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. Types of materials include correspondence and personal and business papers, including memoranda books and diaries.
Below are brief biographical sketches of the Storrow family members most prominently represented within this collection.
Thomas Wentworth Storrow (1779-1862) was born in London on 1 September 1779 to Thomas Storrow (1751-1794) and Ann Appleton Storrow (d. 1796). His siblings were Ann Gillam Storrow (1784-1862), Louisa (Storrow) Higginson (1786-1864), Samuel Mary Appleton Storrow (1789-1837), and Rebecca Susannah Storrow (1790-1795). Thomas Storrow was a British Army officer engaged in trading ventures at Campobello and Kingston, Jamaica. The family relocated to Boston after Thomas's death in 1794, which was followed shortly by Rebecca in 1795, and Ann Appleton in 1796.
Having left school at age thirteen when his father died, at fifteen Thomas Wentworth went to work at Luke Baker's store in Cornhill, Boston. Stephen Higginson (d. 1834) 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. On 4 October 1804, Thomas Wentworth married one of John C. Brown's cousins, Sally Phipps Brown (1783-1837). Thomas Wentworth and Sally had five children: Thomas Wentworth, Jr. (1805-1861), Susan Clark (Storrow) van Wart (1807-1843), Charles Storer Storrow (1809-1904) (see below), Ann Louisa Storrow (1816-1842), and Samuel Appleton Storrow (1813-1842).
Dr. James Jackson (1777-1867) is related to the Storrow family through his daughter, Lydia Cabot (Jackson) Storrow (1812-1889), who married Charles Storer Storrow (see below). An important figure in medicine in Massachusetts, Dr. Jackson was an early practitioner of smallpox inoculation, Professor of Theology and Practice of Physic at Harvard Medical School, instrumental in the founding of Massachusetts General Hospital, and influential in the development of medical education in the United States. Jackson's papers within this collection depict his personal rather than professional life.
His first marriage was to Elizabeth Cabot (1776-1817), and their children included Edward Jackson, Elizabeth Cabot Jackson, Harriet Jackson, Lydia Cabot Jackson, Francis Jackson, and Susan Cabot Jackson. His second marriage was to Sarah Cabot (1779-1861), with whom he had no additional children.
Charles Storer Storrow (1809-1904) was born in Montreal on 25 March 1809 to Thomas Wentworth Storrow (1779-1862) and Sally Phipps (Brown) Storrow (1783-1837). His family moved from Montreal to Paris in 1818, and he lived there until 1824, when he was sent back 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 E‰cole des Ponts et Chaussees at Pais and joined the engineering staff of the Boston and Lowell railroad in 1832. In 1845, Charles became the treasurer of the Essex Company, which built a dam across the Merrimack River, built many canals and locks to channel waterpower to the mills at Lowell, and was responsible for much of the infrastructure of the town of Lawrence. Charles became the first mayor of the city of Lawrence in 1853. Later projects include consulting on the Hoosac Tunnel in 1862, the construction of a dam on the Deerfield River, 1863-1867, and starting 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 consists of six 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 six series: Family Correspondence, Family Papers, Thomas Wentworth Storrow Papers, Charles Storer Storrow Papers, Secondary Materials, and Additions. Materials in the collection include business and family correspondence, business and family papers, writings, and diaries. Many letters are accompanied by commentary notes which were added later. Members of the family were predominantly involved in trade and imports, engineering, and service in the Union Army during the Civil War, 1862-1865.
Family correspondence includes letters between many Storrow family members, as well as members of related families including Browns, Chatsfields, Higginsons, Jacksons, and van Warts. The correspondence primarily pertains to family matters: pregnancies and births, schooling, careers, engagements, weddings, financial difficulties, illnesses and injuries, and deaths. Some letters include business and legal matters. Correspondence between Thomas Wentworth Storrow and his wife Sally Phipps (Brown) Storrow and their sons Thomas Wentworth, Jr., Charles Storer, and Samuel Appleton was written while they were away from home at boarding school, at college, and at jobs; and likewise from Charles Storer Storrow and his wife Lydia Cabot (Jackson) Storrow with their sons Samuel and Charles, who alternately studied at Harvard and traveled abroad and served with the 44th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment during the Civil War, 1862-1865.
Family papers includes legal and estate documents and correspondence with persons outside the Storrow family. Of particular interest are an enlistment roll of Co. F, 44th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry to be recruited by Charles Storrow, 1862, and three biographical works: a journal Charles Storrow kept while on board the ship Boston from 1860-1862, 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.
The Thomas Wentworth Storrow papers include a document of recollections entitled "Boston as it was 60 years ago and now is," a folder of writings about family members, and several lengthy pieces of autobiographical writing. "Journey to the West" is an undated narrative of Thomas Wentworth Storrow's travels from New York to Mississippi and back again in May-July 1841. "My life to 1818" is an autobiographical account of Thomas's family history and life until his late thirties, written ca. 1845-1850.
The Charles Storer Storrow papers consist primarily of his business papers, including memoranda, drawings, and letters related to engineering projects, including the construction of the Hoosac Tunnel and the construction of a dam on the Deerfield River, 1863-1867. The bulk of this series is memoranda books documenting his work with the Essex Company in Lawrence, Mass. Types of entries include correspondence, notes, accounts, plans, sketches and diagrams, and notes about significant events in the history of Lawrence. Two small notebooks relating to the Pemberton Mill disaster of 1860 list personnel and report their condition as killed or injured, noting their circumstances and recording the relief provided by the company. This series also contains Storrow's political writings on the U.S. Constitution, slavery, and the Civil War, 1860-1864. Finally, his diaries kept from 1829-1832 describe his graduation from Harvard and engineering studies at the Ã‰cole des Ponts et ChaussÃ©es in Paris. He writes about the marriage of his sister, Susan Storrow, in Paris in August 1830, to Henry van Wart, a nephew of Washington Irving. Susan's father was absent, so the Marquis de Lafayette gave her away. His diaries also describe his travels around Europe.
Secondary materials include two unpublished works about the Storrow family, written by Charles S. Denny, a great-grandson of Charles Storer Storrow. Additions to the collection, donated in 2017, include typescripts of letters of Ann Gillam Storrow, who writes of family news and daily life; typescripts of letters of Sally Phipps (Brown) Storrow, who writes about her life in Paris and the surrounding villages; and the correspondence and personal papers of Charles Storer Storrow.
Gift of Ann Storrow Denny Solodar, May-June 2014, June 2017.
Detailed Description of the Collection
I. Family correspondence, 1791-1899
This series is comprised of one box of correspondence between Storrow family members, as well as members of related families including Browns, Chatsfields, Higginsons, Jacksons, and van Warts. The 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. Some letters are accompanied by annotative notes, written more recently. Among the sequence are several distinct groupings:
From 1791-1800, the correspondence largely relates to the household of Thomas Storrow and Ann Appleton Storrow, who were living 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-1840s, Thomas Wentworth Storrow and his wife Sally Phipps (Brown) Storrow and other relatives exchange letters with their sons Thomas Wentworth, Jr., Charles Storer, and Samuel Appleton who were away from home at boarding school, then 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 exchange of letters between Samuel Appleton and Thomas Wentworth, Jr. between 1835 and 1837 about a fugitive slave that Samuel wanted Thomas to help him retrieve.
From 1859 to 1865, the letters mainly pertain 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 alternately studied at Harvard and traveled abroad, and then served with the 44th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment during the Civil War, 1862-1865. Charles was mustered out in 1864, but Samuel reenlisted with the 2nd Regiment and continued to serve until his death in 1865 at the Battle of Averysboro in North Carolina. This sequence of correspondence includes letters written home by Charles when he was on a trip to Mauritius in 1861 (see also his journal from this period), from Samuel while he was visiting the Azores in 1862, and letters from Charles S. and Lydia to their sons during the Civil War reporting family news.
II. Family papers, 1762-1868
Family papers consist of legal and estate documents, correspondence with persons outside the Storrow family, Civil War records, and biographical writings about Charles Storrow, Dr. James Jackson, and Ann Gillam Storrow.
A. Papers, 1762-1868
This sub-series includes legal and estate documents and correspondence with persons outside the Storrow family. The legal and estate documents include the wills of Thomas Storrow (d. 1762), Nicholas Storrow (d. 1784), and Ann Marston (d. 1790); probate, legal documents, and correspondence related to the death and estate of Thomas Storrow (1751-1794); a physician's report, informal will in the form of a memorandum, and a list of heirs of the estate for Samuel Appleton Storrow (1813-1842); and a power of attorney document and 1849 will for James Jackson (1777-1867). Correspondents include Edwin H. Adams, E. Fitch, William Savage, Joshua Barker, Charles Dall, James Savage, Miss Grant, and Mary Ann William Brown.
Civil War materials related to Charles Storrow and Samuel Storrow include an enlistment roll of Co. F, 44th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, to be recruited by Charles Storrow; 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; and newspaper clippings on events involving Charles and Samuel.
B. Diaries and writings, 1860-1865 and undated
This journal was kept by Charles Storrow on board the ship Boston on a trip from Boston to Mauritius and Italy, 20 Apr. 1860-7 Feb 1862. In 1860, Charles's father, Charles Storer Storrow, successfully requested that Harvard grant Charles Storrow leave from college to allow him to work for William Perkins's firm in Boston. Mr. Perkins commissioned him to travel to and from Mauritius on the Boston to trade goods on his behalf. In this journal, Charles writes about life on board ship and describes the many ports where the ship berths, including Mauritius, Point de Galle, Ceylon, Pagoda Point, China, Burma, Rangoon, Bombay, Calcutta, Cairo, Mt. Zion, Bethlehem, Jaffa, Tripoli, Messina, Florence, and Pompeii.
This is a brief autobiographical account of the life of Dr. James Jackson (1777-1867), written in 1865. The account focuses on his early medical career, starting his family, attaining notoriety by inoculating for smallpox, and of his sorrow at the death of his first son Edward in infancy.
"My Aunt Paula" is a memoir of Ann Gillam Storrow (1784-1862) written by her niece Louisa Storrow Higginson. This is an elegiac character sketch, describing and praising 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, genealogical and philosophical writing, two lengthy autobiographical pieces, and loose pages from his diaries.
For Thomas Wentworth Storrow's correspondence with family members, see Series I: Family correspondence.
A. Papers, 1802-1861
This sub-series includes Thomas Wentworth Storrow's naturalization certificate, a small amount of personal correspondence (recipients James Savage, Rev Charles Ball), a document of recollections entitled "Boston as it was 60 years ago and now is," a list of articles written by Thomas Wentworth, and two visiting cards.
B. Diaries and writings, 1794-1862
This sub-series includes a folder of writing about family members, two lengthy pieces of autobiographical writing, some philosophical writing, and pages from diaries.
This folder includes death announcements transcribed from newspapers for Thomas Storrow and Ann Appleton Storrow and elegiac prose written by Jackson after each of the deaths of his wife Elizabeth Cabot, his son Samuel Appleton Storrow, and granddaughter Susan Clark (Storrow) van Wart.
This text is an undated narrative of Thomas Wentworth Storrowâ€™s travels from May-July 1841, probably synthesized from journal entries or letters written contemporaneously. In addition to chronicling his journey from New York to Missouri and back, he makes observations about the physical geography, and products of the locations he passes through. Passages of particular interest include the resettlement of a group of Chickasaw Native Americans who had recently been moved to Oklahoma and a description of the Nauvoo City of the Mormons in Illinois.
This text is an autobiographical account of Thomas Wentworth Storrow's family history and life through his late thirties, written ca. 1845-1850. The account begins with his parents, Thomas Storrow and Ann Appleton, and then continues to his childhood in Jamaica. It includes 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. He was in Paris during the War of 1812 and writes about the financial difficulties experienced by himself and others prior to, during, and after that conflict.
This text is a long essay written by Thomas Wentworth Storrow on the history of philosophy, different philosophers' views of religion, and Storrow's opinions of their ideas. He discusses the Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians and is particularly interested in different philosophies of the after-life.
The pages in these folders are from diaries kept by Thomas Wentworth Storrow during his final years. He writes about his health complaints and about visits from relatives and news from his grandchildren, and muses on books he has read and current events. The folder for 1861 includes a list of birthdays transcribed from the family Bible.
IV. Charles Storer Storrow papers, 1829-1882
This series contains Charles Storer Storrow's personal papers, business papers and memoranda books, political writings, and diaries.
For Charles Storer Storrow's correspondence with family members, see Series I: Family correspondence.
A. Personal papers, 1847-1863
This sub-series includes correspondence with recipients outside the Storrow family, including Mrs. Bigelow, John P. Hopkinson, and B. G. Wainwright; color copies of two watercolor views of Lawrence; and a sheet of signatures from Charles's graduation class at Harvard.
See also Series VI. Additions, Charles S. Storrow papers, 1822-1860.
B. Business papers, 1841-1882
Charles Storer Storrow's business papers are divided into two sub-series according to format (loose papers and memoranda books), but the subject matter is closely interrelated.
Among Charles Storer Storrow's loose papers are memoranda, drawings, blueprints, and letters related to engineering projects including the construction of the Hoosac Tunnel and the construction of a dam on the Deerfield River, 1863-1867.
ii. Memoranda books, 1841-1882
This sub-series consists of 19 memoranda books and 2 books listing personnel. In his 1845 volume, Charles Storer Storrow describes his memoranda books as "private pocket books" which have been kept for his own personal use. These volumes are effectively a diary of his working life, with official records and final versions presumably kept elsewhere.
The volumes begin in 1841, when Storrow was a member of a commission appointed by Patrick Tracy Jackson to measure the water being used by the Lowell textile mills. The books record his plans and sketches, which involved a wheel being erected in the Middlesex flume to measure the water passing into the Merrimack. The commission concluded that building a dam and a system of canals would increase the efficiency of the mills' waterwheels. The Water Power Association was created to carry out this work, and in 1845, this association was incorporated as the Essex Company. Storrow was a founder, director, and treasurer for the Essex Company, and the books document Storrow's activities within the company until his retirement in 1882. Types of records in the books include: drafts and copies of correspondence, notes of meetings and conversations, financial records, plans, and diagrams. Interspersed with the business matters are more personal records, such as family financial records, notes on the deaths of family and friends, and reading lists.
Of particular interest are records related to the history of Lawrence, Mass., where the Essex Company was based. The books include sketches of street maps as the settlement expanded into a town in 1847 and then a city in 1853. There are also two small volumes related to the Pemberton Mill disaster of 1860. 671 persons were in the mill when it fell and burned, killing 88 workers and injuring 273. One of the 1860 volumes lists the names of employees, some with their job title, with codes next to the names designating them as injured or killed (see the back of the volume for the code key). The other 1860 volume lists those killed or wounded with details of their family circumstances and the relief provided to them by the company.
C. Political writings, 1861-1864
This sub-series includes writings about the Constitution, slavery, secession, the American system of government, and the state of the war 1860-1864.
D. Diaries and writings, 1829-1864
Charles Storer Storrow begins his 1829 diary with a summary of his life from 1824-1829, describing his past and his prospects. Regular diary entries commence on 1 Aug 1829. From 1830 to early 1832, he is based in Paris, where he is studying engineering at the Ã‰cole des Ponts et ChaussÃ©es. He writes about the marriage of his sister, Susan Storrow, in Paris in August 1830, to Henry van Wart, a nephew of Washington Irving. Her father, Thomas Wentworth Storrow, was absent, so the Marquis de Lafayette gave the bride away. The bound diary for 1830-1832 includes descriptions of his travels around Europe. At the back of that volume is a list of family birth and death dates. Also included is a typescript of the bulk of the diaries.
V. Secondary materials, 1994-1999 and undated
This series includes material about the Storrow family or the family papers, created more contemporaneously than the collection itself. It contains two unpublished works about the Storrow family by Charles S. Denny and lists of letters and documents found with the collection that researchers may find helpful should they wish to trace the correspondence between particular individuals within the Storrow family.
A. Research works by Charles S. Denny, 1994-1999
This sub-series includes two substantial 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. These works include many transcripts of letters and documents from within the collection, from other collections held by the MHS, and from elsewhere relevant to Storrow family history. Both include illustrations and photographs.
B. Lists of letters and documents, undated
This folder is comprised of itemized lists of correspondence to and from particular individuals, made more contemporaneously than the documents themselves, which form a partial inventory of the contents of this collection.
VI. Additions, 1768-1860
This series contains family papers added to the collection in June 2017. (Typescripts of letters and diaries, also added at this time, have been placed with the orginals in the collection.)
This letter appointed administrators for the estate of Winthrop Carter of New Hampshire is signed by Judge John Wentworth.
Charles's papers include an 1822 letter to his aunt, Hannah Brown, describing his daily life in Paris, a list of his expenses from 1824 to 1829 at the Round Hill School and Harvard College, an 1830 letter from Peter Irving, brother of Washington Irving, giving Charles money for a new suit of clothes, a Dec. 1834 letter from Dr. James Jackson congratulating Charles on his engagement to Jackson's daughter; and retained copies of three 1860 letters from Charles to Sarah Paris Storrow, the wife of his brother Thomas Wentworth Storrow, related to Thomas's property, family, and financial affairs during his final illness.
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.