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Joseph Linton Waters (1826-1891) Papers

Joseph Linton Waters (1826-1891) Papers

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JOSEPH LINTON WATERS (1826-1891) PAPERS, 1839-1891


Processing and conservation of this collection were funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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:Waters, Joseph Linton, 1826-1891
Title:Joseph Linton Waters (1826-1891) Papers
Quantity:2 linear feet (4 boxes)
Abstract:The Joseph Linton Waters papers are comprised mostly of the correspondence of Joseph L. Waters, a Salem Custom House Collector and Chicago-based railroad registrar.
Collection Number:MSS 94

Series List

SERIES I. Correspondence
A. Letters Received
B. Letters Sent
SERIES II. Legal and Other Papers

Scope and Content Note

The Joseph Linton Waters papers are comprised mostly of the correspondence of Joseph L. Waters, a Salem Custom House Collector and Chicago-based railroad registrar. The collection also contains eight folders of Joseph's legal, financial, and miscellaneous papers.

Series I. Correspondence consists primarily of business, genealogical, and personal letters received from 1853 to 1890. While only a few letters reflect Joseph's duties as Deputy Collector at the Salem Custom House, a much larger number document his investment in railroad companies and describe the business of the Land Department of the Illinois Central Railroad. Of interest are frequent letters from friends and associates in Denver, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Chicago, and Indianapolis describing the rocketing development of these Midwestern cities. Also of note are letters recounting Joseph's guardianship of his friend Augustus N. Dickens' children received from P. Daggy and the Dickens orphans. The collection contains many letters from family members, especially from Joseph's parents and his brothers, Edward S. and Henry F. Waters. Additional news for Henry's genealogical research in England may be found in letters from John T. Hassam of the New England Historic and Genealogical Society. Letters from Edward often contain Joseph's replies on the same sheet. Although Joseph worked with Nathaniel Hawthorne, there is no documentation of their relationship in this collection.

Letters written by Joseph may be found in the correspondence of his father Joseph Gilbert Waters (MSS 93) and his brother Henry Gilbert Waters (MSS 95).

Series II. Legal and Other Papers includes documents relating to the guardianship of the Dickens' children, Joseph's work in the Land Department, and the estate of his father, Joseph Fitzgilbert Waters. The scrapbook (B4 F1) contains articles written by and about Waters family members. Miscellaneous estate memoranda include notes on the estates of Neal, Newhall, Richardson, Johnson, Story, and Baldwin family members.

Biographical Sketch

Joseph Linton Waters, eldest son of Joseph Gilbert (1796-1878) and Eliza Greenleaf (Townsend) Waters (1798-1890), was born in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1826. As a young man, he worked at the Salem Police Court where his father presided as judge.

In 1843, Joseph became employed as a junior clerk in the Salem Custom House and by 1849 he rose to the post of Deputy Collector. During this period, he was a close associate of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Collector at the Salem Custom House from 1846 to 1849. Joseph's interest in writing poetry is mentioned by Hawthorne in the preface of the Scarlet Letter.

From 1855 to 1872, Joseph resided in Chicago where he worked as registrar and secretary in the Land Department of the Illinois Central Railroad. It was at this time that he worked with Augustus N. Dickens, brother of author Charles Dickens. In 1866, Joseph was entrusted with the guardianship of Augustus' orphaned children.

Joseph periodically functioned as secretary for his brother Henry Fitzgilbert Waters, assisting with genealogical research and business matters while Henry was abroad. Joseph was also an avid member of the Essex Institute.

Joseph's later years were spent at 80 Washington Square, Salem, with his brother Henry and their mother. Joseph died there unmarried in April 1891.

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.

Dickens, Augustus N., d. 1866
Waters, Charles R. (Charles Richardson), 1759-1913
Waters, Edward Stanley, 1837-1916
Waters, Eliza Greenleaf Townsend, 1798-1890
Waters, Emma M.
Waters, Henry Fitz-Gilbert, 1833-1913
Waters, Joseph G. (Joseph Gilbert), 1796-1878
Waters, Joseph Linton, 1826-1891
Waters, Marietta Barney
Zeta Psi Fraternity
Account books
Phrenology--Charts, diagrams, etc.
Railroad land grants
Chicago (Ill.)
Salem (Mass.)--Custom house


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

Joseph Linton Waters (1826-1891) Papers, MSS 94, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


This collection is a reorganization and integration of four and a half boxes of manuscripts, originally processed as part of the Waters Family II Papers, additional papers removed from the Water Family I Papers, an a small scrapbook from an unknown source. The Waters Family I Papers were probably donated by William Crowninshield Waters in 1916. The Waters Family II Papers were an integration of papers donated by Lawrence Jenkins Waters in 1961 and a smaller collection from an unknown source. Removed from the Joseph Linton Waters Papers are miscellaneous trade cards, advertisements, notices, and circulars (see Separation sheet).

Processing Information

Collection processed by Elizabeth Craig and Elizabeth Wenger, May 1979. Reprocessed by Silvia B. Kennick, March 1983. Updated by Tamara Gaydos, January 2016.

Related Material

"Deaths." New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Vol. 45. Boston: Published by the Society, 1891. 258.

Waters Family Papers, 1760-1931, 1965, MSS 92

Joseph Gilbert Waters Papers, 1759-1913, MSS 93

Henry Fitz-Gilbert Waters Papers, 1832-1916, 1993, MSS 95

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