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Bannerman family papers

Accession 2210

Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library


PO Box 3630
Wilmington, Delaware, 19807
302-658-2400
research@hagley.org

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2013-03-26T11:03-0400

Finding aid prepared using best local practices and Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Cite items for this collection in the following format:
[Description and dates], Box/folder number, Bannerman family papers (Accession 2210), Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807

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Descriptive Summary

Title: Bannerman family papers
Dates: 1857-1974
Accession Number: 2210
Creator: Bannerman family.
Extent: 1.8 linear feet
Language of Material: English
Repository: Hagley Museum and Library: Manuscripts and Archives Department
Abstract: Francis Bannerman (1820-1872) was a Brooklyn, N.Y., ship chandler who began selling Civil War military surplus as a side line. His son Francis (1851-1918) developed a three-generation dealership in military surplus and military antiques serving sportsmen and collectors. He also built a private arsenal on an island in the Hudson Highlands that is now a romantic ruin. This collection consists of Bannerman’s personal papers, travel diaries and financial documents concerning Bannerman’s Island.
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Historical Note

Francis Bannerman (1851-1918) was a major purveyor of military goods to sportsmen and collectors in New York City, a business his family operated for three generations.

Bannerman orginally worked for his father, who had purchased surplus military goods at scrap prices in the demobilization at the end of the Civil War. Bannerman went into business for himself in October 1872, selling potatoes and apples in season, as well as hardware purchased at government surplus auctions. Bannerman prospered and moved his store from Brooklyn to Manhattan in 1897, turning it into a showpiece museum of modern and antique weaponry and military memorabilia. To store his vast quantities of arms and ammunition, Bannerman bought Pollepel Island in the Hudson River Highlands in 1900 and erected Bannerman's Island Arsenal and a summer residence patterned after the castles of the family's native Scotland.

On January 1, 1917, Bannerman conveyed the business to his sons Francis (1873-1945) and David (1875-1957) as Francis Bannerman Sons. In 1958, David's son Charles S. Bannerman (1905-1976) incorporated the business, but he was a relatively passive representative of the family interest, the day-to-day affairs being in the hands of career employees. The business was downsized and moved to Long Island the following year. Pollepel Island was sold to the state in 1967, but the buildings were gutted by fire in 1969.

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Scope and Content

The collection includes the incoming personal correspondence from the last year of Francis Bannerman's life and a series of diaries covering his trip to Ireland for his marriage and some of his annual voyages to Europe and Asia, which doubled as vacations and buying trips. The diaries are reasonably full accounts of accommodations, sites visited, and other observations.

Another important section of the collection deals with Bannerman's Island, including mortgages, taxes, and papers covering the sale of the Island to the state in 1967 and the subsequent fire. There are also notes for Charles Bannerman's history of the Island and a large group of news clippings. Most of these deal with the Island, the fire or the Bannerman firm. A few pieces were apparently collected by Francis Bannerman on topics he found interesting, including the 1903 assassination of King Alexander and Queen Draga of Serbia.

One of the most interesting pieces in the collection is an agreement of 1915 confirming an 1872 prenuptual agreement between Francis and Nelly Boyce Bannerman, in which Bannerman acknowledges his wife's right to half his assets as the equal partner in all his labors. It describes the circumstances of their marriage, his refusal of a dowry, their early hardships, and the many tasks performed by himself and his wife when starting in business.

Among the miscellaneous pieces are Bannerman's certificate of membership in the Free and Accepted Masons, his New Testament and dictionary, a booklet of rules for the Brooklyn Latin School which Bannerman's sons attended, and an 1857 deed of assignment of William Talbscott & Co. of Liverpool.

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Arrangement

Arranged alphabetically by subject and genre.

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Separated Material

Bannerman family photographs (Accession 2001.229), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library

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Access Points

Antenuptial contracts.
Arsenals--New York (State).
Bannerman's Island Arsenal (Fishkill, N.Y.).
Bannerman, Charles S. , 1905-1976
Bannerman, Francis, 1851-1918
Bannerman, Nellie Boyce
Brooklyn Latin School (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.).
China--Description and travel.
Diaries.
Europe--Description and travel.
Great Britain--Description and travel.
Japan--Description and travel.
Married women--Employment.
Pollepel Island (N.Y.).
Private schools--New York (State)--New York.
Surplus military property.
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Series Descriptions and Inventory

Box
1 Abstract of Title to Brooklyn Property
Box
1 Bills and Receipts, 1918
Box
1 Catalogs, 1884-1889
Box
1 Certificate of Membership in the Masons, 1887
Box
1 New Testament
Box
1 Correspondence - "As-Ay," 1917-1918
Box
1 Correspondence - "Baa-Baq," 1917
Box
1 Correspondence - "Caa-Caq," 1917-1918
Box
1 Correspondence - "Dir-Dz," 1918
Box
1 Correspondenee - "Ea-Ek," 1918
Box
1 Correspondence - "Fa-Fh," 1917-1918
Box
1 Correspondence - "Ga-Gd," 1917
Box
1 Correspondence - "Haa-Ham," 1917-1918
Box
2 Correspondence - "Ka-Kd," 1917-1918
Box
2 Correspondence - "Laa_Laq," 1917-1918
Box
2 Correspondence - "MeA-McC," 1917-1918
Box
2 Correspondence - "Sa-Sb," 1917-1918
Box
2 Diary, 1915
Box
2 Trip Across Atlantic with wife, Nellie, 1903; diary
Box
2 Trip Across Pacific, 1904; diary
Box
2 Trip to Europe, 1906; diary
Box
2 Trip to Europe (England, Scotland etc.), 1907; diary
Box
2 Trip to Ireland, Marriage to Nellie Boyce, 1872; diary
Box
3 Partnership Agreements (Wife and Sons), 1915-1917
Box
3 Passports, 1903-1909
Box
3 Bannerman Island - General, 1927-1968
Box
3 Bannerman Island - Mortgages, Indentures, 1900-1956
Box
3 Sale of Bannerman Island, 1967-1969
Box
3 Bannerman Island - School and State County Taxes, 1932-1966
Box
3 Brooklyn Latin School Rules and Regulations, 1894-1895
Box
4 Deeds and Title Reports for 501 Broadway, Manhattan, 1905-1922
Box
4 Francis Bannerman & Sons: Articles of Partnership Agreement
Box
4 Francis Bannennan & Sons: Miscellaneous
Box
4 Histories and Agreements, 1946-1967
Oversize
1 Newspaper Clippings
Box
4 Story of Bannerman Island, 1902-1974; book
Box
4 Webster's Handy Service Dictionary
Box
4 William Talbscott & Co. Assignment Liverpool, 1857