Scope and arrangement
The Eastgate Family Papers were assembled by Katherine E. Schultz, and intended to complement Iantha Schultz Cantine's book The Descendants of John Eastgate 1791-1837 in the United States. The papers date from circa 1848-1913, and consist of letters from the seven Eastgate siblings to their mother, Sarah Grimley Eastgate, as well as the siblings' correspondence with each other. Letters from friends of the family are also present. This collection includes a volume created in 1958 that contains transcripts of the original letters, biographical sketches of family members, and family photographs. The original letters and the corresponding transcripts follow each other in exactly the same order. While transcripts exist for most of the original letters, there are a few omissions. Likewise, there are a few instances where transcriptions were made for letters not found among the original documents.
The widowed Sarah Grimley Eastgate moved to Ulster County, New York from Ontario, Canada with her seven children in 1837 following the death of her husband John Eastgate. As adults, some of her progeny stayed in Ulster County, while others moved to North Dakota or Pennsylvania -- apparently to pursue opportunities in agriculture and the tanning industry. Sarah Grimley Eastgate remained in Ellenville, Ulster County, New York, and received letters from her family and friends. These letters reflect the hardship of 19th century life: frequent illness, loneliness, death and hard work are common troubles. Some letters offer a glimpse into leisure activities, religious views, social values, and other aspects of 19th century life. Reflecting the controversy of slavery in antebellum America, a December 1857 letter by Emeline Eastgate to her sister states, "And as for marrying a slave holder I never can if he were as rich as Croesus".