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Devendorf Family
Papers, 1839-1952


Quantity: 4 boxes and 1 folio document folder (1.25 cu. ft.)
Access: Open to research
Acquisition: Gift of Loretta W. (Mrs. La Motte) Devendorf,  January 1953
Processed By: Fred Bassett, Senior Librarian, Manuscripts and Special Collections, October 1994; revised December 2013

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Genealogy and Family History Note:

The Devendorf and allied Wood families documented in this series of papers resided primarily in the upper Mohawk Valley region of New York State, particularly Herkimer and Otsego counties.  The Devendorf line begins with Solomon Devendorf (1819-1895) who lived in or near the hamlet of Cedarville, in Herkimer County during the 1840s. By 1860, he and his family had removed to Richfield Springs, in Otsego County. He was married in 1839 to Jerusha Kibby (1817-1876), and they had two sons and one daughter: Alfred C. (1840-1925), LaMotte K.(1843-1917), and Ella (1851-?).

Both Albert and La Motte Devendorf served in the Union Army during the Civil War. Official records reveal that Albert enlisted in the 3rd New York Artillery Regiment at Richfield Springs, August 30, 1862, and mustered in as a private in Battery M. He was appointed regimental commissionary sergeant, December 16, 1863; mustered in as a second lieutenant, Battery H, December 27, 1864; and mustered out with the battery, January 24, 1865, at Richmond, Virginia. La Motte enlisted at the same time as his brother, mustering in as a private of the same regiment and battery. He was appointed a corporal (date not stated); mustered out to accept a promotion as a second lieutenant in the 1st North Carolina Regiment of Infantry, July 31, 1863; and mustered out of service in June 1865.

Albert Devendorf was married in 1870 to Stancha Wheeler, and they had three sons. The oldest, La Motte Kibby Devendorf (1872-1940), was married to Loretta "Lulu" Wood (1871-1965), the daughter of George C. (1835-1930) and Harriet Ann (Davis) Wood (1834-1904). George Wood was the son of William E (1787-?) and Mary Ann (Arnold) Wood (b. 1794) of Fairfield, Herkimer County, New York. Genealogical notes found with these papers indicate that William and Mary Ann Wood had several children between 1820 and 1838. According to legal documents in the collection, by 1847, William E. Wood had disappeared without leaving a trace. Family correspondence indicates Mary Ann Wood resided in Fairfield until the mid-1870s, at which time she moved in with her daughter, Mary Ann, who was living in Middleville, Herkimer County, New York. George and his family settled in Herkimer, New York, where he appears to have operated a house painting and interior decorating business. 

Ella Devendorf, the daughter of Solomon and Jerusha, was married about 1877 to Irving Steele of German Flats, Herkimer County, New York.  Eventually they settled in the village of Mohawk, Herkimer County, New York.

Scope and Content Note:

The papers of the Devendorf and allied Wood families consist chiefly of correspondence that document not only the social life and customs of common people, but also historical trends and events in American history such as the westward movement and the Civil War. The Civil War is documented in many detailed letters written by Albert and La Motte Devendorf while serving in the Union Army. Albert's letters discussed food preparation and other aspects of commissary duty. In addition, he commented on the Battle of New Bern, North Carolina, and other engagement in that state as well as operations related to the siege of Petersburg, Virginia. La Motte's letters also concern the Battle of New Bern, and other operations in North Carolina along with comments on camp life, training, marching, morale, discipline, and routine aspects of military service. In addition, there are remarks on the New York City draft riots, the burning of Washington, N.C. [sic], and the assassination of President Lincoln.

The westward movement from upstate New York, particularly the Mohawk Valley, to Michigan and Wisconsin is evident in several letters Solomon Deavendorf received from friends and relatives during the 1840s and 1850s. In an apparent effort to entice Solomon to move west, the letters extol the abundance of good farmland available at low cost.

Letters of the Wood family, primarily those addressed to Mary Ann Wood, also document the movement of family members away from the farm in Fairfield in pursuit of opportunities elsewhere. Places mentioned in these letters include, Watertown, New York; Saint Louis, Missouri; Gaffney, South Carolina; Yorktown, Virginia; and Sacramento, California. The letters detail routine activities and the experiences of everyday life: health, births, deaths, church, school, household chores, shopping, travel, and social visits.

In addition to letters, the papers include notes and clippings related to genealogy of the Devendorf and Wood families; deeds of Devendorf family lands situated in Herkimer and Otsego counties of New York State; Wood family estate papers; and diplomas, reports, and ephemera relating to student life at Fairfield Academy and Union College.

Box and Folder List:

Box Folder Contents
    Devendorf Family Correspondence, 1844-1935
1 1 Letters to Solomon Devendorf, 1844-1850 (14 items)
1 2 Letters: Albert C. Devendorf to Ella A. Devendorf, 1862-1863 (8 items)
1 3 Letters: Albert C. Devendorf to Ella A. Devendorf, 1864-1865 (6 items)
1 4 Letters: La Motte K. Devendorf to family, 1862 (12 items)
1 5 Letters: La Motte K. Devendorf to family, January-June 1863 (9 items)
1 6 Letters: La Motte K. Devendorf to family, July-December 1863 (12 items)
1 7 Letters: La Motte K. Devendorf to family, January-June 1864 (13 items)
1 8 Letters: La Motte K. Devendorf to family, July-December 1864 (15 items)
1 0 Letters: La Motte K. Devendorf to family,1865 (15 items)
1 10 Letters: Ella Devendorf Steele to friends and relatives, 1865-1914 (12 items)
1 11 Letters of La Motte and Loretta W. Devendorf, 1891-1935 (13 items)
    Wood Family Correspondence, 1850-1884
2 1 Letters, 1850-1853 (21 items)
2 2 Letters, 1854-1855 (19 items)
2 3 Letters, 1856-1857 (27 items)
2 4 Letters, 1858-1860 (20 items)
2 5 Letters, 1861-1863 (13 items)
2 6 Letters, 1871-1874 (19 items)
2 7 Letters, 1875-1877 (24 items)
2 8 Letters, 1878-1879 (25 items)
2 9 Letters, 1880 (25 items)
2 10 Letters, 1881 (18 items)
2 11 Letters, 1882-1894 (18 items)
    Sundry Papers of Devendorf and Wood Families
3 1 Genealogical research materials – Deveendorf and Wood Families, comp. ca. 1910-1940 (ca. 25 items)
3 2 Genealogical research materials – Deveendorf and Wood Families, comp. ca. 1910-1951 (3 items)
3 3 Land titles to lots held by the Devendorf family in the Herkimer County towns of Columbia, Litchfield, and Mohawk; and the Town of Richfield, Otsego County,  1839-1910 (12 items)
  1. Deed: Samuel Fish to Solomon Devendorf for land in Litchfield, Herkimer County, N.Y., November 1, 1839
  2. Deed: Chauncey Beckwith and others to Solomon Devendorf for land in Town of Columbia, Herkimer County, N.Y., April 8, 1843
  3. Mortgage: Solomon Devendorf to Chauncey Beckwith, April 8, 1843
  4. Deed: Davis Brown to Mary Ann Gould for land in Richfield Springs, Otsego County, N.Y., March 13, 1844
  5. Deed: John Bailey to Solomon Devendorf for land in Richfield Springs, Otsego County, N.Y., November 8, 1849
  6. Deed: Frank E.S. Harvey to Eli A. Steele for land in Mohawk, Herkimer County, N.Y., May 28, 1896
  7. Deed: Lamotte K. Devendorf to Irving W. Steele for land in Mohawk, Herkimer County, N.Y., March 15, 1902
  8. Deed: Albert C. Devendorf to Irving W. Steele for land in Mohawk, Herkimer County, N.Y., August15, 1902
  9. Deed: Charles Brown to Ella A. Steele for interest in land situated in Mohawk, Herkimer County, N.Y., May 6, 1910
3 4 Legal documents concerning the estate of William E. Wood, ca.1847-1852 (9 items)
3 5 Bills and Receipts of Solomon Devendorf, 1840-1865 (8 items)
3 6 Bill and Receipts of Wood Family, ca.1848-1862 (18 items)
3 7 Poetry, Prose, and other writings, ca. 1850-1864 (15 items)
3 8 Academic and professional papers and records of La Motte K. Devendorf
  1. Academic Awards and Reports, 1888-1891 (4 items)
  2. New York State Teaching Certificate, 1890-1891 (2 items)
3 9 Academic and professional papers and records of Mary A. Wood, 1850-1860 (10 items)
  1. Fairfield Academy – reports, receipts, etc., ca. 1850-1854
  2. Teaching certificates, 1853 and 1860
3 10 Papers related to the history of Fairfield Academy, 1936-1952 (6 items)
  1. Fairfield Alumni Directory, August 1936
  2. Printed brochures, ca. 1952
  3. News clippings, 1950-1952
3 11 Printed Materials (6 items)
  1. Broadside: Say, Sposen Yew Kum to Our/Povurty Soshul ... Tuesday Nite (just aftur the chickuns go to rhoost, Febawary Twentyuth, 1900 ... – Addressed to J. Steele and his folks; (printed on the back of a piece of wallpaper)
  2. North Carolina Times,  New Bern, N.C., June 18, 1864 (Vol. 1, No. 43 – four pages) – Item cut out of front page
  3. Miscellaneous news clippings.
3 12 Photographs (unidentified) (5 items)
    Invitations, Programs, etc.
3 13 Fairfield Seminary Commencement Invitations and Programs, 1890 and 1891 (4 items)
3 14 Fairfield Seminary Programs, 1890-1892 (1 items)
3 15 Ephemera extracted from a scrapbook (9 items)
  1. "Songs of Union" (published after1917)
  2. Anthropometric table (1893); program for Union College Minstrels (1894);
  3. Program: Union College Minstrels, 1904
  4. Concert program of the St. Lawrence University Banjo, Mandolin and Guitar Club (1893)
  5. Two sheets with pictures of Union College Campus and other clippings
3 16 Programs, dance cards and other ephemera related to Union College (Schenectady, N.Y.), and St. Lawrence University (Canton, N.Y.) 1892-1894 (12 items)
3 17 Souvenir Menu, Princess Hotel (Bermuda) – portrait of George Washington on the cover
3 18 Invitations and Calling Cards, 1890-1894 (7 items)
  1. Union College Commencement, 1894
  2. Potsdam State Normal School Commencement, 1893
  3. Concerts, lectures, etc., 1891-1893
3 19 Invitations and Calling Cards, ca. 1890-1894 (13 items)
3 20 Invitations and Calling Cards, ca. 1890-1894 (12 items)
3 21 Advertisement Trade Cards
  1. Set featuring the Presidents of the United States from George Washington to Chester A. Arthur – issued by I,W. & C.C. Steele [merchants], Mohawk, N.Y., ca. 1884 (18 items)
  2. Assorted (8 items)
4 Small box Artifacts
  1. Jerusha Devendorf's purse (ca. 5.5 x 8.5 cm. plus handle) decorated in an Egyptian [?] motif
  2. Printer's block for the bookplate of L.K. Devendorf (9 x 6 x 2 cm.)
4 Loose Envelopes removed from letters
EL 1 Honorary Certificates and diplomas
  1. Military order of the Loyal Legion, La Motte K. Devendorf, March 18, 1862
  2. Fairfield Seminary Diplomas, L.K. Devendorf, 1890 and 1891
  3. National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, membership certificate, Ella Devendorf, December 7, 1898
EL 1 News clippings on Devendorf genealogy by Ola Walter Bell that appeared in the St. Johnsville (New York) Enterprise and News, 1931
Last Updated: January 13, 2022