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Osgood Family Papers, 1661-1932, undated

Identifier: MSS 189

Scope and Content Note

The Osgood Family papers document five generations of the Osgood family of Salem, Massachusetts, including the shipping and business papers of John Osgood (1758-1826), shoemakers' ledgers of Nathaniel (1714-1799) and Christopher (1748-1828) Osgood, and John F. Osgood's (1825-1894) autobiography describing his international travels. The papers also contain diverse records of many other family members and relatives. The collection is divided into two series.

Series I. John Osgood (1758-1826) Papers contains correspondence, financial, legal, and estate papers that document John's activities as a shipmaster and shipping merchant, and briefly describe his other business concerns. The correspondence incudes general merchant correspondence, letters with his mercantile partner, William Gray, and correspondence regarding Count Basile Apraxin's fiscal affairs during his visit to the United States (1802-1807). The paucity of shipping records in the series does not reflect the thriving trade that John conducted with Europe and India. Only one folder of legal and financial records documents the privateering and shipping vessels that John owned or mastered (See Appendix I for a listing). Of interest in the financial papers are receipts and accounts of Basile Apraxin and his mother, the Countess Elisabeth Apraxin of Russia, real estate accounts, and household receipts for furniture made by William Appleton and Nehemiah Adams. Also included are receipts from the Salem Iron Factory, of which John was an early shareholder, and accounts and shareholders' lists that John kept as treasurer of the Salem Female School. Besides numerous deeds for land on Brown Street in Salem, the legal papers contain John's Justice of the Peace certificate (1816), a house building agreement (1781), and a Gedney family genealogy that related to the Brown Street lands. The estate papers include the wills of John and his wife, Rebecca (Messervy), house inventories, and John B. Osgood's' estate trustee papers.

Series II. Family Papers contains a wide variety of materials documenting numerous Osgood family members and relatives. The ledgers of Nathaniel (1714-1799) and Christopher (1748-1828) Osgood reflect the activities of these 18th-century shoemakers. John B. Osgood's (1783-1853) papers do not adequately reflect his prosperous interest in the whaling industry. His records include merchant correspondence with Osgood & Company (the failing business of his brothers-in-law Robert H. and John W. Osgood), wharf and land deeds, accounts from Henry Osgood's estate, a bill of sale for the ship Minerva, a single account of the whaling ship Bengal, a crew list of the ship James Maury, and financial papers regarding real estate in Vandalia, Illinois. William H. Osgood's (b. 1821) letter and account books contain merchant and master's correspondence and accounts of the ships Paris, Ann Maria, and Valparaiso on their voyages to the Far East, the East Indies, and along the coast of the United States.

Joseph B. F. Osgood's (1823-1913) papers contain no mention of his career as a Massachusetts legislator or Salem judge and mayor. His records are comprised of correspondence and accounts regarding his wards, Samuel and Caroline D. West, who were residents of the McLean Asylum for the Insane and the Butler Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. John F. Osgood's (1825-1894) autobiography provides fascinating accounts of his voyages on the barks Brenda and Emily Wilder, and the schooner Curlew, and his travels through Arabia, the east coast of Africa, France, Egypt, and San Francisco.

Charles S. Osgood's (1839-1897) papers contain theater journals, handbills, and programs, and photographs of theater stars. The family papers include a wide variety of records: deeds for property of or near John (b. 1716), Nathaniel (1714-1799), and Benjamin (1719-1809) Osgood; personal letters to Rev. George P. Smith; John C. Osgood's will and correspondence and accounts regarding his real estate in Vandalia, Illinois; the wills of Christopher Osgood (1748-1828) and Jonathan Messervy (dated 1755); Charles S. Osgood's internal revenue license; Mehitable Osgood's 1842 diary written in to an 1839 almanac; and Harriet L. Whipple's reminiscence of an 1833 journey from Boston to Uxbridge, Massachusetts.

Of interest in the miscellaneous papers are the 1774 will of Nathaniel Brown, estate papers of Solomon Lufkin whose estate was handled by Nathaniel Ingersoll, an Ingersoll deed for land on Turner Street, an 1891 Salem pamphlet describing funeral rings, and memorandums of William B. Cushing's Civil War pension.

The bulk of the John Osgood papers is available on microfilm reel #1.


  • Creation: 1661-1932, undated


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Biographical Sketches

Nathaniel Osgood was born in 1714 to Nathaniel (1688/7-1756) and Hannah (Buttolph) Osgood. He was a shoemaker. In He married Hannah Babbidge and they had two children, Christopher (1748-1828) and Polly. He died in Salem, Massachusetts, on June 6, 1799.

Christopher Osgood was born in Salem on October 26, 1748, the son of Nathaniel (1714-1799) and Hannah Osgood. He was a shoemaker. In 1772, he married Mary Shepard (1750-1832) and they had 11 children. He died on March 4, 1828.

Captain John Osgood was born in Salem in 1785, the son of Nathaniel (1714-1799) and Hannah Osgood. He became a ship master and shipping merchant. He was partners with William Gray. He was a Justice of the Peace, a treasurer of the Salem Female School, and a shareholder in the Salem Iron Factory. In 1782, he married Rebecca Messervy (1761-1840) and they had eight children. He died on December 2, 1826.

Captain John B. Osgood was born in Salem on November 7, 1783, the son of Christopher and Mary Osgood. He was active in the whaling industry. He married Hannah M. Osgood (b. 1794). They had two children. He died on December 27, 1853.

William Henry Osgood was born in Salem on November 5, 1821, the son of Captain William (1785-1834) and Elisabeth (Felt) Osgood. He was prepared for the high school by Master Greenleaf, and entered the English high school, September 3, 1833, graduated from there in 1836. For three years he was a clerk in Boston counting rooms. In 1839, he went to sea and rose rapidly from boy to master. He was mate with Captain Francis Brown on one voyage and on its next voyage had command of the ship. He attained high rank as a skillful navigator and obtained an extensive reputation at home and abroad for his prompt business methods. In 1850 he superintended the fitting-out work of the noted clipper ship, Trade Wind, built by Platte Brothers, of Philadelphia and at that time said to be the largest clipper in tonnage, on a very successful voyage to the Golden Gate and also in several subsequent voyages from New York. In 1855 he retired from the sea and took up his residence in San Francisco, where he continued in business until 1880, when he returned to his boyhood home in Salem to reside with his sister. Captain Osgood never married. He died on August 13, 1889.

Joseph Barlow Felt Osgood was born on July 1, 1823, the son of Captain William (1785-1834) and Elisabeth (Felt) Osgood. Joseph graduated from Harvard College in 1846. He studied law and in 1874, was appointed judge of the First District Court of Essex County. He served in both branches of the legislature and during the year 1864 was mayor of Salem. In 1853, he married Mary Jane (Jennie) Creamer (1827-1865). They had two daughters. He died on January 8, 1913.

John Felt Osgood was born in Salem on December 18, 1825, the son of Captain William (1785-1834) and Elisabeth (Felt) Osgood. He lived in Roxbury, Massachusetts, and was a merchant in Boston. He married Elizabeth Burling of Philadelphia. They had four children. He died on July 31, 1894.

John C. Osgood was born on March 21, 1826 in Salem, the son of Captain John B. and Hannah M. Osgood. He was a merchant. In 1854 he married Martha E. Whipple and they had three children. He died on October 12, 1887.

Charles Stuart Osgood was born in Salem on March 13, 1839, the son of Charles (1809-1890) and Susan (Ward) Osgood. He was a member of city government from 1863 to 1872; four years as president of the common council. He was deputy collector of customs for the district of Salem and Beverly, 1864 and 1873, member of the legislature, 1874 to 1879. In 1888 he was elected a trustee for life of the Salem Public Library; he was also one of the trustees of the Salem Athenaeum and Salem Lyceum and Librarian of the Essex Institute. In 1867 he married Elizabeth White (b. 1846). They had six children. He died on August 20, 1897.


2.5 linear feet (5 boxes; 2 volumes)

Language of Materials



The Osgood Family papers document five generations of the Osgood family of Salem, Massachusetts, including the shipping and business papers of John Osgood (1758-1826), shoemakers' ledgers of Nathaniel (1714-1799) and Christopher (1748-1828) Osgood, and John F. Osgood's (1825-1894) autobiography describing his international travels.

Series List

SERIES I. John Osgood (1758-1823) Papers

SERIES II. Family Papers

Physical Location

Phillips Library Stacks


The John and John B. Osgood papers were donated between 1960 and 1976 by Chandler and Margaret H. Green, and their relatives, Harriet and Katherine Hitchcock, Martha H. Chandler, and Elizabeth Chandler Cumming. Other gifts include the following: the John F. Osgood autobiographies donated by Emily Osgood in June 1939, the Nathaniel Osgood ledger received in 1913 from the estate of the Misses Williams, and the Charles S. Osgood family papers donated by Mrs. Edward Osgood in 1964. An order for John Osgood to appear at the Armory was removed from the Phillips Library's print collection and added to box 1, folder 5. The remainder of the collection is from an unknown source.

Bibliography and Related Collections U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.

Hitchcock, Harriet. Our New England Heritage. Place of Publication Not Identified: n.p., 1973.

Osgood, Ira, and Eben Putnam. A Genealogy of the Descendants of John, Christopher and William Osgood: Who Came from England and Settled in New England Early in the Seventeenth Century. Salem, MA: Printed at the Salem Press, 1894.

Holyoke Family Papers, 1560-1567, 1607-1905, MSS 49

John Osgood Account Book, 1825-1869, MSS 566

William Gray Papers, 1781-1840, MSS 115

Processing Information

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


OSGOOD FAMILY PAPERS, 1661-1932, undated
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