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Cheever and Howard Family Papers, 1776-1896

Identifier: MSS 356

Scope and Content Note

The Cheever and Howard Families Papers span three generations of the Cheever and Howard families of Salem, Massachusetts, and document the business and financial dealings of an affluent Salem family throughout the nineteenth century. The collection includes personal correspondence, deeds and other legal documents, tax bills, records of stock purchases and other investments including whaling voyages, and other receipts.

Folder 1 contains legal papers and accounts concerning the estate of the senior Benjamin Cheever. The earliest deeds document land purchased in Salem, Massachusetts, from his father Peter in 1776 and brother Nathaniel in 1777. Most of the papers are detailed accounts concerning the settlement of his estate following his death in 1832. Folder 2 contains four documents pertaining to the death of his wife, Mary, in 1842.

The following five folders contain papers belonging to each of Benjamin and Mary Cheever's five children or their spouses. In Folder 3 are receipts and legal papers of Mary Cheever, who remained single. These include insurance policies, receipts, and her last will, probated in 1856 following her death.

Folder 4 contains papers of John Howard Jr., who married Priscilla Cheever in 1812. These include correspondence, deeds and other legal papers, his discharge as Captain from the Militia of the Commonwealth, receipts, and stock purchases. Also present are receipts for whaling voyages from Salem from 1833 to 1843 on the ship James Maury, ship Samuel Wright, bark Reaper, ship Bengal, ship Lydia, bark Palestine, bark Richard, schooner Mac, ship Mount Wollaston, schooner Franklin, bark Derby, bark Eliza, bark Henry, schooner Three Sisters, or bark Statesman.

Sarah Cheever married Dana Lewis in 1813. Folder 5 contains receipts for the money she received from the estates of Benjamin Cheever and Mary Cheever between 1842 and 1878. Eliza Cheever married Dr. Malthus A. Ward in 1829, and they resided in Athens, Georgia. Folder 6 contains one letter to Eliza from her mother and also receipts for money she or her estate received from Benjamin or Mary Cheever's estates, and also from her sister Mary Cheever for board. Folder 7 contains receipts of Benjamin Cheever from 1856 to 1878. Since Mary Cheever's will written in 1850 states that her brother Benjamin predeceased her, these papers presumably belong to his son, Benjamin Cheever, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

The next four folders contain papers of three of John and Priscilla Howard's children. Folders 8 and 9 contain the papers of William Augustus Howard. William lived in Massachusetts, but most of these papers deal with his financial investments in California, where his brother Benjamin lived. In Folder 8 are two letters from Benjamin and later correspondence about the settlement of Benjamin's estate. Also present is a power of attorney granted by William to his brother Benjamin in 1866. In Folder 9 are stock certificates, real estate tax bills, and miscellaneous receipts spanning the years 1859 to 1874. William's investments included the Eureka Homestead Association, Taunton Copper Reducing and Smelting Company, Hope Gravel Mining Company, and Campo Seco Copper Mining Company.

Benjamin Cheever Howard's death in San Francisco, California, in 1870 is the subject of five letters in Folder 10. These were written to his brother, William, from Benjamin's widow, Ellen (Nellie), or from other friends. There are also miscellaneous papers including the power of attorney granted to William in 1868.

Folder 11 contains papers of Eliza (Howard) Reed and her husband, William Briggs Reed. These include personal letters to their son, Willie, on his first voyage abroad to London and Shanghai in 1862-1863. There are also receipts of Eliza's for household goods and furnishings, insurance premiums, and real estate taxes for the years 1890 to 1892.

In Folder 12 are miscellaneous receipts and papers, including a printed article about Colonel Israel Hutchinson (1727-1811) of Danvers, Massachusetts, who was the great-grandfather of William Briggs Reed. Also present is a copper printing plate engraved with "Mr. & Mrs. W. Briggs Reed, 19 Albany Street, Boston."

Folder 13 contains seven items, including the Boston Almanac for 1845, two pamphlets about the Salem Independent Cadets (1853) or the State Reform School (1853), two workbooks (1834, undated) and the empty covers of two other books (1820, undated).


  • Creation: 1776-1896

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Biographical Sketches

Benjamin Cheever was born in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1746/7, the son of Peter and Sarah (Moses) Cheever. He married Mary (Barr) Carde in 1784, and their children included Mary, Priscilla and Sarah (twins), Eliza, and Benjamin. He died in Salem in 1832.

Priscilla Cheever, daughter of Benjamin and Mary (Carde) Cheever, married John Howard Jr. in 1812. They resided in Salem, Massachusetts, and had eight children, John Charles, William Augustus, Mary Jane, Henry, Benjamin, Caroline, Eliza, and Ellen.

Eliza Howard, daughter of John and Priscilla (Cheever) Howard, was born in 1815. She married William Briggs Reed in 1845. They lived in East Boston and Southboro, Massachusetts, and had three children, William, Isabel, and Benjamin.


.5 Linear feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



The Cheever and Howard Families Papers span three generations of the Cheever and Howard families of Salem, Massachusetts, and document the business and financial dealings of an affluent Salem family throughout the nineteenth century.

Physical Location

Phillips Library Stacks


This material was donated on August 27, 1976.

Bibliography and Related Collections

Perley Derby, The Hutchinson Family. Salem: Essex Institute Press, 1870.

E. S. Waters, "Materials for a History of the Ropes Family", Essex Institute Historical Collections 7(1865): 150-167.

Note: In the Peabody Essex Museum collection is a sampler worked by Eliza Howard at age 9.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Lee Jacoby, September 2006.

Processed by: Lee Jacoby; machine-readable finding aid created by: Rajkumar Natarajan.
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Phillips Library Repository

Peabody Essex Museum
306 Newburyport Turnpike
Rowley MA 01969 USA