Table of Contents
Members of the Bennett family have resided in New Bedford and Fairhaven, Massachusetts, since the mid-eighteenth century. Existing records indicate that these individuals included a blacksmith and merchant, Robert Bennett (1746-1818) and a farmer, James Bennett (fl. 1733). The first member of the family known to have achieved business prominence was Robert Bennett's grandson, Thomas Bennett (ca. 1790-1865). Born at Fairhaven, Mass., Thomas began his career as a merchant seaman at age eighteen. While still maintaining close ties with both Fairhaven and New Bedford, he made his home in New York City, where he became the commander of the packet ship New York, a passenger vessel of the Black Ball Line. He also commanded several other ships, presumably merchant vessels, and was part owner of the Rajah (Bark) of New Bedford. Captain Bennett had two sons, Thomas Jr. (1820-1898) and Robert (1829-1905). Thomas Jr. made a name for himself in New Bedford in the design, construction, and administration of Wamsutta Mills. His experience in cotton manufacture in New Orleans and Georgia made him an excellent candidate for superintendent of the Mills, a position he held for twenty-seven years. His brother, Robert, also worked at Wamsutta Mills, first as a clerk and then as assistant supervisor.
In 1853, Thomas Bennett Jr. married Sibyl Williams. Children from this marriage included William, who died in 1875, and Clara (1853-1929). Thomas Bennett Jr. retired from Wamsutta Mills in 1874 and died in 1898.
Papers in this collection reflect the activities of members of the Bennett family of Fairhaven and New Bedford, Mass., between 1765 and 1908. The material concentrates on Thomas Bennett, a ship captain, and his son, Thomas Bennett Jr. The captain's papers principally consist of business correspondence; deeds, records, and other legal documents; and bills and receipts from between 1774 and 1852. Also among his papers are manifests, bills of health, a protest, bills, lists of stores and provisions, and similar ship's papers. Thomas Bennett Jr.'s papers include business correspondence concerning western mining interests and Wamsutta Mills, 1832-ca. 1889; as well as personal correspondence, deeds of personal property, estate records and records relating to a court case of Bennett vs. Mara about a right-of-way, 1765-1908; a series of notebooks concerning Wamsutta Mills containing production, consumption, purchasing, and labor accounts, engineering records, and customer orders, 1850-1870; stocks, dividends, and memoranda relating to the mill from 1846-1880; a personal financial notebook, ca. 1880; a historical sketch of Wamsutta Mills; and notes and clippings on various subjects, dating 1833-1866.
Other family members are represented in the collection. Robert Bennett's papers consist of deeds and leases from 1770-1819 and also encompass the papers of a John Bennett, including a deed, writ of execution, and intention of marriage, dating from 1773-1822. The papers of James Bennett chiefly consist of letters to his brother-in-law, John Hawes, of New Bedford, Mass. The papers of Thomas Bennett's son, Robert, consist of a mortgage, 1833, and his will, 1898. Clara Bennett's papers, ca. 1900-1908, include business correspondence about asbestos mining; personal correspondence; two inventories of real and personal property; and a stock memorandum.
In addition to these papers, Old Dartmouth Historical Society also owns several objects relating to the Bennett family. Included in the holdings are portraits of family members, a sofa from Thomas Bennett's packet ship New York, and several decorative objects.
Arrangement of Collection
Access to the Collection
Unrestricted. Consult librarian for an appointment.
New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 9 [sub-group, series, sub-series, folder/volume as appropriate], [item]
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Removed to Photographs Collection
- Photograph of unidentified young woman [Ripley?]
Removed to Printed Collection
- Advertisement for Lamb's Cotton Industry of the United States, n.d.
- Bennett, William. "Young America Printing Office Circular for 1875."
- Bryce, William & Co. Supplement to Telegraphic Code, n.d.
- "Cotton Crop of the United States for the Year Ending September 1, 1876."
- Hough, Henry Beetle. Wamsutta of New Bedford, 1946.
- The Specimen Sheet, 1875.
- The Star, June 26 to September 4, 1875.
Removed to Objects Collection
- Post card, n.d.
- 5 Wamsutta trademark notices, 1867.
Removed to Broadside Collection
- "Perry's Old Flagship," 1875.
- Ricketson, D. "The Return, 1845-1875," 1876.
Removed to Maps Collection
- 6 plat maps of property bounded by Parker, Chestnut, and Cottage Streets, ca. 1893.
- 3 plat maps of property bounded by Market and Union Streets.
- 2 plat maps of property of J.A. Parker's estate, 1869.
- 1 plat map of land purchased by Wamsutta Mills, ca. 1847.
- 1 plat map of Wamsutta Mills complex, ca. 1870.
Materials in this collection were given to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society by Clara Bennett in 1918 and 1930.
Processed by: Barbara E. Austen, ca. 1982
Encoded by: Kermit Dewey, 15 June 2011; box list appended by Mark Procknik, 03 January 2012
Funds for processing this collection were provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Account books--New Bedford, Mass.--1850-1870
Bennett, Clara, 1853-1929
Bennett, James, fl. 1804
Bennett, Robert, 1746-1818
Bennett, Robert, 1829-1905
Bennett, Thomas Jr., 1820-1898
Bennett, Thomas, ca. 1790-1865
Business records--Mass.--New Bedford
Cotton manufacture--Mass.--New Bedford
Cotton trade--Mass.--New Bedford
Factory management--Mass.--New Bedford
Industrial engineering--Mass.--New Bedford
Industrial procurement--Mass.--New Bedford
Materials management--Mass.--New Bedford
Merchant ships--Mass.--New Bedford
New Bedford, Mass.--Industries
Passenger ships--Mass.--New Bedford
Stores or stock-room keeping
Wages--Textile workers--Mass.--New Bedford
Wamsutta Mills, New Bedford, Mass.
New York (Ship)
- A Spectacle in Motion: The Grand Panorama
- Performance: To Catch a Whale
- The Local History Guild
- Lecture: Exploring the Indian Mariners Project
- Manhattan Short Film Festival
- Lecture/Book Signing – Spying on Whales
- Echoes of the Panorama
- Lecture & Book Signing: White Fox and Icy Seas
- Great War and Azores Lecture
- Annual Family Activities
- Community Programs
- Annual Events
- Past Programs
- Exhibit Enhancements
- Discovery Center
- Herman Melville
- Captain Paul Cuffe
- Joshua Slocum
- Lighting the Way: Historic Women of the SouthCoast