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Ebenezer Jolls Ormsbee papers, 1842-1936
Ormsbee, Ebenezer Jolls, 1834-1924.
Library Call Number Copy Material Location
Vermont Historical Society Library  MSC 035 (cont'd in MSC 188, Doc 411)  Manuscript  Vault-Manuscript 

Personal Author : Ormsbee, Ebenezer Jolls, 1834-1924.
Title : Ebenezer Jolls Ormsbee papers, 1842-1936 (bulk 1891-1893).
Physical Description : 3 linear ft.
Summary :

This collection includes the papers of Ebenezer J. Ormsbee; his wife, Frances; and their daughter, Carrie Wyckoff-Ormsbee. The papers in this collection primarily document Ormsbee's work as U.S. land commissioner in Samoa, 1891-1893, although there are some records of his work as Indian commissioner and some family and personal papers.

The Indian Commission papers include a receipt book of the Office of Indian Affairs and correspondence from 1891 and 1893. The correspondence from 1891 includes Ormsbee's appointment as Indian commissioner and description and history of the project. There is also a copy of the completed agreement with Piute Indians and the final report of the commission. The 1893 correspondence concerns the settlement of accounts of the commission.

The records of Ormsbee as land commissioner in Samoa include copies of correspondence with the U.S. Department of State, particularly Secretaries of State James G. Blaine, John W. Foster, and Walter Q. Gresham; Assistant Secretary of State William F. Wharton; and Frank Partridge, a Vermonter who was solicitor for the Department of State. There is also a copy of a letter from King Malietoa of Samoa, March 2, 1892. There are also reports, memoranda, and public notices (1892-1893), of the land commission made up of Ormsbee and the English and German commissioners Bazett M. Haggard and T. Greiner, and an office diary kept by Ormsbee, January 1892-February 1893.

In addition to official papers, there are photographs and many copies of speeches about Samoa that Ormsbee and his wife gave upon their return to the United States in 1893. There is also a personal diary Ormsbee kept during his tenure in Samoa. Correspondence mentions another well-known American in Samoa about the same time, Robert Louis Stevenson, and a typed copy of a speech or essay by Stevenson's mother, Mrs. Thomas Stevenson, July 8, 1892, is included.

The personal correspondence includes letters between Carrie Wyckoff-Ormsbee, at Smith College, and her parents in Samoa. Mrs. Ormsbee left Samoa in 1892 and corresponded with her husband until his return home in March 1893. There are also letters written back to friends met in Samoa, especially William A. Blacklock, U.S. vice-consul.

Biographical or historical data :

Ebenezer J. Ormsbee was born June 8, 1834, in Shoreham, Vermont, one of eight children of John Mason and Polly Wilson Ormsbee. The family moved to Rutland in 1845 and three years later to Brandon, Vermont. Educated locally, he was admitted to the Rutland County Bar in 1861 and soon thereafter enlisted in Company G of the First Vermont Regiment for a period of four months. He then worked with the provost marshal and recruiting service until he reenlisted in 1862 in Company G of the Twelfth Vermont Regiment. He was mustered out July 14, 1863.

Ormsbee to practiced law in Brandon, forming partnerships with Anson A. Nicholson and then Ebenezer N. Briggs. His public service activities began in 1868 with a four-year tenure as assistant U.S. internal revenue assessor. From 1870 to 1874 he served as state's attorney for Rutland County. He was elected a state legislator in 1872, senator in 1878, lieutenant governor in 1884, and governor in 1886. In July 1891 President Benjamin Harrison appointed him to negotiate with the Piute Indians at the Pyramid Lake Reservation in Nevada. In November 1891 he was appointed U.S. land commissioner at Samoa. Ormsbee stayed in Samoa until March 1893.

E. J. Ormsbee married Jennie L. Briggs in 1862, and they had a son, Charles H., in 1864. Jennie died June 1, 1866, and in September 1867 Charles died from dysentary. E. J. Ormsbee then married Frances (Wadhams) Davenport, of Westport, New York. Frances Ormsbee died April 18, 1916, having been in poor health for over thirteen years. E. J. Ormsbee died April 3, 1924.

E. J. and Frances Ormsbee had no children of their own but adopted Frances's brother's niece, Carrie Wyckoff. Carrie was born January 20, 1873, in Annapolis, Maryland, to Ambrose B. and Susan Henderson Wyckoff. She received degrees from Smith College and Middlebury College and studied abroad. She was president of the Vermont League of Women Voters and chair of the league's International Cooperative to Prevent War, legislative chair of the Vermont branch of the American Association of University Women; and chair of the Vermont Women's Join Legislative Committee. She also worked in the Washington, D.C., office of the National Council for the Prevention of War. She traveled extensively as a public speaker. Carrie Wyckoff-Ormsbee died in 1936.

Personal Subject : Stevenson, Robert Louis, 1850-1894.
Ormsbee, Jennie L., d. 1866.
Ormsbee, Charles Hutchins, 1864-1867.
Douglas, Stephen A. (Stephen Arnold), 1813-1861.
Subject Term : Paiute Indians.
Geographic Term : Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation (Nev.)
Samoan Islands Description
Brandon (Vt.) History.
Genre/Form : Correspondence.
Marriage certificates.
Added Author : Ormsbee, Frances, 1838-1916.
Wyckoff-Ormsbee, Carrie, 1873-1936.
Blaine, James Gillespie, 1830-1893.
Foster, John W.
Gresham, Walter Quintin, 1832-1895.
Wharton, William Fisher, 1847-1919.
Partridge, Frank C. (Frank Charles), 1861-1943.
Claxton, Arthur E.
Malietoa, King Samoa.
Haggard, Bazett M.
Greiner, T.
Stevenson, Thomas, Mrs.
Blacklock, William A.
Electronic Resource : Click here for full text of finding aid.