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Robert Lenox Belknap papers

1872-1895
 Collection
Identifier: 1954

Abstract

Robert Lenox Belknap (1848-1896) was a capitalist and financier of New York City. The Robert Lenox Belknap papers are a fragment saved by his descendants. The papers include Belknap's private letterbooks for the final years of his career (1892-1895), although 33 earlier volumes have been lost. They include both business and personal correspondence and give a good picture of the life of a New York financier of the second rank.

Dates

  • 1872-1895

Creator

Extent

1.25 Linear Feet

Biographical Note

Robert Lenox Belknap (1848-1896) was a capitalist and financier of New York City. Belknap was born on July 23, 1848, the son of a New York lawyer. He graduated from Columbia College with a B.A. in 1869 and an M.A. in 1872. In 1869 he entered the mercantile house of Fuller, Lord & Co. From 1871 to 1879 he was vice president of the Mercantile Loan & Warehouse Company, and from 1879 to 1888 he was treasurer of the Northern Pacific Railroad Company. He was president of several Northern Pacific subsidiaries, including the Land & River Improvement Company, which developed the city of West Superior, Wis., the Northern Trust Company of West Superior, and the Duluth Gas & Water Company. He was later associated with several street railways and public utilities, including the Indianapolis & Broad Ripple Rapid Transit Company, the Seashore Electric Railway Company at Asbury Park, N.J., the Third Avenue Cable Railway Company in New York, and lines in Washington, D.C. Belknap was prominent in the National Guard movement, the Presbyterian Church, and a number of yacht and social clubs. He died in New York City on March 13, 1896.

Scope and Content

The Robert Lenox Belknap papers are a fragment saved by his descendants. The papers include Belknap's private letterbooks for the final years of his career (1892-1895), although thirty-three earlier volumes have been lost. They include both business and personal correspondence and give a good picture of the life of a New York financier of the second rank.

Belknap travelled extensively until the last year of his life managing his various enterprises. Many of the letters are written to and from the field between Belknap and W. P. Stevenson, who appears to have been his confidential secretary. The letters cover Belknap's activities in the West Superior enterprises and the street railways in Asbury Park and Indianapolis, as well as his later work on behalf of the National Guard, the Presbyterian Church, and several social clubs. There are several letters concerning his summer homes at Sea Bright, New Jersey, and Huntington, Long Island.

There is also a separate inventory of Mr. and Mrs. Belknap's assets and liabilities in 1872, when he was just starting his business career.

The largest part of the papers concerns the Kesler Mining Company, a silver-mining venture at Big Cottonwood, Utah, about twenty-three miles from Salt Lake. This firm was organized in June 1879 after New York investors purchased a bankrupt mine and claim. It was one of Belknap's early ventures and not particularly successful. The papers cover the organization of the firm from 1878 to 1881, with scattered materials down to 1895. Of particular interest are a series of detailed reports and statements sent by Ellsworth Daggett, the company's agent and superintendent. They describe the difficulties in operating a small western metal mine under absentee ownership.

Other correspondence is between Belknap and the firm's Utah bankers and with members of the New York law firm of De Forest & Weeks, who were associated with Belknap as stockholders and officers. There are maps and sections showing the mine workings, payrolls giving names, occupations and wages of people employed at the mine, legal papers concerning disputes over claims, and a geologist's report.

Access Restrictions

No restrictions on access.

Language of Materials

English


Additional Information

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
Robert Lenox Belknap papers
Status:
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Contact:
PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA
302-658-2400