The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Spofford Family Papers
3.5 linear feet (6 boxes)
The Spofford Family Papers
contain material of the immediate family of Dr. Jeremiah Spofford Jr. (1787-1880) of
Rowley, Georgetown, Bradford, and Groveland, Massachusetts.
SERIES I. Dr. Jeremiah Spofford Papers
A. Medical Papers
B. Business Papers
C. Education papers
E. Political Papers
F. Civic and Religious Papers
G. Personal Papers
H. Mary Ayer Spofford Papers
I. Laura Ayer Spofford Papers
J. Charles Wilton Spofford Papers
K. Herschel Ainsworth Spofford Papers
L. Cecilia Peabody Spofford papers
M. Aphia Tenney Spofford Papers
SERIES II. Family Papers
A. Abner Spofford and Descendants Papers
B. Daniel Spofford and Descendants Papers
C. Eliphalet Spofford and Descendants Papers
D. Miscellaneous Papers
Scope and Content Note
The Spofford Family Papers contain material of the immediate family of Dr. Jeremiah
Spofford Jr. (1787-1880) of Rowley, Georgetown, Bradford, and Groveland,
Massachusetts. The collection is divided into two series.
Series I. Dr. Jeremiah Spofford Papers is divided
into thirteen subseries. Subseries A. Medical Papers
includes medical certificates, records of the Essex North Medical Society
(1842-1871), and Spofford's notes on medical texts. Most notable are Spofford's
medical case journals and medical account books which document in great detail an
Essex County general medical practice, which spanned the years 1813 to 1871.
Subseries B. Business Papers includes agreements,
deeds, receipts, correspondence, and legal papers. In addition, four items document
Spofford's connection with the Haverhill Gazette. Subseries C. Educational Papers contains records that
document Spofford's brief early career as a schoolmaster from 1810-1811. Subseries D. Writings consists of 38 bundles of lecture
notes. Subseries E. Political Papers documents Spofford's
career in local and state government, as well as general activities of town and
county governments. There are also papers documenting Spofford's service in the
Massachusetts Senate (1838-1839), including a diary of his activities on Beacon
Hill. Also included in this subseries are town and county government documents that
are incidentally related or unrelated to Spofford. Subseries F.
Civic and Religious Papers includes civic society records, membership
certificates, and church documents. Most notable is a declaration of religious faith
made by Spofford in 1810 and confirmed in 1845, 1850, and 1865.
Subseries G. Personal Papers includes correspondence
with family member and four diaries. Two diaries are a record in prose and short
vignettes of a trip Spofford made by railroad and steamship to New Hampshire,
Vermont, New York (Albany and New York City), as well as Rhode Island in 1832. Two
other diaries were kept from 1868 to 1880 and chronicle the daily life of a retired
Subseries H. Mary Ayer Spofford Papers includes an
undated letter from Mary to her son Charles and five bundles of pages from a diary
that Mary kept from 1810 to 1813. Subseries I. Laura Ayer
Spofford Papers consists of an autograph book signed by local friends of
Laura from 1826 to 1834 and an 1838 burial permit for Laura's husband, Moses P.
Atwood. Subseries J. Charles Wilton Spofford Papers
includes three letters and an undated manuscript history of Groveland,
Subseries K. Herschel Ainsworth Spofford's Papers
consists of four mercantile account books. Subseries L. Cecilia
Peabody Spofford Papers contains correspondence. Subseries M. Aphia Tenney Spofford Papers contains three letters to
Aphia from distant cousins who were assisting her with the revision of her father's
genealogy of the Spofford family. Also included is a manuscript biography of her
Aphia's father and a transcript of the 1678 inventory of the estate of John Spofford
Series II. Family Papers is divided into four
subseries. Subseries A. Abner Spofford and Descendants
Papers includes the 1773 will and 1777 burial permit of Abner Spofford;
records and receipts of Abner' son, Eleazer; and a letter written by Eleazer's
grandson to his first cousin Aphia Spofford regarding Spofford family history. Subseries B. Daniel Spofford and Descendants Papers
contains documents such as a 1758 receipt of Daniel Spofford; a letter and the will
of Daniel's son, Moody Spofford, Sr.; documents of Moody's son, Moody Spofford, Jr.;
two medical account books of Amos's son, Moses Dole Spofford; and medical society
correspondence of Amos's son, Richard. Subseries C. Eliphalet
Spofford and Descendants Papers contain a tax warrant signed by Eliphalet
and his 1777 estate inventory; a permit to bury the body of Jonathan Hale, deceased
husband of Eliphalet's daughter Eunice; and a letter written by Eliphalet's
granddaughter, Elizabeth "Betsey" (Adams) Chapman. Subseries D.
Miscellaneous Papers includes receipts of Abraham Spofford (a distant
Essex County cousin of the Spoffords described above). Other items name people of
probable but unknown relation to the Spofford family, including people named
Fortune, Pilsbury, Wood, Clark, Burrill, Ridelle, Hardwicke, Atwood, and Wittington.
Of interest is the 1770 manumission of Amos Fortune, slave of Joseph Reed of
Cambridge the estate of Icabod Richardson of Woburn.
Dr. Jeremiah Spofford Jr. was born on December 8, 1787, in
New Rowley (now Georgetown), the son of Jeremiah and Temperance (Spofford) Spofford.
After a course of medical studies under Drs. Whiton and Parkhurst of Winchendon,
Massachusetts, Spofford was licensed to practice medicine in June 1813. In 1817, he
moved to Bradford (to a section of the town which is now Groveland) to assume the
medical practice of the deceased Dr. Ebenezer Jewett. Spofford practiced medicine in
that place for the next fifty-four years. During that time he was a member of the
Massachusetts Medical Society and the Essex North District Medical Society.
In addition to his medical profession, Spofford was an educator. In 1810 and
1811 he served as a schoolmaster in New Rowley, and in 1821 he was a founder of the
Merrimack Academy in Bradford, an institution that he remained affiliated with until
at least 1872. Throughout his working life, Spofford lectured at Merrimack Academy
and in front of school and civic groups across Essex County on politics, history,
science, and philosophy. From 1821 until 1880 Spofford was connected with the Haverhill Gazette in several capacities, including
part-time owner, editor, and columnist. In another business venture he was involved
with two partners (William Balch and Nathaniel Ladd) in a real estate enterprise
that dissolved in a financial dispute over rents owed and interest due on notes. The
legal dispute, called the "Corporation Case," lasted from 1853 to 1855 and was
finally removed from the courts and resolved in an ecclesiastical council of the
local church. Spofford also held posts in local government and was active in
enhancing railroad and steamship service to towns of western Essex County.
Spofford's political leanings evolved from Federalist, to Whig, to Republican (as
the political parties realigned and changed). In 1838 and 1839 he represented the
region in the Massachusetts Senate.
The study of local and family history occupied Spofford's leisure time. He
collected data on the Spofford family and authored A Family
Record of the Descendants of John and Elizabeth, His Wife (Haverhill: E.
G. Frothingham, 1851 and 1869). The book was updated and expanded by his daughter
Aphia, and republished as Aphia Spofford, editor, A
Genealogical Record [of the] Descendants of John Spofford and Elizabeth Scott by
Dr. Jeremiah Spofford, Jr. (Boston: Alfred Mudge and Son, 1888).
On September 14, 1813, Spofford married his second cousin, Mary Ayer Spofford (1789-1876), the daughter of Eleazer and Mary (Flint)
Spofford of Jaffrey, New Hampshire. The newly married couple resided in Hampstead,
New Hampshire, for three years and then moved to Bradford (now Groveland),
Massachusetts, where they resided for the remainder of their lives. The couple had
nice children: Laura Ayer Spofford (1814- ), Charles Whiton
Spofford (1816- ), Charlotte Eustis Spofford (1819-1888), Hershel Ainsworth Spofford (1825-1904), Mary Putnam
Spofford (1823-1856), Cecilia Peabody Spofford
(1826-1886), Morris Spofford (1829-1884), Lucy Tenney Spofford
(1831-1833), and Aphia Tenney Spofford (1834- ). This
collection also includes papers of members of the extended Spofford family of Essex
County. The bulk of these are papers that document the lives and descendants of
three sons of John Spaffard/Spofford (1678-1735) and his two wives, Dorcas Hopkinson
(1676- ) and Sarah Poor. Those sons are Abner, Daniel, and Eliphalet Spofford.
The first son of John Spaffard/Spofford represented in this collection, Abner Spofford (1705-1777), was a millwright of Georgetown.
Abner's son, Eleazer Spofford (1739-1828), was a
millwright and road-builder of Georgetown and Bradford, Massachusetts, and Jaffrey,
New Hampshire. Abner's great-grandson, Ainsworth Rand Spofford
(1751-1872) of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Washington, D. C., served as
Librarian of Congress from 1864 to 1897.
The second son of John Spaffard/Spofford, Daniel Spofford
(1721-1803), was an architect and builder of Georgetown and served as a
colonel in the Essex County militia during the American Revolution. Daniel's son,
Moody Spofford Sr. (1744-1828), was an architect of
Georgetown who served as a lieutenant during the Revolution. Moody Sr.'s son, Moody Spofford Jr. (1776- ), was of Georgetown also.
Another son of Daniel, Amos Spofford (1751-1805), was a
physician of Georgetown from 1771 to 1805. Amos's sons (and Daniel's grandsons),
Moses Dole Spofford (1773-1832) of Georgetown and
Richard S. Spofford (1787-1872) of Newburyport, were
The third son of John Spaffard/Spofford, Eliphalet Spofford
(1725-1776), of Georgetown, Massachusetts, and Charlestown, New
Hampshire, was a captain in the American Revolution who died of fever during the
war. Eliphalet's daughter, Eunice (Spofford) Hale
(1794-1847), was the wife of Johnathan Hale of Groveland. Eliphalet's
granddaughter (through his daughter Lucy [Spofford] Adams), Elizabeth "Betsey" (Adams) Chapman (1794-1847), was the wife of Eliphaz
Chapman of Gilead, Maine.
The collection also includes papers of Abraham Spofford
(1717- ), an Essex County cousin of the Spoffords described above, and an
unidentified Ebenezer Spofford.
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.
Chapman, Elizabeth Adams, 1794-1847
Spofford, Abner, 1705-1777
Spofford, Abraham, b. 1717
Spofford, Ainsworth Rand, 1825-1908
Spofford, Amos, 1751-1805
Spofford, Aphia Tenney, b. 1834
Spofford, Ceclia Peabody, 1826-1886
Spofford, Charles Wilton, b. 1816
Spofford, Daniel, 1721-1803
Spofford, Eleazer, 1739-1828
Spofford, Eliphalet, 1725-1776
Spofford, Herschel Ainsworth, b. 1821
Spofford, Jeremiah, 1787-188
Spofford, Laura Ayer, b. 1814
Spofford, Mary Ayer, 1789-1876
Spofford, Moody, 1744-1828
Spofford, Moody, b. 1776
Spofford, Moses Dole, 1773-1832
Spofford, Richard S., 1787-1872
Merrimack Academy (Bradford, Haverhill, Mass.)
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
The papers in this collection were said by H. Cooke in 1978 to "represent the
combining of several groups of manuscripts," though only two original manuscript
groups were identified in the Cooke finding aid. One group of manuscripts was
purchased on June 29, 1950 (these items are marked in pencil, apparently a labeling
that was done at the time of purchase). A second group of two items, the wills of
Moody Spofford (1744-1828) and Abner Spofford (1705-1777), were the gift of the Rev.
Russell Dewart, April 10, 1978. The origin of the other items in the collection is
Collection processed by H. Cooke, December 1978. Reprocessed by Hobson Woodward,
April 2003. Updated by Tamara Gaydos, June 2015.
Aphia Spofford, editor, A Genealogical Record [of the]
Descendants of John Spofford and Elizabeth Scott by Dr. Jeremiah Spofford,
Jr. (Boston: Alfred Mudge and Son, 1888).
Aphia Spofford, "Dr. Jeremiah Spofford, Biographical," unpublished manuscript
(see Box 2, Folder 17 of this collection).
Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Town and Vital
Records, 1620-1988 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Town and City
Clerks of Massachusetts. Accessed on May 28, 2015.
Papers relating to the "Corporation Case," 1832-1855, MSS
One group of manuscripts was purchased on June 29, 1950. A second group of two items, the wills of Moody Spofford (1744-1828) and Abner Spofford (1705-1777), were the gift of the Rev. Russell Dewart, April 10, 1978. The origin of the other items in the collection is unknown.