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Byington Family Papers 1

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS209

Collection-level Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of material relating to at least four generations of the Byington family, and includes correspondence, property deeds, biographical information and newspaper clippings organized into the following series:

Series 1. Aaron Homer Byington (1826-1910): Correspondence Series 2. Aaron Homer Byington: Manuscripts Series 3. Aaron Homer Byington: Related Material Series 4. Homer Morrison Byington I (1879-1966): Correspondence Series 5. Homer Morrison Byington I, II (1908-1987), III: Related Material Series 6. Oversized Material (includes maps of Norwalk, Conn. and presidential commissions to appointments in the Foreign Service).


  • 1835 - 1996
  • Majority of material found within 1860 - 1960

Collection-level Access Restrictions

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are solely responsible for determining the copyright status of the materials being used, establishing who the copyright owner is, locating the copyright owner, and obtaining permission for intended use.

Biographical notes

Aaron Homer Byington was born in Herkimer, N.Y., July 23, 1826, the son of Aaron Byington and Sarah Waterbury, originally of Norwalk, Conn. The family returned to Norwalk during Byington's childhood. He attended the Amos Smith Collegiate School for Boys in New Haven together with Nehemiah D. Sperry (later a notable congressman). His father died when he was nine, and Byington was unable to attend college. Instead, he went to work as an office boy for the 'Norwalk Gazette.' Later, he was employed to record proceedings of the General Assembly for the 'New Haven Palladium.' When a syndicate was formed to start the 'Journal' in New Haven, with Thomas G. Woodward as editor, Byington applied and accepted the position of business manager, the capacity in which he remained until he bought the 'Norwalk Gazette' in 1848.

As a young journalist, Byington was privileged to interview Daniel Webster, as well as to become a favored acquaintance of Abraham Lincoln, particularly during the Civil War. Shortly before the war, Byington was hired by Horace Greeley of the 'New York Tribune' to become the so-called winter Congressional correspondent in Washington; and during the war, he became head of the paper's corps of army correspondents. At this time, Byington was also enlisted in a company raised to guard Washington until the states could send troops. Byington's reputation as an efficient war correspondent was established when he was the first to deliver the news of the outcome of the battles of Bull Run and Gettysburg.

At Gettysburg, he reconnected and was permitted use of the wire service between the headquarters of General George Gordon Meade and Washington. Later, this exclusive privilege served to provide Byington with information concerning the conspiracy and aftermath of Lincoln's assassination, enabling an expeditious report to the 'Tribune' of the death of the president. After the war, Byington founded a Republican newspaper called the 'New York Sun,' with Edmund C. Stedman and Charles A. Dana of the 'Chicago Inter-Ocean.' However, a disagreement between Dana and Ulysses S. Grant developed and Byington eventually sold his interests in the paper.

Byington was active in politics as well as in journalism. In 1858 and 1859 he represented Norwalk in the House of the General Assembly. In 1861 and 1862 he represented the Twelfth Senatorial District in the state senate. After the war, Byington continued to be a frequent visitor to Washington; it was partly through his influence that Senator Joseph B. Hawley was appointed chairman of the national Republican convention in Chicago and subsequently became the president of the Centennial Commission in 1876.

In 1897, Byington received a Foreign Service commission from President William McKinley and was appointed U.S. consul to Naples, at which time he suspended publication of the 'Norwalk Gazette' to devote full attention to his new diplomatic duties. It was during the 12-year period in Italy that Byington learned of the conspiracy of members of a Neapolitan secret society to sail for the U.S. to assassinate President Theodore Roosevelt. Byington cabled authorities, and the would-be perpetrators were captured in quarantine shortly after arrival and returned to Italy.

Byington married Harriet Sophia Richmond on November 8, 1849. She died in Naples; he retired from the Foreign Service shortly after her death (1907). Byington died on December 29, 1910 in Flushing, Long Island, N.Y. He was survived by three sons: William Homer, George Richmond, and Stuart Woodford. Another son, Henry Sumpter, died in 1887, and a daughter, Harriet Eloise, died in infancy.

Biographical sources for Aaron Homer Byington include obituaries (Folder 2:21) and the State Department Register for 1917.


Homer Morrison Byington I was born in Washington, D.C., September 18, 1879, the son of George Richmond Byington and Emma Morrison. Byington was educated by private tutors in Naples during the appointment of his grandfather Aaron Homer Byington as U.S. consul. A long career with the U.S. State Department began in 1897 when Byington was hired as a consulate clerk in Naples, remaining there in rising capacities as vice and deputy consul, September 19, 1900, and eventually consular assistant on July 1, 1908. In the following years Byington also served at posts in Rome (vice & deputy consul, 1908); Bristol (vice, deputy consul, & consul, 1909), Leeds (consul, 1913), and Palermo (consul, 1919). In 1917, Byington was assigned to assist Cordell Hull in Congress. Byington was reassigned, to Naples, as consul, in 1923. The next year he served as a delegate at the International Conference on Emigration and Immigration in Rome. In 1926 he was member of the Board of Review for Foreign Service Personnel. In 1927, Byington attained the Class One category, the highest rank in the Foreign Service.

When he returned to the U.S., two years later, he became chairman of the executive committee of the Foreign Service Personnel Board and member of the Board of Examiners for the Foreign Service. In December 1929, Byington was made the chief of the Division of Foreign Service Personnel, a capacity in which he served until 1933. During these years, Byington was also a member of the Foreign Service Training School Board (1931). In 1944, he accepted his final appointment as consul general to Montreal. Byington retired from the Foreign Service in 1944.

Homer M. Byington was married to Jean(nette) Lindsley Gregory, June 2, 1903. Their sons include Homer Morrison II (born 1908), James Gregory, Ward Gregory; as well as three daughters, Mrs. Janice Hinkle, Mrs. Joan Grant, and Mrs. Jean Macmillan. The two eldest sons, Homer Morrison II and James Gregory, both served in the Foreign Service. The youngest son, Ward Gregory, served in the navy.

Byington died in Stamford, Connecticut, on July 7, 1966.

Biographical sources for Homer Morrison Byington include: obituary clippings (Folder 2:52); and State Department registers for 1917, 1932.


Homer Morrison Byington II was born 1908 in Italy, the son of Homer Morrison Byington I. He was graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor's degree in 1930. The same year he applied and was accepted into the Foreign Service, entering his first overseas post in 1932 in Havana, Cuba. Successive appointments were to Naples (1933-1939); Belgrade (1939); various State Department positions including assistant chief and acting chief of the Division of Current Information, and executive assistant to the special assistant to the secretary of state (1941-45); deputy for U.S. political advisory staff of Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theater (1945-46); Rome (1947-48); department director of the Office of West European Affairs (1950); Madrid (1953 and 1955); Malaya (1957-58 and 1961); special assistant to deputy undersecretary of state for administration (1961); and Naples (1962). Byington retired in 1972 and died in 1987. He was married to Jane McHarg.

Biographical sources for Homer Morrison Byington II: State Department Register for 1972.


2.50 Linear Feet (3 Hollinger boxes (2 Document Cases, 1 drop front flat))

Language of Materials


Byington Family Papers 1
Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057