Guide to the Collection

Collection Summary


This collection consists of loose papers and volumes relating to Naushon Island and some other islands in the Elizabeth Islands, part of the town of Gosnold, Massachusetts.

Collection Description

The Naushon papers consist of loose papers and volumes relating to Naushon Island and some other islands in the Elizabeth Islands, part of the town of Gosnold, Massachusetts. The collection contains deeds and other documents tracing the ownership of Naushon and other islands from 1641 through 1867 (including some items relating to Native Americans); papers of General Salem Town of Charlton, Mass., agent for the owners of Naushon, in charge of timber operations on the island (1811-1826); papers of James S. Russell, agent for J. M. Forbes in charge of commercial farming and timber operations on the island (1894-1899); and four bound volumes of records including timber accounts (1824-1826), farm records (1833-1885), sheep records (1899-1947), and a surveyor's notebook of the Elizabeth Islands (1837-1838).

Acquisition Information

Gift of Naushon Trust, Inc., Dec. 2009. Additions and audiovisual material, Feb. 2020.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Deeds, etc., 1641-1867

Deeds, agreements, mortgages, and other papers (some copies) tracing the ownership of Naushon Island through the original Native American occupants to John Murray Forbes. Owners and/or part-owners of the island include Peter Oliver, Thomas and Matthew Mayhew, Wait Winthrop, John Winthrop, James Bowdoin I, James Bowdoin II, James Bowdoin III, William Bowdoin, James Temple Bowdoin, William W. Swain, and John Murray Forbes. This series includes John Winthrop's "Instructions to Indian tenants," 1719-1720, and a 1723 item also related to Native Americans.

Box 1Folder 1-9
Deeds, etc., 1641-1867
Box OSFolder 1-7
Oversize deeds, etc., 1682-1843

II. Salem Town papers, 1811-1826

Correspondence of Gen. Salem Town, the Charlton, Mass. agent for Thomas L. Winthrop and Richard Sullivan, in charge of timber operations on Naushon Island. The papers include letters written by Walter Woodard, a tenant on Naushon, to Salem Town, as well as letters from Town to his wife Sally when he was in residence on the island.

Box 1Folder 10-12
Salem Town papers, 1811-1826
Box OSFolder 8
Oversize items, 1825-1826

III. James S. Russell papers, 1894-1899

Papers of James S. Russell, agent for John Murray Forbes in charge of commercial farming and timber operations on Naushon Island. Papers include correspondence, bills, receipts, accounts, leases, agreements, memoranda, inventories, and notes concerning tenants, sheep and other livestock, farming, timber, coal, employees, and other miscellaneous farm matters on Naushon.

Box 1Folder 13-25

IV. Volumes, 1824-1947

Four volumes of material relating to Naushon Island, including an account book, a farm record book, a sheep record book, and a surveyor's notebook.

Box 2Vol. 1
Timber accounts, 1824-1826

Wastebook entries for sales of timber, 28 Apr. 1824-15 Dec. 1826. Account entries for sales to various individuals, 1825-1826. Unknown writer.

Box 2Vol. 2
Farm records, 1833-1885

Records of farming on Naushon. Includes clearing and reclamation of farm land; experiments and records of soil treatments, fertilizers, and manures; woodlands; crops, seeds, fruit trees, and yields; construction of buildings, roads, wharves, and drainage ditches; record of workers and costs; livestock and wool sales; fish; memoranda and agreements with tenants; work on houses and wharves; and weather. Records kept by William W. Swain and John Murray Forbes.

Box 2Vol. 3
Henry H. Crapo, "Field Notes of the Elizabeth Islands," 1837-1910

Surveyor's notes with memoranda of expenses, 1837-1838. Includes survey figures and drawings for Uncatena, Naushon, Goat Neck, West Buck, East Buck, Narramassett, and Pasque Islands. There are some loose items (1884, 1910) of William W. Crapo, the son of Henry H. Crapo.

Box 2Vol. 4
Sheep records, 1898-1947

Records of numbers, tagging, purchases, sales, deaths, expenses, wool shearing, and wool yields. Unknown writer.

V. Additions, 1817-1896

Box OSFolder 9
Sketches and extracts, 1817

Titled "Sketches of the Elizabeth Islands in 1817 & some extracts from Plymouth Records relating to the Indian names of those Islands & their ownership by the Indians by Judge Davis of Boston furnished by Isaac P. Davis." Includes two manuscripts (removed from frames) containing historical notes, Native American names, and extracts from published records, as well as one oversize sheet containing seven watercolor-and-ink views of the Elizabeth Islands and Martha's Vineyard from various vantage points, a chart (map) of part of the Elizabeth Islands, and a sketch of a fish.

Box 1Folder 26
"The Nantucket Tea-Party," 1896

Typed script for a play performed by members of the Forbes family, presumably at Naushon. Inscribed: "Waldo Forbes from his grandmother S. S. Forbes Feb. 8th 1896."

VI. Audiovisual material

Note: This series is CLOSED to researchers.

Carton 1SH 1ALF
Films 1-19
Carton 2SH 1ALG
Films 20-27
Carton 2SH 1ALG
Tapes 1-13
Box 3SH 1ALH
Files and note cards related to audiovisual material

Preferred Citation

Naushon papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Access Terms

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.


Bowdoin, James, 1676-1747.
Bowdoin, James, 1726-1790.
Bowdoin, James, 1752-1811.
Bowdoin, James Temple, 1776-1842.
Bowdoin, William, 1713-1773.
Crapo, Henry Howland, 1804-1869.
Crapo, William Wallace, 1830-1926.
Forbes family.
Forbes, John Murray, 1813-1898.
Mayhew, Matthew, 1648-1710.
Mayhew, Thomas, 1593?-1682.
Oliver, Peter.
Russell, James S.
Swain, William W.
Town, Salem, 1779-1864.
Town, Sally.
Winthrop, John, b. 1681.
Winthrop, Wait Still, 1643-1717.
Woodard, Walter.


Agriculture--Massachusetts--Naushon Island.
Elizabeth Islands (Mass.).
Gosnold (Mass.).
Indians of North America--Massachusetts--Naushon Island.
Natural history--Massachusetts.
Naushon Island (Mass.).
Real property--Massachusetts.