1645-1948; bulk: 1798-1888

Guide to the Collection

Collection Summary


This collection consists of papers, including family letters, of the Ayer, Channing, Eustis, Farwell, Spaulding, and Whittemore families, collected through their connections from inter-marriages.

Biographical Sketches

Nathaniel Whittemore (1756-1839) of Peterborough, N.H. was married to Phebe Waite Whittemore (1757-1834), and their children included Lucy Whittemore (1795-1818), Phebe Reed Whittemore (1797-1870), and Eliza Waite Whittemore (1799-1871). In 1813, Lucy Whittemore married William Farwell (1783-1860), son of Zaccheus Farwell (1753-1811), and moved to Richfield and later Plymouth, New York. Their daughter, Lucy Whittemore Farwell (1816-1878), married Daniel Spaulding (1803-1877) of Hancock, New Hampshire. They had sons John. W. Farwell (1813-1835) and Nathaniel W. Farwell (1818-1886).

A daughter of Nathaniel W. Farwell, Mary Eliza Farwell (1845-1915), married James Bourne Ayer (1849-1910). His grandfather was James Ayer (1781-1834), his father was James Ayer (1815-1891), and he had an uncle Joseph Cullen Ayer (1811-1846).

Frederic Augustus Eustis (1816-1871) married Mary Ruth Channing (1818-1891), daughter of Rev. William Ellery Channing (1780-1842) and Ruth Gibbs Channing (1778-1870). Following graduation from Harvard College in 1835 and Harvard Divinity School in 1839, Eustis accepted a ministry in Philadelphia. He soon after returned to Milton, Mass. to open a boarding school, which he operated until 1862, when he purchased his deceased stepmother's plantation in South Carolina.

Collection Description

The Pemberton collection includes letters, deeds, diaries, account books, and other miscellaneous documents of the interrelated Ayer, Channing, Eustis, Farwell, Spaulding, and Whittemore families. The Whittemore and Spaulding family papers consist primarily of legal records such as the wills of Bezaleel and Daniel Spaulding and papers related to the estates of Zaccheus Farwell and Daniel Spaulding, as well as surveys, deeds, and indentures concerning land in Hillsborough County, New Hampshire. Also included are family letters to and from Daniel and Lucy Spaulding, Lucy Farwell, Nathaniel Whittemore, Phebe R. Whittemore, Eliza Simmons, and Phebe Simmons. The Spaulding papers also contain letters written to Alphonso Spaulding from James A. Darling, who served with General Hooker's Division in the Civil War, and Edward Cudworth, who served with the 16th Regiment, New Hampshire Volunteers, both describing camp life and military actions from 1862 to 1864.

Farwell family papers include letters exchanged by John W. Farwell, Lucy W. Farwell, and Nathaniel W. Farwell. The few letters written by John Farwell describe his life as a seaman and his foreign travels. The many letters written between Nathaniel and Lucy detail his activities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, her life at the Lawrence Corporation in Lowell, and other general family matters. Nathaniel Farwell's subsequent real estate ventures are reflected in numerous deeds, especially his interests in Lewiston, Maine.

Ayer family papers begin with letters of James Ayer and Joseph Cullen Ayer, sons of Dr. James Ayer and Thirza Mason Ayer. Both James and Joseph attended Bowdoin College and opened medical practices in Massachusetts, James in Monument Beach and Sandwich and Joseph in Boston. Their papers include medical notes, account books, lists of medicines prescribed and fees charged, and inventories of drugs purchased, as well as a diary kept by James for 1880 to 1886. Additional Ayer papers consist of letters and amateur writings of James B. Ayer and James B. Ayer, Jr., a scrapbook of Mary F. Ayer, and two scrapbooks related to Nathaniel Ayer.

Among the Eustis papers is an account book for 1846 to 1854 containing the financial record of the boarding school kept by Frederic Augustus Eustis in Milton, Mass.; a pocket diary for 1857; family letters; and the plantation records during his ownership and supervision of Ladies Island in Beaufort Harbor, South Carolina. These records include surveys of the property; orders issued by Eustis; lists of enslaved people with their names, ages, and duties; numbers of acres planted; and, following the Emancipation Proclamation, wages paid to the freemen.

Also included among the Eustis papers are cookbooks and medical remedy books kept by Mary Channing Eustis and a large collection of amateur watercolors by her daughter, Emily Augusta Eustis, who married John Amory Jeffries.

The Channing family papers contain a notebook describing 135 sermons delivered by Joseph S. Buckminster (1784-1812) between 1803 and 1811, including time, place, and sermon subjects, as well as an account book, both belonging to Rev. William Ellery Channing. Papers of his wife, Ruth Gibbs Channing, include a trigonometry notebook and several account books. The Channing papers also contain a book of manuscript extracts on astronomy and astrology compiled by the Channings' friend, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, educator, author, and friend of Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau.

Other items of note include four pages of scriptural notes compiled by Richard Mather (1596-1669), a record book of the Suffolk Bank for 1827 and 1828, a letter describing the Lewiston, Maine mills in 1865, and a collection of genealogical notes on the Whittemore family.

Processing Note

Due to severe mildew, some originals have been photocopied and discarded.

Acquisition Information

Gift of N. Brigham Pemberton, July 1977.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Ayer family papers, 1828-1948

Box 1
Papers, 1828-1948

James Ayer (1815-1891)

Box 1
Dartmouth College medical notes, 1837
Box 1
Medical notes, 1837-1839
Box 1
Bowdoin College medical notes, 1839
Box 1
Medical accounts, 1842-1843
Box 2
Diary, 1880-1883
Box 2
Diary, 1883-1887

James B. Ayer

Box 2
Amateur writings, 1860-1861
Box 2
Historical notes, undated
Box 2
Passport, 1887Stored in oversize.
Box 2
Mary F. Ayer scrapbook, 1889-1893
Box 2
James B. Ayer, Jr. amateur writings, 1894

II. Eustis family papers, 1846-1930

Box 3
Eustis family papers, 1881

Frederic A. Eustis

Cased Vol. 1
Greek Bible (1809), with Eustis's notes tipped-in, 1836
Box 3
Papers, 1862-1871
Box 3
Account book, Milton boarding school, 1846-1854
Box 3
Diary, 1857
Box 3
Plantation records and accounts, 1863-1871

Mary Channing Eustis

Box 3
Recipe book, undated
Box 4
Commonplace-book, undated
Box 4
Books of medical remedies (2), undated

Emily A. Eustis Jeffries

Box 4
Book of abstracts, undated
Box 4
Commonplace-books, undated
Box 4
Ella C. Eustis answers to history questions, 1865

John A. Jeffries

Box 4
Biology notebook, 1875-1876
Box 4
Papers, 1923-1930

III. Channing family papers, 1800-1881

Box 5
Channing family correspondence, 1831-1881
Box 5
Channing family literary memoranda, undated

Ruth Gibbs Channing

Box 5
Trigonometry notebook, undated
Box 5
Account with Walter Channing, 1810-1811
Box 5
Ledgers, 1824-1825
Box 5
Joseph F. Buckminster sermons, 1803-[1811]
Box 5
[James Richardson] "Harmony," a poem, Phi Beta Kappa, 1800

IV. Farwell-Whittemore papers, 1811-1910

Box 6
Papers, 1811-1888
Box 6
Nathaniel W. Farwell deeds, 1844-1910

V. Spaulding papers, 1798-1864

Box 7

VI. Miscellaneous papers, 1645-1895

Box 8
Suffolk Bank records, 1827-1828
Box 8
Elizabeth Palmer Peabody notes on astronomy, undated
Box 8
Micah P. Shaw account book, 1841-1857
Box 8
William Pratt scrapbook
Box 8
Miscellaneous papers, 1645-1895
Box 8
Whittemore genealogy
Box 8
Miscellaneous genealogy
Box 8
List of books
Box 8
Clippings, etc.

VII. Oversize papers

This series contains oversize papers removed from the other series in the collection.

Box OS

Preferred Citation

Pemberton collection, 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.


Ayer family.
Ayer, James, 1815-1891.
Ayer, James B.
Ayer, Joseph Culler, 1811-1846.
Channing family.
Channing, Ruth Gibbs, 1778-1870.
Darling, James A.
Eustis family.
Eustis, Frederic Augustus, 1816-1871.
Eustis, Mary Channing, 1818-1891.
Farwell family.
Farwell, Nathaniel Whittemore, 1818-1886.
Jeffries, Emily Augustus Eustis.
Jeffries, John Amory, 1859-1892.
Peabody, Elizabeth Palmer, 1804-1894.
Shaw, Micah P.
Spaulding, Bezaleel.
Spaulding, Daniel, 1803-1877.
Spaulding family.
Whittemore family--Genealogy.


Suffolk Bank (Boston, Mass.).
United States. Army of the Potomac.


Account books--1827-1828.
Account books--1841-1857.
Account books--1863-1871.
Banks and banking--Massachusetts--Boston.
Boarding schools--Massachusetts--Milton.
Freedmen--South Carolina.
Medical students.
Medicine--Formulae, receipts, prescriptions.
Physicians--Massachusetts--Monument Beach.
Plantations--South Carolina.
Real property--Maine--Lewiston.
Real property--New Hampshire--Hillsborough County.
Slave labor--South Carolina.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives.
Women's commonplace-books.

Materials Removed from the Collection

Photographs from this collection have been removed to the MHS Photo Archives. A daguerreotype of an unidentified child has been removed and cataloged separately (Photo. 1.257).