1655-1953; bulk: 1700-1900
Guide to the Collection
This collection consists of the papers of the interrelated Barker, Edes, and Noyes families. Materials in the collection include family and business/military correspondence, diaries, financial records, ships' logs and genealogical information on the Alden, Barker, Burnham, Edes, Fuller, Hatch, Loring, and Noyes families. Members of the families were shipbuilders, sea captains, and landowners, and served in the U.S. Navy and Army during the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.
Below are brief biographical sketches of the Barker, Edes, and Noyes families, highlighting the individual members represented most prominently within the collection. The sketches are arranged by family and then by date of birth, and illustrate the marital connections between them.
The Barker Family
Josiah Barker (1763-1847) was born in Marshfield, Mass. and served in the United States Army and Navy during the Revolutionary War. He was a shipbuilder and resident of Charlestown, Mass. where he established several naval yards and supervised the rebuilding of the USS Constitution from 1833 to 1835. In 1787 he married Penelope Hatch (1759-1841), and they had five children: Sarah, later Mrs. Robert Ball Edes (1788-1845); Josiah Hatch (1789-1856); Mary, later the wife of Capt. Francis A. Burnham (1794-1874); Ebenezer (1796-1868); and Seth (1799-1866).
Ebenezer Barker (1796-1868) was a surveyor, civil engineer, Middlesex Bridge commissioner, and an agent of the Charles River and Warren Bridges. He married Sally Fuller (1801-1890), daughter of Dr. Jabez Fuller, in 1827 and they had five children: Caroline Tufts, later Mrs. Justin Winsor (1830-1911); Ebenezer (“Eben”) F. (1833-1908); Lucy Loring (1835-1920); Edward Tobey (1840-1913); and Frederick Alden (1845-1880).
Ebenezer (“Eben”) F. (1833-1908), Edward Tobey (1840-1913), and Frederick Alden (1845-1880) Barker were brothers. Eben F. and Edward Tobey Barker served in the US Civil War. Eben served as a 1st lieutenant and then a captain in the 75th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry. Edward served as paymaster on the U.S. gunboat Huron, the steamer Mercedita, and the USS Kennebec, and was a participant in the Battle of Mobile Bay. Their brother, Frederick, too young to fight in the war, served in the Charlestown Cadets, lived in Charlestown and worked in Boston.
Caroline Tufts Barker (1830-1911) married Justin Winsor (1831-1897) in 1854. Winsor was one of the leading cartographers in the United States, a historian, and librarian at Harvard. They had one child: Constance, later Mrs. James Atkins Noyes (1860-1895).
The Edes Family
Robert Ball Edes (1789-1862) was a ship captain. He married Sarah Barker in 1818, and they had three children: Mary Ball, later Mrs. James Sullivan Noyes (1818-1880); Sophia Briggs, later Mrs. Charles F. Waldo (1820-1892); and Henry Augustus (1824-1851). Following his first wife’s death, Robert Ball Edes married Priscilla Sprague.
The Noyes Family
James Sullivan Noyes (1816-1883) married Mary Ball Edes in 1851. They had two children: Henry Frothingham (b.1854); and James Atkins Noyes (1857-1945).
James Atkins Noyes (1857-1945) was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. He attended both Harvard College and Columbia University’s School of Mines. In 1890, he married Constance Winsor and they had one child: Penelope Barker Noyes (1891-1977).
The Barker-Edes-Noyes family papers consist of 10 document boxes, 1 narrow box, 8 pamphlet boxes, 1 oversize box, and 35 cased volumes spanning the years 1655-1953, with the bulk dating from 1700 to 1900. The collection consists of the papers of the interrelated Barker, Edes, and Noyes families, and has been divided into three series: Personal and family papers; Business and military papers; and Printed material and ephemera. Materials in the collection include family and business/military correspondence, diaries, financial records, ships' logs and genealogical information on the Alden, Barker, Burnham, Edes, Fuller, Hatch, Loring, and Noyes families. Members of the families were shipbuilders, sea captains, landowners, and served in the Navy and Army during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.
The personal and family papers make up the bulk of the collection and include legal documents (numerous deeds and land surveys, summons, wills and estates, testimonials, appointments, powers of attorney, and guardianship papers), correspondence, diaries and day books, financial records, genealogical information, and drawings, poems, and writings. Of particular interest are the papers of Edward Tobey Barker, consisting of diaries and correspondence produced while serving as paymaster aboard a number of naval vessels during the Civil War from 1862 to1864. A group of letters written to his mother, Sally (Fuller) Barker, gives an account of his activities and includes first-hand accounts of the blockade of Charleston, S.C. and the events preceding the Battle of Mobile Bay. Barker writes of speaking with Admiral Farragut and Fleet Captain Percival Drayton aboard the Hartford on June 7, 1864, and writes on August 5, as the battle is being fought. In an August 6 letter, Barker gives a first-hand recap, with hand-drawn illustrations, of the fighting from aboard the USS Kennebec, which was lashed to the larger Monongahela.
Other items of interest are the diaries of Sophia and (Sarah) Ellen Waldo, mother and daughter, whose writings span 1850 to 1893, and illustrate the everyday life of women during this period. Entries in Sophia Waldo’s four diaries chronicle her day-to-day occurrences, weather conditions, and household expenses as well as the significant milestones in life including births, marriages, deaths, illnesses, and household moves. Her daughter (Sarah) Ellen writes extensively from 1872 to mid-1890 (completely filling 10 volumes) and then very sporadically until 1893, chronicling her daily life in New York City, and a move to Salem, Ore., after her mother’s death in 1892.
Another significant portion of the collection relates to the extensive genealogical research conducted by James Atkins Noyes, including correspondence with the Norroy King of Arms at the Herald’s College in London regarding the pedigree and coat of arms of the Noyes family. Also included are historical papers relating to Harrison Gray Otis (transcribed letters from 1791 to 1848), and Alfred (photostats of an 1833 journal of a whaling voyage on the schooner Columbia) and Dennis Townsend (photostats of letters from 1833 to1853).
The remainder of the collection consists of business and military papers – correspondence and papers relating to business issues and military service (including Judah Alden and Josiah Barker’s involvement with the Society of the Cincinnati and Revolutionary War claims), ships' logs, financial records and account books. Finally, the printed material and ephemera series contains whole newspapers (dated 1775, 1790, and 1791), clippings of military and genealogical articles, brochures, pamphlets, programs, and advertisements from the 1860s and 1870s.
Gift of Penelope Barker Noyes, 1966.
Detailed Description of the Collection
I. Personal and family papers, 1655-1951
A. Legal papers, 1655-1877
Arranged by type and chronologically
This subseries contains a variety of legal documents. The bulk consists of deeds and land surveys for parcels in “Pembrook” (Pembroke), “Duxborough” (Duxbury), Lynn, Barnstable, North Yarmouth, Kingston, Charlestown and Boston, purchased primarily by Briggs Alden, Judah Alden, Jabez Fuller and Josiah Barker. Also included are copies of the wills of Isaac Hatch, Jabez Fuller, Samuel Alden, Robert and Margaret Pateshall, Benjamin Wadsworth, Briggs Alden, James Potter, and Job and Mary Burnham. Agreements and contracts, summons appointments, testimonials, powers of attorney, and guardianship papers (for Mary Bennett) make up the rest of the subseries.
B. Correspondence, 1715-1951
Loose correspondence, undated and fragments, 1715-1951
This subseries contains personal letters of various family members relating to life in Boston, Charlestown, Pembroke, and Kingston. The bulk is from the Alden, Barker, and Fuller families, and correspondents include Samuel, Briggs, Judah and Amherst Alden; Prince, Isaac, Frederick, and Edward Tobey Barker; sisters Sally (Fuller) Barker, Sophia Fuller, Lucy (Fuller) Davis and Betsy (Fuller) Sprague, discussing the care of their elderly mother, Lucy (Loring) Fuller and the division of her estate following her death.
This subseries contains letters written by Edward Tobey Barker while serving as paymaster on the U.S. gunboat Huron, the steamer Mercedita, and the USS Kennebec during the Civil War. Letters written while serving on the USS Kennebeck include accounts of the events preceding the Battle of Mobile Bay.
C. Diaries, 1827-1893
Arranged alphabetically and chronologically
Edward Tobey Barker, 1858-1865 (with gaps)
This subseries contains one personal (1858) and two naval (U.S. gunboat Huron, 1862 and USS Kennebec, 1864-1865) pocket diaries recording daily occurrences and weather conditions while serving in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War.
Frederick Alden Barker, 1864-1865
This subseries contains two personal pocket diaries (1864 and 1865) recording daily occurrences, activities, and weather conditions in Boston and Charlestown. The 1864 diary includes many hand-drawn illustrations.
This subseries consists of one personal diary spanning twenty years containing prayers, religious thoughts, and quotations.
This subseries contains one line-a-day diary/almanac recording daily occurrences, activities, and expenses.
Sophie Briggs Edes Waldo, 1850-1855
This subseries contains four personal pocket diaries recording day-to-day existence as well as significant milestones in her life: the second marriage of her widowed father; the birth of her children and subsequent difficulty with breastfeeding requiring the services of a wet nurse; the death of her brother Henry and the following period of mourning for his wife and small child; a painful illness – dental treatments that include the extraction of eighteen teeth (without anesthesia) and being fitted for dentures; a household move to Brooklyn, N.Y.; and periods of long separation from her husband.
(Sarah) Ellen Waldo, 1871-1893 (with gaps)
This subseries contains fourteen diaries in which the author writes extensively from 1871 to mid-1890 (completely filling 10 volumes) and then very sporadically until 1893. The entries chronicle daily life in New York City, and a move to Salem, Ore., after the author’s mother’s death in 1892.
Unidentified, 1829-1850 (with gaps)
This subseries contains ten line-a-day diary/almanacs recording daily occurrences, activities and expenses.
D. Genealogical and historic papers, 1791-1951
Arranged alphabetically and chronologically
This subseries contains genealogical research notes and correspondence relating to the Alden, Barker, Burnham, Edes, Fuller, Hatch, Loring, and Noyes families. The bulk consists of James Atkins Noyes’s research and includes his correspondence with the Norroy King of Arms at the Herald’s College in London regarding the pedigree and coat of arms of the Noyes family. Also included are historical papers relating to Harrison Gray Otis and Alfred and Dennis Townsend.
This subseries consists of notebooks containing hand-written genealogical research about the Edes, Barker, and Fuller families.
E. Financial records, 1742-1855
This subseries contains itemized inventories of household items, bills and receipts for household goods and services, tax receipts, and Samuel Alden’s Harvard College tuition bills.
F. Poems, writings, and drawings, 1788-1864
This subseries contains drawings by Frederick Alden Barker depicting military figures and a political satire cartoon; hand written copies of poems; school essays by Edward Tobey Barker; recipes', and calligraphic exercises done by Robert Ball Edes.
II. Business and military papers, 1715-1942
A. Loose papers, 1727-1942
This subseries contains correspondence and papers relating to business issues and naval service, and are primarily focused on Josiah Barker’s shipbuilding business, including repairs to the USS Constitution; Society of the Cincinnati and Revolutionary War claims letters and pamphlets concerning Josiah Barker and Judah Alden; letters written to Seth Barker, captain of the ship Volunteer; and Department of the Navy correspondence to Edward Tobey Barker. Also included are a hand written pamphlet copy of the Regulations for the Master Ship Wright, signed by Isaac Hull; an Army prayer book; a naval flag pamphlet printed in color; naval muster rolls; Harvard College correspondence; and Charlestown Cadets certificates and materials.
B. Ships' logs, 1815-1822, 1862
Logbook containing entries from voyages on a number of ships, including: the Laurel, the Acastus, the O’Cain, the Three Sisters, and the Fenwick.
Copy of the log of U.S. gunboat Huron
C. Financial records, 1715-1868
Arranged alphabetically and chronologically.
This subseries contains financial papers relating to shipping business and military service, and is primarily focused on Josiah Barker’s shipbuilding business; Judah Alden’s involvement with the Society of the Cincinnati and his Revolutionary War claims; and Edward Tobey Barker’s U.S. Navy Department accounts. Items include bills and receipts, insurance policies, customs forms, and loose account sheets.
Bound account books, 1763-1866
This subseries consists of the account books of Ebenezer Barker and Dr. Jabez Fuller, relating to Barker’s work as surveyor, engineer, and agent of the Warren and Charles River Bridges, and Fuller’s medical practice in Kingston, Mass.
D. Scrapbook, 1840s-1890s
Compiled by Edward Tobey Barker, this volume contains military-related newspaper clippings, correspondence, calling cards, ticket stubs and other personal mementos. A photo card of the ship Tahoma is adhered to the front page.
III. Printed material and ephemera, 1775-1953
A. Personal and family, 1788-1953
This subseries contains assorted items including invitations, advertisements, certificates, business cards, genealogical and heraldic brochures, and insurance policies.
Walker’s Critical Pronouncing Dictionary, undated
B. Newspapers/clippings, 1775-1922
This subseries contains whole newspapers (1775, 1790, and 1791) and clippings of military and genealogical articles, concert programs, and advertisements from the 1860s and 1870s.
Materials Removed from the Collection
Photographs and engravings from this collection have been removed to the MHS Photo Archives.
Artifacts from this collection have been removed to the MHS Artifacts Collection.
Barker-Edes-Noyes 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.