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Guide to the Peter Curtenius Papers
1748-1844
 MS 142

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


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Rachel Schimke

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on May 18, 2012 using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

 
Creator: Curtenius , Peter, d. 1817
Title: Peter Curtenius Papers
Dates [inclusive]: 1748-1844
Dates [bulk]: Bulk, 1809-1814
Abstract: Peter Curtenius served as the United States Marshal of the District of New York during the War of 1812. The collection primarily relates to his duties as Marshal, though there are also deeds and other documents pertaining to the Curtenius family's real estate holdings.
Quantity: 0.65 Linear feet (3 boxes)
Call Phrase: MS 142

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Biographical/Historical note

Peter Curtenius was born in New York City to Peter Theobaldus Curtenius (1734-1796) and Catharine Goelet (d. 1806). Peter T. Curtenius, a merchant by trade, served as a member of the New York Committee of Correspondence and later as a Lieutenant-Colonel of the Militia of the City of New York and as Commissary General, in charge of purchasing provisions for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. He also held the position of New York State Auditor from 1782 to 1796. The family had six children: Peter, Philip (a merchant who died in 1802), Mary, Elizabeth, Jane (who married Elbert Roosevelt), and Catharine (who married Reverend John Dunlap).

Peter Curtenius was appointed Marshal of the District of New York by Thomas Jefferson in 1806. He served in this post until about the end of the War of 1812. During his tenure as Marshal, Curtenius maintained registers of the approximately 1,500 British citizens living in New York. Curtenius also monitored British prisoners of war and oversaw the U.S. District Court, District of New York. He had a wife, Mary Ann, and their son Frederick fought in South America against Spanish rule in the 1820s.

Peter Curtenius died in New York City in 1817.

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Scope and Contents note

The materials in the first three series of the Peter Curtenius Papers relate to Curtenius's role as U.S. Marshal of the District of New York before and during the War of 1812. The papers consist mainly of correspondence between Curtenius and various government agencies, financial documents related to expenses generated by the Marshal's Office, and papers related to civilian prisoners of the U.S. District Court, District of New York and British prisoners of war. Some of the papers in these series were generated during the tenure of John Smith, Curtenius's successor as Marshal of the District of New York.

The fourth series consists of personal papers related to the Curtenius family's real estate holdings. It contains releases, deeds, grants, indentures, surveys, and other documents related to the family's land transactions and the transactions of their relatives and/or business partners.

Presidential Signatures

  1. Box 1, Folder 3: Department of State Correspondence (multiple letters written by James Monroe)
  2. Box 3, Folder 4: Land Grants and Patents (Martin Van Buren's signature)
  3. Box 3, Folder 4: Land Grants and Patents (John Tyler's signature)

Arrangement note

  1. Series 1: Correspondence
  2. Series 2: Financial Documents
  3. Series 3: Prisoner and Alien Files
  4. Series 4: Family Real Estate

The Peter Curtenius Papers are arranged alphabetically by topic or form. Papers within each folder are arranged chronologically. The first three series relate to Peter Curtenius's work as U.S. Marshal for the District of New York. The fourth series are personal papers related to his family's real estate holdings.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Curtenius , Peter, d. 1817
  • Curtenius, Peter T., 1734-1796
  • Gallatin, Albert, 1761-1849
  • Mason, John, 1766-1849
  • Monroe, James, 1758-1821

Document Type

  • Account books
  • Correspondence
  • Deeds
  • Field notes
  • Indentures
  • Land surveys
  • Maps
  • Mortgages
  • Registers (lists)
  • Releases
  • Wills

Subject Topics

  • Aliens -- United States
  • Courts -- New York (State)
  • Land titles -- New York (State)
  • Prisoners of war -- Great Britain
  • Real property -- New York (State)
  • Seizure of vessels and cargoes
  • Ships -- Registers
  • United States. District Court (New York : Southern District)
  • United States. Marshal (New York)
  • Warships

Subject Places

  • Lansingburgh (N.Y.)
  • New York (N.Y.)
  • New York (State) -- History -- War of 1812
  • New York (State) -- Officials and employees -- Salaries, etc.
  • Oneida County (N.Y.)
  • Oswego County (N.Y.)
  • United States -- Census, 1810
  • United States -- History -- War of 1812
  • United States. District Court (New York)

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access note

Open to qualified researchers.

Conditions Governing Use note

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 note

This collection should be cited as the Peter Curtenius Papers, MS 142, The New-York Historical Society.

Related Archival Materials note

Researchers interested in the War of 1812 may also wish to consult the Tontine Coffee-House Records (MS 631). For materials related to Curtenius's work as a U.S. Marshal, including registers of British citizens living in New York, researchers may consult: BV New York State Marshal's Office. Both collections are at this repository.

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Container List

Series 1: Correspondence, 1808-1815, 1808-1815

Arrangement note

Series 1: Correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent or by the topic of the correspondence.

Scope and Contents note

Series 1 consists of letters written by Peter Curtenius (or on his behalf) or letters from various government agencies containing instructions for Curtenius in his capacity as U.S. Marshal of the District of New York. Most of the correspondence is between Curtenius and the Department of State (during James Monroe’s tenure as Secretary of State), the Department of the Treasury (during Albert Gallatin's tenure as Treasury Secretary), and the Commissary General of Prisoners of War, John Mason. Much of the correspondence, particularly from the State Department and the Commissary General, is related to the status of British citizens living in New York City or British prisoners of war during the War of 1812, though the Treasury Department also issued instructions regarding civilian debtors. There is also some correspondence from the Treasury Department related to the 1810 census.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Correspondence Re: British Aliens and Prisoners of War
1812-1813, 1815, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Correspondence Re: District of New York
1809, 1812-1813, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Department of State Correspondence
April 1811-July 1813
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Department of the Treasury Correspondence
1808, 1810, 1813
Box: 1 Folder : 5 New York State Comptroller's Office Correspondence
1813, 1815
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Office of the Commissary General of Prisoners of War Correspondence
April-July 1813
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Alienated Envelopes
1812-1813

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Series 2: Financial Documents, 1806-1819, 1806-1819

Arrangement note

Series 2: Financial Documents is arranged alphabetically by topic and form.

Scope and Contents note

Series 2 consists of documents related to the finances of the Marshal's Office, District of New York. There are five record books which detail the expenses involved in the U.S. government's attachment of specific vessels and their cargos, including captures by privateers and Navy warships. There is also a record book which lists operating expenses generated by the U.S. District Court, District of New York, namely compensation for the jurors, marshals, clerks, attorneys, and constables. In addition to the record books, there are bills, receipts, orders to pay, and other documents for expenses related to the Marshal’s Office, mostly pertaining to ships attached by the government and the maintenance of British prisoners. Some of the bills and requests for payment are from 1810 census takers, while others are more general requests from individuals for various services rendered to the District Court.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Bills, Receipts, and Requests for Payment (mostly District Court)
1806, 1809-1815, 1819, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 9 British Prisoners of War Expenses
1812-1814, 1817, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Census Expenses
1810-1811, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Naval Expenses
1801-1802, 1808-1813, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 12 Record Book
1806-1809
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Record Book
1809-1810
Box: 1 Folder : 14 Record Book
1810-1812
Box: 1 Folder : 15 Record Book (Court Expenses)
August 1810-December 1813
Box: 1 Folder : 16 Record Book
1812-1813
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Record Book
1812-1813, 1816

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Series 3: Prisoner and Alien Files, 1806-1817, Bulk, 1811-1814 1806-1817

Scope and Contents note

Series 3 consists of discharge orders, receipts of prisoners, and bail notices generated by the U.S. District Court, District of New York. There are also reports and lists of British prisoners of war, some from the ships "Acasta," "Ocean," "Peacock," "B. Franklin," "Saratoga," "Quebec," and "Macedonian." Of particular note is a ledger maintained by Curtenius on British prisoners of war, including information on which vessel they were captured from, the length of their confinement, and rations issued. A small portion of the series relates to British "aliens" living in New York, and there is also a document listing American prisoners of war permitted to return to the United States.

Arrangement note

Series 3: Prisoner Files is arranged alphabetically by topic and form.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 2 American Prisoners of War
undated
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Bail Bonds
1808-1814, undated
Box: 2 Folder : 4 British Citizens Reports
1812-1814, undated
Box: 2 Folder : 5 British Prisoners of War (Reports and Lists)
1812-1813, 1817, undated
Box: 2 Folder : 6 Discharge Orders
1809-1813, undated
Box: 2 Folder : 7 Receipts of Prisoners and Orders into Custody
1806, 1811-1813
Box: 2 Folder : 8 Record Book (British Prisoners of War)
1812-1813

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Series 4: Family Real Estate, 1748-1844, 1748-1844

Scope and Contents note

Series 4 consists of surveys, deeds, indentures, mortgages, a field book, and maps of land primarily in Oswego County, Oneida County, Lansingburgh, and New York City. The documents relate to the Curtenius family's real estate holdings and details purchases they made, especially the Scriba Purchase, Fonda Purchase, and Roosevelt Purchase. Many documents in this series relate to the splitting of the estate of Peter T. Curtenius, father of Peter Curtenius, between his children and his wife, Catharine, and the settling of the debts of Philip Curtenius, Peter Curtenius's brother, following Philip's death. This series also contains the will of Philip Goelet, the maternal grandfather of Peter Curtenius. Of note are deeds signed by Martin Van Buren and John Tyler authorizing the sale of land in Detroit to Joseph Kirkland of Oneida County, a possible relative of the Curtenius family or a purchaser of some of their holdings.

Papers in this series are especially fragile and should be handled with care.

Arrangement note

Series 4: Family Real Estate is arranged alphabetically by form.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 9 Deeds, Indentures, Mortgages, Releases, and Other Agreements
1765-1766, 1771, 1776, 1783, 1787-1788
Box: 2 Folder : 10 Deeds, Indentures, Mortgages, Releases, and Other Agreements
1791-1798
Box: 2 Folder : 11 Deeds, Indentures, Mortgages, Releases, and Other Agreements
1799-1803
Box: 3 Folder : 1 Deeds, Indentures, Mortgages, Releases, and Other Agreements
1806, 1809-1810, 1813, 1817-1820, 1823-1826, 1828-1829, 1833
Box: 3 Folder : 2 Field Book
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 3 Inventory of the Estate of Mary Ann Curtenius
May 1829
Box: 3 Folder : 4 Land Grants and Patents
1837, 1844, undated
Box: 3 Folder : 5 Maps and Surveys
1793, 1797, 1817-1818, 1822, 1827, 1829, 1844, undated
Box: 3 Folder : 6 Will of Philip Goelet
1748

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