1762-1999; bulk: 1790-1882
Guide to the Collection
This collection contains the papers of the Storrow family, primarily Thomas Wentworth Storrow and Charles Storer Storrow. Materials include family correspondence, personal papers, writings, diaries, and business records including those of the Boston and Lowell Railroad and the Essex Company of Lawrence, Mass.
Thomas Wentworth Storrow (1779-1862) was born in London on 1 September 1779 to Thomas Storrow (1751-1794) and Ann Appleton Storrow (1760-1796). His siblings were Ann Gillam Storrow (1784-1862), Louisa Storrow Higginson (1786-1864), Samuel Appleton Storrow (1789-1837), and Rebecca Susannah Storrow (1790-1795). Thomas's father was a British Army officer engaged in trading ventures at Campobello and Kingston, Jamaica, and the family relocated to Boston after his death in 1794.
At fifteen, Thomas went to work at Luke Baker's store in Cornhill, Boston in 1796, and Stephen Higginson later set him up in business as a trader or commission merchant, in partnership with Edward Breck and John C. Brown. When Breck later left the firm, the business became Storrow and Brown. He established a business in Montreal and later in Paris, where he moved with his family in 1818. On 4 October 1804, Thomas married Sally Phipps Brown (1783-1837), and the couple had five children: Thomas Wentworth Storrow (1805-1861); Susan Clark Storrow van Wart (1807-1843); Charles Storer Storrow (1809-1904); Ann Louisa Storrow (1810-1837); and Samuel Appleton Storrow (1813-1842).
Charles Storer Storrow (1809-1904) was born in Montreal on 25 March 1809 to Thomas Wentworth Storrow and Sally Phipps Brown Storrow. His family moved to Paris in 1818, and he lived there until 1824, when he was sent to Massachusetts to attend the Round Hill School in Northampton. From there he went to Harvard, graduating first in his class in 1829. He studied engineering from 1830 to 1831 at the Ecole des Ponts et Chaussees at Pais and joined the engineering staff of the Boston and Lowell railroad in 1832. He served as a water commissioner for the Proprietors of the Locks and Canals of the Merrimack River, who channeled water power to the mills in Lowell, Mass., and in 1845 became agent, chief engineer, and treasurer of the Essex Company. There he designed and built dams, canals, and several large mills, laying out the streets and infrastructure for the industrial town of Lawrence. Charles became the first mayor of the city of Lawrence in 1853, where he lived from 1845 to 1860. Later projects include consulting on the Hoosac Tunnel in 1862, the construction of a dam on the Deerfield River in 1863, and founding the Tremont Petroleum Co. in 1865 to speculate on petroleum in Western Pennsylvania.
In 1836, Charles married Lydia Cabot Jackson (1812-1889), daughter of Dr. James Jackson (1777-1867) and Elizabeth Cabot (1776-1817). Charles and Lydia had seven children: James Jackson Storrow (1837-1897), Ann Louisa Storrow (1839-1849), Charles Storrow (1841-1927), Samuel Storrow (1843-1865), Sarah Phipps Storrow (1845-1849), Catherine Goddard Storrow (1847-1849), and Lydia "Lily" Jackson Storrow Dale (1851-1933).
The Storrow family papers consist of seven document boxes and two oversize folders, spanning the years 1762 to 1999, with the bulk dating from 1790 to 1882. The collection has been divided into five series: Family correspondence; Family papers; Thomas Wentworth Storrow papers; Charles Storer Storrow papers; and Secondary materials. It contains correspondence, personal papers, business records, writings, and diaries.
Family correspondence includes letters between Storrow family members, as well as members of the related Brown, Chatsfield, Higginson, Jackson, and van Wart families. Correspondence among Thomas Wentworth Storrow, his wife Sally Phipps Brown Storrow, and their sons Thomas Wentworth Storrow, Charles Storer Storrow, and Samuel Appleton Storrow was largely written while the sons were away from home at boarding school and college. Correspondence among Charles Storer Storrow, his wife Lydia Cabot Jackson Storrow, and their sons Samuel and Charles was primarily written while the sons studied at Harvard, traveled abroad, and served with the 44th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. The letters of Ann Gillam Storrow discuss family news and daily life; letters of Sally Phipps Brown Storrow describe her life in Paris and the surrounding villages.
Charles Storer Storrow's papers consist of personal correspondence and papers, diaries, political writings, and business records that reflect his studies at Harvard and at the engineering school at the Ecole des Ponts et Chaussees in Paris; his travels throughout Europe; and his work with the Boston and Lowell Railroad Corp., the Proprietors of the Locks and Canals on the Merrimack River, the Essex Company of Lawrence, Mass., and engineering projects including the construction of the Hoosac Tunnel and a dam on the Deerfield River. A series of memoranda books document his work with the Essex Company, which was incorporated in 1845 to provide water power to mills on the Merrimack River and create a manufacturing town that became Lawrence, Mass. Memoranda books include accounts, plans, sketches, diagrams, and notes about significant events in Lawrence. Two small notebooks pertain to the Pemberton Mill disaster of 1860, listing personnel that were killed or injured, their family circumstances, and relief provided by the company.
The collection also includes the personal reminiscences of Thomas Wentworth Storrow; a journal kept by Charles Storrow (1841-1928) while aboard the vessel Boston on a trade voyage to Mauritius from 1860 to 1862; a memoir of Ann Gillam Storrow written by her niece Louisa Storrow Higginson; and an autobiographical account of the early adulthood of Dr. James Jackson. 2017 additions include typescripts of the letters of Ann Gillam Storrow and Sally Phipps Brown Storrow, as well as a small amount of personal correspondence of Charles Storer Storrow. 2019 additions are largely the business and professional papers of Charles Storer Storrow.
Gift of Ann Storrow Denny Solodar, May-June 2014, June 2017, and Oct. 2019.
Detailed Description of the Collection
I. Family correspondence, 1791-1899
This series is comprised of correspondence between Storrow family members, as well as members of the related Brown, Chatsfield, Higginson, Jackson, and van Wart families. Correspondence primarily pertains to family matters: pregnancies and births, schooling, careers, engagements, weddings, financial difficulties, illnesses and injuries, and deaths. Some letters discuss business and legal matters. Included is correspondence of the household of Thomas Storrow and Ann Appleton Storrow in Jamaica in the 1790s. After Thomas Storrow's death in 1794, the letters are primarily from his widow, Ann Appleton, to her relatives asking for advice and aid.
Letters of Ann Gillam Storrow, sister of Thomas Wentworth Storrow, discuss daily life and family news in Hingham and Boston, impressions of her visit to Harvard College in 1800, and gossipy details of upper-class Boston society in the early nineteenth century. The collection includes typescripts of her letters.
From the 1820s to the 1840s, Thomas Wentworth Storrow and his wife Sally Phipps Brown Storrow exchanged letters with their sons Thomas Wentworth Storrow, Jr., Charles Storer Storrow, and Samuel Appleton Storrow, who were away at boarding school and college, and later as working adults. Sally's letters, which include typescripts, discuss her daily life and social activities in Paris and the surrounding villages of Auteuil and Grenelle. She describes visits with American friends, including author Washington Irving and his brother Peter; invitations to visit the Marquis de Lafayette; and the financial reversal of her husband's business in 1828. Also of interest is an 1834 letter from Dr. James Jackson congratulating Charles on his engagement to Jackson's daughter; letters between Samuel and Thomas, Jr. between 1835 and 1837 related to a fugitive who escaped from slavery; and March 1851 correspondence between Charles and Thomas, Jr. discussing arrangements for their father's future.
From 1859 to 1865, correspondence mainly pertains to the household of Charles Storer Storrow and his wife Lydia Cabot Jackson Storrow. The couple and other family members corresponded with their sons Samuel and Charles, who studied at Harvard, traveled abroad, and served with the 44th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment during the Civil War from 1862 to 1865. Charles was mustered out in 1864, but Samuel reenlisted with the 2nd Regiment, serving until his death in 1865 at the Battle of Averysboro in North Carolina. Also included are letters written by Charles, Jr. on a trip to Mauritius in 1861 and from Samuel while he was visiting the Azores in 1862. Retained copies of three letters from Charles Storer Storrow to Sarah Paris Storrow, the wife of his brother Thomas, discuss Thomas's property, family, and financial affairs during his final illness in 1860.
II. Family papers, 1762-1868
Family papers consist of legal and estate documents, correspondence with persons outside the Storrow family, Civil War records, Charles Storrow's diary about his journey to Mauritius and Italy in 1860, memoirs of Dr. James Jackson and Ann Gillam Storrow, and obituaries and memorials of various family members.
A. Papers, 1762-1868
Legal and estate documents in this series include the wills of Thomas Storrow (d. 1762), Nicholas Storrow (d. 1784), and Ann Marston (d. 1790); correspondence, probate records, and other legal documents related to the death and estate of Thomas Storrow (1751-1794); a physician's report, informal will, and a list of heirs to the estate of Samuel Appleton Storrow (1813-1842); and a power of attorney and 1849 will for James Jackson (1777-1867). Correspondents include Edwin H. Adams, William Savage, Joshua Barker, Charles Dall, James Savage, and Mary Ann William Brown. Also included are obituaries and memorials for Thomas Storrow, Ann Appleton Storrow, Elizabeth Cabot Jackson, Samuel Appleton Storrow, and Susan Clark Storrow van Wart.
Civil War materials related to Charles Storrow and Samuel Storrow include an enlistment roll of Co. F, 44th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, and discharge papers for James W. Hayward, a convicted pirate, who served nine months of 1863 as a soldier in Capt. Charles Storrow's company in lieu of imprisonment.
B. Diaries and memoirs, 1860-1865
This diary was kept by Charles Storrow aboard the ship Boston on a trip from Boston to Mauritius and Italy from 20 Apr. 1860 to 7 Feb 1862, working as a commission agent for the Boston firm of William Perkins. In this journal, Charles writes about life aboard ship and describes the many ports where the ship berths, including Mauritius; Ceylon (now Sri Lanka); Rangoon (now Yangon, Burma); Bombay (now Mumbai) and Calcutta, India; Cairo; Tripoli; Florence; and Pompeii.
In this brief autobiographical account, Dr. James Jackson (1777-1867) discusses his early medical career, starting his family, attaining recognition for smallpox inoculation, and of his sorrow at the death in infancy of his first son Edward.
"My Aunt Paula" is a memoir of Ann Gillam Storrow (1784-1862) written by her niece Louisa Storrow Higginson. It describes and praises Storrow's qualities; her skills in cooking, sewing and nursing; and her charity work, especially the provision of care packages to Civil War soldiers and their families. A typescript of the memoir is also included.
III. Thomas Wentworth Storrow papers, 1794-1862
This series is comprised of personal correspondence, philosophical writing, two lengthy autobiographical pieces, and loose pages from Storrow's diaries.
A. Papers, 1802-1861
Papers include Thomas's naturalization certificate, a small amount of personal correspondence, a list of articles written by Thomas, and two visiting cards.
B. Diaries and writings, 1794-1862
This narrative of Thomas's travels from May to July 1841 was most likely taken from journal entries or contemporaneous letters. In addition to chronicling his journey from New York to Missouri and back, Thomas makes observations about the physical geography and products of the locations he passes through. Of particular interest are descriptions of the resettlement of a group of Chickasaw Native Americans who had recently been moved to Oklahoma, and the Mormon city of Nauvoo in Illinois.
This autobiographical account of Thomas's family history and life through his late thirties begins by discussing his parents, Thomas Storrow and Ann Appleton Storrow, and his childhood in Jamaica. He chronicles the deaths of family members, his employment from the age of fifteen, his engagement and marriage to Sally Phipps Brown in 1804, and the birth of their children. In Paris during the War of 1812, Thomas writes about financial difficulties before and during the conflict.
Thomas's essay discusses the history of philosophy, philosophers' differing views of religion, and his opinion of their ideas.
In these pages from diaries kept during his final years, Thomas writes about his health complaints, visits from relatives, news from his grandchildren, books he has read, and current events. Entries for 1861 include a list of birthdays transcribed from the family Bible.
This essay draft includes Thomas's reminiscences of the city, its occupations, and Boston society as he remembered it about 1860.
IV. Charles Storer Storrow papers, 1829-1882
This series contains Charles Storer Storrow's personal papers, diaries, memoranda books, political writings, and business papers, including records of the Boston and Lowell Railroad Corporation, the Water Commissioners for the Proprietors of the Locks and Canals on the Merrimack River, and the Essex Company of Lawrence, Mass.
A. Personal papers, 1824-1897
Personal papers from the 1820s are related to Charles's studies at the Round Hill School and Harvard College, including a list of his expenses from 1824 to 1829, his July 1828 Harvard oration, and autographs of his 1829 graduation class.
Correspondence includes an 1830 letter from Peter Irving, brother of Washington Irving, giving Charles money for a new suit of clothes. April 1888 correspondence with Abbott Lawrence (1828-1893), son of the Essex Company director, discusses Daniel Saunders's claim to be the "Founder of Lawrence." Letters from 1895 and 1897 are related to the fiftieth anniversary of the city of Lawrence's founding and incorporation. Additional correspondents include Louisa Bigelow, John P. Hopkinson, and B. G. Wainwright.
B. Diaries, 1829-1832
Charles begins his 1829 diary with a summary of his life from 1824 to 1829, describing his past and his prospects. Regular diary entries commence on 1 Aug. 1829. From 1830 to 1832, he discusses his travels around Europe, his engineering studies at the Ecole des Ponts et Chaussees in Paris, and the August 1830 marriage of his sister Susan Storrow to Henry van Wart, a nephew of Washington Irving. In the absence of their father, the Marquis de Lafayette gave the bride away. Also included is a typescript of the bulk of the diaries.
Charles's 1831 "Notes of a journey to England" is a research journal compiled during his civil engineering studies in Paris. It contains detailed descriptions and drawings of various bridges, tunnels, and other structures including the Caledonian Canal; Bridge at Conway, North Wales; Hammersmith Bridge; Liverpool and Manchester Railway; St. Helens and Runcorn Railway; and the West India Docks in London.
B. Business records, 1835-1882
Charles's business records document his work as an engineer with the Boston and Lowell Railway; Water Commissioner for the Proprietors of Locks and Canals on the Merrimack River; treasurer, agent, chief engineer, and director of the Essex Company in Lawrence, Mass.; chair of Lawrence's Finance Committee; and engineering consultant for the Hoosac Tunnel and Deerfield River dam. In addition to records for his various businesses, Charles's series of memoranda books record his work experiences for personal use. Except for the memoranda books, the bulk of records in this subseries were added to the collection in 2019.
Papers include annual statistics for the number of passengers, cars, and freight, including printed reports from 1835 to 1838. Also included are valuations of the railroad's machinery and the annual costs of conveying passengers and freight. An 1840 report describes the construction of the first track, as well as the origins of Lowell, Mass., including engineering and construction data and detailed, hand-drawn diagrams. An 1841 report discusses the breakage of rails and methods of repair, including cost estimates, diagrams, and correspondence. A September 1844 report describes the railway's condition to its directors.
Records include three reports from water commissioners Charles S. Storrow, James E. Baldwin, and George W. Whistler on the measurement of water in the Lowell canals in 1841 and 1842. Appointed in May 1841 by the Proprietors of the Locks and Canals on the Merrimack River and the manufacturing companies who purchased mill power from them, commissioners measured the water used by each company at their mills. Also included are Charles's bills to the proprietors for water measurement.
The Essex Company was incorporated on 20 March 1845 for the purpose of building a dam and series of canals to increase the efficiency of textile mills and for creating a manufacturing town on the Merrimack River, which would become the town and later city of Lawrence, Mass. Charles served as agent, chief engineer, treasurer, and director for the company. Records include an oversize 1845 plan of Essex Company lands; a March 1845 "memorandum of engagement" between Charles as agent and engineer and the Essex Company; an 1845 proposal to the directors discussing the need for more tenement houses for workers; a July 1845 contract for the Essex Company's dam across the Merrimack River; and printed statements of the company's accounts. Charles's private estimates and memoranda include cost estimates of the canal, fisheries, and reservoirs; memos on the work and organization of the company; and plans to buy Lake Winnipesaukee for water rights, dated from 1845 to 1850. Correspondence with Abbott Lawrence from 1850 to 1852 is largely related to the Pemberton and Pacific Mills. Lawrence writes from London where he served as minister to Great Britain, and Charles's retained copies are written from Lawrence. Treasurer's reports from 1851 discuss the future of the Essex Company, the development of the town of Lawrence, and the renovations of the Essex Company's machine shop. 1857 correspondence and memoranda discuss Charles's retirement as agent. Also included are an 1862 Essex Company report and an 1865 annual report of the trustees of the White Fund, a charitable trust established by Daniel Appleton White and the Essex Company in 1852 to fund free lectures for Lawrence residents.
Charles served as chair of the town of Lawrence's Finance Committee from 1849 to 1852. Records include correspondence related to his election and committee reports from 1848, 1849, 1850, and 1852.
In 1862, after the State of Massachusetts took over the construction of the Hoosac Tunnel in the western part of the state, it sent Charles to Europe to study modern tunnel construction. Included in this subseries are Charles's research notes from that 1862 trip, "Original minutes taken on a journey to Europe," including interviews with engineers, extracts from civil engineering papers, and records of visits to railways and tunnels in Great Britain, Italy, and Paris. Also included is correspondence with engineers, much of which is written in French, related to his research for building the Hoosac Tunnel and Deerfield River dam, dated from 1863 to 1869.
vi. Memoranda books, 1841-1882
In his 1845 volume, Charles describes his memoranda books as "private pocket books" which have been kept for his own personal use, effectively a diary of his working life.
The books document his work with the water power commission appointed by the Proprietors of the Locks and Canals on the Merrimack River, the Water Power Association, and the Essex Company until his retirement as a director in 1882. Records include drafts and copies of correspondence, notes of meetings and conversations, financial records, plans, and diagrams. Interspersed with the business records are family financial records, notes on the deaths of family and friends, and reading lists.
Of particular interest are records related to the planning, development, and growth of Lawrence. The books include sketches of street maps as the settlement expanded into a town in 1847 and then a city in 1853. Two small volumes are related to the Pemberton Mill disaster of 1860, in which 88 workers were killed and 273 injured. Volumes list the names and job titles of employees who were killed or wounded, their family circumstances, and the relief provided to them by the company.
C. Political writings, 1861-1863
This subseries includes writings about the Constitution, slavery, secession, the American system of government, and the Civil War.
D. Printed material, 1826-1895
Printed material includes an 1826 indenture of the Proprietors of Locks and Canals with a proposal for the sale of land and mill power in Lowell; Harvard ephemera, 1827-1829; an 1846 Essex Company proposal for the sale of land and mill power; an 1850 map of Lawrence; an 1853 report of the Water Commission; and 1895 ephemera related to the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Lawrence, Mass.
V. Secondary materials, 1994-1999
This series contains research material about the Storrow family or the family papers. It includes two unpublished works by Charles S. Denny and lists of letters and documents in the collection.
A. Research works by Charles S. Denny, 1994-1999
This subseries includes two works of unpublished research: "The Storrow family during the Civil War" (1994) and "Thomas Wentworth Storrow and his family 1779-1862" (1999) written by Charles S. Denny, a great-grandson of Charles Storer Storrow. Included are many transcripts of letters and documents from within the collection, from other collections held by the MHS, and from other sources relevant to Storrow family history. Both include illustrations and photographs.
B. Lists of letters and documents, undated
Included are itemized lists of correspondence which form a partial inventory of the contents of this collection.
Storrow 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.