Lewis L. Delafield, Eugene D. Hawkins and affiliated attorneys records
Language of Materials
The collection holds the records of two law firms, dating principally from the 1890s to about 1910. These two firms evolved over that time in terms of its partners and associated attorneys, eventually merging in 1909 to become the firm Hawkins, Delafield & Longfellow. One of the predecessor firms was Delafield and Gould (later Delafield, Gould and Longfellow; then Delafield and Longfellow at the time of the merger). The second was Hawkins and Delafield (for a time known as Hawkins, Delafield & Sturgis). The collection holds legal documents/court filings, correspondence, agreements/contracts, printed material, financial records and more in relation to civil suits, business disputes, bankruptcies, wills and estates, property transactions, etc. The collection has been surveyed for content, but is not processed and the bulk of it remains in original tri-folded bundles of documents requiring advance preparation before use.
Biographical / Historical
The collection was donated to New-York Historical Society in 1947 by Lewis Livingston Delafield, Jr. (1886-1957), who would be more exactly referred to as Lewis Livingston Delafield III. At the time, Delafield III was a member of the law firm Hawkins, Delafield and Wood, which as of 2022 remains in existence, now as a national firm specializing as counsel in finance and infrastructure transactions. The bulk of the records donated to N-YHS in 1947 appear to date from the 1880s or 1890s to 1910, and represent two law firms and certain of their predecessor firms: 1) [Frederick P.] Delafield and Longfellow and 2) [Eugene] Hawkins and [Lewis L.] Delafield. Only a few random matters or later documents added to earlier matters date from after 1910. That 1910 end date is significant because, in 1909, these two law firms merged to become Hawkins, Delafield and Longfellow (which in 1945 took the present firm's name). Accordingly, it appears that the records held by N-YHS essentially all relate to the pre-1910 firms and not to matters handled post-1910 by the merged firm of Hawkins, Delafield and Longfellow. Following are notes about the attorneys and firms represented in the collection.
Lewis Livingston Delafield (1834-1883), or Delafield I, was the son of Joseph Delafield (1790-1875) and Julia Livingston Delafield (1801-1882). Delafield I was an attorney who was admitted to the Bar in 1857. He was a member of at least two firms until about 1871 when he went into practice on his own, notably serving as counsel for various charitable institutions. Delafield I's work as an attorney seems to be represented to a somewhat limited extent in the collection, mostly through his legal case diaries (see Series II), but likely also through scattered matters in the files. More frequently found are documents related to Delafield I's estate, those of his parents, and other Delafield/Livingston family matters. At least some of these documents refer to Joseph and the later Delafields's "Riverdale property," the estate known as "Fieldston."
Delafield I married Emily Prime (1840-1909) in 1862. They had four children, including three sons that would become lawyers. Two are represented extensively in the collection: the eldest, Lewis Livingston Delafield II (1863-1944), and the youngest, Frederick Prime Delafield (1868-1924). The middle son, Robert Hare Delafield (1864-1906), seems to have moved to San Francisco; glimpses of him can be seen in documents concerning his mother's property in Napa Valley (see Series V, box 110).
Lewis Livingston Delafield II graduated from Columbia Law School in 1884 (one year after his father's death) and was admitted to the Bar that year. In 1892, he joined with Eugene D. Hawkins to form Hawkins & Delafield. In 1897, another attorney, Robert Sturgis joined the firm, which was then known as Hawkins, Delafield and Sturgis. Sturgis died in 1900, with the firm's name returning to Hawkins & Delafield until the merger of 1909. From 1894-1899, Delafield II was secretary of the Rapid Transit Commission and over the years he was involved in various civic reform activities, some of which are represented in the collection, up to about 1910. Among other work, he was counsel to the Sailors Snug Harbor in the City of New York, and some of those matters are in the collection. Delafield II married Charlotte Hoffman Wyeth (1859-1947) in 1885; their son, Lewis Livingston Delafield, Jr. (i.e., III) would join his father's law firm by 1918 and was the donor of this collection. Delafield II, who among his positions was also a trustee of New-York Historical Society, retired from his firm in 1934 and died in 1944.
Eugene Dexter Hawkins (1860-1919) graduated from Columbia Law School in 1883 and was admitted to the Bar the same year. He joined his father's, Dexter Arnoll Hawkins, law practice, forming the firm Hawkins & Hawkins. Dexter died in 1886, and in 1892, Eugene joined with Delafield II to form Hawkins & Delafield. Eugene Hawkins was active in Bar Association committees and in various clubs; as Vice-President of the North American Coal & Coke Company; a Director of the Bank of Long Island; and other organizations and corporations. The collection includes some papers related to those activities.
The current firm of Hawkins, Delafield & Woods traces its origins to 1854 and Dexter Arnoll Hawkins' (1825-1886) arrival in New York City to take up law. Dexter was born in Maine and was a civil engineer as an early career. He graduated from Bowdoin College in 1848, initially becoming an instructor in pedagogy, but then apprenticing in law in Portland, Maine. In the early 1850s, he traveled to Europe as a member of a law firm, then returning to the U.S., and eventually on to New York. Dexter wrote extensively on matters of education and legislation, as well as on topics such as "On the Anglo-Saxon race: Its history, character, and destiny" (1875). He married a New Yorker, Sophie T. Meeks (approximately 1837-1929); Meeks is a surname that appears frequently in the collection. As noted, their son, Eugene joined his father's law practice in 1883, shortly before Dexter's death in 1886.
Meanwhile, Delafield I's youngest son, Frederick (1868-1924) was also pursuing law. He graduated from Columbia Law School in 1888, was admitted to the Bar in 1891, and joined the firm of Hoadley Lauterbach and Johnson as a law clerk. In 1895, Frederick partnered with Benjamin Apthorp Gould, Jr. to form Delafield and Gould. Gould's father was the astronomer, Benjamin Apthorp Gould (1824-1896) and the collection holds documents related to him; see Series I. In 1898, the partners were joined by Frederick W. Longfellow and the firm renamed Delafield, Gould and Longfellow. Gould died in 1900, and the firm renamed to Delafield and Longfellow.
Frederick W. Longfellow was born in 1870 in Maine. He graduated from Harvard in 1901, eventually studying law and moving to New York, where he partnered with Delafield and Gould. In 1901, he married Julia Livingston Delafield (1875-1963), the niece of his partner and of Delafield II. The firm of Delafield and Longfellow continued until 1909 when it merged with Hawkins and Delafield to become Hawkins, Delafield and Longfellow. Longfellow died in 1938; he is buried at Roque Bluffs, Maine (see Series V for related property papers).
In addition to the above principals, two other attorneys were affiliated with the firms and their casework appears in the files. The first is Caleb A. Burbank. Burbank seems to have been affiliated with the Hawkins & Delafield firm and cases related to him are in the collection. But more extensive is documentation in which Burbank is the defendant in an action against him by Mary Newcomb and others in connection with a dispute over the will of Ambrose Burbank, for whom Caleb was executor. Another junior attorney was Philip Keyes Wolcott (1877-1914). Wolcott joined Delafield and Longfellow some time after graduating from Harvard Law School in 1899, and stayed with the post-1909 merged firm. Some of his casework and personal papers are in the files. He died in 1914 from falling (or jumping) from the law firm's 13th floor offices in lower Manhattan.
All of the above named attorneys are represented in the collection. The Hawkins and Delafield (and Sturgis)-related papers makes up the larger portion of the collection. Nonetheless, the Delafield and Longfellow (and Gould) portion is also sizable.
(The above note is based on a variety of on-line sources, including New York Times obituaries and other articles, findagrave.com, and Google Books. Among the Google Books sources were: For Dexter Hawkins: "American Journal of Education," Vol 31 (1881), pg 129-134; For Eugene Hawkins: "Yearbook 1920 of the Association of the Bar of New York City," memorial written by Delafield II, pg 174-176; For Delafield II: "New York History," Vol 26, No. 1 (Jan 1945) obituary, pg 125-126; For the Delafields generally: "Genealogies of the State of New York: A Record of the Achievements", Vol II, pg 797-798; For an entry on the Hawkins, Delafield & Longfellow firm: The American Bar directory, 1918, pg 455.)
Arrangement / Processing
The collection is not processed. The arrangement as presented in the finding aid is rough and follows to the extent possible the arrangement suggested by the collection's original containers, most of which were discarded in 2022 because of their deteriorated condition.
The collection was received by N-YHS in 1947, housed in about 400 original containers of various sizes and with various labels, holding documents related to the various legal (and some personal) matters of the various attorneys and law firm combinations represented in the collection. From 1947 to 2022, the collection was not processed or cataloged and the bulk remained in its original containers. By 2022, some material had been transfered to new containers, likely because of the condition of the original boxes. In 2022, from the labels on the original boxes, some level of coherence could be perceived for the collection as a whole, at least to a sizable extent. However, in 2022, most of the original boxes were crumbling, and the collection also required rehousing to be shipped to offsite storage.
In 2022, working with preliminary box lists prepared in 2019 by project archivist Elise Winks, archivist Larry Weimer rehoused the entire collection into 168 record cartons. Some original boxes were retained, notably small "pigeonhole" boxes and some slightly larger flat boxes. But most boxes were too deteriorated, or had other limitations, to retain. Weimer transfered the content of those original boxes into plastic enclosures, then placed multiple plastic enclosures within a record carton.
Given that the visual clues/labels provided by most of the original boxes are now absent, the finding aid is constructed to reflect those original boxes/labels. Accordingly, the collection/finding aid is organized in the following series:
Series I. Boxes labeled D-L (Delafield-Longfellow)
Series II. Boxes labeled LLD (Louis L. Delafield)
Series III. Boxes labeled H-D (Hawkins-Delafield)
Series IV. Numbered pigeonhole boxes
Series V. Contents of boxes with various labeling
The arrangement note at the series level for each of these series provides further detail about the nuances of arrangement of each.
As can be discerned from the titles, the first three series generally translate to an arrangement by attorney or law firm. (Though, to some extent, even these first three series include documents related to firms/lawyers from the other series.) But Series IV and, especially, Series V are a mix. Beyond this rough original sort, there is no perceptible organization across the collection as a whole, within a particular series, and often not within a particular box. Consequently, documents related to a particular matter may be found in multiple locations in the collection, and often a given box holds multiple, unrelated matters.
Most of the collection documents remain in their original tri-folded condition. Related documents are often tied together with ribbon in one or more small bundles. While rehousing the collection in 2022, archivist Larry Weimer surveyed the content of all the boxes in the collection in order to develop a preliminary inventory for this finding aid. All content of any notable volume or content that was readily identifiable was documented in the finding aid. Many boxes held some miscellaneous documents that were not readily identifiable (e.g. notes, drafts) or were too few to dwell on within time constraints. The presence of such miscellany was noted in the inventory, but these amount to a fairly small portion of the collection.
Scope and Contents
The collection holds the records of two law firms, dating principally from the 1890s to about 1910. These two firms evolved over that time in terms of its partners and associated attorneys, eventually merging in 1909. One firm was Delafield and Gould (later Delafield, Gould and Longfellow; then Delafield and Longfellow). The second was Hawkins and Delafield (for a time known as Hawkins, Delafield & Sturgis; then after the firms merged, Hawkins, Delafield & Longfellow). See the biographical note for further information about the attorneys and firms, and for the relationship of the collection scope to each.
The files include court filings (drafts, finals and printed versions) of various types; correspondence; legal analyses; wills; agreements and contracts of various types (e.g., partnerships, mortgages, property sales, etc.); corporate matters (e.g., incorporations, debt offerings); patents; securities certificates (e.g., capital stock, coupon bonds); insurance policies; title abstracts; and more. Many of the case records have supporting documentation, such as property maps, financial records, reference material from related or precedent cases, etc. Some records relate to the administration of the law offices, with case diaries, activity calendars, and expense-related documents. There are some personal records of the attorneys and their dependents/families, such as those concerning expenses, investments and property holdings.
The collection is unprocessed. In 2022, the collection was rehoused (see the Arrangement/Processing Note for more information) and during that process the documents were surveyed to glean as much information as possible within severe time constraints. The result is that the finding aid's container list provides extensive information about the collection's content in terms of the names of the cases/matters and individuals/organizations involved in the matters. However, the nature of the matter in dispute was only determined in a few instances. The dates shown for matters was based on an often-limited peek at accessible documents; consequently all date ranges should be considered as approximate with the likelihood of earlier and later documents in the files. The bulk of the matters pertained to New York City and State courts, though this was not explicitly confirmed and documented for each matter; when a federal court or non-New York court was observed, it was noted in the finding aid.
The bulk of the legal matters seem to be other than criminal cases. These seem most often to be civil disputes, including financial claims involving individuals, former partners, bankrupt parties, etc. There are business/commercial disputes concerning securities, payment obligations, and the like. Many of the cases concern estate work: naming trustees, guardians, executors; pursuing (or perhaps warding off) financial claims; real estate mortgages and property sales. Estate work for the principals' families (Delafields, Primes, Hawkinses, etc.) are found here. A sizable number of cases involve claims by individuals against the rapid transit railway companies of New York City around the turn of the twentieth century.
Not all the matters are disputes. There are commercial matters such as partnership agreements, incorporations, business contracts, and securities offerings and underwriting agreements. Real estate transactions are found throughout. Aside from acting on behalf of a plaintiff or defendant in various matters, the attorneys also worked as receiver in some cases, and as referees in arbitrations. In a number of heavily-documented instances, Lewis Delafield was appointed by New York to provide recommendations as to the solvency of insurance companies seeking to do business in the state. Many of the cases reflect the attorneys providing analyses or other consultation on an "of counsel" basis to other lawyers, perhaps especially on securities/investment trust matters, for which they seem to be noted experts.
Materials in this collection are stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit www.nyhistory.org/library/visit. In addition to the typical arrangements needed to consult collections at N-YHS, it should be noted that the collection is unprocessed, still in tri-folded bundles, with some level of soot on the documents, and so any requested documents will require some lead time for preparation.
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The collection should be cited as: Lewis L. Delafield, Eugene D. Hawkins and affiliated attorneys records, MS 157, New-York Historical Society.
Location of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Lewis Livingston Delafield, Jr., 1947. See the New-York Historical Quarterly, Volume 31, No 3, July 1947, for a brief reference to the donation.