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E. S. Coe Papers, 1804-1970

Identifier: MSS 924

Content Description

The E. S. Coe Papers contain business papers belonging to Ebenezer S. Coe (1814-1899) and his estate. To respect the original order of the collection, most papers that were bundled together by the creators were kept together, even if they intellectually belong with other papers. Therefore, a researcher will find some financial records interspersed with correspondence, checks interspersed with accounting vouchers, and so on. The generally organization of the collection has also been retained. After Coe’s death in 1899, his brother Thomas Upham Coe, continued to manage his estate and business interests. Because of this, some of the materials are dated after 1899, but are still signed by or addressed to “Coe.” Other materials in the collection postdates Thomas Upham Coe’s death, dating as late as 1970. Coe’s records passed on to successor organizations and some remained in-use through the mid-20th century; newer materials likely appear in the collection because successor organizations, such as Seven Islands Land Company, interfiled their own records with Coe’s when the records shared subjects. For example, a newspaper clipping from 1970 relating to a land grant to Dartmouth College appears alongside 1880s material documenting that same grant.

The current folder titles generally reflect descriptions written by Coe or his agents. Folder titles were changed in a few cases: to reduce excessive wordiness; to standardize the titles of folders with similar contents; to better describe the contents of a folder in instances where the label was inaccurate or misleading, such as in mislabeling of dates; or in cases where the original label was not legible. The original label used by Coe appears within most of the folders.

Series I. Correspondence contains letters sent or received by E. S. Coe. The bulk of correspondence is related to the running of various businesses, property management, taxes, etc., but there are a few personal letters mixed in from family members. Included in the correspondence are a few legal documents, such as deeds, some invoices, and a few letters addressed to others that were forwarded to E. S. Coe for business purposes. The letters included in this series cover taxes, notes due, land deals, land exploration, and similar related topics, and come from subsidiaries such as Katahdin Iron Works, R. C. Pingree and Company. There are some photocopies attached to materials within the folders. It is unclear where the original items are that were photocopied.

Subseries A. Received contains correspondence that was sent to Coe, or that was forwarded to Coe. On some of the correspondence Coe had written notes or made comments about his reply to the sender. The only items organized by sender in this subseries are some folders that contain correspondence solely from David Pingree. Correspondence from him can also be found in other folders. Subseries B. Sent contains copies of correspondence sent by Coe. Subseries C. Other contains correspondence that is a mix of material received and sent by Coe or forwarded by or to Coe. Some of this material is organized by topic, other material has been organized by date—the materials have been arranged this way to preserve the original order of the materials that were bundled together by the creators.

Series II. Accounting Records contains records that document the accounting practices of Coe and his agents in land and lumbering operations throughout north and western Maine and eastern New Hampshire. Types of materials contained in this series include accounting vouchers, accounting ledgers, banking records, tax records, records of insurance policies, as well as a number of other record types. Records are ordered chronologically unless otherwise noted. This series has been divided into nine subseries.

Subseries A. Accounting Vouchers and Related Records contains accounting vouchers and related financial records which were filed alongside vouchers. These records primarily document expenses billed to Coe by his agents. Other types of records in this series include checks and deeds. This subseries has been divided into four sub-subseries.

Sub-subseries 1. Accounting Vouchers and Kenduskeag National Bank Checks contains chronological ordered accounting vouchers. Filed alongside vouchers are checks from the Kenduskeag National Bank, as well as a few other types of accounting materials. Additional checks appear in Subseries F. Banking Records. Sub-subseries 2. Errol, New Hampshire Grist Mill and Dam Vouchers, Deeds, and Account Books contains vouchers, deeds, and account books related to the operation of a Grist Mill and Dam located in Errol, New Hampshire.Sub-subseries 3. Toothaker and Barker Logging Operation Vouchers contains chronologically ordered vouchers submitted to Coe by Abner Toothaker and Daniel Barker, two of his agents. Sub-subseries 4. Township Vouchers contains accounting vouchers related to expenses occurred in the management of specific townships in Maine.

Subseries B. Business and Township Accounts contains accounting records related to business accounts and township accounts managed by Coe. This subseries has been divided into five sub-subseries.

Sub-subseries 1. Accounts Current contains accounts current records, which document the expenses incurred and incomes acquired from lands Coe managed. Sub-subseries 2. Township Records contains deeds, titles, vouchers, and mortgages related to the financial upkeep of various Maine townships managed by Coe. Sub-subseries 3. James N. Chandler Records contains accounting material related to James N. Chandler, a resident of Bangor, Maine who had business dealings with both Coe and the Pingree family. Sub-subseries 4. Pingree Estate Receipts contains receipts for money sent by Coe to the estate of David Pingree.Sub-subseries 5. Account Books contains cashbooks, wastebooks, accounts current books, accounting ledgers and other types of account books.

Subseries C. Logging Operation Records contains accounting records related to logging operations on land managed by Coe in Maine and New Hampshire. The majority of the sub-subseries is composed of accounting vouchers. It also includes receipts, insurance contracts, and deeds. This subseries has been divided into three sub-subseries.

Sub-subseries 1. Vouchers, Bills, and Receipts contains chronologically ordered vouchers, bills, deeds, and other accounting records relating to Coe’s lumbering operations. Sub-subseries 2. Logging Camp Expense Records contains chronologically ordered receipts and vouchers for expenses specifically incurred in the running of logging camps. Sub-Subseries 3. Stumpage and Log Shipment Records contains records relating to the sale of stumpage and the shipment of logs cut on land managed by Coe.

Subseries D. Tax Records contains receipts and correspondence relating to town, county, state, and national taxes paid by Coe on land he managed.

Subseries E. Lawsuit Records contains records related to lawsuits Coe or his agents were involved with, either as plaintiff or defendant. Many relate to disputes over land ownership or access to Maine and New Hampshire rivers.

Subseries F. Banking Records contains chronological checks, check stubs, passbooks, and account books issued by various Massachusetts and Maine banks used by Coe.

Subseries G. Insurance Records contains records of insurance policies held by Coe or his heirs on land, buildings, and equipment. Later insurance policies dating up to 1933 were filed here alongside ones contemporary to Coe. These later policies are marked as being related to the management of land owned by Coe’s heirs, and were likely filed alongside earlier records because of that.

Subseries H. Company Records contains records related to Coe’s dealing with other companies. This includes records related to lawsuits, stock ownership, insurance policies, and others. Records are ordered alphabetically, by company or personal name.

Subseries I. Other Records contains records labelled by Coe as miscellaneous. These materials contain a variety of records, including receipts, cash statements, memos, tax receipts, court summons and others.

Series III. Operational Records contains materials related to the operational management of lands. Types of materials included in the series include permits, scaler’s returns, deeds, titles, abstracts of conveyance, field work and exploration accounts, and other records. Records are ordered chronologically unless otherwise noted. This series has been divided into seven sub-series.

Subseries A. Permits and Contracts contains stumpage permits and contracts for lands managed by Coe. This subseries has been divided into two sub-subseries.

Sub-subseries 1. Stumpage Permits contains stumpage permits, legal contracts with other companies and individuals which granted the right to remove timber from Maine and New Hampshire lands managed by Coe. The sub-subseries contains both executed and unexecuted permits.Sub-subseries 2. Contracts contains other legal contracts undertaken by Coe or his agents.

Subseries B. Scaler’s Returns and Certificates contains materials related to the work of scalers employed by Coe. Scalers were an integral part of the logging process in this era, measuring the volume of timber removed from a tract of land during a logging operation. This subseries has been divided into two sub-subseries.

Sub-subseries 1. Scaler’s Returns contains Scaler’s Returns, documents detailing the estimated volume of wood felled. Sub-subseries 2. D.R. Spaulding Scaler’s Certificates contains scaler’s certificates from D.R. Spaulding, one of Coe’s agents that relate to Coe’s contracts with several companies.

Subseries C. Deeds and Titles and Other Records contains various deeds and titles for land owned or managed by Coe. This series has been divided into five sub-subseries.

Sub-subseries 1. Rangeley, Maine Deeds contains deeds and related records for lands in Franklin County, Maine. Sub-subseries 2. Dummer, New Hampshire Deeds contains deeds and related records for lands in Coös County, New Hampshire. Sub-subseries 3. Other Maine and New Hampshire Deeds contains deeds and other related records for other lands in New Hampshire and Maine. Sub-subseries 4. Maine Township C Surplus Lawsuit Records contains materials related to a dispute over the partition of land referred to as “C Surplus” in Oxford County, Maine. A lawsuit over the partition was litigated between Edwin A. Jones and the heirs of David Pingree from 1900-1902, after Coe’s death. Sub-subseries 5. Other Records contains deeds, titles, and other records. These were labelled separately from the material in Subseries C. Other Maine and New Hampshire Deeds.

Subseries D. Township Records contains operational records relating to various townships owned or managed by Coe. It contains deeds, account books, memorandum, vouchers, and other records. This subseries has been divided into five sub-subseries.

Sub-subseries 1. Stetson Township Records contains deeds, account books, permits, bonds and notes, and other records related to Stetson Township in Penobscot County, Maine. Sub-subseries 2. Dummer Township Records contains deeds, memorandum, correspondence, and other records related to Dummer Township in Coös County, NH. Sub-subseries 3. Townships 2, 3, and 4 Records contains maps, plans, permits, deeds, abstracts of title, and other records related to Townships numbered 2, 3, and 4. Sub-subseries 4. Abstracts of Conveyance contains legal documents detail the ownership history of land being sold or purchased by Coe. Sub-subseries 5. Other Records contains correspondence, permits, surveys, and various other records related to townships in Maine and New Hampshire.

Subseries E. Fieldwork, Maps, and Exploration Records contains field work journals, surveys and other records related to the exploration of lands managed by Coe, as well as maps created from those explorations.

Subseries F. Coe and Pingree Estate Records contains records related to the estates of E.S. Coe, Thomas Upham Coe, and David Pingree, including wills, an inventory of E.S. Coe’s estate, correspondence, and other records.

Subseries G. Other Records contains various operational records, including office memorandum books, newspapers and clippings, correspondence, and other records.


  • Creation: 1804-1970


Language of Materials

The materials in this collection are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Biographical / Historical

Ebenezer "Eben" Smith Coe was born on November 5, 1814 to Ebenezer S. Coe and Mehitable Smith Coe in Northwood, New Hampshire. As a young man, Coe studied at an engineering school in Hartford, Connecticut, before briefly working as a railroad surveyor. In 1842, his father introduced him to one of his business associates: David Pingree, a Salem, Massachusetts-based shipping merchant. Following that meeting, Pingree hired Coe as an agent to survey Pingree’s land purchases in Maine. By 1845, Coe was acting as a full representative for Pingree on issues involving Maine lands. His offices hired workers, negotiated leases and stumpage contracts, funded river improvement projects, and purchased and sold land (Bennett, 72-75).

In the 1840’s Coe established Chamberlain Farm on the shores of Chamberlain Lake, which supplied food, equipment, and other goods needed for logging and surveying projects on Pingree lands in Northern Maine (Bennett 76). During this period, Coe also developed other projects, including the construction of dams along the Allagash River to improve conditions for log driving (Coe Family Papers Finding Aid).

After David Pingree’s death in 1863, Coe continued managing the lands belonging to the Pingree heirs. Until his death in 1899, Coe made frequent trips to inspect and appraise land he owned or managed for the Pingrees in Maine and New Hampshire. Coe “estimated stumpage; oversaw all aspects of lumbering operations, including river drives, procurement of supplies, dam construction, and regulation of water levels; and visited and lobbied the state legislature” (Bennett 74).

In 1846, Coe married Mary Upham Barker; she died in childbirth in 1849. When Coe died on December 9, 1899, his estate passed to his half-brother, Thomas Upham Coe ( At the time of Coe’s death, the Coe-Pingree lands he managed were composed of more than a million acres (Bennett 91).

E.S. Coe’s brother, Thomas Upham Coe, was born on December 8, 1837 to Ebenezer S. and Mary M. Upham Coe in Northwood, New Hampshire. Thomas graduated from the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia in 1861 and studied at the École de Médicin in Paris (Coe Family Papers Finding Aid). After returning to Maine in 1864, he practiced medicine for 15 years, before withdrawing from the practice to give more time to financial and business interests (Coe Family Papers Finding Aid). After his half-brother’s death, Thomas Coe also managed lands he’d inherited from him. He married Sadie L. Harthorn in 1867, and they had one child, Dudley Coe (1873-1887). Thomas Coe died on July 31, 1920.


193.93 Linear Feet (297 boxes, 37 volumes, 14 flat files)


I. Correspondence

  1. Received
  2. Sent
  3. Other

II. Accounting Records

  1. Accounting Vouchers and Related Records
  2. Business and Township Accounts
  3. Logging Operation Records
  4. Tax Records
  5. Lawsuit Records
  6. Banking Records
  7. Insurance Records
  8. Company Records
  9. Other Records

III. Operational Records

  1. Permits and Contracts
  2. Scaler's Returns and Certificates
  3. Deeds, Titles, and Other Land Ownership Records
  4. Township Records
  5. Fieldwork, Maps, and Exploration Journals
  6. Coe and Pingree Estate Records
  7. Other Records

Physical Location

Phillips Library Stacks

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This material was donated by Pingree family heirs.


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

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

Coe Family Papers, Special Collections, Raymond H. Fogler Library, University of Maine.

Related Collections

David Pingree (1795-1863) Papers, 1810-1939. MSS 901

East Branch Dam Company Records, 1845-1919. MSS 915

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

James Wingate Sewall (1852-1905) Business Records, 1835-1919. MSS 921

John Winn Papers, 1818, 1845-1881. MSS 925

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

Pingree Family Scrapbook Collection, 1849-1972. MSS 927

Samuel Smith Papers, 1844-1850, 1865. MSS 926

Processing Information

The material was placed in acid-free folders and metal fasteners were removed. Documents were surface cleaned as needed.

E. S. Coe Papers, 1804-1970
Series I.: Jennifer Hornsby, May-August 2015; Hilary Streifer, August-October 2015 Series II. and III.: Patrick Doyle, June-September 2021
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
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