The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Eastern Stage Company
Eastern Stage Company (1814-1840)
2 linear feet (2 boxes, 5 volumes)
The records of the Eastern
Stage Company document the operation of the company from its beginnings to its
dissolution after its charter had expired.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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