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Shaw Family Letters

Identifier: mss-954

Scope and Content Note

Letters of George Bradford Shaw (1800-1853) with first wife Susan Maria Griswold (1799-1825) and second wife Nancy Howard Bigelow (1808-1878, m. 1830), based in northern Vermont (Burlington, Danville, and Lyndon). Letters from other family members are also present from the period 1829-1840.

Due to the age of the material, some items are fragile.


  • 1819-1843
  • Majority of material found within 1819 - 1823



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

George Bradford Shaw was born in Dummerston, VT on February 14, 1800. He was the youngest child 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 (1798-1879, UVM 1820) (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 VT 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 on February 27, 1825. He worked as the Secretary to the Governor and Council under Governor Crafts from 1828-1830. Shaw married Nancy Howard Bigelow (b. 1808) of Keene, NH on June 23, 1830. They had seven children: William Goodhue Shaw (b. 1831 in Danville. Graduated from UVM 1849. m. Mary Alice Bissell 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).

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 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]


0.2 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



Letters of George Bradford Shaw (1800-1853) and wives Susan Maria Griswold (1799-1825, m. 1823) and Nancy Howard Bigelow (1808-1878, m. 1830).


Library Research Annex; contact for access.

Existence and Location of Copies Note

Copies and transcripts of the letters are held at the Vermont French-Canadian Genealogical Society in Burlington, VT.

Related Archival Materials Note

The Bigelow-Shaw Family Papers, also at University of Vermont Special Collections, include correspondence between George Bradford Shaw (1800-1853) and second wife Nancy Howard Bigelow (1808-1878). Other members of the extended families are also represented.

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.

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).

Guide to the Shaw Family Letters
2016 September 21
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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)