Skip to main content

John Cole (1828-1902) Papers

John Cole (1828-1902) Papers

1 of 2
Open Finding Aid
small (250x250 max)
medium (500x500 max)
Extra Large
large ( > 500x500)
Full Resolution

JOHN COLE (1828-1902) PAPERS, 1764-1901

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:Cole, John, 1828-1902
Title:John Cole (1828-1902) Papers
Quantity:1 linear foot (2 boxes)
Abstract:The John Cole Papers is comprised of personal, family, household, and shipping papers of a Marblehead, Massachusetts, ship captain and of the Trefry and Proctor families, both related to him by marriage, including family deeds.
Collection Number:MH 61

Series List

SERIES I. Cole Family Correspondence
A. John Cole to Sarah Trefry Cole
B. Sarah Trefry Cole to John Cole
C. Sarah Cole to Sarah Proctor Trefry
D. Hattie B. Cole Correspondence
E. John Cole, Miscellaneous Correspondence
SERIES II. John Cole Business/Ships' Papers
SERIES III. John Cole Personal/Household Papers
SERIES IV. Thomas Trefry Business/Ships' Papers
SERIES V. Trefry Family Papers
A. Thomas Trefry Sr., Correspondence
B. Sarah Trefry Correspondence
C. Thomas Trefry Jr., Correspondence
D. Personal and Household Accounts
E. Family Deeds
F. Miscellaneous Papers
SERIES VI. Proctor Family Papers
SERIES VII. Miscellaneous Papers

Scope and Content Note

The John Cole Papers is comprised of personal, family, household, and shipping papers of a Marblehead, Massachusetts, ship captain and of the Trefry and Proctor families, both related to him by marriage, including family deeds. It has been divided into seven series.

Series I. Cole Family Correspondence contains a wide variety of correspondence associated with Captain Cole. Included are letters between Captain Cole and his wife Sarah, before and after their marriage; letters between John Cole and his daughter, Hattie; letters from Sarah Cole to her mother; and letters to John Cole from his future father-in-law, Thomas Trefry, his brother Richard Cole, his niece Mary Ingalls, and other various miscellaneous correspondents.

Series II. John Cole Business/Ships' Papers are primarily concerned with the ships Holyhead, Aberdeen, and Blackwall, and include bills/receipts, expenses, instructions, a charter party, invoices, bill of sale for part of a vessel, etc.

Series III. John Cole Personal/Household Papers include bills/receipts for household expenses, medical treatment, stock certificate, correspondence related to a bank in San Francisco, tax bills, rent, and documents related to the purchase of property on Pleasant Street, Marblehead.

Series IV. Thomas Trefry Business/Ships' Papers are related to the schooners Alciope, Brilliant, Combine, Echo, and Splendid, including clearance papers, bills of lading, accounts, instructions, bills/receipts, invoices, etc.

Series V. Trefry Family Papers contain port regulations for Charleston, SC, and St. Thomas, BWI; bills/receipts for groceries, dry goods, taxes, tuition, rent, cord wood, etc.; Civil War letters of Thomas Trefry Jr.; letters from Mrs. Sarah Trefry to her daughter.

Series VI. Proctor Family Papers contain bills/receipts for cargoes, groceries, cord wood, medical care, tuition, pew taxes, room and board, rent, debt, taxes, prisoner exchange note, deed, property survey, a power of attorney to Sarah Proctor granting her the right to collect all prize monies due him, a bill/receipt for prize money from Grand Turk. The material in this section is related to William Proctor Sr., William Proctor Jr., Sarah Proctor, Deborah Proctor Sr., Deborah Proctor Jr., and Mrs. Mary Proctor.

Series VII. Miscellaneous Papers contain correspondence unrelated to the principals of this collection, including letters of Mary E. Bowden, Emma R. Twiss and Mattie Twiss; pew taxes of the Reverend John Bartlett; a complaint of assault; a remembrance of Martha Vickrey Barker; and a probate search.

Biographical Sketches

John Cole was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts, on 5 September 1828 and died there on 20 July 1902. Little or nothing is known of his progenitors or siblings. He married Sarah Trefry (born Marblehead, 10 September 1830), daughter of Thomas and Sarah (Sally) Proctor (Procter) Trefry, on 17 May 1855. They had two children, Hattie B. (born 17 June 1863) and Richard Thomas (born 6 January 1870). It appears that Hattie never married. Richard married Jane Green Willson on 22 September 1896.

John Cole went to sea at a relatively early age, serving as a cook on the Grand Banks fishing schooner Bird under Benjamin Wormstead. He eventually entered the merchant service and, rising rapidly, assumed command of the bark Georgia (363 tons, built Bath, ME 1854) at 25 years of age. At some point in this time period he ventured to the gold fields of California for an unknown length of stay. In addition to the Georgia, he commanded the ships Aberdeen (1235 tons, built Bath, ME 1860), Blackwall (1188 tons, built Bath, ME 1858) and Holyhead (1099 tons, built Bath, ME 1855).

John Cole retired from the sea sometime around 1880 and entered the fish business for a short period. In 1882, he operated a coal and wood business with Joseph Glover on Bessom Street, Marblehead, but soon became the sole proprietor. Captain Cole served at least three terms as a Marblehead selectman, having been elected in 1891, 1893, and 1895; during his tenure he often served as chairman.

Captain John Cole was active in Marblehead Republican politics, serving on the town committee for a number of years. Additionally, he was fraternally active, being a member of Atlantic Lodge, I.O.O.F, Neptune Lodge, K. of P., Philanthropic Lodge, A.F.&A.M., Washington Chapter, Royal Arch Masons of Salem, the Essex Club, the Heliotrope Club, and the New England Associates of California, Pioneers of '49.

Thomas Trefry was baptized on 19 October 1794, the son of William and Mary Thompson Trefry. On 27 August 1824, he married Sarah (Sally) Proctor (Procter) (baptized in Marblehead 24 May 1801), the daughter of William Proctor Jr. and Deborah Goss. They had at least two children, Sarah (born 10 September 1830) and Thomas Jr. (baptized 11 June 1825), who was a Civil War soldier. His daughter, Sarah, married John Cole, making Thomas Trefry the father-in-law of John Cole.

Captain Trefry was master or mate aboard a number of schooners engaged in the West Indies trade. These included the schooners Alciope (92 tons, built Amesbury, MA 1835), Brilliant (73 tons, built Newbury, MA 1831), Combine (100 tons, built Scituate, MA 1820), Echo (70 tons, built Kingston, MA 1819), and Splendid (98 tons, built Hollis, ME 1832).

William Proctor Jr., Thomas Trefry's father-in-law, was baptized on 9 October 1768, the son of William Proctor Sr. and Sarah Edwards. Little is known of these two William Proctors, except that William Sr. served in the Continental Army in 1776.

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.

Bartlett, John, Rev.
Bowden, Mary E. T. (Mary E. Trefry)
Cole, Hattie B., b. 1863
Cole, Sarah T. (Sarah Trefry), b. 1830
Proctor family
Proctor, Deborah G. (Deborah Goss), b. 1770?
Proctor, Deborah, b. 1805?
Proctor, William
Proctor, William, b. 1768
Treffry family
Trefry, Sarah P. (Sarah Proctor), b. 1801
Trefry, Thomas, b. 1794
Trefry, Thomas, b. 1825
Twiss, Emma, b. 1857
Aberdeen (Ship)
Alciope (Schooner)
Blackwall (Ship)
Brilliant (Schooner)
Combine (Schooner)
Echo (Schooner)
Holyhead (Ship)
Splendid (Schooner)
Ship captains
Ships' papers
Marblehead (Mass.)
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Administrative Information


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

John Cole (1828-1902) Papers, MH 61, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


This material was purchased on 24 January 1934 (accession #9359), with an addition from the collection of Lawrence Waters Jenkins.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Robert F. Craig, July 2001.

Related Material

Alphabetical List of Ship Registers: District of Boston, 1821-1830, & 1851-1860. Boston: Works Progress Administration, 1939.

Directory of the Town of Marblehead, 1895-96. Salem, Mass.: Benjamin M. Meek, 1895.

1879 American Lloyd's Universal Register of Shipping. New York: Thomas D. Taylor, 1879.

1869 American Lloyd's Universal Register of Shipping. New York: Thomas D. Taylor, 1869.

Lindsey, Benjamin J., compiler, Old Marblehead Sea Captains and the Ships in Which They Sailed. Marblehead, Mass.: Marblehead Historical Society, 1915.

Marblehead Directory, 1882. Boston: Sampson, Davenport, and Company, 1882.

Marblehead Vital Records to 1849. Salem, Mass.: Essex Institute, 1903, 1904.

Marblehead Vital Records, 1850-1976. Marblehead, Mass.: Town Clerk's Office, 1984, 1990.

Preble, George A., and F. S. Partridge, compilers, Complete Schedule of Vessels Built and Registered in the District of Bath, Maine, Commencing 1783. Bath, Me.: Fen. G. Barker and Company, 1878, p. 27.

Salem Evening News, 21 July 1902.

Ship Register of Marblehead. N.p.: n.p., undated

Account book of John Cole, 1854-1864, MSS 1542 [Includes disbursements, accounts current, and port charges paid for the bark Georgia, and the ships Holyhead and Aberdeen]

Georgia (Ship) and Holyhead (Ship) Logbooks, 1856-1859, Log 1565

Holyhead (Ship) Logbook, 1858-1859, Log 1637

Holyhead (Ship) Logbook, 1859-1862, Log 1638

Aberdeen (Ship) logbook, 1863-1865, Log 1210

you wish to report:

Select the collections to add or remove from your search