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Bennett family collection of Civil War correspondence and other material

Call Number



1832-1909, inclusive


Tandy, Abram Van Winkle
Tandy family
Van Winkle, Frank
Bennett, Harman
Bennett family
Bennett, Winant
Tandy, Catharine M. Bennett


0.25 Linear Feet in one manuscript box, 17 folders.

Language of Materials

Materials in English.


This collection contains twenty-nine letters written by members of the Bennett, Tandy, and Van Winkle families between the years of 1832-1909. Twenty-two of the letters are written to or by soldiers while they served in the American Civil War. The content of the letters relates to the lives of Union soldiers regarding naval battles, camp life, and family matters. Other topics include the secession of the South, Lincoln's candidacy, and family businesses. Some letters refer to New York's 84th Regiment from Brooklyn, also known as the 14th Militia. Most of the letters were written to or by Winant Bennett while he served for the Union during the Civil War. Several of the letters are on various forms of letterhead and some envelopes are included. Transcriptions of the letters, though incomplete at points, are available. Also included in the collection is a United States Treasury form, a certificate of membership to the Order of American Firemen for Abram Van Winkle Tandy, and a picture postcard of a bungalow at Laurel, Long Island.

Biographical / Historical

The letters in this collection demonstrate the close relationships maintained by the Bennett, Tandy, and Van Winkle families during the American Civil war. The Bennett correspondents in this collection are fifth generation descendants of William Adrianse Bennet, who along with Jacques Bentyn, bought tracts of land from the Canarsee Native Americans in 1636, and became the first settlers of Gowanus in Brooklyn, New York. Catharine M. Bennett Tandy, Winant (Winie, Winnie), and Harmanus (Harmie, Harman) Bennett are three of the six children of Maria Wyckoff and Harman Bennett. Catharine Bennett married Abram Van Winkle Tandy; Abram's uncle, Frank Van Winkle and Winant Bennett both fought for the Union Army and Navy during the American Civil War. Winant Bennett served in the 90th New York Infantry Regiment at the Marine and Stewart Hospitals in Key West, Florida and at Camp Parole in Annapolis, Maryland. Frank Van Winkle served in the Union Navy at Fort Monroe and Port Royal, among other places.


Materials in this collection are arranged chronologically, following the sequence established by the donor. Each folder contains between one and three items. Transcriptions provided by the donor are in the first folder.

Scope and Contents

This collection documents both the routine and dramatic events that took place for various family members of the Bennett, Tandy, and Van Winkle families during the American Civil War. The documents in this collection range from 1832-1909, while the bulk of the letters are dated during the 1860s and 1870s. The letters illustrate the details of camp life at Fort Monroe, the Marine Hospital at Key West, Florida, Port Royal, Camp Parole in Annapolis, Maryland, and Camp Williamsburg. Winant (Winnie, Winie) Bennett and his sister Catharine M. (Kate, Kitty) Bennett Tandy are the primary correspondents in this collection. Other correspondents include Harmanus Bennett, Abram Van Winkle Tandy, Susan and James Van Winkle, Frank Van Winkle, and John F. Tandy, among others. Many letters to and from Winant Bennett were written when he was stationed at the Marine and Stewart hospitals in Key West, Florida. His letters are very descriptive of everyday tasks, such as cooking and gathering supplies that are associated with camp life; Winant's letters also describe in detail the meals that he ate, the weather, and illnesses common to his "messmates" while stationed at various military camps and hospitals.

Letters written by Frank Van Winkle reference the fall of Charleston, the attack on a Confederate battery on Back River in Virginia in 1861, and the "Burnside Expedition" led by Union Army General Ambrose Burnside in New Bern, North Carolina. This collection also includes a letter to Abram Van Winkle Tandy from Chas T. Brewster regarding his concerns of the South "seizing" the Capitol. Another letter to Abram Van Winkle Tandy from F.W. Lovejoy describes soldier life at Camp Williamsburg in Maryland. Some letters refer to New York's 84th Regiment from Brooklyn, also known as the 14th Militia. In addition to named correspondents are two anonymous letters to soldiers from "a friend of the soldiers of the U.S." declaring their admiration for those risking their lives. The anonymous letters were found in a bag handmade by a child.

In addition to to correspondence to and from soldiers are many letters regarding the personal affairs of family members. The letters address illness in the family, mortgages, loans, family businesses, and travel and holiday plans. John F. Tandy writes to his brother Abram about his recent 35 dollar purchase of a sailboat called "White Squall"; and another letter to Abram from his brother in-law Harman Bennett describes his family's close relationship and recent holiday visit with Harry, a man enslaved by Harman's grandfather.

Other document types include a United States Treasury form and a certificate of membership to the Order of American Firemen, both for Abram Van Winkle Tandy. One picture postcard (1909) of a bungalow at Laurel, Long Island, is also included in this collection.

Many of the letters and envelopes include Civil War Union Army letterheads printed in color. A significant amount of the letters are paired with envelopes with Civil War stamps, most of which are very well preserved. Some examples include a letterhead with music notes with text "For Auld Lang Syne," an envelope with a decal in color of the American flag that says "God Save the Union," and a letterhead with Lady Liberty leaning on a red, white, and blue shield.

The first folder of the collection contains a typed list of the items in the collection, as well as full and partial transcriptions of the handwritten letters, as provided by the donor.

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers without restriction.

Conditions Governing Use

Material in this collection is in the public domain.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date (if known); Bennett family collection of Civil War correspondence and other material, 2009.012, Box and Folder number; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The letters were passed down through the Bennett family as follows: Catharine (Kitty, Sister Kate) M. Bennett Tandy gave them to her daughter, Catherine (little Kitty) M. Tandy Thurber, who then passed them to her daughter-in-law, Emeline Goergens Thurber. Emeline passed them to her daughter Evelyn Thurber Nostrand, who then gave them to Elaine C. Thurber in 1991. This collection was donated to Brooklyn Historical Society by Kathryn Crones and Elaine Stevens in October 2009.

Related Materials

The Bennet and Ryder families collection (ARC.001) contains information about the descendants of the Bennett correspondents found in this collection.

Collection processed by

Robyn Hjermstad

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-21 11:20:08 +0000.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: English

Processing Information

The collection was processed by Robyn Hjermstad in November 2010.

Oppressive descriptive language was remediated from the scope and contents note in this finding aid as part of an anti-racist descriptive language audit performed in January 2021.

Revisions to this Guide

January 2021: Revised by Amy Lau, Archivist, to remediate oppressive language from scope and contents note.


Brooklyn Historical Society


Box: 1 (Material Type: Text)
Center for Brooklyn History
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201