time in Madrid and continues with their time in New York City.  She vividly portrays the personalities and events connected with the social sphere in which they moved.  In addition, three volumes of visiting cards collected by Aaron Vail attest to his wide circle of friends and acquaintances (Boxes 13 and 14).

The handling of the business interests of Aaron Vail by D. Thomas Vail in Troy called for the frequent exchange of letters in which the subjects were often political and economic affairs in America that affected international trade and commerce.  The Civil War was a major consideration in their correspondence.  Writing mostly from Saint-Servan, France, Aaron commented on news he received about battles and campaigns, engagements between iron-clad vessels, the Emancipation Proclamation, policies relative to the Lincoln administration, and political issues of the time. Likewise, issues relative to the Civil War were discussed in letters Aaron Vail sent to his son, Aaron Vail, Jr., then a young man in his twenties, who was employed by financial firms in London and Liverpool at the time. The views and sentiments of the British and French officials and public were also mentioned in these letters, which are bound together in a letter book.

The business and commercial interests of the Vail family are documented in a number of account books, land titles, and legal papers. They reveal that the family had vast real estate holdings not only in New York State, but also in Michigan, Illinois, Virginia, as well as France. Aaron Vail held a considerable amount of stock in banking and financial firms, while his cousin, D. Thomas Vail, held stock in railroad companies and the Hoosac Tunnel.

The collection also includes correspondence, account books, wills, inventories, and other papers relative to the settlements of the estates of various family members. Aaron Vail, Sr., was the executor of the estate of his brother, Eugene, who died in 1843. Aaron Vail, Jr., was primarily responsible for settling his father’s estate. D. Thomas Vail handled the estate of his father, George Vail.

Box and Folder List

Note: Throughout the inventory list Aaron Vail (1796-1878) is identified as Aaron Vail, Sr., while his son Aaron Vail (1841-1907) is identified as Aaron Vail, Jr.

Part I. Letters and Documents

Box Folder Contents
1 1 Official correspondence from Department of State relative to the appointment of Aaron Vail, Sr., to a post in the United States legation in London; L.S./D.S. Edward Livingston, Secretary of State, 1831-1833 (8 items)
1 2 Letters to Aaron Vail, Sr., from statesmen, authors, etc., 1842-1860
  1. A.L.S.: Washington Irving, Washington, D.C., March 17, 1842
  2. A.L.S.: James Buchanan, Washington, D.C., March 22, 1845
  3. A.L.S.: James Buchanan, Washington, D.C., February 10, 1860
  4. A.L.S.: William Trescot, State Department, Washington, D.C., Acting Secretary, Department of State, June 29, 1860
1 3 Letters to Aaron Vail, Sr., from statesmen, authors, etc., 1833-1861
  1. A.L.S.: C.F. [Charles Frederick] Partington, 2 Huntley Street, Lexington Square, [London], [November 1833]
  2. A.L.S.: Theodore. S. Fay, London, May 27, 1837
  3. A.L.S.: James Tallmadge, September 8, 1836
  4. A.L.S.: Joshua Bates, London, November 28, 1839
  5. A.L.S.: Joshua Bates, London, January 15, 1861 [sic]
  6. A.L.S.: Joshua Bates, London, October 10, 1861
  7. A.L.S.: Charles Constantine Pise, D.D., Brooklyn, March 2, 1859
  8. A.L.S.: George W Greene, [Paris, France?], n.d.
  9. A.L.S.: J. Pirie, Liverpool, August 10, 1861
  10. A.L.S.: National Institution for the Promotion of Science (Francis Markoe, Jr.), August 22, 1840
  11. A.L.S.: [Guelliam Airy], Paris, 29 March [18-?]
1 4 Letter of Aaron Vail, Sr., to his cousin, [Henry Vail, Representative in Congress, 1837-1839], Washington, October 11, 1838; discusses the election campaign (1 item)
1 5 Letter of Aaron Vail, Sr., to Count [Eugene] de Sartiges, French minister at Washington, Geneva, Switzerland, April 15, 1858; describes his visit to Napoleon III (Draft - in French) (1 item)
1 6 Letter of Aaron Vail, Washington, D.C., to Nancy (Ann) Vail, Troy, N.Y., April 16, 1823 (1 item)
1 7 Letters of Aaron Vail, Sr., to his mother, Elizabeth Vail; his sisters, Clementine, Nancy, and Eliza; and his brother, Eugene, from London, 1831-1832 (8 items – in French)
1 8 Letters of Aaron Vail, Sr., to his mother Elizabeth Vail, his sisters, Nancy and Eliza, from London, 1833 (8 items – in French)
1 9 Letters of Aaron Vail, Sr., to his mother, Elizabeth Vail, and his sisters, Nancy and Eliza, from London, 1834 (12 items – in French)
1 10 Letters of Aaron Vail, Sr., to his mother, Elizabeth Vail, and his sisters, Nancy and Eliza, from London, 1835 (9 items – in French)
1 11 Letters of Aaron Vail, Sr., to his mother, Elizabeth Vail, and his sisters, Nancy and Eliza, mostly from Paris, France, Washington, D.C., and Madrid, Spain, 1836-1839 (21 items – in French)
1 12 Letters of Aaron Vail, Sr., to his sisters, Nancy and Eliza, mostly from New York; Geneva, Switzerland; and Rome, Italy; 1847, 1852-1855, 1860-1868 (23 items – in French)
1 13 Letters of Emilie L. (Salles) Vail, to her mother-in-law, Elizabeth Dubois Vail, from Paris, France; Washington, D.C.; and New York, 1837-1844 (9 items – in French)
1 14 Letter of Laurent Salles, Jr., to his sister, Emilie L. (Salles) Vail, Paris, France, November 19, 1855
1 15 Letter of Emilie L. (Salles) Vail, Washington, D.C., to her husband, Aaron Vail, at Toronto, April 9, 1838; letter was franked by Henry Vail, Member of Congress (1 item – In French)
1 16 Letters to Aaron and Emilie Salles Vail, from their daughter, Clementine, and their son, Aaron, ca. 1855 (3 items)
1 17 Letters of Aaron Vail, Sr., to Emilie L. (Salles) Vail, 1856; mostly from Paris, and Saint-Servan, France (21 items)
1 18 Letters of Aaron Vail, Sr., to Emilie L. (Salles) Vail, 1857; written primarily from Paris; letters of January 9, 10, 12, and 14, 1857, detail his formal visits to the imperial palace and a meeting with Napoleon III and Eugenie; letters of September describe travels in Switzerland and Italy (35 items)
1 19 Letters of Aaron Vail, Sr., to Emilie L. (Salles) Vail, 1858; mostly from Paris, and Saint-Servan, France (40 items)
1 20 Letters of Aaron Vail, Sr., to Emilie L. (Salles) Vail, 1859; mostly from Paris, and Saint-Servan, France; also includes details of travels in Belgium and Netherlands (37 items)
1 21 Letters of Aaron Vail, Sr., to Emilie L. (Salles) Vail, 1860; mostly from Paris, France, and Schinznach-Bad, Switzerland; also includes details of travels in Germany (43 items)
1 22 Letters of Emilie L. (Salles) Vail, to Aaron Vail, Sr., 1859; mostly from home in Geneva, Switzerland; includes a few letters from Aaron, Jr. (48 items)
1 23 Letters of Emilie L. (Salles) Vail to Aaron Vail, Sr., 1860; mostly letters sent to Schinznach-Bad, Switzerland, from home in Geneva, from July to September; includes a few from his son, Aaron, Jr. (31 items)
1 24 Letters of Aaron Vail, Sr., to his son Albert. 1861-1866; from Liverpool, Saint-Servan, and Paris (8 items)
1 25 Early family correspondence, 1812-1813 (3 items)
  1. Aaron Vail (1758-1813) to daughter, Eliza Vail, Paris, August 1812
  2. Eliza Vail to father, Aaron Vail (1758-1813), June 6, [1812] (in French)
  3. Aaron Vail (1758-1813), to [?], L’orient, [Lorient, France], October 18, 1813; concerns Eugene Vail being sent to Paris to work as a private secretary to William H. Crawford
1 26 Letters of Elizabeth (Dubois) Vail, wife of Aaron Vail (1758-1813), to her daughter, Ann; her son, Aaron; and his wife, Emilie L. (Salles) Vail, Washington and St. Servan, 1813-1838. (5 items – in French)
1 27 Letter to Elizabeth [Dubois] Vail from her brother, [Bertrand Dubois des Corbieres?], July 28, 1835 (in French)
1 28 Letter of William H. Crawford to [Elizabeth (Dubois) Vail], widow of Aaron, Washington, D.C., April 1, 1816; A.L.S.; concerns schooling for his daughters and desire to have a French school for young ladies established in Washington; also mentions that Eugene soon will be leaving Paris for America.
1 28 Letter of William H. Crawford to Martin Van Buren, Woodlawn, February 12, 1829 (copy); recommends that Aaron and Eugene Vail be retained as officers in the State Department
2 1 Letters of Benjamin C. Vail to his mother, Elizabeth Vail, 1814-1839 (7 items – mostly in French)
  1. To mother, Philadelphia, October 27, 1814
  2. To mother, Troy, N.Y., December 9, 1830
  3. To mother, Washington, [D.C.], September 14, 1835
  4. To mother, Troy, N.Y., December 23, 1835
  5. To mother, Washington, [D.C.], April 26, 1836
  6. To mother, Washington, [D.C.], April 13, 1837
  7. To mother, Washington, [D.C.], March 29, 1839
2 2 Letters of Eugene A. Vail to family at Baltimore, Maryland; Washington, [D.C.]; and Saint-Servan, 1814-1838 (9 items – in French)
  1. To sisters, Paris, September 28, 1814
  2. To Nancy Vail, [June 3, 1816?] – message appended to a letter of Aaron Vail
  3. To mother(?), Washington, [D.C.], February 17, 1818 (incomplete)
  4. To sisters, New York, February 13, 1833
  5. To mother, New York, December 31, 1833
  6. To mother, Paris, December 11, 1833
  7. To mother, Paris, January 29, 1837
  8. To Nancy, Paris, August 19, 1838
  9. To Nancy, Paris, December 27, 1838
2 3 Letters of Edward Vail to his family, 1833-1836 (4 items – some in French).
  1. To brother [Aaron], U.S.S. United States (frigate), Constantinople, October 27, 1833
  2. To mother, Paris, June 6, 1834 (in French)
  3. To brother [Aaron], U.S.S. John Adams, Cadiz, December 16, 1835
  4. To Nancy, [U.S.S.] John Adams (corvette? frigate?), Lisbon, January 1836 (in French)
2 4 Letter of Jefferson Vail to Aaron Vail, Sr., his brother. Washington, [D.C.], January 20, 1835; mentions his reception by President Jackson. (in French)
2 5 Letters to Eliza and Nancy Vail, sisters of Aaron Vail, Sr., from friends and relatives, 1836-1867 (4 items – in French)
  1. Achille Sherburne, Baton Rouge, [La.], July 26, 1836
  2. Jane Fettyplace, Marseille, [France], March 28, 1837
  3. Julia Vail, [Paris], December 1847
  4. Clementine Vail and Aaron Vail, Jr., Pau, [France], March 4, 1867
2 6 Letters of Aaron Vail, Jr., to D. Thomas Vail, his cousin and father-in-law, from Liverpool, 1861-1864 (3 items)
2 7 Letters of Aaron Vail, Jr., to Aaron Vail, Sr., from Troy, N.Y.; Paris; and Liverpool, 1869-1878; some include notes from Jeanie (Jane) Vail (15 items)
2 8 Letters to Aaron Vail, Jr., from his mother Emilie L. (Salles) Vail. 1855-1860 (11 items)
2 9 Letters to Aaron Vail, Jr., from his brother Albert A., 1867-1872; letters from sister, Clementine, 1872; and telegrams relative to the illness and death of Albert Vail, November 1872 (21 items)
2 10 Letters to Jeanie (Jane) Vail and Aaron Vail, Jr., from, D. Thomas Vail, 1869-1870 (2 items)
2 11 Letters to Aaron Vail, Jr., from D. Thomas Vail. Troy, 1876-1877; incidental opinions on political events (11 items)
2 12 Letters to Aaron Vail, Jr., from his aunt Eliza Salles, Paris, St. Servan, and Pau, France, 1867-1883 (21 items – mostly in French)
2 13 Letters of Jules J. Vail to Aaron Vail, Jr., Jeanie and Phebe, New York, March 25, 1888 (2 items)
2 14 Bonds & mortgages of which the interest is payable by Rev’d Peter Havermann, 1841-1842; Troy, N.Y., real estate of Aaron Vail, Sr., (5 items)
2 15 Papers relative to the disposition of the property of Aaron Vail, Sr., to the care of D. Thomas Vail in 1855; includes correspondence, power of attorney, property inventories; bundles A-F, and H (19 items)
2 16 Inventory of furniture purchased by James H. Bancker from the home of Aaron Vail, Sr., situated on 5th Avenue in New York City; papers re: mortgage of Horace Herrington, 1845-1852; notices of probate of will, 1878 (10 items)
2 17 Statements and estimates by Aaron Vail, Sr., of his property, 1862-1878 (15 items)
2 18 Legal papers, memorandum, financial statements, etc. relative to the estate of Aaron Vail, Sr., 1879-1881 (15 items)
2 19 Papers relative to the sale of “River View” and other real estate [46 1st Street?] in Troy, New York; includes copies of contracts, memoranda, correspondence, ca. 1878-1884 (11 items)
  (20-26) Legal papers and memorandum related to real estate holdings in Troy, New York, held by the estate of Aaron Vail, Sr., sold by Aaron Vail, Jr., executor, 1880-1884. From large bundle: “Papers & memoranda relating to real estate sold by Aaron Vail extr” – subdivided in smaller bundles as described below
2 20 “Morris lots”: deeds and mortgages of Noah Dorrie and Joseph Bolton, ca. 1869-1879; lots sold to Charles McCarthy, November 1881 (10 items)
2 21 “Gunnison lots”: deeds, mortgages, etc., ca. 1869-1879; lots sold to Charles McCarthy, November 1881 (12 items)
2 22 “Nealy lots”: lease, articles of agreement, survey maps, etc., for lots leased to Alfred Nealy, 1882; sold to George Boutwell, February 1884 (14 items)
2 23 “Rextrew lots”; papers relative to the foreclosure and sale of lots held by Harry T. Rextrew, ca. 1868-1879; sold by Aaron Vail, Jr., April 1880 (11 items)
2 24 “Ida Hill property”: papers relative to the title history with land surveys and plat maps of lands held by D. Thomas Vail, ca. 1838-1882 (20 items)
2 25 “Sundry papers – superseded”: miscellaneous mortgages and agreements, ca. 1868-1878 (6 items)
2 26 Property tax records, ca. 1878-1880 (8 items)
2 27 “Voluntary settlement” of Clementine Vail, May 17, 1879, who was entering a religious order; copy of the articles of agreement appointing William Bradshaw and Cartmell Harrison as administrator of her property.
2 28 Summary of the estate of Eugene A. Vail in which Aaron Vail, Sr., was appointed executor, ca. 1860 (1 item)
2 29 Deed of Robert D. Nelson to Lawrence Eugene Vail, December 1863; bonds and mortgage of Robert D. Nelson to Jane Eliza Hall, Lawrence Eugene Vail, and Decius Beebe, special guardian of Eliza R. Hall, October 1863 (8 items)
2 30 Death certificates (Actes de Décès) of Aaron Vail, Sr., his son Albert A. Vail, and his sisters, Anne (Nancy) Vail and Elizabeth (Vail) Longueville; official copies, signed and sealed, November 1878 (9 items – in French)
  (1-9) Letters to Aaron Vail, Jr., relative to the estate of Aaron Vail, Sr., November 5, 1878-April 24, 1887 (mostly letters from Clementine Vail, later Sister Marie Elizabeth, and Emilie (Vail) Bradshaw and their agents)
3 1 Letters, nos. 1-25, November 25, 1878-February 10, 1879
3 2 Letters, nos. 26-50, February 26, 1879-April 24, 1879
3 3 Letters, nos. 51-75, April 25, 1879- June 23, 1879
3 4 Letters, nos. 76-100, July 7, 1879-October 15, 1879
3 5 Letters, nos. 101-150. October 22, 1879-June 6, 1880
3 6 Letters, nos. 151-200, June 16, 1880-December 12, 1881
3 7 Letters, nos. 201-250, December 10, 1881-May 12, 1883
1 8 Letters, nos. 251-300, May 12, 1883-June 28, 1884
3 9 Letters, nos. 301-[339],  July 11, 1884-April 25, 1887
3 10 Cancelled checks of Aaron Vail, executor, in account with G. Parish Ogden & Co. relative to the estate of Aaron Vail, Sr., March 8-November 29, 1879 (1 v.)
  (11-16) Letters of Aaron Vail, Sr., to D. Thomas Vail, administrator of his business affairs in America, 1855-1878
3 11 Letters of Aaron Vail, Sr., to D. Thomas Vail, from Saint-Servan, Paris, and Geneva, 1855-1857 (29 items)
3 12 Letters of Aaron Vail, Sr., to D. Thomas Vail, mostly from Geneva, and Paris, 1858-1859 (34 items)
3 13 Letters of Aaron Vail, Sr., to D. Thomas Vail, from Geneva, and Saint-Servan, 1860-1862 (37 items)
3 14 Letters of Aaron Vail, Sr., to D. Thomas Vail, from Paris, Saint-Servan, Rome, and Pau, 1863-1865 (39 items)
3 15 Letters of Aaron Vail, Sr., to D. Thomas Vail, from Pau and Saint-Servan, 1866-1869 (43 items)
3 16 Letters of Aaron Vail, Sr., to D. Thomas Vail, from Pau and Saint-Servan, 1870-1878 (40 items)
4 1 Letters of D. Thomas Vail to Aaron Vail, Sr., 1857-1869; mostly reports about investments; letters of response from Aaron Vail included in some instances (ca. 31 items)
4 2 Letters of D. Thomas Vail to Aaron Vail, Sr., 1870-1878; mostly reports of investments; copies of replies of Aaron Vail included in some instances (ca. 50 items)
4 3 Legal and financial papers of David Thomas Vail, 1839-1879; from bundle: “Sundry Papers D.T.V.”; includes scrip and invoices from London, 1839; powers of attorney and other legal papers related to the interests of Aaron Vail, Sr., ca. 1850-1878; other legal papers of Jules J. Vail, Sarah M. Gould, Harriette H. Doughty, ca. 1865-1879 (42 items)
4 4 “Papers relating to Ferry Trust” –  D. Thomas Vail, trustee; George T. Strong, attorney. 1835-1854, 1873, 1879 (55 items)
4 5 Letters to D. Thomas Vail from L. Eugene Vail, 1872-1878; concerns distributions made from the settlement of the trust fund from the estate of Eugene A. Vail (39 items)
4 6 Letters to D. Thomas Vail from Jules J. Vail, 1872-1878; concerns distributions made from the settlement of the trust fund from the estate of Eugene A. Vail (29 items)
4 7 Correspondence of General John E. Wool and D.T. Vail, 1847-1856 (5 items; card says initially there were 6 pieces)
  1. A.L.S. John E. Wool, Buena Vista, July 3, 1847 (cover only; letter missing)
  2. A.L.S. John E. Wool, Troy, [N.Y.], December 27, 1853
  3. A.L.S. John E. Wool, Benicia, February 8, 1855
  4. A.L.S. D. Thomas Vail, Troy, [N.Y.], February 19, 1856
  5. A.L.S. D. Thomas Vail, Troy, [N.Y.], April 4, 1856
4 8 Letters to D. Thomas Vail, 1830-1848; mostly letters he received while a student at Yale, 1831-1832 (10 items)
4 9 Letters to D. Thomas Vail, 1870-1872; mostly letters of condolence on death of his wife Phebe (Hart) Vail (20 items)
4 10 Ancillary papers of D. Thomas Vail (3 items)
  1. School report book: “Weekly record of the summer term, 1828”
  2. Certificate of membership in the Washington Hunter Fire Company, Troy, N.Y., May 6, 1834
  3. Certificate of discharge from service as a fireman with the fire department, Troy, N.Y., May 22, 1844
4 11 Business and legal papers of D. Thomas Vail, ca. 1851-1880 (25 items)
  1. Havermans Avenue lots, Troy, N.Y., ca. 1879-1880
  2. Virginia farm, ca. 1860-1877
  3. Troy & Boston Railroad Co. mortgage, June 2, 1851
  4. Release from J.M. Williams, August 21, 1877
4 12 Land titles and legal paper related to land in Troy, N.Y.;  Illinois; and Michigan. 1840-1855 (12 items)
4 13 Letters related to land holdings in Michigan owned by Phebe B. (Hart) Vail, wife of D.T. Vail, and Mary A. Durkee, daughters of Richard P. Hart, 1872-1875 (10 items)
4 14 “Vail & Co. Papers”: letters, accounts, and land contracts related to interests of D. Thomas Vail in the development of the property of the former Bennington Iron Company into Furness Grove residential area by Hamilton L. Shields, Bennington, Vermont, 1856-1859 (7 items), including:
  1. Copy of the land title of Bennington Iron Co., 1827
  2. Articles of agreement between D. Thomas Vail and Hamilton L. Shields, January 9, 1858 
  3. Letter of H.L. Shields to D. Thomas Vail, Furness Grove, September 8, 1858
  4. Debit-credit account and miscellaneous items, 1856-1859
5 1 Papers related to the estate of George Vail, ca. 1864-1883 (12 items), including:
  1. Copy of the last will and testament of George Vail, January 9, 1864
  2. Inventory of property, 1865
  3. Memorandum on lots sold by George Vail other papers related to land holdings
  4. Eulogies and special resolutions commemorating the life of George Vail by the Second Street Presbyterian Church, the Troy Orphan Asylum, and the New York State Agricultural Society
  5. Letters to D. Thomas Vail, 1872, and letter of Richard P.H. Vail, 1883 
5 2 Accounts, receipts, etc. of D. Thomas Vail, related to the estate of George Vail, 1864-1879 (47 items)
5 3 Land titles and legal papers relative to the estate of George Vail, D. Thomas Vail, executor, 1863-1869 (13 items)
5 4 Papers relative to the estate of Henry Vail, George Vail, executor, 1852-1864 (14 items), including:
  1. Copy of the last will and testament of Henry Vail, June 18, 1855
  2. Inventory of the property of Henry Vail, 1852
  3. Securities delivered to George Vail, by D. Thomas Vail, 1854
5 5 Deeds and papers (including maps) relating to the Illinois farm bequeathed by Henry Vail to his nephews, Francis and Charles Yvonnet, sons of his sister Martha (Vail) Yvonnet, ca. 1836-1879 (8 items)
5 6 George, Henry and D. Thomas Vail. Wine cellar “cards,” 1842, 1849, 1867, n.d.; two of the cards are wine-stained.

Account of George Vail with frs [?] Yvonnet [?], 1813-1814; account of George Vail with Giles and Ira Porter, 1814 (6 items)

5 7 Pew rent deeds, and diagram of the location of pews, Second Street Presbyterian Church, Troy, N.Y., 1834, 1846 (15 items)
5 8 Passport and papers of Aaron Vail, Jr., 1864-1865, 1870 (from old Box 2, Package 4)
5 9 Passport and papers of D. Thomas Vail, 1837-1839 (from old Box 5, Package 1)
5 10 Commissions and papers related to military service of Gen. David Thomas 1803-1831 (9 items)
5 11 Portraits of George Vail, ca. 1850, and profile of David Goold (b. March 16, 1757) (3 items)
  (1-18) Vouchers (invoices) related to the settlement of the estate of Aaron Vale Sr., handled by Aaron Vail, Jr., executor, 1878-1884; documents were found in bundles with alphabetical designation, although arranged chronologically. (originally Packages 1 and 2 from old Box 4)
6 1 Estate of Aaron Vail, Sr., – Vouchers – Bills paid for funeral expenses, November-December 1878
6 2 Estate of Aaron Vail, Sr. – Vouchers – Receipts for heirs in Europe, 1879
6 3 Estate of Aaron Vail, Sr. – Vouchers – “A” (September-October 1879)
6 4 Estate of Aaron Vail, Sr. – Vouchers – “B” (November-December 1879)
6 5 Estate of Aaron Vail, Sr. – Vouchers – “C” (January-April 1880)
6 6 Estate of Aaron Vail, Sr. – Vouchers – “D” (April-June 1880)
6 7 Estate of Aaron Vail, Sr. – Vouchers – “E” (June-August 1880)
6 8 Estate of Aaron Vail, Sr. – Vouchers – “F” (August-September 1880)
6 9 Estate of Aaron Vail, Sr. – Vouchers – “G” (October 1880-Jamuary 1881)
6 10 Estate of Aaron Vail, Sr. – Vouchers – “H” (January-June 1881)
6 11 Estate of Aaron Vail, Sr. – Vouchers – “I” (June-August 1881)
6 12 Estate of Aaron Vail, Sr. – Vouchers – “J” (September-December 1881)
6 13 Estate of Aaron Vail, Sr. – Vouchers – “K” (January-May 1882)
6 14 Estate of Aaron Vail, Sr. – Vouchers – “L” (May-October 1882)
6 15 Estate of Aaron Vail, Sr. – Vouchers – “M” (November 1882-May 1883)
6 16 Estate of Aaron Vail, Sr. – Vouchers – “N” (1883-1884)
6 17 Estate of Aaron Vail, Sr. – Vouchers – Share to Clementine Vail (1878-1884)
6 18 Estate of Aaron Vail, Sr. – Vouchers – Share to Emilie L. [Vail] Bradshaw (1879-1882)
EL 1 Inventory of estate of Aaron Vail, Sr., October 30, 1879
EL 2 Last will and testament of Laurent Salles, July 28, 1831. Copy. (Father of Emilie L. and Julia, the wives of Aaron Vail and Eugene A. Vail, respectively). Newspaper clippings
EL 3 Survey plat map: Residence of Henry Vail, Mount Ida, Troy, [N.Y.], May 27, 1846; S.A. Benz, surveyor (from Box 2, Folder 24)
EL 4 Picture of mausoleum of Aaron Vail, Sr., at St. Servan, France, ca. 1880
EL 5 School certificates of Aaron Vail, Jr., 1859-1861 (7 items)
  1. Gymnase de Genève, 1859-1860
  2. Académie de Genève, 1860-1861
EL 6 Honorable discharge of Aaron Vail, Jr., from the New York National Guard, Troy, N.Y., April 26, 1884
EL 7 Vail family genealogical chart, n.d. (transferred from single accession 11235)

Part II. Bound Volumes

Box Volume Description
    Items originally from packages found in old Boxes 1 and 2
7 1 Diary of Aaron Vail, Sr., kept while serving as charge d’affaires at Madrid, July 15, 1840-July 23, 1842 (ca. 200 p.; 22 cm.)
7 2 Letter book, 1855-1869: letters of Aaron Vail, Sr., to his son, Aaron; written from Washington, St. Servan, Paris, Rome, Geneva, Florence, Pau, etc.; discusses Civil War, politics, etc. (ca. 200 items; 23 cm.)                                                                                                   
7 3 Letter book, 1870-1878: letters of Aaron Vail, Sr., to his son Aaron; written at Pau and St. Servan (ca. 40 items; 23 cm.)
7 4 Wax seals including coats of arms (4 items in case)
    Bound volumes in Boxes 8-16 were formerly Packages 1-14
  (1-7) Diaries of Emilie L. (Salles) Vail, June 27, 1840-October 17, 1852 (7 v.) (old Package 8)
8 1 Diary, June 27, 1840-July 22, 1841 (ca. 200 p.; 20 cm.)
8 2 Diary, July 23, 1841-January 5, 1843 (ca. 240 p.; 21 cm.)
8 3 Diary, January 6-September 23, 1843 (ca. 150 p.; 20 cm.)
8 4 Diary, September 24, 1843-February 28, 1845 (ca. 200 p.; 21 cm.)
8 5 Diary, March 1, 1845-December 31, 1846 (ca. 200 p.; 21 cm.)
8 6 Diary, January 1, 1847-June 19, 1849 (ca. 200 p.; 21 cm.)
8 7 Diary, September 5, 1849-October 17, 1852 (ca. 200 p.; 20 cm.)
9 1 Scrap book, ca. 1820-1840: consists chiefly of poetry and verse, either inscribed or newspaper clippings; also includes newspaper clippings related to diplomacy and foreign affairs; and some marriage announcements and obituaries (obituaries of Aaron Vail at end); compiled primarily by Aaron Vail, Sr., (300+p.; 25 cm.) (old Package 5)
10 1 Ledger of accounts of the estate of Eugene A. Vail and Julia Salles Vail, kept by Aaron Vail, Sr., executor, 1843-1855; includes explanatory statements about the estate and various accounts in the family trust fund; general account of administrative expenses; accounts related to the trust fund; Aaron Vail acted as attorney and agent for Mrs. Julia Vail, and, later, attorney for Lawrence Eugene Vail and guardian of Jules J. Vail and Juliette Vail (ca. 175 p.; 35 cm.) (old Package 1)
    Ledgers of debit-credit accounts of Aaron Vail, Sr., 1835-1878. (old Packages 2 and 3)
11 1 Ledger no. 1, 1835-1865 (130 p.; 21 cm.)
11 2 Ledger no. 2, 1843-1871 (140 p.; 22 cm.)
11 3 Ledger no. 3, 1871-1878 (82 p.; 25 cm.)
11 4 Ledger of Troy bond and mortgage accounts of Aaron Vail, Sr., ca. 1822-1859 (175 p.; 24 cm.)
    Day books of Aaron Vail, Sr., 1852-1878 (old Package 4)
12 1 Day book, April 1852-December 1856 (ca. 150 p.; 33 cm.)
12 2 Day book, January 1857-May 1860 (ca. 150 p.; 33 cm.)
12 3 Day book, June 1860-March 1867 (ca. 150 p.; 33 cm.)
12 4 Day book, April 1867-October 1871 (ca. 50 p.; 29 cm.)
12 5 Day book, October 1871-November 1878 (ca. 100 p.; 31 cm.)
13 1 Album of visiting (calling) cards collected by Aaron Vail, Sr., ca. 1830-1840 (ca. 200 leaves; 27 cm.) (old Package 6)
14 1 Album of visiting (calling) cards collected by Aaron Vail, Sr., ca. 1830-1840 (ca. 200 leaves; 27 cm.)
14 2 Album of visiting (calling) cards collected by Aaron Vail, Sr., ca. 1830-1840 (ca. 200 leaves; 27 cm.)
15 1 Biographical sketch of the early life of Aaron Vail, Sr., by his son Aaron Vail, b. September 12, 1841; written in 1887 (old Package 7)
15 2 Chronological record 1813-1884; includes excerpts from family correspondence and, in later years, a record of family events; compiled by Aaron Vail, Jr., (126 p.; 33 cm.) (old Package 9)
15 3 Record book: family notes; lists of jewelry, silverware, insurance, securities; compiled by Aaron Vail, Jr., (190 p.; 20 cm.) (old Package 9)
15 4 Autograph book of Aaron Vail, Jr., 1864-1867 (ca. 50 leaves; 15 x 22 cm.) (old Package 10)
    Lectures on China delivered at Flushing, [Queens County, New York?], February 25, March 4 and 11, 1847, by George Henry Vail, “who spent the year 1845 in China”. (ca. 100 p.; 26 cm.) (old Package 12)
15 5 Scrapbook, 1843-1886; consists chiefly of clippings from Troy newspapers – primarily obituaries of George Vail, D. Thomas Vail, and family (ca. 100 p.; 33 cm.) (old Package 13)
16   Letter copy books of Aaron Vail, Jr., Troy, N.Y., 1878-1884 (old package 11)
16 1 Letter book I, November 19, 1878-March 26, 1884 (694 p.; 31 cm.)
16 2 Letter book II, April 20, 1884-April 26, 1888 (520 p.; 31 cm.)
    Printed Books (items transferred to NYSL book collection) (originally old package 14)
    Spirit of Seventy-Six, or, The Coming Woman, a Prophetic Drama, Followed by A Change of Base, and Doctor Mondschein. 6th ed. (Boston: Little, Brown, 1868. With annotations. (Library has 2d ed.)
    Memorials of Mrs. George Vail. (Troy, N.Y., 1867). (dup.) (Jane Thomas, daughter of General David Thomas, wife of George Vail, mother of D. Thomas Vail, Mrs. George Gould and Mrs. Shepard)
    Richard P. Hart, Born in Hart’s Village, Dutchess Co., N.Y., February 11, 1780. Died at Troy, N.Y., December 27, 1843. (dup.)
    Memorial of Judge George Gould. (Troy, N.Y.: Wm. H. Young & Blake, 1871)

Last Updated: May 24, 2021