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Samuel Fowler Family Papers

Samuel Fowler Family Papers

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Conservation and processing of this collection were funded by a grant from Mrs. Edwin O. Norvell and Mrs. Richard Rendleman.

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:Fowler family
Title:Samuel Fowler Family Papers
Dates:1682, 1757/1894
Quantity:2 linear feet (4 boxes)
Abstract:The Samuel Fowler Family papers contain the business, civic, and personal papers of shipwright Samuel Fowler (1748/9-1813), his son Samuel (1776-1859), and grandson Samuel Page Fowler (1800-1888).
Collection Number:MSS 178

Series List

SERIES I. Samuel Fowler (1748/9-1813) Papers
SERIES II. Samuel Fowler (1776-1859) Papers
SERIES III. Samuel Page Fowler Papers
SERIES IV. Family Papers
SERIES V. Miscellaneous Papers

Scope and Content Note

The Samuel Fowler Family papers contain the business, civic, and personal papers of shipwright Samuel Fowler (1748/9-1813), his son Samuel (1776-1859), and grandson Samuel Page Fowler (1800-1888). Also included are papers of John Fowler (1778-1827) and the papers of miscellaneous Fowler and Putnam relatives. The collection has been divided into five series.

Series I. Samuel Fowler (1748/9-1813) Papers contains deeds and legal papers documenting his many land transactions in the Danvers area. Also found here are accounts and receipts, a bill of sale for the schooner Industry, estate papers, and an 1847 estate inventory for his wife, Sarah (Putnam) Fowler. Of note is a document listing the rate of exchange between paper and silver dollars from 1777 to 1781.

Series II. Samuel Fowler (1776-1859) Papers contains shipping, business, legal, and civic papers. The shipping papers include insurance policies, accounts, and receipts for vessels Fowler owned or on which he commissioned cargo, and correspondence from merchant houses. Insurance policies, correspondence, orders, and accounts for his mills and ships are located in the business papers. Also found there are accounts and receipts for Fowler's share in the Danvers-Beverly Iron Works and the New Hampshire Iron Factory. The correspondence includes pleas for assistance from Danvers citizens as well as business notes from H. Putnam. The bills and receipts include business, household, and personal transactions.

The legal papers contain land and pew deeds, maps, partnership agreements with Israel Hutchinson, Sr., Israel Hutchinson, Jr., and Ebenezer Putnam for ownership of grist and bolting mills, and indentures to hire workers for build a chocolate mill. The civic papers include Fowler's military papers, accounts with the Danvers school committee, papers recording Fowler's involvement with the First Baptist Church of Danvers, and petitions to build a road from Topsfield to Danvers.

Series III. Samuel Page Fowler Papers documents Samuel's involvement in Danvers political and civic affairs. Included are Danvers school committee and selectmen records, religious and moral societal papers, fire club records, notes and minutes taken a secretary of civic groups, and his notes from addresses and lectures he gave or attended.

Fowler's correspondence discusses his civic and business activities. Samuel's other business papers include bankbooks which record his shares in local banks, a rent book, and accounts with a local grocer. The Fowler-Dorman trustee papers contain receipts for Fowler and Moses Dorman while they acted as corporation trustees. A marriage proposal and letters from Samuel's father and wife, legal documents, and notes on the witchcraft trials are included in personal papers.

Series IV. Family Papers contains business and legal papers of John Fowler (1778-1827) and business papers of Henry, William P., Augustus, and Clarissa P. Fowler. There are four folders of school workbooks of Clarissa, Rebecca, William, Henry, Eliza, and Augustus Fowler, most of penmanship, but a few of arithmetic. Also included in Series IV are business, legal, and personal papers of Fowler in-laws Archelaus, Mehitable, and Moses Putnam, and miscellaneous Putnam relatives. Of note are the letters from Samuel (1748/9-1813) Fowler to his children.

Series V. Miscellaneous Papers contains Danvers civic and legal papers, originally with the collection that appear to somehow relate to Fowler or Putnam affairs. Included are Danvers deeds, records of town and selectman meetings, real estate valuations, property lists, pamphlets, and printed works. Of note are letters, legal, estate, and financial papers of Peter Clark, minister of the First Baptists Church of Danvers.

Biographical Sketches

Samuel Fowler, a Danvers, Massachusetts, shipwright was born in Ipswich in 1748/9, the son of Joseph (1715-1807) and Mary (Prince) (1725-1771) Fowler. He left Ipswich in 1765 and became one of the settlers of the Danvers New Mills, later called Danversport. As a shipwright, Samuel assisted in the building of many vessels, including those he owned. Samuel was a minuteman in Capt. Jeremiah Page's company when it marched to Lexington on April 19, 1775. In 1773 Samuel married Sarah Putnam (1755-1847), the daughter of Archelaus and Mehitable (Putnam) Putnam. They had four children. He died in 1813.

Samuel Fowler, a Danvers tanner and mill owner, was born in 1776, the son of Samuel (1748/9-1813) and Sarah (Putnam) Fowler. He began his tannery and currier business in partnership with Israel Hutchinson and Ebenezer Putnam. Besides his tanning operations, Fowler owned three coastwise vessels. See Appendix I for a list of vessels. In 1799, Samuel married Clarissa Page (1779-1854), the daughter of Samuel and Rebecca (Putnam) Page. They had nine children. He died in 1859.

Samuel Page Fowler, a Danvers politician, was born in 1800, the first son of Samuel (1776-1859) and Clarissa (Page) Fowler. Born in Danvers, he learned the trades of tanning and currying from his father. His interest in civic and political affairs developed early in life. Samuel served as the overseer of the poor (1843-1880), a selectman and assessor (1835-1840), a member of the Constitutional Convention (1853), and a member of the state legislature (1857-1859). Fowler became the first deacon of the Maple Street Church and was active in the formation of the Walnut Grove Cemetery. He was one of the first trustees of the Danvers Savings Bank, a fire warden for the Danvers Fire Department, and a trustee of the Peabody Institute Library of Danvers. One of the organizers of the Essex Natural History Society, he also became the curator of Natural History and later a vice-president of the Essex Institute. Samuel was also very interested in Danvers local history. He wrote The Life and Character of the Rev. Samuel Parris and edited Salem Witchcraft by Robert Calef. He married Harriet Putnam (1806-1891), the daughter of Moses and Betsey (Cross) Putnam, in 1833. They had three children, including Harriet Putnam Fowler, 2nd (1842-1901). He died in 1888.

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.

Clark, Peter, 1693/4-1768
Dorman, Moses, 1803-1877
Fowler, Augustus, 1812-
Fowler, Clarissa Page, 1802-1873
Fowler, Eliza Page, 1818-
Fowler, Henry, 1809-
Fowler, John, 1778-
Fowler, Rebecca Putnam, 1804-
Fowler, Samuel Page, 1800-1888
Fowler, Samuel, 1748/9-1813
Fowler, Samuel, 1776-1859
Fowler, Sarah Putnam, 1755-1847
Fowler, William Putnam, 1807-1825
Hutchinson, Israel, 1727 or 8-1811
Hutchinson, Israel, Jr.
Putnam family
Putnam, Archelaus, 1744-1800
Putnam, Ebenezer, 1768-1826
Putnam, H.
Putnam, Mehitable Putnam
Putnam, Moses W.
Danvers and Beverly Iron Works Company
Essex (Schooner)
First Baptist Church (Danvers, Mass.)
Industry (Schooner)
Jane (Schooner)
Mercator (Schooner)
New Hampshire Iron Factory Company
Danvers Fire Club (Danvers, Mass.)
Fire clubs (Cooperative societies)
Grist mills
Iron industry and trade
Pews and pew rights
Political science--Massachusetts--Danvers
Politics, Practical--Massachusetts--Danvers
Ships' papers
Trust indentures
Danvers (Mass.)
Danvers (Mass.)--Education
Danvers (Mass.)--School committee
Danvers (Mass.)--Selectmen
Danvers (Mass.)--Town records


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

Samuel Fowler Family Papers, MSS 178, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


The collection is a reorganization of documents originally mounted into scrapbooks as part of the Harriet Putnam Fowler Collection. The documents were donated on May 2, 1900, by Miss Fowler. All original locations are located on the verso of each manuscript and recorded in the Fowler Separation Sheet. Also integrated into the collection are papers from the Fowler Family Papers, 1710-1894. The materials in Box 3, Folders 5 through 8 were removed from the Essex County Collection in November 1992.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Nancy C. Barthelemy, March 1985. Additions by Jane E. Ward, November 1992; Updated by Tamara Gaydos, February 2016.

Related Material

Stickney, Matthew Adams. The Fowler Family: A Genealogical Memoir of the Descendants of Philip and Mary Fowler, of Ipswich, Mass.: Ten Generations, 1590-1882. Salem, MA: Printed for the Author, Salem, 1883.

Fowler Family Papers, 1710-1894, Fam. Mss. 336

Flint Family Papers, 1663-1793, MSS 0.100

Harriet Putnam Fowler Papers, 1672-1901, Fam. Mss. 337

Samuel Page Papers, 1777-1871, MSS 177

Appendix I

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