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Stone Silsbee and Pickman Records

Stone Silsbee and Pickman Records

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Processing and conservation for 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 161 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-948-6012
Creator:Stone, Silsbee, and Pickman
Title:Stone Silsbee and Pickman Records
Quantity:56.5 linear feet (77 boxes, 48 volumes, flat file)
Abstract:The Stone Silsbee and Pickman records cover the years 1809 to 1904 and include papers for the three partnerships of the firm: Stone Silsbee and Pickman; Silsbee and Pickman; and Silsbee Pickman and Allen.
Collection Number:MSS 63

Series List

SERIES I. Account BooksSERIES II. CorrespondenceSERIES III. Shipping PapersSERIES IV. Miscellaneous Papers

Scope and Content Note

The Stone Silsbee and Pickman records cover the years 1809 to 1904 and include papers for the three partnerships of the firm: Stone Silsbee and Pickman; Silsbee and Pickman; and Silsbee Pickman and Allen. The large volume of this 19th century company's records reflects the growth and transition of the Salem shipping firm. Started during the height of the Salem shipping industry, these records parallel the changes in the industry from its prosperous era to its declining years.

The bulk of this collection documents the middle and later years of the company, 1840 to 1880. Activities of the firm prior to 1840 are represented only by the account books of the bark Camel and ship Endeavor, and a few merchant house letters. Some Benjamin W. Stone and Brothers (MSS 64) account books contain entries for Benjamin W. Stone with Stone Silsbee and Pickman. This collection has been arranged into four series.

Series I. Account Books covers the years 1809 to 1893. Subseries A. General Account Books contains entries for ships, cargo, insurance, and American and foreign merchants. Subseries B. Shipping Account Books includes cargo and crew accounts for individual ships and general shipping accounts. Account books for cargoes imported on chartered vessels have been arranged by port. Miscellaneous shipping account books include entries for more than one ship or unidentified vessels.

Series II. Correspondence covers the years 1827 to 1903. Subseries A. Letter Books contains originals and copies of letters sent and received from merchant houses and ships' masters; Volumes 32 to 36 include indexes. The telegram books contain messages received by the firm from 1878 to 1890. Loose telegrams are filed with merchant house and miscellaneous business correspondence, subseries D and F. Subseries B. Internal Correspondence contains business letters between the firm members. The correspondence before 1865 relates ships' progress, selection of masters, and cargo importation. Correspondence between George H. Allen and firm members discusses financial transactions and investments. Letters from Silsbee and Pickman to George H. Allen also include letters from the partners' children concerning business.

Subseries C. Agents' Correspondence includes letters to and from Stone Silsbee and Pickman agents: F. W. Brown in Hobartown, Australia; E. A. Emmerton in Manila; and J. Henry Williams in New York. The correspondence in this subseries discusses ships' progress, prices current, and advice for the sale and purchase of cargo. Subseries D. Merchant House Correspondence also discusses ships' progress, prices current, and advice for the sale and purchase of cargo. Also in the merchant house correspondence are a few letters addressed to members of Stone Silsbee and Pickman.

Subseries E. American Business Correspondence reveals the transition of Stone Silsbee and Pickman, from a shipping company to Silsbee Pickman and Allen, an investment firm. Early correspondence with merchants concerns ships' activities, insurance, importation and sale of cargoes, and George H. Allen's ventures in the cigar business. Correspondence after 1870 increasingly concerns investments by firm members. Subseries F. Miscellaneous Business Correspondence covers the years 1855 to 1903.

Series III. Shipping Papers covers the years 1812 to 1900. Subseries A. Ships' Papers is arranged alphabetically by the name of the ship and includes vessels owned by Stone Silsbee and Pickman. Papers for chartered vessels follow the alphabetical listing of firm-owned ships. Additional information regarding ships can be found in account books, letter books, agent correspondence, and merchant house correspondence. Subseries B. Miscellaneous Shipping Papers contains documents for more than one vessel or unidentified vessels. The lawsuit with the insurance companies concerning a warehouse fire (box 72, folders 1-3) includes correspondence, affidavits, vouchers, and transcripts of the trial. Included here are George Z. Silsbee's instructions for trading in various East Indian ports.

Series IV. Miscellaneous Papers covers the years 1840-1904 and contains miscellaneous papers related to the firm. Of interest in this series are notes on the histories of various ships, which were collected by George H. Allen. Also included are two charts drawn from the Municipal Observatory in Manila and two issues of The Citizen, a Calcutta newspaper, dated 1852 (flat file 1).

Historical Sketch

In 1798, an unofficial partnership was formed under the name Stone Silsbee and Pickman between Robert Stone, Nathaniel Silsbee, and Dudley Leavitt Pickman for the purpose of purchasing ships and the sale of imported cargo. In the 1840s, additional family members began to associate together for shipping ventures under the firm name. Their ships were involved in East Indian, Australian, Asian, and San Francisco trading. In 1860, with the departure of Robert Stone's sons, Benjamin W. and William Stone, the firm was reorganized under the name Silsbee and Pickman.

George Henry Allen, a long time clerk in the firm, became a partner in 1863, and the name of the firm changed to Silsbee Pickman and Allen. With the waning of shipping industry, companies like Stone Silsbee and Pickman began diversifying into other investments. Although Silsbee Pickman and Allen owned ships into the 1890s, by the late 1870s, their major concern began to shift from shipping to investments in railroads and banking. As older members of the firm retired, George H. Allen assumed an increasingly central role, acting as attorney for their investment transactions. The company was dissolved in 1898. During its hundred year history, members of the company included: Robert, Benjamin W., and William Stone; Nathaniel Sr., Nathaniel Jr., William, George Z., Zachariah F., Benjamin H., and John H. Silsbee; Dudley Leavitt, Dudley Leavitt II, and William Dudley Pickman; George T. Saunders; and George H. Allen.

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.

Allen, Charles Henry, 1830-1910
Allen, George H. (George Henry), 1838-1925
Brown, Nathaniel
Dudley, Josiah
Kinsman, Joshua, 1801-1844
Kinsman, Nathaniel, 1798-1847
Pickman, Dudley Leavitt, 1779-1846
Pickman, Dudley Leavitt, b. 1850
Pickman, William Dudley, 1819-1890
Saunders, George T.
Silsbee, Benjamin H.
Silsbee, Edward Augustus, 1826-1900
Silsbee, George Zacariah, b. 1822
Silsbee, John H.
Silsbee, Nathaniel, 1748-1791
Silsbee, William, 1779-1833
Silsbee, Zachariah F. (Zachariah Fowle), 1783-1873
Stone, Benjamin W., 1809-1891
Stone, Robert, d. 1860
Stone, William, 1820-1898
Augustine Heard (Ship)
Aurora (Ship)
Australia (Ship)
Borneo (Bark)
Camel (Bark)
Derby (Ship)
Eliza Ann (Bark)
Endeavor (Ship)
Europa (Bark)
Formosa (Ship)
Ianthe (Ship)
Malay (Ship)
Mindoro (Ship)
Ocean Rover (Ship)
Panay (Ship)
Rome (Ship)
Sappho (Ship)
Shirley (Ship)
Silsbee and Pickman
Silsbee, Pickman, and Allen
Sooloo (Ship: 1840-1850)
Sooloo (Ship: 1860-1888)
Stone, Silsbee, and Pickman
Sumatra (Ship)
Syren (Ship)
Account books
Cargo handling--opium
Clipper ships
Freight and freightage--opium
Merchant houses--Buenos Aires--E. H. Folmar
Merchant houses--Calcutta--Whitney Brothers
Merchant houses--Hong Kong--Augustine Heard & Co.
Merchant houses--London--Baring Brothers.
Merchant houses--Manila--Ker & Co.
Merchant houses--Manila--Peele Hubbell Co.
Merchant houses--Melbourne--MacPherson Francis & Co.
Merchant houses--Melbourne--Wilkinson Brothers
Merchant houses--San Francisco--Flint Peabody & Co.
Merchants--New York--J. Henry Williams
Salem (Mass.)
United States--History--Alabama Claims
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865


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

Stone Silsbee and Pickman Records, MSS 63, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


This material is an integration and reorganization of 104 boxes and 32 volumes. The majority of the collection was received from the Baker Library at Harvard University. One letter of ship's orders of the schooner Rome, dated March 22, 1845, was a gift from Mrs. John Dyer Jr. The bark Camel and schooner Endeavor account book was a 1909 gift from George H. Perkins. Two boxes of shipping papers came from the Benjamin W. Stone and Brothers Records, MSS 64. The remaining 24 boxes were removed from the Allen Family Papers, MSS 1. A number of items from MH 212 were integrated into this collection: invoices dated 1869, 1879, and 1881 (accession #10,013); various ships' papers; correspondence from Benjamin W. Stone; and a volume with cargo lists, ships' bills and others lists, dated 1828 to 1847—all of which was a gift from Edward Van Wagner (accession #11,264). An account book of produce purchased and shipped by Ker and Company, 1866-1870 (Box 8, Folders 8-9), was accession #13,967. A total of 13 letters were donated by Bruce MacDonald on October 25, 1998 (acc #88022) and added to Box 5, Folder 1; Box 9, Folder 1; and Box 11, Folders 8 and 12. An account book and notes for the ship Rome (Box 54, Folders 2 and 6) and papers for the ship Mindoro (Box 74, Folders 3 through 7) were purchased in 2007 (acc #2007.016).

Processing Information

Collection processed by Prudence Backman and Nancy Barthelemy, August 1982. Updated by Hilary Streifer, October 2014 and Tatiyana Bastet, July 2019.

Related Material

Putnam, George Granville. Salem Vessels and Their Voyages, Series III. Salem, MA: Essex Institute, 1925.

Allen Family Papers, 1817-1920, 1977. MSS 1

Benjamin W. Stone Papers, 1841-1868. MH 212

Benjamin W. Stone and Brothers Records, 1833-1895. MSS 64

Brackley R. Peabody Papers, 1835-1853. MSS 76

Charles Henry Allen Papers, 1829-1875. MSS 385

Charles H. Allen Jr. Papers, 1861-1883. MH 28

Dudley Leavitt Pickman Papers, 1721-1938, 1967, 1985, 1990. MSS 360

James Gillis Papers, 1798-1835. MSS 90

John Nichols Papers, 1822-1841. MSS 98

Silsbee Family Papers, 1637, 1754-1907. MSS 74

Snell Family Papers, 1852-1868. MSS 75

Aurora (Ship), Logbook. Log 1018

Australia (Ship), Logbook. Log 631, 567

Borneo (Barque), Logbook. Log 983, 984, 1138

Borneo (Ship), Logbook. Log 287, 394, 368

Camel (Barque), Logbook. Log 117, 109

Eliza Ann (Bark), Logbook. Log 659, 618, 567, 540

Malay (Brigand), Logbook. Log 193

Mindoro (Ship), Logbook. Log 804

Panay (Ship), Logbook. Log 860

Polly (Sloop), Logbook. Log 922

Shirley (Ship), Logbook. Log 672, 789, 788

Sooloo (Ship), Logbook. Log 497, 787, 800, 850

Syren (Ship), Logbook. Log 654

Appendix I

Appendix II

Appendix III

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