The family of Roxana Kingsbury Gould (nee Weed) farmed the rocky soils of western
New England during the late nineteenth century. Roxana's first husband Ambrose died
of dysentery shortly after the Civil War, leaving her to care for their two infant
sons, and after marrying her second husband, Lyman Gould, she relocated from southwestern
Vermont to Cooleyville and then (ten years later) to Shelburne, Massachusetts. The
Goulds added a third son to their family in 1869.
A rich collection of letters and photographs recording the history of the Kingsbury-Gould families of Shelburne, Massachusetts. The bulk of the letters are addressed to Roxana Kingsbury Gould, the strong-willed matriarch at the center of the family, and to her granddaughter, May Kingsbury Phillips, the family's first historian. In addition to documenting the complicated dynamics of a close-knit family, this collection is a rich source for the study of local history, rural New England, and the social and cultural practices at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries.
The collection is open for research.
Background on Creator:
Roxana Orvilla Weed Kingsbury Gould (1838-1904) was the matriarch of the Kingsbury family during the late nineteenth century, a family of middle class New Englanders. A native of Winhall, Vermont, Roxana married Ambrose Kingsbury in 1859 after he divorced her older sister Lura. During their relatively brief marriage, the couple had two boys, Arnold O. Kingsbury (1861-1901) and Oscar B. Kingsbury (1863-1943), both born in Jamaica, Vermont. Ambrose survived the Civil War with the 5th Vermont Infantry, but shortly after his return home, he succumbed to dysentery.
Three years later, in 1868, Roxana married Lyman G. Gould and moved her children to his home in Cooleyville, Massachusetts (now New Salem), where she had another son, David Oris Gould (1869-1953). After ten years, the family moved to a farm in Shelburne. When the question of who would inherit the family's farm arose, the decision seems to have been determined by the process of elimination. Roxana and Lyman's only son together, David, showed no interest, and Roxana's oldest son, Arnold, proved to be unreliable. As a result, the farm was settled on Oscar, the middle son, who took up the work in late 1888. Married a year earlier to Lillian M. Davis (1868-1937), Oscar failed in his first efforts at assuming responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the farm, and over the next few years Oscar sought work elsewhere. When he finally returned to the farm in 1895, Roxana and Lyman were ready to let it go, this time formally transferring the farm and its movable assets to Oscar.
In the next generation of Kingsburys, May O. Kingsbury, the second of Oscar and Lillian's four children, took a keen interest in the family's history. A teacher in Shelburne before her marriage to R. Ernest Phillips in 1923, May kept up an active correspondence with family members, especially during her single years, and she preserved most of the family's papers and genealogical materials. During the 1960s, she wrote a series of essays detailing the life of her grandmother Roxana, which were saved by her daughter, Merilyn, and eventually passed on to her nephew, Conrad Totman.
This collection contains a wide variety of personal papers belonging to the members of the Kingsbury, Gould, and Totman families, long-time residents of the Western Massachusetts and Southern Vermont area. Dated between 1862 and 2006, the papers were collected by family members during the twentieth century.
The family of Ambrose and Roxana Kingsbury and their two sons Arnold and Oscar maintained an active correspondence throughout the second half of the nineteenth century. The bulk of this correspondence details the family relationships and local events as experienced by Roxana by her female relatives after her second marriage and subsequent removal to rural western Massachusetts. There are also various items of personal interest from extended family members, including children's books, autograph albums, stereocards, picture postcards collected in albums, a few legal documents, graphic business cards from local western Massachusetts businesses, and a large sample of calling cards.
May Kingsbury Phillips collected her grandmother's letters and later compiled a family genealogy, which is included here. After May's death, her nephew Conrad Totman became the repository for the family's history. Both May and Conrad compiled narrative histories of the family, mostly focusing on Roxana's correspondence and the photographs contained in this collection. Their notes, identifications, and interpretations can be found throughout the collection.
The collection is rounded out by a series of family photography, dating from a formal portrait in 1862 to photocopies of photographs for genealogical research made in 2005. There are gem tintypes, formal portraits, snapshots, and photograph albums, preserved in a variety of frames, matted presentations, lockets, and albums. Some are professional photographs and others are candid photographs taken by members of the family.
Gift of Conrad and Michiko Totman, 2006.
Processed by Megan M. Kennedy, Summer 2008.
For material related to the Kingsbury and Totman families, see:
For material related to the Kingsbury family at other repositories, see:
Cite as: Kingsbury Family Papers (MS 504). Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.