Kingsbury Family Papers

1862-2006 (Bulk: 1881-1902)
10 boxes (6 linear ft.)
Call no.: MS 504
rotating decorative images from SCUA collections

The family of Roxana Kingsbury Gould (nee Weed) farmed the rocky soils of western New England during the late nineteenth century. Roxana's first husband Ambrose died of dysentery shortly after the Civil War, leaving her to care for their two infant sons, and after marrying her second husband, Lyman Gould, she relocated from southwestern Vermont to Cooleyville and then (ten years later) to Shelburne, Massachusetts. The Goulds added a third son to their family in 1869.

A rich collection of letters and photographs recording the history of the Kingsbury-Gould families of Shelburne, Massachusetts. The bulk of the letters are addressed to Roxana Kingsbury Gould, the strong-willed matriarch at the center of the family, and to her granddaughter, May Kingsbury Phillips, the family's first historian. In addition to documenting the complicated dynamics of a close-knit family, this collection is a rich source for the study of local history, rural New England, and the social and cultural practices at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries.

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Background on Creator:

An image of: Roxana Kingsbury Gould

Roxana Kingsbury Gould

Roxana Orvilla Weed Kingsbury Gould (1838-1904) was the matriarch of the Kingsbury family during the late nineteenth century, a family of middle class New Englanders. A native of Winhall, Vermont, Roxana married Ambrose Kingsbury in 1859 after he divorced her older sister Lura. During their relatively brief marriage, the couple had two boys, Arnold O. Kingsbury (1861-1901) and Oscar B. Kingsbury (1863-1943), both born in Jamaica, Vermont. Ambrose survived the Civil War with the 5th Vermont Infantry, but shortly after his return home, he succumbed to dysentery.

Three years later, in 1868, Roxana married Lyman G. Gould and moved her children to his home in Cooleyville, Massachusetts (now New Salem), where she had another son, David Oris Gould (1869-1953). After ten years, the family moved to a farm in Shelburne. When the question of who would inherit the family's farm arose, the decision seems to have been determined by the process of elimination. Roxana and Lyman's only son together, David, showed no interest, and Roxana's oldest son, Arnold, proved to be unreliable. As a result, the farm was settled on Oscar, the middle son, who took up the work in late 1888. Married a year earlier to Lillian M. Davis (1868-1937), Oscar failed in his first efforts at assuming responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the farm, and over the next few years Oscar sought work elsewhere. When he finally returned to the farm in 1895, Roxana and Lyman were ready to let it go, this time formally transferring the farm and its movable assets to Oscar.

In the next generation of Kingsburys, May O. Kingsbury, the second of Oscar and Lillian's four children, took a keen interest in the family's history. A teacher in Shelburne before her marriage to R. Ernest Phillips in 1923, May kept up an active correspondence with family members, especially during her single years, and she preserved most of the family's papers and genealogical materials. During the 1960s, she wrote a series of essays detailing the life of her grandmother Roxana, which were saved by her daughter, Merilyn, and eventually passed on to her nephew, Conrad Totman.

Scope of collection

This collection contains a wide variety of personal papers belonging to the members of the Kingsbury, Gould, and Totman families, long-time residents of the Western Massachusetts and Southern Vermont area. Dated between 1862 and 2006, the papers were collected by family members during the twentieth century.

The family of Ambrose and Roxana Kingsbury and their two sons Arnold and Oscar maintained an active correspondence throughout the second half of the nineteenth century. The bulk of this correspondence details the family relationships and local events as experienced by Roxana by her female relatives after her second marriage and subsequent removal to rural western Massachusetts. There are also various items of personal interest from extended family members, including children's books, autograph albums, stereocards, picture postcards collected in albums, a few legal documents, graphic business cards from local western Massachusetts businesses, and a large sample of calling cards.

May Kingsbury Phillips collected her grandmother's letters and later compiled a family genealogy, which is included here. After May's death, her nephew Conrad Totman became the repository for the family's history. Both May and Conrad compiled narrative histories of the family, mostly focusing on Roxana's correspondence and the photographs contained in this collection. Their notes, identifications, and interpretations can be found throughout the collection.

The collection is rounded out by a series of family photography, dating from a formal portrait in 1862 to photocopies of photographs for genealogical research made in 2005. There are gem tintypes, formal portraits, snapshots, and photograph albums, preserved in a variety of frames, matted presentations, lockets, and albums. Some are professional photographs and others are candid photographs taken by members of the family.

Series descriptions

Since most of the correspondents in this series were related by birth or marriage, the letters contained are often about family members and mutual acquaintances. The letters also refer extensively to life in Shelburne, Cooleyville (New Salem), Greenfield and surrounding towns in Massachusetts, and the area near Jamaica, Vermont.

The bulk of this series consists of letters addressed to Roxana Kingsbury Gould, mostly from members of the Kingsbury, Gleason, and Gould families, including her sons and grandchildren. These letters discuss local events, births, marriages, and deaths, and were intended to keep Roxana up-to-date with family news.

May Kingsbury Phillips received a substantial series of letters during her younger years as a student and a teacher. They are mostly family letters, informing her about local news.

In the second half of the twentieth century, May Kingsbury Phillips and, later, her nephew Conrad Totman compiled genealogical histories of the Kingsbury and Davis families. This collection contains copies of their correspondence with other family members and historical societies, miscellaneous newspaper clippings, notes, sketches of family trees, and compiled narrative histories. Conrad transcribed many of the letters from the collection in his "Kingsburyana" bound volume.

Photographs in the Kingsbury Family Papers consist of a variety of photographic methods, including portraits, gem tintypes, photocopies, and snapshots. Most photographs were taken locally in Hartford, Greenfield, Shelburne, Deerfield, and Conway, Massachusetts. Many of the photographs are undated but are from the second half of the nineteenth century.


Series 1: Correspondence and Subject Files
Arms Academy: Phillips, May Kingsbury
Box 1: 1
Art Books: Kingsbury, Lillian Davis
Box 1: 1
Art Papers: Kingsbury, Lillian Davis
ca. 1895-1915
Box 1: 3
Autograph Album: Kingsbury, Joseph L.
Box 1: 4
Autograph Album: Kingsbury, Lillian Davis
Box 1: 5
Autograph Album: Kingsbury, Oscar
Box 1: 6
Calendar: Kingsbury, Lillian Davis
Box 1: 7
Calling Cards: Baldwin Family
ca. 1870-1890
Box 1: 8
Calling Cards: Davis Family
ca. 1870-1890
Box 1: 9
Calling Cards: Davis, Lillian
ca. 1870-1890
Box 1: 10
Calling Cards: Gleason Family
ca. 1870-1890
Box 1: 11
Calling Cards: Gould, David
ca. 1870-1890
Box 1: 12
Calling Cards: Gould, Roxana Kingsbury
ca. 1870-1890
Box 1: 13
Calling Cards: Kingsbury Family
ca. 1870-1890
Box 1: 14
Calling Cards: Kingsbury, Oscar
ca. 1870-1890
Box 1: 15
Calling Cards: Other Family Members
ca. 1870-1890
Box 1: 16
Children's Books: Kingsbury, Oscar
Box 2: 1
Correspondence: Gould, Roxana Kingsbury
Box 2: 2
Correspondence: Gould, Roxana Kingsbury from Arnold & Eliza Kingsbury
Box 2: 3
Correspondence: Gould, Roxana Kingsbury from David & Cora Gould
Box 2: 4
Correspondence: Gould, Roxana Kingsbury from Gleason Family
Box 2: 5
Correspondence: Gould, Roxana Kingsbury from Julia Baldwin Gleason
Box 2: 6
Correspondence: Gould, Roxana Kingsbury from Julia Baldwin Gleason
Box 2: 7
Correspondence: Gould, Roxana Kingsbury from Libbie Gleason Eaton
Box 2: 8
Correspondence: Gould, Roxana Kingsbury from Lillie Gleason Gadoret
Box 2: 9
Correspondence: Gould, Roxana Kingsbury from Nancy Weed Gleason
Box 3: 1
Correspondence: Gould, Roxana Kingsbury from Olive Kingsbury Williams
Box 3: 2
Correspondence: Gould, Roxana Kingsbury from Oscar Kingsbury
Box 3: 3
Correspondence: Gould, Roxana Kingsbury from Selima & Susan Weed
Box 3: 4
Correspondence: Kingsbury, Lillian Postcards
Box 3: 5
Correspondence: Kingsbury, Oscar
Box 3: 6
Correspondence: Kingsbury, Oscar
Box 3: 7
Correspondence: Kingsbury Postcards
Box 3: 8
Correspondence: Phillips, May Kingsbury
Box 3: 9
Correspondence: Phillips, May Kingsbury
Box 3: 10
Correspondence: Phillips, May Kingsbury
Box 3: 11
Correspondence: Phillips, May Kingsbury
Box 3: 12
Correspondence: Phillips, May Kingsbury
Box 3: 13
Correspondence: Phillips, May Kingsbury
Box 4: 1
Correspondence: Phillips, May Kingsbury
Box 4: 2
Correspondence: Totman, Mildred Kingsbury
Box 4: 3
Correspondence: Totman, Mildred Kingsbury
Box 4: 4
Correspondence: Totman, Mildred Kingsbury
Box 4: 5
Graphic Business Cards
Box 4: 6
Legal Papers: Kingsbury Family
Box 4: 7
Personal Materials: Totman, Mildred Kingsbury
Box 4: 8
Personal Materials: Kingsbury, Oscar
Box 4: 9
Picture Postcards: Kingsbury, Oscar
Box 4: 10
Poems: Newsclippings & Reprints
ca. 1881-1890
Box 4: 11
Postcard Album: Davis, Mary Elizabeth Maxam
ca. 1908-1912
Box 9

Bound album of postcards given to Mary Elizabeth Maxam Davis. Of particular local interest (includes postcards from Greenfield, Fitchburg, Shelburne Falls, Hudson, Holyoke, Framington, Northfield, Massachusetts).

Sample images:

Meeting of the North and Deerfield Rivers
Easter greetings
Greenfield Baking Company
Old mill turned into shop, Shelburne
East Templeton [Mass.], looking west
Welcome Thanksgiving Day
Old Baptist Church, Wendell
Greetings from Wendell
Postcard Album: Kingsbury, Lillian Davis
Box 4: 12
Stereocards: Around the World Religious Series
Box 5: 1
Stereocards: DeLameter Hartford Series
Box 5: 2
Stereocards: Genre Cards
Box 5: 3
Stereocards: Scenic Views
Box 5: 4
Stereocards: White Mountains
Box 5: 5
Series 2: Genealogy
Phillips, May Kingsbury: Genealogical Research
Box 5: 6
Phillips, May Kingsbury: Genealogical Research Notebooks
Box 5: 7
Phillips, May Kingsbury: Genealogical Research Notes
Box 5: 8
Totman, Conrad: Correspondence with Barbara Cutko
Box 5: 9
Totman, Conrad: Correspondence with Betty Finnell Guinan
Box 5: 10
Totman, Conrad: Correspondence with Harold Gould
Box 5: 11
Totman, Conrad: Correspondence with Historical Societies
Box 5: 12
Totman, Conrad: Correspondence with Merilyn Phillips Hubbard
Box 5: 13
Totman, Conrad: Correspondence with Rae Kingsbury Capen
Box 5: 14
Totman, Conrad: Correspondence with Richard Kingsbury
Box 5: 15
Totman, Conrad: Correspondence with Sylvia Kingsbury Rice
Box 5: 16
Totman, Conrad: Correspondence with William Kingsbury
Box 5: 17
Totman, Conrad: Family Trees
Box 6: 1
Totman, Conrad: Genealogical Correspondence
Box 6: 2
Totman, Conrad: Kingsburyana Introduction
Box 6: 3
Totman, Conrad: Kingsburyana Part One
Box 6: 4
Totman, Conrad: Kingsburyana Parts Two, Three-A, & Three-B
Box 6: 5
Totman, Conrad: Kingsburyana Parts Four and Five
Box 6: 6
Totman, Conrad: Kingsburyana Introduction (copy)
Box 6: 7
Totman, Conrad: Kingsburyana Part One (copy)
Box 6: 8
Totman, Conrad: Kingsburyana Part One (copy)
Box 7: 1
Totman, Conrad: Kingsburyana Parts Two & Three-A (copy)
Box 7: 2
Totman, Conrad: Kingsburyana Part Three-B (copy)
Box 7: 3
Totman, Conrad: Kingsburyana Part Four (copy)
Box 7: 4
Totman, Conrad: Kingsburyana Part Five (copy)
Box 7: 5
Series 3: Photographs
Photograph Album: J.L. King
Box 9

Bound leather carte de visite (and tintype) album with an inscription: "Presented to J. L. King by his friend O. B. Kingsbury. Shelburne Center, Mass., August 3rd, 1883." Contains three stamps posted on the last page. Some photographs are identified by notes from Conrad Totman.

The album includes 12 cartes de visite of circus performers (listed separately below), one of which is labeled on verso: Nelli M. Petty, With G[eorge] B. Bunnell's Museum Co." Bunnell operated a slightly upscale dime museum in New York City (1876-1883), Brooklyn, and Jersey City.

La Petite Julia (acrobat)
Carte de visite
"La Petite Julia"
Acrobat troupe, photograph by J. Wood
Carte de visite
Acrobat troupe
"John Jennings, Modern Sampson. Weight 168 lbs. Lifts 1,000 lbs with his Teeth"
Carte de visite
John Jennings
Unidentified "African" wild man
Carte de visite
Acrobat troupe
"The Murray Midgets. Tripplet Brothers. Age 23 years," photo by Charles Eisenmann
Carte de visite
Murray Midgets
Unidentified female acrobat, photograph by Charles Eisenmann
Carte de visite
Unidentified female acrobat
"Nelly M. Petty, with G. B. Bunnell's Museum Co.," photograph by Charles Eisenmann [caption written on verso]
Carte de visite
Nelly M. Petty
Zoe Meleke ["Circassian woman"], photograph by Charles Eisenmann
Carte de visite
Zoe Meleke
Adah Briggs (?), photograph by Charles Eisenmann
Carte de visite
Adah Briggs (?)
Amelia Hill (?), photograph by Charles Eisenmann
Carte de visite
Amelia Hill (?)
"The Bicycle used by Harriet Martell Made and Presented by John Wood, Jr., Beverly, Mass." [caption stamped on verso]
Carte de visite
Harriet Martell and bicycle
"Wueen Midget -- The German Rose," [Rosie Wolff], photograph by Charles Eisenmann
Carte de visite
Rosie Wolff
La Petite Julia (acrobat)
Carte de visite
"La Petite Julia"
Photographs: Arms Academy
Box 9

Matted photograph of the junior and senior classes of the Arms Academy in Shelburne, MA, in 1912. May Kingsbury Phillips (Arms class of 1913) is pictured in the front row, fourth from the left.

Photographs: Arms Academy "Student Board"
Box 9

Matted photograph of the "student board" at the Arms Academy. Mildred Kingsbury Totman is the girl on the right in the second row.

Photographs: Davis, Dorothy
Box 7: 6

Mounted school photograph.

Photographs: Davis, Edwin
Box 7: 7

Mounted photograph from Greenfield, Massachusetts.

Photographs: Davis, Edwin
Box 7: 8

Mounted tintype, labeled "Salesmen for Grand Union." Edwin Davis with "McFarlane."

Photographs: Davis, Edwin and Nettie Goldthorite
Box 7: 9

Tintype with Charles Cogswell and Emma Davis in front.

Photographs: Davis Family Reunion
Mounted photograph
Box 7: 10
Photographs: Davis Family Reunion
Mounted photograph
Box 7: 11
Photographs: Davis Family Reunion
Box 7: 12

Two small books of snapshots from reunion at the Totman farm in Conway, Massachusetts

Photographs: Davis Family Reunion
Box 7: 13

Two small books of snapshots from reunion at the Totman farm in Conway, Massachusetts.

Photographs: Davis Family Reunion
Box 8: 1

Two small books of snapshots from reunion at the Totman farm in Conway, Massachusetts.

Photographs: Davis, Hardy
Box 8: 2
Photographs: Davis, Mary Elizabeth
Box 9

Oval metal framed photograph with mating and glass of Mary Elizabeth (Maxam) Davis.

Photographs: Davis, Will
Box 8: 3

Tintype depicting Will Davis (seated).

Photographs: Davis, Will
Box 8: 4
Photographs: Davis, William S. P.
Box 8: 5

Mounted photograph from Greenfield, Massachusetts.

Photographs: Doyl, Maggie
Box 8: 6

Mounted photograph from Hartford, Connecticut.

Photographs: Fiske House, Shelburne, MA
Box 8: 7

Mounted photo with Harriet.

Photographs: Fiske House, Shelburne MA
Mounted photograph
Box 8: 8
Photographs: Gould, Roxana Kingsbury
Box 8: 9
Photographs: Kingsbury, Ambrose and Roxana Kingsbury Gould
Framed tintypes
Box 8: 10
Photographs: Kingsbury, Arnold and Eliza
Mounted photograph
Box 8: 11
Photographs: Kingsbury, Bessie E.
Mounted photograph
Box 8: 12
Photographs: Kingsbury, Family Copies
Box 8: 13

Photocopies and reproductions of family photography made by Conrad Totman; contains notes and identification.

Photographs: Kingsbury, Olive
Mounted photograph
Box 8: 14
Photographs: Kingsbury, Olive and Oliver
Gem tintypes
Box 8: 15
Photographs: Kingsbury, Oscar and Lillian, Arnold and Eliza
Mounted photograph
Box 8: 16
Photographs: Kingsbury, Oscar and Mildred
circa 1940
Box 8: 17
Photographs: Kingsbury, Raymond and May Kingsbury Phillips
Mounted photograph
Box 8: 18
Photographs: Kingsbury Family, Unidentified
[ca. 1880]
Box 8: 19
Photographs: Kingsbury Family, Unidentified
Gem tintypes
Box 8: 20
Photographs: Kingsbury Family, Unidentified
Box 8: 21

Mounted photo cards from Manchester, Vermont.

Photographs: Lamb, John
Mounted gem tintype
Box 8: 22
Photographs: Lamb, Margaret
Box 8: 23

Tintype depicting daughter of Isaac and Mary.

Photographs: Lamb, Mrs. William (Anna)
Box 8: 24
Photographs: Lamb, William
Gem tintype
Box 8: 25
Photographs: McPherson, Frank
Box 8: 26

Mounted photograph from Greenfield, Massachusetts.

Photographs: Mandell, Harriet
Mounted photograph
Box 8: 27
Photographs: Mandell, Will
Box 8: 28

Two mounted photographs, one dated 1880 from Fitchberg, Massachusetts.

Photographs: Phillips, Ernest
Box 8: 29

Mounted photograph of South Deerfield beehives.

Photographs: Phillips, May Kingsbury
circa 1904
Box 8: 30

Mounted class photograph.

Photographs: Phillips, May Kingsbury
Box 8: 31

Mounted photograph with the children of William Davis.

Photographs: Phillips, May Kingsbury
Box 8: 32

Photograph from Arms Academy.

Photographs: Miss Pratt
Box 8: 33

Mounted photograph from Turners Falls, labeled "teacher."

Photographs: Scott, Henry
Box 8: 34

Mounted photograph from Conway, Massachusetts.

Photographs: Shelburne Center
Box 8: 35
Photographs: Shelburne Center School
Box 8: 36

Mounted class portrait.

Photographs: Southworth, Elvira
Glass covered photograph
Box 8: 37
Photographs: Southworth, Elvira
Box 8: 38

Mounted photograph from Hartford, Connecticut.

Photographs: Southworth, Frank
Box 8: 39

Mounted photograph from Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.

Photographs: Thompson, A. L.
Box 8: 40

Mounted photograph from Shelburne, Massachusetts.

Photographs: Thompson, Minnie
Box 8: 41

Mounted photograph depicting daughter of George and Lucy.

Photographs: Totman, Mildred Kingsbury
Box 9

Matted photograph of Mildred Kingsbury Totman's high school basketball team. Top row (left to right): E. Temple, Miss Lyman, Hilda Thompson. Second row: Selda Leonard, Elizabeth Loomis, Mildred Kingsbury Totman, Elsie Matson. Front row: Barbara Donelson, Viola Tyler, Sylvia Gould.

Photographs: Vincent, James
Mounted photograph
Box 8: 42
Photographs: Williams, Olive Kingsbury
Cardstock photograph
Box 8: 43
Relia: California State Capitol Metalic Tray
Box 9

Unidentified small metalic tray with a photograph of the California state capitol building. "10 cents" written on the back.

Administrative information


The collection is open for research.


Gift of Conrad and Michiko Totman, 2006.

Processing Information

Processed by Megan M. Kennedy, Summer 2008.

For material related to the Kingsbury and Totman families, see:

For material related to the Kingsbury family at other repositories, see:



Copyright and Use (More information )

Cite as: Kingsbury Family Papers (MS 504). Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Search terms


  • Conway (Mass.)--Genealogy.
  • Drew, Raymond Totman, 1923-1981.
  • Lewis, Gertrude Minnie, 1896- .
  • Shelburne(Mass.)--Genealogy.
  • Totman, Conrad D.
  • Totman, Ruth J.


  • Kingsbury Family [main entry]

Genres and formats

  • Genealogies.
  • Letters (Correspondence).
  • Memoirs--Massachusetts.
  • Photographs.
  • Tintypes.

Link to similar SCUA collections