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Bigelow-Shaw Family Papers

Identifier: mss-198

Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of handwritten letters containing family news and commentary on current events, between members of the Bigelow and Shaw families of Lyndon and Danville, Vermont. Memorabilia artifacts are also included.

Margaret Pope Trask (great granddaughter of George Bradford Shaw and Nancy Howard Bigelow) researched the content of the letters and her notes are included in the form of index cards; each letter was assigned a number which correlates to the notes and is given in the folder titles. The correspondence has been transcribed; transcripts from 1804 - parts of 1833 are filed with the originals and the remaining transcripts are available electronically.


  • 1803-1905



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.

Biographical Note

Levi Bigelow was born in 1773 to David Bigelow (1730-1810) and second wife Deborah Heywood Bigelow (1736-1823) in Worcester, MA. David Bigelow was married twice and had 12 children, though not all survived into adulthood. David was a trained carpenter and later became a Unitarian deacon. He also served as a selectman and representative from Massachusetts to the Convention to ratify the Constitution of the United States.

Levi Bigelow married Nancy Goodhue (1782-1811) in 1803. She was one of 8 children of Doctor Josiah Goodhue (Jr.) (1728-1797) and first wife Rachel Burr (1758-1813). Details of their children are as follows: Charles Frederick Henry Goodhue (1783-1855) was a member of the Canadian Parliament. Elisabeth (Betsy) (b. 1788) was married to the prominent Amos Twitchell (1781-1850), a doctor based in Keene, NH. They did not have any children. Josiah Cosmore Goodhue (1796-1848) studied medicine at Union College in Schenectady, NY and was involved in the establishment of the first hospital in Chicago, IL. He married Catharine Dunn and had 9 children. William Sewell Goodhue (circa 1798-1826) studied law at Union College, graduating in 1816. He next attended Yale, graduating in 1818 with a medical degree. He practiced medicine, law, or both in Alabama and was a candidate for governor there at the time of his death. George Jervis Goodhue (1800-1873) was a member of Canada's Parliament and twice married with 7 children. Harriet Amelia Goodhue (1801-1868) married Levi Chamberlain, a lawyer of Keene, NH, and had 3 children. In the previous generation, Nancy's paternal grandfather Josiah Goodhue Sr. (1728-1797) was a Congregational minister who graduated from Harvard in 1755 in the same class as John Adams. He helped to train Nathan Smith, founder of Dartmouth Medical School.

Levi Bigelow and Nancy Goodhue Bigelow moved to Putney, VT, and later resided some years in Quebec, where he owned a lumber and mercantile business. Their children were Laura (1804-1809), Elisabeth (died young), Lucius (1806-1841), Lawrence (1810-1867), Nancy Howard (1808-1878), and Levi (Jr.) (1814-1843). Lawrence married Elizabeth Henry (1810-1853) and they had 10 children, though some did not survive into adulthood. Their daughter Elizabeth Twitchell Bigelow (1845-1925), married to Amos Cooper, is referenced in the collection. Levi (Jr.) studied medicine and practiced in Keene, NH.

George Bradford Shaw was born in Dummerston, VT on February 14, 1800. He was the youngest son of Bela Shaw and L. Smith. The family also included Bela Shaw Jr. (1887-1865), Asa Shaw (b. 1791), Nancy Shaw (1794-1849), and Alanson Shaw (1795-1826). Nancy Shaw married the politician William Cahoon (1774-1833) in 1817 and had family of 8 children. Notable details of these children are as follows: George Clinton Cahoon (b. 1798) (son of Sarah Perry Lawrence (b. 1768)) married Mary Ripley Baylies, descendant of the founder and first president of Dartmouth College. Harriet Helen Cahoon (1822-1893) married Nicholas Baylies Jr., brother of Mary Ripley Baylies. Edward Augustus Cahoon (1819-1862) graduated from UVM in 1838 and went on to be a state senator.

George Bradford Shaw was educated at Peacham and entered the University of Vermont in 1816 as a sophomore. He graduated in 1819 then worked as a tutor at the university from 1819-1820. He next studied law under Griswold and Follett in Burlington as well as Hon. I. Fletcher in Lyndon. He was admitted to the Vermont Bar at Danville in 1822. He married Susan Maria Griswold (b. 1799 in Burlington), daughter of William A. Griswold (of Griswold and Follett) on February 25, 1823. Their daughter, Maria, was born in September 1824. Tragically the baby died on February 21, 1825 followed by her mother Susan Maria on February 27, 1825.

George worked as the Secretary to the Governor and Council under Governor Crafts from 1828-1830. He married Nancy Howard Bigelow (b. 1808) of Keene, NH on June 23, 1830. They had 7 children: William Goodhue Shaw (b. 1831 in Danville. Graduated from UVM 1849. m. Mary Alice Bissell in 1870 d.1892 in Burlington), George Norman Shaw (1832-1833), Susan Maria (Shaw) Gay (b. 1834 in Quebec m. Charles Gay 1858), Elisabeth Mary or Mary Elizabeth Shaw (1839-1840), Fanny Elizabeth Shaw (1841-1906), Frederick Shaw (b. 1845?), and George Bigelow Shaw (b. 1847, graduated from UVM 1865 d. 1916).

George Bradford Shaw lived for a short time in Lowell, MA. In 1833 he worked at his father-in-law Levi Bigelow's lumbering and merchant business in Buckingham, Quebec, Canada, returning to Burlington in 1836 and to the practice of law. In 1839 and 1840 he worked as the Reporter of Decisions of the Supreme Court and edited two volumes of the Vermont Supreme Court reports. From 1849 until his death in 1853 he was a Trustee of the University of Vermont. He died from apoplexy on December 1, 1853 in Burlington. Nancy Howard (Bigelow) Shaw died in 1878.

[adapted from University of Vermont Obituary Record, Volume 1, 1895 and genealogical data]


1 Linear Feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials



This collection consists of letters containing family news and commentary on current events, between members of the Bigelow and Shaw families of Lyndon and Danville, Vermont. Most letters have been transcribed and researcher notes as to content are also present. Memorabilia artifacts are also included.


Library Research Annex; contact for access.

Related Archival Materials Note

The Shaw Family Letters, also at University of Vermont Special Collections, contain letters between George Bradford Shaw (1800-1853) his first wife, Susan Maria Griswold (1799-1825), second wife Nancy Howard Bigelow (1808-1878), and other assorted family members.

The Henry Family Papers, also at University of Vermont Special Collections, include letters written by Laurence G. Bigelow (1810-1867), older brother of Nancy Howard Bigelow, and his wife Elizabeth Henry (1810-1853) to her brother Hugh H. Henry, who served in the Civil War.

The Pope-Bissell-Shaw Family Papers, also at University of Vermont Special Collections, contain the letters of Fanny Laura Shaw (1875-1967), granddaughter of George Bradford Shaw and Nancy Howard Bigelow, as well as some genealogical information about the extended family.

Willard Bissell Pope (1903-1988), son of Willard Pope and Fanny Laura Shaw, was a professor of English at University of Vermont. His papers can be found in the Faculty Papers record group (RG 74), though the subject matter is not strongly linked to the family papers.

Members of the Shaw Family attended UVM and as such, University records may be a useful resource. Their details: Henry Bigelow Shaw, 1879-1936, UVM 1896; William Goodhue Shaw, 1831-1892, UVM 1849, UVM Trustee 1881-1892; and George Bradford Shaw, 1800-1853, UVM 1819, UVM Trustee 1849-1853. Lecture notes of William Henry Augustus Bigelow are present with Alumni Papers (RG 81).

The George C. Cahoon Papers, also at University of Vermont Special Collections, are those of a somewhat distant Shaw relative: George Bradford Shaw's (1800-1853) sister Nancy Shaw Cahoon's (1794-1849) step son George C. Cahoon (1798-1879, UVM 1820).


Full text available online from
  • History and genealogy of the Goodhue family: in England and America to the year 1890
  • Genealogy of the Bigelow family of America, from the marriage in 1642 of John Biglo and Mary Warren to the year 1890
  • Fletcher family history: the descendants of Robert Fletcher of Concord, Mass
Guide to the Bigelow-Shaw Family Papers
2016 September 23
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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)