Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Wall, Garret D. (Garret Dorset), 1783-1850
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Garret D. Wall Collection
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1699-1909 (mostly 1807-1850)
10 boxes
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-10


The Garret D. Wall Collection, dating from 1609-1909, consists primarily of material from the legal practice of Garret D. Wall (1783-1850). The bulk of the material dates from 1807 to 1850, when Wall was actively practicing law, serving in the United States Senate, and serving as judge of the Court of Appeals of New Jersey.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The Garret D. Wall Collection, dating from 1609-1909, consists primarily of material from the legal practice of Garret D. Wall (1783-1850). The bulk of the material dates from 1807 to 1850, when Wall was actively practicing law, serving in the United States Senate, and serving as judge of the Court of Appeals of New Jersey. Wall was educated by and worked for Jonathan Rhea, an attorney and, later, his father-in-law, which may explain why there are a number of records that precede the dates of Wall's own legal practice.

Researchers will find personal and professional correspondence; financial, land, legal, and legislative records relating to Wall's law practice; and materials of others, in particular, members of the Rhea family (related to Wall's wife Mary Rhea), the Vroom family (related to his daughter Mary Matilda Wall), and his son, James W. Wall. The bulk of the collection is correspondence, the vast majority of which appears to be professional in nature. Records relating to Wall's legal practice include financial records such as accounts, bills, receipts, bonds, indentures, insurance records, and promissory notes; land records such as deeds, mortgages, and surveys; and legal records such as articles of agreement, court records, estate settlements, government and legislative papers, letters of attorney, summons, and wills and inventories. Most of the documents in the second series do not directly relate to Garret D. Wall or his family; but instead were probably used for research by or generated by Wall in his practice of law. There are one or two documents (particularly in the court records) that appear to be related to criminal cases, but for the most part, Wall seems to have handled estate, land, and financial issues.

This group of material does not provide a particularly clear picture of Wall as a family man, military officer, or politician; although there are hints of these aspects throughout the collection. Instead, this collection provides a glimpse into law practices in New Jersey during the first half of the nineteenth century.


This collection is arranged in three series: Series I. Correspondence, 1792-1849; Series II. Legal Practice, 1699-1850 (bulk 1800-1850); and Series III. Papers of Others, 1750-1909.

Collection Creator Biography:

Wall, Garret D. (Garret Dorset), 1783-1850

Garret D. Wall, the son of James Wall (1753-1791) and Mary Dorset Wall (d. 1844), was born March 10, 1783, in Middletown Township, New Jersey. At age nine, after the death of his father, Wall was sent to live with his uncle John G. Wall (1759-1798). Wall began working at the age of fifteen for Jonathan Rhea (1758/9-1815), with whom he studied common law, until earning his license as attorney in 1804 and as counselor in 1807. During the War of 1812, Wall commanded a volunteer regiment from Trenton. He subsequently served as clerk of the New Jersey Supreme Court from 1812 to 1817, quartermaster-general of New Jersey from 1815 to 1837, member of the New Jersey General Assembly in 1827, and United States District Attorney for New Jersey from 1834 to 1841. In 1825, Wall purchased a large tract of land that was known as the Robert Morris Tract, from which he sold the Croxall mansion, laid out the town of Belvidere, and donated sites for a park, court house, and churches. Wall was elected governor of New Jersey in 1829, but declined the position. However, Wall later served as a United States senator from 1835 to 1841 and judge of the Court of Errors and Appeals from 1849 to 1850.

Wall married Mary Rhea (1792-1822), the daughter of Jonathan Rhea, and they were the parents of Mary Matilda (b. 1815) and James W. Wall (1820-1872). After his wife's death, Wall married Ann M. Taylor. Mary Matilda Wall married Peter Dumont Vroom, Jr. (1791-1873), who served as a member of the New Jersey Assembly from Somerset County from 1826 to 1827 and 1829, as Governor of New Jersey from 1829to 1832 and from 1833 to 1836, as U.S. Representative from New Jersey at - large from 1839 to 1841, as delegate to the New Jersey State Constitutional Convention in 1844, and as U.S. Minister to Prussia from 1853 to 1857. Their son Garret Dorset Wall Vroom (b. 1843) was a lawyer who served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention from New Jersey in 1876 and 1888 and as mayor of Trenton, New Jersey, from 1881 to 1884. James W. Wall was a graduate of Princeton University in 1838, who was a lawyer author, and United States senator in 1863.

Collection History


The collection was formed as a result of a departmental practice of combining into one collection manuscript material of various accessions relating to a particular author.


No material was separated during 2013 processing.

Processing Information

The materials in Box 10 have been treated for mold. Researchers should exercise caution when handling these materials.

Folder inventory prepared by Michelle Ripplinger, Class of 2012 in 2011 and processed by Holly Mengel in 2013.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Garret D. Wall Collection; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-10

Find More

Related Materials

Files of the Works Progress Administration at Mudd Library include indexing record sheets for the Wall Collection compiled by the Federal Writers Project around 1940.

Jonathan Rhea Legal Papers, 1774-1892 (C0521) at Princeton University.

Garret D. Wall Correspondence, 1809-1841 (MG 371) at the New Jersey Historical Society.

Subject Terms:
Lawyers -- New Jersey -- 19th century -- Correspondence.
Legislators -- New Jersey -- 19th century.
Practice of law -- 19th century.
Genre Terms:
Legal correspondence--19th century.
Legal documents -- 19th century.
New Jersey. Court of Errors and Appeals
Wall, James W. (James Walter), 1820-1872
Mercer County (N.J.) -- History -- 19th century -- Sources.
New Jersey -- History -- 1775-1865 -- Sources.
New Jersey -- Politics and government -- 1775-1865.