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Alpha Kingsley Papers

 Collection
Identifier: mss-117

Scope and Content

The Alpha Kingsley Papers consist of one box of letters that Kingsley wrote to members of his family between 1799 and 1844. The letters provide considerable detail about Kingsley's life in the Army from 1799 through 1815; after that, they deal primarily with his civilian family and business concerns in Nashville. Recipients of the letters include Kingsley's parents, his brother Elishe and his sister Achsa. A few of the letters are from Clarissa Kingsley Chase and her husband John to Ebenezer Kingsley. During the course of the correspondence, the Vermont members of the family resided in Barre, Williamstown, Hardwick, Montpelier, Berlin, and Waterbury. The arrangement of the collection is chronological.

Dates

  • 1799-1845

Creator

Access:

Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights:

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.

Biography

Alpha Kingsley was born on November 21, 1778, the son of Ebenezer and Thankful Kingsley, who lived in the Barre/Williamstown area of Vermont in the 1790s and early 1800s.

In October of 1799, Alpha Kingsley joined the U.S. Army. His service was principally in the First U.S. Infantry, with postings in the upper Mississippi River Valley as part of the Louisiana Purchase. In 1803, he was commissioned into the 1st Infantry Regiment as an Ensign, rising to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant by 1805. In 1808, he was again promoted to 1st Lieutenant in Captain Ninian Pinkney's Company which was stationed at Fort Belle Fontaine near St. Louis, Missouri.

In August 1808, his company was chosen to build a government factory at the confluence of the Des Moines and Mississippi Rivers, which would come to be known as Fort Madison, in present day Iowa. Command of the expedition fell upon Kingsley when Colonel Thomas Hunt unexpectedly died shortly before the men left on their mission. Kingsley and the government factor, John Johnson, were responsible for choosing the site and constructing the fort and trading post. Kingsley was instrumental in defusing the tensions in April 1809 and laying the groundwork for the peaceful relations the post maintained with the local Natives.

Kingsley turned command of Fort Madison over to Captain Horatio Stark in late August 1809 when Kingsley was transferred to Fort Southwest Point, East Tennessee. On November 5, 1809, Kingsley married Eliza Ayer (1803-1863) in Roane County, Tennessee. Their son William Bissell Kingsley was born on December 20, 1810 at Fort Southwest Point. Alpha retired from active duty in about 1811 and moved to Nashville, Tennessee where he was involved in the business of a local store, management of The Nashville Inn, and also continued his duties as the Army Paymaster. In 1813, Kingsley was promoted to Captain. In 1815, Kingsley was honorably discharged from the Army. Alpha and Eliza Kingsley were early members of the Presbyterian Church founded in Nashville in 1814. They also worked to establish the Second Presbyterian Church in 1843.

In 1820, the city of Nashville purchased land to be used as a public cemetery. In 1821, Kingsley was appointed its first Sextant by the mayor and it opened in 1822 with Kingsley as its Agent and Superintendent. He was in charge making arrangements for burials, interment record keeping, grounds maintenance and sale of burial lots. He held this position for 25 years until his death on 28 September 1846.

His obituary related that he was "one of the oldest and most respected citizens of this place – one whose death is deeply regretted." Also buried on the Kingsley lot were his sons Alpha Kingsley (1812-1813) and William Bissell Kingsley (1810-1836) and his adopted daughter, Eugenia Wilson (1815-1841), wife of George Wilson.

Extent

0.2 Linear feet (One box)

Overview

The Alpha Kingsley Papers consist of one box of letters that Kingsley wrote to members of his family between 1799 and 1844. The letters provide considerable detail about Kingsley's life in the Army from 1799 through 1815; after that, they deal primarily with his civilian family and business concerns in Nashville.

Physical Location

Library Research Annex; contact uvmsc@uvm.edu for access.

Acquisition Information

Enosburg Historical Society, 1987

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The University of Vermont Libraries acquired the Alpha Kingsley Papers in September 1987 as a gift from the Enosburg Historical Society, Enosburg, Vermont, and in July 1988 as a gift from Ms. Pauline Pomeroy of New York City. Ms. Pomeroy, a descendent of Alpha Kingsley, gave the Kingsley manuscript that UVM received from the Enosburg Historical Society to the Society in 1987.

Existence and Location of Copies

The Enosburg Historical Society, Enosburg, Vermont has a complete set of photocopies of the Kingsley Papers.

Bibliography

Old Fort Madison (2016-2019). Biography of Lieutenant Alpha Kingsley. Retrieved from https://www.oldfortmadison.org/learn/biography-of-lieutenant-alpha-kingsley/
The Nashville City Cemetery Association (2017). Captain Alpha Kingsley. Retrieved from http://www.thenashvillecitycemetery.org/280240_kingsley.pdf
Title
Guide to the Alpha Kingsley Papers
Status
Completed
Date
1998
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the University of Vermont Libraries, Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Silver Special Collections Library
48 University Place, Room B201
Burlington Vermont 05405 U.S.A. US
(802) 656-2138
(802) 656-4038 (Fax)