The first series is the Alden Sprague Stevens Generation. Alden
Sprague Stevens (Series I-A), born November 9th 1795, is the oldest major
member of the collection. He was the eldest of nine sons of Archelaus Stevens,
a New Hampshire farmer. Alden married Ascha Floyd Smith Stevens (Series I-B) in
1818. Alden was a teacher and a Deputy Sheriff, Crier of the Court, Deputy US
Marshall, and judge of Genesee County (1835-1840). Alden helped get a charter
for the continuation of a railroad from Batavia to Buffalo in 1836. He was
Superintendant of Common Schools, and started the second Teacher's Institute in
the United States. He was president of the Attica Collegiate Institute for 12
years. In 1857, Buchanan appointed him Special Agent for Indian Affairs, and he
enumerated the Indians in Kansas. His lectures show that he was in favor of
educating both sexes, and that he was pro-temperance and anti-corporal
punishment. Three of Alden's brothers are included in this series: Robert
Hastings Stevens (Series I-C), a lawyer from Buffalo, Frederick Plummer Stevens
(Series I-D), who was mayor of Buffalo and shared a law practice with his
brother Albert Gallatin Stevens (Series I-E). Albert's wife, Sarah Caroline
Greene Stevens (Series I-F), is also included.
The second series is the Robert [Wadleigh] Smith Stevens Generation.
It includes his elder sister Caroline Eliza Floyd Stevens Briggs and her
husband Rufus Briggs (Series II-A). The largest amount of material belongs to
Robert [Wadleigh] Smith Stevens (Series II-B). Though Robert dropped the name
Wadleigh, the name or initial is often used in this collection to help
distinguish him from the many other Roberts in the Stevens family. Robert had
an illustrious career as a railroad builder and manager. He grew up in Attica,
NY, where his father was an educator and also a railroad supporter. After
working for an election campaign and helping Buchanan become President of the
United States, Robert went west to Lecompton, Kansas, where after being
financially ruined, he was appointed General Manager and supervised
construction of the MK & T; Railroad (aka the Missouri, Kansas and Texas
Railroad; aka the Katy). He was renowned for the speed of the construction, and
was able to repay all his debts and, in fact, accumulate a fortune. He and went
next to St. Louis, Missouri, where he managed the Hannibal and St. Joseph
Railway. He is also known for building state housing for Native Americans
unsettled by US expansion. After retiring from the railroad business, he became
a United States Congressman representing New York, and was a personal friend of
President Grant. Also included are Robert's wife, Mary Proctor Smith Stevens
(Series II-C), and two children of Albert Gallatin and Sarah Caroline Greene
Stevens: Albert Clark Stevens (Series II-D) and his sister Cora Caroline
Stevens Reynolds (Series II-E), who married John Reynolds.
The third series is the Frederick Charles Stevens Generation.
Frederick Charles Stevens (Series III-A), son of Robert W. and Mary Proctor
Smith Stevens, was born Charles Frederick. He was a businessman involved in
everything from his father's railroads to banking to farming, importing and
raising horses and cattle. He went to Cornell University, but did not graduate.
He became a New York State senator, then a New York State Superintendent of
Public Works, and then a Cornell trustee. He married Isabel "Belle" C. Stevens
and was given the Maplewood Farm in Attica, NY as a wedding present from his
father. Frederick was not particularly successful as a businessman in his
lifetime, and the family did not consider him to be very accomplished. However,
a contemporary author recognized his importation of Holstein cows as having had
a far-reaching effect on cow and dairy farming in North America. Doris Reynolds
May (Series III-B) is the daughter of Cora Caroline Stevens and John Reynolds.
Not included in this series are the papers of Robert Hastings Stevens, M.D.
(born 1907), son of Albert Clark Stevens. Like the donor, "Dr. Bob" is a
genealogist, and his materials, which contain correspondence with the
genealogist Winifred Lovering Holman, are in Series VI-B (the genealogy
The fourth series is the Robert Sproule Stevens Generation. It
contains material on Robert Sproule Stevens (Series IV-A), son of Frederick and
Belle, who was the Dean of Cornell's Law School from the late thirties until
the mid-fifties. He was a Harvard graduate who taught corporation law
especially well. He was on presidential assigment during WWII, in commissions
on Uniform State Laws, Lend-Lease, and Foreign Economic Administration and
lived in Washington, D.C. from 1942-45. Helen Pauline Croll Stevens (Series
IV-B), who went by Pauline, was Robert's first wife. She grew up outside of
Boston and had an outgoing twin sister, Grace. Pauline liked children, writing,
and painting, and she joined her sister in theatrical activities. She toured
Europe as a teen, and met Robert Sproule when he and his family went to their
summer home in Manchester, MA, right across the street from Pauline's house.
Pauline kept a diary as an adolescent, and also as the new mother of Robert
Croll Stevens, and has many drawings, paintings, postcard and photograph
albums. Pauline died in 1936, when her son was only 12. She had been taking
medication which had been affecting her adversely, and she was depressed; one
day she fell out of a window to her death. Robert Croll went away to Hackley
almost immediately, and Robert Sproule did eventually marry again, to a
childhood friend from Rochester, Eva Loomis Howe Stevens (Series IV-C), a
vivacious and social woman who was able to bring her husband out of his shell.
She took charge of entertaining her husband's colleagues and students at their
house in Cayuga Heights, and became beloved in the law school. She was involved
with philanthropy with the George Junior Republic, where they named a house
after her. She got along very well with Robert Croll. Also included in the
series are Robert Sproule's older sisters, Helen Lee Stevens Gregory (Series
IV-D), who married George Gregory, and Marian Stevens (IV-E), whose materials
include sketches, paintings, and other artwork.
The fifth series is the Robert Croll Stevens Generation. Robert Croll
Stevens (Series V-A), the donor of the collection, was born January 3rd, 1924.
He grew up in Ithaca and attended Harvard. He worked in Rochester as a
purchasing agent for Stromberg-Carlson, and retired early to become an author.
He has several published volumes on his family's history (which are catalogued
in this collection as Series X). The series also contains some material
belonging to his wife, Jane Eleanor Knauss Stevens (Series V-B). Born September
7th, 1925, Jane grew up in Poughkeepsie, NY and attended Cornell. Her brother
Bill, who was friends with Robert Croll from their years at Phillips Academy,
also went to Cornell and graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering
(1945). After Jane graduated in from Cornell in 1945, she worked for a year in
her father and uncles' meat packing business. She came back to Cornell to
become the only female in the first class of thirty-three students in the
School of Business and Public Administration (now the Johnson Graduate School
of Management), and was the first woman to receive an MBA from Cornell, in
1948. Her brother Bill was also in that first class and graduated with an MBA
in 1948. Jane met Robert Croll when he came to Cornell to visit her brother
Bill while they were in graduate school. Jane and Robert were married in the
summer of 1948, and she became a professional volunteer. She has been active in
Rochester Republican party activities, child abuse awareness, public radio and
television, and Cornell alumni activities. The couple has three daughters and
Other materials include Robert Croll Stevens' and Dr. Robert Hasting
Stevens' research about the family's genealogy (Series VI), maps and regional
history (Series VII), photographs and postcard collections (Series VIII),
audio/visual materials (Series IX), and books on family history (Series X).
Transcriptions of much of the correspondence have been undertaken and are
available for researchers (Series XI). Published materials have been separated
from the collection and are listed in Appendix A.