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Brownell Family Papers

Identifier: yhm-arc-0000-013

Content Description

Personal and business correspondence regarding business in Costa Rica, letters of A.E. Brownell to various people, letters of Henry Brownell (Hamilton College class of 1843), and letters of various other members of the Brownell family; letters and financial documents from Minor Cooper Keith pertaining to his railroad and banana businesses. (See also Albert Brownell Photograph Album at


  • 1846-1972

Biographical / Historical

Abner Brownell had 7 or 8 children, one was Henry Dwight (1820-1892), Hamilton College class of 1843, another was George Macomber (1812-1859). George fathered Albert Eliphelet (1839-1886) and John Jay (1849-1927). Albert was the father of Edith S Brownell. Henry O’Reilly Tucker (1839-1910) married George and Henry’s sister, Elizabeth L. (1841-1923). The Brownells have no known familial connection to Minor Cooper Keith, though various members engaged in business and funded his railroad and banana ventures in Costa Rica, documented in the records and correspondence in this collection. Albert E. Brownell was involved with the Costa Rican Rail Road industry and was a Consular Agent in the same nation.

Minor Cooper Keith first went to Costa Rica in 1871 and started his banana business a year later. Born in Brooklyn, NY on 19 January 1848, he died 14 June 1929. He was in the lumber business until 1870, the cattle business for 2 years, then the railroad industry in Costa Rica in 1872. In 1899, after merging with the Boston Fruit Company, Keith organized the United Fruit Company (now Chiquita). Keith was involved with the following firms in the course of life: Premier Gold Mining Company (Vice President); St. Andrews Bay Lumber Company; Guatemala Central Railroad Co.; International Railway of Central America; Empire Trust Co. (Director); Royal Geographic Society (Fellow); Museum of American Indian (Trustee); Heye Foundation. His business papers and personal letters burned in a fire at the United Fruit Company.

Sources: Keith and Costa Rica by Watt Stewart; Conquest of the Tropics by Frederick Upham Adams; Find A Grave Sauquoit Valley Cemetery.


.4 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Spanish; Castilian


Files arranged alphabetically, content in files arranged chronologically.

Separated Materials

Brownell family photographs and Costa Rica photo album for John J. Brownell, Albert E. Brownell Papers; 2016-015, Box 1. Oversized materials removed to oversized folder in flat file case.

Kimberly Johnson '24
Spring 2023
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Hamilton College Archives Repository

198 College Hill Road
Clinton NY United States