Guide to the Wilcox Family Papers 1902-1904 MG 1664
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The New Jersey Historical Society52 Park PlaceNewark, New Jersey 07102
Contact: NJHS Library
(973) 596-8500 x249
© 2006 All rights reserved.
The New Jersey Historical Society, Publisher
Processed by Rosangela Briscese.
Finding aid encoded by Julia Telonidis. July 2006. Production of the EAD 2002 version of this finding aid was made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.Finding aid written in English.
The Wilcox family resided at 128 Prospect Street in East Orange, NJ. During the time span covered by this collection (1902-1904), the household members included Mr. S.I. Wilcox, his daughter Mrs. Frank C. Wilcox (Ida), and her daughter Miss Gertrude K. Wilcox.
In 1902, Frank Wilcox, the son of Mrs. Frank C. Wilcox, left New Jersey to travel in Southeast Asia with the Anglo-American Oil Company. The Anglo-American Oil Company, later Esso and eventually a part of Exxon Mobil, was founded in 1888. With its head office at Bishopsgate, London, it was the first foreign affiliate of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust. Frank Wilcox traveled on the ship Drumeltan (also spelled Drummeltan), which the Anglo-American Oil Company owned from 1899-1912. The Drumeltan was a four-masted barque built in 1883 at Russel & Co., Greenock, for Gillison & Chadwick, Liverpool.
Ida Wilcox’s sister Lill, along with her husband Fred and their friends Mrs. Champenois and Laura Champenois, traveled to Europe in summer 1904 on the ship Kaiser Wilhelm II, a four-funneled steamer. Owned by the Bremen-based shipping company Norddeutscher Lloyd, the ship was built by Vulkan Shipyards of Stettin and was launched on August 12, 1902. The luxurious liner was also one of the largest and fastest on the high seas at the time (707 feet long, 72 feet beam length, 23 knots service speed).
The vast majority of the correspondence (folders 1-11) was written by Frank Wilcox during his travels in Southeast Asia with the Anglo-American Oil Company. He addressed most of his letters to his mother, Mrs. Frank C. Wilcox, and a small amount to his sister and grandfather. His early letters describe his living and working conditions as an officer on the ship Drumeltan. Other letters describe his sojourns in cities such as Saigon, Hong Kong, Manila, Iloilo, and, to a lesser extent, Anjer (Java) and Jamestown (St. Helena). Throughout his letters, Wilcox expresses a desire to obtain either a high-ranking position within the oil company or a governmental appointment in one of the aforementioned imperial territories. The letters contain an English-language newspaper clipping from Hong Kong and a French-language theater flyer from Saigon. His last two letters (folder 12) were written from locations in America approximately one year after his travels in Southeast Asia.
Sent from Germany and France, the letters in folder 13 were written to Ida (Mrs. Frank C. Wilcox) by her sister, Lill. At times, her letters include additional lines written by fellow travelers (husband Fred and friend Laura Champenois). Also included in folder 13 is a letter from Laura and Mrs. Champenois to Charles Champenois. This letter contains two small photographs.
Frank Wilcox’s manuscript, five pages of writing on ledger-sized sheets, is an essay entitled “Some Phases of Village Life in China” (folder 14). It includes descriptions of theater traditions, education systems, temples, and wedding and funeral ceremonies. The folder of reproduced correspondence contains letters written by Lill en route to Europe on the ship Kaiser Wilhelm II. The collection contains many letters written on hotel stationery from Saigon, Bremen, Dresden, Berlin, and Paris.
This collection should be cited as: Manuscript Group 1664, Wilcox Family Papers, The New Jersey Historical Society.
Donated by Hon. Vito Bianco, 2004.
The first few letters from Frank Wilcox had been numbered in separate sequences, one for each of the three recipients in the household. Since the recipients quickly abandoned this numbering system, and since it interferes with the sequence of the letters as they were written, it was not retained in organizing these papers. Researchers should use extreme care when reading the August 1903 letters from Frank Wilcox, as they are extremely brown and brittle, and they have broken along the folds of the papers.