1659-1900; bulk: 1820-1890
Guide to the Collection
This collection contains the George Gardner family papers, 1659-1900, including business and personal papers of George Gardner; Gardner family correspondence, writings, and wills; and diaries, 1821-1840, kept by Samuel Pickering Gardner.
Samuel Pickering Gardner (1767-1843), was born in Salem, Mass. to John Gardner (1731-1805) and Elizabeth Pickering (1737-1823). He graduated from Harvard College in 1786 and moved to South Carolina, where he engaged in the mercantile business with his brother John. In 1793 he moved to Boston, where he remained for the rest of his life. He maintained an office at 66 Long Wharf, then later at 15 Winter Street. He held various properties in Beverly, Wenham, and Newburyport.
In 1797, he married Rebecca Russell Lowell, daughter of Judge John and Sarah (Higginson) Lowell. They had five children who lived to adulthood: Elizabeth Pickering, Mary Lowell, John Lowell (1804-1884, m. Catherine Endicott Peabody), Sarah Russell, George (1809-1884).
John Gardner (1760-1792), was born in Salem, Mass. to John Gardner (1731-1805) and Elizabeth Pickering (1737-1823). He became a successful merchant and moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where he died at age 32.
George Gardner (1809-1884) was born in Boston to Samuel Pickering and Rebecca Russell (Lowell) Gardner. He graduated from Harvard in 1829, and by 1838 was working in his brother’s mercantile business at John L. Gardner & Co. on 47 India Street. In 1848, he started his own company, George Gardner & Co., with George J. Furness on 5 Liberty Square in Boston. In 1859, Gardner partnered with his nephew, Joseph Gardner. He also owned several ships including “Grotius” 1839-1843, “Pleiades” 1840-1842, “Orlando” 1859, and “Arabia” 1864. In 1853 he inherited property from his father on Summer Street as well as shares of “Proprietors of India Wharf.” Interested in using Summer Street for commercial purposes, George Gardner built up and expanded the property. He also inherited property from his grandmother, Elizabeth Pickering Gardner (1737-1823).
He married Helen Maria Read (1819-1888) in 1838. They had four children: Helen Read, Francis Lowell (1841-1861), who attended Harvard College and died from quick illness in his junior year, Elizabeth (1843-1867, m. Charles W. Amory), and Clara.
John Lowell Gardner (1804-1884) was born in Boston, the eldest son of Samuel Pickering and Rebecca Russell (Lowell) Gardner. He graduated from Harvard in 1821, and in 1824 began his successful career as a merchant in Boston. In 1825 he was a partner in the firm of Gardner & Lowell at 23 Long Wharf with Francis G. Lowell. In 1836, John L. Gardner and his brother George formed a partnership under the name John L. Gardner & Company, with offices at 47 India Street. In 1850 he moved to State Street and in 1853 took his son George A. Gardner into the business. Largely interested in commerce in the East Indies and Russia, he traded also with Sumatra, primarily importing pepper. During his later years, he took a less active role in his merchant business and turned his attention to real estate matters in Boston and Brookline. He held properties in Salem, Boston, Brookline, and Maine.
He married Catherine Endicott Peabody in 1826. They had five children who survive into adulthood: Joseph Peabody (m. Harriet Sears Amory), George Augustus, John Lowell (m. Isabella Stewart), Julia, and Eliza Blanchard.
Archives, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
Carter, Morris, Isabella Stewart Gardner and Fenway Court, 1925.
Gardner, Frank Augustine, Gardner Memorial, A Biographical and Genealogical Record of the Descendant of Thomas Gardner, Planter, Cape Ann, 1624; Salem (Naumkeag, 1626-1674), 1933
The George Gardner family papers consist of four boxes, one oversize box, and one volume, the bulk dating from 1820-1890. The collection is divided into four series: George Gardner papers, Gardner family papers, Amory family papers and Printed materials.
The majority of the collection consists of the personal papers of George Gardner, including personal correspondence with his family from 1831 to 1878, business correspondence pertaining to improvements to his Summer Street property, legal papers including his will, and house records consisting of architectural drawings and records pertaining to his Summer Street property. Also included are estate records of James Read, Rebecca Russell (Lowell) Gardner, and Sarah Johnson for which Gardner served as trustee, along with his own financial papers.
The collection also contains papers pertaining to the Gardner family, including family correspondence spanning from 1775 to 1842; deeds, agreements and family wills; writings; genealogical materials of the Gardner, Pickering and Lowell families; family financial papers; and diaries of Samuel Pickering Gardner, 1821-1840.
In addition to papers relating to the Gardner family, there are also papers relating to the Amory family including legal papers mainly pertaining to land disputes in the Boston area, deeds and agreements, financial papers and papers pertaining to a shipping dispute in Savannah, Georgia.
Gift of Dr. Catherine Lastavica, May 2006
Detailed Description of the Collection
I. George Gardner papers,1803-1882
A. Correspondence, 1831-1880
This subseries contains both personal and business correspondence. Personal correspondence from 1831 to 1878 includes letters between George Gardner and his brother, John Gardner, John Gardner’s wife, Miss. S.G. Lowell, and Rob Winthrop. Personal correspondence also includes a letter George Gardner wrote describing his relationship to the Pickerings and Lowells as well as a timeline of important dates in his life. This subseries also contains a small portion of business correspondence of George Gardner pertaining to improvements to his Summer Street property from July 1869 to November 1880.
B. Legal papers, 1845-1873
This subseries contains papers pertaining to Gardner’s Summer Street property, including leases, agreements and notifications concerning the rights to light and air between Gardner and his neighbors, and deeds to the Summer Street extension. This subseries contains a plaintiff’s brief for the case of George Gardner vs. City of Boston as well as the opinion of Judge Curtis on Avon Place Strip. Gardner’s petition against Hoys Railway and statistics on the effects on the Summer Street neighborhood are also included here. This subseries also contains George Gardner’s will.
C. House records, 1803-1882
This subseries contains architectural plans and blueprints for Gardner’s Summer Street and Chauncy Street buildings. This subseries also includes agreements with businesses in regards to improvements to Summer Street property.
D. Estate records, 1841-1882
This subseries contains legal and financial papers for the estates of James Read, Elizabeth (Pickering) Gardner, and Sarah Johnson which Gardner was served as trustee. This subseries also includes correspondence with Sarah Sheafe regarding the estate of her mother, Sarah Johnson, while she lived in Paris from 1881-1882.
Sarah Johnson, 1841-1882
E. Financial papers, 1847-1871
This subseries contains financial records pertaining to Gardner’s property including Summer Street, Union Wharf, Chauncy Street, and Avon Place. This subseries also includes receipts for furnishings as well as valuations of each property.
II. Gardner family papers, 1659-1896
A. Correspondence, 1775-1842
This subseries contains mostly personal correspondence as well as a few business letters. Correspondence from 1775 to 1789 consists primarily of letters to and from the Gardner family, including a letter from John Gardner (1760-1792) to Benjamin Franklin in 1784. From 1790 to 1812, the correspondence primarily relates to the death of John Gardner in 1792. A letter from P.C. Brooks to Samuel P. Gardner in 1806 discusses land on Summer Street. From 1814 to 1842, the correspondence is mostly between Samuel P. Gardner and the Gardner, Pickering, and Lowell families.
B. Legal papers, 1659-1853
This subseries contains deeds for land in Salem and Danvers, Massachusetts to George Gardner (1620/1621-1679), Samuel Gardner (1648-1724), John Gardner (1681-1721), and Joseph Putman; agreements with the early Gardner family, inventories of family estates, and wills of Thomas Gardner (d.1682), George Gardner (1620/1621-1679), Samuel Gardner (1648-1724) and Elizabeth Gardner Amory.
C. Writings, 1812
This subseries contains Samuel Pickering Gardner’s (1767-1843) writings, including advise to his sons; a eulogy for Thomas C. Amory, and writings about and from Timothy Pickering during his time as the quartermaster general.
F. Genealogy, 1828-1896
This subseries contains a collection of genealogical records including George Gardner’s notebook, which contains family trees as well as a record of births and deaths, and records of the Pickering, Lowell, Barbour, Wingate, and the Graves families.
G. Samuel Pickering Gardner diaries, 1821-1840
This subseries contains four volumes of diaries written by Samuel Pickering Gardner (1767-1843). The diaries discuss the weather in Boston and Beverly, Massachusetts, care of Gardner’s fruit trees and garden probably in Boston, as well as business finances and transactions in Middleton and Wenham and the activities of friends and family.
F. Miscellaneous, 1823-1854
This subseries contains the passport of Francis L. Gardner documenting his travel throughout Europe and a note describing the history of objects owned by the Gardner family.
III. Amory family papers, 1690-1852
This subseries contains correspondence, bills, and receipts, notes and newspaper clippings pertaining to the Hall Suits, dealing with land disputes in the Boston, Westfield, Stoughton, and Braintree areas; documents pertaining to the Brig Seaflower, a ship possibly owned by the Amory family; an official protest, financial papers and other official documents pertaining to a shipping dispute in Savannah, Georgia; the will of Dr. Daniel Weld; deeds, receipts, bills, and inventories pertaining to the Amory family; and descriptions of the making of terrace roofs as well as a copy of the trustee of accounts of George Gardner’s estate.
IV. Printed Materials, 1824-1900
A. Newspaper clippings, 1860-1900
This subseries contains newspaper clippings pertaining to the Burnside Expedition in 1862, where several boats were lost including the New York, as well as Harzfeld’s List of coins, metals, etc. for sale. Also included in this subseries is an obituary of Francis Lowell Gardner and several pages from various Boston newspapers.
B. Address of the Bunker Hill Monument Association, 1824
This subseries contains a pamphlet for the Bunker Hill Monument Association
C. In Memoriam: Francis Lowell Gardner, 1861-1862
This subseries contains a printed volume of letters and tributes to Francis Lowell Gardner upon his death in 1861.
Materials Removed from the Collection
Artifacts removed from this collection include a Francis Lowell Gardner mourning pin, Samuel P. Gardner snuff box and mourning pin, unidentified Gardner snuff box and mourning ring, and unidentified set of antique keys.
George Gardner family papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.