For the thirteenth and final week of my internship, I finally managed to finish the names from the list sent to me. During this week I covered the years from 1869 to 1872. I thought that 1872 was important because this was the year before he died. My assumption is that Maxwell died really early in 1873, so that would explains its exclusion from the list. There really was not much to discuss from any of the findings. No new names or names of stores. Maxwell died in 1873, so it is likely he was not working as hard for the last five years of his life. That said I have no clear idea when he retired since there were very little names on the list during the 1870s. It was fitting that I managed to complete it in my final week. After I finished the list I told both Amanda and Dr. Black that I was finished. I sent the list to Amanda and then had to work on a reflection paper for Dr. Black. It only had to be one page long so it did not take too much time for me to complete. I also made sure to send out a thank you email to Amanda for allowing me to have an internship and to work away from Luzerne County. I loved looking through documents that were well over a hundred years old and trying to piece out information about a man who has been dead. Despite the setbacks from the pandemic, I still enjoyed my internship at the Luzerne County Historical Society. I would also like to thank Dr. Black again for helping me get this internship in the first place and further assisting me. As well as, Mr. Donahue too for telling me what to do for my internship when I knew it was time to start.
For week 12, I typed up the names from 1860-1868. As mentioned in last week’s post, I was rather miffed that I could not look through the files during the Civil War. I have no way of knowing what Maxwell did during the Civil War, but it seems that he might have been rather busy. Not busy in the sense of fighting since this is also close to the end of his life, but more in terms of work. The files from 1860-1865 have a lot more names on them. I have no idea if these are from the family members of those killed during the war trying to ask for insurance, as well as his friends discussing the war. As well as the political occurrences like the Emancipation Proclamation. I am a little upset that I may never be able to look through any of these documents, but I am at peace with this. The years after the war had less content in comparison. Granted that’s not to say that there were very few, 1868 had a pretty large sample. 1868 might have been the last time Maxwell ever worked full time since the following years have even fewer names. Then again it could be since it was three years after the war ended, so perhaps business started to pick up again considering the fewer amount of content implied on the document. There were no notable new names that I could see, just the same coal and mining companies as before. Not to mention, the same banks and insurance companies as before. I figured that the insurance companies would have a couple of documents during each year of the Civil War addressed to Maxwell. At the time of this writing, I have finished the entire list and the following week’s post will be about my reflection paper.
On Wednesday, I finally managed to complete the folder for 1833. One of the more interesting things that I examined was that Maxwell had been in correspondence with John Dement. Dement was the Treasurer of Illinois at the time the letter was written. I could not make out the writing of the letter, but it was interesting to see that Maxwell had been talking to someone from a faraway state like Illinois. Although after some research I did learn that Chicago was founded that year, so it is possible the letters relate to that notable point. As to why Maxwell was invested in that, I have no idea. On Friday, I began to work on the folder for 1834. One document that I noticed was that Maxwell was still in charge of the finances of Ebenezer Bowman’s estate long after he died. It is also possible that Maxwell had been working with a relative of Ebenezer named Issac. It is likely that Isaac was Ebenezer’s son who inherited the estate following his father’s death. What was also interesting is that the letter mentions the year he died, 1829, was a year of political struggle. The struggle was between James W. Bowman (possibly Isaac’s brother) and George Dennison against the administration of someone named Thomas W. Miner. I could not find any information about Miner, so I am unsure of what kind of political role he had like mayor or district attorney. However, I thought it was important to bring up as it did provide a brief amount of information regarding the history of the county. Finally, on February 22, I managed to get as much work done for the 1834 folder as I could. Most of the documents I looked at were financially based as usual, and I could not make out anything as interesting as the previous days. With that said, I plan to finish the 1834 folder by Wednesday of next week and start the next box too.
As I began week 3 on Wednesday, I finally managed to complete the first box. I managed to put the disorganized documents back to their appropriate dates while recording their contents. I also managed to start the second box, completing the years 1830 and 1831. However, the next year and folder detailing 1832 have proven itself to be the largest folder so far. On Friday, Amanda taught me a new format when it comes to recording the documents. The new format is essentially “last name, first name- subject”. If I was unable to decipher the name of someone then all I had to do was this “_______- subject”. That way if I am unable to fully transcribe the contents of a document then a future reader may be able to do so. Despite this new format, I was unable to finish 1832. It must have been a very busy year for Maxwell as a good number of the documents were either to him or from him. I remembered that in the previous years Bowman mostly received letters and Maxwell probably kept them for safekeeping. Until I remembered it had been three years after Bowman had died, which means that Maxwell was now in charge. This meant he was now more involved in the writing now rather than just answering on behalf of Bowman. One letter I noticed was from someone named Thomas Williamson, and regards Maxwell as a friend. Although, I have not been able to find much information regarding Williamson besides working with Maxwell, it was nice to see a link to Bowmans’ personal and professional life. There was also a letter from Laurence and Martha Good (I am unaware regarding if the two were either married or siblings) that appointed Maxwell as a lawful attorney of petitions. I thought it was interesting to see a document that discussed Maxwell’s progression as a lawyer despite my unfamiliarities with the profession.
During the first week of my internship at the Luzerne County Historical Society, I quickly understood what was expected and what my assignment would be. My assignment is to review old documents that belonged to a man named Volney Maxwell. Maxwell was a lawyer and one of the earliest members of the historical society in the 1800s. On Wednesday, and the first day of the internship, I was not fully introduced to the materials I needed to use. Amanda Fontenova, the curator, wasn’t in the office. Instead, I worked with another employee named Mark Riccetti. That day I decided to look up some information regarding Mr. Maxwell. What I learned was that he gave two lectures in 1858, which were published in the society archives. There was also the fact that society’s headquarters used to be his widow’s home. On Friday, I began to work with Amanda. She told me that I needed to look through the upstairs archives and go through folders inside these boxes that contained all documents Maxwell kept over the years. As I sifted through old documents, I did my best to decipher the old fashioned penmanship and type a brief description of what each was about. Most of them were letters from his legal partners like Ebenezer Bowman, who I learned was a veteran who participated in the Battle of Bunker Hill. There were even some letters from two people who were a part of the Continental Congress: Samuel Meredith and Tench Coxe. Meredith was a prominent merchant at the time who later became George Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury, and Coxe was an economist. I ran into some financial statements and land deeds as well. On Friday, I managed to complete the first folder which ranged from 1804-1809. The next day, I began to work on the second folder of the first box. By the time I had left, I only had two remaining years left, 1818 and 1819. During my first week, I learned the ropes of what I am expected to do as well as testing my reading and deciphering skills (paleography), since the writing style of the period made it difficult to figure out the documents.