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Massachusetts Steam Navigation Company Records

Massachusetts Steam Navigation Company Records

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MASSACHUSETTS STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY RECORDS, 1816-1818, undated





Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Creator:Massachusetts Steam Navigation Company
Title:Massachusetts Steam Navigation Company Records
Dates:1816/1818, undated
Quantity:0.25 linear feet (1 box)
Abstract:The Massachusetts Steam Navigation Company Papers contain correspondence, financial records, legal papers, and shares of ownership for this shipping company and are divided into four series.
Collection Number:MSS 278

Series List

SERIES I. Correspondence
SERIES II. Financial Records
SERIES III. Legal Papers
SERIES IV. Shares

Scope and Content Note

The Massachusetts Steam Navigation Company Papers contain correspondence, financial records, legal papers, and shares of ownership for this shipping company and are divided into four series.


Series I. Correspondence includes both original letters and copies. The letters are to and from various people involved with the Massachusetts Steam Navigation Company and the steamboat Massachusetts, including William Dodge (who was the builder), various individual shareholders, and a "corresponding committee," probably made up of some of the officers and/or shareholders of the company. The collection does not include correspondence between any two individuals, but there is overlap between senders and receivers. The letters cover the time period from the construction of the boat in 1816 to its sale and a settling of accounts in 1818.


Topics include discussion of the progress of the project (including financial details and concerns such as shareholding, accounts, and settling of bills), progress on building the engine, and progress on and difficulties with building the boat. Topics also include the acquisition of building supplies, insurance, and building debts, the possibility of building a second boat, and the intervention of the firm of P. Revere & Sons of Boston on behalf of William Dodge, builder. The sale of the boat, its loss, and plans for disposition of it, as well as court issues and the trial relating to the difficulties between the company and William Dodge are also included. Few of these topics are covered completely over the whole time period.


Series II. Financial Records include accounts of individuals with the Massachusetts Steam Navigation Company, accounts the company had with individuals and with other companies, company accounts indicating cash received and disbursed, and receipts for payment for labor, supplies for work on the ship, ticket sales, food supplies, and pilotage in Boston and other harbors.


Some identify the steamboat Massachusetts or the Massachusetts Steam Navigation Company by name, some refer only to "the steamboat," and a few name only one party to the transaction. Bills of sale of the company are with the legal papers.


The collection does not include the books of the company. The financial records it does include are probably quite incomplete.


Series III. Legal Papers include legal papers and copies relating to the Massachusetts Steam Navigation Company. A copy of the act of incorporation, papers relating to legal disputes between William Dodge, the builder of the Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Steam Navigation Company, papers relating to agreements between Thomas Eayres, Paul Revere Jr. and Joseph Revere, and the Massachusetts Steam Navigation Company, and bills of sale for the Massachusetts are included.


Series IV. Shares include certificates of share ownership in the Massachusetts Steam Navigation Company. Eliphalet Kimball, the treasurer, issued them all on 15 August 1817. Each certificate includes the name of the shareholder and the number of shares to which he is entitled. They are arranged in numerical order.


Historical Sketch

The Massachusetts Steam Navigation Company was formed in 1816 and formally incorporated on 16 June 1817; many of the shareholders were Salem, Massachusetts men. A list of those involved with the company is attached as Appendix I.


The company financed the building of the steamboat Massachusetts in 1816 by William Dodge in Philadelphia. The steamboat made its appearance in Salem on 5 June 1817. Apparently the owners intended the boat to ply a coastal route between Salem and Boston, although it seems probable that this was not the only route contemplated. There are indications that it traveled to Marblehead, Cape Ann, and Hingham as well. It was probably the first coastal steamer in the area of Boston and the adjacent north and south coasts.


The Massachusetts apparently operated at a loss and was sold to Captain Charles Vanderford on 20 November 1817 and then to Francis H. Story, a Salem merchant, on 30 November 1817. It was wrecked off the coast of New Jersey on its way to Alabama in December 1817. There is some question as to whether some of it was salvaged and included in a later steamboat also named the Massachusetts. There is no indication in the papers as to what happened to the company subsequent to the wreck of the Massachusetts and the settlement of debts.


Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Dodge, William M.
Kimball, Eliphalet
Vanderford, Charles
Massachusetts (Steamboat)
P. Revere and Sons (Boston, Mass.)
Industries--Massachusetts--Salem
Shipbuilding
Shipwrecks
Steamboat disasters
Steamboat lines
Steamboats
Steam-navigation
Stock certificates
Salem (Mass.)

Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.


Administrative Information

Copyright

Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Preferred Citation

Massachusetts Steam Navigation Company Records, MSS 278, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.

Provenance

This collection came from several sources. The Essex Institute purchased the bulk of the collection in 1961. Shares no. 1-7 and 9-17 (Series IV) were removed from the Newhall Family Papers. In addition, five items were purchased on Sept. 10, 1982 (acc. #22,869); they may now be found in Series III. The 1817 bill of sale for the Massachusetts from the directors of the Massachusetts Steam Navigation Company to Charles Vanderford and from Vanderford to Franklin N. Story, was removed from the Bradlee Papers (MH 45) and placed here.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Elizabeth L. Balcom, August 1995.


Related Material

Bentley, William. The Diary of William Bentley, D.D. Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1962.


Bradlee, Francis B. C. Some Account of Steam Navigation in New England. Salem, Mass.: Essex Institute, 1920.


Dayton, Fred E. Steamboat Days. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1925.


Essex Institute Historical Collections. Salem, Mass.


Holdcamper, Forrest R., ed. Merchant Steam Vessels of the United States, 1807-1868,"The Lytle List," Supplement No. 3, 30 June 1958. Published by The Steamship Historical Society of America.


Johnston, Paul Forsythe. Steam and the Sea. Salem, Mass.: Peabody Museum of Salem, 1983.


Kellock, Katharine Amend. "Paul Revere," Dictionary of American Biography, Dumas Malone, ed., vol. XV. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1935.


Lytle, William M., comp., and Forrest R. Holdcamper, ed. Merchant Steam Vessels of the United States, 1807-1868, "The Lytle List," Publication No. 6. Mystic, Conn.: The Steamship Historical Society of America, 1952.


Preble, Geo. Henry. A Chronological History of the Origin and Development of Steam Navigation. Philadelphia, Pa.: L. R. Hamersly & Co., 1895.

Appendix I


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