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Eastern Stage Company (1814-1840) Records

Eastern Stage Company (1814-1840) Records

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EASTERN STAGE COMPANY (1814-1840) RECORDS, 1808-1840

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:Eastern Stage Company
Title:Eastern Stage Company (1814-1840) Records
Quantity:2 linear feet (2 boxes, 5 volumes)
Abstract:The records of the Eastern Stage Company document the operation of the company from its beginnings to its dissolution after its charter had expired.
Collection Number:MSS 234

Series List

SERIES I. Stage Company Records
SERIES II. Eastern Stage Company Records
SERIES III. Eastern Stage Trustees Records

Scope and Content Note

The records of the Eastern Stage Company document the operation of the company from its beginnings to its dissolution after its charter had expired. Also included are records for a previous company, the Stage Company. The collection is divided into three series.

Series I. Stage Company Records consists of an account book of this predecessor to the Eastern Stage Company.

Series II. Eastern Stage Company Records consists of administrative and financial records. The act of incorporation and minutes of meetings can be found in both record books. The legal papers and agreements document land and property transactions, as well as agreements with carriers. Included here is an act of incorporating submitted to the Massachusetts state legislature in 1830. The inventory book records stock such as feed, tools, furniture, coaches, wagons, chaises, sleighs, and horses at various locations. Included in the miscellaneous papers is an 1823 broadside of coach fares.

Series III. Eastern Stage Trustees Records documents the steps taken to dissolve the company. The record book, legal, and financial papers reflect the fulfillment of the late company's obligations (it continued operating for another year), the selling of its inventory and real estate, and the closing of its accounts. Of interest in the record books are the new coach schedules and employee working conditions.

Historical Sketch

On October 1, 1808, a company of eleven people began running a daily stage coach from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to Boston, Massachusetts, through Newburyport and Salem. By April 1814, the Eastern Stage Company, although operating without a charter, had 425 shares. When the company obtained its New Hampshire incorporation in 1818, the proprietors of some of the most prominent stage lines in the area were among those included in the Eastern State Company.

The Eastern Stage Company was a thriving business despite the tolls that it had to pay for running its equipment over the Newburyport and Boston Turnpike. For some years these tolls ran from $800 to $1000 per year. Eventually the Eastern Stage Company increased its capital stock and the number of coaches was doubled. At the annual meeting in 1829, the stockholders voted that the directors be authorized to apply to the Massachusetts legislature for an act of incorporation. This was done to protect the property of the company. The Massachusetts charter was granted on March 12, 1830.

The Eastern Stage Company followed a number of different routes. One of the main runs – Portsmouth to Boston – included stops at Greenland and Hampton, New Hampshire, Newburyport, Ipswich, Salem, and Lynn. Newburyport appeared to be the center of activity of the Eastern State Company with "The Ann Street House" serving as the Boston terminal. In 1825, Eastern Stage owned 35 coaches and 12 chaises. A total of 287 horses were used and of this number, 70% of them were based in Newburyport. Twenty-five men were employed in Newburyport at that time, solely in building and repairing the rolling stock.

Over the years the Eastern Stage Company built up interests in hotels and taverns, and erected blacksmith ships and stables. In 1825 a dividend of 11% was declared. As of 1833, the Eastern Stage Company was free of debt and employed 500 men.

The Eastern Railroad, which was chartered in 1836, had a generally detrimental impact on the stage business. The railroad competition, in addition to the appearance of competitive stages on the roads, forced the Eastern Stage Company to reduce fares. Struggling to continue operations, it tried cutting expenses. This proved fruitless and in February 1838 the company voted to sell all the real estate and personal property, and bring its affairs to a close. The last day of the Eastern Stage Company as a corporation was June 26, 1838; on June 27, 1838, trustees took over the affairs of the company. They administered the company until October 21, 1840, the last day of record for the trustees.

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.

Eastern Stage Trustees
Carriages and carts
Coach drivers
Coach horses
Coaching (Transportation)
Transportation--Passenger traffic
Newburyport (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

Eastern Stage Company (1814-1840) Records, MSS 234, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


This material was donated by Henry Whipple in 1867. An 1858 receipt of the Eastern Railroad Corporation has been removed from the collection.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Don Gleason, 1988. Updated by Tamara Gaydos, October 2015.

Related Material

Currier, John J. The History of Newburyport, Massachusetts, 1764-1905. Somersworth: New Hampshire Publishing Company, 1977.

Captains, Clams and Cobblestones: A Collection of Papers on Life in Newbury and Newburyport in a Bygone Era. Newburyport, MA: Historical Society of Old Newbury, 1977.

Stage Register. Vol. 3, no. 6, no. 4; vol. 7, no. 4. Boston: Press of American Traveller, 1830.

Notice of meeting, Dec. 3, 1838, Edmund Kimball Papers, MSS 80 (B13 F5)

Notice of leasing of Old Stage house, Boston, Jan. 22, 1824, Edmund Kimball Papers, MSS 80 (B9 F2)

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