MSS 156:  Barney Family Papers, 1836-1929 - New Bedford Whaling Museum
Inventory of the Barney Family Papers In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research LibraryProcessed by: Rebecca Gagne; machine-readable finding aid created by: Rebecca GagneInventory of the Barney Family Papers In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library

Table of Contents

Historical Note

Scope and Content Note

Information for Researchers

Related Materials

Administrative Information


Subject Headings

Inventory of the Barney Family Papers

In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library

Barney Family Papers
Date Span:
Barney family
Mss Number:
Mss 156
1.5 linear feet
The Barney Family Papers are primarily correspondence of Edwin and Charles Barney and their families of New Bedford and Swansea, Massachusetts.
New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library
Phone: (508) 997-0046

Historical Note

A few miles from the corner of Barneyville Road and the Old Providence Road crossing the Palmer River at the John Myles Bridge was a section called Barneyville. Today this area is known as Historic Swansea, Massachusetts.

Barneyville, formerly known as “Bungtown” in the early 1770s, was a bustling community where young men worked from sunup to sundown sawing, filing, shaping, boring, and fastening planks and timbers together for the Barney Shipyard. Jonathan Barney, a prominent boat builder in New England established the shipyard in the 1770s. The Barney Shipyard saw its greatest success under Barney’s son, Mason, in the 18th century.

Mason Barney (1782-1868) had taken ownership of the shipyard following his father’s death in the 1800s. Under his ownership, Mason had established a large enterprise with over 200 men working to build boats at the shipyard. His estate included the shipyard, a general town store, and housing for some crew members, among other proprietary establishments. While working for his father, Mason was able to learn the shipbuilding trade and he became knowledgeable of the right people to hire and where to obtain wood and iron. His work at the shipyard helped to launch himself into the ranks of professional management as one of America’s most important and successful boat builders.

Mason Barney left many of the boats he had built unnamed until they were purchased, and his named boats included The Mason Barney, the Esther G. Barney, and The Mary R. Barney. The Esther G. Barney was operated by Acting Master, Captain Charles Smith Barney, Jr., a former United States Navy Captain discharged from the Navy on October 3, 1856.

During his career, Mason Barney built some 150 vessels from small fishing boats to a ship of 1,060 tons, the largest vessel that had been launched in this section of New England. The Barney Shipyard ceased operations in 1860 with the advent of steam-powered ships and the Civil War on the rise.

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Scope and Content Note

Materials in this collection consist of manuscripts pertaining to the Barney family in America with a majority of the records consisting of correspondences of former United States Navy Captain, Charles Smith Barney, Jr., Acting master of the ship, The Esther G. Barney. The materials in this collection range from 1836 through 1929, and include incoming and outgoing correspondences, legal documentation, bills and receipts, bills of landing, bills of exchange, and a bill of health, in addition to Barney family genealogical records, newspaper clippings, photographs, and other associated materials.

Captain Charles Barney and Abby E. Barney (1806-1901) were married in 1834 and had three children: Captain Charles Smith Barney, Jr., former United States Navy captain; Edwin Barney, a prominent lawyer in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and Mrs. Daniel Child of Providence (Lizzie). This collection contains documents pertinent to Captain Charles Smith Barney, Jr.

The collection is mostly composed of incoming correspondences to Captain Charles S. Barney Jr. from family and friends during his voyages as Acting Master of the ship, The Esther G. Barney built by famous shipbuilder, Mason Barney. Correspondences from Abby and Lizzie include greetings, and news of daily life, and information about their health. Both Abby and Lizzie had fallen ill several times during the exchange of correspondences with Captain Barney, Jr. Lizzie holds herself responsible for writing information pertaining to the latest family news and gossip in her letters such as who is visiting and how long they plan to stay. Lizzie and Abby’s letters were written on the same pages of paper. These letters include plenty of well wishes and safe travels to Captain Barney, Jr. and express how much she misses her brother. Many letters are about how big her son, Charlie, is getting and how much he looks like Captain Charles. She also mentions word of another child on the way and later welcomes her second child to her family.

Talk of Charles taking a wife was mentioned in letters between Lizzie and Abby (mother). Not long after those letters were sent, Alice (Blow) Barney, wife of Captain Charles Barney took a presence in the collection of correspondence. She has a series of correspondences to her husband wishing him well and generally writing about her day in a collection of letters while he is away. She also expresses how much she misses him and talks about his mother and sister visiting and how she will care for his mother in his absence.

The correspondence collection also includes incoming letters from Captain Barney’s brother, Edwin, in addition to other family members and friends. These writings include correspondences that offer greetings and well wishes for safe return home and there was an exchange with receipts and correspondences from Mason Barney, and Mason Barney, Jr., Daniel R. Child (Lizzie’s husband), E.J. Carpenter, George Waite, and Henry Blow among other friends.

While a majority of the documents are incoming correspondences, there are some outgoing correspondences from Captain Barney to his mother, and sister, Lizzie. These correspondences contain word of Captain Barney’s safe arrival in port wherever he has docked at the time of writing. He always mentions how difficult the voyage was and compares its difficulty to the one before. These correspondences also contain well wishes to his sister and her family, including Daniel Child (husband) and little Charlie (son).

Captain Charles S, Barney, Jr. was discharged from the United States Navy in 1865. During his time as captain, he had led many voyages around the world including frequent docking in New York, Boston, New Orleans, Liverpool, Florida, and Queenstown. His ship, The Esther G. Barney was built by a well-known shipbuilder, Mason Barney in Barneyville known today as Swansea, Massachusetts. Documentation of his voyages includes bills of landing, bills of exchange, bill of health, bills and receipts, and a certificate from France. These documents contain evidence of the ship successfully docking after a voyage and show any fees incurred from towing, cargo, or health related charges during the time docked. These receipts include tow fees and supplies for the ship.

Upon discharge from the US Navy, Charles Barney settled in Newton, Massachusetts with his wife, Alice. Documentation includes automobile registration, stock holdings, and records of employment and termination from Crazy Water Company (Texas), Raytheon Manufacturing Company (Boston), and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Conservation Division of Forestry (Boston).

Other content in the collection includes family genealogical records of the Barney family in America, unidentified photographs, and a scrapbook containing an obituary of Abby E. Barney, and newspaper clippings of articles, poems, recipes, and other obituaries.

Arrangement of Collection

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Access to Collections

Unrestricted. Consult librarian for an appointment.

Preferred Citation

New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 156, [sub-group, series, sub-series, folder/volume as appropriate], [item]

Copyright Notice

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted materials. The Privacy Act of 1974 (5 United States Code 552a) governs the use of materials that document private individuals, groups, and corporations.

Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a reproduction if the document does not infringe the privacy rights of an individual, group, or corporation. These specified conditions of authorized use include:

- non-commercial and non-profit study, scholarship, research, or teaching
- criticism or commentary
- as a NBWM archives preservation or security copy for research use
- as a research copy for deposit in another institution

If the researcher later uses a copy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," the researcher is personally liable for copyright, privacy, or publicity infringement and agrees to indemnify the New Bedford Whaling Museum from any legal action as a result of the error. Permission to obtain a photographic, xerographic, digital, or other copy of a document does not indicate permission to publish, exhibit, perform, reproduce, sell, distribute, or prepare derivative works from the document without permission from the copyright holder and from any private individual, group, or corporation shown or otherwise recorded.

Permission to publish, exhibit, perform, reproduce, prepare derivative works from, sell, or otherwise distribute the item must be obtained separately in writing from the holder of the original copyright (or if the creator is dead, from his/her heirs) as well as from any individual(s), groups, or corporations whose name, image, recorded words, or private information (e.g. employment information) may be reproduced in the source material. The holder of the original copyright is not necessarily the New Bedford Whaling Museum. The New Bedford Whaling Museum is not legally liable for copyright, privacy, or publicity infringement when materials are wrongfully used after being provided to researchers for "fair use."

This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if fulfillment of the order is judged in violation of copyright or federal or state privacy law. This institution also places restrictions on the use of cameras, photocopiers, and scanners in the research room.

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Related Items

Mss 103: Barney Family Papers
Mss 142: Barney Family Papers

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Materials in this collection were donated to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society/New Bedford Whaling Museum on April 26, 1990 by Richard and Jean Kellaway, Accession #B90-13. This collection was given in Honor of Charles Barney Jr., Gladys Kellaway Barney, and their children Betsey and David.

Processing Information

Processed by: Rebecca Gagne, 2017

Encoded by: Rebecca Gagne, 28 April 2017

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Series A: Correspondence of Captain Charles Barney, 1836-1866
Series A consists of incoming, outgoing, and related correspondences of Captain Charlies S. Barney, Jr.
Sub-Series 1: Incoming Correspondence, 1836-1859
Box 1
Folder 1
Correspondence, 1836
Folder 2
Correspondence, 1845
Folder 3
Corresondence, 1850
Folder 4
Correspondence, 1851
Folder 5
Correspondence, 1852
Folder 6
Correspondence, 1553, February-June
Folder 7
Correspondence, 1853, July-December
Folder 8
Correspondence, 1854, July-April
Folder 9
Correspondence, 1854, May-August
Folder 10
Correspondence, 1854, September-December
Folder 11
Correspondence, 1855, January-February
Folder 12
Correspondence, 1855, March
Folder 13
Correspondence, 1855, April-May
Folder 14
Correspondence, 1855, June-September
Folder 15
Correspondence, 1855, October-December
Folder 16
Correspondence, 1856, January-April
Folder 17
Correspondence, 1856, May-June
Folder 18
Correspondence, 1856, August-November
Box 2
Folder 19
Correspondence, 1857, January-July
Folder 20
Correspondence, 1857, August-October
Folder 21
Correspondence, 1857, November-December
Folder 22
Correspondence, 1858, January-February
Folder 23
Correspondence, 1858, March
Folder 24
Correspondence, 1858, April-May
Folder 25
Correspondence, 1858, June-September
Folder 26
Correspondence, 1858, October-November
Folder 27
Correspondence, 1859, January-June
Folder 28
Correspondence, 1859 July-December
Folder 29
Correspondence, undated, January-June
Folder 30
Correspondence, undated, July-December
Folder 31
Correspondence, undated
Sub-series 2: Outgoing Correspondence, 1850-1860
Box 3
Folder 1
Correspondence, 1856-1866
Sub-series 3: Related Correspondence, 1856-1866
Folder 1
Other Correspondence, 1856-1860
Folder 2
Telegraph, 1858
Sub-series 4: Envelopes
Folder 1
Envelopes, no contents
Series B: Legal Documentation, 1830-1948
This series contains leal documentation and employment records of Charles Barney, Jr.
Folder 1
Certificate From France, 1830
Folder 2
Owner Agreements, 1852-1929
Folder 3
United States Navy Departure, 1865
Folder 4
Automobile Registration, 1902-1904
Folder 5
Stock Holdings, 1912-1928
Folder 6
Employment Records, 1924-1948
Folder 7
Additional Records
Series C: Barney Family Genealogy
This series contains the family history and genealogical records of the Barney family in America.
Folder 1
Family Record
Folder 2
Historical Note
Folder 3
Genealogy of Barney Family
Series D: Bills and Receipts, 1853-1859
This series contains bills and receipts of Charles Barney, Jr.
Folder 1
Bills and Receipts, 1853-1856
Folder 2
Bills and Receipts, 1858
Folder 3
Bills of Exchange, 1856-1859
Folder 4
Bills of Landing, 1858
Folder 5
Bill of Health, 1858
Series E: Associated Collected Materials
This series contains newspaper clippings and a scrapbook containing various newspaper clippings, poems, obituaries, and recipes.
Folder 1
Newspaper Clippings
Folder 2
Series F: Photographs
This series contains 6 unidentified photographs.
Folder 1

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Subject Headings

A. Gump and Son Wholesale and Retail Dealers (Apalachicola, Florida)
Barney (Blow), Alice
Barney family
Barney, Abby E., 1806-1901
Barney, Edward
Barney, Jr., Captain Charles Smith
Barney, Jr., Mason
Barney, Mason, 1782-1868
Barneyville (Swansea, Mass.)
Blow, Henry
Blow, John "Johnny" Thomas
Blow, Richard
Boston (Mass.)--Commerce.
Carpenter, EJ
Child, Daniel
Child, Lizzie
Collins, Carr P.
Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Conservation Division of Forestry (Boston, Mass.)
Crazy Water Company (Mineral Wells, Texas)
Eaton, Steven
Esther G. Barney (ship)
Intercoastal shipping.
Liverpool Steam Tug Company (Liverpool, England)
Luther, John
Merchant ships.
New Orleans (La)
Raytheon Manufacturing Company (Boston, Mass.)
Ship's papers--18th century
Shipyard (Barneyville, Mass.)
Swansea (Mass)
Swansea (Mass.)--History
United States. Navy
United States. Navy--Disbursing clerks
Voyages and travel.
Voyages around the world.

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Vessel Names

Esther G. Barney (Ship)

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