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David Pingree Papers, 1831-1940, 1969, undated

Identifier: MSS 905

Scope and Content Note

The David Pingree papers contain business and personal papers belonging to David Pingree (1841-1932). The business papers relate to Pingree's shipping and merchant business based out of Salem, Massachusetts, as well as his vast timberland business interests in Maine and New Hampshire. The collection also contains papers relating to the settling of Pingree's estate and his heirs' management of his business interests, which accounts for the materials dated after his death. This collection has been divided into five series.

Series I. Correspondence contains correspondence to and from David Pingree (1841-1932). This series has been divided into three subseries. Persons with mold sensitivities should use caution when handling these materials as these are/were affected with inactive mold; protective gloves are available for use upon request. Subseries A. African Trade Correspondence contains correspondence to and from David Pingree about his shipping and merchant business with African countries and ports. It is possible that there might be some material about the African trade business that is mixed in with the other business correspondence. Subseries B. Other Business Correspondence contains correspondence to and from David Pingree (1841-1932) about his businesses outside of African trade. Much of the incoming correspondence appears to have been kept in a binder before it arrived at the Phillips Library, as many of the materials have two uniform holes at the top of them. This subseries has been divided into three sub-subseries.

Sub-subseries 1. Incoming contains incoming correspondence. The incoming correspondence topics cover the lumber and timber business, stock holder meeting notices and stock dividend payments, the payment of mortgages and leases, some advertisements, landscaping orders, and the occasional letter asking David to give to a charity. Most of the correspondence is business related, however, there are a handful of letters from family members discussing personal matters. Of particular interest in this sub-subseries is a letter from Booker T. Washington, the principal of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, asking David for a second donation to help with students' tuition (dated November 12, 1896). There is a photocopy of a January 1, 1895 letter to David Pingree from North Packing and Provision Co.; the original letter is not in the collection, its location is unknown. Sub-subseries 2. Outgoing contains outgoing correspondence from David Pingree. The majority of this correspondence is in letter books, there is one folder containing loose papers. Sub-subseries 3. Other contains business correspondence that is neither addressed to nor written by David Pingree.

Subseries C. Personal Correspondence contains personal correspondence to and from David Pingree; the majority of it is incoming to David. It is possible that there might be some personal correspondence that is mixed in with the other business correspondence. Included in this subseries is a folder of correspondence to David's mother, Ann Maria Kimball Pingree (1804-1893). Not all of the correspondence to Ann Maria is from David, some is from her other children, nieces, and nephews. There is also a folder of correspondence to Anna Pingree Peabody (1839-1911), some of the correspondence is from David. There is also a folder of correspondence addressed to family members from people other than David.

Series II. Accounting Records contains financial records for David's various business interests. Some of these records extend beyond David's death, possibly from the management of his estate. This series has been divided into two subseries. Subseries A. Account Books contains bound volumes of accounting records. These include journals, day books, ledgers, trial balances, checkbooks, inventories of stocks and bonds and of safety deposit box contents, township balances, and bank deposit books. The trial balance from the estate of David Pingree (1795-1863) was removed from the front of Volume 1, "Trial balances of townships, December 1896 to January 1902". Some of the account books were continued by David's great-nephew, Stephen Wheatland (1892-1987) after David's death. Subseries B. Other contains invoices and receipts from David's merchant and shipping business, check stubs, and canceled checks. Most of the invoices and receipts are from Africa and Liverpool, England. Also included in this subseries are bills of sale for vessels belonging to David Pingree.

Series III. Timberland Records contains land ownership records, maps and plans, tax records, inter-office memos, land agent O. S. Head's papers, and other topics. This series contains six subseries. Subseries A. Conveyances, Deeds and Titles contains various land ownership documents, including land conveyances, records of land transfers, deeds, and titles. Also included in this subseries are land treaties, which were for lots to land formerly given out by the British Crown, that were later granted to Americans following the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842 (University of Maine at Fort Kent). There are a number of titles and abstracts of titles in this subseries; most of them were copied by hand from their original source, and there is no date as to when they were copied. Subseries B. Maps and Plans contains maps, plans, and sketches. Some of these are of Pingree's land or interests; others are more general. Included in this subseries are surveys.

Subseries C. Taxes and Valuations contains tax records and land valuations. Included in this subseries are general forest industries questionnaires sent out by the Bureau of Internal Revenue's Natural Resources Subdivisions' Timber Section. This questionnaire was completed by David Pingree and his siblings. In some cases, only part of the questionnaire is present. These questionnaires list which lands were owned, divisions of the land, the type of lumber, depletions, profits, and timber cutting records. Subseries D. Inter-Office Memos contain correspondence, notes, plans, and proposals between Pingree, his agents, and other interested parties. These are arranged by topic. Subseries E. O. S. Head Papers contains correspondence, accounts, deeds, inventories, and sketches of one of Pingree's land agents, O. S. Head. Subseries F. Other contains records of depletions, stumpage rates, and scalers' returns. Also included in this subseries are reports on losses from Spruce Bud Worm damage, and reports from the surveyor of logs.

Series IV. Personal Papers contains materials related to David Pingree outside of his shipping and timberland businesses. The personal papers include wills and trusts, personal business transactions, miscellaneous items, and the management and settlement of David's estate. This series contains four subseries.

Subseries A. Wills and Trusts contains wills, trusts, and related documents in which David Pingree or his family was involved. A number of items are from a trust by Thomas Perkins (1758-1830) for the children of Sarah Moore, Thomas' sister: Sarah Towne, Polly (Mary) Munday, Annar Averill, Lois M. Orne, Sophonia M. Averill, and Elisa M. Adams. Thomas Perkins (1758-1830) was David's (1841-1932) great uncle. John Moriarty, a Salem merchant, was one of the executors of Thomas Perkins' will, and he was the trustee for Sarah Moore's children. Mark Haskell and David Pingree (1841-1932) succeeded Moriarty as trustees for Sarah Moore's children. Also included in this subseries are account and cash books used for the various trusts.

Subseries B. Personal Business contains David Pingree's personal expenses and purchases, fire insurance policies for the family, and personal and business diaries. Subseries C. Other contains some miscellaneous items found within the collection such as invitations, some of David's school compositions, legal rulings, advertisements, news clippings, and a photograph of the Perkins Pingree farm. Also included in this subseries are some of David's obituaries. These have been photocopied to preserve the originals, which are in a separate folder.

Subseries D. Estate of David Pingree contains correspondence about the estate of David Pingree (1841-1932). This includes personal condolences, as well as business correspondence addressed to or sent by the executors of his estate. Also included in this subseries are some check stubs.

Series V. Scrapbooks contains scrapbooks or parts of scrapbooks that have been removed from the original covers, but are the pages are still bound. The scrapbooks are made up of news clippings whose topics include: timberlands and related matters, municipal affairs of the city of Salem, stocks, bonds, bank conditions, and railway interests. It should be noted that the news clippings are very brittle and fragile, making portions of the pages unable to be viewed or photocopied.


  • Creation: 1831-1940, 1969


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Biographical Sketch

David Pingree was born July 25, 1841, to David (1795-1863) and Ann Maria Kimball Pingree (1804-1893). The couple had four children, including David, who survived to adulthood: Thomas Perkins (1830-1876), Annar "Anna" (1839-1911), David, and Ann Maria "Maria" (1846-1927). David's father, David (1795-1863), had inherited from his uncle Thomas Perkins (1758-1830), a successful Salem-based shipping business, and had expanded the business to the West Indies, South America, the west coast of Africa, China, and ports throughout the East Indies. David (1795-1863) had ownership in various other companies, banks, and mills; he was also involved in the land and lumber industries. He owned substantial amounts of land in Maine and New Hampshire, as well as in other states, and was involved in many related companies with his business partner E. S. Coe (1814-1899), who would later work with David (1841-1932) and his siblings.

After graduating from Harvard College in 1863, David (1841-1932) managed his father's many businesses, including those in shipping and lumber (Report of the Secretary 52). David was the director and president of the Naumkeag Steam Cotton Company, of which his father had been one of the founders. He was also director and president of the Naumkeag Bank; his father had been president of the bank from its incorporation in 1831 until his death in 1863 (Osgood and Batchelder 237). Additionally, David served as an Alderman of Salem, a trustee of the Salem Public Library, and director of the Essex Institute. He was a member of the Salem-Maine Society and the Salem Billiard Club ("David Pingree Dies, Large Land Owner...").

David (1841-1932) inherited his uncle Asa Pingree's (1807-1869) farm and all of its holdings in Topsfield, Massachusetts, known as Perkins-Pingree farm. Asa had inherited the farm from David's father. While David maintained his primary residence in Salem, at what is known as the Gardner-Pingree house, he carried on farming operations, eventually passing the farm down to his nephew David Pingree Wheatland (b. 1898) (Farms and Rural Retreats...). Along with his father's business partner, E. S. Coe (1814-1899), David expanded his land holdings in the 1870s by buying parts of 15 townships in Maine (Bennett 87). Ahead of their time, David and Coe practiced "sustained yield cutting practices in pulpwood with selective cutting in harvesting operations, rather than cut and abandon" (Bennett 92). This concern for the woods would be passed down through the generations.

David never married and had no children. When he died on October 2, 1932, he was said to have been one of the 20 richest men in Massachusetts. The bulk of his estate was left to his nephew, Richard Wheatland, including all of his real estate in Massachusetts. David's real estate in Maine was left to Richard and his five children ("Niece May Contest Pingree Will..."). David also made many public bequests. After his death, David and his heirs willed the family home at 128 Essex Street, Salem, the Garder-Pingree house, to the Essex Institute (McAllister).


34.75 linear feet (50 boxes; 3 flat files; volumes)

Language of Materials



The David Pingree papers contain business and personal papers belonging to David Pingree (1841-1932).

Series List

SERIES I. Correspondence

  • A. African Trade Correspondence
  • B. Other Business Correspondence
    • 1. Incoming
    • 2. Outgoing
    • 3. Other
  • C. Personal Correspondence
SERIES II. Accounting Records

  • A. Account Books
  • B. Other
SERIES III. Timberland Records

  • A. Conveyances, Deeds, and Titles
  • B. Maps and Plans
  • C. Taxes and Valuations
  • D. Inter-Office Memos
  • E. O. S. Head's Papers
  • F. Other
SERIES IV. Personal Papers

  • A. Wills and Trusts
  • B. Personal Business
  • C. Other
  • D. Estate of David Pingree
SERIES V. Scrapbooks

Physical Location

Phillips Library Stacks


This material was donated by Pingree family heirs. A number of files came from Stephen Wheatland's Boston office's files in 1977. Print materials were removed from this collection and added to the Phillips Library's print collection. Eight maps were found loose in the back of Colby's Atlas of Maine, 1884, which was added to the library's print collection; the loose maps were kept with this collection. These maps are of Oxford County (two of them), Somerset County, Washington County, Penobscot County, Aroostook County, Piscataquis County, and Franklin County.


Bennett, Dean B. The Wilderness from Chamberlain Farm: A Story of Hope for the American Wild. Island Press: Washington D. C., 2001.

"David Pingree Dies, Large Land Owner: Rich Salem Man Passes in House Where He Was Born Boston Evening News, October 3, 1932.

"Farms and Rural Retreats in Topsfield: Text for Powerpoint." Text of lecture on historic farms and rural retreats, 2004. Accessed February 9, 2016.

McAllister, Jim. "Essex County Chronicles: Maine Holdings of Salem's Pingree Family Now Part of Major Conservation Trust." Essex County Chronicles. 21 February 2011. Accessed February 9, 2016.

"Niece May Contest Pingree Will: Enters Action in $20,000,000 Estate." The Herald, October 22 1932.

Osgood, Charles S. and H. M. Batchelder. Historical Sketch of Salem, 1626-1879. Essex Institute Salem, MA, 1879.

Report of the Secretary of the Class of 1863 of Harvard College, June, 1888 to June, 1893. John Wilson and Son: Cambridge, 1893.

University of Maine at Fort Kent. "Acadian Culture in Maine: Land Tenure." Accessed March 15 2016.

Related Collections

Allegash Dam Company Records, 1851-1901. MSS 913

Ann Maria Kimball Pingree Papers, 1823-1900. MSS 903

Asa Pingree Papers, 1794-1853. MSS 900

Asa Pingree Papers, 1820-1931. MSS 902

Chamberlain Farm and Dam and Telos Canal Records, 1835-1928, 1968. MSS 916

David Pingree Papers, 1810-1939. MSS 901

E. S. Coe Papers, 1844-1906. MSS 924

Jackson Iron Manufacturing Company Records, 1832-1888. MSS 910

James Wingate Sewall Business Records, 1835-1916. MSS 921

Milford Mill Company Records, 1828-1901. MSS 914

Mount Washington Summit Road Company Records, 1796-1967. MSS 911

Naumkeag Steam Cotton Company Records, 1835-1854. MSS 919

Pingree Family Scrapbook Collection, 1849-1972. MSS 927

Piscataquis Land Company Records, 1934-1940. MSS 930

Richard and Mary K. Wheatland Family Papers, 1862-1951. MSS 907

Seven Islands Land Company Records, 1794-1967, 1981. MSS 931

Thomas Perkins Pingree Papers, 1831-1889. MSS 904

Processing Information

Collection processed by Hilary Streifer, February 2016.

DAVID PINGREE PAPERS, 1831-1940, 1969
Processed by: Hilary Streifer; machine-readable finding aid created by: Rajkumar Natarajan.
Language of description
Script of description
The processing of this collection was funded by a gift from the Pingree heirs.

Repository Details

Part of the Phillips Library Repository

Peabody Essex Museum
306 Newburyport Turnpike
Rowley MA 01969 USA