The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Peirson Family Papers
4 Linear feet (5 boxes)
This collection contains papers
of four generations of the Peirson family of Salem, Massachusetts.
SERIES I. First Generation SERIES II. Second Generation SERIES III. Third Generation SERIES IV. Fourth Generation SERIES V. Related Families SERIES VI. Photographs, Newspapers, and Ephemera
Scope and Content Note
This collection contains papers of four generations of the Peirson family of Salem,
Massachusetts. It includes personal correspondence, business papers, legal
documents, military correspondence and records from the United States Civil War,
diaries and sketchbooks, medical notebooks, obituaries and memorials, news
clippings, and many photographs of the Peirson family. The collection also contains
papers from the Caron, Hill, Langmaid, Lawrence, Page, and White families, all of
whom were related to the Peirsons.
Series I. First Generation contains the papers of
Samuel Peirson, including personal correspondence with family members, military and
family records, a pocket book with a notice of his wife Sally's death in 1802, and a
lengthy memorial following Samuel's death in 1852.
Series II. Second Generation contains the papers of
Samuel's sons, Samuel Page, John, and Abel Lawrence Peirson, the obituary of his
youngest daughter Sarah P. White, and one medical notebook belonging to T. Perkins
Shepard. Samuel Page Peirson's letters describe his adventures as a young seaman
until shortly before his last voyage in 1805. John Page Peirson's letters span his
life from 16 years of age until his death at sea in 1826. His obituary and a
description of his accidental drowning off the coast of Florida are included. Abel
Lawrence Peirson's papers include a long letter to his son Abel Lawrence Jr., a
tribute to his late father Samuel, and the writings Temperance and On Life. Also present in the
collection are five of his medical notebooks, including one written while in Europe
in 1832, one physicians [sic] visiting list, and a
small red leather purse. Finally, there are memorial tributes written upon his death
Series III. Third Generation contains the papers of
Abel Lawrence Peirson's sons, Edward Brooks, Abel Lawrence, and Charles Lawrence
Peirson, and their wives, Ellen Perry Peirson, Elizabeth Sutton Peirson, and Emily
Russell Peirson. Also present are letters to Abel Lawrence Peirson's daughter,
Abigail, from Dr. James Jackson and a memorial to James Jackson Peirson. Edward
Brooks Peirson is represented by personal correspondence and three physicians
visiting lists. From his wife Ellen Elizabeth Perry Peirson there are family
letters, a diary of a European trip with samples of dried flora, sketches, and a
writing case, most if not all dating from before their marriage in 1857. Abel
Lawrence Peirson's papers include personal correspondence, business, and legal
papers. From his wife Elizabeth Treadwell Sutton Peirson there are personal
correspondence and also guardianship papers for their son Abel Lawrence Peirson.
Series III. Third Generation also contains extensive papers of Charles Lawrence
Peirson documenting his service in the Union Army from 1861 to 1865. Charles wrote
in great detail of his years as an officer in the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry,
including preparation for battle, victory and defeat in battle, prison life, and the
general state of the army. Included with the military correspondence are documents
from his commanding officers, tributes to Col. Paul Revere of the 20th Regiment, who
died from wounds received at Gettysburg, and maps of Petersburg, Virginia. Later
papers from Charles Peirson document his activity in veteran groups and specifically
his efforts to raise funds for a Twentieth Regiment Monument. Other papers describe
the early days of the Clifton Baseball Club.
Series IV. Fourth Generation contains papers from
three members of the fourth generation. From Ellen Peirson Benson, the daughter of
Edward Brooks Peirson, there is an album and two diaries (one with dried flora) kept
on a trip to Europe in 1884-1885, before her marriage to Frank Benson in 1888. From
Harriet L. Peirson, daughter of Abel Lawrence Peirson, there is correspondence with
her parents, and from Abel Lawrence Peirson, son of Abel Lawrence Peirson, there are
business and legal papers, including settlement of a French spoliation claim
regarding capture of the schooner Polly in 1798.
Series V. Related Families contains wills, deeds,
obituaries and memorials, genealogical notes, personal correspondence, and other
papers from six families related to the Peirsons including the Caron, Hill,
Langmaid, Lawrence, Page, and White families.
Series VI. Photographs, Newspaper, and Ephemera
contains tintypes of brothers Charles F. Williams and George W. Williams (also a
lock of George William's hair) and about 100 photographs of the Peirsons and others.
Also present is a copy of the Salem Gazette from
January 12, 1847.
Samuel Peirson was born on February 22, 1759, in Boston,
Massachusetts, the son of Samuel and Elizabeth (Cox) Peirson. Following six months
service in the Continental Army in 1777, he went into business in Salem,
Massachusetts, and later in Portland, Maine. In about 1792 he relocated to
Biddeford, Maine, where he resided until his death on May 12, 1852. Samuel married
Sarah Page in 1776 by whom he had ten children, and in 1803 he married Sarah Hill by
whom he had seven children.
Abel Lawrence Peirson was born on November 25, 1794,
in Biddeford, Maine, the son of Samuel and Sarah (Page) Peirson. He graduated from
Harvard College in 1812 and studied medicine at the Harvard Medical School. He
practiced as a surgeon in Salem, Massachusetts, and served as a consulting surgeon
at the Massachusetts General Hospital. He married Harriet Lawrence in 1819 and they
had six surviving children, Edward Brooks, Abigail Lawrence, Abel Lawrence, Harriet
Lawrence, James Jackson, and Charles Lawrence. Abel Peirson died in a train accident
Edward Brooks Peirson was born in Salem,
Massachusetts on January 22, 1820, the first son of Abel and Harriet (Lawrence)
Peirson. He graduated from Harvard College in 1840 and Harvard Medical School in
1844. He was a physician in Salem, Massachusetts, who volunteered his services to
assist the wounded at Fredericksburg, Virginia, after the Battle of the Wilderness
in May 1864. He married first Catherine Saltonstall (1823-1852) and second Ellen
Elizabeth Perry (1828-1903). By his second wife he had five children: Catherine,
Margaret Daisy White, Ellen Perry, Edward Lawrence, and Horatio Perry. Edward
Peirson died in Salem on November 19, 1874.
Charles Lawrence Peirson was the youngest son of Abel
and Harriet (Lawrence) Peirson. He was born on January 15, 1834, in Salem,
Massachusetts. Charles studied at the Lawrence Scientific School, Harvard, and was a
civil engineer. He served as a 1st Lieutenant and Adjutant of the 20th Regiment of
the Massachusetts Infantry and as a Lieutenant Colonel of the 39th Massachusetts
Infantry during the Civil War. Charles was taken prisoner at the Battle of Ball's
Bluff in October 1861 and was imprisoned for three months in Richmond, Virginia. He
was severely wounded at the battles on the Weldon Railroad in August 1864 and was
discharged with the rank of Colonel in January 1865. Following the war he was in the
iron business in Boston. He died on January 23, 1920, in Beverly, Massachusetts.
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.
Benson, Ellen Peirson, 1860-1959
Peirson, Abel Lawrence, 1794-1853
Peirson, Abel Lawrence, 1824-1871
Peirson, Abel Lawrence, 1869-after 1940
Peirson, Charles Lawrence, 1834-1920
Peirson, Edward Brooks, 1820-1874
Peirson, Elizabeth Treadwell, 1822-1892
Peirson, Ellen Perry, 1828-1903
Peirson, Harriet Lawrence, 1853-1873
Peirson, Samuel, 1759-1852
Williams, Charles Frederick, 1842-1862
Williams, George Washington, 1838-1905
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
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
This collection contains papers of four generations of the Peirson family of Salem, Massachusetts.
Star (Bark); Salem (Mass.); United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865; Benson, Ellen Peirson, 1860-1959; Peirson, Abel Lawrence, 1794-1853; Peirson, Abel Lawrence, 1824-1871; Peirson, Abel Lawrence, 1869-after 1940; Peirson, Charles Lawrence, 1834-1920; Peirson, Edward Brooks, 1820-1874; Peirson, Elizabeth Treadwell, 1822-1892; Peirson, Ellen Perry, 1828-1903; Peirson, Harriet Lawrence, 1853-1873; Peirson, Samuel, 1759-1852; Williams, Charles Frederick, 1842-1862; Williams, George Washington, 1838-1905; Physicians; Slavery
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.