Table of Contents
Inventory of the Kilton Family Papers
In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library
Members of the Kilton family of New England were chiefly involved in ministerial, educational, and commercial activities between 1833-1927. George Whitefield Kilton (1801-1859) was an itinerant minister of the "Christian Church" (Disciples of Christ) who held posts in Brooklyn, Conn., Eastport, Maine, Providence, R. I., and in several towns in eastern Massachusetts. He married Rebecca Bunker (1809-1893), daughter of John Bunker (1784-1854), a ship captain involved in the whaling industry at Fairhaven, Massachusetts, in 1833. The Kilton's eldest child, George Frederic Kilton (1834-1859), was a teacher at various private schools, including Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio, and Mount Prospect Institute in New Jersey. A brother, Joseph Warren Kilton, born in 1838, was a clerk in a machine shop at Providence, R. I. He subsequently went to sea and died of yellow fever in 1858. Two other brothers, Charles Henry Kilton (1840-1871) and Francis Albert Kilton (1844-1870), also worked in Providence, R. I., machine shops, and both individuals went to Minnesota in 1866 in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to recover from tuberculosis. Other children from the marriage of George Whitefield Kilton and Rebecca Bunker were John Bunker Kilton (d. 1884), who was involved in the iron and steel trade at Providence, R. I., and Emily Maria Kilton (b. 1847).
Scope and Content Note
Papers in this collection chiefly consist of correspondence which reflects the ministerial service, work and social activities, and familial relations of members of the Kilton family from 1833-1927. Dominating the material is the correspondence of Francis Albert Kilton, dating from 1863-1870. His letters to family members reveal his experiences as a clerk for the Providence Tool Company, Providence, Rhode Island, and as a resident of and traveler in Minnesota. Topics discussed in these letters include operations of the tool company and the protection of its armory during the 1863 Draft Riot; visits to the almshouse in Richfield, Minn.; events which occurred while living at the home of a sheriff in Minneapolis, Minn., which also served as a jail; and his experiences while on camping trips. Several of these letters are accompanied by pertinent clippings from local newspapers.
This collection also encompasses several letters written by other children of George Whitefield Kilton and Rebecca Bunker Kilton. Charles Henry Kilton's correspondence, 1854-1871, concerns his job at Cornett, Nightingale and Company at Providence, R. I., and his numerous trips to Minnesota. The correspondence of George Frederic Kilton, dating from 1853-1859, reflects his experience as a teacher in Durham, N. H., Scarsdale, N. Y., Watertown, N. Y., Bloomfield, N. J., and Yellow Springs, Ohio. Joseph Warren Kilton's letters, 1853-1857, discuss his work as a clerk in Providence and his arrangements to go to sea. Correspondence of Charles Henry Kilton and Joseph Warren Kilton, as well as letters of Francis Albert Kilton, also concerns activities of their brother, John Bunker Kilton, as an employee of the Cornett, Nightingale and Company iron and steel exchange at Providence. Correspondence of Emily Maria Kilton discusses family and social news from 1857-1859.
In addition, the collection includes a sizeable quantity of letters written by the elder Kiltons and by two Bunker family relatives. George Whitefield Kilton's letters discuss his ministerial duties in different towns between 1834-1859 and describe religious attitudes in each area. Most of the letters are addressed to his wife, Rebecca Bunker Kilton, who in turn is represented in this collection by correspondence, 1833-1859, primarily addressed to her father. These letters offer detailed descriptions of the towns where the Kiltons lived, including Brooklyn, Conn. and Eastport, Maine. Other topics frequently discussed in her correspondence are events within contemporary anti-slavery and temperance movements. Bunker family papers within these materials consist of correspondence of John Bunker and his son, John Bunker Jr. (1814-1842). In letters to his daughter, Rebecca Bunker Kilton, written between 1836-1854, John Bunker discusses his involvement in the whaling industry; economic conditions at Fairhaven, Mass.; his attendance at local anti-slavery and temperance meetings; and whaling voyages of his son. John Bunker Jr., in turn, tells his sister about social events at Fairhaven and mentions his plans for future voyages through letters dating from 1835-1840. Rounding out the Kilton Family Papers are obituaries for George Whitefield Kilton and George Frederic Kilton, 1859; genealogies of the Bunker, Read, and Winslow families, compiled between ca. 1840-1920, and a deed, certificate, and passport relating to various family members, 1872, ca. 1900, and 1921.
Materials in this collection have been organized into sub-groups representing letters and other items relating to individual members of the Kilton and Bunker families. These sub-groups have been listed in the inventory in chronological order according to each person's date of birth.
Arrangement of Collection
Information for Researchers
Access to Collections
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New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 49, [sub-group, series, sub-series, folder/volume as appropriate], [item]
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Papers in this collection were purchased by the Old Dartmouth Historical Society in December 1977.
Processed by: Judith Downey, with assistance from Joanne Demski, ca. 1982
Encoded by: Kermit Dewey, 16 April 2012
Funds for processing this collection were provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Please Consult Research Library for Detailed Description of Collection
Antioch College, Yellows Springs, Ohio
Bunker, John Jr., 1814-1842
Bunker, John, 1784-1854
Clergy--New England--Correspondence, reminiscences, etc.
College teachers--Ohio--Yellow Springs
Cornett, Nightingale and Company, Providence, R. I.
Dakota Indians--Wars, 1862-1865
Disciples of Christ
Disciples of Christ--New England--Clergy
Domestic relations--New England
Draft Riot, 1863
Fairhaven, Mass.--Economic conditions
Firearms industry and trade--R. I.--Providence
Indians of North America--Minn.--Wars, 1862-1865
Iron industry and trade--R. I.--Providence
Kilton Family Papers
Kilton, Charles Henry, 1840-1871
Kilton, Emily Maria, b. 1847
Kilton, Francis Albert, 1844-1870
Kilton, Frederic George, 1834-1859
Kilton, George Whitefield, 1801-1859
Kilton, John Bunker, d. 1884
Kilton, Joseph Warren, 1838-1858
Kilton, Rebecca Bunker, 1809-1893
Merchant seamen--R. I.--Providence
Minnesota--Description and travel--1858-1950
Providence Tool Company, Providence, R. I.
Providence, R. I.--Armories
Providence, R. I.--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
Railroad travel--New York (State)
Rhode Island--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
Slavery in the United States--Anti-slavery movements
Tuberculosis--Minn.--Hennepin County--Homeopathic treatment
U. S.--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Afro-American troops
United States. Army--Afro-American troops
Universities and colleges--Ohio--Yellow Springs
Whitwell, Furman Reade, Jr., 1835-1910