The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Hook Family Papers
0.5 linear feet (1 box)
This collection consists
primarily of correspondence between members of the Hook family of Salem and Boston,
Scope and Content Note
This collection consists primarily of correspondence between members of the Hook
family of Salem and Boston, Massachusetts. Many of the letters are of a personal,
informal nature, while others deal with the furniture making and organ building
businesses. In addition, there are children's copybooks, records of accounts with
local merchants, plans for furniture design, and envelopes addressed to the organ
builders. The collection as a whole reveals the day-to-day life led by prosperous
business people in early nineteenth-century Salem.
Letters in Folder 1 are to Eliza Hook from her family and friends, and letters
in Folder 2 are to other Hook family members, again mostly from family and friends.
These letters reflect daily life in early nineteenth-century Salem and Boston among
active, well-educated citizens. They describe visits and partings, illness and
death, suitors and courtships, sermons and lectures, and travel and meetings with
dignitaries like John Quincy Adams and Daniel Webster. Very little of an unpleasant
nature is mentioned, although two letters (1837) to Eliza from Elias concern James
Franklin's recent death, one letter (1839) refers to a 20-year estrangement between
two members of the family, and another (undated) refers to dissension within the
South Church (Salem) choir.
Letters in two folders pertain to William Hook. In Folder 3 are five letters
concerning the delivery and sales of his furniture. Furniture pieces mentioned
include counting house desks, night cabinet tables, dining tables, small secretaries
and folding writing desks. Some of these pieces were sold on consignment in New
Orleans (1834-1835) or to a Captain Thomas Cloutman writing from Valparaiso, Chile
(1835). In Folder 4 are three letters to William Hook from his sons Elias and George
Greenleaf Hook concerning details of bank loans to the organ company. They also
refer to the sale and delivery of organs to Beverly, Massachusetts, Buffalo and
Albany, New York, and Baltimore, Maryland. Also included is one promissory note to
William Hook from his sons.
Folder 5 contains three other letters pertaining to the organ company. Two
(1857, 1862) are addressed to Elias and George Greenleaf Hook, and one (1838) to
George Ward in New York, New York, from George Kingsley praising the superior
quality of Hook organs.
Additional Hook family papers include children's copybooks and lessons (Folder
6), miscellaneous family accounts such as payments for medical treatments, musical
instruments, dressmaking supplies, carpentry supplies, and poll taxes (Folder 7),
and plans and specifications for a worktable or desk, for capitals or other
decorative parts of furniture, and for a "Captain Fairfield sofa" (Folder 8).
William Hook was born in Salisbury, Massachusetts, on
February 19, 1777, the son of Edmund and Elizabeth (Pike) Hook. As a boy he was
apprenticed to a joiner and cabinetmaker in Salisbury, New Hampshire. In 1796 he
came to Salem, Massachusetts, and in 1800, he set up business for himself in Salem
as a cabinetmaker where he made furniture for the leading families of Salem for many
years. He married Abigail Greenleaf on March 2, 1800, and was the father of seven
children, all born in Salem, but whose names and birth dates were not recorded in
Salem records. William Hook died in Roxbury, Massachusetts, on May 15, 1867.
Eliza Hook, daughter of William and Abigail Hook, is the
primary correspondent in this collection; however, little information about her life
is available. For most of the time before 1838, when her correspondence in this
collection ends, she apparently resided in Salem and did not marry.
Elias (1805-1881) and George Greenleaf (1807-1880) Hook,
sons of William and Abigail, are the other major correspondents in this collection.
They resided in Boston after 1832 and made nearly six hundred organs during their
careers as organ builders.
The remaining siblings included William, James Franklin (died in 1837), and
Emeline (1818-1895). Again, little information is available about them.
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.
Hook, Elias, 1805-1881
Hook, George Greenleaf, 1807-1880
Hook, William, 1777-1867
Hook & Hastings (Firm)
Restrictions on Access
This collection is open for research use.
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
This material was donated by Richard E. Oinonen on January 10, 2000 (acc# 2000.037). Two
letters from Elias Hook to Eliza Hook (Folder 1) and a letter to George Ward from
George Kingsley (Folder 5) are of unknown provenance.
Collection processed by Lee Jacoby, October 2003.
Bushby, William, Genealogical Line of William Hook, Cabinet
Maker of Salem, Mass. [No imprint] 1959.
Todd, Frederick W., Humphrey Hooke of Bristol and his
Family and Descendants in England and America During the Seventeenth
Century (New Haven, Conn.: Tuttle, Morehouse and Taylor Co., 1938).
This material was donated by Richard E. Oinonen on January 10, 2000 (acc# 2000.037). Two letters from Elias Hook to Eliza Hook (Folder 1) and a letter to George Ward from George Kingsley (Folder 5) are of unknown provenance.