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Budd family papers

Identifier: MSS 0540

Scope and Contents

The Budd family papers contain .3 linear feet of letters and photographs, ranging from 1818 to 1889 with the bulk of the material being the correspondence of Thomas Budd between the dates 1818 and 1866. The letters are of a personal nature or related to the business concerns of the extended family. The collection also includes eleven photographs of Budd family members. The Budd family papers came to the University of Delaware Library as a gift of Dr. William Johnson in 2006.

This small collection is arranged in seven folders of correspondence, one folder with a single wedding invitation, and one folder containing the eleven photographs. Five of the folders represent family correspondence exchanged with Thomas Budd, one folder contains copies of his son James M. Budd’s Civil War letters, one folder contains his brother William Budd’s business correspondence, and the single wedding invitation is for the 1889 marriage of James M. Budd to Alice Zehnder. The early stationery was sent as folder paper, with postmarks and wax seals; only two letters dating from the 1850s bear three-cent postage stamps.

The earliest letters, beginning in 1818, came to Thomas from various female relations in Virginia, Ohio, and Tennessee. “Susan H.,” who later became Susan Moorhead, referred to herself as Thomas’s aunt. Her early letters, written from Leesburg, Virginia, expressed feelings of homesickness, disgrace over the conduct of Thomas’s uncle, resignation to death, a strong reliance on God, and a fear of poverty. Poverty and dependence remained a concern for Susan throughout her life, even after her second marriage. On several occasions she pressed Thomas Budd to settle her father’s estate, and even considered establishing a boarding house for gentlemen to free herself from dependence on male in-laws. In 1840 Susan traveled with her second husband, Dr. Moorhead, to London and her letters describe the journey and sight-seeing trips in detail. While in London she began an acquaintance with Thomas Campbell (1777-1844), the Scottish poet who helped establish University College. Eventually she settled in Anaghmakerg, Ireland, and her final letter, written in 1844, describes the troubles of Ireland, including the trial of Daniel O’Connell, the first Catholic Lord Mayor of Dublin and a Member of Parliament, who was charged with sedition after taking part in several mass meetings.

In the 1820s and 1830s Thomas received letters from Sarah (possibly an aunt), Rebecca (probably a cousin), and a woman who signed her letters “Aunt Pener.” The letters contain mostly family information, but newsy details also hint at the development of the United States. Rebecca, writing from Nashville in 1827, described the trip between that city and South Carolina as wilderness and occupied by Indian nations. Aunt Pener mentioned the commencement of a canal near Cincinnati, Ohio.

The love letters between Ann Eliza Davis and Thomas Budd began six months before their marriage in 1829, when they first became engaged. Though the letters suggest Thomas wrote more often than Ann Eliza, only one of his pre-wedding letters remains. They wrote of love, family, and their shared commitment to Christianity. After their marriage Ann Eliza often visited her father in Smyrna, Delaware, and Thomas wrote to her there. The letters written after their marriage are not as passionate as those written during their courtship, but they reveal details about the growing family and the nature of Thomas’s work.

Isaac Davis, Ann Eliza’s father, sent letters to his daughter and to Thomas, the first being his consent to their engagement. As with many of the letters in the collection, the information deals with family news and business. Christianity featured highly in Davis’s letters, especially in an 1834 letter in which he offers consolation for the loss of one of Thomas and Ann Eliza’s sons. In 1831 he offered a warning against Fanny Wright, a British reformer who established the utopian community of Nashoba, where she pushed for labor rights and gender and racial equality. In 1832 Davis commissioned Thomas Budd to retrieve an indentured servant who ran to Philadelphia by hiring a man known for finding runaway slaves. Davis lived a long life, but in 1856 he became ill and eventually died. Thomas Budd wrote to his son Isaac Davis Budd, Jr., about the final illness of Isaac Davis.

Thomas and Ann Eliza’s oldest son, Isaac Davis Bud, Jr., (b. 1830) became a doctor. In 1857 he traveled throughout the United States, visiting relatives. From Philadelphia he took a ship to Charleston, South Carolina, then overland to Nashville, Louisville, and Cincinnati, and planned to visit Niagara Falls. He described the actual process of traveling between the cities in detail. His letters still have the stamps attached.

Another son of Thomas and Eliza, James M. Budd, served in a Pennsylvania militia unit, which was called out twice during the Civil War. Holograph copies of the letters he wrote to his father are part of the collection. In them he related his unit’s activities when called out in the fall of 1862 during “Stuart’s raid.” He reentered service in the summer of 1863, and though his unit did not take part in the battle of Gettysburg, he wrote about the military activities in the surrounding area. His unit spent time in Harrisburg, Carlisle, and Pinegrove, Pennsylvania, and Fort Washington. James Budd often lamented the absence of General George Brinton McClellan, who had relinquished his command in the fall of 1862.

Eleven portrait photographs of Budd family members date from the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries. Portraits include Mr. and Mrs. W.H. Budd, Isaac D. Budd, Laura Bell Budd, Mary Zehnder, Alice [Zehnder] Budd, Mary B., Florence Budd, Caroline Budd/Mrs. Culpepper, and Catherine Budd. Two portraits were taken of Catherine and in one she wears a costume or heirloom gown from the early decades of the nineteenth century.


  • Creation: 1818-1866


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce isrequired from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical / Historical

Thomas Allibone Budd was born in 1798 to William Budd, Jr. (b. 1775) and Francenia Allibone (b. 1775) and as an adult practiced law in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His older brother William Allibone Budd (b.1796) also practiced law in Philadelphia and married Mary Laws Davis, the daughter of Isaac Davis of Smyrna, Delaware. Isaac Davis (1765-1856) served as a Delaware state representative, state senator, and judge on the Delaware Supreme Court. Thomas Budd met and courted another daughter of Isaac Davis, Ann Eliza, and the two married on June 9, 1829.

Francenia (Allibone) Budd’s relations spread from Pennsylvania into Virginia, Tennessee, and Ohio, but remained in touch with the family, particularly Thomas Budd, through correspondence. The exact relationship of the female correspondents to Thomas Budd remains ambiguous, but it seems most likely that they were sisters and nieces to his mother. The second husband of Thomas Budd’s aunt Susan was Dr. Moorhead, who took his wife to settle at Anaghmaker in Newbliss, Ireland, in 1840. “J. Moorhead, MD” appeared in the 1861 Belfast Street Directory under the Deputy Lieutenants of County Monaghan. Rebecca, possibly Susan’s daughter by her first marriage, married Mathew Watson sometime before 1827. The rest of the relationships remain undefined.

“1861 Belfast Street Directory,”, accessed November 22, 2006, updated June 2004.Ellen Ward, “Isaac Davis of Delaware,” accessed November 22, 2006, updated February 2002.Other biographical information derived from the collection.


.3 linear foot (1 box)


This collection includes early nineteenth-century correspondence of the Budd family of Philadelphia (primarily to or from lawyer Thomas Allibone Budd) and the Davis family of Smyrna, Delaware, and late nineteenth-century photographs of Budd family descendants.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Dr. William D. Johnson, 2006

Materials Available in Alternative Format

A digital copy of material in this collection is available at the University of Delaware Digital Institutional Repository.

Shelving Summary

Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes

Processing Information

Processed by Jennifer Vess, November 2006. Encoded by Jaime Margalotti, July 2017.

Finding aid for Budd family papers
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2017 July 19
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA