A Guide to the William Avery Stratton Correspondence, 1864-1940 (Bulk 1864-1880) Stratton, William Avery, Correspondence Ms2009-114

A Guide to the William Avery Stratton Correspondence, 1864-1940 (Bulk 1864-1880)

A Collection in
Special Collections
Collection Number Ms2009-114


Special Collections, Virginia Tech

Special Collections, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061
Phone: (540) 231-6308
Fax: (540) 231-3694
Email: specref@vt.edu
URL: http://spec.lib.vt.edu/

©2009 By Virginia Tech. All rights reserved.

Processed by: Kira A. Dietz, Archivist, Special Collections

Special Collections, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.
William Avery Stratton Correspondence, 1864-1940 (bulk, 1864-1880)
Physical Characteristics
2.4 Cubic Feet 2 boxes
The collection contains correspondence to William Avery Stratton from friends and family. Letters date from as early as the Civil War (1864) to the year after Stratton's death (1940). For the most part, letters are about social and family news, though some of the early letters contain Civil War and post-bellum news from the South. Letters from friends in Oregon, Colorado, and Nevada also provide details on Indian affairs, railroad growth, and cattle in the West. The collection also contains a large number of wedding and graduation invitations for events in Oxford, New York, where Stratton spent much of his life.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Collection is open to research.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish from the William Avery Stratton Correspondence must be obtained from Special Collections, Virginia Tech.

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: William Avery Stratton Correspondence, Ms2009-114, Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.

Acquisition Information

The William Avery Stratton Correspondence was purchased by Special Collections before 2000.

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement, and description of the William Avery Stratton Correspondence commenced in August 2009 and was completed in September 2009.

Biographical Information

George Stratton (1823-1910) married Mariette Robinson (abt. 1824-1865) in January 1845. They had six children, all born in Oxford, New York: William Avery (1845-1939), Edward L. (b. December 1847), Harvey J. (b. January 1850), Luke A. (1853-1862), Tracy Frink (b. June 1858), and Alice Robinson (b. February 1864). Some time between 1866 and 1870, George married his first wife's cousin, Maria A. Robinson. George and his four sons who survived to adulthood were all involved in dairy farming and lumber work at one time or another. Stratton seems to have worked in both business, probably in an office capacity, after mid-1881.

Although some details of Stratton's life are unknown, a great deal can be found in the letters. He spent much of his life in parts of Chenango County, New York. He never married. He went to the Oxford Academy, which continues to serve (in an expanded form), as the central school district for Oxford. Around 1866, he attended business college in Poughkeepsie, New York.

In 1870 and early 1871, Stratton seems to have been looking for work. After a brief trip to visit family and friends in Mississippi and Georgia in the spring of 1871, he settled in Washington, DC, having taken a clerk position with the Office of Internal Revenue, Treasury Department. In 1877, he left the Treasury Department and traveled in California and Oregon. Letters from his trip, as well as after, suggest he may be been looking to find work there. He was back in Oxford the next year, however. By the spring of 1879, Stratton was working for Lord and Taylor in New York City. In 1881, he moved to Othello, Mississippi. Some time after May 1881, he returned again to Chenango County. It is unclear if he remained with the family business(es) or found other work. He died in 1939. His sister, Alice, was his only sibling still alive at that time.

Scope and Content

A significant portion of the family correspondence shares news from places around the country. There is also an emphasis on family business (the selling of butter from the farm, land, and stock dividends, for example) and local politics. Stratton's extended family lived throughout central and eastern New York, as well as in other parts of the country, and appear often throughout the correspondence both as writers and topics. In addition to Strattons, other connected families include the Chases, the Robinsons, the Ten Brocks (Ten Broecks) and the Juliands. A list of major correspondents by decade is provided at the start of the "Content List" below.

Note: There is very little correspondence for the period of June 1882 through November 1890, and none for the period of 1920 to 1934.

In addition to letters, the collection also contains a series of wedding and graduation invitations. During the second half of his life, while living predominantly in Oxford, New York, Stratton appears to have been a popular invitee. Many of the graduation invitations are for his old school, the Oxford Academy. Other materials include miscellaneous photographs and business papers.


The collection is arranged in three series–Series I: Correspondence, 1864-1940, Series II: Invitations, 1874-1935, and Series III: Ephemera.

Series I: Correspondence, 1864-1940, contains more than 75 years of personal and business letters written to, and in a few cases, by, Stratton. A majority of the letters are from immediate and extended family. The remainder are from friends and business associates. In addition to his own jobs over the years, Stratton appears to have facilitated business transactions for his family's dairy.

Hattie Chase (Stratton's cousin), wrote Stratton a number of letters from Georgia concerning treatment and perceptions of African-Americans in the south after the Civil War. Her letters continue into the early 1870s. After 1871, Stratton's brother, Edward, also writes about African-Americans, when he moved to Bolton, Mississippi, for a job with Robinson & Withers, later Robinson & Williams, then C. L. Robinson & Co. Charles L. Robinson was probably a relation through William and Edward's mother and step-mother.

Starting in 1878, Stratton received letters from a cousin, Eli Ten Brock, and a number of other friends living out west. These letters contain discussion of troubles with Indians, the growth of the railroad, and cattle driving in Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, and Texas. These were not the only colorful characters with whom he corresponded. After an unknown attack of some kind while living in Mississippi, a friend advised him that "if I had been in your place I would have shot a hole in him big enough to see what he had for last meal." His friend then recommends he buy a pistol and "shoot the H--l out of the first man that attempts to molest [him]." Later letters from his sister and brother-in-law, Alice and Ira MacFarland, relate stories of gold mining and ranching in Nevada.

This series is arranged chronologically.

Series II: Invitations, 1874-1935, includes invitations to events in and around Oxford, New York, and other locations. It contains two subseries: Subseries I: Weddings and Anniversaries, 1874-1935, and Subseries II: Graduations and Reunions, 1890-1900. Subseries I includes weddings and anniversary party invitations and announcements. Many of these have place cards attached. Subseries II contains invitations to graduation and reunion events at the Oxford Academy, some of which have attached calling cards.

This series is arranged chronologically within each subseries.

Index Terms

Contents List

Series I: Correspondence, 1864-1940
Scope Note

Major Correspondents, 1864-1869: Alice Brown, Hattie Chase, M.H. Hall, Wallace Mott, Anna (Annie), Julia, and Ida Nichols, George Stratton, Sarah Stratton (later Juliand), and Minnie Tremain.
Major Correspondents, 1870-1879: Hattie Chase, Lottie Lewis (later Currier), Edward L. Stratton, Harvey J. Stratton, George Stratton, and Maria A. Stratton.
Major Correspondents, 1880-1889: Edward L. Stratton, and Tracy F. Stratton.
Major Correspondents, 1890-1899: George Juliand, II, Ira MacFarland, and Jennie Randall.
Major Correspondents, 1900-1909: None.
Major Correspondents, 1910-1919: Edward L. Stratton.
Major Correspondents, 1920-1934: No correspondence from this period.
Major Correspondents, 1935-1940: Alice Stratton MacFarland.

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Series II: Invitations, 1874-1935
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Series III: Ephemera and Photographs, n.d.
Box-Folder: 2
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Significant Persons Associated With the Collection

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