Henry W.B. Willis Collection

Manuscripts Collection 182

Overview of the Collection

Repository: G. W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport
Creator: Willis, Henry W. B.
Title: Henry W.B. Willis Collection
Dates: 1846-1865
Extent: ca. 100 items
Abstract: The bulk of this collection is approximately 74 letters, primarily between Henry Willis and Sarah Freeman Willis from 1852 to 1860. Other correspondence involves various Willis and Freeman family members including parents, brothers and sisters. These letters offer a view of family relationships and domestic activities for two New York/New Jersey families during the middle years of the 19th century.
Abstract: Included also are two documents relative to the Clipper SUNNY SOUTH; Articles of Agreement, February 1857; and a consular document dated May 1857 issued at Rio de Janeiro listing crew members discharged, shipped and deserted from the ship at that port. There are also two abstract logs for voyages by the SUNNY SOUTH, Henry Willis Master (New York to Rio de Janeiro) for the years 1856 and 1857.
Identification: Coll. 182

Biography of Henry W.B. Willis

The papers and documents in this collection reveal that Henry W. B. Willis went to sea as a young man aboard the ship EXCHANGE (1846-1847), Capt. Funk, master. Included are letters from Willis’ father and other family members instructing him on proper behavior. In 1848 he was a mate aboard the Ship ENTERPRISE and still with Capt. Funk.

In 1852 correspondence begins between Henry Willis and Sarah (“Sorchy”) Freeman. The letters are essentially love and courting letters, and by November 1854, Henry and Sarah were married, and he was in Rio de Janeiro as Master of the Clipper SUNNY SOUTH. Willis made several voyages as Master of the SUNNY SOUTH from 1855 through 1857. By January 1858 he was working at the Freight Office of the New York and Harlem Railroad in New York. Letters in this collection suggest that Henry Willis died sometime between 1860-1865.

Top →


Restrictions on Access

Available for use in the Manuscripts Division

Restrictions on Use

Various copying restriction apply. Guidelines are available from the Manuscripts Division.

Top →

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the catalog of the G. W. Blunt White Library. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these headings.


Freeman family–Correspondence
Willis family–Correspondence
Willis, Sarah Freeman–Correspondence

Corporate Bodies (Including Vessels):

Enterprise (Ship : 1848)
Exchange (Ship : 1846-1847)
New-York and Harlem Rail Road Company
Sunny South (Ship)


Metuchen (N.J.)–Social life and customs
San Francisco (Calif.)–Description and travel


Courtship Diplomatic and consular service, American–Brazil–Rio de Janeiro
Railroads–Freight–New York (State)–New York
Shipping–New York (State)–New York Voyages and travels

Document Types:

Diplomatic documents


Merchant mariners–United States
Shipmasters’ spouses–New Jersey–Metuchen
Shipmasters–New York (State)–New York

Return to the Table of Contents

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Coll. 182, Manuscripts Collection, G. W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport Museum, Inc.

Top →

Index to Personal, Corporate and Vessel Names

NOTE: The fraction(s) indicate the Box and Folder numbers where that particular reference can be found. For example, the researcher will find information about Lizzie Atkins in Box 1, Folder 1 of the collection.
?, Matt 1/6
?, Millie 1/6
Atkins, Lizzie 1/1
Ayres, Ellis 1/4
Belloni, Louis 1/4
Blauvelt, David 1/4
Bloodgood, Cele 1/2
Bloomfield, ? 1/1
Bloomfield, Ellis 1/3
Bostwick, Joe 1/3
Campbell, Augustine 1/2
Clarkson, ? (Dr.) 1/4
Clifford, George 1/3
Cloutman, Sarah A. 1/3
Clusman, ? 1/2
Conger, Libby 1/2
Cox, John 1/3
Crane, Hannah 1/6
Daniels, ? 1/1
Daniels, ? (Mr. & Mrs.) 1/2
Dunn, Henry 1/1, 1/3
Dunn, Jane 1/1
Eddy, ? 1/2
EXCHANGE (Ship) 1/1
Freeman, Clem 1/2, 1/3
Freeman, Gussie (Miss) 1/6
Freeman, M.F. 1/5
Freeman, Robert R. 1/2, 1/6
Freeman, Ross 1/6
Freeman, Sarah B. 1/1, 1/2
Funck, S. (Capt.) 1/1
Goodrich, Emily 1/3
Gregory, ? (Capt.) 1/2, 1/3
Gregory, ? (Mrs.) 1/2
H.T. Kirsted & Son 1/2
Harris, S.R. (Dr.) 1/4
Hearn, Eliza 1/1
Hinsley, ? (Dr.) 1/1
Hurst, Catherine 1/1
Jauvin, G.L. 1/4
Knight, Sarah B. 1/6
Kuster, John 1/1
Lewis, John 1/2
Littell, ? (Mrs.) 1/3
Marsh, Canfield 1/1
Martin, ? (Capt.) 1/3
McDonald, Margaret 1/5
McKenzie, John H. 1/6
Mickle, Louisa 1/1
Miller, ? (Dr.) 1/1
Morris, Annie 1/2
Napier Johnson & Co. 1/4
NEW WORLD (Steamer) 1/5
New York and Harlem Railroad 1/4
Pridham, Bell 1/3
Pyatt, Edward 1/4
Radcliff, ? (Mrs.) 1/3
Radcliffe & Wheedon 1/2
ROE (Schooner) 1/3
Rosencrans, Henry 1/3
Sayler, R. 1/4
Schenck, ? (Mr. & Mrs.) 1/3
Sessions, G.W. 1/6 1/6 1/6
Sessions, George 1/3
Steele & Burgess 1/6
Summerfield, ? 1/5
Summerfield, Susie 1/5
SUNNY SOUTH (Ship) 1/3
Titus, Susan Amelia 1/1
Walden, C.C. 1/4
Waldon, ? 1/4
Willis, Amelia 1/1, 1/6
Willis, Ann Amelia 1/1
Willis, Anne Maria 1/1
Willis, Bob 1/5
Willis, Charles B. (Capt.) 1/1
Willis, Clarence 1/1
Willis, Emily 1/1
Willis, George 1/2
Willis, William 1/3, 1/4, 1/5
Willis, William (Jr.) 1/1
Willis, William W. 1/1

Top →

Detailed Description of the Collection

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Correspondence, 1846-1865

Box Folder
1 1 Correspondence,
2 Correspondence,
3 Correspondence,
4 Correspondence and documents,
5 Correspondence,
6 Miscellaneous correspondence and papers,
ca. 1850-1865 and undated
7 Envelopes, addressed,

Abstract logs, 1856-1857

1 Clipper SUNNY SOUTH, abstract log,
1856 Aug 26-Oct 29
2 Clipper SUNNY SOUTH, abstract log,
1857 Mar 28-Jun 25

Top →