• Early New England Postmaster Journal Includes Signatures of Women's Suffrage, Anti-Slavery, Politics, Commerce, Civil War

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    Here is a fascinating collection of nearly 4,000 signatures of Portsmouth, NH, residents receiving registered mail between May 12, 1865 and August 9, 1875, contained on about 150 pp in an 8 x 10, postmaster journal. The signatures provide an eclectic narrative of the lives involved in this New England town. While unearthing their backgrounds, we found that some fought in the Civil War, Army and Navy, and one helped destroy a rebel ship. Others were involved in or connected with civil, commercial and political activities, including women’s suffrage and anti-slavery. Some helped to start banks and served on their boards. One was a judge. Another was the mayor who was later elected to Congress. We’ve researched some but not nearly all of the names.


    THOMAS SALMON was in the U.S. Navy and spent time on the Ship Kearsarge. J.L. FOSTER is possibly Joseph Foster, who was a prolific writer at the time, focusing on history of the Civil War as it related to New Hampshire. THOMAS S. GAY signs with the designation of U.S. Navy. We find a Thomas S. Gay in research, showing that he participated in the destruction of the rebel ram CSS Abermarle. Although the date of his signature in the postal journal (June, 21, 1865) would be in conflict with his service, he could have been home on leave. (Research included)


    C.W. BREWSTER & SONS were 19th century printers in Portsmouth, NH. GEORGE W. PARKER: We find a George W. Parker, who served in the NH 2nd during the Civil War and was later transferred to the Navy. JOHN H. CHEEVER served on the common council of Portsmouth and was likely a member of the Philemon Tolles, an apparent religious society. J.C. GOODRICH served in the state legislature. E.P. KIMBALL was born in Warner, NH, on July 4, 1834. His parents were Rev. Reuben Kimball and Judith Colby Kimball. Edward (E.P.) married Martha Jane Thompson of Wilmot, and they had three children. One of his children, Martha, supported the women’s suffrage movement, and was involved in the Women’s City Club and the New Hampshire League of Women Voters. E.P. Kimball was elected Cashier of the First National Bank of Portsmouth and the Piscataqua Savings Bank. He succeeded Ichabod Goodwin as president of the banks until 1910. He was also a member of the New Hampshire Legislature, City Alderman, Trustee of the public library, Deacon of the North Church and Trustee of the Cottage Hospital. Kimball’s mansion stands as a landmark today.


    JAMES L. PARKER was the Treasurer of Rockingham County. GEORGE M. MARSH sold a lot in October 1852 to Father McCallion for the erection of the first Catholic Church in Portsmouth. Mrs. George H. Perkins was married to Commodore George H. Perkins, who ran anti-slavery patrols during the first few months of the Civil War at Sumpter. In late 1861, He became Commanding Officer of the new gunboat Cayuga in which he performed distinguished service during the 1862 campaigns to capture New Orleans and the lower Mississippi. JOHN J. PICKERING was president of the Rockingham National Bank. J.B. ADAMS postmaster of Portsmouth. A.J. HILL was a clerk in the Portsmouth Post Office. MARK H. WENTWORTH was one of Portsmouth’s best-known residents and one of the wealthiest. Wentworth was engaged in the wholesale dry goods business in Cincinnati and returned to Portsmouth in 1855, where he joined the firm of William Jones & Son, shipbuilding merchants. Wentworth helped settle the famous Alabama claims, which dealt with shipping claims.


    C.W. PICKERING. This could be Captain Charles W. Pickering, who was for many years in the U.S. Navy, attached to a number of ships, beginning in 1822 and concluding in 1867. He was promoted a number of times along the way. He retired in 1868. FRANK JONES. We find that Frank Jones was born in Barrington, NH, September 15, 1832, and moved to Portsmouth in 1849, where he was engaged in the mercantile business. He was elected mayor in 1868 and reelected in 1869. He was later elected to the forty-fourth congress as a Democrat.

    WILLIAM H. LEAR was a private, mustered into K Co., NH 13th Infantry during the Civil War. The NH 13th was active throughout Virginia: Fredericksburg, Suffolk, Swift Creek, Proctor’s Creek, Drewry’s Bluff, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Fort Harrison and Fair Oaks. THOMAS D. BAILEY, likely grandfather of poet Thomas Bailey Aldrich, who was born in Portsmouth. Aldrich had his first published poem in the Portsmouth Journal. A Collection of Chimes had been published in 1855. Aldrich was part of the lively literary scene that was in New York City. His companions included Edwin Booth, brother of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth and Walt Whitman. When the Civil War broke out, Aldrich became a war correspondent for the New York Tribune attached to General Blenker’s division of the Army of the Potomac. In September 1868, Aldrich finished The Story of a Bad Boy, which left a mark on American literature. He became editor of The Atlantic Monthly in 1881 and under his leadership, The Atlantic became one of the finest literary journals in the English language.


    W.H. BERRY was a trustee of the Pittsfield Savings Bank. MICHAEL DONOHOE may be Col. Michael T. Donohoe of the 13th NH Infantry, a resident of Manchester who resided in Dorchester after the war. We can’t find any evidence that he lived in Portsmouth. DANIEL SHEA possibly the son of Timothy, who was born in Kerry County, Ireland, August 1840. He immigrated to the United States at 16 and found employment in the cotton mills of Nashua. He also became a farmer. SAMUEL C. BERRY was a baker in Portsmouth. WILLIAM H. HACKETT was a judge and a director of First National Bank in Portsmouth. ELI PIERCE was a soldier in the Civil War. TIMOTHY O’LEARY was in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War. EDWIN PUTNAM was an assistant paymaster during the Civil War attached to the iron-clad steam Nahant, North Atlantic Blockading Squadron (1862-63), sloop Portsmouth West Coast Blockading Squadron (1864-65), steamer Mackinaw North Atlantic Blockading Squadron (1866), promoted to paymaster at Portsmouth. AMOS FOSTER was a soldier in the Civil War. J.H. HUTCHINSON was a director and a trustee of the Piscataqua Savings Bank. NATHANIEL CATE was a soldier in the Civil War. LORY ODELL was a judge in New Hampshire. The journal is dis-bound and the pages are loose. The worn boards are present. The writing is quite readable with some expected bleed through. A wonderful piece of New England Americana.


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