Charles Humphrey
Papers, 1810-1849


Quantity: 1 box (0.25 cubic ft.)
Access: Open to research
Acquisition: Purchase: Charles Apfelbaum, Rare Books and Collections, Valley Stream, New York, October 1992
Processed By: Kayleigh Paster, Student Assistant (University at Albany), Manuscripts & Special Collections, February 2014

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Biographical Note:

Born in 1792 in Little Britain, Orange County, New York, Charles Humphrey was a prominent figure in business, law, government, and politics in New York State during the first half of the nineteenth century. In addition to his work as a lawyer, Humphrey served in a number of capacities in local, state, and federal government over the course of his career. After serving in the United States Army during the War of 1812, Humphrey was admitted to the bar in 1816. He was elected to the House of Representatives for the Nineteenth United States Congress in March of 1825 and served until March of 1827. He was a member of the New York State Assembly from 1834 to 1836 and again from 1841 to 1842, and served as Speaker of the Assembly in 1835 and 1836. From 1843 to 1847 he served as clerk of the New York State Supreme Court. He also served as president of Village of Ithaca and as surrogate of Tompkins County for multiple terms.

In 1816 Humphrey married Ann Eliza Belknap (1797-1861) in Newburgh, New York. The couple had seven children, only three of whom survived to adulthood: William Ross Humphrey (1820-1901), Charles D. Humphrey (1832-1870), and Sarah B. Humphrey Judd (1835-1904). Charles Humphrey died in 1850 in Albany, New York.

William Ross Humphrey was born in 1820 in Ithaca, New York. In addition to working as a lawyer, William served as superintendent of the Cayuga division of the Cayuga and Susquehanna railroad for thirty-seven years. He was also a trustee of the Ithaca school district for thirty years, a member of the board of trustees at Cornell University, a trustee of the Village of Ithaca, and a charter member of the Cornell Library Association. He married Mary H. Wheeler (b.1823) in 1848 and the couple had four children: Mary E. Humphrey (b. 1850), Katharine Humphrey Hunt (b.1852), George Humphrey (b.1856), and Charles Humphrey (b. 1860).  William Ross Humphrey died in 1901.

Scope and Content Note:

The papers consist chiefly of correspondence addressed to Charles Humphrey between the years 1810 and 1849. Three letters in the collection are addressed to William Ross Humphrey; two of these were written by his father, and discuss personal matters as well as the New York and Erie Railroad. Also included is a copy of the resolutions of the New York State Assembly and Senate for March 20 and 23, 1826.

The letters addressed to Charles Humphrey concern his legal career and involvement in projects such as the development of the New York and Erie Railroad, the construction of the Chenango Canal, and the creation of the Tompkins Community Bank, as well as the politics surrounding these ventures. The correspondence mentions projects involving the Bowery Savings Bank, the Mechanic Bank of Harlem, and the Hudson Aqueduct Company. Many of the letters contain requests for support and recommendations for candidates for political positions in New York State.

Items of interest include a letter from Stephen Strong, which discusses the Chenango Canal project as well the Bowery Savings Bank and the Erie and Hudson Railroad project; letters from M.W. Howell and J.S. Beebe which provide different perspectives on a meeting held in Ithaca pertaining to the Tompkins Community Bank application, as well as the political opposition to the application from both Whigs and Democrats in the area; and a letter from Thomas Bishop inquiring about the nature of the State Senate’s report on the New York and Erie Railroad project.

A letter from E.A. Whitmore to New York State Assemblyman David Wager mentions the Chenango Canal project, as well as a proposed bill and amendments; and a letter from Robert Taylor to New York State Assemblyman Mordecai Myers discusses Myers’ inquiries into the conditions of prisoners in the New York State prison system.

Box and Folder List:

Box Folder Description
1 1

Correspondence: To Charles Humphrey, 1810

  1. J. Negrin, Philadelphia, [Pennsylvania] May 30, 1810; typed transcript included in folder
1 2

Correspondence: To Charles Humphrey, 1819-1824

  1. C.W. Conner, Ithaca, [New York], March 22, 1819
  2. Ebenezer Mack, Ithaca, [New York], February 13, 1820
  3. D. Woodcock [David Woodcock], Ithaca, [New York], March 25, 1824
1 3

Correspondence: To Charles Humphrey, 1826

  1. J.E. Beekman, Hudson, [New York] February 6, 1826,
  2. W. Ross, Newburgh, [New York], March 20, 1826,
  3. Caleb B. Drake, Ithaca, [New York], March 21, 1826[?]
  4. John Hallock, Jr., Philadelphia, [Pennsylvania], April 22, 1826
  5. John D. Hammond, Albany, [New York], April 25, 1826
1 4

Correspondence: To Charles Humphrey, 1830-1834

  1. Joseph Hunt, February 27, 1830
  2. A.B. Johnson, Utica, [New York], April 25, 1834
  3. B. Whiting, [Bowen Whiting ?] Geneva, [New York], July 1, 1834,
  4. Hiram Shays, New Hartford, [New York?], December 23. 1834
1 5

Correspondence: To Charles Humphrey, 1835

  1. Charles Halsey, [Ithaca, New York], [January 7, 1835]
  2. Charles Halsey, Ithaca, [New York], January 10, 1835; includes comments from Alfred Wells
  3. D.T. Woods, Ithaca, [New York], January 25, 1835
  4. Stephen Strong, Owego, [New York], January 29, 1835; typed transcript included in folder
  5. J. M. [?], Newburgh, [New York], March 16, 1835
  6. S.P. Staples, New York, [New York], March 31, 1835; letter is written on a document addressed to the New York State Legislature
  7. Williams Brothers [T.S. Williams and brother], Ithaca, [New York], March 31, 1835
  8. G.B. Guinnip [George B. Guinnip], Dryden, [New York], April 8, 1835
  9. Charles Henry Hall, Harlem, [New York], June 26, 1835
  10. E. Sweet, Owego, [New York], December 28, 1835
1 6

Correspondence: To Charles Humphrey, 1836-1839

  1. A. Gibbs, Ovid, [New York], January 7, 1836
  2. Thomas Bishop, Ithaca, [New York], [March 10, 1836]
  3. M.W. Howell, Ithaca, [New York], April 6, 1836
  4. Charles Halsey, Ithaca, [New York], [April 6, 1836]
  5. J.S. Beebe, Ithaca, [New York], April 17, 1836
  6. Charles Halsey, Ithaca, [New York], [April 22, 1836]
  7. Anne E. Humphrey, Ithaca, [New York], February 19, 1838
  8. E. Howell, Bath, [New York], April 5, 1838,
  9. W.H. Adams, Clyde, [New York], September 1, 1839
1 7

Correspondence: To Charles Humphrey, 1841-1842

  1. E. Howell, Bath, [New York],December 8, 1841
  2. George H. Feeter, Little Falls, [New York], December 16, 1841
  3. Ebenezer Mack, Ithaca, [New York], January 12, 1842
  4. J.S. Beebe, Ithaca [New York], January 18, 1842
  5. J.E. Beekman, Hudson, [New York], January 28, 1842
  6. John Southworth [Ithaca, New York, January 26, 1842,]; top portion of letter, which contained a bank draft, has been removed
  7. S.B. Cushing, [Stephen Booth Cushing], Ithaca, [New York], March 11, 1842
  8. John Southworth, Dryden, [New York], March 14, 1842
1 8

Correspondence: To Charles Humphrey, 1843-1849

  1. A.J. Parker [Amasa J. Parker], Delhi, [New York], June 13, 1843
  2. S.B. Cushing [Stephen Booth Cushing], Ithaca, [New York], May 21, 1845,
  3. [?], West Point, [New York], July 15, 1845,
  4. C.M. Turner and A. Dudley, Newfield, [New York], February 5, 1842
  5. E. Howell, Bath, [New York], September 17, 1849
  6. W.H. Adams , Lyons, [New York], September 20, 1849
1 9

Correspondence: To William Humphrey, 1844-1847

  1. O.D. Cooke to Cousin William [Humphrey], Washington College, Hartford, [Connecticut], July 9, 1844
  2. C.H. [Charles Humphrey] to William [Humphrey], Albany, [New York] September 21, 1846
  3. Charles Humphrey to Will [William Humphrey], Albany, [New York] June 25, 1847
1 10


  1. E. [Edward] Livingston and John F. Bacon, Resolutions of the New York State Assembly and Senate, March 20 and 23, 1826
  2. Robert Taylor to Mordecia (i.e., Mordecai) Myers, New York, [New York], March 13, 1834
  3. E.A. Witmore to [David Wager], Utica [New York, February 17, 1835]
  4. G. Hawley to unknown, undated
Last Updated: May 24, 2021