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Thomas Whitney Synnott Papers

 Collection
Identifier: MSS 003

Scope and Contents

The Thomas Whitney Synnott papers span from 1871 to 1955 and contain various correspondence, receipts, legal documents, financial plans, court records, and contracts. The collection encompasses the majority of Synnott’s business ventures, including his involvement in Whitney Glassworks, the First National Bank of Glassboro, and various local loans and banking corporations. There is also thorough documentation of his involvement with several mining and gold companies in the western United States. All of the series contain correspondence to Synnott but vary in their topics. Synnott had connections to many different business and philanthropic ventures, including banking and investing, real estate, local glassworks, railroads, mining and gold, law offices, educational boards, and the Presbyterian church. The collection had previously been processed incorrectly, resulting in certain series requiring rearranging into specific chronological and alphabetical orders. The collection is divided into four series: Papers Organized Chronologically and Alphabetically, Papers Organized by Business Name or Type, Miscellaneous Papers, and Bound Volumes. Series I consists of various correspondence, receipts, financial and legal records, and notes from Synnott’s business investments from 1871 to 1955. This series is categorized first by years, followed by alphabetical collections in some instances due to their previous condition and organization. The most prominent areas of interest in this series are Synnott’s involvement in real estate; mining and railroads; the State Board of Education; the Presbyterian Church; local and national glasswork companies; financial reports regarding loans, savings, mortgages, and bankruptcies; and legal documents regarding land deeds, court records, and legal agreements. This series contains chronological evidence of Synnott’s initial interest in, investment in, and outcomes of various business ventures. Most prominently, any interests in coal, oil, gold, mining, or real estate investment in the west often began with inquiries made to “Bennett’s Information Agency” for a brief summary of the area and its prospects. In some instances, such as the Red Mountain Mining Company, the Colorado Gold Mining Company, Tombstone Mining Company, and Imperial Copper Company, documents would follow within the same or next year cataloging his investments and involvement with the company. Series II is categorized by specific business names and types. Included in this series are correspondence legal documents, and financial records regarding the Colorado Gold Mining Company from 1899-1916; various railroad companies from 1899-1911; records from the Western Finance and Security Company; various land deeds, maps and blueprints; and legal documents pertaining to court records, reports, and bankruptcies. Also included in this series are blank letterheads, land indentures, checks, and miscellaneous financial statements, receipts, and cashbooks. Series III contains miscellaneous papers from Synnott’s business and personal life. These documents, which are mostly correspondence, are undated or were found unorganized without context as to who or what they pertain to. Series IV consists of bound volumes, including checkbooks, ledgers, and bound books of outgoing correspondence from 1897 to 1927.

Dates

  • Created: 1871-1953
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1893-1940
  • Other: Date acquired: 08/15/1987

Creator

Biographical or Historical Information

Four of Glassboro’s most prominent first families were the Whitneys, the Hestons, the Stangers, and the Synnotts. All of these families shared close ties through the region’s various glasswork businesses. The Stangers and the Hestons were deeply rooted in the Revolutionary War. The “Fighting Quaker” Hestons had generations of prominent soldiers, and the Stangers ran Stanger Glassworks, Glassboro’s first successful glassworks business that would later be shut down in the wake of the Revolutionary War. The Hestons and Stangers were intertwined later through the creation of Harmony Glassworks and Temperance Glassworks in the early 1800s. This was when the Whitney family gained prominence. Thomas Heston Whitney, son of Bathsheba Heston and Ebenezer Whitney, purchased ownership in Harmony Glassworks and owned the entire plant with his brother, Samuel Whitney, by 1838. The Whitneys would buy Temperance Glassworks in 1842, marking the beginning of the Whitney glassworks business. Thomas and Samuel’s sister Harriet later married Dr. Myles Synnott, a local doctor whose new brothers-in-law ushered him into the prominent world of Glassboro’s glassmaking families. Thomas Whitney Synnott was born in 1845 to Dr. Myles Synnott and Harriet Heston Whitney Synnott. Born in Glassboro, Thomas Whitney Synnott was of Irish descent and strong Presbyterian faith. He attended Plainfield Academy in Pennsylvania and West Jersey Academy in Bridgeton before returning to Glassboro to work at his uncle’s glassworks plant as a bookkeeper in 1865. By 1872, he was added to the Whitney Glassworks management board as the plant’s general business manager alongside Thomas, Samuel, and John P. Whitney. The death of Thomas Whitney in 1882 brought Thomas Whitney Synnott to the top of the company as president and owner. However, Thomas Whitney Synnott retired from the glassworks industry in 1891 to pursue his interests in banking, investments, and educational and religious philanthropic work. He became the president of the First National Bank of Glassboro in 1892. Outside of his investment and banking career, Synnott devoted his time and money to various church and school organizations. He held notable positions as president of the Board of Trustees of Princeton Theological Seminary, vice president of General Board of Education of the Presbyterian Church, president of the Lord’s Day Alliance in New Jersey, and vice president of the Lord’s Day Alliance of the United States. By the early twentieth century, Synnott set his sights on the creation of a new Normal School for South Jersey. He was a member of the state Board of Education’s Normal School Committee in 1917 and crusaded for Glassboro to be the site for the school. Synnott’s campaign succeeded, and the Glassboro State Normal School was opened in 1923, and would later transform into the New Jersey Teachers College of Glassboro in 1937, Glassboro State College in 1958, Rowan College of New Jersey in 1992, and finally to Rowan University in 1997. Synnott invested in many areas of interest, including western expansion in railroads and gold and coal mining. One of his earlier business ventures after leaving Whitney Glassworks was investing in the Montana Railroad Company and its expansion in the late 1890s and into the early 1900s. He corresponded closely with Richard A. Harlow, president of the Montana Railroad Company, who often wrote of the mining and gold prospects available in the west. Synnott invested in various other gold and mining companies during this period. Most notably is his involvement with purchasing the Colorado Gold Mining & Smelting Company in Fairplay Park, Colorado. Synnott was the chairman of the Depositing Bondholders committee, and was involved with the companies between 1899 and 1916. He also invested in the Ohio Mining Company and two of Arizona’s prominent mining companies, Imperial Copper Company and Tombstone Mining Company during this time period. Synnott was an active member of the Presbyterian Church in the twentieth century, participating in the Church’s publishing, educational, and fundraising boards. He was a prominent elder to the church and vice-president of the General Education Board of the Presbyterian Church in the United States. He also funded the construction of the Memorial Presbyterian Church of Wenonah in 1904 as a dedication to his mother. Synnott lived in New Jersey his entire life, and remained a faithful member of the church until his death in 1941. The region’s history is deeply rooted in Synnott’s generosity and dedication to South Jersey’s religious, economic, and educational systems. Bibliography Bole, Robert D. and Edward H. Walton Jr. The Glassboro Story: 1779-1964. York: The Maple Press Company, 1964. Bole, Robert D. More Than Cold Stone: A History of Glassboro State College. Glassboro: Glassboro State College Press, 1973. Downer, John R., comp. Our History Club in Glassboro Enterprise (Scrapbook). July 23,1920 - January 21, 1921. “From Normal to Extraordinary: The History of Rowan University.” Rowan University. http://www.rowan.edu/subpages/about/history/> “Memorial Presbyterian Church of Wenonah.” State of New Jersey NJ Historic Trust. /www.njht.org/dca/njht/funded/sitedetails/memprebyofwenonah.html>. Rhynard, Lindsey. “Iron Persistence: History of Montana’s Jawbone Railroad. How One Man’s Vision Brought a Railroad to Montana.” Montana Living. April 22, 2016. /www.montanaliving.com/blogs/people/116368005-iron-persistence-history-of-montanas-jawbone-railroad>. Thomas Whitney Synnott Papers. Rowan University Archives & Special Collections. Weed, Walter Harvey. The Copper Handbook: A Manual of the Copper Mining Industry of the World. Chicago: Mining World Press, 1914.

Note written by Amy Osterhout

Extent

26.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

The Synnott papers span between 1871 and 1955 and catalog the various business, educational, religious, and philanthropic projects of Thomas Whitney Synnott. Synnott was a prominent figure in South Jersey banking, business, and glassworks companies and a major contributor to local Presbyterian and public school systems. Some of the most notable projects that are reflected in the collection are his involvement in western railroad and mining companies, the Presbyterian Church’s work In the Caribbean and South America, contributions to New Jersey schools, and the development of the Glassboro Normal School. The collection is divided into four series: Papers Organized Chronologically and Alphabetically, Papers Organized by Business Name or Type, Miscellaneous Papers, and Bound Volumes. The majority of the collection is made up of correspondence, legal and financial documents, land deeds and maps, and financial reports from Synnott’s various projects and investments.

Arrangement Note

Series I: Papers Organized Chronologically and Alphabetically, 1871-1955: 20 boxes Series II: Papers Organized by Business Name or Type, 1899-1916: 2 boxes Series III: Miscellaneous Papers, n.d: 2 boxes Series IV: Bound Volumes, 1897-1927: 2 boxes

Source of Acquisition

Gift of Thomas Whitney Synnott, III, and Marcia Synnott
Title
Archon Finding Aid Title
Author
Amy Osterhout
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
eng

Repository Details

Part of the Rowan Archives Repository

Contact:
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