Skip to main content

David Pingree Papers, 1803-1939

Identifier: MSS 901

Scope and Content Note

This collection includes the papers of David Pingree, papers of his family members, and records of his business associates. The bulk of this collection consists of the business papers of Pingree pertaining to his shipping business, and the purchase and logging of timberland. The material has been organized into seven series.

In an attempt to respect the original order of the collection, many papers that were bundled together by the creator and people that worked for him, were kept together, even if they intellectually belonged with other papers. Therefore, a researcher will find correspondence related to shipping interspersed with Business Correspondence, as well as filed with the Shipping Papers. Likewise, there are notes, bills of lading, and cargo records on the back of correspondence, resulting in multiple possible placements, but Pingree's bundling was respected.

The materials in this collection consist of mainly English language documents. There are, however, quite a few customs documents, certificates of health, and other official documents written in Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Persian. The former pertain to trade in Latin and South America, while the latter deals with trade in Muscat, Oman.

Boxes 143 through 151 contain mold infested documents and are restricted from patron use. Surrogates have been provided for research purpose and are interfiled in the collection.

Series I. Financial Records consists of three subseries. Subseries A. Account Books includes 17 oversized volumes of ledgers, journals, and memos regarding ships' cargo and sales of various sundries. Additionally, eleven boxes include smaller ledgers and journals. Included with these small ledgers and bank books is an almanac kept by William R. Haskell in 1844, in which Haskell records the arrivals and departures of ships, their destinations, and occasionally their captains or masters, cargo, and fate. Subseries B. Accounts, Bills, and Receipts consists of bills and receipts, invoices, promissory notes, memorandum, and records of accounts with various individuals. Receipts include everything from milk, coal and sundry items; doctor's visits; subscriptions; insurance policies; and tax payments. Also included are records of sales, cargo and sundry items, and a small number of account records for various ships. Subseries C. Cancelled Checks is comprised of processed checks, mainly from the Naumkeag Bank. All documents in Series I are arranged chronologically.

Series II. Correspondence is also divided into three subseries. Subseries A. Letters Sent contains letter books with copies of original letters sent by Pingree. The loose correspondence is comprised of approximately 75 letters to E. S. Coe dating from March 26, 1845 to December 1, 1862; four letters sent to Captain William Graves, Jr., and one letter to R. Quimby dated June 21, 1853. Subseries B. Letters Received is comprised of letters related to business matters, particularly shipping and commerce, and land and lumber in Maine. A small number of letters of a more personal nature, such as those regarding Pingree's time as a trustee of the now-defunct Dearborn Academy in Seabrook, New Hampshire, are interfiled. Additionally, approximately a dozen letters from Cyrus Alger, a Boston metallurgist and inventor, dating from August 1833 to May 1834 can be found in this subseries. More correspondence and other documents from Cyrus Alger can be found in Pactolus's 9th voyage. Subseries C. Other Correspondence contains letters on specific topics that were originally bundled together, including letters about the State of Maine action on interior waterways. All documents in Series II are arranged chronologically.

Series III. Business, Legal, and Real Estate Papers is arranged into four subseries. Subseries A. Lumber Industry includes notes and mortgages for land in Maine and New Hampshire; scouting reports; lumber and stumpage accounts; and township accounts. Subseries B. Real Estate Papers is comprised of leases, deeds, titles, and purchases of state lands. It also includes correspondence and papers related to a farm in Ballard County, Kentucky, and property owned in Ohio. Subseries C. City of Salem Papers includes an act to create a Board of Health, notes from the Board of Alderman, and a program including the mayor's speech for 1846. Subseries D. Miscellaneous Business Papers includes acts to incorporate banks and insurance companies; subpoenas; and accounts for vinegar. Of particular interest in this series are shares for the building of the harbour at Pigeon Cove, accounts for sales of Carkin's Superior Gunpowder, and legal papers related to the Winnipiseogee Lake Cotton and Woollen Manufacturing Company which was founded in Gilford, New Hampshire in 1831.

Series IV. Shipping Papers are divided into two subseries based on the original order. Papers in Subseries A were bundled by ship and voyage, whereas documents in Subseries B were bundled by document type. Wrappers used to bundle were cut open and kept in the folders with the papers. If string was used, it was cut and disposed of. Shipping Papers are comprised of materials relating to vessels owned or charter by Pingree (see Appendix I). Subseries A. Ships' Papers represents ships owned or chartered by Pingree. Merchant expeditions that were chartered by Pingree were referred to as "adventures" whereas ships journeyed under the ownership of Pingree were referred to as "voyages." This subseries includes documents that were bundled by ship and voyage. Records include: bills of lading; accounts; receipts/invoices; cargo lists; bills of health; debenture certificates; insurance policies; impost bonds; Chinese linguists' reports; prices current; and correspondence. Almost all of the voyages include an Articles of Agreement, which lists the crew members, their station and wages, dates of entry and discharge, and frequently notes on any deaths or desertions. The dates on the folders refer to the dates on the papers contained within, and not the dates of the ships' voyage.

The materials in this series relates to specific merchant shipping voyages to various parts of the world including China, the West Coast of Africa, South America, the Caribbean, and South East Asia, specifically the East Indies. Pingree exported fish, pork, oil, soap, flour, onions, and lumber, among other sundry items; and imported tea, coffee, cocoa, cloves, molasses, sugar, copal, animal hides, and ivory along with many other commodities. He also traded Turkish opium in Surabaya; documents for this endeavor are in the papers for the ship Thomas Perkins, June 1840. References to opium trade can be found in other ships' papers as well. Pingree frequently had multiple ships abroad at a time. Portions of one ship's cargo may have been transferred to another ship, and sold at market together. As a result the papers of vessels often contain interrelated accounts and correspondence.

Two sets of papers, originally labeled as "voyage 11" exist for the schooner Dollar. Dates of these documents indicate that they represent two separate voyages. Therefore the papers dated November 1829 to January 1830 remain labeled as voyage 11. Documents dated January 1830 to April 1830 were separated into a folder labeled voyage 12. Indistinguishable documents were kept with the original voyage 11 papers.

Subseries B. Miscellaneous Shipping Papers is divided into six sub-subseries. Included are Accounts, Bills and Receipts; Cargo and Sales Records; Bills of Lading; Prices Current; Correspondence, and Miscellaneous. The Miscellaneous sub-subseries includes papers of various captains of Pingree ships including Thomas O. Holmes, Francis Quarles, Jr., and Emory Johnson. There are also papers relating to the Ysabelita, a Spanish schooner, bills of sale, and customs forms. There is some overlap in the papers contained in the individual ships' voyage folders, and those found in the bills of lading, cargo and sales records, insurance policies, and correspondence. Similarly, because some invoices and correspondence were recorded on bills of lading, there may be the former, in the latter's folder. Documents in this subseries are organized by record type, then chronologically.

Series V. Personal Papers is organized into five subseries. Subseries A. Correspondence consists of Pingree's personal correspondence with family members. Subseries B. Financial Records includes insurance policies on various dwellings, including rental properties and tannery and shoe shops; property tax receipts; Rowley Farm accounts; and memberships and subscriptions receipts. Subseries C. Real Estate Records consists of two volumes of books, deeds, leases, street plans, and papers relating to the sale of property by the estate of Amos Sheldon. Within the deeds folders are memorandums of agreement and rights of redemption. Subseries D. Diaries and Miscellaneous Ephemera contains personal items such as diaries, certificates, and correspondence collected by Pingree. The diaries are mainly records of weather, but there are some mentions of ship arrivals and departures. Subseries E. Family Member Papers contains some papers of Pingree's uncle, Thomas Perkins, including bills and receipts and documents related to French spoliations. There are personal, financial, and estate papers for his sister Annar Pingree (1797-1875); real estate documents of his second cousin Asa Bixby Pingree (1818-1871); and receipts for his daughter Annar P. Peabody.

Please note that David Pingree was a trustee for the estate of Thomas Perkins (1758-1830). As a trustee, he administered a trust fund that was created for the six daughters of Thomas Perkins' sister Sarah Perkins (1773-1837) and her husband Dominick Moore. Because the trust continued for so many years, David Pingree (1841-1932) also administered the estate and was the one to close out the trust. Documents relevant to the trust are included in David Pingree (1841-1932) Papers, MSS 905.

Series VI. Estate Papers are divided into four subseries. Subseries A. Trustee Papers includes will and probate records, inventories of real estate, and legal papers. Subseries B. Estate Financial Records consists of mainly account books, memo books and loose vouchers, and receipts and cancelled checks. Subseries C. Trustee Correspondence includes bound volumes of letters sent by the trustees. Additionally, unbound copies of letters written by David Pingree (1841-1932) as trustee are interfiled with correspondence received. Correspondence is organized chronologically. Letters written by David Pingree Jr.'s sisters, Anna Peabody (1839-1911) and Ann Maria Wheatland (1846-1927), of a personal nature, are included in this subseries as they pertain to estate disbursements. Subseries D. Other Estates includes documents pertaining to the estates of Pingree's uncle, Thomas Perkins (1758-1830) and his legacy to benefit Augustus W. Perkins and Abigail B. (Perkins) Bateman; his sister, Annar Pingree (1797-1875) and his brother Asa Pingree (1807-1869); and the settlement of Pingree's oldest son, Thomas Perkins Pingree with his wife, Harriet E. (Dodge) Pingree. In addition documents relating to the estates of Emery Johnson and a memorandum of the estate settlement and trust fund of Mary P. Lindegard, another legatee of Thomas Perkins' will, are included.

Series VII. Miscellaneous is comprised of a payroll ledger entitled "Stone & Bean," that dates from 1858 to 1859. There are a few legal and financial papers belonging to the Atwood family, which includes Stevens, Robert, and John S. Atwood. Letters written by Philip Dumaresq to his daughter Florence "Flory" Dumaresq are included in this series as well. A family tree is provided to attempt to explain why these papers might be in this collection. This series also contains miscellaneous labels, envelope wrappers, and notes that were unable to be placed with the appropriate papers.


  • Creation: 1803-1939, undated


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Biographical Sketch

David Pingree was born to Asa Pingree (1770-1834) and Annar Perkins (1771-1853) on December 31, 1795 in Rowley, Massachusetts. He moved with his family to Bridgton, Maine, where he ran his father's saw and grist mills from a young age. While two sources state that Pingree attended Atkinson Academy, it is not substantiated; however, a letter of recommendation from Francis Vose, preceptor, confirms his attendance at Hampton Academy. Pingree did not attend college, working instead in the counting room of Michael Shepard, a shipping merchant in Salem, where he learned the ways and methods of the shipping and mercantile businesses. He also acted as the confidential agent of his uncle, Thomas Perkins. During this time he owned interest in two vessels trading with South America. He sold flour and grains on commission.

Thomas Perkins' lengthy will bequeathed to his nephew, Asa Pingree (1807-1869), his farm in Topsfield, Massachusetts; houses and stipends to his siblings; trusts for his nieces and nephews; the Franklin building to the Marine Society at Salem; and many charitable organizations. David was named residuary legatee of Thomas Perkins' estate. This included his uncle's shipping business. Pingree used the inherited resources to expand his fleet of ships and commercial operations. He began sending ships to Zanzibar, which returned with cargos of ivory. Ships were also sent to the West Indies, South America, the west coast of Africa, China, and ports throughout the East Indies. At one point, he owned between four and five thousand tons of shipping.

Aside from shipping, Pingree was involved in various enterprises in the New England area. He joined the Marine Society at Salem in 1828 and served as Treasurer from 1834-1845. In 1831, Naumkeag Bank was incorporated, with Pingree serving as President until his death. In 1839 the Naumkeag Steam Cotton Company was incorporated and began operations in 1847, again with Pingree serving as President from its incorporation until his death. In 1851, Pingree was elected the sixth Mayor of Salem, a capacity in which he served a one-year term. He was also President of the Essex Railroad and the Salem and Danvers Aqueduct Corporation. He had ownership stakes in iron manufacturing companies, mills, and the Mount Washington Summit Road Company.

In the 1830s there was speculative fever in lands out west and in overvalued forestland in the northeast. At the same time, erratic banking practices, including private banks' printing of money, caused a panic in 1837. Banks and businesses failed. In the 1840s Pingree was able to buy low-priced land in Maine and New Hampshire due to the depression. He also invested in land in Kentucky, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin. It was said that he owned 1,200,000 acres. Pingree, Eben S. Coe, and other partners invested in multiple corporations in Maine that built dams, booms, and bridges to ease the movement of lumber to markets.

Pingree married Ann Maria Kimball (1804-1893) in 1824. They had four children who survived to adulthood: Thomas Perkins (1830-1876); Annar (1839-1911); David (1841-1932); and Ann Maria (1846-1927). He purchased what is today known as the Gardner-Pingree House at 128 Essex Street, in Salem, in 1834. This was his main residence until his death on March 31, 1863.

Thomas Perkins, maternal uncle of David, was born to Moses Perkins (1732-1807) and Annar Cummins (1734-1825) on April 2, 1758. He engaged in privateering during the Revolutionary War and acted as mate and officer on several voyages in the 1780s. In the early 1790s, he acquired part interest of vessels in partnership with a former shipmate, Joseph Peabody. Their firm, Peabody & Perkins, invested in multiple ships together until 1801 when Perkins went into business for himself. Thomas Perkins died unmarried in Topsfield, Massachusetts, on November 24, 1830. Upon his death, he bequeathed one of his properties, Franklin Place, to the Marine Society at Salem.

Annar Pingree, sister of David, was born to Asa Pingree (1770-1834) and Annar Perkins (1771-1853) on June 30, 1797 in Salem, Massachusetts. Annar Pingree died unmarried in Topsfield, Massachusetts, on January 27, 1875.

Asa Bixby Pingree, second cousin of David, was born to Daniel Pingree (1769-1866) and Elizabeth Bixby (1779-1862) on June 2, 1818 in Rowley, Massachusetts. He was a shoemaker. He first married Sarah Perkins (1808-1851) in 1847, and had no children. He then married Melita Wheeler (1824-1904). They had nine children. He died on April 14, 1871 in Albany, Maine.

Annar Perkins (Pingree) Peabody, daughter of David, was born on October 18, 1839, in Salem, Massachusetts. She married Joseph Peabody in October of 1866. They separated in 1888, and had no children. Annar P. Peabody died on March 6, 1911 in Boston.


97 linear feet (151 boxes; 25 volumes; 6 oversized folders)

Language of Materials



This collection includes the papers of David Pingree, papers of his family members, and records of his business associates.

Series List

SERIES I. Financial Records

  • A. Account Books
  • B. Accounts, Bills, and Receipts
  • C. Cancelled Checks
SERIES II. Correspondence

  • A. Letters Sent
  • B. Business Correspondence Received
  • C. Other Business Correspondence
SERIES III. Business, Legal, and Real Estate Papers

  • A. Lumber Industry
  • B. Real Estate Papers
  • C. City of Salem Papers
  • D. Miscellaneous Business Papers
SERIES IV. Shipping Papers

  • A. Ships' Papers
  • B. Miscellaneous Shipping Papers
    • 1. Accounts, Bills and Receipts
    • 2. Cargo and Sales Records
    • 3. Bills of Lading
    • 4. Prices Current
    • 5. Correspondence
    • 6. Miscellaneous
SERIES V. Personal Papers

  • A. Correspondence
  • B. Financial Papers
  • C. Real Estate Papers
  • D. Diaries and Miscellaneous Ephemera
  • E. Family Papers
    • 1. Thomas Perkins (1758-1830)
    • 2. Annar Pingree (1797-1875)
    • 3. Asa Bixby Pingree (1818-1871)
    • 4. Annar (Pingree) Peabody (1839-1911)
SERIES VI. Estate Papers

  • A. Trustee Papers
    • 1. Will and Probate Records
    • 2. Inventories and Land Records
    • 3. Legal Papers
  • B. Estate Financial Records
    • 1. Accounts and Memo Books
    • 2. Vouchers, Receipts and Cancelled Checks
  • C. Trustee Correspondence
  • D. Other Estates
SERIES VII. Miscellaneous

Physical Location

Phillips Library Stacks


This material was donated by Pingree family heirs. The estate of Stephen Phillips donated four boxes of ships' papers, correspondence, and accounts on January 15, 1972 (acc #19,823). Lucia P. Fulton donated five bundles of ships' papers on July 20, 1986 (acc #86027). David Wheatland donated portions of this collection on June 25, 1987 (acc #87015). A financial settlement dated 1842 for the Rolla (Brig) was removed from Waters Family Papers. Four letters from Pingree to Captain William Graves dated 1844, were removed from the Union (Ship) logbook, Log 1012. The letter from Philip Pinel appointing James Arrington master of the Three Brothers and a manifest, were removed from Three Brothers (Barque) logbooks Log 557 and Log 579. Papers of the Thomas Perkins (Ship), voyage three, and some papers of the Eliza (Barque), may have previously been a part of the Josiah Fox Papers, 1607-1987, MH 11.

Bibliography and Related Collections

Hall, Henry, editor. America's Successful Men of Affairs: an encyclopedia of contemporaneous biography, Volume II. New York: The Republic Press, 1896.

Hurd, D. Hamilton, compiler. History of Essex County, Massachusetts with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men, Volume I. Philadelphia: J.W. Lewis & Co. 1888.

Pingry, William M. Genealogical record of the descendants of Moses Pengry, of Ipswich, Mass.: so far as ascertained/collected and arranged by William M. Pingry. Ludlow, Vt.: Warner & Hyde, printers, 1881.

Ann Maria (Kimball) Pingree (1804-1893) Papers, MSS 903

Asa Pingree (1770-1834) Papers, 1794-1853, MSS 900

Asa Pingree (1807-1869) Papers, 1820-1931, MSS 902

David Pingree (1841-1932) Papers, MSS 905

Kimball Family Papers, 1821-1917, MSS 84

Michael Shepard (1786-1856) Papers, 1809-1859, MH 23

Stephen G. Wheatland (1824-1892), MSS 906

Thomas Perkins (1758-1830) Papers, 1755-1863, MSS 196

Thomas Perkins Pingree (1830-1876) Papers, MSS 904

For additional Pingree family material, related material and log books for ships owned by David Pingree, please visit Philcat, our online catalog.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Jennifer Hornsby, August 2014. Parts of this collection were organized by Caroline Preston and Robert Spindler in the 1980s.


Genre / Form



DAVID PINGREE PAPERS, 1803-1939, undated
Processed by: Jennifer Hornsby; 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