Alpheus B. Kenyon Diaries

Manuscripts Collection 205

Overview of the Collection

Repository: G. W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport
Creator: Kenyon, Alpheus B. (Alpheus Burdick), 1850-1931
Title: Alpheus B. Kenyon Diaries
Dates: 1864-1866
Extent: 3 volumes
Abstract: The collection consists of three small diaries written daily by Alpheus B. Kenyon in 1864, 1865 and 1866 when he was living with his parents and his brother, Myron, in the Old Field Section of West Mystic.
Abstract: The diaries give a picture of a bright, energetic boy who was a good student and a good worker, but at the same time very much a boy with typical interests of the time. He cheerfully started work at the shipyard at age 13, doing menial jobs: hauling chips, sweeping up, clearing away damaged superstructure of vessels needing repair, going after boards from the depot, and sawing trunnels of new and repaired vessels. At the same time he wrote of a busy social life of surprise parties and picnics with friends and family, of sailing, berrying and fishing expeditions, of trips to Rhode Island aunts and uncles, and of the first stirrings of adolescent religious feelings fostered by the Seventh Day Baptist community in which he lived. Although he lived at the time of the Civil War, he seldom mentioned it except to note the march of Sherman through Georgia, the assassination of President Lincoln and the occasional troop train passing through Mystic. He mentions the vessels being launched at the Maxson, Fish yard, but does not give their names, and he gleefully relates the local fires, the sudden deaths and the disasters that are part of every small town. Alpheus must have been a nice boy to know.
Identification: Coll. 205

Biography of Alpheus Burdick Kenyon, 1850-1931

Alpheus Burdick Kenyon descended from a long line of Kenyons of Hopkinton, Rhode Island. He was the son of Edwin Orsando and Cordelia (Burdick) Kenyon. This was a Seventh Day Baptist family with strong ties, both by intermarriage and by religious persuasion, with many of the shipbuilding families of Mystic and Westerly.

Edwin O. Kenyon worked for William E. Maxson in the Maxson and Fish Shipyard at West Mystic from 1861 until at least 1866, and the family of Mr. and Mrs. Kenyon, Alpheus and his younger brother, Myron, lived on the shipyard grounds in the two-family house that Mr. Maxson built for his workers in West Mystic.

Alpheus worked in the Maxson shipyard from April to late October each of the three years covered by the diaries, starting when he was 13. At age 16 he was earning a dollar a day. He attended school first at West Mystic and then, in 1866, at Mystic Academy, during the winter and early spring months. He was a good student, and apparently his parents were willing to have him continue his education because he went to Alfred (NY) University, graduating with a B. S. in 1874, and earning his Master’s degree in 1877 and his Doctorate in 1905. He was a Professor of Mathematics from 1874, and Dean of the University from 1908, until his retirement in 1920. He was President of the Seventh Day Baptist Conference from 1914, and a Trustee of the University from 1920 until his death in 1931.

In 1873 Alpheus married at Alfred, Mary Veola Babcock, and they had three girls: Grace who died young; Dora, born in 1877, and Agnes born in 1887.

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Restrictions on Access

Available for use in the Manuscripts Division

Restrictions on Use

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

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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.


West Mystic (Conn.)–Religious life and customs
West Mystic (Conn.)–Social life and customs


Seventh Day Baptists–Connecticut–West Mystic
Young men–Connecticut–West Mystic–Diaries

Document Types:


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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Coll. 205, Manuscripts Collection, G. W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport Museum, Inc.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

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

Diaries kept by Alpheus B. Kenyon 1864-186
Box Folder
1 1 Diary kept by Alpheus B. Kenyon; 1864 Jan 1- Dec 31
2 Diary kept by Alpheus B. Kenyon; 1865 Jan 14-Jan 31
3 Diary kept by Alpheus B. Kenyon; 1866 Jan 1-Dec 31
Note: Box also contains Kenyon Family Genealogical Information complied by Dorothy M. Tower.

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