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Bowen and Story Family Papers, 1696-1941

Identifier: MSS 444

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains the accumulated materials of the Bowen and Story families, who were connected through various marriages. The collected materials were eventually passed down to William Story, Jr. The collection is organized into seven series.

Series I. Bowen Family, which is the collected material of the Bowen family of Marblehead, Massachusetts, make up more than half of the collection, the bulk being almanacs interleaved with diaries dating from 1742 to 1847. Subseries C. Nathan Bowen (1752-1837) may contain materials pertaining to Nathan, Jr. (b.1798). Box 1 Folder 12 contains the papers of Woodward Abraham, the father of Polly Abraham (Nathan's third wife), and Nicholas Melzard, the father of Mary Melzard (Nathan's fourth wife). Subseries D. Ashley Bowen contains only a handful of Ashley's materials. Besides correspondence there is one paper for the Sloop Nancy from 1785 and one largely blank journal from 1778. Subseries E. Family Almanacs, Box 2 Folder 1 contains two bound volumes of almanacs interleaved with journals that belonged to Nathan, Edward and his son Nathan. The remaining folders in the two boxes that make up this subseries contain separate almanacs interleaved with diaries belonging to different family members, who are noted on each folder. See Appendix I for detailed descriptions of the almanacs.

Series II. Story Family, which is the collected material of the Story family focuses mainly on William Edward, with materials from his childhood and his professional life. Subseries B. William E. Story, 1850-1930, Box 4 Folder 6 contains one tintype each of William and his brother Frederick as children while Box 4 Folder 8 contains a leather-bound book of handwritten and typed remembrances from colleagues and students commemorating William's 35th year of teaching higher mathematics. His father Isaac's materials are focused on his genealogical research.

Series III. Martin Family contains a journal of Elizabeth (Bowen) Martin who was the daughter of Nathan Bowen (b.1698). The series also contains two letters belonging to the Martin family.

Series IV. Woodberry Family contains correspondence and mementos of the Woodberry family. The Woodberry family is connected to the Bowen family through the marriage of Elizabeth Bowen (b.1783) and Jacob Woodberry. Their daughter, Elizabeth Woodberry, connected the family to the Story family through her marriage to Isaac Story (b.1818). The majority of the materials in this series pertain to Jacob Woodberry.

Series V. Assorted Family Documents contains various documents whose ownership within the family is not known. Box 5 Folder 2 contains fragments of documents, many of which are signatures that have been removed from their original documents. The other fragments are large and small sections from other documents that have been damaged over time. The non-family member documents in Box 5 Folders 4-5 and Box 6 Folder 8 pertain to people outside of the immediate families of this collection; the reasons for their ownership by the family is not clearly known.

Series VI. Family Ephemera, Box 5 Folder 6 contains one children's illustrated picture album dated 1855. This book was first owned by Thorndike Story (b.1853), one of Isaac's children who died at a young age, and was later owned by William Edward Story. This folder also contains one printed advanced arithmetic book with a copyright date of 1628. This book was owned by Nathan Bowen (b.1698), Edward Bowen, Nathan Bowen (b.1752), Nathan Bowen, Jr. (b.1798), William Edward Story, and William Edward Story, Jr.

Series VII. Genealogy contains charts, correspondence, and other documents related to the genealogy of the entire family. Many of the items in this series were compiled by Isaac Story (b.1818). The majority of the research and writing in the genealogy book in Box 5 Folder 9 was done by Isaac.


  • Creation: 1696-1941


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Biographical Sketches

Nathan Bowen was born in Massachusetts in 1698. He was a shopkeeper, scrivener, almanac writer, esquire and Justice of the Peace in Marblehead, Massachusetts. He had 11 children with his first wife Sarah Ashley; Edward (b.1720), Ashley (b.1728), and Elizabeth (b.1735) are three who are represented in the collection. After Sarah died in 1740, he married Hannah Harris in 1741 and had one child. He later married Mary Boden in 1794. Nathan died on December 23, 1776.

Edward Bowen was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts on December 30, 1720. He was a mariner, yeoman, and esquire. He married five times and had 11 children. He married Elizabeth Boden in 1750; Nathan Bowen (1752-1837) is the only child represented in the collection. He later married Mary Burnham in 1762, Lydia (last name and marriage dates are unknown), Deborah (Kimball) Hawkes in 1774, and Mercy Cross in 1795. He died on October 5, 1796.

Edward's son Nathan Bowen was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts on October 5, 1752. He was a cabinetmaker and notary public in Marblehead. He married Elizabeth Martin, his first cousin, in 1781 and had 5 children, Elizabeth (b.1783) is the only one represented in the collection. After his wife's death in 1797 he married Hannah Stiles the same year. They had one son, Nathan Jr., in 1798 who is also represented in the collection. After Hannah's death he married Polly Abraham in 1798; his last marriage was to Mary Melzard in 1801. He died on August 11, 1837.

Ashley Bowen was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts in 1728. He was a mariner and rigger in Marblehead. He kept many diaries and journals, some of which were made into an autobiography by Daniel Vickers. He married Deborah Chadwick in 1758 and had five children. He later married Mary Shaw in 1771 and Mary Graves in 1782. He died on February 2, 1813.

Elizabeth Bowen, sister of Ashley and Edward, was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts on February 27, 1734 and died in 1809. She married Knott Martin in 1756; their daughter Elizabeth Martin was born in 1761. Elizabeth Martin married her first cousin Nathan Bowen (b.1752) in 1781. Two of their children, Elizabeth Bowen (b.1783) and Sally Martin Bowen (b.1789) link the Woodberry and Story families with the Bowen and Martin families. Elizabeth Bowen married Jacob Woodberry and they had Elizabeth Woodberry. Sally Martin married Isaac Story (b.1783) and they had Isaac Story in 1818. Elizabeth Woodberry and Isaac Story (b.1818) married in 1846.

Isaac Story was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts on October 4, 1818 to Isaac and Sally Martin (Bowen) Story. His grandfather, Dr. Elisha Story, was a member of the Sons of Liberty and participated in the Boston Tea Party. Isaac started out as a bank teller and quickly moved onto a career in the school system holding positions as Head Master and Principal in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Maryland. During this time he studied law and eventually moved to Boston where he was admitted to the bar in 1844. In 1856, he represented Somerville in the General Court and was appointed Justice of the Police Court in Somerville in 1872. He was a member of the School Committee and the New-England Historic Genealogical Society. He was married to Elizabeth Bowen Woodberry, his first cousin, from 1846 until her death in 1888. Only three of their 10 children lived into adulthood: William E. (b.1850), Frederick W. (b.1852), and Isaac M. (b.1855). He was then married to Mary Ann Chase from 1890 until his death. He died on December 19, 1901 in Somerville, Massachusetts.

William Edward Story was born in Boston, Massachusetts on April 29, 1850. He attended Harvard College for mathematics and was one of the first students to graduate with honors in 1871. He worked on his doctoral studies at the Universities of Berlin and Leipzig from 1871 to 1875. He received his PhD in 1875 from Leipzig for his thesis On the algebraic relations existing between the polars of the binary quintic. He returned to Boston and became a mathematics tutor at Harvard from 1875-1876. He then taught at John Hopkins University in 1876, starting as an Associate in Mathematics, he was then promoted to Assistant Professor and promoted a second time to Associate Professor. He left John Hopkins to become the Head of the Mathematics Department at Clark University upon its opening in 1889. He was Editor of The American Journal of Mathematics from 1878 to 1882, Editor of the Mathematical Review, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He retired from Clark University in 1921 as an Emeritus Professor. William Story was a prominent scholar, researcher, and professor of pure mathematics as well as a leader in establishing high standards for university-level mathematics in the United States. He married May D. Harrison in 1878 and had one son, William Edward, Jr. On April 10, 1930, William Edward Story died of pneumonia.


4.75 linear feet (7 boxes)

Language of Materials



This collection contains the accumulated materials of the Bowen and Story families, who were connected through various marriages.

Series List

SERIES I. Bowen Family

  • A. Nathan Bowen (1698-1776)
  • B. Edward Bowen
  • C. Nathan Bowen (1752-1837)
  • D. Ashley Bowen
  • E. Family Almanacs
  • F. Nathan Bowen (b. 1798)
SERIES II. Story Family

  • A. Isaac Story
  • B. William E. Story
  • C. Frederick Story
  • D. Other Story Family Members
SERIES III. Martin Family

SERIES IV. Woodberry Family

SERIES V. Assorted Family Documents

SERIES VI. Family Ephemera

SERIES VII. Genealogy

Physical Location

Phillips Library Stacks


This material was purchased from the estate of William E. Story, Jr. in 1970. The diary of Elizabeth Bowen (b. 1734) was donated by Isaac M. Story in 1914. The provenance of the Nathan Bowen Notarial records is unknown.



Bowen, Ashley. Journals of Ashley Bowen (1728-1813) of Marblehead. Boston: Colonial Society of Massachusetts, 1973.

Franklin, Fabian. "William Edward Story (1850-1930)." Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 70.10 (1936): 578-580.

Gordon, George A. "Isaac Story." Proceedings of the New-England Historic Genealogical Society. Boston: New-England Historic Society, 1903. Lxxiii-lxxv.

Holman, Winifred Lovering. Ancestry of Nathan Bowen of Marblehead.

Perley, Sidney. "Bowen Genealogy." The Essex Antiquarian 10 (1906): 57-58.

Roads, Samuel. The History and Traditions of Marblehead. Boston: Houghton, Osgood, and Company, 1880.

Vickers, Daniel. "An Honest Tar: Ashley Bowen of Marblehead." The New England Quarterly 69.4 (1996): 531-553.

Related Collections

Ashley Bowen Papers, 1728-1813, MH 41

Elisha Story account book, 1820-1846, Farming and household accounts. Bound with the log book of an unidentified vessel, Log 877

Marblehead Historical Society (1700-1899): Diaries, Collection number MS 61-1355. Marblehead Historical Society in Marblehead, Massachusetts

Processing Information

Collection processed by Erin Ellingham, April 2010. Updated by Tamara Gaydos, June 2018.

Processed by: Erin Ellingham, updated by Tamara Gaydos; machine-readable finding aid created by: Rajkumar Natarajan; updated by Tamara Gaydos.
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Phillips Library Repository

Peabody Essex Museum
306 Newburyport Turnpike
Rowley MA 01969 USA