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McNeil Family Papers

Identifier: mss-434

Scope and Contents

The McNeil family collection consists mostly of journals and notebooks, about two-thirds of which are the annual diaries and account books of Lucia Comstock and William McNeil. Lucia’s diaries record her day-to-day life mostly in terms of what the weather was like, who visited, the health of family members, and visits to church. They often include various newspaper clippings, such as obituaries, humorous stories, and articles on military matters. William McNeil’s journals consist largely of accounting records but occasionally mention something he did on a given day, such as “picked apples with the ‘gang’”.

The collection includes travel journals, which mostly have white and blue labels (many of which mention “lamps”), that include notes and sketches of pottery found in European museums. These were recorded in 1901 and 1902 and include some written descriptions of the trips. Notes in English, Greek, and French are included. While the author did not mention their name, it is possible the journals belonged to Fannie McNeil, given her interest in ceramics.

The other journals include a brief volume by George McNeil, which features an account of ten days of Navy service, as well as a record of some expenses. Phyllis Dunbar’s blue book consists mostly of notes on history and English, and J.L. Earle’s diary appears mainly to be a record of expenditures. These items’ relationships to the McNeil family is unclear, but they are included in the collection because they were located together. This is also true of the other anonymous journals, which include travel records, accounts of daily life, shopping lists, and other notes.


  • 1869-1912



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 / Historical

The McNeil family were Vermont residents since the late 18th century, when John McNeil (1741-1813) settled in Charlotte, Vermont, where he established the town’s first ferry to Essex, New York. He married Mary Breckenridge (1753-1816), and one of their sons, Charles McNeil (1781-1860), married Jerusha Lyman McNeil (1787-1864).

They had three children, one of whom, William (d. 1910) was born in Charlotte on May 29, 1826. He grew up on their farm and left for California in 1850, seeking a fortune in gold. During the Civil War, he lived in Missouri and served as sergeant in Company F, First Missouri Cavalry, and was promoted to sergeant major and sergeant provost marshal during his 39 month service. Returning to Vermont in 1856, he worked on a farm now owned by Shelburne Farms, purchased from him in 1888 by Dr. William Seward Webb. He served as a grand juror for Shelburne in 1897, and by 1903 owned a small farm in Shelburne and had retired. He was a member of the National Prohibition Party and, along with his wife, Lucia, attended the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Lucia Comstock (1829-1913) married William McNeil in 1856 and was the daughter of Levi, Jr. (1793-1885) and Maria Lewis Comstock (1799-1879). Levi was a resident of Shelburne since the age of five, and participated in the War of 1812 and was a lifelong farmer. His father, Levi Comstock, Sr. (1766-1847) was the son of Captain Daniel Comstock (1742-1816), who served in the Revolutionary War. Levi Sr.’s wife, Mary, wove a rug on a handloom in 1810. The rug measured 87 by 78 inches and was used as a portiere in William’s home, and was exhibited in the Shelburne Museum.

William and Lucia McNeil had three children, Clinton (1857-1891), George C. (1866-1928), and Fannie M. (b. 1873).


1.46 Linear Feet (1 carton, 1 box)

Language of Materials



Collection consists of small diaries by members of the the McNeil Family, mainly William and L.E., school notes, and travel journals.


Library Research Annex; contact for access.

Guide to the McNeil Family Papers
2019 April
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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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)