Special Collections Department
The Koch - Messchert
Manuscript Collection Number: 329
Accessioned: Gift of Anna D. Moyerman, 1972.
Extent: (1.5 linear feet).
Content: Shipping transactions, legal documents, correspondence, account books, wills, inventories and leases.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: March 1996 by Heather J. Parmenter.
Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
Table of Contents
After Mr. Koch's death, Jane remained in Paris at her home on Rue de Provence, N. 40. Chaussee D'Antin. In 1833, Jane, from her correspondence, apparently intended to marry a Lieutenant Uriah P. Levy, but the absence of his name in subsequent documents suggests the marriage never took place or quickly dissolved. Jane Koch did remarry in 1846 to a Mr. Edward Henry Theobald. She later died in Paris on November 23, 1848. Jane corresponded with four siblings: Matthew Griffith, Mary Griffith Messchert, Margaret Griffith Hamilton, and William Griffith.
Because Jacob Gerard Koch left no will, Jane appointed her brother-in-law Matthew Huizinga Messchert, also a former merchant in Philadelphia and close friend to Jacob G. Koch, as well as his son, Huizinga Messchert, a young attorney, to be the administrators of Koch's estate. Matthew Huizinga Messchert, like Koch, immigrated to America from Holland and participated in the German trade during the same period. He married Jane's sister, Mary Griffith.
After M. H. Messchert's death in 1833, Huizinga Messchert continued to serve as administrator of Jacob G. Koch's estate and maintained the financial accounts of Jane Koch until her death in 1848. Admitted to the Bar on January 23, 1830, Huizinga managed the financial affairs of several members of both the Messchert and Griffith families. Huizinga Messchert married Elizabeth Albertine who gave birth to their only son, Matthew Huizinga. Elizabeth died in 1839 after contracting the disease erysipelas. Huizinga later married Mary Ann McKenty. Governor Francis Shunk appointed Huizinga Messchert as one of his aides-de-camps at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1847. In 1867, Huizinga Messchert purchased three lots of land on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, where he built three stores which he leased to various businessmen. After his death in 1871, he willed the property to his son, Matthew Huizinga Messchert, who continued to rent out the stores until his death in 1904.
Matthew Huizinga Messchert, like his father, practiced law after his admittance to the Bar in Philadelphia on April 29, 1854. Messchert later invested in real estate, buying lands in Minnesota during the 1890s while continuing to profit from his properties in Philadelphia. Matthew Huizinga and his wife, Elmira McKenty, resided outside of Philadelphia on Douglassville Farm where they owned sixty acres and a "mansion house." They named their only daughter Mary Elizabeth Albertine Messchert after Matthew Huizinga's mother and step-mother. She married J. Blackwood Grant and served as executrix for her father's estate after Matthew Huizinga Messchert died on August 23, 1904, not long after Elmira's death in 1903.
Sources:Buck, Charles Nicholas. Memoirs of Charles N. Buck, Interspersed With Private Anecdotes and Events of the Times From 1791 to 1841. Philadelphia: Walnut House, 1941. pp. 38-40.
Johnson, Allen and Dumas Malone. Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner and Sons, 1959. v. II pp. 200-201, v. III pp. 181-182, v. IX p. 141.
Martin, John Hill. Martin's Bench and Bar of Philadelphia; Together With Other Lists of Persons Appointed to Administer the Laws in the City and County of Philadelphia and the Province and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: R. Welsh and Co.,1883. p. 294.
Ritter, Abraham. Philadelphia and Her Merchants: As Constituted Fifty and Seventy Years Ago; Illustrated By Diagrams of the River Front and Portraits of Some of the Prominent Occupants, Together With Sketches of Character and Incidents and Anecdotes of the Day. Philadelphia: Abraham Ritter, 1860. pp. 48-50.
Scope and Content Note
The first series, (folders 1 - 9) consists of the shipping transactions, powers of attorney, and both business and personal correspondence of Jacob Gerard Koch during his life. The shipping transactions (F1 - F5) include invoices, insurance and claims, bills and receipts, and promissory notes. Among the insurance claims, there are details on the seizure of vessels during the period leading to the War of 1812. The correspondence (F7 - F9) consists of letters to and from Jacob Gerard Koch from 1793 - 1830, as well as letters to Jane Griffith Koch during the period of 1820 - 1824. The earliest correspondence, written in Dutch, was from Koch's brother in Amsterdam, Holland, in 1793. Other correspondence written in French is present in the series. Correspondence to Jane Koch includes letters from friends; family members, including her sister Mary Messchert and brother William Griffith; and letters from her husband during her travel to Dieppe, France.
One of Koch's correspondents was George William Erving, a United States diplomat who served under presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison until his retirement in 1819. Jane Koch appointed Erving, a friend of the Kochs,' as one of the administrators of her husband's estate. The documents reveal controversy between the Messcherts, Jane Koch and Erving concerning this appointment. Erving's correspondence offers his observations of life in the United States, particularly bachelorhood. He also offers political commentary concerning the Bank of the United States, the transportation revolution, and his opinions of President Andrew Jackson.
Series II, (folders 10 - 47) consists of papers concerning the settlement of the estate of Jacob Gerard Koch during the period 1830 - 1849. It includes powers of attorney appointed by Jane Koch, administration agreements, Orphan's Court papers, papers relating to claims under the Treaty of Indemnity, receipts, an account book, checks, and correspondence of Matthew Huizinga Messchert and Huizinga Messchert with their attorneys, as well as correspondence to and from Jane Koch during the course of the settlement of her husband's estate.
Among the administration agreements and Orphan's Court papers (F11 - 12), there are some excellent examples of legal seals of the Orphans Court and the State of Pennsylvania used to validate documents in the 1830s. Many of the Orphan's Court documents are bound together with ribbons of different colors. In Folder 17, which contains unclassified documents relating to the Koch estate, there is a document from the United States Consulate in Paris, France, that has an example of an engraving of an eagle as well as seals. The document itself is in the French language.
The administration agreements and Orphan's Court papers, as well as the correspondence, offer an interesting glimpse into the process of settling an individual's estate in the early nineteenth century. The papers related to the Treaty of Indemnity of 1832 (F13), concern the claims of Jacob Gerard Koch on cargo seized during the War of 1812 by the French. Under the treaty, Koch or his heirs would be eligible for compensation for damages during the war.
Correspondence to the Messcherts during the period 1830 to 1839 (F18 - 24) primarily concerns proceedings of the Orphan's Court. The correspondence relates difficulties in the settlement of the estate due to the claims of the "Dutch heirs:" the relatives of Jacob Gerard Koch. The majority of the correspondence to M. H. Messchert and Huizinga Messchert was in 1835 from Benjamin Tilghman and Edward D. Ingraham, attorneys representing the Koch Estate for the Messcherts. Edward Duffield Ingraham was an influential Philadelphia attorney and Democrat, who, in the 1830s, became secretary for the congressional committee investigating the United States Bank and served as one of the Bank's directors.
The correspondence between the Messcherts and Jane Koch not only offers insight into the process of settling the Koch Estate, but also provides a narrative of family life in the Messchert household including births, deaths, and the family's relationship to state politics and the economy. Correspondence to Jane Koch from the Griffith family concerns such issues as the education of Jane's nephew, William Griffith, and the health of Mary Hall, a niece of Jane Koch who was apparently confined to a mental hospital. Among the correspondence to Jane Koch are additional letters from George William Erving and another prominent figure, Thomas Green Clemson, founder of Clemson College in South Carolina and husband of Anna Calhoun, the daughter of John C. Calhoun. In two individual letters written in 1838 and 1839 (F32 - 33), Clemson details his journey to "western America" and announces his engagement to Anna Calhoun, offering his perspective on marriage.
Series III (folders 48 - 60) consists of various papers relating to the Messchert family during the period 1817 - 1878 including correspondence, wills, account books, passports, real estate leases, and court documents. Folders 48 and 49 contain correspondence and documents related to the estate of Matthew Huizinga Messchert, who died in 1833. Folder 50 contains a duplicate of a personal letter from Pennsylvania Governor Francis Rawn Shunk who previously appointed Huizinga Messchert as one of his aides-de-camp at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. In the correspondence to Jane Koch (Series II), there were references to Governor Shunk and state politics. Six account books (F52 - 53), kept by M. H. Messchert and Huizinga Messchert, detail the finances of each of the family members, including Jane Koch. The accounts maintained in these books were with both the Bank of Pennsylvania and the Bank of the United States. The account books are bound with either cloth or leather, except two, from which the covers are missing.
Also of interest in this series are the passports of members of the Messchert family from the years 1830 to 1836 (F54). The passports have a detailed engraving of the American Eagle and have stamps and seals of nations visited. Each passport includes the individual's physical description. The Messcherts carried these passports when they traveled to Paris to visit Jane Koch.
Folders 56 - 59 contain papers pertaining to the real estate and leases of stores purchased and built by both Matthew Huizinga Messchert and Huizinga Messchert in Philadelphia. The lots situated on Chestnut Street in 1867 became a subject of civil suits in the 1870s as lessees did not pay their rent. The papers include documents related to the civil cases, court orders, and correspondence concerning the cases.
The final series, folders 61 - 71, contains papers related specifically to Matthew Huizinga Messchert, son of Huizinga and Elizabeth Albertine Messchert, and the settlement of his estate after his death in 1904. Some of his correspondence from his childhood is included among the correspondence to Jane Koch in Series II. Matthew Huizinga's papers consist of his correspondence, mostly concerning business, bonds, leases, and papers relating to real estate he held in Minnesota in 1893 - 1896. His papers also include his will and an inventory of his estate, as well as that of his wife, Elmira Messchert. The remainder of his papers concern the settlement of his estate including correspondence accounts, and petitions to the Orphan's Court by Messchert's daughter, Mary Elizabeth Albertine Messchert Grant and the Pennsylvania Company for Insurances on Lives and Granting Annuities, who served as his executors. The wills of M. E. A. Messchert Grant and her husband, J. Blackwood Grant, are also contained in this series.
I. Jacob Gerard Koch II. Estate of Jacob Gerard Koch III. Messchert Family Papers IV. Matthew Huizinga Messchert Papers
1 Series I. Jacob Gerard Koch, 1784-1830. Consists of papers pertaining to Jacob Gerard Koch during his life including shipping transactions, powers of attorney, and correspondence to and from Koch, as well as correspondence to Jane Griffith Koch, his wife. Shipping Transactions F1 Bills of Lading, 1801 and 1809 (3 items) F2 Shipping Invoices, 1797-1826 (9 items) F3 Insurance and Claims, 1796-1810 (12 items) F4 Bills and Receipts, 1784-1809 (6 items) F5 Promissory Notes, 1796 (9 items) F6 Powers of Attorney, 1819-1829 (5 items) Correspondence F7 ALS to J. G. K., 1793-1830 (14 items) Includes five letters from George William Erving. F8 ALS from J. G. K., 1819-1830 (6 items) F9 ALS to Jane Griffith Koch, 1820-1824 (13 items) Includes six letters from Jacob Gerard Koch Series II. The Estate of Jacob Gerard Koch, 1830-1849 Consists of papers relating to the settlement of the estate of Jacob Gerard Koch as administered by the Messcherts, including administration agreements, Orphan's Court papers, claims, powers of attorney, an account book, checks, and correspondence. Correspondence to and from Jane Koch contains letters mostly between her and the Messchert family relating to the estate. The letters also offer a glimpse of the life of the Messcherts. F10 Powers of Attorney by Jane Koch, 1830-1839 (5 items) F11 Agreements of the Administrators, 1831-1846 (16 items) F12 Orphan's Court Papers, 1834-1839 (21 items) Note legal seals and ribbons. F13 Claims Under Treaty of Indemnity, 1810, 1831-1836 (12 items) F14 Receipts and Accounts, 1830-1834 (16 items) 1 Series II. Estate (Cont'd) F15 Account Book, 1831-1839 (1 item) F16 Checks, 1830-1839 (123 items) Individual checks as well as two sets of blank checks from the Bank of Pennsylvania. F17 Unclassified Papers relating to the Estate, 1830-1833, no dates (22 items) Miscellaneous papers, unsigned, undated correspondence, notes. Correspondence F18 ALS to M. H. and H. Messchert, 1830-1832 (19 items) F19 ALS to M. H. and H. Messchert, 1833 (21 items) F20 ALS to M. H. and H. Messchert, 1834 (33 items) F21 ALS to M. H. and H. Messchert, 1835 (73 items) F22 ALS to M. H. and H. Messchert, 1836-1837 (17 items) F23 ALS to M. H. and H. Messchert, 1838 (14 items) F24 ALS to M. H. and H. Messchert, 1839 (11 items) F25 ALS to Jane Griffith Koch, 1830 (20 items) Consists mostly of letters from the Messchert family and includes four letters from George William Erving. F26 ALS to Jane Griffith Koch, 1831 (36 items) Two letters from George William Erving. F27 ALS to Jane Griffith Koch, 1832 (9 items) Seven letters from George William Erving. F28 ALS to Jane Griffith Koch, 1833 (37 items) Six letters from George William Erving F29 ALS to Jane Griffith Koch, 1834 (20 items) Series II. Estate (Cont'd) 1 F30 ALS to Jane Griffith Koch, 1835 (19 items) F31 ALS to Jane Griffith Koch, 1837 (15 items) F32 ALS to Jane Griffith Koch, 1838 (32 items) One letter from Thomas Clemson and one letter from George William Erving; some other letters written in French. F33 ALS to Jane Griffith Koch, 1839 (26 items) One letter from Thomas Clemson. F34 ALS to Jane Griffith Koch, 1840 (5 items) F35 ALS to Jane Griffith Koch, 1841 (4 items) One letter from Thomas Clemson F36 ALS to Jane Griffith Koch, 1842 (5 items) One letter from Thomas Clemson F37 ALS to Jane Griffith Koch, 1843 (14 items) F38 ALS to Jane Griffith Koch, 1844 (3 items) F39 ALS to Jane Griffith Koch, 1845 (39 items) F40 ALS to Jane Griffith Koch, 1846 (11 items) F41 ALS to Jane Griffith Koch, 1847 (13 items) F42 ALS to Jane Griffith Koch, 1848 (9 items) F43 ALS to Jane Griffith Koch, no dates (11 items) One letter from George William Erving F44 ALS from Jane Griffith Koch, 1830 (18 items) F45 ALS from Jane Griffith Koch, 1831 (20 items) 1 F46 Correspondence: ALS from Jane Griffith Koch, 1832-1835 8 items F47 ALS from Jane Griffith Koch, 1836-1845 (13 items) Series III. Messchert Family Papers 1817-1878 Consists of papers pertaining to the Messchert family including court documents, wills, inventories, leases, correspondence, passports and account books. 2 F48 Correspondence: ALS to Matthew Huizinga Messchert, 1817-1829 (3 items) One written in Dutch F49 Estate of Matthew Huizinga Messchert, 1840 (2 items) F50 Correspondence: ALS to Huizinga Messchert, 1841-1848 (10 items) Copy of letter from Governor Francis Rawn Shunk, Pennsylvania F51 Correspondence: ALS from Huizinga Messchert, 1836 & 1845 (2 items) F52 Account Books, 1817-1840 (3 items) F53 Account Books, 1817-1840 (3 items) F54 Passports, 1830-1836 (4 items) Engravings of American Eagle and seals. F55 Wills, Huizinga Messchert (1869) and Mary Ann Messchert (1868) (2 items) F56 Real Estate Papers and Leases, 1828-1878 (12 items) Includes estimated and actual costs for the construction of three buildings owned by the Messcherts. F57 Court Papers: Edward Pincus vs. Mary Ann Messchert and M. H. Messchert, 1876 (8 items) 3 F58 Court Papers: Herman C. Pulte vs. Mary Ann Messchert and M. H. Messchert, 1875-1878 (47 items) F59 Court Papers: Samuel Crawford vs. Mary Ann Messchert and M. H. Messchert, 1876 (6 items) F60 Unclassified Documents (19 items) Series IV. Matthew Huizinga Messchert Papers 1870-1914 Contains papers of Matthew Huizinga Messchert, son of Huizinga Messchert, including his correspondence, wills, inventory, insurance papers, real estate, and papers pertaining to the settlement of his estate. F61 Correspondence: ALS to Matthew Huizinga Messchert, 1870-1901 (8 items) F62 Correspondence: ALS from Matthew Huizinga Messchert, 1877-1901 (12 items) F63 Bonds, 1883 (11 items) F64 Leases, 1885 & 1900 (2 items) F65 Real Estate: Minnesota, 1893-1896 (41 items) F66 Administration of Jacob G. Koch Estate, 1886 (2 items) F67 Wills and Inventory, 1902-1911 (6 items) Also includes will of Elmira Messchert. F68 Estate: Administration and Settlement, 1904-1914 6 items F69 Estate: Correspondence, 1904-1913 10 items F70 Mary Elizabeth Albertine Messchert Grant Papers: Wills, 1901 and 19(?) (2 items) Also will of J. Blackwood Grant. F71 Unclassified Papers, 1884-1904 (4 items) F72 Unidentified Documents (10 items)
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