Pillsbury Family papers

Identity elements

Reference code

US US kmk P1988.20

Level of description



Pillsbury Family papers


  • 1948-1958 (Creation)


1.00 Linear Feet, 2.00 Boxes

Name of creator

Biographical history

The Pillsbury family were early residents of Manhattan, Kansas, who settled in the area as part of the anti-slavery movement. Josiah Hobart Pillsbury was born in 1821 in Hebron, New Hampshire to Stephen and Lavinia (Hobart) Pillsbury. Josiah began teaching in public schools in 1840 at the age of 19 and continued to teach in Orange County, New York and Londonderry, New Hampshire in 1844. From 1844 to 1845, he studied engineering while also working for the National Anti-Slavery Standard. In 1847, Josiah met Horace Greeley and became active in the abolitionist movement. Josiah married Alnora Pervier on August 16, 1853. The couple’s first son, Arthur Judson, was born on January 31, 1854. That same year the family moved to Kansas as part of the New England Emigrant Aid Company, settling in Zeandale Township. In 1855, Josiah was chosen as a free-state delegate to the Topeka Constitutional Convention. Josiah and Alnora’s second child, a daughter named Annie, was born on January 25, 1858. Josiah was also active in the Zeandale Township community, first hosting the post office in the family cabin in 1856 and then serving as Justice of the Peace in 1860. The Pillsburys’ third child, a daughter named Ellen, was born on March 5, 1860. In 1863, the family moved to Manhattan, as Josiah served as the county surveyor from 1863 to 1872. Josiah also bought and owned the free-state newspaper The Independent. Alnora died on July 15, 1868. She bore eight children, with four surviving to adulthood: Arthur Judson, Annie M. (Annie Pillsbury Young), Nellie (Ellen Pillsbury Ellsworth Martin) and Mary A. (Mary Pillsbury Akerley). While Josiah worked as the postmaster for Manhattan from 1869 to 1879, he was remarried in 1870 to Mrs. Emma Steele. The couple divorced in 1874. Josiah died on November 12, 1879. He was honored on August 25, 1936, with the naming of Pillsbury Drive in Manhattan.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Name of creator

Biographical history

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

The Pillsbury Family Papers (1848-1958), contain a diary, a survey book, correspondence, literary works, research, and printed material. The papers, consisting of approximately 150 items, are housed in two document boxes. The papers are divided into six series l) diary, 1858-1860, 2) survey book, (1860); 3) correspondence, 1848-1958, 4) literary works, 1932-1940; 5) research; and 6) printed material. The major portion of the collection consists of material from Annie Pillsbury Young, daughter of Josiah H. and Alnora (Pervier) Pillsbury. The first and second series containing a diary (1858-1860) and a survey book (1860) of Josiah H. Pillsbury have significant historical information about his life in the Zeandale Township area, as well as his civil engineering pursuits. The copy of the diary has been translated by Mrs. E.M. Platt of Manhattan, Kansas, as it was in Isaac Pittman shorthand of 1850-60 period. The location of the original diary is unknown. The second folder contains page markers containing notes taken from the copy of the diary. Page numbers have been recorded on the markers for future reference. The diary of Josiah H. Pillsbury documents family history of the Pillsbury clan from 1858 to 1860 in the Zeandale Township area. Recorded are trials of illness and disease, weather hazards, and political turmoil of the period. Through the diary, however, Josiah H. Pillsbury remains a devoted family man, dedicated to preserving a community for which a family could be proud to reside. The work ethic was ingrained in him, as exemplified by being a carpenter, farmer, surveyor, newspaperman, political delegate, teacher, assistant clergyman, and postmaster, during his lifetime. Josiah H. Pillsbury was meticulous with numbers. The survey book (1860) has records of transactions for school, house, and fence building. A major portion is devoted to surveying for road construction into the Manhattan, Kansas area. The correspondence of the Pillsbury Family Papers is the third series in the collection. It is basically composed of letters of Annie Pillsbury Young, daughter of Josiah H. and Alnora (Pervier) Pillsbury. The time period ranges from 1848 through 1958. Mrs. Young was a prolific writer with numerous personal as well as business letters in the seven folders. Many of the letters involved correspondence with her sister Nellie on family concerns. Much of the business correspondence pertained to family genealogy. Folder four contains early letters dated 1871, Folder five contains typescript from 1848 to 1872, The location of the originals is unknown. Both sections give insight into the strong commitment to religion and family life of the Pillsbury family. Also, a firm belief that migrating to the Kansas area was the way of the future. Literary Works comprise the fourth series in the collection. Annie Pillsbury Young devoted time to writing essays and poetry. Some of the material appears to be partially autobiographical, such as "When Mother Was A Girl". She presented many of these writings to the newspaper for printing and to the literary societies' reading circles. The series, ranging in years 1932 to 1940, is contained in thirteen folders. The fifth series is devoted to research on the Pillsbury Family Biographical notes, as well as the personal accounts of Annie Pillsbury Young are incorporated in this section of material. The "Civic Center," in particular, should be of interest to researchers wanting insight into her father's dreams of success for Zeandale Township. Five folders house the research series of the collection. Printed Material is the sixth series in the Pillsbury Family Papers. This folder contains newspaper clippings, songs, and a brief excerpt about Josiah H. Pillsbury, by his son, Arthur J. Pillsbury. Four photographs have been removed from the papers and filed in the University Archives photograph collection. A list of the photographs is located after the container list.

System of arrangement

The papers are housed in two document boxes. They are divided into six series: 1) diary, 1858-1860; 2) survey book, (1860); 3) correspondence, 1848-1958; 4) literary works, 1932-1940; 5) research, and 6) printed material. Photographs have been transferred to the photograph collection of the University Archives.

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

No access restriction: All materials are open for research.

Physical access

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

The researcher assumes full responsibility for obversving all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

  • Latin

Language and script notes

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

This collection was accessioned as PC 90, and revised to number, PC 1988.20 (P1988.20).

Immediate source of acquisition

Acqusition Source: Donation
Acqusition Method: The Pillsbury Family Papers (1848-1958), were donated to Kansas State University by the descendants of Josiah Hobart Pillsbury in 1954-55.
Acqusition Date: 19550101

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information


Related materials elements

Existence and location of originals

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Specialized notes

  • Citation: [Item title], [item date], Pillsbury Family papers, Box [number], Folder [number or title], Morse Department of Special Collections, Kansas State University Libraries.

Alternative identifier(s)

Archon Collection ID


Description control element

Rules or conventions

Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Sources used

Archivist's note

Finding Aid Author: Patty Emmerich
Processing Info: Processing of the papers was completed by Patty Emmerich, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at Kansas State University. The project was completed under the University Archives internship program during the spring semester, 1990.

Archon processing by Edward Nagurny, graduate research assistant, June 2015.

Publication Date: 2015-06-17

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