Andrews, Eli Taylor
Group of Incoming Letters to Eli Taylor Andrews, prosperous farmer of Bethel, Connecticut, chairman of the Democratic Town Committee, and fraternally a Mason, dated 1852-1885

70 letters, 128 manuscript pages, (19 retained mailing envelopes), plus 4 pieces of verse and prose, 14 pages, all dated 3 January 1852 to 22 January 1885. There are 5 letters that are undated. Most of the letters are addressed to Eli Taylor Andrews, with the exception being three letters to Mrs. Jane Andrews, Eli’s wife, and one letter to Oliver Bulkeley, (one of Andrews’ in-laws), written by Eli Andrews, and one other.

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The correspondence includes letters from Andrews’ family, friends, or business associates. His brother, Horatio, wrote him 13 letters. Horatio left Connecticut and was living in New York City where he was working in the silk business. He was employed by two different firms during the course of the correspondence, William W. Wright & Co., and Ira Beard. The letters discuss various aspects of the business, including the ups and downs of the trade. Several letters discuss the settlement of their father’s estate. The question of how to care for their brother Fred - who was listed as an “imbecile” in the family genealogy was a contentious issue. Anson, one of the brothers wished to move back home under the supposed pretense of “taking care” of Fred, but the siblings viewed this as an attempt by their brother Anson, to acquire more of their father’s estate than he was entitled. The letters show the anxiety caused by their concern for Fred’s care, and the animosity towards Anson:

         “Aug’t 22nd 1867

          Dear Brother,

             … Anson left here on Tuesday for the west. While here we had some hours conversation in reference to the estate & Fred, but without it coming to anything definite. I discovered that he has made up his mind that Fred must have the Bank Book, or in other words that he will do all he can to accomplish such a result. Also, that he will oppose the appointment of a conservator, but if one must e selected, he wants one that will suit him; & would not object to act in that capacity himself … It became so apparent to me that if Anson continued to calculate on coming here to live, we should not be able to arrange matters harmoniously; so I told him that I thought it would be better on all sides that he should abandon all thought of coming here to stay, that he should consent to having a conservator appointed, & that the property should be distributed, after that if a satisfactory arrangement could be made for him to stay, well & good; but if not Fred would be taken care of. That I was satisfied we were drifting into difficulties which would destroy whatever there may now exist of fraternal feeling amongst us, & that the cause of it was the fact that his intending to come there to live created a discord between his interests & that of the other heirs, & which promised to create a state of feeling which I would like to avoid. He said he as only acting in the interest of Fred & disclaimed any selfish motive in the matter…”

             Horatio answers questions posed by Eli in an earlier letter concerning the availability of immigrant farm hands landing at Castle Gardens in New York City:

         “March 30th 1869

          My Dear Bro:

               … last week was a very busy week with us, being opening week, so I waited until Saturday night before going to Castle Gardens, & then found the office closes at 4 o’clock & does not open until ½ past 8 A.M. I have been down again this morning, & was told that farm hands can be obtained any day at prices ranging from $ 13 to $ 20 pr month. That a person has a large variety to select from – that the early part of the day is the best time, & that Irish or German hands can be had. About $ 15 to 16 is the general price for good hands …”

            Eli’s sister writes a couple letters expressing her concern over the affairs of their father’s estate and for their brother Fred. There are also several letters from a cousin, John Andrews, who was living and working as a farmer in Farmersville, Indiana. His letters discuss the vicissitudes of the farmer’s life, floods ruining crops, as well as information on the prices of goods and commodities, the rise of the Temperance Movement in Indiana, etc. Andrews receives business related correspondence. Still other letters are from members of the extended Andrews family, with discussion of health and domestic matters, the whereabouts of family members and other items of local interest. There is also letters inquiring about information for a genealogy of the Andrews family. (The biography below was compiled from it).


Eli Taylor Andrews (1830-1884)

         Eli Taylor Andrews was the youngest son of Col. John Lyman Andrews (1787-1867). The Andrews family had been in Connecticut since the 1640s. Col. Andrews was born in Danbury and was for many years engaged in farming in the town of Bethel. The family had an estate in the “Grassy Plains”, an area half way between Danbury and Bethel, the Grassy Plains were eventually annexed by Bethel. Col. John Andrews was the son of John Andrews (1751-1825) and Eunice Seeley (1761-1835). He married Sophia Taylor (1793-1854) in 1810. Sophia was the daughter of Capt. Thomas Taylor and his wife Hannah Platt. The Taylors owned an 18th century home in Bethel, which passed into the possession of the Andrews family. John Lyman Andrews died 12 April 1867. John and Sophia had ten children: Samuel T.; Clarissa B.; Harriet T.; Horatio; Anson S.; Julia M.; Mary Ann; Eliza Jane; Hannah T.; Frederick; and Eli Taylor Andrews.

             Eli Taylor Andrews was born in East Bethel, Connecticut 29 December 1830 and grew up there upon the family farm. His father’s health failed and he was forced to give up his idea of going to college and returned home to Bethel. He was prominent in local affairs and engaged in agriculture becoming a prosperous farmer. For many years he served as chairman of the Democratic Town Committee, also taking an active part in religious work as a member of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, where he held office at various times as vestryman and treasurer. Fraternally, he belonged to Eureka Lodge No. 83 F. & A.M.

             Eli married Jane Sherman Tyrel in 1860, she was a widow, and the daughter of Ebenezer and Eunice (Fayerweather) Sherman, of Redding, Connecticut. Eli and his wife had three children: Edgar T. Andrews; Jane Andrews; and John Lyman Andrews.

            Eli Taylor Andrews died on December 1, 1884. He is buried with his wife at Center Cemetery in Bethel.