Correspondence between Thomas Kensett to his Baltimore fiancee, Gertrude W. Brown, during their courtship. Topics include day-to-day life, ill health, dental work, a poem about the joys of smoking, and skin problems. Also included are documents pertaining to the couple's daughter, Gertrude Kensett Vanderhoef, including her 1906 will. A sister collection may be found at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore (MS 2854).
This collection is open for research.
Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.
The Thomas Kensett Family papers span the years 1856 through 1908 with the bulk of the material dating between 1873 and 1879. The collection contains correspondence and a will. Subjects covered include travel, health, and the sale of paintings by John Frederick Kensett.
Thomas Kensett was born in Cheshire, Connecticut, on February 12, 1814, the eldest son of Thomas Kensett (1786-1829) and Elizabeth Daggett Kensett (1791-1876). Thomas Kensett (the elder) was born in England and immigrated to New York. He and Elizabeth Daggett married in New Haven, Connecticut on May 9, 1813. They had five children. Thomas was the eldest, followed by John Frederick (1816-1872), a well-known American landscape painter; Elizabeth (b. 1817); Frederick (1819-1881); and Ezra (1821-1822). In 1825, Thomas Kensett (the elder) and his father-in-law, Ezra Daggett, received a patent for preserving food in tin cans. The younger Thomas opened an oyster and fruit canning factory in Baltimore in 1849. He became prominent in the Baltimore business community where he served as President of the Baltimore Oyster Packers' Association and Director of the Second National and Mechanics Bank. He also had an interest in railroads, owned real estate and was a member of the Presbyterian Church.
Thomas Kensett married Eliza Price Wheeler (1822-1849) in 1838 or 1839. They had four children: Thomas H. (b. 1840), Eliza (b. 1842), Sarah (b. 1844), and John R. (b. 1846). Following Eliza's death in March 1849, Kensett married her sister, Sarah Ann Wheeler (1815-ca. 1872). He and Sarah Ann had three children: Edward (b. 1852), Emily (b. 1855) and Mary (b. 1858). In 1876, Kensett married Gertrude W. Brown (1848-ca. 1906). Their daughter, Gertrude, was born in 1877. Following his death in August 1877, Gertrude and her daughter moved to New York State. Gertrude remarried and was known as Gertrude W. Elder. Gertrude Kensett, the daughter, married Frank Fellows Vanderhoef.
The collection is organized into two series.
The University of Maryland Libraries purchased the Thomas Kensett Family papers from Carmen D. Valentino, a rare books and manuscripts dealer, in 2005.
Digital copies of the letters in this collection are available at http://digital.lib.umd.edu/results.jsp?index1=dmKeyword&query1=Thomas+Kensett+Family in the University of Maryland's Digital Collections.
The materials were placed in acid-free folders and stored in an acid-free box.