Processing and conservation of this collection was funded
in part by grants from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and the
National Endowment for the Humanities.
The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Waters Family Papers
8 linear feet (17 boxes, 1 volume)
The Waters Family Papers includes the
papers of Benjamin Waters (1720/1-1784) and his sons, grandsons, and other
SERIES I. Benjamin Waters (1720/1-1784) Papers SERIES II. Joseph Waters (1758-1833) Papers
A. Shipping Papers
B. Business and Personal Papers
SERIES III. Esther (1785-1870) and Martha Waters (1787-1855)
Papers SERIES IV. William Dean Waters (1798-1880) Papers
A. Shipping Papers
B. Business Papers
C. Personal Papers
D. Abigail (Devereux) Waters Papers
SERIES V. William Crowninshield Waters (1830-1911) Papers SERIES VI. James Devereux Waters (1832-1892) Papers
A. Business Papers
B. Personal Papers
SERIES VII. Edward Stanley Waters (1837-1916) Papers SERIES VIII. Clifford Crowninshield Waters (b. 1840)
Papers SERIES IX. Relatives' Papers SERIES X. Miscellaneous Papers
Scope and Content Note
The Waters Family Papers includes the papers of Benjamin Waters (1720/1-1784) and his sons,
grandsons, and other descendants. The collection is divided into ten series.
Series I. Benjamin Waters (1720/1-1784) Papers contains
correspondence, shipping papers, and documentation of his management of the Salem/Beverly ferry.
The bulk of this material is made up of bills and receipts from 1756 to 1798.
Series II. Joseph Waters (1758-1833) Papers contains papers
from 1777 to 1836 that are mostly related to his shipping activities. Subseries A. Shipping Papers consists of papers of those of vessels that Waters owned
or mastered. Of particular interest are the papers of schooner Abeona, which was involved in the African slave trade. The papers of the frigate Essex consist of letters and accounts relating to the building and
outfitting of the vessel, which was managed for the Navy by Waters. Other noteworthy papers
include Joseph G. Waters spoliation claims for schooner Swallow,
which include one letter from Daniel Webster. The papers of brig
Otter (owned by Joseph and William D. Waters) have been placed with William D. Waters'
ships' papers. Correspondence with partners and merchant houses and letters concerning more than
one ship are filed in the shipping correspondence.
Subseries B. Business and Personal Papers includes
correspondence, business papers, estate papers, accounts, and receipts. The correspondence
includes a series of 1799 letters to and from Samuel Bradford about French prisoners that had
escaped from Boston and were captured in Salem. The Sea Fencibles papers contain documentation
of an artillery company from elderly Salem volunteers for coastal defense in 1814.
Series III. Esther (1785-1870) and Martha Waters (1787-1855)
Papers contains agreements, accounts, and receipts from 1835 to 1872. Many of these
investments were maintained for them by their brothers William Dean Waters and Joseph Gilbert
Series IV. William Dean Waters (1798-1880) Papers, 1789-1880,
includes shipping papers, business papers, personal papers, and personal papers of his wife
Abigail (Devereux) Waters. Subseries A. Shipping Papers is comprised
of records of ships owned, mastered, or supercargoed by Waters, whose vessels were mostly
involved in trade with the East Indies and China. An interesting item among the papers of the
brig Mermaid is a letter from Captain John Eagleston describing to
William H. Neice, an Australian ship owner, the circumstances surrounding an attack upon Neice's
vessel Sir David Ogilby by natives at the Fiji Islands in 1838. In
the miscellaneous ships' papers is an 1840 letter from a crew member of the USS Vincennes giving a brief account of the United States Exploring
Expedition. The shipping memorandum book contains accounts for brig Otter and a handwritten Malay dictionary. Trade memoranda give details of trade
practice and currency exchange in a number of Asian, European, and South American ports.
Subseries B. Business Papers includes documentation of real
estate transactions and three private enterprises, the Salem and Danvers Aqueduct, the Naumkeag
Steam Cotton Company, and the Salem Turnpike and Chelsea Bridge Corporation. The Aqueduct papers
contain land agreements, articles of incorporation, and a day book with notes on construction
from 1839 and 1845. The business ledger (1835-1850) includes accounts for the three private
businesses as well as material related to the James Devereux estate and brig Osprey.
Subseries C. Personal Papers and Subseries
D. Abigail (Devereux) Waters (b. 1803) Papers include correspondence with family members
on business or personal matters. Letters from William to Abigail were written during his
shipping voyages (1824-1839) and while he was on their South Carolina cotton plantation
(1863-1866). Letters from their son James D. Waters (1861-1865) contain vivid accounts of life
on his cotton plantations in Louisiana during the Civil War. All family correspondence is filed
with the recipient except where indicated otherwise. Papers from the estates of Daniel Gilbert
and Edward Stanley are located here with documents from William's guardianship of Charlotte W.
Series V. William Crowninshield Waters (1830-1911) Papers is
comprised of family correspondence, accounts, receipts, and printed matter. William's
certificate of appointment as Collector of Customs for the Salem/Beverly district (1894) resides
with the printed matter.
Series VI. James Devereux Waters (1832-1892) Papers,
1847-1890, contains his business and personal papers. The bulk of his business papers concern
his cotton plantations in Louisiana. James and Gill Klapp leased several plantations, among them
Ravenswood, Good Hope, and Tacony. Their records include correspondence between them, bills and
receipts for purchase of supplies and sales of goods, labor salaries, and lists of Negro
workers. Additional information concerning the activities of James, his brother Cliff, and Gill
while in Louisiana are located in James' and Cliff's correspondence with their brothers and
their uncle Langdon Williams. James' personal papers include diaries, correspondence with
brothers Clifford C. Waters and Edward Stanley Waters and other relatives and family members,
and account books and receipts.
Series VII. Edward Stanley Waters (1837-1916) Papers,
1840-1910 contains correspondence, financial papers, and genealogical notes. The bulk of the
business papers contain Stanley's correspondence generated during his teaching years (1860-1876)
and later while he managed bric-a-brac rooms in Chicago and New York. Also located here are
letters with fellow literary society members. The correspondence includes absence excuses,
recommendations for books to read, scheduling of lectures, and arrangements for the loan,
purchase, or valuation of antique objects. Letters from pupils and business or society friends
which are of a more personal nature are located in correspondence with friends.
Stanley's personal papers contain correspondence including letters from his family,
cousins, aunts, and friends. Of interest here are the letters from his brother Cliff written
from their plantations in South Carolina and Louisiana. The printed matter includes a Chicago
Literary Club yearbook for 1909-1910.
Series VIII. Clifford Crowninshield Waters (b. 1840) Papers,
1856-1878, includes his diaries, correspondence with family, friends, relatives, and business
associates, as well as notes, poetry, account books, and printed matter.
Series IX. Relatives' Papers, 1846-1865, contains
miscellaneous Waters family papers.
Series X. Miscellaneous Papers contains shipping papers,
correspondence, and legal documents. Most of the legal documents are deeds for property outside
Benjamin Waters (1720/1-84) was an innkeeper and also kept the
ferry to Beverly, Massachusetts, until the bridge was built in 1845.
Joseph Waters (1758-1833) was the third child of Benjamin and
Esther Waters. A seaman during the early years of the Revolutionary War, he was given command of
brig Romulus in 1781. By 1789, he had begun to own vessels with
other merchants. Although he retired from the sea in 1791, he continued to own vessels and ship
cargoes, sailing mostly to the West Indies, until 1821. In 1799, Joseph was appointed Navy Agent
for the building of frigate Essex. He married Mary Dean (1759-1798)
William Dean Waters (1798-1880) was the second son of Joseph
and Mary (Dean) Waters. In 1815, at age 17, he entered the counting room of Pickering Dodge. Two
years later he was the supercargo on ship Bengal. From 1817 until
1845, when he retired from shipping, William either mastered, was a supercargo on, or owned
vessels which traded mostly with the East Indies and China. Between 1845 and 1865, William
occupied himself with railroad, land, and stock speculation, a merchant business in Boston
(1856-1861) and with civic affairs. He was the President of the Salem and Danvers Aqueduct
Company and the Salem Turnpike and Chelsea Bridge Corporation, and served on the Board of
Directors of the Naumkeag Steam Cotton Company. He was a member of the Common Council in 1839,
1840, and 1844 and was appointed Selectman in 1847. In 1865, severe financial setbacks forced
William to attempt to regain his fortune through cotton growing. Removing to the Sea Islands,
South Carolina, he purchased a cotton plantation and operated a store. He returned to Salem in
his later years with his wife Abigail (Devereux) Waters (born 1803).
William Crowninshield Waters (1830-1911) was the eldest of
William and Abigail Waters' four sons. He began work in 1853 as a secretary in the Essex
Insurance Company. Two years later he moved to Boston where he assisted his father with his
merchant business until 1861. After two years of apparent unemployment, William established
himself in 1864 as a tobacco broker under the name William C. Waters and Company. By 1873, his
business expanded into general merchandise. His occupation in the 1880s is unknown. However, by
1894 he had returned to Salem as its Customs Collector. He and his wife, Susan Louisa
Whittredge, had three children.
James Devereux Waters (1832-1892) was the second child of
William and Abigail Waters. In 1853, he began his career as a clerk for the Aqueduct office. By
1857, he was working with his father in Boston, first as a clerk and then as a partner. In 1864,
James moved to Louisiana where he leased several plantations with his cousin Gill Klapp. James
hoped to earn enough money from cotton growing to offset the financial setbacks of the family.
He returned to Salem in 1869 and from 1871-1877 he was employed in Boston as a bookkeeper. In
1877, he was struck with a severe malady from which he never completely recovered. He died
unmarried in Salem.
Edward Stanley Waters (1837-1916), William and Abigail's third
child, graduated from Harvard in 1859. After graduation, Waters established a private school in
Salem in addition to assisting his cousin, Henry FitzGilbert Waters, in genealogical work. In
1869, Waters moved to Chicago where he opened a preparatory school for boys called the Harvard
school. By 1876, Waters had left teaching and was managing a bric-a-brac room at the Chicago
Exhibition. During his years in Chicago he was very active in the Chicago Literary Society,
often gave lectures, and was frequently involved in land speculation. This latter interest led
him to move to the Dakotas with his brother Cliff in 1884. By 1910, Waters had returned to Salem
where he was a librarian. He died unmarried in Salem.
Clifford Crowninshield Waters (born 1840), the youngest son of
William and Abigail, graduated from Harvard in 1863. In 1865, he joined his brother James at his
Louisiana plantations. He helped James with cotton growing until about 1869 when he transferred
his efforts to South Carolina. He appears to have managed one or more plantation and several
stores on or near the Sea Islands. In 1884, he was living with his brother Edward Stanley in the
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.
Devereux, James, 1766-1846
Eagleston, John H., 1803-1884
Gilbert, Charlotte W.
Gilbert, Daniel, 1773-1858
Stanley, Edward, 1776-1849
Waters, Abigail Devereux, b. 1803
Waters, Benjamin, 1720 or 21-1784
Waters, Clifford Crowninshield, b. 1840
Waters, Edward Stanley, 1837-1916
Waters, Esther, 1785-1870
Waters, James Devereux, 1832-1892
Waters, Joseph G. (Joseph Gilbert), 1796-1878
Waters, Joseph, 1758-1833
Waters, Martha, 1787-1855
Waters, Mary Devereux, b. 1861
Waters, Susan Louisa Whittredge
Waters, William Crowninshield, 1830-1911
Waters, William D. (William Dean), 1798-1880
Webster, Daniel, 1782-1852
Chicago Literary Club
Naumkeag Steam Cotton Company
Salem and Danvers Aqueduct Company
Salem Turnpike and Chelsea Bridge Corporation
Sir David Ogilby (Schooner)
Vincennes (Sloop of war)
Cotton growing--South Carolina
Lectures and lecturing
Prisoners of war
South Carolina--Sea Islands
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
United States--History--Civil War--Spoliation Claims
United States--History--War of 1812
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 Museum.
The Waters Family Papers are a reorganization of 34 boxes of manuscripts mostly received from
William C. Waters. One box of Benjamin Waters Papers was the gift of Lawrence W. Jenkins (acc
#13,967). Six boxes of Joseph Waters Papers and 17 boxes of William D. Waters Papers were
donated by William C. Waters (acc # 10,654, 11,824, 14,131). The papers of brig Mermaid (acc #12,300) and the William C. Waters certificate (acc
#12,270) were a 1950 gift of William C. Waters. Typescript notes on the voyages of William D.
Waters were the gift of the William C. Waters estate (acc #16,786). Eight boxes of Waters Family
Papers (mostly E. Stanley and Clifford C.) were the gift of the Stephen Phillips estate (acc
Removed from the collection were one folder of Thomas and Sarah Whittredge Papers, a John
Hodges estate inventory (1799) and one folder of papers from bark Imaum. Removed for inclusion in the Devereux Family Papers were 2 folders of brig Osprey papers, an account/memorandum book of "Legal Cases" (1835-1844),
a James Devereux estate account book (1846-1855), and four folders of Devereux Family Papers
(see separation sheets).
Collection processed by Robert P. Spindler, July 1987. Updated by Catherine Robertson, January
The Waters Family Papers are a reorganization of 34 boxes of manuscripts mostly received from William C. Waters. One box of Benjamin Waters Papers was the gift of Lawrence W. Jenkins (acc #13,967). Six boxes of Joseph Waters Papers and 17 boxes of William D. Waters Papers were donated by William C. Waters (acc # 10,654, 11,824, 14,131). The papers of brig Mermaid (acc #12,300) and the William C. Waters certificate (acc #12,270) were a 1950 gift of William C. Waters. Typescript notes on the voyages of William D. Waters were the gift of the William C. Waters estate (acc #16,786). Eight boxes of Waters Family Papers (mostly E. Stanley and Clifford C.) were the gift of the Stephen Phillips estate (acc #19,823).