Guide to the Leavenworth Family Papers, 1733-1927 and undated


Family originally from Connecticut; later settled in Petersburg, Virginia.

Correspondence, journals, memorandum books, sermons, an autograph album (1822), and other papers of Abner Johnson Leavenworth and of his son, Frederick P. Leavenworth. Sermons comprise about half of the manuscript collection. Includes pre-Civil War letters from theological students in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York; a tuition ledger for the Van Buren, Arkansas Female Seminary (1860-1862); and genealogical information on the Leavenworth family. Correspondents include Calvin Colton, Harrison Gray, Otis Dwight, Jeremiah Evarts, Samuel Lee, Benjamin Palmer, and Noah Porter.

Descriptive Summary

David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
Leavenworth family
Leavenworth Family papers 1733-1927 and undated
Language of Material
English and Latin
20.0 Linear Feet, 2838 Items
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Collection Overview

The Leavenworth Family Papers cover 1733 to 1927 with the bulk of the manuscripts from the 1820s to the 1880s. The collection predominately consists of the sermons of Abner Johnson Leavenworth (1803-1869) as well as both his correspondence and that of his son, Frederick Peabody Leavenworth (1833-). Sermons date from as early as 1826 and extend through the Civil War period.

The correspondence of Abner Johnson Leavenworth deals largely with religious and missionary topics. Additional topics covered in both Abner and Frederick's correspondence include Civil War and Reconstruction in Petersburg, V.A.

The diaries of Frederick Leavenworth begin in 1857 with comments on the Minnesota Territory. Leavenworth was in St. Peter, Nicolett County, and visited St. Paul. He illustrated the diary with sketches of the Falls of Minnehaha; Mendota, Minnesota; the Indian Warrior, Iron Elk; and Fort Snelling. In 1860, Leavenworth went to Van Buren, Arkansas, and opened a school. He illustrates with a sketch of Van Buren and with a sketch of the C.S.S.Ponchartrain (p. 23). The diary has no entries between 1860 and February, 1862, when the Civil War reached Van Buren (p. 36) and refugees from Missouri were passing through Van Buren. Leavenworth refers to the Confederate officers, troops, and wounded in a general way. He became involved in the Quartermaster Corps and arrived at Fort Smith (p. 51) on March 26, 1862. Here he makes quarterly reports, has corn shelled, and refers to Confederate troop movements. He goes to Arkadelphia in June, 1862 (p. 66). Finally on August 1, 1862, he is commissioned Captain of Artillery and Ordnance, takes charge of the foundry at Shreveport, Louisiana, and establishes another at Jefferson, Texas. He describes briefly (pp. 108-109) the effect of the surrender of General Taylor as the Confederate forces disintegrate Confederate supplies are distributed. Captain Leavenworth turns over his Confederate property to the agent of the U.S. Treasury. By September, 1865, he is engaged to work as engineer in charge of inspection of materials for the Marshall Railroad.

Additional materials include an extensive geneaology of the Leavenworth family; a copy of Civil War letters to Mrs. E. A. Skelton; a letter dated July 13, 1864 concerning the death of James Addison Porter before Atlanta, Georgia, and the fighting near Atlanta; a few religious pamphlets entitled "Reasons to Not Be a Baptist" and "Condition and Character of Females in Pagan and Mohammedan Countries;" and a scrapbook, 1835-1868, compiled by Abner Johnson Leavenworth.

Administrative Information

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 48 business hours in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

warning Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Contents of the Collection

Series includes correspondence, genealogy, sermons, notes, and journals. Manuscripts have been divided into two sections: correspondence and other papers have been sorted apart from sermons. Each portion of the series has been arranged chronologically. Materials in box 9 and 12 are fragile.

(1 folder)
Box 1
Letters and papers, 1812-1853
(8 folders)
Box 1
Letters and papers, 1854-1862
(8 folders)
Box 2
Letters and papers, 1863-1879
(9 folders)
Box 3
Letters and papers, 1880-1890
(5 folders)
Box 4
Letters and papers, undated
(3 folders)
Box 4
Sermons, 1826-1830
Box 5
Sermons, 1831-1841
Box 6
Sermons, 1842-1867
(7 folders)
Box 7
Sermons, undated
(8 folders)
Box 8
Sermon outlines
(3 folders)
Box 9
Christian Almanac, undated
Box 9
(27 folders)
Box 10
(3 folders)
Box 11
Announcements and invitations, 1848-1909
(1 folder)
Box 11
Bills and receipts, 1808-1927
(5 folders)
Box 11
(3 folders)
Box 11
Printed materials, 1820-1920
(6 folders)
Box 11
Surveying papers, 1830-1910
(9 folders)
Box 11
Legal papers, 1733-1910
(3 folders)
Box 11
Frederick P. Leavenworth's journals, 1857-1865, 1888, 1890
(3 items)
Box 12
Catalogue of a Private Library, undated
Box 12
Condition and Character of Females in Pagan and Mohammedan Countries, undated
Box 12
The Conversion of Sinners: A Common Christian Duty
Box 12
Reasons for Not Being a Baptist, 1834
Box 12
Financial papers, 1815-1924
(3 folders)
Box 12
Miscellaneous papers, 1859-1870s and undated
(2 folders)
Box 12
Processing information
Box 12

Bound volumes and manuscripts from Abner Johnson and Frederick Peabody Leavenworth.

Autograph Album, 1822; Waterbury, Connecticut
Volume S:2221
Memorandum Book, 1847; Petersburg, Virginia
Volume S:2222
Memorandum Book, 1865-1868; Petersburg, Virginia
Volume S:2223
Memorandum Book, 1866-1868; Petersburg, Virginia
Volume S:2224
Copy of Inventory of Personalty at Blue Ridge Springs, October 24, 1883; Blue Ridge Springs, Virginia
Volume M:2225
Excerpts dedicated to his father, July 5, 1851; New Haven, Connecticut
Volume S:2226
Tuition ledger for Van Buren Female Seminary, 1860-1862; Van Buren, Arkansas
Volume L:2227
Memoranda of the Leavenworths, 1865 [Genealogy]; Petersburg, Virginia
Volume S:2228
Memorandum Book, June 7-September 7, 1894; Petersburg, Virginia
Volume S:2229
Memorandum Book, January 1907-April 1908; Petersburg, Virginia
Volume S:2230
Memorandum Book, 1910; Jordan's Point, Prince George Co., Virginia
Volume S:2231
Memorandum Book, 1915; Petersburg, Virginia
Volume S:2232
Letters and papers
Folder 1

Historical Note

Abner Johnson Leavenworth was the second son born to Frederick Leavenworth (1766-1840) and Fanny Johnson (1776-1852) on July 12, 1803 in Waterbury, Connecticut. Leavenworth taught theological studies in Andover, Massachusetts and New Haven, Connecticut and ministered in Waterbury and Bristol, Connecticut; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Warrentown and Petersburg, Virginia. Later he was connected with girls' schools in North Carolina and Virginia. He died on February 12, 1869 at the age of 65.

Chronology List of Abner Johnson Leavenworth

1803 Jul. 12Born in Waterbury, C.T.
1825Graduated from Amhearst College
1828 Apr. 22Graduated from Andover Seminary
1829 Dec. 16Ordained as pastor at Congregational church in Bristol, C.T.
1831 Jun. 14Married Elizabeth Manning Peabody of Salem, M.A.
1832Moved to Charlotte, N.C.
1833 Jun. 13Son, Frederick P. Leavenworth, was born
1838Moved to Warrinton, V.A. and established school
1839Moved to Peterburg, V.A.; pastor of High Street Church
1841Wife, Elizabeth, died
1869 Feb. 12Died at the age of 65 in Petersburg, V.A.

Frederick Peabody Leavenworth (born 1833) was a railroad engineer of Petersburg, Va., and Shreveport, La. He was put in charge of inspection of materials for the Marshall Railroad. He also served as treasurer to the Blue Ridge Springs Co. of Petersburg. Just prior to the start of the Civil War, Frederick traveled through the Midwest United States, exploring Minnesota, Arkansas, and Missouri.

Subject Headings

Related Material

  • Abner Johnson Leavenworth Papers (Manuscripts and Rare Books Department, Swem Library, College of William and Mary)
  • Frederick Peabody Leavenworth Papers (Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Leavenworth Family Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.


The Leavenworth Family Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 1933-1970.

Processing Information

Processed by Rubenstein Library Staff, 1989

Encoded by Jane Metters, Meghan Lyon, and Carrie Mills, July 2011

This collection is minimally processed: materials may not have been ordered and described beyond their original condition.

Descriptive sources and standards used to create this inventory: DACS, EAD, NCEAD guidelines, and local Style Guide.

This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.