A Guide to the

John A. Sawhill Collection, 1756-1848

SC 0111

Compiled by: Marcus Hubbard and Chris Bolgiano
Updated: January 2009

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University

Title: John A. Sawhill Collection, 1756-1848

Creator: John A. Sawhill

Collection No.: SC 0111

Extent: 1 oversize folder; .27 cubic feet

Abstract: The John A. Sawhill Collection, 1756-1848, contains seven miscellaneous documents of American and British origin.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions: Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.
Use Restrictions: The copyright interests in this collection have been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collections Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (library-special@jmu.edu).
Preferred Citation: [Identification of Item], [box #, folder #], John A. Sawhill Collection, 1756-1848, SC 0111, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.
Acquisition Information: Items were recieved from the James Madison University Foundation in September 2000 under the authority of Dr. Ray Sonner, the executor of John Sawhill's estate and also a James Madison University administrator.
Provenance: A portion of the larger John A. Sawhill estate containing coins, music, and other materials were bequeathed to James Madison University in 1976.
Processing Notes: Large documents that had been folded were flattened and transferred into an oversize folder. In order to streamline the process of applying collection numbers, Special Collections staff completed a large-scale renumbering campaign in the spring of 2017. This collection was previously cataloged as SC 1765.

Bio/Historical Note

Born in Colorado in 1892, John Alexander Sawhill was educated at Princeton University and later wounded during his military service during World War I. He came to James Madison University (then known as the State Teachers College and later as Madison College) in 1927 and taught Latin, Greek, and German until 1957. An avid traveler and collector, Sawhill journeyed many times to the Middle East. He acquired thousands of items, including books, documents, recordings, coins, and works of art over the years. Though married twice, Sawhill outlived both of his wives and had no children. He passed away in 1976 and bequeathed his extensive collection to the James Madison University Foundation.

Scope and Content

The John A. Sawhill Collection, 1756-1848, consists of seven documents housed in one oversized flat folder. It includes two issues of the London newspaper the Whitehall Evening Post from the years 1756 and 1775, which reflect the prevailing British perspective on world events at the time. The 1756 issue includes 'curious' local news (robberies, etc.) and various cure-all advertisements. The 1775 issue includes references to the Spanish armament in Gibraltar and various news frorm America, including a report of a military engagement with three hundred "provincials" at Boston [Bunker Hill?] where thirty-two Americans were killed. References are also made to General Gage, the British commander, and to the arrival of British troops in Boston, "the event of which, it is thought, will put an end to the present quarrel by concessions or submission". The American seizure of Fort Ticonderoga is also mentioned. Also included in the collection are two Justice of the Peace commissions for three Franklin County, Virginia, residents; a Land Office Treasury Warrant; and two land grants pertaining to land in Bath County, Augusta County, and Henry County, Virginia.


The collection is organized into one oversize folder.


Oversize Folder
Whitehall Evening Post, September 23, 1756 (with apparent dealer's note and 1936 value)
Whitehall Evening Post, July 15, 1775 (with envelope containing apparent dealer's description and 1937 value)
Commission of Robert N. Dickinson to Justice of the Peace; Franklin County, Virginia; September 1, 1815
Commission of William Peter Martin, Thomas Thompson, and Samuel Harston to Justices of the Peace; Franklin County, Virginia; November 29, 1796
Land grant to George Steard; Henry County, Virginia; signed November 10, 1799 (poor condition; signature torn)
Land grant of 144 acres to William Allison; Augusta County, Virginia; signed April 21, 1798
Land Office Treasury Warrant No. 16, 196 to Adam G. Cleek for 86 acres; Bath County, Virginia; signed February 29, 1848