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MS 229 - Thomas B. Searight Collection


The personal correspondence of the Searight family of Fayette County, Pennsylvania; Canton, Ohio; and South Bend, Indiana, dates from 1839 to 1898. The bulk of the collection falls during the Civil War period and provides ample information on daily life of the times. The correspondents comment upon political, social, educational, recreational, economic, and personal concerns.

These records are part of a collection which was brought into the Bowling Green State University Library by Bill Shurk, then of the Popular Culture Library, and was transferred to the Center for Archival Collections in July 1976. The CAC maintains physical ownership of the collection. Duplication is permitted for preservation and research purposes only. The register was prepared by Jill Gates Smith, field specialist for the Women's Studies Archives Project, in March 1982.

Biographical Sketch

The Thomas B. Searight Collection is comprised of personal correspondence among friends and family members of the Searights, whose family seat was Searights, Menallen Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania.

Rachel (Brownfield) Searight and William Searight had four children, Thomas B., James Allison (1836-1915), Ewing, and Lizzie. After William's death, Rachel renewed a friendship with Dr. Harman Stidger of Canton, Stark County, Ohio. Their correspondence became a courtship and eventually led to their marriage between 1856 and 1859.

Harman Stidger was a staunch democrat who helped found the Stark County Democratic Party in 1824. He served one term in the Ohio House of Representatives in 1835. When Canton was reincorporated in 1838, he was one of eight trustees. In 1851, he proctored the first annual examination of local scholars and in 1856, he was a presiding officer in the Masonic Lodge.

Upon their marriage, Harman accepted Rachel's children as his own. James A. Searight graduated from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, in 1863. He worked in the general land office of the U. S. Government, Washington, D.C., until 1871, when he established a real estate and insurance agency in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. He founded the William and Thomas B. Searight lectureship on local history at Washington and Jefferson College in memory of his father and brother, Thomas. Col. Thomas B. Searight was nominated and served as a U.S. Surveyor General in Colorado in 1874. Information about female family members is not readily available.

Histories of Stark County and the National Cyclopedia of American Biography were used to clarify information gleaned from the correspondence. James A. Searight authored a history of the "Searight Family in America" (1893). Reference to The Old Pike by the Hon. Thomas B. Searight is made in a collection letter dated 1897.

Scope and Content

The correspondence of the Thomas B. Searight Collection demands and warrants further research to clarify the relation of family members to each other and the specific position the family held in communities of Stark County, Ohio, and Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Internal evidence identifies them as middle class.

The letters clearly illustrate the social/sexual dichotomy of a society in which men traveled in a public sphere of politics, war, and higher education, and women traveled in a domestic sphere of children, marriage, fashions, and funerals. The strength of this collection is its tone of on-going conversation between intimates. National trends break into the conversation and are acknowledged on a personal level, such as the westward movement and women as domestic workers.

The letters are full of off-hand references to military events and figures of the Civil War and the effects of such events upon home life are keenly felt and recorded. Place names mentioned most often throughout the letters include: Brownsville and Uniontown, Pennsylvania; Canton, Ohio; Searights; South Bend, Indiana; Fayette County, Pennsylvania; Kenyon College; Washington, D.C.; Nebraska City; St. Louis County, Missouri; and New York City.

The handwriting in most of the letters is legible or easy to identify from one writer to the next.

Series Description


Arranged chronologically
Includes correspondence among family members and friends commenting upon political, social, military, educational, recreational, economic, and personal concerns of the period immediately preceding, during, and following the Civil War.


Deed of land to Alexander Maxon.


A handwritten memoir of stages and stage routes, Washington, Pennsylvania.

A poem of friendship form M. E. To Lizzie B. S.


Box 1

Folder 1
  1. Correspondence from Douglas Keys or Keep to William Searight, February 20, 1839
  2. Correspondence from A. J. Herr to "Dear Sir", July 31, 1852
  3. Correspondence from "Many Democrats" to "Dear Sir", possibly T. B. Searight, February 5, 1855
  4. Correspondence from Harman Stidger to Rachel Searight, December 2, 1855
  5. Correspondence from Harman Stidger to Rachel Searight, February 10, 1856
  6. Correspondence from Harman Stidger to Rachel Searight, March 9, 1856
  7. Correspondence from Harman Stidger to Rachel Searight, August 27, 1856
  8. Correspondence from Harman Stidger to Rachel Searight, November 16, 1856
  9. Correspondence from A. F. Husband to Searights, February 27, 1859
  10. Correspondence from unknown to Mr. Searight, May 8, 1859
  11. Correspondence from Rachel (Searight) to "My Dear Husband" (Harman Stidger), October 12, 1859
  12. Correspondence from "Hubby" (Harmon Searight) to "My dear bad wife" (Rachel Searight Stidger, October 25, 1859
Folder 2
  1. Correspondence from James A. Searight to Mother (Rachel Stidger), January 3, 1860
  2. Correspondence from Kate to "My dear Aunt", September 10, 1861
  3. Correspondence from Mother and Dr. (Rachel and Harman Stidger) to "My dear daughter," November 18, 1862
  4. Correspondence from Sis (a daughter) to "My dear Mother", December 11, 1862
  5. Correspondence from Ewing Searight to Mother (Rachel Stidger), December 26, 1862
  6. Correspondence from Mother (Rachel Stidger) to "My dear daughter", January 12, 1863
  7. Correspondence from Niece Martha to "Dear Uncle", January 29, 1863
  8. Correspondence from George W. Hart to "My Dear Coz B", January 29, 1863
  9. Correspondence from Mother (Rachel Stidger) to "My dear daughter," February 4, 1863
  10. Correspondence from John Brownfield to "Dear Doctor" (Harman Stidger), February 9, 1863
  11. Correspondence from Cousin Lizzie to "My dear Cousin", August 1863
  12. Correspondence from Cousin Kate to Cousin Lizzie, October 25, 1863
  13. Correspondence from "Lidabus" to Lizzie, December 6, 1863
  14. Correspondence from Cousin Kate to Cousin Lizzie, April 10, 1864
  15. Correspondence from William H. Burke to Dr. H. Stidger, October 7, 1864
  16. Correspondence from Lizzie to "My dear Mother," October 18, 1864
  17. Correspondence from W. S. Hat(field?) To Father, September 20, 1865
  18. Correspondence from ? To "My dear Lizzy", January 31, 1866
  19. Correspondence from Doctor to "Dear Daughter," February 5, 1867
  20. Correspondence from Josephine to "My dear Lizzie," March 31, 18--
Folder 3
  1. Correspondence from Cauncy F. Black to "My dear Gibson" of "Messrs. Gibson & Searight, January 9, 1871
  2. Correspondence from (?) Scott to "My Dear Sir" (Hon. W. McKennan?), January 5, 1874
  3. Correspondence from T. B. S(earight) to ?, 187-
Folder 4
  1. Correspondence from A. G. C. Sherbondy to Henry A. Witt, September 7, 1891
  2. Correspondence from Martin G. Brumbaugh to Hon. T. B. Searight, May 31, 1897
  3. Correspondence from P. M. Sytle to Thomas B. Searight, Esq., October 17, 1898
Folder 5
  1. Correspondence from Rachel to ?, n.d.
  2. Correspondence from Lidabus to ?, n.d.
  3. Correspondence from Lidabus to ?, n.d.
  4. Correspondence from Cousin Lizzie to ?, n.d.
  5. Correspondence from Mother (Rachel Stidger) to ?, n.d.
Folder 6
  1. Deed of land to Alexander Mason, single sheet, n.d.
  2. History of stages, handwritten, two pages, n.d.
  3. Poem from M. E. to Lizzie B. S., n.d.