Skip to main content

Thomas Brady Collection

Identifier: RH-A-3997

Scope and Contents

Letters written to J. Dorr Waterman (1835-1883) make up most of this collection. The letters were written by five different young women between 1851 and 1860. The letters reveal that Waterman had close relationships with these women. They often express how they miss him, wish to see him, and enjoy his company. It is also clear from these letters that Waterman traveled back and forth between his birthplace in Le Roy, Genesee County, New York, and Kalamazoo many times before and after permanently settling there in 1857. Three of the women were residents of New York, near Le Roy, and two lived in Kalamazoo. Mary “Mollie” Whipple (1836-1854) of Riga, New York, wrote 28 of the letters from 1851-1853. Her last letter, dated October 1853, reveals that she was suffering from an illness and embarking on a journey to New York City for treatment. Hattie [Fiske?] (unknown birth and death dates), a resident of Stafford, New York, wrote 12 letters between 1854 and 1855; Sophie Cash (1834-1932) of Le Roy, New York, wrote two undated letters; Jane Drake (1826-1899) of Kalamazoo wrote two letters in 1860; and Maria Drake (1836-1883) of Kalamazoo wrote one undated letter. Maria Drake married Waterman in 1866, but it is unclear if her letter was written before or after their marriage.

Another large portion of this collection is made up of correspondence and financial records of Waterman’s mother, Mary C. Simonds (1813-1868), and her second husband Darwin Simonds (1812-?). Much of the correspondence concerns a lawsuit the Simonds brought against a man named Kellogg. Most of the financial records are receipts for items Mary Simonds purchased both before and after her marriage to Darwin Simonds.

The items related to the Civil War include two letters written by a union soldier, a certificate for stock purchased in the Soldiers and Sailors Association, two mail-order copies of the Gettysburg Address, a small reproduction of a photograph of Abraham Lincoln, and a mail-order form for purchasing Lincoln-related material. The letters detail the uniform the soldier wore, the death of another soldier, and camp conditions. It is unclear if or how these items relate to Waterman or Simonds.

Advertisements and tax receipts for Kalamazoo and Van Buren Counties make up the final part of this collection. The items date roughly from 1874 to 1903. The ads include material for Kalamazoo area hotels, the Lynch Bros. Dry Goods store of Kalamazoo, and H. Stern and Co. Clothiers of Kalamazoo. The tax receipt is for property owned in Van Buren County in 1874. There are also three letters written to residents of Kalamazoo and Van Buren Counties, including Dr. Charles Maynard (1830-1910) of Paw Paw. It is not clear if or how these items relate to Waterman or Simonds.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1857-1883



1 boxes

Language of Materials



This collection consists of papers and materials relating mostly to Joseph Dorr Waterman and his mother, Mary C. Waterman (later Simonds). The collection contains the correspondence and financial records of these individuals. There are also items not related to the Waterman/Simonds family, including a wallet, Civil War era letters and keepsakes, and advertisements for Kalamazoo businesses. J. Dorr Waterman was a resident of Kalamazoo from 1857-1883.

Physical Description

The total space of the collection measures .25 cubic feet, but individual items range in size. The smallest item in the collection (reproduced photograph of Abraham Lincoln) measures 13/4” x 31/2”, and the largest (a letter concerning Mary C. Waterman) measures 77/8” x 121/4”. The only non-paper, three-dimensional object (a wallet) measures 71/2” x 31/8” x 7/16”. The size of the letters, which make up the bulk of the collection, and also vary in size. Some of the letters are as small as 75/16” x 53/8”, while others measure 133/16” x 83/4” unfolded.

There is also a range in the condition of each item in the collection. The Civil War era letters are in the worst condition, as they have torn into several pieces and some of the writing is faded. However, these letters have been transcribed onto small pieces of note paper by an unknown individual. The transcriptions are easy to read, and are located in the same folder as the originals. The wallet is also in poor condition, as the red leather cover is torn and peeling in many locations, and the name on the front is indecipherable. The bulk of the letters are in fair condition. Most are folded at least once, and a handful are torn along the fold lines. The writing mediums used vary between ink and pencil, and remain sufficiently visible except in a couple places. The readability of the writing is fairly good in most places, though readers can expect to encounter some difficulty in deciphering the handwriting. Some of the correspondence comes with envelopes, which have been clipped to their respective letters.


This collection is named for Thomas Brady, Kalamazoo lawyer and the father-in-law of the woman who donated the collection, Christine Brady of the Idaho State Historical Society.


Thomas Brady Collection Finding Aid
Jenifer Blouin
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Western Michigan University Archives & Regional History Collections Repository

Charles C. and Lynn L. Zhang Legacy Collections Center
1650 Oakland Drive
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5307 US
(269) 387-8490