Letters of Thomas Pearsall

New York Public Library Rare Books and Manuscript Room

Bayard Campbell Pearsall Papers Box 21

Document #1


Letter from Thomas Pearsall to his sister 1791


New York, 26 Jan'y 1791

Dear Sister,

I have received thy letter of the 23rd with the Paper inclosed, which perhaps may be of use-Capt. Campbell is with us yet. Nothing new except that the Women Friends have been to visit Sally who will be disowned next month, I have no doubt. The Capt. will not let them see her without his being present. (follows a cipher insert)

I have forgotten the characters and will quit this subject.

(The rest is a bill for horse feed.)

On the side of the parchment is written "Martha Pearsall"

On the back Thomas Pearsall, Cedar Swamp

Death of Sarah Pearsall

Document #2 Letter from Thomas Pearsall on the death of Sarah

New York 16th Nov. 1793

My Dear Son,

I wrote thee of the Instant of the severe family matter of which I refer. This will convey to thee the Melancholy Tidings of thy dear Sister Sarah Campbell who departed this Life about twelve o'clock last Night. The Occasion of her departure which was rather sudden was owing to the Plague in which (in its way) become so very viscid & tough and she was reduced so very weak & low that the could not raise it. She began to cough as was usual with her, and after many repeated struggles which proved ineffectual to raise the phlegm, dropped away in the presence of Witnesses, her Parents her Son, her Sister & her husband, her Uncle Pell, Cousin Amy Townsend, ...Fanny and all the servants in both Houses who were all greatly affected at this awful change. Notwithstanding I feel fully satisfied that our Lord is great. Thy Sister retained her senses perfectly during the ... & spoke to me about an hour before her death-some Days past she spoke of her own accord concerning her Death-I said she was quite resigned and Willing to Die- Thy letter to thy Sister from Glasgow came to her when she was very weak, but it afforded her much Comfort as she was very ...happy to hear of thy Welfare before her Death-I purpose to answer thy letter to thy Sister by some future opportunity.

I am thy affectionate father




Thomas Pearsall


The Bayard, Campbell Pearsall Papers Box 23 contained a booklet of parchment pages with Thomas Pearsall's best handwriting still clearly legible. It consisted of Quaker meditations and I have asked the Librarian to copy and send it COD to me in Portland.

Thomas Pearsall Family Papers: NYPL Special Collections Room



I am sitting at a place at the long oak table and look at the right book lined wall in room 315S of the New York Public Library Special Collections Room. A woman across from me is researching the Boland Family and their connection to Pocahontas. Someone just brought to her a crumbling book from 1800. She is delighted! I just cleared off some fragments that looked like cream colored bark dust from my space 899. She told me they were crumbled edges of pages from the manuscript examined by the person previous to me at this space. She helped me scrape them into a waiting wastebasket. Photocopies are twenty-five cents a page. The staff must make them. Looks like I will not have time to get into the 12 linear feet of papers I found listed on the Internet!


3-26-1946-stamped "The New York Public Library Astor, Lenox & Tilden Foundation"

"Dear Sir,

These papers should have been sent to you years ago as they are notes connected with "The Pearsall Family" I am sorry I have kept them so long-


Mary Pearsall Dallas

The stamp "acknowledged" is affixed to the photocopy of the note which precedes the photocopies of the material.

Pearsall Material from photocopies of unidentified "galleys"

7800 Pearsall Genealogy Giger Page 2128 Galley 540

Phebe Sutton Pearsall

Josephine Pearsall says: My grandfather Thomas Pearsall married Phebe Sutton of New York City and came to this town-then Jericho, later changed to Bainbridge- and later took a claim where we still live-cleared a spot for his log cabin. He had learned carpentering-had brought with him a full set of fine tools, and built a little later the first frame house in the town. A portion of it still standing and occupied by my sister and myself. The log cabin was built about 130 years since. My grandfather also understood surveying. Had a very accurate compass and not only surveyed his own land but for others. It is only about 30 years since there have been compasses as accurate, and I was grown when skilled surveyors from other towns have secured the use of it in doubtful surveys. It is still kept in the family as an old relic.

My grandmother, Phebe Sutton Pearsall was a very resourceful lady of great energy, skill, and perseverance. At the time of my grandparents coming to this section of the country-he had an uncle in New York City-who for that period was a very wealthy gentleman and owned a large portion of New York City. Wishing his nephew to be comfortable in his wild new home, he presented him with a horse-my grandmother a handsome side-saddle and a cow and many other comforts and conveniences. For instance, a warming pan foot stove, pocket lantern, so they did not suffer the hardships of many early settlers. My grandmother, as I have stated, was a very courageous woman. She was accustomed every autumn to go to New York City, taking her baby in her lap or on her saddle, to visit her parents. She knew her stopping places each night, and just the distance she must make each day. There was no regular road at that period-only a bridle path and guided by marked trees. Our town being about two hundred miles from the city in the Susquehanna Valley, about fifty miles from Otsego Lake-where Cooperstown now stands, and was the home of J. Fenimore Cooper, the novelist, so you can readily locate our town. At the same time she secured at New York the luxuries for table and fashions for children and grown-ups. So it was proverbial that Bainbridge was never without city fashions-though the people were in the wilderness with panthers and wildcats about them. As was the rule in those days, most ladies understood spinning wool and flax and weaving. We now have an old worn coverlid woven in beautiful snowball pattern of those materials. We also have the brass warming pan, foot stove and pocket lantern, bread toaster, etc. brought from England.

As to the ancestry of Phebe Sutton, the better view seems to be that, of several Sutton families, Phebe Sutton was descended from William Sutton, who resided at Eastham, Mass., and July 11, 1666, married Damaris, daughter of Alice and Richard Bishop. It was in this very year of 1666 that tidings began to spread through New England of the founding of another colony down in the southeast, between the great North and South Rivers where settlers were welcome, the Indians friendly, the soil and climate excellent, and civil and religious liberty guaranteed. Many people from all parts of the land of the Puritans migrated to this new country of the Jerseys: and about the year 1673, William Sutton also removed and became a landholder under Berkeley and Carteret. As Cape Cod was one of the few districts in NE England where Quakerism gained a footing, and as William Sutton in his New Jersey home was an influential Quaker, it is very probable that matters of religious belief had much to do with his departure from Eastham. A Quaker, he was a pillar of the meeting that met in the neighboring town of Woodbridge. We see him a person of some honor in the little community; chosen freeholder at one time constable at another, town-clerk at another, and we find that with advancing years, his services were desired upon boards of church discipline and inquiry. It is recorded that he contributed a year-old steer toward the proposed erection of the Friends'Meeting House at Woodbridge, a donation that seems to have been a thorn in the flesh of the finance committee. For two years they were unable to convert the animal into cash, and were obliged to board it during three winters at exorbitant rates, varying from six to eight and one-half shillings per winter.

Here his sons grew to manhood and their sons likewise reached man's estate, with fair daughters. During this time Samuel Pearsall came to the Jersies with his wife Elizabeth Mott and there the children of the two families grew up together. This gave the necessary environment and association to explain why Thomas Pearsall who, when he was living on Long Island, married this daughter of the Friends' Meeting in St. Georges Episcopal Church at Hempstead. When Phebe Sutton and her husband Thomas Pearsall, removed to Chanango County, she proved to be a helpmate to him in all his difficulties. The family tradition recalls one instance in particular when Thomas Pearsall, shortly after coming to this wilderness, lost his only cow by death, and without a cow it was impossible to live in the dense woodland. Another could only be obtained by a trip to the settled parts of the State. But he had neither time nor money, so his young wife, Phebe, traveled alone to Hempstead, borrowed the money, purchased a cow and returned with the animal.

The sons of Samuel Pearsall and Elizabeth Mott located in the town of Jericho, which was later called Bainbridge. Here they prospered and here their descendants may be found to this day. The family at Bainbridge have for years had an annual reunion where the family gather and talk over the reminiscences of their ancestors. The officers and members of this society have been very helpful.

Samuel Pearsall, son of Samuel Pearsall and his wife Elizabeth Mott, removed across the boundary into the wilderness at Shinglehouse, Pennsylvania and they also...have annual family reunion.


Sometime after the death of his father and mother Duncan Pearsall Campbell became entitled to a share of his deceased grandfather's estate in Scotland. So he forwarded a paper entitled, A statement of the claim of Duncan Pearsall Campbell of New York, son of Major Patrick Campbell, late of the 71st Regiment of Foot who was the son of Duncan Campbell of Barcaldine, the grandfather of the present proprietor.

Walter Barrett in his "Old Merchants of New York" says: "I had prepared a sketch of Mr. Duncan Pearsall Campbell, about six months ago. It was very imperfect, and knowing him personally, I thought I would some day or other fall in with him-show what I had written, and get some points from himself. I took time to accomplish my purpose, for I thought that I had noticed that Mr. Campbell had been shy of me, since he ascertained that I was the author of these recollections. The last time I saw him was in Chamber St. near Center Street. He complimented me on one of the chapters that he had recently read. I remarked: Some day when you are at leisure, I want to talk over old matters. Any time was his reply, as he passed on. Anytime! Don't hold good with a man who is eighty years old, and shortly I read to my amazement and also deep regret:" Died-on Saturday November 9th 1861, Duncan Pearsall Campbell, in the 80th year of his age"

Very few of the people in the present city of New York will recognize this name or know anything about Mr. Campbell. Yet he was a great man in this city in his day. Of late years he had hardly been known to take an active part in public affairs. For twenty years he had frequented a place called The Grotto, at 114 Cedar Street, kept either by Barnard or by Patrick Reilly since 1840. I dare say he has spent two or three hours every fair day in the place, and drank one or perhaps two mugs of the unrivaled old beer kept in the establishment. At about mid-day in fine weather, anyone on Broadway could see a pale-faced man turn into Liberty Street from Broadway, reading carefully, a shadow of the past, eyeing suspiciously any face in a town where once, but more than half a century ago, he knew everybody. When he got safely into Liberty Street he passed down by Temple Street into Trinity place turned the corner and kept on until he reached Cedar Street, when he looked anxiously at the place where stood a little two story building kept by Reilly, as if fearful that that too, like a thousand other things he had seen, might have passed away or been moved up town. So methodical was this old New Yorker, that I do not think, in going to or from his favorite spot to home he ever varied a hair from one route. He was aged and yet dignified in his bearing until the last hour of his existence, although of late years he was very feeble. Many will recollect his old residence at No. 51 Broadway part way between Morris and Rector Streets. His doorplate had his name upon it in heavy commercial letters Duncan P. Campbell. He had lived in that house from 1810 to 1850 when he moved up town to 138 Second Avenue. In early life Mr. Campbell married a daughter of William Bayard, and was himself a partner of the house of LeRoy Bayard & Co., in the days of its greatest glory.


Immediately upon the death of her husband, Sarah, his widow, felt the necessity of securing the pension coming to her as the relict of a deceased British officer, so she made the following application for the same:

-I, Aeneas Mackentosh, Captain of his Majesty's Seventy-first Regt of Foot, do hereby certify and declare unto all whom it shall or may concern that on the first day of September now past, Patrick Campbell Esq. the Major in the same Regiment departed this life and that Sarah the Widow and Relict of the said Patrick Campbell, now resides in the City of New York, the 24th of September, 1782.

Aeneas Mckintosh, Capt. Command the 2nd 71st Regt.


I John L. Chevelier Roome Esq. Publick Notary by Royal authority admitted, sworn, and residing in the city of New York in the Province of New York in America do hereby certify and declare that in the date hereof personally came and appeared befor me the said notary, Sara Campbell, Widow and Relict of Patick Campbell, Esq., late Major in the (second) Seventy first Regiment of Foot Commanded by the Right Honorable Earl Ballowar, who being duly sworn on the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God did depose and say that she was lawfully married to the said Patrick Campbell, and has ever since his decease continued a widow and is so at the present time and further that she has no pension, allowance or provision made her by Government either in Great Britain or Oreland except the provision she hopes to receive by his Majesty's Bounty. In faith and testimony whereorf I, the said Notary, have hereunto set my hand and seal in the City aforesaid, the ninth day of April, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three. John L. Roome, Pub. Not.-Sarah Campbell.


Patrick Campbell was a man of high birth and noble character. The following papers which were found among the records of his son will serve to give an insight into his personality:

At this time an officer's position in an English Regiment was a piece of property that was bought and sold. The following is the story of the transaction by which Patrick Campbell acquired the rank of Major in this Highland Regiment.

New York, 27 January, 1781. Received from Capt. Patrick Campbell, 71 Regt. Bills for Eleven Hundred pounds sterling which is in full of all demand upon him for price of (his release). has this day given his parole to return from New York when demand(ed). My majority in the 71st Regt. Likewise received letters upon his agent directing him to pay the interest upon the same from 6th of November, 1778, as witness my hand, Duncan MacPherson. Captain &lt. Col. 3d F. Guards.

Captain Campbell was captured by the American forces and paroled. The following is the copy of his parole as found among the papers of his son: These may certify that in pursuance of his excellency the Commander-in-chief's orders for the purpose, Capt. Patrick Campbell of the 71st British Regt. has this day given his parole to return from New York when demanded by the Commander-n Chief unless exchanged for an officer in captivity with the British forces in New York of equal rank with him. In consequences of which parole, given by him to Dutch Governor Bowne of Rhode Island is to be of no effect, he having fulfilled the provisions of it... Given at Commissioner of Province Office 21 February 1780, Abm. Skinner. D. Com. Genl. Pris.

Thereupon, his parole was cancelled as follows:-To whom it may concern. I do certify that Captain Campbell of 71st Regt. was regularly exchanged for Captain John Willis of 2nd Virginia Regt. at New York the 25th day of October, 1780.

Jas. Loving, Com. Genl. Pris.

Boxes of material desired:

21-Thomas Pearsall letters on religious matters

letters to Duncan Pearsall Campbell

Correspondence 1743-1805

23- 1752 Thomas Pearsall Note Book Folder 26

Conundrum Book Folder 27

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