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Thomas Hawley Canfield Papers

Identifier: mss-962

Scope and Content

The Canfield collection divides largely into three categories: the correspondence and papers of Thomas H. Canfield, those of his son Thomas, Jr., and those of the Hopkins family into which Canfield, Sr., married. Although most of the Canfield papers are of the immediate families of both men, also included are a few papers of Eli Hawley (1757-1850), grandfather of Canfield, Sr. The Hopkins papers contain much biographical and genealogical material that includes many biographical notes as well as numerous "Hopkinsfolk" pamphlets and publications (from Pennsylvania) which are not specifically concerned with the Bishop's family.

Chronological order has been kept wherever possible, with the Canfield and Hopkins papers filed in separate folders yet run in a single sequence. Hopkins papers are marked as such; the rest are Canfield materials. Photographs of both families; a number of Canfield ledgers, cash books, etc., (though labeled differently, these books do overlap in contents); and non-family materials are filed at the end of the collection.


  • 1797-1964


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.


Born in Arlington, Vermont in 1822, Thomas Hawley Canfield, Sr. was educated at Burr Seminary in Manchester, Vt., at the Troy, (N.Y.) Episcopal Institute, and at Union College in Schenectady, which he left when his father died in 1840. After working three years on the family farm, Canfield moved to Williston, Vt., where he built up an extensive mercantile business and married Elizabeth Chittenden. Moving to Burlington, Vt. in April, 1847, Canfield joined the wholesale mercantile and forwarding firm of Follet and Bradley, which soon became Bradley and Canfield. His wife died in 1848 and he soon thereafter married Caroline Amelia Hopkins, daughter of John H. Hopkins, first Episcopal Bishop of Vermont. By 1850, Canfield was involved in railroad construction and lake and rail transportation between Montreal, Vermont, and New York. Among these interests were the Ogdensburgh Railroad and the Rutland and Washington Railroad, the latter of which he was president and lessee. During the Civil War he served as assistant manager of all railroad lines entering Washington from the north and east. Returning to Burlington after the war, Canfield was for a while superintendent of the Champlain Transportation Company. His most important project was probably the construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad, for which his efforts included negotiations for the initial government contract during 1865, several western explorations, and service as a director until the Company's bankruptcy in 1873. Retirement from business life continued that same year with his resignation from the Lake Superior and Puget Sound Company after twenty years of service, including several as president. By 1876, Canfield was devoting most of his time to the three thousand acre wheat farm at Lake Park, Minnesota, where he resided until his death in 1897.

His farming and business interests were assumed by his son, Thomas H. Canfield, Jr. (1874-1964?), who later retired to California.


4 Linear Feet (4 cartons, 1 oversize volume)

Language of Materials



The Thomas H. Canfield Papers can be divided into three sections: the correspondence and papers of Thomas H. Canfield, Sr., those of his son, Thomas H. Canfield, Jr. (1874-1964?), and those of the Hopkins family into which Canfield, Sr., married. The collection contains biographical and genealogical material for both families.

Physical Location

Library Research Annex; contact for access.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Dorothy Canfield Fisher

Separated Materials

Diocese of Vermont material

  1. "The Early History of the Diocese of Vermont through the Episcopate of Bishop /Hopkins - address given by J. H. Hopkins, III at the 150th Annual Convention of the Diocese of Vermont; May 28 and 29, 1940 (2 copies)
  2. "Episcopal Development Fund" - brochure
  3. "Vermont Episcopal Institute" - brochure
  4. Brochure - "The Bishop Hopkins Hall, Burlington, Vermont"; 1888
  5. Brochure - "The Bishop Hopkins Hall, Burlington, Vermont"; 1889-90 (2 copies)
  6. Brochure - "The Bishop Hopkins Hall, Burlington, Vermont"; 1890-91
  7. "The Bishop's Third Annual Address and Official Journal"; 1896
  8. Bulletin for the Thanksgiving service for the Diocese of Vt.; 1959
  9. Bulletin for the conservation of the Reverand Harvery Dean Butterfield to be the sixth bishop of Vermont; Feb. 8, 1961
  10. "John Henry Hopkins" - description of monument at Rock Point, Burlington

Other Materials

  1. Burlington calendar for 1896
  2. Life of Thomas Hawley Canfield publ. in Burlington, Vt. in 1896 (3 copies)
  3. Chittenden County Historical Society Bulletin vol. 3 no. 3 includes "St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Burlington"; April 1968
  4. Vermont Quarterly, vol. 21, no. 1, Jan. 1953
  5. Mountain Echo, vol. 24, no. 6, Sept., 1960
  6. Mountain Echo, vol. 25, no.2, Feb. 1961
  7. Mountain Echo, vol. 27, no. 5, Nov. 1963
  8. Road maps of Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh

Oversize Volumes

  1. Canfield Ledger; 1852-75
  2. Surveyor's map of Northern Pacific Railroad; ca. 1870
Guide to the Thomas Hawley Canfield Collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Vermont Libraries, Special Collections Repository

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