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Townes Family Papers

Townes Family Papers

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Open Finding Aid

TOWNES FAMILY PAPERS, 1911-1931





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:Townes family
Title:Townes Family Papers
Dates:1911/1931
Quantity:0.25 Linear feet (1 box)
Abstract:The Townes Family Papers consists primarily of the correspondence of this African-American family living in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in the early part of the 20th century.
Collection Number:MSS 349

Series List


Scope and Content Note

The Townes Family Papers consists primarily of the correspondence of this African-American family living in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in the early part of the 20th century. The collection includes letters from Moses and Eliza Townes, letters to their families living in Virginia, Maine, and Harlem, New York, as well as overdue bills, letters from creditors, and other financial records.


Biographical Sketches

Moses Prophet Townes was an African-American man born in Virginia of parents who were both Virginians. He was probably born in 1862. Based on correspondence in the collection, he had at least one brother, Walter, and two sisters, Amanda and Robertha (sic). There may have been other siblings, as there was an extended Townes family residing not only in Newburyport, Massachusetts, close to Moses and Eliza, but also in Finchley, Pennsylvania, and also in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City. By 1892, according to the Newburyport directory, Moses was employed as a porter at the Wolfe Tavern in Newburyport and boarding at the Tavern. In about 1899 or 1900 he married Eliza A. (nee unknown). Moses had a young son, Thomas, at the time of his marriage to Eliza. There is no information about a previous marriage. Moses remained a porter the Wolfe Tavern at least until 1946-1947. At about the time of his marriage he moved from the tavern where he boarded to a house at 3 Titcomb Street in Newburyport, where he lived with his family for the remainder of his life. The date of his death is not readily available, but it was between 1946 when he was still listed in the directory as a porter and 1953, where Eliza is listed as a widow.


Eliza A Townes was an African-American woman born in Massachusetts, in or around 1890. Her father was born in Maine and her mother in Virginia. She was a music teacher and bore two children who, by the time of the 1910 United States Federal Census, had died.


Thomas Townes, the son of Moses Townes, was born in Massachusetts in 1897. The 1910 United States Federal Census lists his age as 13. By 1916, Thomas had moved to Harlem, New York, and was boarding with his relatives there. He apparently held several different jobs. Information about his life after 1919 is not readily available.


The Townes family had several boarders that lived with them throughout the years; one was Donald Jones who boarded with the family for several years, and other boarders were Louise Gaines and her younger sister, Josephine Gaines who both seem to have resided at 3 Titcomb Street with the family in the 1910s.


It should be noted that Townes family members as well as their various boarders all worked in the shoe manufacturing industry at one time or another as the shoe industry was still thriving in Newburyport in the early years of the 20th century before it faded out in the middle of the century.


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.

Townes, Eliza A.
Townes, Henrietta
Townes, Moses
Townes, Thomas, 1887-
African American families--Massachusetts--Newburyport
African American farmers--Pennsylvania--Finchley
Newburyport (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

Townes Family Papers, MSS 349, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.

Provenance

The Townes Family Papers were purchased on December 6, 2000 (acc. #2000.030).

Processing Information

Collection processed by Frances Malamy, May 2005. Updated by Nicholas Long, April 2015.


Related Material

The Newburyport and Amesbury Directory, 1892-1893, (Newburyport, MA, 1893).


The Newburyport and Amesbury Directory, 1900-1901, (Newburyport, MA, 1900).



The Newburyport and Amesbury Directory, 1911, (Newburyport, MA, 1911).


The Newburyport and Amesbury Directory, 1922, (Newburyport, MA, 1922).


The Newburyport and Amesbury Directory, 1942, (Newburyport, MA, 1942).


The Newburyport and Amesbury Directory, 1946-1947, (Newburyport, MA, 1946).


The Newburyport and Amesbury Directory, 1953, (Newburyport, MA, 1953).


Thirteenth Federal Census of the United States: 1910—Population for Newburyport City, Massachusetts.


Fourteenth Federal Census of the United States: 1920—Population for Newburyport City, Massachusetts


Fifteenth Federal Census of the United States: 1930—Population for Newburyport City, Massachusetts


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