1792-1903; bulk: 1870-1903

Guide to the Collection

Collection Summary


This collection contains the research material of John T. Hassam related to his genealogies of the Hassam, Hilton, and Cheever families. It includes notebooks, copies of historical records, loose notes, several original documents, correspondence, and printed material.

Biographical Sketch

John Tyler Hassam (1841-1903) was the son of John Hassam (1809-1885) and Abby Hilton Hassam. Born in Boston, he attended Boston Public Latin School, graduating from Harvard University in 1863. He served from Dec. 1863 to Aug. 1864 as first lieutenant of the 75th Regiment, U. S. Colored Infantry, taking part in the Red River campaign. He returned to Harvard and earned his master’s degree in 1866, was admitted to the Suffolk bar in 1867, and practiced law in Boston.

He was a member of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Bunker Hill Monument Assoc., and American Historical Assoc., and served as a director of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and the Bostonian Society. He authored numerous genealogical articles and publications primarily related to the genealogies of the Hassam, Hilton, and Cheever families, including Genealogies: the Hassam family, the Hilton family, the Cheever family (1896) and The Hassam family (1902). Hassam also supervised the publication of Suffolk Deeds as well as the indexing of records at the Suffolk Registry of Deeds and the indexes to the New England Historical and Genealogical Register. His use of historical records in his professional work and during genealogical research projects prompted him to advocate for the preservation of the Suffolk County court records and for better access to the materials in the state archives, and he succeeded in procuring funds for preservation and arrangement. He married Nelly Alden Batchelder in 1878, and his daughter, Eleanor, was born in Boston in 1879.

Collection Description

The John T. Hassam genealogical papers consist of five document boxes and one volume spanning the years 1792-1903, with the bulk of material dating from 1870 to 1903. The collection contains the papers of John T. Hassam, including correspondence, genealogical notes and transcriptions, printed material, and several original documents related to the ancestors of Hassam's father, John Hassam; his mother, Abby Hilton; and his paternal grandmother, Sally Cheever. Hassam's genealogical notebooks, notes, and record transcriptions comprise the largest portion of the collection. They include copies of wills, deeds, probate records, vital records, court files, church registers, city directories, and genealogical pedigrees.

Correspondence consists of letters written to Hassam regarding genealogical inquiries and publications. Although the collection contains only a few original documents, several are noteworthy. They include a 1792 French document regarding the indenture of young boys in Bayonne, an 1809 letter to Jonathan Hassam regarding the capture of his schooner Joanna by the British, and an 1823 ship's passport for Amos Hilton's bark Garland. Printed material primarily consists of publications written by Hassam about the genealogy of the Hassam, Hilton, and Cheever families; public records; and land transfer reform. Also included are biographical sketches about Hassam and newspaper clippings related to genealogical subjects.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Eleanor Hassam, March 1920.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Hassam family genealogical papers, 1809-1903

This series contains correspondence, original documents, copies of historical records, and genealogical notes related to the genealogy of the Hassam family of Massachusetts.

A. Correspondence, 1866-1902

Arranged chronologically.

Included are letters to John T. Hassam discussing genealogical inquiries, research, and publications related to the Hassam family.

Box 1Folder 1

B. Original documents, 1809-1845

Arranged chronologically.

This subseries contains papers of Jonathan Hassam, the paternal grandfather of John T. Hassam. They include an 1809 letter to Hassam, master of the schooner Joanna, ordering him to proceed to Malta after his capture by the British sloop Espair; an 1819 tax warrant addressed to Hassam as tax collector of Manchester, Mass.; several deeds and legal documents; and a petition to Essex County commissioners related to property damages sustained from the Eastern Railroad Co.

Box 1Folder 2

C. Genealogical notes, ca. 1870-1903

Arranged by record type.

Records in this subseries were compiled and transcribed by Hassam between about 1870 and 1903. They include six of Hassam's bound notebooks containing notes and transcriptions of wills, deeds, estate and probate records, town records, and pedigrees. Copies of historical documents include London marriage licenses (1521-1869); British calendars of state papers (1625-1896); Suffolk County court files (1745-1748); admiralty court records (1744-1745); and a Boston city directory with emphasis on the numbering of Court Street (1789-1881). Information on the Sendell and Wheelright families can also be found here. Additional loose notes include research on the variations of the name Hassam; family trees; and birth, marriage and death dates. Also of note are copies of documents related to William Pepperell and an account of the Siege of Louisbourg in 1745.

The large bound volume, "Notes for a Genealogy of the Hassam Family," contains an index; transcriptions from the Essex Registry of Deeds; Essex County probate records; court records; Leach's History of Manchester, Mass.; copies of vital, town, and church records of Manchester, Marblehead, Wenham, Salem, and Boston, Mass.; and excerpts from genealogical correspondence. An index and bibliography for this volume can also be found here. These were most likely created in preparation for Hassam's self-published volume The Hassam Family in 1902.

Box 1Folders 3-8
Hassam notebooks I-VI
Box 1Folders 9-37
Copies of historical documents
Box 2Folders 1-14
Miscellaneous notes
Volume 1
"Notes for a Genealogy of the Hassam family"
Box 2Folders 15-17
Index and bibliography for "Notes for a Genealogy of the Hassam family"

II. Hilton family genealogical papers, 1792-1903

This series contains correspondence, original documents, and notes related to the genealogy of the Hilton family of Massachusetts and Maine.

A. Correspondence, 1897-1901

Arranged chronologically.

Included in this subseries are letters written to Hassam discussing genealogical inquiries and publications about the Hilton family.

Box 2Folder 18

B. Original documents, 1792-1823

Arranged chronologically.

Documents in this subseries pertain to ship captain Amos Hilton. They include a 1792 French document related to the indenture of 9- and 10-year old boys at Bayonne and an 1823 ship’s passport for Hilton's bark Garland to sail from Boston to Bremen with her cargo.

Box 2Folder 19

C. Genealogical notes, ca. 1870-1903

Arranged by format and record type.

Records in this subseries were compiled and transcribed by Hassam between about 1870 and 1903. They include nine of Hassam's bound notebooks containing copies of deeds, court and probate records, abstracts, and manuscripts related to the Hilton family. Included in his unbound papers are additional copies of wills, deeds, and estate papers (1672-1819); a calendar of state and border papers (1547-1680); registers for the parish of Leyland (1508-1699); London marriage licenses (1521-1869); registers of Oldham church; Essex County probate records (1671-1869); and a list of Harvard College graduates (1656-1882). Of particular interest are copies of testimonies related to the death of Thomas Spooner in 1721.

Box 2Folders 20-28
Hilton notebooks I-IX
Box 2Folders 29-31
Copies of wills, deeds, and estate papers
Box 3Folders 1-9
Copies of historical documents
Box 3Folders 10-17
Miscellaneous notes

III. Cheever Family genealogical papers, ca. 1870-1902

This series contains correspondence and notes related to the genealogy of the Cheever family of Massachusetts and Connecticut.

A. Correspondence, Feb.-June 1896

Included are letters written to Hassam discussing genealogical inquiries and publications about the Hilton family.

Box 3Folders 18-19

B. Genealogical notes, ca. 1870-1902

This series includes thirteen of Hassam's bound notebooks, which include copies of birth, death, and marriage records; deeds; church records; manuscripts for genealogic publications; and miscellaneous notes related to the Cheever family. Loose copies of historical documents include wills, deeds, and estate papers (1760); calendars of state papers (1547-1837); transcriptions of the Boston Newsletter (1704-1775); a list of Cheever men who were soldiers and sailors in the Revolutionary War; and a history of Malden, Mass.

Box 3Folders 20-26
Cheever notebooks I-VII
Box 4Folders 1-6
Cheever notebooks VIII-XIII
Box 4Folders 7-12
Copies of historical documents
Box 4Folder 13
Miscellaneous notes

IV. Printed material, 1859-1903

Arranged chronologically and by record type.

Included in this series are the genealogical, archival, and land transfer reform publications of Hassam, including: The Hassam Family (1870); Descendants of William Hilton (1877); Ezekiel Cheever and Some of his Descendants (1879); Boston Taverns with Some Suggestions on the Proper Mode of Indexing Public Records (1880); Notes and Queries Concerning the Hassam and Hilton Families (1880); Ezekiel Cheever and Some of his Descendants: Part Second (1884); The Public Records (1889); Land Transfer Reform (1893); The Hilton Family (1896); and The Cheever Family (1896).

This series also includes several genealogical articles by other authors, a biographical sketch of Hassam, and newpaper clippings, largely from the Boston Transcript and Boston Herald, consisting of genealogical inquiries and responses, obituaries, and events in Boston.

Box 4Folders 14-22
Articles written by Hassam, 1870-1893
Box 5Folders 1-4
Articles written by Hassam, 1896-1903
Box 5Folders 5-6
Miscellaneous articles, 1883-1903
Box 5Folders 7-8
Newspaper clippings, 1859-1902

Preferred Citation

John T. Hassam genealogical 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.


Cheever family--Genealogy.
Hassam family--Genealogy.
Hilton family--Genealogy.
Hassam, Jonathan
Hilton, Amos.


Joanna (Schooner).


Indentured servants--France.