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Caleb Smith (1786-1870) Papers

Caleb Smith (1786-1870) Papers

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CALEB SMITH (1786-1870) PAPERS, 1789-1877


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:Smith, Caleb, 1786-1870
Title:Caleb Smith (1786-1870) Papers
Quantity:1 linear foot (2 boxes)
Abstract:The Caleb Smith papers document the general store and shipping activities of Caleb Smith of Salem and Danvers, Massachusetts.
Collection Number:MSS 194

Series List

SERIES I. Merchant and Shipping Papers
SERIES II. Personal and Family Papers

Scope and Content Note

The Caleb Smith papers document the general store and shipping activities of Caleb Smith of Salem and Danvers, Massachusetts. This collection does not contain papers of Caleb's Salem oil refinery. Included are genealogies of the Smith and Winchester families and papers of Caleb's father-in-law, Jacob B. Winchester (1762-1842). The collection is divided into two series.

Series I. Merchant and Shipping Papers documents Caleb's general store and the growth of his shipping interest from 1802 to 1849. The papers contain merchant correspondence, a store ledger, and shipping and store accounts. The financial papers include papers of Caleb's brig Plato, schooner Gazelle, and schooner Leader, and accounts with his partners James Brown and John Smith (1796-1868). Also of interest is an 1802 Joseph Andrews receipt, signed by Caleb when he worked in Andrews' store and one of Caleb's original rent receipts (1807) for his store on Boston Street.

Series II. Personal and Family Papers contains Caleb's deeds and household and legal receipts, notes on the Smith and Winchester families, and papers of Caleb's father-in-law, Jacob Bancroft Winchester (1762-1842). In addition to genealogical notes and miscellaneous receipts, the family scrapbook (B2 F5) contains two of Caleb's militia receipts (1815-1816). Jacob Winchester's records include land deeds and receipts from his candle manufacturing business. The miscellaneous papers include business receipts and legal documents of Henry Cook, and Peter and John Osgood.

Biographical Sketch

Caleb Smith was born in Salem, Massachusetts, on January 1, 1786, the son of Caleb (1752-1808) and Mary (West) (d. 1802) Smith. From 1801 to 1802 he worked in the general store of Joseph Andrews and from 1802 to 1897 he worked in the general store of Deacon James Brown. In 1807 he went into business for himself in partnership with James Brown and rented Daniel Rugg's store. In 1810 he purchased the store and married Betsey Winchester (1791-1849). They had ten children. In 1813 they moved their residence from Salem to Danvers. His brother John Smith (1796-1868) entered the store as a partner in 1820. After about 1825, Caleb's merchant activities became increasingly diverse and he operated on a larger scale. In 1829 he owned four trading vessels: the schooner Gazelle, the brig Plato, the bark Prudent, and brig Rover; he purchased five other vessels in the 1830s and 1840s.

In 1832 he sold his store to his son-in-law, Matthew A. Stickney and ran a sugar refinery in Salem from 1832 to 1834 with his brother, John. In 1835 he purchased the wharf of Pickering Dodge which he remodeled into a whale oil refinery. Smith was a member of the Danvers Artillery and the Crombie Street Church. Betsey Smith died in 1849 and in 1853 he married Mary Hardy Leach (d. 1871). Smith died in Salem on November 10, 1870.

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.

Andrews, John, 1764-1845
Brown, James
Smith, John, 1796-1868
Winchester, Jacob Bancroft, 1762-1842
Gazelle (Schooner)
Leader (Schooner)
Plato (Brig)
Account books
General stores
Merchants--Salem (Mass.)
Salem (Mass.)


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

Caleb Smith (1786-1870) Papers, MSS 194, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


Caleb's general store ledger and possibly some of his papers were donated by Matthew A. Stickney in 1876. The remainder of the collection is from an unknown source. Records were added from other collections: two folders of receipts from the Derby Family Paper (MSS 37) and one folder from the Ward Family Papers (MSS 46).

Processing Information

Collection processed by Sylvia B. Kennick, September 1985. Updated by Tamara Gaydos, February 2016.

Related Material

Matthew Adams Stickney Family Papers, 1685-1910, MSS 463

Prudent (Bark) Logbook, 1830, Log 258

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