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Finding Aid for the Roberts-Sidway-Spaulding Papers, 1850-1936

Mss. B68-14

Buffalo History Museum. Research Library

1 Museum Court
Buffalo, NY 14216
Phone: 716-873-9644 ext. 306
Fax: 716-873-8754
Email: library@buffalohistory.org
URI: http://www.buffalohistory.org

Finding aid prepared by Peter Nelson.
Finding aid encoded in EAD by Kuniko Simon, March 2008.
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid prepared using local best practices.

Funding for the initial encoding was provided through the Regional Bibliographic Databases Program administered by the Western New York Library Resources Council.

Please use the following URL when citing this document:

© 2010. Buffalo History Museum. All rights reserved.

Collection Overview

Title: Roberts-Sidway-Spaulding Papers, 1850-1936
Creator: Roberts, James A. (James Arthur), 1847-1922
Extent: 4 boxes (2 linear feet)
Language of Material: Collection material in English.
Repository: Buffalo History Museum.Research Library
Abstract: Personal papers and correspondence of James A. Roberts, Franklin and Frank S. Sidway, and E.G. Spaulding.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Description and dates], Box/folder number, Mss. B68-14, Roberts-Sidway-Spaulding Papers, 1850-1936, Research Library, Buffalo History Museum.

Acquisition Information

Please see librarian for acquisition information.

Terms of Access

Roberts-Sidway-Spaulding Papers, 1850-1936, are open for research.


Copyright of papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the Buffalo History Museum before publishing quotations from materials in the collection.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Peter Nelson, April 1993.

Accruals and Additions

No further accruals are expected to this collection.

Biographical Note

James A. Roberts, 1847-1938

A Buffalo and New York City lawyer and financier, Roberts was born in Waterboro, York County, Maine in 1847. He served in the Civil War in the 7th Maine Battery from 1864 to 1865 before entering Bowdoin College. He earned an A.B. from Bowdoin in 1870, an A.M. in 1873, and an LL.D. in 1898. From the time he was admitted to the bar in 1875 until 1894, Roberts practiced law in Buffalo. He was a member of the New York State Assembly, 1879-1880, and Buffalo Parks Commissioner, 1891-1893. In 1894, he left Buffalo to serve as New York State comptroller until 1899. From 1902 to his death, Roberts lived in New York City. He was married twice, to Minnie Pineo in 1871 and to Martha Dresser in 1884.

Frank St. John Sidway, 1869-1938

A prominent figure in legal, military, and civic affairs in Buffalo and a member of an early Buffalo family, Frank S. Sidway was related to James A. Roberts by his marriage to Roberts' daughter Amelia in 1903. Sidway was the son of Franklin Sidway (1834-1920), a Buffalo merchant and banker.

Frank S. Sidway was educated at Buffalo public schools and Phillips Exeter Academy (N.H.). He enrolled at Harvard College in the class of 1893 but left before graduating. He then attended the University of Buffalo Law School, where he received his degree in 1894. After studying law in the offices of Lewis, Moot and Lewis, he practiced for three years in the firm of Sprague, Moot, Sprague and Brownell. From 1897 until his death, Sidway practiced law privately. He developed an extensive clientele, and his practice was substantially devoted to real estate investments.

Sidway's military career began in 1894 when he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 74th Infantry Regiment of the New York National Guard; by 1897 he had been promoted to captain. In 1898, in the war with Spain, he was commissioned a captain in the 202nd New York Infantry Regiment; he raised a company within weeks and was one of the first captains mustered into U.S. service. Sidway and his regiment sailed for Cuba and fought through the entire campaign; they were the first U.S. troops to enter Havana. On his return to the U.S. in 1899, he was mustered out, but later was elected captain of the 74th infantry. He resigned that commission in 1902. His military career resumed during World War I, when he was made a major of the depot battery of the 74th Regiment. In 1917, with the rank of lieutenant colonel, Sidway organized the command that replaced the regular regiment after it was mobilized.

As an attorney, he was responsible for all Sidway family interests in Buffalo, including the management of the Sidway building at Main and Goodell Streets. He was vice-president of Robertson Cataract Electric Company and chairman of the Erie County Republican Committee (1909-1910). He also served as president of the Building Manufacturers Association (1926-1927) and the Main Street Association (1936-1937), and was a member of the New York State Historical Society, the Buffalo Historical Society, as well as several social and fraternal organizations.

Franklin Sidway, 1834-1920

The father of Frank S. Sidway, Franklin Sidway was born in Buffalo. After returning from European travels in 1853, he organized the Buffalo firm of Sidway, Skinner & Moore, general ship chandlers and grocers. This firm ceased operations sometime during the Civil War. During the war he was commissioned a colonel with authority to raise a regiment; Sidway recruited many companies of soldiers but they were later transferred to another regiment. He married Charlotte Spaulding, the daughter of E.G. Spaulding, who was president of Farmers and Mechanics National Bank. Sidway became a cashier in the bank and later served as vice-president until 1898. He was a trustee of Buffalo Savings Bank and Forest Lawn Cemetery, as well as president of the Buffalo and Falconwood Clubs. In addition to a son, Frank S., Franklin Sidway had a daughter, Mrs. Edith Gardner.

Elbridge Gerry Spaulding, 1809-1897

Lawyer, banker, alderman, mayor, assemblyman, state treasurer, and a three-term member of Congress, E.G. Spaulding had a distinguished and varied career. He studied law in Batavia and came to Buffalo in 1834, eventually entering into successive partnerships with George R. Babcock, Herman B. Potter, and John Ganson. About the time he retired from the legal progression (1848), Spaulding was instrumental in moving Farmers and Mechanics Bank from Batavia to Buffalo; soon thereafter he became its president and remained in that position all his active life.

Spaulding began his career in public life as city clerk in 1836. In 1841, as an alderman, he served as chairman of the city's finance committee; he was elected mayor of Buffalo in 1847; he entered the state assembly in 1848, where he was chairman of the Canal Committee; and he was elected to the 31st U.S. Congress in 1849. In 1853, Spaulding served as state treasurer and was active for several years on the Republican State Central Committee. In 1858, he was again elected to the House of Representatives, serving in both the 36th and 37th U.S. Congresses during the critical period of the Civil War. He is most widely known as "Father of the Greenback" for his initiative on the House Ways and Means Committee in overseeing the passage of bills he introduced in Congress to issue new U.S. treasury notes during the Civil War.

Spaulding owned a 315-acre farm, "River Lawn", on Grand Island. He was the father of two sons, Edward R. and Samuel S. Spaulding, and a daughter, Charlotte Spaulding, who married Franklin Sidway.

Scope and Content Note

Correspondence, 1887-1922, and other papers related to legal and business affairs of James A. Roberts; papers concerning Erie Canal, 1894- 1897; court records and other legal documents, 1908-1915, concerning United States Light and Heating Corporation; financial records, including stock certificates, receipts, statements, and account books, 1890-1922; and a Roberts family genealogy, 1913. Papers of Frank S. Sidway include correspondence, 1904-1936, mainly concerning alumni affairs of Phillips Exeter Academy; military oaths of office, 1916-1919; clippings, 1919-1933; an undated roster of the 74th and 202nd Regiments N.Y.; petitions regarding the proposed site of railroad terminals in Buffalo, 1907; and an account book of his father's firm Sidway, Skinner & Moore, 1861-1862. E.G. Spaulding papers include correspondence, 1877-1881, an inventory of books, 1856, and invoices related to the construction of a house on Grand Island, 1877-1882. Also, deeds, mortgages, title searches, estate papers, and other legal papers pertaining to real estate transactions, 1850-1919.

Container List

I.A.    Combined correspondence, 1893-1936
Arranged chronologically.
Box-folder Contents
James A. Roberts letter copybook, 1893-1900
James A. Roberts correspondence, 1887-1903
James A. Roberts and Frank S. Sidway correspondence, 1904-1922
Frank S. Sidway correspondence, 1923-1936
James A. Roberts correspondence, undated
I.B.    Roberts correspondence from Henry W. Box and Box estate, 1892, 1906-1920
Box-folder Contents

Includes memorandum of agreement, 1892

II.A.    Genealogy
Box-folder Contents
Roberts family genealogy, 1913
II.B.    New York State Comptroller, undated
Box-folder Contents
Canal papers
II.C.    Legal records Concerning United States Light and Heating Company, 1908-1914
Box-folder Contents
Records regarding purchase of Bliss Electric Car Lighting Co. and Cutler-Hammer Mfg. Co., 1908-1909
Pitcher Lead Co., et al. vs. United States Light and Heating Co., U.S. District Court, Western District, July 1914
Central Trust Co. of New York vs. United States Light and Heating Co.~ U.S. District Court of New York, Western District, July-October 1914
[Bliss Electric Car Lighting Co.] daily financial reports, July 20, 1914-June 11, 1915
United States Light and Heating Co., October-December 1914
Statements regarding United States Light and Heating Co., 1914
II.D.    Financial records, 1890-1922
Box-folder Contents
Financial record books, 1890-1907
Receipts and other financial records, circa 1905-1922
Miscellaneous financial statements, circa 1906-1922
Stock certificates of Clarissa Tunnel Co. and Richmond Gold Mine Co., 1900-1902
Cancelled checks, 1902-1903
II.E.    Writings, undated
Box-folder Contents
Book reviews, undated
Box-folder Contents
4.7 Oaths of office as major, lieutenant colonel, and colonel, 1916-1919 74th Regiment roster, undated
4.8 Account book of Sidway, Skinner & Moore, 1861-1862

(later used as expense record book for building project, 1884-1902)

4.9 Petition and memoranda presented by Citizens Union of Buffalo (Frank S. Sidway, secretary) regarding proposed site of railroad terminals in Buffalo, 1907
4.10 Clippings regarding 74th Regiment, 1919
4.11 Clippings regarding 202nd Regiment, 1925, 1933
Box-folder Contents
4.12 Correspondence, 1877-1881
4.13 List of law books and general library, 1856
4.14 Invoices related to construction of house on Grand Island, 1877-1882
Box-folder Contents
4.15 1850-1884
4.16 1884-1899
4.17 1901-1919

Search Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Library's online catalog.


Alexander, D.S. (DeAlva Stanwood), 1845-1925
Box, Henry W., 1836-1909
Buffalo History Museum
Sidway, Frank S. (Frank St. John), 1869-1938.
Sidway, Franklin, 1834-1920
Sidway, Skinner & Moore (Buffalo, N.Y.)
Spaulding, E.G. (Elbridge Gerry), 1809-1897
Urban, George, 1850-1928

Subject Terms

Erie Canal (N.Y.)
New York (State). National Guard. Infantry Regiment, 202nd
New York (State). National Guard. Infantry Regiment, 74th
Phillips Exeter Academy
Real property--New York (State)--Erie County
Roberts family
United States Light and Heating Corporation (Niagara Falls, N.Y.)

Genre Terms

Judicial records
Stock certificates