Mss 170: Ashley Family Papers, 1808-1927 - New Bedford Whaling Museum
Inventory of the Ashley Family Papers In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research LibraryProcessed by: Louise Johnson; machine-readable finding aid created by: Kristi MukkFunds for processing this collection were provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.Inventory of the Ashley Family Papers In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library

Table of Contents

Historical Note

Scope and Content Note

Information for Researchers

Separations List

Administrative Information

Collection Inventory

Subject Headings

Inventory of the Ashley Family Papers

In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library

Ashley Family Papers
Date Span:
Ashley Family
Mss Number:
Mss 170
6 linear inches
Primarily correspondence, ship's papers, and bills and receipts of the Ashley family of Acushnet, Massachusetts.
New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library
Phone: (508) 997-0046

Historical Note

Captain Williams Ashley (1787-1870) was a commander in the merchant marines. He married Delana Allen (1789-1867) in 1819, and they had seven children. Their third child, Edward R. Ashley (1824-1909) made his career in whaling. He was master aboard the ships William Wirt (1853-1856), Reindeer (1856-1860), and Governor Troup (1862-1867), all sailing out of New Bedford. Upon returning home in 1867, he bought a farm in Long Plain, MA and gave up whaling.

Edward’s brother, William A. Ashley (1833-1909), the seventh child of Williams and Delana, also went into the whaling industry, and sailed under his brother aboard the Governor Troup. He married Hannah Howland Crapo (1835-1933) in 1861, and they had one son, Williams C. Ashley (1863-1951). Williams married Ellen L. Geggatt (1864-1957), and their sons, Clifford H. Ashley (b. 1891) and Frederick E. Ashley (1899-1955), both served in the U.S. Army around the time of World War I.

Hannah Ashley’s brother, Philip M. Crapo (1844-1903) served in the Union Army during the Civil War. He moved from Massachusetts to Burlington, Iowa, and became a financial correspondent.

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Scope and Content Note

The Ashley Family Papers span from 1808 to 1927 and consist of ship’s papers, correspondence, bills and receipts, and other records relating to the Ashley family of Acushnet, Massachusetts. In addition, the collection also includes the papers of Philip M. Crapo, whose sister, Hannah, married into the Ashley family, and the Geggatt family, whose daughter, Ellen, married into the family as well. The collection starts with the papers of Captain Williams Ashley (1787-1879) relating to his career at sea. At the back of a mathematical exercise book is a brief abstract of the voyage of the schooner Thacher written by Williams Ashley from 1808-1809. Also included are papers from the ship Fidelia from 1817-1819 and a cargo book from the ship Euphrates from 1815-1817. His children, Mary A. (Ashley) Morse (1825-1873) and George H. Ashley (1827-1898), each have a small presence in the collection. Mary’s papers consist of her 1846 teaching certificate, and George’s consist of a bill of lading for the ship John Bertram from 1851.

Williams Ashley’s sons, William A. Ashley (1833-1909) and Edward R. Ashley (1824-1900), each feature prominently in the collection. William’s papers consist mostly of correspondence written to his wife, Hannah, during his whaling career from 1863-1868. In these letters, William writes about the hard seasons all of the whaling ships have had recently and asks Hannah to not overwork herself or worry about money. In a letter dated September 22, he asks that she get their son vaccinated against smallpox. In addition, the collection includes his Seaman’s Protection Certificate from 1855, bills and receipts, and his 1908 membership card for the Old Dartmouth Historical Society.

Edward’s papers consist of letters to his family from the ship William Wirt in 1855 and the ship Governor Troup in 1866 as well as inventories of his property and his membership card for Acushnet Lodge 41 from 1856. In a letter to his parents from the ship William Wirt, he lets them know he is on his way home and asks them to pass messages along to family and friends. In a letter to William in 1866, he writes about the flu his crew picked up in Honolulu, which killed at least one of his men. He also writes about his difficult season in the Arctic, dealing with bad weather and inexperienced first and second mates.

The papers of Hannah H. (Crapo) Ashley (1835-1933), who married William A. Ashley in 1861, include household receipts from 1856-1901 as well as poems written by and to Hannah. William and Hannah’s son, Williams C. Ashley, and his wife, Ellen L. (Geggatt) Ashley, do not feature in this collection, but their sons, Clifford H. Ashley (b. 1891) and Frederick E. Ashley (1889-1951) do. Clifford’s papers consist of postcards from 1918-1919 that he sent home during his time serving in the U.S. Army. In messages on these postcards, he tells his mother and father that he is enjoying France, particularly the hotels and scenery. On a card dated November 7, 1918, taken from a dead German soldier, Clifford tells his mother that he was involved in “the big show in the ___ forest.” This is possibly a reference to the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, which took place from September 26 to November 11, 1918. In this partially censored message, Clifford says that his company took 410 prisoners and is now on rest away from the front lines.

Frederick’s papers include a postcard sent to his mother from France in 1919, a card from the U.S. Employment Service from WWI, and his 1927 American Legion membership card. In the message written on the postcard, Frederick tells his mother that he’s enjoying the sights in France but hopes to be on his way home soon.

The papers of Philip M. Crapo (1844-1903), brother of Hannah H. Ashley, include letters sent to Hannah and their mother from 1863-1902, both during and after his time fighting for the Union Army in the Civil War, as well as bills, receipts, and appraisals. Philip’s letters to his sister mostly concern her health and his opinion that she is overworked, too easily worried, and likely to age prematurely. In a letter dated April 16, 1865, sent from Detroit, Philip writes, “The end of rebellion is at hand... we will be blessed once more with a glorious peace.” This is one of the only letters in which he so directly references the war and hints at his political opinions. Also of note in this sub-group is a souvenir book from Burlington, Iowa in 1891, which features an illustration of Philip’s house.

The Geggatt Family Papers consists of items belonging to Ellen L. Ashley’s parents, John and Sophronia Geggatt, and her sister, Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” Geggatt. Included are invitations, illustrated cards, and calling cards.

The final sub-group of records is made up of associated collected materials. These include an account book from 1852, newspaper clippings from President Lincoln’s assassination, agricultural booklets on beekeeping and local fairs, calling cards, a war-savings certificate from 1921, and instructions for patients of Dr. Munde’s Water-Care Establishment in Florence, Massachusetts, among others. Also included in this sub-group is a genealogy chart of the Ashley family.

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 170, [sub-group, series, sub-series, folder/volume as appropriate], [item]

Copyright Notice

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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."

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Removed to Photo Archive

Sub-group 12 photographs

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Materials in this collection were purchased by the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library in 2007. Accession #2007.30.

Processing Information

Processed by: Louise Johnson, 2018

Encoded by: Kristi Mukk, 27 September 2020

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Collection Inventory

Sub-group 1: Captain Williams Ashley Papers, 1808-1819
Series A: Ship's Papers, 1808-1819
Box 1
Folder 1
Mathematical Exercise Book and Voyage Abstract of Thacher (Schooner), 1808-1809
Folder 2
Euphrates (Ship) Cargo Book, 1815-1817
Folder 3
Fidelia (Ship) Papers, 1817-1819
Sub-group 2: Mary A. (Ashley) Morse Papers, 1846
Series A: Teaching Certificate, 1846
Folder 1
Teaching Certificate, 1846
Sub-group 3: George H. Ashley Papers, 1851
Series A: Ship's Papers, 1851
Folder 1
John Bertram (Ship) Bill of Lading, 1851
Sub-group 4: William A. Ashley Papers, 1855-1908
Series A: Correspondence, 1863-1888
Folder 1
Letters to Hannah Ashley, Letter from K. T. Morgan, from Switzerland, Florida, 1863-1868 1888
Series B: Receipts, 1888
Folder 1
Receipts, 1888
Series C: Seaman's Protection Certificate, 1855
Folder 1
Seaman's Protection Certificate, 1855
Series D: Membership Card, 1908
Folder 1
Old Dartmouth Historical Society membership card, 1908
Sub-group 5: Edward R. Ashley Papers, 1856-1867
Series A: Correspondence, 1855-1866
Folder 1
Correspondence, 1855-1856
Series B: Bills and Receipts, 1857-1867
Folder 1
Inventories and receipts, 1857-1867
Series C: Membership Card, 1856
Folder 1
Membership card for Acushnet Lodge, 1856
Sub-group 6: Hannah H. Ashley Papers, 1856-1923
Series A: Receipts, 1856-1901
Folder 1
Receipts, 1856-1901
Poems, undated
Folder 1
Poems, undated
Envelopes, 1923
Folder 1
Envelopes addressed to Hannah Ashley, 1923
Sub-group 7: Clifford H. Ashley Papers, 1918-1919
Series A: WWI Postcards, 1918-1919
Folder 1
Postcards from Clifford H. Ashley to his family, 1918-1919
Sub-group 8: Frederick E. Ashley Papers, 1919-1927
Series A: Military Papers, 1927
Folder 1
Card from U.S. Employment Service, undated
The American Legion Membership Card, 1927
Series B: Postcard, 1919
Folder 1
Postcard, 1919
Series C: Booklet, undated
Folder 1
Sunbeams booklet, undated
Sub-group 9: Philip M. Crapo Papers, 1846-1903
Series A: Correspondence, 1863-1902
Folder 1
Letters to Hannah Ashley, 1863-1902
Series B: Bills and Receipts, 1846
Folder 1
Bills, receipts, and appraisals, 1846
Series C: Poem, 1903
Folder 1
Untitled poem by Philip M. Crapo, 1903
Series D: Calling Cards, undated
Folder 1
Calling cards, undated
Series E: Souvenir Book, 1891
Folder 1
Burlington, Iowa souvenir book, 1891
Sub-group 10: Geggatt Family Papers, 1886
Series A: John and Sophronia Geggatt Papers, 1886
Folder 1
Invitation, John Geggatt calling cards, undated 1886
Series B: Mary Elizabeth Geggatt Papers, undated
Folder 1
Illustrated cards, undated
Sub-group 11: Associated Collected Materials, 1852-1921
Series A: Associated Collected Materials, 1852-1921
Folder 1
Cooper's Account Book, 1852
Folder 2
Newspapers, 1865-1919
Folder 3
Agricultural booklets, 1905-1916
Folder 4
Calling cards, undated
Folder 5
Associated collected materials, 1883-1921
Folder 6
Genealogy notes, undated
Sub-group 12: Photographs (removed to Photo Archive), undated

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Subject Headings

Acushnet (Mass.)
Agricultural exhibitions
Ashley, Clifford Howland, 1891-
Ashley, Edward R.
Ashley, Frederick Elton, 1889-1955
Ashley, George, 1827-1878
Ashley, Hannah Howland, 1835-1933
Ashley, William A.
Ashley, Williams, 1787-1870
Bee culture
Bills of lading
Burlington (Iowa)
Crapo, Philip Madison, 1844-1903
Geggatt, John, 1835-1923
Geggatt, Mary Elizabeth, 1869-1881
Geggatt, Sophronia, 1845-1902
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865--Assassination
Merchant marine
Merchant marine--Officers
Merchant ships
Morse, Mary Ann, 1825-1873
Old Dartmouth Historical Society (New Bedford, Mass.)
Receipts (Acknowledgements)
Ship's papers
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
Visiting cards
Whalers (Persons)
Whaling masters
Whaling ships
World War, 1914-1918

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Vessel Names

Euphrates (Ship)
Fidelia (Ship)
John Bertram (Ship)
Thacher (Schooner)
William Wirt (Ship)

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