Series I, Correspondence, 1858-1872, undated (#1.1-1.15), is comprised of letters relating to the Anthony and Tyson families of New Bedford, Massachusetts. Most of the correspondence is from Sarah (Anthony) Tyson (1842-1873) to her mother, Anne Anthony (dates unknown), and focuses on Tyson's life while living in Shanghai, China. In 1863, Sarah and her husband, George Tyson (1831-1881), relocated to Shanghai; George was working for Russell and Company, an import/export business. Some of the letters chronicle Tyson's journey from New Bedford, Massachusetts, to Shanghai, China, and include letters sent from Baltimore, Maryland; Liverpool, England; Paris, France; Alexandria, Egypt; Galle, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka); and Nagasaki, Japan. The letters from Nagasaki were sent while she vacationed there while living in Shanghai, and they include comparisons between the two cities. Most of the letters reflect daily life and social interaction among American and British citizens residing in China and Japan during the mid-nineteenth century. The letters also discuss personal issues regarding Tyson's married life, pregnancies, motherhood, and missing family events in New Bedford. An account sheet regarding a shipment of goods received by Tyson, while in China, from Paris, France is also contained within the letters (#1.6). Additionally, the China correspondence includes letters addressing the American Civil War (1861-1865), in which Tyson's brother, Edward Anthony (b. 1844, served as a soldier in the Union Army. Letters addressing the war contain personal commentaries on the conflict and reveal news of President Abraham Lincoln's (U.S. President, 1861-1865) assassination (#1.8). Other recipients of Tyson's letters include Tyson's father, Caleb Anthony (b. 1797); sister, Annie Anthony (b. 1853); brother, Edward Anthony (b. 1844); an unidentified "Elizabeth;" and an unidentified "List." The series also contains letters focusing on Tyson's social life while in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and includes a letter regarding Tyson's attendance at a charity concert (#1.2) and letters regarding her activities with the local relief society (#1.2). Likewise, letters received by Sarah (Anthony) Tyson (1842-1873) from her mother, Anne Anthony (b. 1817) , and sister, Annie Anthony (b. 1853), are included in the correspondence. A letter from George Tyson (1831-1881) to his mother-in-law, Anne Anthony (b. 1817), concerning Sarah's miscarriage (#1.6) is also contained in the correspondence. Fragments of letters regarding the social activities of the Anthony and Tyson families; Chinese New Year; and dolls; are also included in the series. The series is arranged chronologically first by the letters, and then followed by the letter fragments.


Descriptive Terms


Physical Description

Correspondence (1 file box)

Collection Code


Collection Name

Elizabeth (Tyson) Vaughan (1871-1949) papers

Date of Acquisition


Reference Code


Credit Line

Bequest of Elise (Tyson) Vaughan (died 1949), 1949

Record Details

Material Type


Description Level


Location Note


Historical/Biographical Note

Historical/Biographical Note

In 1898, author Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909) convinced her friend Emily Tyson (1849-1922), widow of the president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and her stepdaughter, Elizabeth (Tyson) Vaughan (1871-1949) (Mrs. Henry G. Vaughan), to purchase Hamilton House in South Berwick, Maine. The Tysons were part of a new wave of summer residents who were caught up in the Colonial Revival romance of owning country houses which reflected the grace and prosperity of colonial forbears and provided a healthful rural retreat away from the heat and pollution of cities.

The Tysons hired Herbert Browne of the Boston architectural firm Little and Browne to oversee some interior changes and to design additions to the west and east sides of the house. The Tysons also embarked on creating a grand Colonial Revival-style garden at the east side of the house encircled by an elaborate pergola. All major work was completed by 1900. Important additions to the property made in the following decade included murals painted in the parlor and dining room of the house by George Porter Fernald and the construction of a charming garden cottage fitted with interior paneling salvaged from a colonial home in Newington, New Hampshire. Luckily, Elizabeth (also known as Elise) Tyson was an accomplished amateur photographer whose photographs of interior and garden views provide a rare and wonderful documentation of the early years the ladies spent at the property.

After her stepmother's death in 1922, Elizabeth (Tyson) Vaughan and her husband Henry Vaughan (married 1915) were encouraged by William Sumner Appleton, the founder of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, now Historic New England, to keep the house. The Vaughans had built a house, again designed by the firm of Little and Browne and with murals by George Porter Fernald, in Sherborn, Massachusetts. Around 1925, Elise did some redecorating at Hamilton House in keeping with the spirit of the earlier era and summered there until her death in 1949.