Manuscript Group 636, John Colt (1786-1883), Manufacturer Letters, Aug-Oct, 1851

Archive Documents, Manuscripts, Maps, & Photographs

Manuscript Group 636, John Colt (1786-1883), Manufacturer
Letters, Aug-Oct, 1851, 0.1 linear feet / 14 items
Call Number: MG 636



Letters written by John Colt to his wife Elizabeth P. Boudinot Colt while he was on a European voyage. Colt’s wife was the daughter of Elisha Boudinot. The son of Peter Colt (1736-1824), John Colt served as an official of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures.

Gift of estate of Aimee Colt Toler, 1965.

Biographical Note:

John Colt was born in 1786, one of the two sons of Peter Colt (1744-1824), a founder of Paterson, New Jersey. John, his father, and his brother, Roswell Lyman Colt (1779-1856), made significant contributions toward developing the city of Paterson. Peter Colt was a member of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures (SUM), which was founded in 1791 and was responsible for creating the industrial center later named Paterson. John eventually served as Deputy Governor of SUM. In 1827 he established the Duck Mill on Van Houten Street, and was the first person to manufacture sail cloth (duck) from twisted cotton yarn instead of flax. This manufacturing process produced fabric that withstood moisture and could be mass-produced on a power loom beginning in 1824. By the 1830s the U. S. Navy purchased all its sails from the Paterson mills.

On March 22, 1815 John Colt married Elizabeth (“Eliza”) P. Boudinot (d. 1858), the daughter of Supreme Court Justice Elisha Boudinot (1749-1819) and Catherine Smith (d. 1797) of Newark, New Jersey. John and Eliza had at least four children together. They resided in Paterson until their deaths. Their son, Elias Boudinot Colt, continued John’s business until 1865.


Colt Family Biographical Vertical File

Murphy, J. Palmer and Margaret Murphy. Paterson & Passaic Country: An Illustrated History. Windsor Publications, Inc., 1987.

Provenance Note:

This collection was donated by the estate of Aimee Colt Toler (granddaughter of John Colt) through Edna M. Netter, 1965.

Scope and Content Note:

This collection contains thirteen letters, eleven of which were written by John Colt to his wife, Eliza P. Colt, while he was visiting Europe from August to October of 1851. There is also one letter written to John’s sister, Mary, and one written to his son, Elias Boudinot Colt, both during the same trip. The letters describe the details of John Colt’s travel and his sightseeing in London, Paris, Rotterdam and Edinburgh. Also in this collection is a poem written by John Colt while on his voyage to Europe.

Related Collections:

Manuscript Group 23, William Nelson (1847-1914) Manuscript Collection: Contains a transcribed interview of John Colt.
Manuscript Group 633, Elisha Boudinot
(1749-1819) Family Papers

Item List:

Items Dates
Letter to Elias Boudinot Colt Sept 9, 1851
Letters to Eliza Boudinot Colt (11 letters) Aug 10 – Oct 10, 1851
Letter to Mary D ( ) Oct 6, 1851

Processed by Alicia Santoliquido, May 2001

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