211 letters, 610 manuscript pages, about half are folding letter sheets, written in ink, in legible hands, dated 27 April 1818 to 5 April 1878, 6 letters are undated. The collection also includes the following manuscript ephemeral items 1. "Dr. B. Burwell on Temperance": a seven page (undated) manuscript lecture. This lecture on "Temperance" examines the question: "Why do men who have acquired the habit of drinking intoxicating liquors, continue still to use them, notwithstanding all the facts and arguments which have been addressed against their use?" 2. "Family Record," 4 printed pages for Burwell family, with manuscript records of marriages, births, and deaths, dates ranging between 1768 and 1852 for the immediate family of Dr. Bryant Burwell, including his parents, step-mother, and siblings. 3. Five deeds or leases dated between 1826 and 1833, all for property in the "Village of Buffalo." All parties are listed as being from Buffalo: Deed between Cyrenius Chapin to Bryant Burwell, 22 December 1826; Deed between John W. Clark & Stafford A. Scott to Bryant Burwell, 3 May 1827; Lease between Jacob A. Barker, to Rynear Dumont, 2 January 1830; Deed between Bryant Burwell and Anna his wife, to Newton Ropitor, dated 15 March 1832; Deed between John W. Clark, to Bryant Burwell, M.D., 20 March 1833.
Clark, Burwell, and Glenny Families of Buffalo, New York
John Whipple Clark (1799-1872)
John Whipple Clark was a physician and
entrepreneur who settled in Buffalo in 1823. He was born in the
Clark's hopes for Buffalo were not without
basis; in 1822, the canal commissioners decided to make Buffalo the western end
of the Erie Canal. This decision and the completion of the Canal in 1825
Nevertheless, Clark soon abandoned medicine
for real estate. In 1825, Clark began buying land in
It seems that Clark's enthusiasm for
Buffalo was contagious; some of his sisters and their families moved to the
area. Part of this collection consists of the correspondence between Clark and his
brother-in-law and fellow graduate of
Evidence of Buffalo's prosperity in the
19th century is clear: the population exceeded 10,000 in 1832. Five newspapers
circulated in the city, and over 3000 vessels passed through
Ann Clark and Dr. Bryant Burwell (1796-1861)
Ann Clark, the sister of Dr. John Whipple
Clark, married Dr. Bryant Burwell. Bryant Burwell (1796-1861) was born in
Bryant and Ann Burwell had three children,
George N. Burwell, Esther A. Burwell Glenny (who married William Henry Glenny,
Sr.) and Anna C. Burwell Rathbone. In 1820 Bryant was admitted into the
Herkimer County Medical Society and three years later graduated from
Like Dr. Clark, Dr. Burwell's real estate
investments were wiped out by the Panic of 1837. The income from his medical
practice (he specialized in obstetrics) was barely enough for him to support
himself. As a result of the economic circumstances,
patients would sometimes visit the doctor in his office, it was far more
customary for the physician to make house calls. Burwell spent the better part
of his working day either walking or riding on horseback, making the rounds of
his patients both within the city of
Burwell fell into a depression after the death of his first wife and his financial losses of 1837. He tried to purge himself of his unhappiness by working very long hours. This depression was relieved somewhat when he met the widow Mrs. Mary Cleary in 1844 and after a nine month courtship, married her in February 1845. After his marriage he became suddenly extroverted, and involved in the affairs of the day. He slowly withdrew from his medical practice and brought in his son, a recent medical school graduate. However, his happiness only lasted briefly and by the 1850s he was again in a great depression and appeared almost suicidal. He died in December of 1861, and is said to have failed from a general decay.
George N. Burwell (1819-1891) the son of
Bryant Burwell and Ann Clark, was born in Herkimer County, New York in 1819.
Like his father, he too received medical training in the city of
Esther Burwell (1821-1897) and William Henry Glenny (1818-1882)
Esther Burwell, the daughter of Bryant Burwell
and Ann Clark, married William H. Glenny (1818-1882). Glenny was born in
Their son Bryant Glenny moved to New Haven to study at Yale University in the late 1860s (1867-1868). He, his mother and father, and his brothers John, George and William, write to each other, filling each other with family news and events in their lives, offers of parental advice to their son, etc.
William Henry Glenny, Jr (1845-1923)
William Henry Glenny, Jr. was born on 8
September 1845, one of at least four sons of William H. Glenny, Sr. (1818-1882)
and his wife Esther Burwell (1821-1897). Mrs. Glenny was the daughter of Bryant
Burwell (1796-1861) and his wife Ann Clark (1798-1838). William H. Glenny Jr.
attended Yale from 1862-1865, graduating from Yale's
Glenny, Jr. appears to have gone to work for his father and eventually became the head of "William H. Glenny Sons & Company." Glenny was a one-time president of the University Club of Buffalo and took an active interest in that organization. He married Jane Wey Grosvenor (1843-1898), a native of Buffalo. She was one of three daughters of Seth Heacock Grosvenor (1812-1864) and his wife Jane Wey (1818-1897). Glenny and Jane had at least two children, a daughter Esther, who married Harry H. Bemis, as well as a son, Dr. W. Harry Glenny (1873-1942).
Some of the correspondents are Glenny's brother, Bryant Burwell Glenny (1848-1917) of Buffalo, who also went to the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale (1867-1868), but does not appear to have graduated. Cousins James G. Brown, Will E. Burwell, and Anna C. Burwell.
Description of Collection:
Of the 211 letters in the collection 36 letters are addressed to Dr. Bryant Burwell, 21 to his wife Ann Clark Burwell, 9 to their daughter Esther's son, Bryant Glenny, 4 letters to Esther herself, another 4 were written to Esther's brother George N. Burwell. William Henry Glenny received 56 letters written mostly by his parents and siblings, but also some friends. There are other letters written to Esther Burwell's husband William H. Glenny, her son George Glenny, and letters written to other doctors, friends, and family members.
Some of the correspondents in the collection are: John W. Clark, Dr. Bryant Burwell's brother-in-law, who wrote 23 letters; Clark's mother Sally Clark, who wrote 8 letters; Dr. Burwell himself, with 6 letters; a Dr. S. B. Green, who wrote 6 letters; Bryant Glenny, who wrote 5 letters; and 41 letters written by William Henry Glenny, Jr., mostly to his parents and brothers; as well as miscellaneous letters written by immediate family members: Dudley Burwell, George N. Burwell, Susan Burwell, Ann Burwell, Sarah Clark, Angeline Clark, Caroline Clark Moore, Bryant Burwell Glenny, George B. Glenny, and Esther Burwell Glenny. Other letters are written by family, friends or business associates. One letter was written by "J. Jimeson," he may be a Native American doctor who studied at Fairfield Medical College. In Jimeson's letter, he mentions doing his thesis "on the principal diseases that were incident to the Indians before they became acquainted with the whites." In a letter by John W. Clark to Bryant Burwell, Clark states "Jimeson in his letter to Chapin from Washington says "Doc't Burnwell treated him with a great deal of politeness & attention apparently" - I observe by that lingering word apparently that he still retains a share of his Indian..." (Further research on Jimeson would have to be done to confirm this possibility).
The portion of the collection dealing with William Henry Glenny when he was a student at Yale is as follows: 35 outgoing letters, 115 manuscript pages written by William H. Glenny, to his siblings and parents, dated 1865, addressed from New Haven, while a student a Yale College's Sheffield Scientific School; 52 letters, 151 manuscript pages, written to W. H. Glenny, by his parents, brother, cousin, and friends, dated 1863-1864 (one letter is from 1863, the others from 1864). The letters are addressed mainly from Buffalo, to Glenny who was a student at Yale College's Sheffield Scientific School.
Sample Quotations from the Letters:
"August 14, 1825
Dear Brother [Dr. Bryant Burwell],
...I was at Utica at court last week to pick up the crumbs of knowledge that should fall upon the wise - & I must say that my fainting spirits were not a little revived, to find myself further advanced in Legal Knowledge than many that were examined for counsel. I say not this boasting but in derogation of the practice of admitting numskulls into the Temple of Justice...Buffalo at this time must be a busy place, and no doubt one of much prospective importance, in point of business, population, and commercial enterprise, but be you not decide it will not increase after a few years, it can never rise beyond a retail village & a store house, the western world will pass it as Albany is left now with prices below the New York market....D.[udley] Burwell"
"Russia [NY], 13th, 1824,
...I attend school this winter and bound to home. I have to work had we
have twelve in the family. I have not had time to visit
"Russia [NY], 5, 1824
Dear Brother [Bryant Burwell],
I received your very kind and affectionate letter with much pleasure. I have heard from you often but have not received a line from you before, we all enjoy good health excepting Grandma, her health is very poor. I do not think she will live through the winter. I commence going to school last month. My studies are such as you recommended. I find it is very hard for me to try to attend school this winter. Father is very much opposed to it and I have to work for my board. I have nobody to help me. I have nothing to home only what I pay for. Poverty oppresses me very hard. I had almost given up the idea of attending school when I received your letter. I think I shall try to persevere. Dear Brother I hope I shall be able to follow your good advice. I hope you will continue to write every opportunity. I have no Mother to advise and direct me in the paths of piety and virtue, but am left entirely to myself. I had the misfortune to loose [sic] my Mother before I was old enough to know my loss, but I hope I shall be able to follow her examples...Susan Burwell
"Newport, Jan 14, 1826,
...I send by Davies a skein of stocking yarn & a little thread. The yarn is course, but the best I have. My wool was carded so bad that it would not spin. Sarah is a good girl and appears to enjoy herself well. I don't know when I can spare her to go to Buffalo again...Sally Clark"
Dear Sister [Mrs. Ann Burwell],
...I like my new brothers [brothers-in-law] very much and either of them would give me a good home. So you see that the old maid is well provided for. And what is still better I have my eye upon an old bachelor here who is rich, moral and not addicted to any prominent vices such as swearing, drinking or foppishness; things that I detest. He is fond of the girls and wants very much to get married. He frequently calls to see me, but has not yet had the courage to explain his motives. I believe I have some vanity as well as some of the rest of my sex and therefore have the imprudence to think that I could get him if I wish it. My object in writing to you thus freely is that I hope you will keep my letter a secret, but quiet John on the subject you need not let him know that I requested you to. I should like to know if he thought that I was old enough to think of matrimony or capable of judging of the merit and virtues that I should like in a companion. However you need not tremble so for the gentleman in question has not got my affections yet although he is rich in virtues and the good things of this life...Sarah"
"New York, May 17, 1826,
I have now been in this great city two weeks tomorrow & long enough
to satisfy my curiosity. I assure you I would not live here under any
inducement whatsoever - And sure I am that I would never content myself to
live, where there is so much of noise, hustle & confusion. This city which
has been justly styled the Emporium of the
We are all alive and pretty smart. Messrs. H. & Cary have recovered
so much so that they have commenced keeping batchelor's house and board by
themselves. The inhabitants are about over with their fright that the Typhus
was raging here, introduced by [Himersmith], Doctors and all were alarmed and
if Cary should be taken down sick, than resolution was to ship him to another
quarter, it is rather provoking that bilious fever do not occur about here
more, the doctors would learn what is Typhus fever if the doctors should be in
Buffalo serving the prevalence of bilious fevers and see thirty or forty
different cases in the course of the day, what would they think or say? Even,
it is said a man in
"Buffalo, Jan 16, 1825, [Bryant Burwell, Philadelphia],
...Business at the office progresses much as usual. Indeed there is but
little doing. We have a patient in
"Buffalo, Jan'y 21st, 1828,
D. Sir [Bryant Burwell],
As this is probably the last chance we shall have of sending by private conveyance I shall not be delicate about throwing in the minutest & most trivial circumstances without regard to system or order...The old doctor is as ambitious as a boy. He has petitioned congress for a pension & a marine hospital., which are presented to congress by our prompt Mr. Gurnsey. The old Doc't is now engaged in petitioning the Legislature to assist in the erection of a hospital. I have a considerable confidence in Congress doing something...The pension & the hospital will put the old Doc't & family above board & consequently add much to your pleasure. As matters have turned that G - d D---d set of marauders are vacated from Chapin's office & I hope they will never get organized there again. [Jinuson] in his letter to Chapin from Washington says "Doc't Burnwell treated him with a great deal of politeness & attention apparently" - I observe by that lingering word apparently that he still retains a share of his Indian..."
"New York, Aug't 15th, 1828
D. Sir [Bryant Burwell],
...In observing Albany & New York & their progress I think I may
safely anticipate that 20 years will make a great place of Buffalo & that
the harbor above Pratts will be in use & very valuable - It's not
exaggerating to say it will be equal in that time to the [profit] of Albany
& if so the land which I am engaged in will be worth a million. I have made
particular enquiries about lots and rents in every place & find that our
"New York, Aug't 21st, 1828,
D. Sir [Bryant Burwell],
...I attended the first opening of the New Bowery Theatre last evening for the first theatre I have attended. It was magnificently splendid - I am getting many useful ideas relative to architecture, streets, pavements & a thousand city regulations, which I wish to see in practice in Buffalo...J.W. Clark"
“Saturday, Niagra Falls, 9 o’clock A.M. [January 15, 1838] J.W. Clark to Bryant Burwell
I wrote a line yesterday in great haste to Lucy saying that we were home too late for the Lockport cars & would be detained a day – I also stated the rumor was that the Navy Islanders would attempt an invasion of Canada last night. You will have heard all about the nights transactions ere this arrives.
I walked with the Commissary General all the way to Schlosser last evening – It was a beautiful evening & we had a good view of the cannonading at Chippewa upon Navy Island. The General says it was the most brisk firing that has happened since the war began. We could see the shells issue from the guns & trace them all the in their curvature until they struck & exploded in the air or on the island. The round shot whistled merrily among the trees & skipped upon the waters. There were some hundred or more wagons assembled at Schlosser & the teamster folks were mute on the subject of their business.
Van Rensalear declared to his friends here that he expected steamboats down from Buffalo in which he intended to embark his munitions of War & that the men would land & ride up the River probably to make a landing some where up the river …
I think it is all for the best however: as it will show to the world that our people will support the laws & with the disappointment & failure & the brisk charge from Canada I hope will bring the Islanders to their senses & perhaps & without incurring the awful retaliatory consequences of an invasion of Canada & a probable defeat &c &c – Volunteers continue to arrive for the Island from great distances – But the true affairs on the Island are discouraging & many are disposed to get out of the scrape. …
You can readily conceive how weak the plan was of departing last night – Brave soldiers to require wagons to carry them a few miles & incur the liability of such a requisition in publishing their plan – which Chippewa was prepared to take advantage of - & then again their exposure to our troops on this side when separated from their arms - & the exposure of those boats to the cannon on both sides in the rapids at Black Rock.
I have just talked with a man & his wife from Toronto day before yesterday – They were obliged to leave because the man would not take up arms. They talk hard about the tories in Canada & hope McKenzie will succeed – They think the war is not begun yet. They think there are forces enough at home to revolutionize without the help of the states people also that the tories swear vengeance on Buffalo &c &c …”
"Philadelphia, October 18, 1841,
My Dear Father,
I intend this letter as an experiment & wish your idea of the plan. I see things & hear opinions occasionally that are new & have a direct being on practice. I mean to make a note of such things & if they are worth the postage to you, I will continue them, if not, you will of course let me know...George [Bryant]"
[George Burwell, the son of Dr. Bryant Burwell, was in Philadelphia studying at Jefferson Medical College. In this letter he goes on to recount lectures he attended respecting new methods of treatments and practices]
"Yale Scientific, New Haven, Feb 13, 1865,
My dear Father,
I received you letter of Feb 9th Saturday noon & immediately had the check cashed and shall pay Prof. Brush's bill this morning. I will keep watch of the spring stiles and would like very much to get a new suit of clothes here, if I do I shall have to send to you again for money...I feel fully sensible of your kindness in allowing me to stay here so long and assure you that I will do my best to make my day profitable. If I were not so near through I should like to go into the store at once, but I must say I should feel very bad to leave here now without my degree.....This morning when I went to breakfast the thermometer stood at 5˚ above zero and it has not been above 20˚ for several days past. Don't you think it must be pleasant to walk half a mile to each meal in such weather.
I suppose you know that Mr. Wadsworth is engaged at present in 'bringing out' oil and mining companies, from what I have seen of him and from what Ned tells me from his letters I should think he was fully enlisted in it and has firm faith in its success. I send you a report of his 'Elk River and Little Kanawha Petroleum and Mining Company' which Ned has kindly given me for you. Ned has got all his father's enthusiasm about it and does not entertain the least doubt of the active success of all his father's companies...Your aff son Will"
"Yale Scientific, Feb 17th, 1865,
...We are almost through the study of Anatomy in preparation for Dr. Sanford's lectures, which commence next Tuesday at 3 P.M. Prof Porter's lectures on Moral Philosophy are to commence next Monday at 5 P.M. The President gave us his last lecture today in Political Philosophy and I think the course has been the best we have attended yet. I have like them very much....Your aff. brother Will"
"New Haven, Feb 28, 1865,
It has been a custom here that each
class when they graduate should have pictures taken to exchange among
themselves and they also have pictures taken of each member of the faculty and
of such views around
"Yale Scientific, Monday April 3, 1865,
My dear Father,
...As I write the cannons are firing,
bells ringing, flags flying and everybody is rejoicing over the capture of
I remain, Your aff. son Will"
“Yale, April 7th, 1865,
...Our examinations began yesterday. I went into one at five P.M. and today I have another at the same hour. Tomorrow I have one at 3 P.M. and Monday I have two, one at 9A.M and one at 2 ½ P.M. and then I shall be through....Bryant is here safe and all right. He says he did not spend a very pleasant night on the cars. He found your basket of provisions ample, in fact he has still got two loaves of cake and some biscuit. We are going to Prof. Silliman's lecture in a few minutes and I have not time to write much...I remain your aff son Will"
“Yale Scientific, Monday, April 10th, 4:45 A.M.
Dear Father and Mother,
You may be surprised to see my letter dated at such an early hour for I am writing by camp-light. I woke up about 2 o'clock at which time the fire-bell was ringing furiously. Bryant was already awake and proposed going out to the fire but I was too sleepy. In a few minutes however a cannon began to fire and then all the bells began to ring, that woke us both fully up, then I woke up New and in a few minutes we determined to get up and see what it all meant. I tell you we were not long dressing. We met a fellow when we first started out who told us that Gen. Lee had surrendered with his whole Army. We hastened down town and found the streets crowded with men all making for the bulletin board. I have seen eight large bonfires this morning. We have had in front of the Scientific building you know J.S. C. Abbott lives on the corner just opposite, the Scientist, and when he saw our fires going he went and got some six or eight barrels and gave us.
5:25 A.M. I have just been out hearing Mr. Abbott speak, a crowd came along with a couple of drums & stopped before his house, called him out, and made him speak. Is not the news splendid, surely they must give up now. My object in commencing this was to congratulate you all on our success and the hope of a speedy peace on our own terms...I remain your affectionate son, Will"
"Willard's Hotel, Washington, Friday April 14, 1865,
We have at last safely arrived in this city. We left Phil this morning at 4:05 and arrived in Baltimore about 8:30...We concluded to spend an hour or so trying to see Fort McHenry so we rode through the city and took the ferry carrying us to within ½ a mile of the fort, walking up to the fort we were admitted, but found ourselves stopped several times in going about. We learned that Col Dan Macauly of the 11th Ind Vol was in command and as Bryant said that he was quite a friend of Buffalonians & was acquainted with Father & Uncle Geo we called on him. He was asleep and I had taken out my card to leave when the Post Chaplain came in and said it was time the Col was work up as he was going into town soon, so we stopped a few moments longer & in a minute he came in. I introduced myself & Bryant & he was very cordial & kind, went out & showed us all over the fort. I tell you the sentries did not stop us now. He took us into the prisoner barracks and we saw several bushwackers & others, a rough looking set & finally to complete his kindness he gave us the address of his brother-in-law in the Paymaster's Office & Also (now don't faint) a letter of introduction to Gen. Weitzel at Richmond. What do you think of that? Don' you think your boys know something about getting about....Your affc son Will"
"New Haven, Sept 15th, 1867,
Dear Mother [Mrs. Esther Burwell Glenny],
...I have made an agreement at a bookstore near the corner of Church and
Chapple to take one of the New York dailies regularly for 1 month for one
dollar, these paper's arrive in this city about noon & as near that time as
may be convenient I stop in & take my pick thus every day I can take the
paper having the most interesting matter in today I choose the Times. I of
course shall be very glad to get a
Collections of the papers and letters of Bryant Burwell and his family are found in at least two institutions, the Clements Library and the Buffalo History Museum.