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Caleb Smith Papers, 1789-1877

Identifier: MSS 194

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.


  • Creation: 1789-1877


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

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.


1 linear foot (2 boxes)

Language of Materials



The Caleb Smith papers document the general store and shipping activities of Caleb Smith of Salem and Danvers, Massachusetts.

Series List

SERIES I. Merchant and Shipping Papers

SERIES II. Personal and Family Papers

Physical Location

Phillips Library Stacks


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).

Bibliography and Related Collections

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

Prudent (Bark) Logbook, 1830, Log 258

Processing Information

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

Processed by: Sylvia B. Kennick; Updated by: Tamara Gaydos; machine-readable finding aid created by: Rajkumar Natarajan.
Language of description
Script of description
Processing and conservation of this collection were funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the Phillips Library Repository

Peabody Essex Museum
306 Newburyport Turnpike
Rowley MA 01969 USA