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Samuel M. Donnell account books


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Samuel M. Donnell was a prominent citizen of Newark, Delaware, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Donnell was the son of Andrew, a farmer, and Rosa (Mathewson) Donnell. While little biographical information exists, a Delaware directory from 1882 lists Donnell's occupation as farmer. According to an 1884 directory, his occupation had changed to real estate. By 1888, Donnell was advertising his services in the Delaware directory as a notary public, real estate agent, general collection broker, insurance agent, and loan negotiator. The advertisement also stated that Donnell's offices were located opposite Delaware College. Between 1888 and 1914, Donnell acted as an insurance agent for Fire Association of Philadelphia and the Royal Insurance Company of Liverpool, England.

Donnell married Mary Bedford Cooch, the daughter of Levi G. Cooch and Sarah Conant Wilkins. They had no children. Widely active in the affairs of the Newark community, Donnell served as president of the town council in 1885, as commissioner on the town council in 1887, as secretary of Hiram Lodge #25 in 1882, and served numerous terms as town mayor. Samuel Donnell owned many properties within the city of Newark, including his farm, located just off Main Street and New London Road. Donnell also purchased a parcel of land from the estate of Albert G. Lewis and conveyed it to the Board of Education. The tract is now occupied by the Christina School District.

Cooch, Frances A.Little Known History of Newark, Delaware and its Environs. Newark, Del.: The Press of Kells, 1936. Hanby, Egbert G. and Jas. L. Vallandigham, Jr.Newark, Delaware: Past and Present. Newark, Del.: Delaware Ledger Print, 1982.

Scharf, J. Thomas.

History of Delaware: 1609-1888 , Vol. 2. Philadelphia: L.J. Richards & Co., 1888.

The Delaware State Directory . Wilmington, Del.: Jenkins & Atkinson, 1882, 1884, and 1888.

The account books of Samuel M. Donnell span the dates 1852 until 1880 and encompass both Donnell's real estate concerns and his farming and household interests in Newark, Delaware. Divided into four volumes, three of the volumes include numerous accounts. Volume 1 contains accounts for the sale of houses in Montgomery, Alabama, as well as a list of deposits and withdrawals for Donnell's account at the National Bank of Newark. Volume 2 consists of a cash book for Donnell's household expenditures. Volume 3 includes Donnell's accounts for employees for both his farm and his household, in addition to an account Donnell held with Lorenza Long. Volume 4 serves as a form of address book for individuals who owe interest on loans made by Donnell. It is obvious from these volumes that Donnell was a man of substantial income who interacted with a large number of individuals who impacted early Newark history. The list of citizens includes Joseph Hossinger, John Lewis, A. Lowber, S.W. Wilson, members of the Cooch family, C.W. Blandy, David Choate, and A.J. Lilley.

  1. Item 0081: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0096

Digitized copies of the account books are available at the University of Delaware Digital Institutional Repository.

Gift of Mr. Groff, 1976.

Processed by Theresa Hessey, July 2004. Encoded by Lora J. Davis, August 2011.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2011 August 3
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

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 is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

Account book, 1866-1878.
Volume 1
Scope and Contents

Contains accounts for the sale of houses for Robert, Moses, and Company, 1866-1869, in Montgomery, Alabama. Also includes notes of amounts of loans made in Montgomery in 1870, a list of cash received from Montgomery during the years 1852-1869, and a list of money at interest, 1859-1869. Detailed accounting of Samuel Donnell's account in the National Bank of Newark during the years 1868 and 1876 is also included. Donnell's interaction with numerous Newark businesses is apparent from his payments to individuals such as Alexander Wilson, C.W. Blandy, George G. Evans, William Dean, and the Casho Machine Company.

Physical Description

32 cm

Materials Viewable Online
  1. Account book, 1866-1878
Cash account book, 1872-1880.
Volume 2
Scope and Contents

Endpaper includes notes related to the pedigree of a calf named "Rollo," a small pox remedy, and the holding capacities of cribs in the granary. The book also contains Donnell's accounting of his cash expenditures. Costs include cigars, barber visits, horse feed, household goods, monies received for rents and goods, and monies paid to individuals for goods and services. Names mentioned include Joseph Hossinger, John Lewis, A. Lowber, S.W. Wilson, S. Wright, members of the Cooch family, C.W. Blandy, David Choate, and A.J. Lilley.

Physical Description

32 cm

Materials Viewable Online
  1. Cash account book, 1872-1880
Wage accounts, 1868-1880.
Volume 3
Scope and Contents

Lists accounts of hired hands including African-Americans. The average length of employment was nine months, with most employees receiving housing and other goods in exchange for their labor. Accounts also include the amount of monthly wages for each employee. This account book also contains a cash account for the farm. Paid outs include wages for employees, payments for farming implements and supplies, and Donnell's payments to himself. Deposits include rents and payments received for the sale of farm goods such as eggs and milk. The final page of the volume includes an 1880 account between Donnell and Lorenza Long.

Physical Description

34 cm

Materials Viewable Online
  1. Wage accounts, 1868-1880
Loan accounts, undated.
Volume 4
Scope and Contents

Contains a list of how to direct letters to interest payers. Names identified include the Cochrans of Middletown and individuals from Maryland towns such as Elkton, Galena, Cecilton, and Chesapeake City. Also includes a list of money loaned to individuals in Delaware and Maryland.

Physical Description

25 cm

Materials Viewable Online
  1. Loan accounts, undated

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