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Guide to the Bannerman Family Papers
1788 - 2001 (bulk 1890-1968)
 MS 2906

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Ashley Todd

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on August 15, 2019
Finding Aid is written in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Bannerman, Francis, VI, 1851-1918
Title: Bannerman Family Papers
Dates [inclusive]: 1788-2001 (bulk 1890-1968)
Abstract: Francis (Frank) Bannerman VI was born in Dundee, Scotland on March 24, 1851. Following the Civil War, Bannerman founded a company, Francis Bannerman Co., specializing in military surplus and scrap. In 1900 Bannerman puchased Polopel Island, a small island located in the Hudson River just north of West Point, NY, with the aim to turn it into a safe storage location for his large stores of military surplus that had now outgrown his warehouse space in Brooklyn. Patriotic to his heritage, Bannerman designed plans to have a unique, Scottish-style estate be constructed on the island to serve both his business and personal needs. The family owned both the business and the island until the late 1960s.

Subseries IV.D Glass Plate Negatives is digitized and available in the  Shelby White and Leon Levy Digital Library.
Quantity: 3 Linear feet (7 boxes and 3 volumes)
Call Phrase: MS 2906

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Biographical Note

Francis (Frank) Bannerman VI was born in Dundee, Scotland on March 24, 1851. At the age of three he and his family moved to the United States, where they settled in Brooklyn. Soon after, Bannerman's father began a business of re-selling items purchased at Naval auctions. When his father joined the Union Army during the Civil War, Francis carried on and gradually grew the business by collecting large quantities of scrap. Once the Civil War ended, Bannerman officially founded his own company, Francis Bannerman Co., at the age of 14. It was during a business trip to Ireland a few years later, in 1872, that Bannerman met and married his wife, Helen Boyce.

In 1900 Bannerman purchased Polopel Island, a small island located in the Hudson River just north of West Point, NY, with the aim to turn it into a safe storage location for his large store of military surplus that had now outgrown his warehouse space in Brooklyn. Patriotic to his heritage, Bannerman designed plans to have a unique, Scottish-style estate constructed on the island to serve both his business and personal needs. Construction began in 1900 and continued steadily through the time of Bannerman's death in 1918. Buildings constructed included an arsenal, a superintendent's house, a workshop, a powder house, an ice house, breakwaters, turrets and a grand personal residence and gardens for the Bannermans. Proud of his island home, Francis attempted to officially rename the island "Bannerman Island," but never gained consent to do so. During their time living on the island, a number of unfortunate incidents befell the Bannermans, including a large explosion at the powder house in 1920 that caused minor injuries and a fair amount of damage, and frequent lightning strikes due to the castle's numerous flag poles.

In 1918 two of Francis Bannerman's sons, Frank Jr. and David Boyce, became partners in the business and changed its name to Francis Bannerman Sons. When Francis passed away later that year, his two sons carried on and continued to grow the business. In 1946, following the death of Frank Jr., Francis' grandson Charles S. Bannerman became a partner and incorporated the business. In 1959 Charles, then President, closed the company's storefront that had long been on Broadway and moved the business office to Blue Point, Long Island. The family sold the company to James F. Hogan, previously the company's secretary, in the late 1960s.

In 1967 the Bannermans sold Polopel Island to The People of the State of New York, and on July 1, 1968 it was placed under the supervision of the Taconic State Park Commission. Unfortunately, a fire during the night of August 8, 1969 severely damaged all of the buildings. Today the island and the ruins remaining of the buildings are maintained by a non-profit agency associated with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

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Scope and Contents

This collection pertains to the personal life, business and estate of Francis Bannerman VI and his family. Primary topics in this collection are the Bannerman family; military equipment and World War I, which are reflective of Bannerman's company's specialty of military surplus and his interest in military achievement; and Polopel (Bannerman) Island and the estate Bannerman built there. Materials include correspondence, notes, time books, scrapbooks, clippings, monographs, serials, photographs, glass plate negatives and objects.

Arrangement

This collection is organized into four series, three topical and one based on media format: Bannerman Family, Francis Bannerman (Sons) Business, Polopel (Bannerman) Island, and Photographs and Negatives. Within these series, materials are arranged chronologically. Undated materials have been placed at the end of each series or subseries and are arranged alphabetically.

This collection is organized into the following four series. Within these series, materials are arranged chronologically. Undated materials have been placed at the end of each series or subseries and are arranged alphabetically.

Missing Title

  1. Series I: Bannerman Family
  2. Series II: Francis Bannerman (Sons) Business
  3. Series III: Polopel (Bannerman) Island
  4. Series IV: Photographs and Negatives

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Bannerman, Francis, VI, 1851-1918

Document Type

  • Black-and-white negatives
  • Scrapbooks.
  • Photographs.
  • Correspondence.
  • Bylaws
  • Minutes (administrative records)

Subject Organizations

  • Francis Bannerman (Firm)
  • Francis Bannerman Son
  • West Point (N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • World War, 1914-1918

Subject Places

  • Hudson River (N.Y. and N.J.) -- History.
  • Polopel Island

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Administrative Information

Custodial History

Donated to the New-York Historical Society by Virginia Collins in 2011.

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Use Restrictions

Permission to quote from this collection in a publication must be requested and granted in writing. Send permission requests, citing the name of the collection from which you wish to quote to: Manuscript Curator, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as the Bannerman Family Papers, MS 2906, The New-York Historical Society.

Related Materials

There is a large collection of Bannerman family and business papers at the Hagley Museum and Library. http://www.hagley.lib.de.us/library/collections/manuscripts/bannermanabst.html Contact them for more details.

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Container List

Series I: Bannerman Family

Scope and Contents

This series contains materials belonging to Francis Bannerman VI and various members of the Bannerman Family. The majority of materials pertain to Francis Bannerman's interest in World War I, the military and Scotland, including primarily clippings, and scrapbooks. Other materials include monographs, serials, mortgages, deeds and mid-nineteenth century stock certificates that could belong to various family members.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Vindication of the Clanronald of Glengarry
1821
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Stock Certificates
1853-56
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Cornell's Intermediate Geography
[1865]
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Mortgages, Deeds, Bonds
1886-1956
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Ladies Home Journal
Midsummer 1893
Box: 1 Folder : 6 New York Tribune, Photographic History of the Great War, vol. I, no. I-IV
1914
Box: 1 Folder : 7 New York Tribune, Photographic History of the Great War, vol. I, no. V, VI, VIII, IX; vol. 2, no. I
1914-15
Box: 1 Folder : 8 New York Times
1915, 1918
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Scrapbook, "To Francis Bannerman Esq. from the Scottish Company City of London National Guard"
1916
Box: 1 Folder : 10 New York Tribune
1918
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Clippings
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 12 History of the Great Iron Chain, and supporting materials
undated
Volume: 1 Postcard Scrapbook, English - European, vol. 1
undated

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Series II: Francis Bannerman (Sons) Business

Scope and Contents

This series contains materials pertaining to the Bannerman family business, Francis Bannerman (Sons), including correspondence, notes, employee time books, scrapbooks and publications printed by the company.

Subseries A: Business Records

Scope and Contents

This subseries contains materials pertaining to the Bannerman family business from the 1890s to the 1970s. It includes correspondence, records and notes pertaining to the company's general business, ventures and eventual sale. In particular there are materials relating to its dealings with Lord Kitchnes regarding the Belgian Relief during WWI, the family of Admiral Dewey regarding the USS Olympia, the Marsteller Family regarding donations and relics, and the New York Central Railroad regarding a track crossing agreement.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 1 F. Bannerman Sons Correspondence and Documents
1891-1917
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Employee Time Book, weekly
1892
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Loose Scrapbook Materials from Vol. 2
1892-93
Box: 2 Folder : 4 F. Bannerman Business
1897-1919
Box: 2 Folder : 5 Olympia and Admiral Dewey
1898-1959
Box: 2 Folder : 6 Francis Bannerman Business Notes
[1900]
Box: 2 Folder : 7 F. Bannerman Sons, Marstellers
1903-17
Box: 2 Folder : 8 Correspondence
1905-17
Box: 2 Folder : 9 Lord Kitchnes, Belgian Relief
1914-18, 1933
Box: 2 Folder : 10 Correspondence
1915
Box: 2 Folder : 11 Correspondence [1 of 2]
1915
Box: 2 Folder : 12 Correspondence [2 of 2]
1915-17
Box: 2 Folder : 13 Agreement with New York Central Railroad
1915-68
Box: 3 Folder : 1 Employee Time Book, weekly
1916-18
Box: 3 Folder : 2 Bannerman Family Partnership
[1917]
Box: 3 Folder : 3 Belgian Relief Letters and Checks
1918
Box: 3 Folder : 4 Employee Time Book, Bannerman's Arsenal
1918
Box: 3 Folder : 5 Sale of Estate
1923-68
Box: 3 Folder : 6 Employee Time Book, weekly
1929-36
Box: 3 Folder : 7 Quaker Realty Company
1935
Box: 3 Folder : 8 Efforts to Sell the Business
1946-48
Box: 3 Folder : 9 Bannerman Booth at Congressional Church Antique Show in Manhasset
1954-56, 1958
Box: 3 Folder : 10 Francis Bannerman Sons
1955-68
Box: 3 Folder : 11 Correspondence and Documents
1956-57
Box: 3 Folder : 12 Francis Bannerman Sons, Inc.
1956-59
Box: 3 Folder : 13 Franics Bannerman Sons, Inc., Bylaws and Minutes
1957-68
Box: 3 Folder : 14 Binder, Francis Bannerman Sons, Inc.

General

Originally held Francis Bannerman Sons, Inc., Bylaws and Minutes.

undated
Box: 3 Folder : 15 Francis Bannerman Sons
1971-75
Volume: 2 Scrapbook, vol. 2
1892-93
Volume: 3 Scrapbook, vol. 3
undated

Subseries B: Printed Material

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 4 Folder : 1 Francis Bannerman Sons Catalogs
1945-55
Box: 4 Folder : 2 Bannerman Military Catalogue
1949
Box: 4 Folder : 3 Bannerman Military Catalogue, 84th Anniversary
1949
Box: 4 Folder : 4 Bannerman Military Catalogue, 90th Anniversary
1955
Box: 4 Folder : 5 Bannerman Military Catalogue, 100th Anniversary
1966
Box: 4 Folder : 6 Francis Bannerman Sons, list of parts and equipment
[1966]

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Series III: Polopel (Bannerman) Island

Scope and Contents

This series contains materials pertaining to Polopel (Bannerman) Island, of which there are many spellings, and the Bannermans' time living there, including documents, clippings, correspondence and printed materials. Particular events covered include the arrest of Charles Kovac, the island's superintendent, for being an unnaturalized Austrian alien; the occupation of the island in 1918 when a sub-cruiser crew made an unauthorized search of the island; and the island's nomination for the historic register.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 4 Folder : 7 Deed, Polleples Island (photocopy)
1788
Box: 4 Folder : 8 Blue Print, Island Under Water
1903
Box: 4 Folder : 9 Map of Polopel Island
1905
Box: 4 Folder : 10 Detention of Charlie Kovacs, "Raid" on Island by USN, and Other Notes and Clippings
1917-18
Box: 4 Folder : 11 Occupation of the Island
1918
Box: 4 Folder : 12 More Correspondence on Occupation of the Island by Army
1918-19
Box: 4 Folder : 13 Clippings
1918-2001
Box: 4 Folder : 14 Newspaper and Other Clippings about Bannerman's Island
1920, 1956-67
Box: 5 Folder : 1 Clippings
1940, 1956-68
Box: 5 Folder : 2 Clippings
1961-68
Box: 5 Folder : 3 The Story of Bannerman Island
1973
Box: 5 Folder : 4 Calendar Featuring the Island
1974
Box: 5 Folder : 5 Nomination, National Historic Register
1980-83
Box: 5 Folder : 6 Bannerman Island
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 7 Coat of Arms
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 8 Island Pictures, Selected for the Booklet
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 9 Maps
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 10 Scenes Along the Hudson River
undated
Box: 7 Coat of Arms, metal
undated
Box: 7 Coat of Arms, stamp
undated

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Series IV: Photographs and Negatives

Scope and Contents

This series contains photographs, negatives and glass plate negatives of the Bannerman Family, the Francis Bannerman (Sons) business and Polopel (Bannerman) Island.

Subseries A: Bannerman Family

Scope and Contents

This subseries contains photographs and negatives of members of the Bannerman Family, including Francis Bannerman VI, Helen Boyer Bannerman and David Bannerman Jr.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 5 Folder : 11 Photographs
1914, undated
Box: 5 Folder : 12 Photographs, "For the Rhode Island Branch of the Family"
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 13 Negatives
undated

Subseries B: Francis Bannerman (Sons) Business

Scope and Contents

This subseries contains photographs and negatives of the Francis Bannerman (Sons) store on Broadway and various military surplus.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 5 Folder : 14 Negatives
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 15 Photographs
undated

Subseries C: Polopel (Bannerman's) Island

Scope and Contents

This subseries contains photographs and negatives of Polopel (Bannerman) Island, its structures and daily life while the family lived there.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 6 Folder : 1 Negatives
undated
Box: 6 Folder : 2 Photographs
undated
Box: 6 Folder : 3 Photographs
undated
Box: 6 Folder : 4 Photographs
undated
Box: 6 Folder : 5 Photographs
undated
Box: 6 Folder : 6 Photographs
undated
Box: 6 Folder : 7 Photographs
undated

Subseries D: Glass Plate Negatives

Scope and Contents

This series contains glass plate negatives of Polopel (Bannerman) Island, including images of the interior and exterior of the Bannerman's house and the island itself. A CD of digital prints made from the negatives is also included.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital copies are available in the Shelby White and Leon Levy Digital Library.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 6 Folder : 8 CD, Digital Prints from Glass Plate Negatives
undated
Box: 6 Folder : 9 Glass Plate Negative, Polopel (Bannerman) Island
undated
Box: 6 Folder : 10 Glass Plate Negative, Polopel (Bannerman) Island
undated
Box: 6 Folder : 11 Glass Plate Negative, Polopel (Bannerman) Island
undated
Box: 6 Folder : 12 Glass Plate Negative, Polopel (Bannerman) Island
undated
Box: 7 Glass Plate Negative, Group Picture
undated
Box: 7 Glass Plate Negative, House Exterior
undated
Box: 7 Glass Plate Negative, House Exterior
undated
Box: 7 Glass Plate Negative, House Exterior
undated
Box: 7 Glass Plate Negative, House Exterior
undated
Box: 7 Glass Plate Negative, House Exterior
undated
Box: 7 Glass Plate Negative, House Exterior
undated
Box: 7 Glass Plate Negative, House Exterior
undated
Box: 7 Glass Plate Negative, House Exterior
undated
Box: 7 Glass Plate Negative, House Exterior
undated
Box: 7 Glass Plate Negative, House Interior
undated
Box: 7 Glass Plate Negative, House Interior
undated
Box: 7 Glass Plate Negative, House Interior
undated
Box: 7 Glass Plate Negative, Polopel (Bannerman) Island
undated
Box: 7 Glass Plate Negative, Polopel (Bannerman) Island
undated
Box: 7 Glass Plate Negative, Polopel (Bannerman) Island
undated
Box: 7 Glass Plate Negative, Polopel (Bannerman) Island
undated
Box: 7 Glass Plate Negative, Polopel (Bannerman) Island
undated
Box: 7 Glass Plate Negative, Polopel (Bannerman) Island
undated
Box: 7 Glass Plate Negative, Window View
undated

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