Subgroup 1. Alexander MacLellan Papers
Alexander MacLellan (1856-1939) was born at Lanarkshire, Scotland on December 24 1856, the son of Duncan and Janet (Inglis) McLellan. He became a skilled gardener in his native land, and emigrated to the United States in 1882. Within the year, he settled in Newport, R.I., where he initially worked at the estate known as The Breakers. He came to serve as head gardener at a variety of Newport estates, including Grey Craig and Stoneacre (where the garden was designed by nationally known landscape architect Frederic Law Olmsted). He also worked as an independent horticulture contractor. In 1913, he established a nursery in Middletown, R.I. which he operated in addition to his other interests. He was a founder and president of the Newport Horticultural Society, and a prolific poet.
Circa 1890, Alexander changed his name from McLellan to MacLellan. One of his brothers who emigrated to the United States also followed this spelling, while another one continued to use McLellan. Alexander's first son, who died in 1889, was recorded in the death records as Duncan McLellan.
MacLellan married Mary Davies (1853-1934) and had five children: Rowena (1886-1965), who married Joseph W. Blaine Sr.; Duncan (1888-1889); Janet, who never married (1889-1959); Alexander Davies (1891-1955); and Gladys (1894-1921). He was a member of United Congregational Church in Newport. He resided at 33 Webster Street (10/1900- ?), and then at 87 John Street in Newport through his death on December 31, 1939.
Series 1. Alexander MacLellan Diaries
MacLellan kept a traditional diary from 1878 to 1902. His "diaries" from 1916 through 1939 were kept almost at random in memorandum books. Because the entries are not chronological, they are not strictly diaries, but the entries are diary-like in nature. MacLellan's grandson J.W. Blaine Jr. compiled cross-references to many of these volumes, showing which months can be found on which pages.
Series 2. Alexander MacLellan poetry
MacLellan was a prolific amateur poet, and was published frequently in Newport newspapers and in horticultural publications. In 1967, his grandson made extensive preparations to publish an anthology of these poems. Although the book was apparently never published, the files have been preserved. The files in this series consist mostly of MacLellan's original drafts, interspersed with Blaine's notes and memoranda.
Series 3. Alexander MacLellan miscellaneous
Subgroup 2. Blaine Family Papers
Joseph W. Blaine Sr. (1875-1953) was the son of Edwin Carlos Blaine (1840-1904) and Sarah Penelope Sophia (Carry) Blaine (1849-1879). When he was nineteen, his father Edwin remarried to Jennie Eliza Blaine (1864-1951). Joseph worked in his father's jewelry shop in Newport, and after his father's death in 1904 he operated the shop under the name "Estate of Edwin C. Blaine" until 1952. He married Signe Adina Hallborg (1881-1912) in 1909. They had one daughter, Constance Baldwin Blaine (1912-1992). Signe died three weeks after the birth of Constance, presumably due to complications from the birth. In 1918, Blaine remarried to Rowena MacLellan, a 1909 graduate of Rhode Island Normal School who taught in the Newport school system until her marriage. Joseph and Rowena had one son, Joseph W. Blaine Jr. (1920-1986). The family lived in a rented apartment at 3 Fowler Street in Newport until they were evicted in 1948. After that point they purchased a house at 51 Friendship Street. Joseph W. Blaine Sr. died March 16, 1953, and his widow Rowena resided at 51 Friendship St. until moving to a nursing home in late 1964. She died in April of 1965.
2.5 linear feet of miscellaneous, diaries, correspondence and other papers of Joseph W. Blaine, Signe (Hallborg) Blaine, Rowena (MacLellan) Blaine and other relatives. The diaries written by Rowena (MacLellan) Blaine cover nearly every year of her life from age 19 to her death at age 79.
Series 1. Joseph W. Blaine
Series 2. Rowena (MacLellan) Blaine
Series 3. Joseph W. and Rowena (MacLellan) Blaine
Letters from son Joseph W. Blaine Jr. to his parents, jointly. Some letters are also addressed to Janet MacLellan. These letters are filled with every detail of Joseph Jr.'s daily life, and also document his unique perspective as an eccentric recluse. In his letter dated 10/13/1948, he wrote "You know why I want to be alone? I'm a nut & I like to do nutty things, but I don't enjoy having people know I'm a nut. Except you folks, of course, and that's because we're the same kind of nuts... I want to be a nut on my own property and let the rest of the world go its merry and so-called sane way." In a 1/29/1955 letter he discusses why he's never had a telephone. On 6/11/1956, he wrote about his purchase of a television: "Help HELP HELP I am the captive of a one-eyed monster! Yes, three weeks ago I bought a factory reject TV set. and I've done nothing since, except stare at it."
Series 4. Extended family
Constance Baldwin Blaine
Series 5. Family material
Subgroup 3. Estate of E.C. Blaine Records
The jewelry store on Thames Street in Newport, RI was opened circa 1865 by Harley Willie Pray. Edwin C. Blaine took over the business from the original owners in 1873 and ran it until his death in 1904. According to Edwin's will, the business was to be operated for the benefit of the family. Jennie E. Blaine, Edwin's second wife, received a percentage of the profits from the store for the remainder of her life. His son, Joseph W. Blaine, took over management of the business and operated it under the name "Estate of E.C. Blaine." The name of the business was changed to "Edwin C. Blaine, Inc." in 1933. Emily Francis (Blaine) Cobb was the clerk for a time. The business was sold outside the family in 1952, but continued to be operated as Blaine Jewelers for many years.
Contents: 3 linear feet of financial and sales records from the jewelry store, 1904-1953
Subgroup 4. Joseph W. Blaine Jr. Papers
Joseph William Blaine Jr. (1920-1986) was born in Newport, the only son of Joseph W. and Rowena (MacLellan) Blaine. He had a half-sister, Constance B. Blaine (1912-1992), through his father's first marriage. He was known to his family as Bill, although he used Joe or Joseph in later life. Joseph graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1942. He then worked for twenty-three years as an electrical engineer at several General Electric facilities: Bridgeport, Conn. from May to August of 1942; Schenectady, N.Y. for most of the period from 1942 to 1946; a brief stint at West Lynn, Mass. from March to May 1943; a stint at a Massachusetts Institute of Technology laboratory from August through December of 1944; and finally in Liverpool near Syracuse, N.Y. from May 1946 onward. There he worked as a test engineer in the company's Heavy Military Electronic Equipment Department. Upon the death of his mother in April of 1965, he retired early and returned to Newport, where he moved into his late parents' house at 51 Friendship Street. He became an avid researcher of Newport history, and an active member of the Newport Historical Society. One major project which was never published was a compilation of the poems of his grandfather Alexander MacLellan.
Blaine lived a life of extreme frugality. Much of his diet reportedly consisted of peanut butter, bread and canned soup, which he would warm using the motor on his television. Many of his historical notes were written on the backs of soup labels. On October 20, 1986, he fell from a ladder while cleaning his gutters, and died from the resulting injuries. He left an estate valued at $124,649 in addition to his house. These assets were put into a trust, with the income to benefit his half-sister and Patricia A. Walsh, a former employee of the Newport Historical Society. Ms. Walsh, who had little more than a friendly passing acquaintance with Blaine, was also left a life tenancy of the house.
Series 1. Joseph W. Blaine Jr. personal papers. 1 linear foot.
The large majority of these papers are letters from Blaine's parents and sister Constance. The letters from 1938 to June 1942 were mostly sent by his parents while he was attending college, and the 1942-1944 letters were sent by his parents while he worked at a variety of General Electric plants during wartime. From 1958 to 1964, the majority of the letters are from his widowed mother. See subgroup 2, Series 3 for Blaine's letters back to his parents. Most of the letters from 1965 to 1980 are from his sister Constance. These later letters are frequently accompanied by Blaine's draft responses, and are marked by Constance's increasing interest in the Evangelical Free Church. In the final surviving exchange between the two dated December 1980, he calls her gifts of Christian tracts "junk mail," and she responds, "unless you repent this grave and blasphemous sin ... you have nothing to look forward to in hell."
Joseph W. Blaine Jr. kept very detailed diaries from the age of 14 to the day of his death at the age of 66. During his youth he does not write everyday but as he gets older the diaries become more detailed with descriptions of nearly everything he does. There are two sets of diaries. The first set records his daily activities and thoughts. The second set is one continuous diary (1943-1974) which is devoted to his observations regarding women who have caught his attention. Of note also are his very detailed records on his health in the file titled Medical records and notes.
Series 2. Joseph W. Blaine Jr. historical notes. 2.5 linear feet
Dates generally refer to when Blaine did his research, and not to the period covered.