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Series I. Correspondence, 1817-1985, undated (#1.1-1.12), contains letters, postcards, and related envelopes; expense account sheets and receipts; drawings and images of family crests; and genealogical resource material. The majority of the correspondence belongs to Marie Vipont deRiviere (Doane) Merwin (1878-1965) and focuses on genealogical research related to her family. In 1957, Nettie Leitch Major, a genealogist for the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the District of Columbia, engaged in genealogical research for Merwin. Major's letters to Merwin entail research methods, results, and explanations of travel expenses; her expense account sheets, receipts, and related genealogical research summaries are also included within the letters. The series also contains a letter from a Mr. Brown to Elisha Doane (1762-1832) regarding Brown's feelings for Doane's sister, Maria Foster Doane (1793-1843); a series of letters, written in French, from Baroness Faverall to Adeline Driver (Stevens) Wilson (1819-1891); a brief history regarding the Stockbridge Casino in Stockbridge, Massachusetts (#1.11); an undated postcard of a man driving a horse and buggy entitled, "Tom Carey - Stockbridge, Massachusetts;" and other personal and professional letters relating to Doane and Merwin family members. A Dona family crest may be found in #1.9 and a Walker family crest may be found in #1.4. The series is arranged alphabetically by surname of the recipient, followed chronologically by unknown recipients; when applicable, women are identified by married name.
Correspondence (1 file box)
Merwin House collection
Bequest of Marie Vipont deRiviere (Doane) Merwin (1878-1965), 1966
Stockbridge (Berkshire county, Massachusetts)
Around 1825, Francis Dresser and Clarissa (Dowd) Dresser built the late Federal-style house known today as the Merwin House in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Clarissa Dresser was from Madison, Connecticut, and moved to South Lee, Massachusetts, in 1832 to teach school. Francis Dresser died only fifteen years after marrying Clarissa, leaving her with four small children. With the introduction of the railroad in the 1850s, Stockbridge transformed from a quiet, rural community to a leisure destination for wealthy New Yorkers looking to escape the noise and congestion of the city.
Between the Civil War (1861-1865) and the First World War (1914-1918), artists, writers, financiers, and industrialists flocked to the rural hills of western Massachusetts for seasonal escapes. During this time, Stockbridge flourished; summer residents built elaborate mansions and were entertained by a golf course, casino, and other cultural attractions.
In 1875, William Edward Doane (1842-1923) and Elizabeth Adeline (Wilson) Doane (1846-1932), wealthy New Yorkers, purchased the house from the Dresser family to use as a summer retreat. The Doane family grew to include two young daughters, Elizabeth Wilson (Doane) Wilson (1871-1956) and Marie Vipont deRiviere (Doane) Merwin (1878-1965). After William Doane died in 1923, Elizabeth Doane and her daughter, Marie Vipont deRiviere (Doane) Merwin (known as Vipont), continued to summer at the house.
Vipont married three times during her life. Her first husband, Ensign Newman K. Perry, died tragically in an accident while serving in the Navy in 1905, just two years after their wedding. In 1909 Vipont married Edward Webb, but their nine-year marriage was apparently never publicized until they divorced in 1918. In 1923, the same year her father William Doane died, Vipont married Edward Payson Merwin, a New York stockbroker with family roots in North Carolina.
Following Elizabeth Doane's death in 1932, Vipont and Edward Merwin decided to live in the house on a more permanent basis. After the sudden death of Edward Merwin in 1936, Vipont continued to live in the house for nearly thirty years. She lived there with two servants, Catherine and Albert Martinengo. The Martinengos became Vipont's close friends and companions during these years. Vipont Merwin died in 1965 and is buried in the family plot in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.