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John (1790-1876) and Charles P. (1820-1887) Preston Papers

John (1790-1876) and Charles P. (1820-1887) Preston Papers

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JOHN (1790-1876) AND CHARLES P. (1820-1887) PRESTON PAPERS, 1815-1865

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:Preston, John, 1790-1876
Title:John (1790-1876) and Charles P. (1820-1887) Preston Papers
Quantity:1.75 linear feet (4 boxes)
Abstract:The papers of John (1790-1876) and Charles P. Preston (1820-1887) contain business records from the family shoe business, as well as farm and personal papers.
Collection Number:MSS 235

Series List

SERIES I. Shoe Business Records
SERIES II. Farm and Personal Records

Scope and Content Note

The papers of John (1790-1876) and Charles P. Preston (1820-1887) contain business records from the family shoe business, as well as farm and personal papers. This collection has been divided into two series. Papers that were loose within the various records books were extracted and are now included in the applicable series.

Series I. Shoe Business Records document John and Charles' activities in shoe production and peg manufacturing. The account books and daybooks for the business refer to workers' accounts, but also include shipments, cash accounts, and accounts of various customers with the Prestons. The workers' accounts show withdrawal of tools, stock, leathers, etc., and the credit given various items of footwear, such as shoes, brogans, slippers, etc. The stock books itemize the manufacturing of footwear, giving an indication of the extent of the Prestons' shoe business. From March 28, 1835 through March 14, 1840, more than 171,000 pairs of footwear were manufactured. The most productive year was 1837, when over 51,000 pairs of various footwear were manufactured. The business papers include shipping documents, lists of shipments of boots, shoes, etc., memorandum of sales, and a small amount of business correspondence.

Series II. Farm and Personal Records reflect the operation of the farm, and to a certain extent, some of the Prestons' personal accounts. The account books record receipts and expenses of various items such as butter, lamb, mutton, eggs, grapes, apples, and other produce. Entries for personal items include household expenses and an accounting of the Young Men's Debating Club (box 3, folder 5). Included in this series is the guardianship account book and related papers of Charles P. Preston, who was appointed on April 7, 1857 as guardian to Abby Wadleigh Cass, the minor daughter of John W. Cass, late of Danvers, and appointed on October 5, 1858 as guardian of John W. Cass, minor son of the late John W. Cass. This book and related papers detail a meticulous account of his guardianship of these two children. The miscellaneous papers included in this series are those that cannot be easily identified with the shoe business; some were removed from the farm/personal account books.

Biographical Sketches

John Preston was born on December 16, 1790, to Captain Levi and Mehitable (Nichols) Preston, in Danvers, Massachusetts. John was one of eleven children. He married Clarissa Putnam of Danvers on December 2, 1819; they had five children. He was a shoe manufacturer and farmer, and was in business with his son, Charles P. Preston. John served as a selectman in Danvers from 1831 to 1834 and also as a state representative during those years. He was the annual town meeting moderator in 1833 and 1837. John's brother, Samuel Preston, was the inventor of the first shoe pegging machine. John died in Danvers on May 28, 1876.

Charles P. Preston was born on September 24, 1820, to John (1790-1876) and Clarissa (Putnam) Preston, in Danvers, Massachusetts. He joined in business with his father and in approximately 1845 he supplied the first shoe pegs shipped to England. His civic duties included selectman for the town of Danvers from 1856 to 1864; town moderator, 1864; and state representative, 1863-1864. He was appointed by philanthropist George Peabody as a lifetime trustee of the Peabody Institute in Danvers, and served as its president from 1878 to 1883. Charles married Sarah Hubbard Hooke of Poplin, New Hampshire, on June 29, 1845. He died on October 27, 1887.

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.

Cass, Abby Wadleigh, b. 1842
Cass, John Wadleigh, b. 1844
Preston, Charles Putnam, 1820-1887
Preston, John, 1790-1876
Young Men's Debating Club
Boots and shoes--Trade and manufacture
Guardian and ward
Danvers (Mass.)
Account books


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 (1790-1876) and Charles P. (1820-1887) Preston Papers, MSS 235, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


The Cass guardianship papers were donated by Miss Lucy B. Willson. The remainder of the collection is from an unknown source.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Don Gleason, October 1993. Updated by Hilary Streifer, August 2015.

Related Material

Vital Records of Danvers, Massachusetts, to the End of the Year 1849. 2 vols. Salem, MA: Essex Institute, 1909-1910.

Massey, D. A., editor. History of Freemasonry in Danvers, Mass., from September 1778 to July 1896. Peabody, MA: C. H. Shepard, 1896.

Tapley, Harriet Silvester. Chronicles of Danvers (Old Salem Village) Massachusetts 1632-1923. Danvers, MA: Danvers Historical Society, 1923.

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