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Matthew Adams Stickney Family Papers

Matthew Adams Stickney Family Papers

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Processing of this collection was funded by a grant from the NHPRC (National Historical Publications and Records Commission).

Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 161 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-948-6012
Creator:Stickney, Matthew Adams, 1805-1894
Title:Matthew Adams Stickney Family Papers
Quantity:12.5 linear feet (23 boxes, 4 oversized folders)
Abstract:This collection contains the papers of Matthew Adams Stickney along with papers of his father Dudley, his brother Dudley, his daughter Lucy, and other family members.
Identification:MSS 463

Series List

SERIES I. Matthew Adams Stickney (1805-1894)SERIES II. Lucy Waters Stickney (1843-1929)SERIES III. Family PapersSERIES IV. Collected Papers

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains the papers of Matthew Adams Stickney along with papers of his father Dudley, his brother Dudley, his daughter Lucy, and other family members. The papers consist mainly of correspondence regarding genealogical research and numismatics. There are also financial and legal papers, copies of registry and church records, diaries, newspaper clippings, an autograph collection, a ciphering book, and a grocery store account book. The material has been organized into four series.

Series I. Matthew Adams Stickney (1805-1894) consists of seven subseries. Subseries A. Stickney Family Genealogy Correspondence was arranged in two scrapbooks by Matthew Adams Stickney and his daughters in 1870. The correspondence was arranged alphabetically by correspondent, the first volume containing A-J, the second J-Z. The volumes are paginated and contain indices. Also included in the subseries are two scrapbooks created by Stickney and his daughter in 1873. The material in the third and fourth scrapbooks has not been published since receipt was after the 1869 publication of the genealogy. The scrapbooks were paginated and contain indices. The scrapbooks were dismantled, and Stickney's arrangement was maintained in order to align with the indices.

Subseries B. Calef Family Genealogy Correspondence was arranged in a scrapbook by Matthew Adams Stickney. The correspondence and research in this series attempts to trace the lineage of Robert Calef (circa 1648-1719) who is known for authoring the book More Wonders of the Invisible World that denounced the Salem witch trials of 1692. In addition to correspondence, this scrapbook includes transcripts of information collected from city, town and church records, an autograph collection, and newspaper clippings. Stickney's original arrangement divided the volume into sections with a table of contents; there is no pagination. Sections include county records of Massachusetts; records of Kittery, Maine; records of Exeter, Hampstead, Kensington and Kingston, New Hampshire; letters received from the Calef family; Massachusetts city, town and church records; tax lists; autographs; and newspaper notices. The scrapbook was dismantled and original arrangement was maintained with section dividers. The table of contents can be found in the first folder of the subseries.

Subseries C. Fowler Family Genealogy Correspondence was arranged in a scrapbook by Matthew Adams Stickney. The scrapbook is paginated and contains an index. The scrapbook was dismantled, and Stickney's arrangement was maintained in order to align with the index.

Subseries D. "Numismatics, Currency, Almanacs, Genealogy, etc." Correspondence include the aforementioned topics listed by Stickney at the front of the three volumes created to hold the correspondence regarding his coin and almanac collections and interests in numismatics and genealogy. Of note is correspondence with William E. Dubois at the Assay Department of the United States Mint and James Pollock, Director of the Mint [filed under U. S. Mint]. The volumes are organized alphabetically by last name of correspondent. The volumes contain continuous pagination and separate indices. The scrapbooks were dismantled, and Stickney's arrangement was maintained in order to align with the indices.

Subseries E. General Correspondence includes a volume that was not indexed or paginated. It contained correspondence dated predominately after 1884 along with loose letters that were found throughout the collection. These letters continue to address Matthew Adams Stickney's hobbies, but also include correspondence with family members. The scrapbook was dismantled, and these letters have been arranged chronologically.

Subseries F. Record of Correspondence Sent includes five volumes of letter books. Some of the volumes were purchased by Matthew Adams Stickney. The following inscription can be found in Volume I after a list of books consulted in the research of the Stickney family genealogy "in 1860 of the Commercial Bank to preserve them from being sold to the paper manufacturers, and in this their Cash Book, my daughters for greater convenience and safety, have recopied on its blank leaves, such letters as I have in former years sent, and of which I have retained copies." The inscription also provides an overview of what is included in the various volumes, mainly correspondence sent by Matthew Adams Stickney. The remaining pages of Volume I are filled with letters sent from Matthew Adams Stickney and his daughters dating from 1846 to 1865, as well as a general index of all letters sent or received is included on pages 230-277.

Two of the letter books contain records of the Social Insurance Company, a marine insurance company in Salem. Volume II contains the account book of the Social Insurance Company from 1809 to 1810. It also contains some letters pasted into the volume, copies of letter received by Stickney from 1864 to 1866, and an index of letters sent and received for 1865 to 1869 that can be found on pages 266-293. Volume II also includes copies of records pertaining to the genealogies of the following families: Leaver, Boynton, Carleton, Jewett, Davis, Bridges, Barker, Swan, Trumbull, Gage, Waters, Gerrish, Scales, Morse, Palmer, Burpee, Platts, Blodget, Goodridge, Shillaber, Wilkins and newspaper notices about Stickney family members.

Volume III had contained part of Matthew Adams Stickney's autograph collection, which was removed from the volume prior to the processing of this collection in 2013. The volume contains copies of letters sent from 1867 to 1874, an index of letters sent and received in 1870, and an index of letters sent from 1871 to 1873.

Volume IV contains a copy of the act establishing the Social Insurance Company in 1808. It also includes minutes from Stockholder and Director meetings from 1809 to 1842, and legal meeting minutes from 1809 to 1813. Copies of records from registries, town, church and court records in Massachusetts and New Hampshire are also included, along with notes on the cost of publication, dates circulars were sent, and orders placed for the Fowler and Stickney published genealogies.

Volume V, referred to by Matthew Adams Stickney as "Quarto Volume" contains copies of records of Rowley, Massachusetts pertaining to Stickney family members, and correspondence sent over a period of two decades from 1846 to 1868 as well as an index (noted by the Stickneys as a duplication of that in Volume I).

Subseries G. Personal Papers contain a remaining portion of autographs he collected (a substantial number were removed from his collection and auctioned off by his daughters in 1907, others were removed in 1989) his ciphering book, receipts, a journal, loose notes about people's death dates, calling cards, lecture cards, membership cards, wedding invitations, and an account book from his general store. This series also contains three volumes titled “Recollections and Journal of Matthew A. Stickney.” Volume 1 of this series contains copies of letters from Stickney’s Aunt Molly dating from 1840 to 1850; diary entries from his father, Dudley Stickney Sr. dating from 1790 to 1792; diary entries from his brother, Dudley Stickney Jr. dating from 1816 to 1819; diary entries from his half-brother, Thomas Stickney dating from 1820 to 1842; two hand drawn maps; and the beginning of Stickney’s recollections of his early childhood through the 1860s. Volume 2 contains his recollections and journal entries from 1865 to 1875, and volume 3 are those dating from 1876 to 1893.

Series II. Lucy Waters Stickney (1843-1929) is organized into two subseries. Subseries A. Personal Papers contains merit awards, a journal and copy books maintained by Lucy and her sister Sarah Elizabeth Stickney. Subseries B. Kinsman Family Genealogy Correspondence contains both correspondence and records from England and America, and Lucy's notes on the information collected about the Kinsman family.

Series III. Family Papers include documents collected by Matthew Adams Stickney that he originally organized into two volumes and is broken down into two subseries. Volume I contained letters from Dudley Stickney (1774-1834); letters of Solomon Stickney; autographs; wedding invitations; lecture cards; calling cards; Matthew Adams Stickney's ciphering book; the pocket book of Samuel Spofford; and a farmer's journal of planting. Volume II contained the papers of Dudley Stickney (1798-1829); compositions of Mary E. Smith; papers of Mary [Molly] Stickney; papers pertaining to the settlement of John Waters' estate; and a journal and correspondence of Matthew Adams Stickney. The ciphering book, calling cards, lecture cards and wedding invitations were moved to Series I. Matthew Adams Stickney Subseries G. Personal Papers. Subseries A. Immediate Family contains some letters written by his father Dudley, papers of his brother Dudley, his first wife Mary Elizabeth Smith, and his daughter Cornelia Augusta. These papers are arranged chronologically by family member. Subseries B. Extended Family includes correspondence of Stickney's uncles Solomon and Thomas, aunt Molly, father-in-law Caleb Smith, and father-in-law John Waters.

Series IV. Collected Papers consists of two subseries. Subseries A. Legal and Financial include papers Stickney collected of Salem businessmen. They range in date from 1690 to 1899 and are arranged chronologically. Subseries B. Individuals and Organizations include papers of a particular person or organization that were numerous enough to pull out of the chronological organization or were already bundled together by Stickney.

Biographical Sketch

Matthew Adams Stickney was born to Dudley Stickney (1774-1834) and Elizabeth Davis (1774-1808) on September 23, 1805 in Rowley, Massachusetts. He married twice: the first time on April 17, 1833 to Mary Elizabeth Smith, who died May 9, 1834; and again on December 25, 1838 to Lucy Waters, who died February 13, 1847. He had three daughters that survived to adulthood by his second marriage: Sarah Elizabeth (1839-1895); Lucy Waters (1843-1929); and Cornelia Augusta (1846-1925). None of his daughters married.

Stickney was known as a collector. His collections included "ancient furniture," wedding rings, family records, Indian relics, and almanacs. He also collected autographs, letters of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, George Washington, and other men of note of the Revolutionary period. He was most well-known as a numismatist (a scholar who studies currency, including coins, tokens, paper money and related objects), and as a collector of coins. A notice in Dickerman's United States Treasury Counterfeit Detector Journal, published in February of 1907 stated,

"One of the most important sales of coins on record took place in Salem, Massachusetts, on January 18, when the famous collection of the late Matthew A. Stickney was purchased by Henry Chapman, Jr., of Philadelphia. The price paid was not given out, but it is the opinion of Salem coin collectors that the collection could not have been purchased for less than $15,000. The collection is said to be complete of all the coins of this country, including the famous 1804 silver dollar. It was owned by Miss Cornelia A. and Miss Lucy W. Stickney, daughters of the late collector. Matthew A. Stickney, who made the collection, was a grocer who through influence was enabled to secure perfect coins from the mints from time to time as they were produced."

Stickney was also widely known as a genealogist. In 1847 he was made a corresponding member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. In 1869 he published a volume of 526 pages, A Genealogical Memoir of the Descendants of William and Elizabeth Stickney from 1637 to 1869, containing the genealogy and history of the family. In 1883, a second volume entitled The Fowler Family: A Genealogical Memoir of the Descendants of Philip and Mary Fowler, of Ipswich, Mass.; ten generations, 1590-1882 was published, which traced the lineage of his maternal grandmother.

His health was described as "never firm" and he found solace in his books and collections. Matthew Adams Stickney died on August 12, 1894 in Salem.

Dudley Stickney, father of Matthew Adams Stickney, was born to Jedediah Stickney (1739-1815) and Sarah Stickney (1743-1822) on May 11, 1774 in Rowley, Massachusetts. In 1806 he moved his family to Hancock County, Maine. He was a lumber merchant based in Belfast Maine, shipping to Newburyport and Salem, Massachusetts. In 1826 he moved to Hartford, Maine where he resided until his death on May 20, 1834. In 1797 he married Elizabeth Davis (1774-1808). This marriage produced two sons, Dudley (1798-1829) and Matthew Adams (1805-1894). He married a second time in 1811 to Anna Patterson. They had four children: Thomas (1812-1851); Guilford (1821-1895); Sarah Maria (1823-1893); and Eliza Anna (b. 1829).

Caleb Smith (1786-1870) was the father of Matthew Adams Stickney's first wife, Mary Elizabeth Smith. From 1802-1807 he worked in the store of Deacon James Brown. In 1807 he formed a partnership with James Brown, and they rented Daniel Rugg's store. In 1810 he purchased Rugg's general store which he owned until he sold it in 1832 to his son-in-law, Matthew Adams Stickney. Caleb Smith was also involved in shipping; he owned four trading vessels by 1829. He purchased five more vessels over the next twenty years. From 1832 to 1834 he and his brother John ran a sugar refinery in Salem. In 1835, he purchased Pickering Dodge Wharf and had it remodeled into a whale oil refinery. He died in Salem in 1870.

Dudley Stickney, son of Dudley Stickney (1774-1834) and Elizabeth Davis (1774-1808), was born on November 4, 1798, in Rowley, Massachusetts. He attended Belfast Academy while his family lived in Hancock County, Maine. He returned to Rowley, Massachusetts to work as a clerk and assistant in the store of his uncle, Solomon Stickney. He then attended Dummer Academy with the intention of preparing for college, but poor health forced him to give up the pursuit. When he recovered his health, he became an instructor at various schools in Essex County. Again failing health forced him to resign, and he removed to Portsmouth, New Hampshire to open a religious book store. At the urging of friends he returned to Danvers to resume instruction and was chosen President of the Danvers Lyceum. He died unmarried on October 30, 1829 at the home of his uncle in Rowley.

Lucy Waters Stickney, second daughter of Matthew Adams Stickney (1805-1894) and Lucy Waters (1816-1847), was born in Salem, Massachusetts on February 4, 1843. She assisted her father in his genealogical research and in 1876 published The Kinsman Family: Genealogical Record of the Descendants of Robert Kinsman, of Ipswich, Mass. from 1634 to 1875. She died unmarried in Salem on April 21, 1929.

Cornelia Augusta Stickney, youngest daughter of Matthew Adams Stickney (1805-1894) and Lucy Waters (1816-1847), was born in Salem, Massachusetts on September 13, 1846. She died unmarried in Salem on November 12, 1925.

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.

Brooks, Henry M. (Henry Mason), 1822-1898
Calef family
Calef, Robert, 1648-1719
Colburn, Jeremiah, 1815-1891
Du Bois, William E. (William Ewing), 1810-1881
Fowler family
Kinsman family
Smith, Caleb, 1786-1870
Snowden, James Ross, 1809-1878
Stickney family
Stickney, Cornelia Augusta, 1846-1925
Stickney, Dudley, 1774-1834
Stickney, Dudley, 1798-1829
Stickney, Lucy Waters, 1843-1929
Stickney, Matthew Adams, 1805-1894
Stickney, Sarah Elizabeth, 1839-1895
Ward, Miles, 1673 or 1674-1764
Waters, John, -1851
Essex Institute
Essex Turnpike Corporation
Grace Church (Salem, Mass.)
New England Historic Genealogical Society
Salem Turnpike and Chelsea Bridge Corporation
Social Insurance Co. (Salem, Mass.)
South Danvers Lyceum
United States Mint
Young Men's Union (Salem, Mass.)
Danvers (Mass.)
Rowley (Mass.)
Salem (Mass.)
Windsor County (Vt.)
Advertising fliers


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Administrative Information


Request 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

Matthew Adams Stickney Papers, MSS 463, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


Most of this material was placed on deposit by Lucy and Cornelia Stickney in 1915. Odell & Phippen shipping correspondence (1836), originally donated by Matthew Adams Stickney in 1876, was removed from the Caleb Smith Papers, 1786-1870 (MSS 194) in 1985. A small portion of materials was given by Harold Bowditch in 1946. Thirty-nine manuscript items were donated by the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society in 1994 (acc # 94032). This material was originally arranged in three collections as Fam. Mss. 959, 960 and 961.

Processing Information

Collection processed and cataloged by Jennifer Hornsby, June 2013. Updated by Tamara Gaydos, October 2018.

Related Material

C. F. Libbie & Co. Catalogue of the valuable private library of the late M. A. Stickney, together with other small consignments, including town histories and genealogies, early American almanacs from 1667 to 1700...: to be sold by auction Nov. 25-27, 1907. Boston: s.n., 1907.

C. F. Libbie & Co. Catalogue of autograph collection of Matthew A. Stickney, of Salem: auction sale December 18-19, 1907. Boston: s.n., 1907.

The New England Historic Genealogical Society. Memorial Biographies of The New England Historic Genealogical Society, Volume IX. Boston: F. H. Gilson, 1908.

Stickney, Lucy W. The Kinsman family: genealogical record of the descendants of Robert Kinsman, of Ipswich, Mass. from 1634 to 1875. Boston: A. Mudge & Son, 1876.

Stickney, Matthew Adams. A Genealogical Memoir of the Descendants of William and Elizabeth Stickney from 1637 to 1869. Salem: Essex Institute Press, 1869.

Stickney, Matthew Adams. Fowler family: a genealogical memoir of the descendants of Philip and Mary Fowler, of Ipswich, Mass.: Ten generations: 1590-1882. Salem, Mass.: Salem Press, 1883.

Lucy Waters Stickney Diary, 1899, DIA 180

Dudley and Thomas Stickney Diary, 1790-1842, DIA 179

Caleb Smith Papers, 1789-1877, MSS 194

Social Insurance Company Records, 1803-1842, MSS 138

Stickney Family Tree (select Stickneys displayed)

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