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Hale Family Papers

Hale Family Papers

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Processing and conservation of this collection were funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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:Hale family
Title:Hale Family Papers
Quantity:11.5 linear feet (23 boxes, 4 volumes, 1 envelope)
Abstract:The Hale Family Papers are comprised of shipping, business, and personal papers of this Newbury, Massachusetts, family.
Collection Number:MSS 117

Series List

SERIES I. Shipping Papers
SERIES II. Thomas (1773-1836) and Mary (Little) Hale (1786-1871)
SERIES III. Ebenezer Hale (1774-1848)
SERIES IV. Thomas Hale's (1773-1836) Children
A. Moses Little (1799-1874) and Mary Lane (Miltimore) Hale (d. 1879)
B. Thomas Hale (1800-1854)
C. Sarah Hale (1802-1834)
D. Josiah Little Hale (1803-1875)
E. Edward Hale (1805-1886)
F. Mary Little Hale (1807-1859)
G. Ebenezer Hale (1809-1847)
SERIES V. Joshua (1812-1894) and Sophia (Tenney) Hale (d. 1901)
SERIES VI. Benjamin Hale (1797-1863) and his Family
SERIES VII. Family Papers
A. Miscellaneous Hale Papers
B. Genealogies
C. Family Diaries
D. Photographs

Scope and Content Note

The Hale Family Papers are comprised of shipping, business, and personal papers of this Newbury, Massachusetts, family. The bulk of the collection consists of personal correspondence among family members. The remaining papers contain only a partial record of the Hale shipping business and scant information concerning the maritime insurance activities of Moses (1799-1874), Thomas (1800-1854), Josiah (1803-1875), Ebenezer (1809-1847), and Joshua (1812-1894) Hale. The papers have been divided into seven series.

Series I. Shipping Papers, 1810-1865, contains ships' papers, business correspondence among the Hale family as merchants and ship masters, and miscellaneous shipping correspondence. Only a portion of the ships' papers produced by the family's 20 vessels are included in this collection (the bulk of the papers may be found in MH 113). The records do, however, provide a glimpse of the thriving maritime business which Hale brothers, Thomas (1800-1854), Joshua (1812-1894), and Josiah (1803-1875), conducted in partnership with their uncle Ebenezer (1774-1848). The papers of the brig Alice and the ship Geneva, the best documented ships in this collection, typify the prosperous business which Hale vessels conducted in iron, salt, and cotton from the southern United States and the West Indies to Europe. Of interest in the papers of the ship Geneva is a list of Joshua's shipboard library while he was master of the vessel. The collection also contains papers of the Hale family's whaling vessels: the bark Alice, ship Huntsville, and the ship Splendid. Accounts of Ebenezer's (1774-1848) and Thomas' (1773-1836) ship Belleville may be found in Thomas' ledger (box 6 folder 4). Miscellaneous ships' papers include records of chartered vessels and documents mentioning more than one ship. Correspondence of Thomas (1800-1854), Joshua (1812-1894), and Ebenezer (1774-1848) while they were masters or mates on Hale vessels is included with the papers of each ship. Correspondence among the Hales reflecting the general activities of the family's mercantile business is located with the Hale shipping correspondence. Miscellaneous shipping correspondence includes letters from merchants and information regarding the family's shipbuilding activities.

The papers of family members are primarily organized by the birth dates of individuals. Exceptions include wives, who immediately follow their husbands, and Series VI. Benjamin Hale (1797-1863), who is filed with his family. Correspondence among family members is filed under author rather than recipient. Papers of an individual's parents, children, and siblings must therefore be searched for letters written to that individual. Family correspondence of Alice Little (Hale) and her husband Revered John March may be found in MSS 118.

Series II. Thomas (1773-1836) and Mary (Little) Hale (1786-1871) consists primarily of personal correspondence and financial papers from 1796 to 1860. Thomas' correspondence and ledger also reflect his business as a hatter and store owner, and his shipping interests in the southern United States and the West Indies. Correspondence from Thomas and Mary to Colonel Josiah Little (1747-1830) and Josiah Little Jr. (1791-1860) may be found in the Little Family Papers (MSS 67). Mary's correspondence contains a number of letters from her brother, Edward Little.

Series III. Ebenezer Hale (1774-1848), 1798-1856, consists mostly of his financial records as an agent for Sarah Little and guardian of her husband John (non compos mentis). In addition, Ebenezer's correspondence and account books briefly illuminate his activities as financial agent for other individuals, Dummer Academy, and a number of rental properties. Ebenezer's merchant papers and records while master of the ship Dromo and bark America are located in Series I.

Series IV. Thomas Hale's (1773-1836) Children, 1815-1875, is comprised of correspondence and financial papers of Moses and his wife Mary Lane (Miltimore), Thomas (1800-1854), Sarah, Josiah, Edward, Mary, and Ebenezer (1809-1847) Hale. Apart from personal information, Moses' papers contain slight information regarding his interest in maritime insurance. Thomas' (1800-1854) papers are of a personal nature and contain no records of his insurance activities. His merchant records and papers while master of the brig America, brig Alice, and ship Persia, are located in Series I. Of interest in the papers of Sarah Hale is the record of her last hours of life. Josiah's papers contain correspondence and a letterbook regarding his banking and insurance activities. These include records of insurance on vessels and cargos, and descriptions of and instructions regarding maritime protests. The papers of Edward Hale consist of correspondence and a ledger reflecting his farming life. The ledger also includes estate accounts of his father Thomas (1773-1836). The papers contain no information concerning his store in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. This series, while it does not hold papers of Ebenezer's (1809-1847) medical practice, does contain information relating to his insurance business and his interest in Hale genealogy. Papers and two notebooks of genealogical material compiled by Ebenezer may be found in Series VII.

Series V. Joshua (1812-1894) and Sophia (Tenney) Hale (d. 1901) consists of personal correspondence. Of note is a letter from an acquaintance convicted of smuggling in Liverpool (1837), news of Indian scares in Colorado Springs (1878), and descriptions of black labor strikes and riots in Thibodeaux, Louisiana (1887). Joshua's correspondence and financial papers also include banking and insurance papers, and estate accounts of the Little and Hale families. For his part in the family shipping business and papers generated while he was master of the brig Alice, and the ships Geneva, John Baring, Pacific, and Persia, see Series I. Sophia's correspondence includes letters from her parents, Abner and Sophia Tenney, and her sisters H. Ann, Mary, and Martha Jane.

Series VI. Benjamin Hale (1797-1863) and his Children consists primarily of the correspondence of Josiah (1841-1903), Thomas (b. 1834), Cyrus (1838-1874), and Alice Little Hale (b. 1845), and Benjamin Hale Douglas (b. 1855). Benjamin's (1797-1863) correspondence includes letters written while a student at Bowdoin College (1816-1818) and the Andover Theological Seminary (1820), while a tutor at Bowdoin (1820), principal of the Gardiner Lyceum, a professor at Dartmouth College, and president of Geneva (later Hobart) College in Geneva, New York. His papers also include his will and the copyright for his book An Introduction to the Mechanical Principles of Carpentry. This collection does not contain significant information concerning Benjamin's activities as a minister. The papers of Benjamin's family include Thomas' (b. 1834) correspondence regarding his financial investments, letters from Josiah (1841-1903) on his farm outside of Boston, and letters from Benjamin Hale Douglas while he was sheepherding in Colorado (1878-1879).

Series VII. Family Papers contain miscellaneous Hale papers, genealogical material, 19 volumes of the family diaries, and photographs. Miscellaneous papers include papers of Lucy (Balch) (b. 1836), Benjamin (1827-1901), Lydia (1769-1852), Joshua (b. 1869), Daniel, and Cyrus (1867-1903) Hale. Anonymous proposals for the construction of a school house in Newbury (1848-1849) are also located here. Most of the genealogical notes and two of the genealogical notebooks were compiled by Ebenezer Hale (1809-1847). Volume 5 was compiled by Benjamin (1797-1863). In addition to information on the Hale family, the volumes contain notes concerning the Little, Banister, Wigglesworth, White, Toppan, and Bailey families. The family diaries, started by Thomas Hale (1773-1836) in 1834, run without interruption until 1915. Over the years, many family members recorded domestic and family news in these 19 record books. The photographs consist of four photograph albums, portraits, and views of Newbury homes.

Biographical Sketches

Thomas Hale (1773-1836): Newbury hatter, town treasurer and justice of the peace; he also engaged in shipping activities. Hale married Alice Little (1775-1819) and upon her death, married her sister Mary Little (1786-1871).

Ebenezer Hale (1774-1848): Thomas Hale's brother. Newbury merchant and ship master. Hale was elected president of the Ocean Bank and trustee of Dummer Academy. He married Lucy (Balch) French.

Moses Little Hale (1799-1874): Thomas Hale's (1773-1836) son. Hale was secretary of the Merchants' Insurance Company and the Massachusetts Hospital Life Insurance Company, Boston. He married Mary Lane Miltimore in 1824.

Thomas Hale (1800-1854): Thomas Hale's (1773-1836) son. Shipping merchant and ship master; he was also a store owner in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and vice president of the Merchants' Insurance Company, the Alliance Insurance Company, and the Atlantic Insurance Company, New York.

Sarah (1802-1834), Mary (1807-1854), and Alice Little Hale (1811-1889): Thomas Hale's (1773-1836) daughters. Alice married Reverend John C. March.

Josiah Hale (1803-1875): Thomas Hale's (1773-1836) son. Shipping merchant; he was also secretary of the Washington Insurance Company and in 1829 established the Atlantic Insurance Company, New York.

Edward Hale (1805-1886): Thomas Hale's (1773-1836) son. Ran a wholesale store in Saco, Maine and looked after Colonel Josiah Little's farm and estate upon the Colonel's death. Hale settled on his Newbury, Vermont, farm in 1836.

Ebenezer Hale (1809-1847): Thomas Hale's (1773-1836) son. Hale graduated from Dartmouth College Medical School and was an M.D. in Newbury, Vermont. He was also secretary of a New York insurance company and a noted genealogist.

Joshua Hale (1812-1894): Thomas Hale's (1773-1836) son. Hale was a shipping merchant and periodically a ship master on Hale family vessels. He was also secretary of the Atlantic Insurance Company and vice president of the Union Marine Insurance Company, New York. He married Sophia Cutler Tenney (died 1901).

Benjamin Hale (1797-1863): Thomas Hale's (1773-1836) son. Graduated from Bowdoin College (1818) and studied at the Andover Theological Seminary. Hale was principal of the Gardiner Lyceum (1823), professor of chemistry and mineralogy at Dartmouth College (1827-1835), and president of Geneva (later Hobart) College in Geneva, New York (1836-1858). He and his wife Mary Caroline King had seven children.

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.

Bailey family
Banister family
Douglas, Benjamin Hale, 1855-
Hale, Alice Little, b. 1845
Hale, Benjamin, 1797-1863
Hale, Cyrus King, 1838-1874
Hale, Ebenezer, 1774-1848
Hale, Ebenezer, 1809-1847
Hale, Edward, 1805-1886
Hale, Joshua, 1812-1894
Hale, Josiah Little, 1841-1903
Hale, Mary Lane Miltimore, d. 1879
Hale, Mary Little, 1786-1871
Hale, Mary, 1807-1859
Hale, Moses Little, 1799-1874
Hale, Sarah, 1802-1834
Hale, Sophia Tenney, d. 1901
Hale, Thomas, 1773-1836
Hale, Thomas, 1800-1854
Little family
Little, Edward, 1773-1849
Little, John
Little, Sarah
Tenney, Abner
Tenney, M. J. (Martha Jane), 1832-
Tenney, Mary
Toppan family
White family
White, H. Ann Tenney
Wiggleworth family
Alice (Bark)
Alice (Brig)
America (Brig)
Andover Theological Seminary
Bowdoin College
Dartmouth College
Dromo (Ship)
Gardiner Lyceum (Gardiner, Me.)
Geneva (Ship)
Hobart College
Huntsville (Ship)
John Baring (Ship)
Pacific (Ship)
Persia (Ship)
Splendid (Ship)
Cargo handling--Cotton
Cargo handling--Iron
Cargo handling--Salt
Death and mourning
Estates, administration of
Indians of North America
Marine insuranc
Ship building
Strikes and lockouts
Newbury (Mass.)


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

Hale Family Papers, MSS 117, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


The Hale Family Papers are a reorganization and integration of 16 boxes of manuscript material, 19 volumes of family diaries, 7 account books, and 1 folder of correspondence from the Little Family Papers (MSS 67). The collection is from an unknown source. Removed from the collection are correspondence and legal papers of Alice Little (Hale) March, Reverend John C. March, Captain John March, and Josiah and Edward Little.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Sylvia B. Kennick, April 1984. Updated by Catherine Robertson, January 2015.

Related Material

Hale, Robert Safford. Genealogy of Descendants of Thomas Hale. Ed. George R. Howell. Albany, New York: Weed, Parsons and Company, 1889.

Hale Family Papers, 1760-1855, MH 113.

Little Family Papers, 1720-1875, MSS 67.

March Family Papers, 1795-1887, MSS 118.

Appendix II

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