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Collection Scope and Content Note


Correspondence, notes, account books, and legal papers of an Elmira family of lawyers and businessmen: Alexander Samuel Diven (1809-1896), vice-president of the Erie Railroad, Brigadier General in the Union Army, and a U.S. Congressman; his sons, George Miles Diven (1835-1909), director of the Erie Railroad and president of the La France Fire Engine Company; and Eugene Diven (1843-1888), an officer of La France; George's son, Alexander Samuel Diven II (1869-1952); and his son Irving Booth Diven (1903-1964). The bulk of the papers concern railroads in central and western New York State, including the Erie, Pennsylvania, Lehigh Valley, and their predecessor, constituent, and affiliated lines (including the Cayuga Lake Railroad Company, the Auburn & Ithaca Railway Company, the Chemung Railroad Company, and the Sodus Bay & Southern Railroad Company). The railroad papers include assessment papers, legal papers, some documents relating to construction, maps, and correspondence. There are also deeds, mortgages, land contracts, surveys, tax lists, legal briefs, and correspondence relating to sale of real estate in Allegany County which A.S. Diven, Sylvester G. Andrus, Thomas Noyes, Jervis Langdon, and Thomas R. Brayton purchased from John Barker Church and William J. Forbes in 1852, handled by W.W. Ballard & Company, with M.W. Pike as land agent.

Other land papers relate to some ten thousand acres in Rowan County, Kentucky, bought by A.S. Diven from Benjamin Loder in 1872, and managed by Samuel McKee of Louisville; there are many letters from McKee and others relating to the title, activities of timber thieves, squatters, and feuding mountaineers, and timber and ore resources on the tract. There is also various other real estate and business records of the Diven family.

Civil War items include a letter from General Henry Warner Slocum describing the Battle of Chancellorville, an account of the Battle of Louisiana by F.A. Roe, and later letters from General James S. Rains describing his experiences during the war.

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