Wilson Papers, 1790-1952, MS 833

Wilson Papers, 1790-1952

Maryland Historical Society


(Text converted and initial EAD tagging provided by Apex Data Services, March 1999.)

Wilson Papers, 1790-1952
Maryland Historical Society

Contact Information:
Manuscripts Department
Maryland Historical Society Library
201 West Monument Street
Baltimore MD 21201-4674
Fax: 410.385.2105


Descriptive Summary

Register for WILSON PAPERS

MS 833

Maryland Historical Society

Baltimore MD 21201-4674


Biographical Sketch

Rev. Franklin Wilson (1822-1896) was a Baptist minister and social welfare activist. During the Civil War, he wrote and delivered speeches on freedom of speech, abolition, and peace. Other causes he espoused were religious freedom, church taxation, occupational training for wayward women, and the YMCA.

J. Appleton Wilson (1851-1927), son of Franklin, was an architect, and was involved in several patriotic and historical institutions. A highlight of his professional career was the restoration of the old Senate Chamber in Annapolis.

Other Wilson family members whose papers are in this collection are William Wilson (1749-1824), a Baltimore merchant, shipowner, and president of the Bank of Baltimore; his sons and business partners, James (1775-1851) and Thomas (1777-1845). Thomas was the father of Franklin. Also, Mrs. Franklin (Virginia Appleton) Wilson (1824-1902), who managed the Baltimore Orphan Asylum and the Baltimore Rosine Female House of Refuge; Adelaide S. Wilson (1860-1925), daughter of Franklin; and Miss Virginia Appleton Wilson (1881-1957), daughter of J. Appleton. (See the genealogical chart accompanying this page).


Scope and Content Note

The Wilson family papers (1790-1952) concern members of five generations of the Wilson family; however, are mostly the papers of Rev. Franklin Wilson and his son, J. Appleton. The collection consists mostly of personal papers, i.e. letters, diaries, scrapbooks, photographs, receipts, deeds, wills, and personal account books, but also contain church records of the High Street Baptist Church kept by Rev. Wilson, papers of the Franklin Square Baptist Church kept by J. Appleton Wilson as trustee, and office records of J. Appleton's architectural firm. Also among the business records are many accounts of properties and estates of the Wilsons and of others for whom they were trustees or executors.

The papers document the commitment of a wealthy and prominent family to its church, country, and community. The letters and diaries from the early Wilson papers to those of J. Appleton reveal the importance of religion to generations of Wilsons and their relatives. Because of the variety of materials, the collection presents a comprehensive view (from the mid-1840's to 1927) of the education, family life, family history, professional careers, [UNK], and interests and activities of a 19th century Baptist minister and a professional architect. The letters, diaries and scrapbooks of the women of the family are less extensive, but highlight the homelife of the family. Early Wilson family papers are sparse, but are complemented by papers in other collections mentioned above.

Prepared by Edith Prise

Assistant Manuscripts Librarian

February, 1978



Personal and business papers (1790-1952) of members of five generations of the Wilson family of Baltimore comprise this collection. The papers, however, are predominantly those of Rev. Franklin Wilson, a Baptist minister, and his son, J. Appleton Wilson, an architect. Topics in the collection include the War of 1812, religion, architecture, travel, Maryland history, family history, and genealogy.

The papers were donated by Miss Virginia Appleton Wilson (1946) and by her estate (1958) to the Maryland Historical Society. Other Wilson family papers are in manuscript collections 833.1, 1066, 1149 and 2278.

9 boxes.


Series Descriptions

Early Wilson Family Papers


Papers include letters (1814-1823) of Thomas Cruse of Alexandria, Virginia to his wife and daughters, Mary (later Mrs. Thomas Wilson), and Anne (Mrs. William Power) discussing religion, family history, and the War of 1812; a floor plan for the Sharp Street Baptist Church drawn by William Wilson (1818); portrait and letters (1822-1838) of Mary Cruse Wilson concerning religion and family news, also a diary of a trip to Bedford Springs [Pa.] by Priscilla Stansbury, a Wilson cousin who later assisted in raising Mary Wilson's children; letter (1837) from James H. Wilson (son of Thomas) to his uncle [James?] concerning business; letters of Thomas Wilson (1837-1843) concerning business, and a revival of religion on the campus of Brown University where his sons Franklin and William studied; and estate papers (1851-1890) including wills, inventories, and executors cash books of James and Mary Shields Wilson. Other items include a letter to Emma [Wilson] Teackle (daughter of Thomas) about religion (1839); letter to Dr. William Power from abroad concerning the illness of a Wilson family member (1843); a copy of a letter from Reverdy Johnson and John Mason Campbell to George Austin concerning a Baltimore property (1839); and Thomas Wilson's cyphering book (1790), a notebook of mathematical exercises.




Papers of Rev. Franklin Wilson


Franklin Wilson (1822-1896), a Baptist minister, was involved in social welfare activities, and was co-founder of the Maryland Industrial School for Girls and the Baltimore YMCA. Franklin wrote two books: The Duties of Churches to their Pastors; Wealth--Its Acquisition, Investment and Use, and his autobiography, composed from his journals, was published in 1897. He also edited The Christian Review, and wrote articles for it and the True Union, as well as numerous tracts for causes and subjects in which he was interested. Rev. Wilson's papers are organized under the categories of correspondence, financial papers, legal papers, writings, printed material, and bound volumes.

The correspondence (1844-1896) of Rev. Franklin Wilson covers a variety of topics and reflects his personal stand on religious and social issues. [UNK] from a cousin, Melville Wilson, and John Davis in Sligo, discuss the effects of the potato famine in Ireland and donations for relief. Relatives discuss family news and financial concern. Some correspondence relates to Franklin's career, and includes letters of recommendation stating his qualifications; affairs of the churches which he served; comments on or requests for his articles and books. Some correspondence also concerns his speeches and writings on religious liberty in America and taxation of church property. Throughout the 1850's and 1860's the correspondence

concerns Franklin's appeals for peace and stands on such issues as the abolition, slavery, and freedom of speech (during the Civil War). After the Civil War, Franklin received a letter from A. T. Spalding describing the ruins of a Baptist church in Selma, Alabama (Nov. 19, 1865); one from Mrs. Julia Breakers describing the sufferings of a Yankee in the South (Charleston); and one from Lt. Moore of the 48th Virginia Regiment at Ft. Delaware officers prison thanking him for books.

Among Franklin's financial papers (1828-1897) are those that relate to private financial matters and also to the church. For 1864 there is a list of individual incomes for the First, Seventh, Eighth and Franklin Square Baptist churches. An agreement (1874) with the Bible and Publishing Society of Philadelphia sets the royalty fees for his book on wealth. Among these papers, also, is a Monthly Report of Operations at the Battery Hudson for October (1841) by Capt. R. E. Lee, Corps of Engineers Superintendent. The report details the number of masons, carpenters and laborers employed and gives a cash account. The signature has been clipped from the document.

Property deeds and agreements, several versions of Thomas Wilson's will (1826-1845), and estate papers, including his own and estates for which he was trustee (Priscilla Locke and John Loane), comprise Franklin's legal papers.

Franklin's writings (some handwritten and some in printed

form) include sermons; a resolution to form the YMCA (1852); remarks on usury laws; an appeal of the Union Association of the Baltimore Rosine for a female reformatory; facts and thoughts about Columbian College; and the Maryland Industrial School for Girls. Included for the latter are specifications for the building for the School, a subscription list, an invitation to its opening and a first annual report.

Printed material collected by Franklin include announcements of meetings at which he spoke (on religious freedom, forming the YMCA, a day of prayer for peace, funds for the education of Virginia soldiers), the first annual report of the Baltimore YMCA, and a biographical sketch of John Appleton read before the Maine Historical Society (1890) by George Emery.

Bound volumes of Rev. Wilson's papers include diaries and journals (1835-1873), lecture notes, newsclippings about articles in the Christian Review; financial ledgers and property books (1846-1896). Also, church records, including a list of sermons preached (when and where); a book containing the marriage ceremony he used, with a list of persons he married (1847-1896), and baptized (1846-1890); a pastor's book for the High Street Baptist Church that includes annual records (1847-1851) and membership statistics; and a visiting list for the same church recording name, address and date of visit.




Papers of Virginia Appleton Wilson (Mrs. Franklin)


Mrs. Wilson's papers include letters from her husband and relatives about family matters (1852-1888). Also, in bound volumes, a group of letters of condolence upon the death of her son, Franklin Hamilton, in 1892; and a group of letters, poems, gift acknowledgements, etc. that concern her engagement and wedding, and include photographs of her and Rev. Wilson taken in 1896. Other bound volumes include a diary, a journal, and a recipe book.




Papers of Adelaide S. Wilson


Adelaide Stansbury Wilson was the daughter of Rev. Franklin Wilson and the sister of J. Appleton. Her papers include family letters (1888-1902) and two autobiographical sketches; legal papers (1906-1925) concerning contracts, bonds and insurance for houses and property; journals and diaries (1880-1907); verse about her niece and other relatives (in a scrapbook, 1876-1889); a book of rhymes and jingles for her niece, Virginia Appleton Wilson; a scrapbook of newspaper and journal clippings of articles and photographs on Baptist history, including ministers, missionaries, laymen, churches, chapels and colleges.




Papers of Miss Virginia Appleton Wilson


Virginia Appleton Wilson (1881-1957) was the daughter of J. Appleton Wilson. Her papers consist mostly of legal papers (1922-1952) dealing with property, and a school notebook of history notes and poetry.




Papers of J. Appleton Wilson


J. Appleton Wilson (1851-1927) was the son of Rev. Franklin Wilson. He was a professional architect who served on the Baltimore Municipal Art Commission and who was involved in several patriotic and historical institutions. Appleton's papers are arranged in the same categories as those of Rev. Franklin Wilson's papers.

Appleton's correspondence (1892-1927) contains letters from relatives about family concerns, including family history and genealogy, and his travels. A few letters concern financial transactions on property and stock shares. Most of the correspondence, however, concerns Appleton's activities as member of the Municipal Art Commission; the Societies of the War of 1812, Sons of the Revolution, and Descendents of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence; as corresponding secretary of the Maryland Historical Society; restorer of the old Senate Chamber in Annapolis; and as trustee of the Franklin Square Baptist Church. Invitations and programs of various dinners and monument dedications are included. Among those declining dinner invitations in 1917 were Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and Secretary of the Navy, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Other letters acknowledge Appleton's gifts to the Maryland Historical Society and the Peabody Institute. Letters relating to duties as trustee of the Franklin Square Baptist Church

mostly concern financial matters. Letters concerning the Senate Chamber restoration date from 1894-1906, and include letters from Gov. Ritchie about the project. Topics in the correspondence include incidents and personalities in Maryland history, architecture, historic preservation and restoration, and patriotic education. One interesting letter to Appleton is from the Superintendent of the U. S. Capitol Building and Grounds answering criticism on the artistic arrangement of the statues in Statutory Hall.

Appleton's legal papers (1877-1930) include contract agreements for building houses; an opinion by the Court of Appeals in the case of Henry J. Berkley v. J. Appleton Wilson; a promissory note for the creation of a Franklin Hamilton Wilson Fund; deeds and title abstracts; wills of Eben D. Appleton and James Teackle Dennis (both 1916); estate papers of Priscilla Locke (1897-1903) and his own (1906-1930). Miscellaneous documents include a passport (1901), and appointment as manager of the Maryland School for Boys (1908).

Financial papers (1890-1919) include stock share certificates and receipts.

Writings (1904-1927) include a memorial sketch of George Freeman Emery (1904); a report on Society of Colonial Wars property (1918); typed list of Maryland historic sites (1922); typed list

of personnel of the Executive Committee of the Stone Mountain Confederate Monument Association (with biographical sketches); typed copy of the certified record of the General Entry Book of Prisoners of War at Quebec...; typed history of the old Senate Chamber; typed copy of the First Report of the Female Humane Society Charity School (1803); notes on Maryland history (including Barbara Fritchie's house and Maryland officers in the Confederate States Army); a talk before the Maryland Historical Society; and an autobiographical sketch of himself.

Printed material includes programs of monument dedications, newsclippings on items of historical interest, and a manual of the Franklin Square Baptist Church (1907) with a brief history and constitution and by-laws.

Appleton died in 1927, and memorial resolutions in his honor and letters of condolence and requests for biographical details addressed to Mrs. Appleton Wilson conclude the correspondence.

Appleton's papers in bound volumes include journals and diaries (1867-1927); architectural notes (1871, 1873) from lectures of Professor W. R. [UNK] at M.I.T.; office record books (1884-1909) that are journals of daily business activities; a contract book (1905-1920) of accounts with his clients; a book listing property owned by himself and his sister Adelaide, giving property locations, maps, improvements and repairs, and mortgages; a pedigree book of Wilson family genealogy and a genealogical

notebook on the Steuart, Digges and Sprigg families; scrapbooks with news and journal clippings of articles and photographs on buildings in Baltimore and Maryland [pasted in a cash book (1891-1899) of the North Baltimore Land Improvement Company of Baltimore City, of which Appleton was a trustee], buildings, people, churches in the U.S. and Europe, Appleton's projects, and literary, political, and musical personalities. [Also, a photograph album dated 1901 with pictures, mostly of buildings, in Europe and historical sites in America. TRANSFERRED TO PRINTS and PHOTOGRAPHS There are also photographs of buildings in Baltimore: some of the sites of the Baltimore fire in 1904, and some of new construction on razed sites; of branches 16 and 17 of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, the Colored Ward at Spring Grove, and other buildings and street scenes.]


Container List


Early Wilson Family Papers



1814, 1822-1823

Letters of Thomas Cruse





Plan of the New Baptist Church, Sharp St. [Balto., Md.] by William Wilson




1822, 1824, 1838, n.d.

Letters of Mary [Cruse] Wilson





Letter of James H. Wilson to uncle [James?]




1837, 1838, 1843

Letters of Thomas Wilson





Letter to Emma [Wilson] Teackle




1839, 1843

Letters: Reverdy Johnson and James Mason Campbell to George Austin (copy); Dr. William Power from Lorenzo Drajer (?)




Bound volumes:




Thomas Wilson's Cyphering Book





James Wilson's Estate





Cash book - Executors of James Wilson





Cash book - Executors of James Wilson





Cash book - Executors of James Wilson





Cash book - Executors of James Wilson





Cash book - Executors of James Wilson







Early Wilson Family Papers, bound volumes cont.




Cash book - Executors of James Wilson





Cash book - Executors of James Wilson





Cash book - Executors of James Wilson





Cash book - Executors of James Wilson





Cash book - Executors of James Wilson





Mary [Shields] Wilson's Estate (Mrs. James Wilson)





Correspondence of Rev. Franklin Wilson





Correspondence of Rev. Franklin Wilson





Correspondence of Rev. Franklin Wilson





Correspondence of Rev. Franklin Wilson





Correspondence of Rev. Franklin Wilson





Financial papers of Rev. Franklin Wilson





Financial papers of Rev. Franklin Wilson






Papers of Rev. Franklin Wilson cont.




Legal papers of Rev. Franklin Wilson





Legal papers of Rev. Franklin Wilson





Legal papers of Rev. Wilson--estate of Priscilla Locke





Legal papers of Rev. Wilson--estate of Rev. Wilson





Legal papers of Rev. Wilson--estate of John Loane





Writings of Rev. Franklin Wilson




1863-1869, n.d.

Writings of Rev. Franklin Wilson re: Maryland Industrial School for Girls and Union Association of Baltimore Rosine





Doctor of Divinity - honorary degree from Columbian College to Rev. Franklin Wilson





Printed material




Bound volumes:




Diaries and journals of Rev. Franklin Wilson





[Lecture] Notes on Matthew - Newton Theological Institute, Prof. Hackett's class





Scrapbook of clippings about The Christian Review (Rev. Wilson, editor)







bound volumes cont. - papers of Rev. Franklin Wilson




Book for lectures - College lecture notes (science)





Book for sermons preached (when and where)





Common place book for anecdotes, striking remarks, etc





Formula for Marriage [ceremony]



Persons married by Rev. Wilson (1847-1896)




Persons baptized by Rev. Wilson (1846-1890)






Visiting List of the High Street Baptist Church





Pastor's book of the High Street Baptist Church





Subscriptions to the Baltimore Baptist Church Extension Society





Account book





Property account book - improvements (1841-1890)





Accounts with Lawrason and Kelly and Dr. Franklin Lane





Expense account





Cash book (expenses)





Property account book





Account book (expenses)





Income List





Account book





Account book





Account book





Account book





Account book





Account book





Account book






Papers of Virginia Appleton Wilson (Mrs. Franklin Wilson)




Letters of Virginia Appleton Wilson




Bound volumes:




In Memoriam to Franklin H. Wilson [letters to Rev. and Mrs. Wilson on the death of their son]





Memorials of Virginia Appleton - Mrs. Franklin Wilson (1824-1902)





Pocket diary










Recipe book/property list






Papers of Adelaide Stansbury Wilson



1888-1902, n.d.

Letters and biographical sketches - Adelaide S. Wilson





Legal papers of Adelaide S. Wilson




Bound volumes:














Pocket diary




















Rhymes and Jingles for Virginia Wilson by her Aunt Adelaide Wilson










Life Story of Franklin Wilson (book)






Papers of Miss Virginia Appleton Wilson




Notebook of Virginia Appleton Wilson





Legal papers of Virginia Appleton Wilson




1848, 1860, 1853, 1866, 1892

Locks of hair - Franklin Wilson, Adelaide Wilson, Mrs. Franklin Wilson, John Appleton Wilson and Virginia Appleton Wilson






Papers of J. Appleton Wilson




Correspondence of J. Appleton Wilson





Correspondence of J. Appleton Wilson





Correspondence of J. Appleton Wilson





Correspondence of J. Appleton Wilson re: restoration of Senate Chamber, Annapolis





Legal papers of J. Appleton Wilson





Legal papers of J. Appleton Wilson - Estate papers of J. Appleton Wilson





Legal papers of J. Appleton Wilson - Estate of Priscilla Locke




1901, 1908

Documents of J. Appleton Wilson





Financial papers of J. Appleton Wilson





Writing of J. Appleton Wilson




1869, n.d.

Drawings of J. Appleton Wilson





Printed material of J. Appleton Wilson





Letters to Mrs. J. Appleton Wilson (Mary Wade) re death of her husband and biographical information





Memorial resolutions for J. Appleton Wilson





Bound volumes:




Journals and diaries





Journals and diaries





Journals and diaries





Journals and diaries





Journals and diaries





Journals and diaries





Journals and diaries





Journals and diaries





Journals and diaries





Journals and diaries





Journals and diaries





Journals and diaries










Jan. 1871

Architectural notebook





Office Record Book





Office Record Book





Office Record Book




1873, 1880's, 1890's

Lecture on Construction by Prof. W. R. WaRe, M.I.T. (1873); architectural drawings and notes, list of new buildings and additions for which JAW made drawings





Contract Book





Property Book of J. Appleton Wilson and Adelaide S. Wilson





Record of Barometer and Thermometer [readings] Oaklands





Notebook of genealogical information: Steuart, Digges, Sprigg families





Pedigree Book of J. Appleton Wilson






Scrapbook - Baltimore and Maryland





Scrapbook of newspaper and journal clippings re work of JAW and on various buildings





Scrapbook of newspaper clippings of photographs of literary, musical and political personalities





Scrapbook of clippings of photos of monarchs, nobility




BOX 10


Photograph album (TRANSFERRED TO PRiNTS and PHOTOGRAPHS 4/79)