Archives Collections

The Archives holds historical and cultural heritage materials about Lyme, Connecticut from the 17th century to the present,   especially for the  area within the present Town of Lyme. Brief descriptions follow, grouped under these  headings:

GENEALOGY • FAMILY AND PERSONAL PAPERS •  INSTITUTIONAL RECORDS • MANUSCRIPTS • NEWSPAPER • SPECIAL COLLECTIONS ( books, photographs, artifacts, maps, graphics, exhibits)

 GENEALOGY

William Beebe Genealogy Papers  Beebe’s (1915-2001) research notes and  correspondence relate to more than two hundred fifty Lyme families from the 18th into the 20th century, many from the northeast  area of the town. His collection of annotated genealogy reference books and some papers of his own Beebe and Royce family, Wesleyan education, work as Town Selectman and Treasurer, church organist and  legislative service are included..

Elizebeth Plimpton Genealogical Papers  Elizebeth Plimpton’s (1921-1994) papers include  research notes and  papers as well as some collected materials on more than one hundred seventy families of 17th and 18th century Saybrook Colony and the town of Lyme, CT. She shared a special interest in and work on Lyme’s first settlers with colleagues, some of whose notes are in the papers.  Plimpton was  Lyme Town Historian (1987-1993) and  a genealogist. There is  correspondence with   clients and the publication of her work with Verne Hall, The Vital Statistics of Saybrook.

Edith Raymond Genealogical Papers    Raymond’s genealogical research is  mainly on southeastern Connecticut and Lyme families, including the  Raymond and Bill family. There are reference files of transcribed bible and church records and notebooks of headstone inscriptions  (Lyme, East Haddam and selected other SE CT towns). Raymond had an active role in the Connecticut and national D.A R. in early 20th century and in other genealogical and patriotic organizations of the period.

FAMILY  AND PERSONAL PAPERS

Joseph A. Caples Papers  Life-long resident of Lyme, Joseph Caples (1873-1954), was a  descendent of Cuff Condol, a slave and freeman who settled in Lyme, CT in the late 18th century. The collection includes Caples’  hand-written memoir (1949),   nine diaries and  small notebooks (1913-1941). They contain personal history and informative material  about families, the community and socio-economic conditions in Lyme during his lifetime — “summaries” of his work and “business” affairs as  a farmer, laborer,  trapper, sheep shearer, Grassy Hill Church member and relations with many in the community and region. He was  married to Martha Bogue, of Mohegan descent  (1913-1941).  

Ely  Family Papers  The papers cover the life of Dr. Julian Griffin Ely (1894-1980), including World Wars I and II and  50 years of his medical practice in Lyme, CT (1925-1975). A  large scrapbook holds material and memorabilia about Dr. Ely, his family and the Lyme community in mid 20th century. Other Ely family material is about his father and grandfather (Drs. Josiah Griffin Ely Sr. and Jr.), also  physicians for Lyme, and for the early 19th century lumber business of A. P. and Samuel Cullick Ely at Ely Landing on the Connecticut River. More Ely information is found throughout the Collection.

Gertrude Harding Emerson Collection  “Trudy” (1921-2013) lived her entire life on Bill Hill, Lyme, CT and  collected many unpublished manuscripts and news articles about the area. Two oral histories and a video documentary of Ashlawn Farm on Bill Hill area were made with her, the latter using 20th century photographs of farm life from the Ray Harding family photo album .

Chamberlain Ferry Papers   Chamberlain Ferry (1907-1998) was very interestes in  the history and archaeology of the Ely landing area in Lyme  on the Connecticut River. The history of  shipping and boating life on the river and the preservation of the ecology and marshes of Lord’s Cove were strong interests. His papers include correspondence, published and unpublished writings on these topics and about his efforts in opposition to the National Park Service’s Connecticut Historic River Way Project.

Judy Friday Papers  Artist and photographer Judy Friday of Lyme, CT  wrote the book,  “A Year at Tiffany Farms” , 2002, documenting a full year with photographs, history and operational detail about this farm, one of few dairy farms left in Connecticut. Materials include her complete study digital images,  taped interviews with the Jack Tiffany family, farm workers and related farm operations, (dairy), and business correspondence related to the publication.

Sylvia Daniels Harding Papers  (1911-1997)  The papers are of   Jared Daniels Sr. and  James Ely Harding, Jr.  families of the Lyme-Hamburg Cove area. They include diaries, account books, business papers,   photographs, clippings and memorabilia. Subjects include domestic life, farming, dairying, shad fishing, fur trapping and the raw fur business, and Lyme one-room schools. Sylvia’s community work and memberships and her folk art as in “needle painting” are strong subjects.

Doris Reynolds Jewett Papers  “Doad” Jewett (1913-2013) wrote her memoir, “Things Remembered” (published 1991, revised 2006), which covers the Hamburg Reynolds and Sterling City Noah Harding  families of late 19th century Lyme and her growing up in the early 20th century. Her three oral histories recount personal and community history. Cartes de visite,  cased daguerreotypes and photographs are of   her mother’s Harding family  and  of Lyme residents.  The book, “Pioneer Boy and How He Became President” by William Thayer (1863), is included.

Carol Hardin Kimball Papers (1935-2002)  Research notes  and drafts for her contribution to “Tidewaters of the Connecticut River, an Explorer’s Guide to Hidden Coves and Marshes” byThomas Morley,  2000. Subjects include notable persons and families;  history of steam boats, shipbuilding, river  commerce,  slaves, cemeteries and gravestone carvers, and  special geological and ecological features. She was a conservationist and avid kayaker.

Lay Family Collection  The collection holds personal, business,   professional, legal  and town office papers for three generations of the Lay family — Oliver, Daniel and David Lay of Lyme and Old Lyme, CT — from 1815 to 1902.  Subjects of special interest are Oliver Lay’s original Stone Mill and Bradbury’s  cotton factory,   the Lyme—New London Turnpike,  the New Haven—New London and Stonington Railroad,   Western Reserve properties owned by Lyme residents,  fishing rights on the Connecticut River (6 Mile Island and Avery Place), and estate settlements  for clients and  family. Some  papers of Capt. Walter Chadwick and Capt. Daniel Chadwick of Old Lyme are interesting.

Parker Lord Collection  The papers are primarily of the John Griswold Ely and Richard Lord families of the Brockway and Hadlyme areas of Lyme, CT, primarily in the 19th century, passed down by family. The collection holds the original journal of the “Joshuatown Union Sewing Society” and lending library of Lyme, CT (1859-1863), a  transcription of the diary of Elizabeth Alice Ely Lord (1864-1876);  correspondence (1862) from her husband  Henry Lord Sill Lord during the Civil War; schooner business papers for Capt. John Heber Ely of Lyme (1859–1863) , home port Lyme.  Parker Lord’s research, conservation  and  restoration work for  Lyme and Hadlyme “ancient”  cemeteries are included.

Hiram P. Maxim II Papers   The papers of Hiram Maxim (1935–2008),  former Lyme Town Historian (1993-2008), include his research  and reports on 75 historic Lyme homes (1684 to 1850)  for age  and original owner/builder, his preservation interest in   colonial era Lyme cemeteries, especially the Lord Cemetery on Hamburg Road.  A  film made by his grandfather, Sir Percy Maxim,  titled  “Hamburg and its People”,  provides  rare scenes of the Hamburg Cove area, people and the Benit Farm on Blood Street in 1926.

Pierson Family Papers  The collection contains  original material  from eight  generations of the Pierson family of Bill Hill, Lyme, CT — correspondence, hand-made “fishing books”, accounts and leases for shad fishing in the Connecticut River and shoreline, business papers for lumber and haulage, and invoices and receipts for services to the Town. The   photographs  include many period tintypes, cartes de visite and cabinet cards.

Plimpton Historical Collection  Elizebeth Bull Plimpton (1921-1994), Lyme town historian and a descendant of first settlers,  collected an encyclopedic range of  historical material about Lyme and Old Lyme, CT, strongest for the 19th to mid-20th century — artists, authors, businesses, churches, community organizations, fishing, ferries, geography, historic properties and houses, military and maritime subjects,  schools and much more. There are original documents, transcriptions, research notes, manuscripts, journals and ledgers, photographs, and print materials.

Elizabeth Huey Putnam Historical Collection   This collection reflects the deep roots of  Elizabeth Putnam’s family and her own lifetime  (1912-2007) in the Brockway Ferry area of Lyme, CT.  There are   original documents, personal papers and artifacts about this area and the wider town of Lyme in the mid-19th into the 20th century.  Subjects include  Brockway ship building, oakum manufacturing, shad fishing, and quarrying, Connecticut River navigation, World War I and the Brockway/Joshuatown one-room school.  Family materials are for Laplace, Warner, Huey, Putnam and Sutton. Material about  her father, Robert Huey and shad fishing, is strong.  She wrote an excellent book about the Brockway Ferry,  Joshuatown, and Hadlyme areas  of Lyme, CT,  “Brockway’s Ferry,  Lyme, Connecticut, a History and Memoir” (1991 and in 2002 a revised edition with Wendolyn Hill ).

Raymond-Bill Collection  This small collection focuses on the Raymond homestead in Lyme, CT and the family of Hester Wood and James Laurence Raymond Sr. (1828-1914).  The “Autobiography of a Connecticut Country Girl” by Mary Comstock Raymond (1863-1949)  provides a unique perspective on   life and culture on the Raymond Farms and the  Pleasant Valley area. There are also some papers of  Caroline Raymond and her husband Edward Lyman Bill Sr., news clippings of events at the Raymond homestead and   documents   about the history of the Raymond  property.

Reynolds Family Collection  The collection is primarily about the entrepreneurial activities of  Ephraim O. Reynolds (1837-1916)  and his descendants  in the Hamburg Cove area of Lyme:  merchandizing, general store,  carriage building and automobile sales and service. An oral history of great-grandson, Leland Reynolds, is rich about the business and town history. A complete set (paper and digital) of the  material used in a video and book “Small Enough to Know You, Large Enough to Serve You”, produced by Reynolds Garage for the 150th year anniversary of  Reynolds Garage and Marine  (2009), is held by the Archives.

Photos and business papers of Carl Reynolds about  birch oil (Preston, Yantic and Ledyard) and cider mill (Waterford) enterprises , late 19th century to 1940, is included.

Stark Family Collection  The collection provides an excellent picture of a prominent farm, civic and political family of Lyme. Important sources are the “Autobiography of J. Warren Stark”  (1862-1951),   “Growing Up in the Early 20th Century”, the memoir of his daughter,  Jennie Stark (1901-2001),  and three oral histories by Jennie (at over 90 years old).  Subjects include family history; town politics,  government, community service;  farm life and tools; the roles of children and women , Lyme Impressionist artists,  women’s service in World War I and II, and Jennie’s teaching career and hooked rug folk-art. Copies of 20th century Stark Reunion Programs are available.

John Randall Sterling Papers  John Randall Sterling (1841-1884)  is a direct descendant of William who came to Lyme in 1695 ( Daniel, Joseph, William, John R.). He married Lizzie Geer Bill, daughter of James A. Bill.  Subjects include  domestic affairs, marriage, health and illness, life-styles, clothing fashion, and the steamship business on the Connecticut River.  There are  letters to “his dear and affectionate wife” (1868-1870),   account books for his personal  shopping business for Lyme residents  while  freight clerk on the SS “City of Hartford” between Hartford and New York, steam boat ephemera, common school and high school friendship books and school essays, agricultural award medals for the Bill family, and many  cabinet cards  of  the James A. Bill family  and Lyme scenes (from  original glass plate negatives by his son Gilbert Sterling ).

Sarah Marvin Sterling Collection  This collection holds papers from four Sterling generations who lived in the Sterling Homestead (John Sterling House 1740) on Sterling Hill Road, Lyme, CT.  The papers, reaching back to the late 18th century, were in the care of Sarah Marvin Sterling (d.1950). The bulk of the collection is from Sarah’s parents Stephen Parker Sterling (1842-1926) and Annie Warner Sterling and  some from their  r Sarah  as well (diaries, poetry). Subjects are history of family property (especially the Sterling City and Brown Hill areas) and the Sterling grist and saw mill;  Stephen’s legislative service,  Lyme Grange founding,  correspondence with Ohio and Western Reserve  family émigrés,  Sterling family Cemetery. There late 19th and early 20th c photos of the house and family from glass negatives,  a large collection of cartes de visite (family and community) and  cabinet cards (including General Assembly colleagues of Stephen), and documentation of the  designs of family-made quilts and stitchery.

INSTITUTIONAL RECORDS

First Congregational Church of Lyme Records  The records relate to the period from the  establishment of the Third Society of Lyme and its meeting house  in 1726, the relocation of the  meeting house to the Hamburg section of Lyme (1814), and the   designation of the congregation as the First Congregational Church of Lyme  at the time of the separation of the towns of Old Lyme and Lyme (1855). The  records include the treasurer’s books (1789-1871, 1912-1927) and church council minutes (1815-1904 and 1927-1946).  Papers of the  Rev. Enoch Fitch Burr, pastor for more than 50 years, 1870s architectural detail drawings for an unfinished neo-Gothic church  to replace the 1814 church, and miscellaneous photos and reports from the late 1900s are included. William Marvin’s printed address for the 200th anniversary provides excellent historical background.

Grassy Hill Congregational Church Records  The organization of the church as a strict Congregational Church  grew out of the Great Awakening in the 18th century. These records  include the Grassy Hill Congregational Society Minutes (1879-1918), Record of the Grassy Hill Christian Endeavor Society (1895-1913), legal documents for disbanding of the Grassy Hill Ecclesiastical Society in 1934,  the transfer of assets  to the Grassy Hill Congregational Church, “A Brief History” with historical lists of members and ministers,  and miscellaneous mid 20th century financial papers. The reprint of an address by Bruce Stark in 1996 on the 250th Anniversary of the founding of the church provides an excellent overview and historical background.

Lyme Grange Fair Association (Hamburg Fair)  The Association was established in 1899  “… to promote the interests of agriculture, horticulture, floriculture and the household arts.”  Records include a full set of Fair  premium books beginning in 1913, premium books for 1950s horse shows,    original minute books (1903-1968), posters,fair income/expense records of the 1950s, and 100th anniversary (2001) commemorative documents and ephemera. There are news clippings and photographs through the 20th century,

Lyme Grange #147 Records  The Lyme Grange received its charter from the National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry in 1896. The records include a set of original minute books (1896-1971), a copy of the Roll Book, manuscripts of lectures given at Grange meetings, memorials and personal  reminiscences.  Other items include literature, degree certificates and awards,  news clippings and photographs.

Ladies Benevolent Society (LBS) Records (1842-2012)  Minute books start in 1852 for the “Two Mite” society and  change  to “Ladies Benevolent Society” in 1896.  The minutes cover the Society’s meetings and the projects undertaken   to benefit primarily the First Congregational Church of Lyme, called the  Hamburg Church.  The society disbanded in 2012.

Lyme: Town of Lyme Collection There is a  set of Annual Financial Reports extending from 1885 to the present. The collection holds a variety of records and papers transferred from the Town to the Lyme Public Hall (Local History Archives), mainly 19th to mid- 20th century for preservation  such as registers  (draftees, able bodied men, licenses for physicians, dogs and bees), overseer and indenture contracts,  Connecticut School Fund accounts, interesting property records, legals;   orders to the town for a variety of services rendered; minutes for 19th c. school districts   and establishment of the library (1914); and photographs.

Public Hall Association Records (1886-1958)  This social and fraternal association, founded in 1886 by Lyme residents, was the predecessor to the present Lyme Public Hall Association. The records include the first Constitution and By-laws, land acquisition in Hamburg for the Hall, construction, Directors’  minutes and  treasurer’s accounts, and  arrangements with the fire company for use and renovation of the Hall (1956). In 1958, the association dissolved and sold the building to the Town of Lyme for the amount of the outstanding mortgage. There is ephemera for the many activities held over the years —  dances, lectures, theater productions, dinners.

MANUSCRIPT

Manuscript Collection .holds memoirs, diaries, correspondence, personal and business  account books, scrap books,  research notes, essays, certificates, one-room  school material,  and ephemera from the 19th  and 20th centuries. Of special interest are the  original petition by six proprietors to establish a “Common Field” (also known as Six Mile Island and Ely Meadows ) along with the hand-written “Record of the Common Field of Lyme” with  minutes, regulations and management practices of the proprietors’ from 1748 to 1855.

NEWSPAPER

The Lyme Public Hall Newspaper Collection  contains more than one thousand clippings from several southeastern Connecticut newspapers from late 19th century to the present, the bulk from mid period of the 20th century from The Deep River New Era, Pictorial Gazette, the New London Day, Connecticut Valley Advertiser. Local subjects are  obituaries, news and features about people, events, public issues and other aspects of community life in Lyme, economic and social history especially.

Main Street News Collection  The Main Street News of Essex, CT produced bi-annual supplements, “Lyme: Hometown Series”(1993-2002). They contain informative feature articles and historical photographs on Lyme history, farms, stores, churches, organizations, traditional and current community events, people and their projects, many written by Stanley Schuler.

Newsletter Collection  Newsletters and bulletins of Lyme civic, non-profit and volunteer organizations collected from 1996 forward: Lyme Ambulance Association, Lyme Land Conservation Trust, Lyme Heritage (Town Historian Newsletter), thePleasant Valley Association, Lyme political party Town Committees. The Lyme Public Hall newsletter is archived in the Lyme Public Hall Records.

Putnam Newspaper Collection  Elizabeth Huey Putnam  and her mother Dora Warner collected extensive news clippings about Lyme and Hadlyme from regional newspapers ( Deep River New Era, New London Day, Pictorial Gazette) spanning the  20th century. They had special interest in  artists, authors, musicians and other notable figures who lived in Lyme, local association  and organization events,  churches,  ferries, fishing, historic houses, mills, steamships, stores,  World War I and II and a large collection of obituaries.

“Hamburg”  Collection  contains the weekly,  published “Hamburg” columns  from the New London Day, written by Lyme resident and post mistress, Margaret Reynolds from 1948 to 1961. They contain updates and brief news items by name about Lyme notable and ordinary citizens, family visits and  travel,  illnesses and death, community  events and meetings.

SPECIAL COLLECTIONS

Artifacts  The Artifact Collection holds a variety of small objects—decorative, commemorative, honorary and  utilitarian—which have historical significance for  Lyme’s cultural history  and community life. They are associated with the one-room schools, Connecticut River navigation, shad fishing, business, farm life  and agriculture, social organizations,  domestic arts and the Hamburg Fair.

Audiovisuals  The collection consists of videos and slide show documentaries created by the Lyme Public Hall Association of Lyme  farms (Tiffany, Sankow and Harding);  panel discussions between Lyme residents at Lyme Public Hall meetings about the history of community  organizations,  farming,  one-room schools, hurricane of 1938; and interviews by Lyme School children of  town officials and teachers in the 1980s. There is a 1976 Hamburg Bicentennial parade filmed by Julia Smith.

Books and Pamphlets  The book collection contains  published works about Lyme and neighboring towns and books by Lyme authors—histories, monographs, biographies, memoirs, pictorials, scholarly journals and guides for reference and interpretation. There are also a number of family genealogies.

Lyme Public Hall Exhibit Records  The association has produced a series of exhibits held at the Lyme Public Hall over the Independence Day holiday since 1997 about Lyme and Lyme heritage. The records contain the planning and research papers and module contents (labels, text, photographs). Lyme subjects treated from an historical perspective have been farm life, dairies, mills, river and maritime life, one-room schools, artists and crafts persons, quilts and textiles, food ways and kitchen equipment, architectural styles,  lending libraries,  the ancient cemeteries and gravestone carvers, and  East Saybrook and Lyme in the 1600s (the settlers, Indian—Colonist relations, government organization).

Maps  The 19th and 20th century maps of  the Lyme, CT area and lower Connecticut River Valley vary in form: hand-drawn, printed, topographical, geodesic and aerial.  They show canal, railroad,  ferry, steamship and electric train routes;  civil defense and school districts; roads, householders, historic houses, mills and Indian tribes. Special items include  original 19th and early 20th century school maps on rollers from the Brockway/Joshuatown one-room school,  an original volume of F. W. Beers “Atlas of New London County” 1868, a copy of an 1850 map of Lyme/Old Lyme before the 1855 separation from Old Lyme, and an 1828 bound school atlas.

Oral Histories  This collection contains taped and transcribed interviews with  forty-five Lyme, CT residents (1988-2010) by Lyme Public Hall volunteers. Topics include: personal and family histories about their life in Lyme; livelihoods (farming and fishing, business);   neighborhoods; historic houses; schooling,  community institutions and membership; Hamburg Fair; artists, town characters, immigrants; the 1938 hurricane,  and saving the historic Lyme Public Hall building.

Photographs  This  large  collection holds valuable visual, historical  documentation of  individuals, families, buildings, the cultural history and natural environment of Lyme, CT. The photographs are primarily original  but also  scanned copies of photos  donated by individuals who wanted to retain the originals. There is a wide variety of format – tintype, daguerreotype, carte de visite, cabinet card, glass plate negative, 35 mm slide, print and digital. The majority of original prints are black and white but the collection is growing in color digital photos, especially for special studies undertaken by the Archives: Historic Lyme Houses and Architectural Styles; Lyme Quilts and Needle Arts; Carved Gravestones (from eight 18th c. Lyme cemeteries).

Other small collections within the Photograph Collection  hold photographs by Winifred Webster (Hamburg Fair, farmer personalities and landmark structures); CDV, cabinet cards and glass negative prints of Bill, Pierson, Sterling and Warner families; glass negative prints of views of Sterling City, Bill Hill, Ely’s Ferry and Hadlyme areas.

Post Cards  The collection holds more than 300 early 20th century post cards, an important visual source about the landmarks, environment and geography of Lyme, CT.  There are scenes from all sections of town—Lyme, Hamburg and Hamburg Cove, Hadlyme, North Plain, Joshuatown, Brockway Ferry, Selden Island.

The majority of cards carry black and white photographs many of them the work of  Lyme photographers Gilbert Sterling (1872-1942), Clarence R. and Clarence E. Brockway. Formats are pre and post 1907, private and postal service issue,  show the names of local store keepers  as publishers (Reynolds, Czikowsky, Brockway) and the imprint of foreign printers. There are also color art and lithographed cards.