Collection ID: Coll. No. 461

Collection context


Cheetham, Ella May Wilson, 1889-1978.
This collection documents the courtship and marriage of Harold Cheetham and Ella May Wilson, Williamson, Wayne County, NY.
.25 cu. ft.


Scope and Content:

This collecton, saved by Harold Cheetham, records the courtship and marriage of Harold Cheetham and Ella May Wilson, Williamson, Wayne County, NY.

Files 461.1/1-2 contain correspondence from Ella Wilson to Harold Cheetham in Williamson, Wayne County, NY and Sweetwater, TN, July thru November 1912. Many are written on the letterhead of Ella’s father’s farm and illustrated with a peach-colored peach. The content becomes increasingly sentimental and reveals the vicissitudes of a romance carried out over distance, with all the emotional ups and downs. Most interesting are details of the family’s negotiations to sell their fruit, by the train car-full, to New York brokers, and Ella’s experiences helping to feed and house the apple pickers.

File 461.1/3 contain correspondence from Harold Cheetham to Ella Wilson in Williamson, NY, 1912; a joke menu sent to Ella in 1914; and a 9-page letter from Harold describing basic training in Keeseville, Clinton County, NY.

Files 461.1/5-6 contain letters and cards to Ella May and Harold Cheetham after their marriage when they were living in Sweetwater, TN. Several congratulatory letters express surprise over the couple’s early marriage. One encloses a swatch of flowered fabric, another contains three lace swatches. Many, from Ella’s family, tell of life on the farm including one that describes a crazy quilt-in-progress. Where Ella and Harold will live when they return from Tennessee is also a frequent topic. The final decision has the couple living with Harold’s parents in town until they can make a start on their own.

Files 461.1/7-8 contain letters to Ella Cheetham from her friend Pearl who is married to a veterinarian in Webster, NY, 1914 and from Ella’s teacher Viola Evans in Rushford, NY, 1916. Business letters to Harold Cheetham from the Phoenix Mutual Life Insurance Co. about Harold’s bond sales, 1917.

Biographical / Historical:

Harold George Cheetham (1894-1987) lived in the village of Williamson, Wayne County, NY as a boy. He graduated from The Mountain School in Allaben, Ulster County, NY and then attended the Tennessee Military School in Sweetwater, TN. In January 1913, on his holiday leave from military school, he married Ella May Wilson from his hometown. They both move to Sweetwater, NY so that he can finish his courses there. After graduation, the couple settled in Williamson, NY where Cheetham was a bookkeeper and insurance agent. He served in the military during both World Wars. He is buried alongside his wife at Pultneyville, Wayne County, NY.

As a girl and young woman, Ella May Wilson (1889-1978) lived outside of Williamson, Wayne County, NY with her parents, C. Ella [Nettie] Wilson, b. 1851 and P. Royal Wilson, b. 1845, on their apple and peach orchard, the Lakeside Fruit Farm. She had four siblings (Claude, Viola, Ruth, and Florence). She married Harold Cheetham in 1913. They had one child, a daughter named Vivian.

Acquisition information:
Processing information:

The processing, cataloging, and encoding of this collection were made possible by a grant from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.



Coll. No. 461 is open for research according to the regulations of Fenimore Art Museum Library.


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