• Shipping And Gun Powder Oliver Family Archive Of Letters, Broadside And Journal

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    Offering a wonderful assemblage from the 19th century shipping-merchant-gun powder Oliver-Bonnell family with a focus on CAPTAIN PAUL AMBROSE OLIVER and his son, PAUL JR.  Ten letters, one in a foreign language, with some wonderful diagrams, a superb 20 x 25 broadside dealing with Acts of Congress for the Government of Seamen and Merchants, a bill of sale for the schooner Eva Diverty, 1869 booklet on Rates of Freight & Tolls on Coal by Oliver Jr., two leather wallets, one containing a small journal with shipping notes, including that Paul Jr. was born on the ship Louisiana on July 18, 1831.

     

    CAPTAIN PAUL AMBROSE OLIVER was a native of Philadelphia who served as sailing master in the United States Navy during the War of 1812 and later became a shipping merchant.

     

    His son, PAUL AMBROSE OLIVER JR. (July 18, 1831 – May 17, 1912), was born on the “Louisiana,” the senior’s merchant ship during one of its voyages in the English Channel.  Paul Jr. was an American explosives inventor, Civil War Army Captain, a staff officer who was appointed to the brevet grade of brigadier general and a recipient of the Medal of Honor.

     

    In July 1862, Oliver Jr. joined the 12th New York Volunteer Infantry as a second lieutenant. During the war, he was an aide to no fewer than four generals, including Daniel Butterfield, George Meade, Joseph Hooker and Gouveneur K. Warren.  He led his company at Gaines’ Mill, the second Battle of Bull Run, Antietam and Fredericksburg. On March 8, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln nominated Oliver for appointment as a brevet brigadier general, which the U.S. Senate confirmed on March 10. 

     

    After the Civil War, Oliver became an inventor and a powder manufacturer. He established a powder factory near Wilkes-Barre, PA.  

     

    The letters involve discussion of ship liability, liquidation of sugar, witnessing a fox hunt, seeing Grover Cleveland and fires at the powder factory’s press house.

     

    3 ½ pp, 7 ¾ x 9 ¾, Philadelphia, July 13, 1830, period copy of an ALS, to Paul Sr. from S. Bonnell, of Philadelphia, regarding liability on the contracts and the sale of the Louisiana.  Bonnell was related to Oliver. “…I have obtained the opinion of Daird Paul Broker, Esq. relative to your liability on regards to the contracts made for the Louisiana…I was at first somewhat at a loss how to act as regards this, whether to pill it up  or leave it stand…and finally concluded, as Matthew could not give me the amount to let it remain as it is and leave it for you to insert it…The auctioneer had a bill against Matthew of about 70 dollars, the commissions & the expenses attending the sale of the Louisiana…”

     

    One page, 8 x 10, London, May 20, 1834, ALS, Timothy Wiggin, a British merchant, writes to Capt. Paul A. Oliver about a shipment.  In very small part, “…I authorize you to draw on me for the cost of sugar & coffee which you may ship by the Tiber for your own account…”

     

    One page, 8 x 10, Havana, April 4, 1840, ALS, George Knight & Co. writes to Capt. Oliver of the liquidation of 600 boxes of sugar on the Ship Tiber’s last voyage.  He notes, “…The rapid accumulation of vessels has caused freights to decline and only 3.12 pounds was offered today for a small vessel to the North Sea…” [Seal tear]

     

    One page, 7 ¾ x 9 ¾, Jefferson, April 8th, 1840, ALS, James L. Waters to Capt. Mathew Madigan of New York City.  “…Mr. Kavanaugh left me no instructions as to selling the homestead. I should therefore have to consult him before I could make an offer. (I shall write him this day). I have not the least doubt but he would sell at a fair price & I think Winifred would advise to have it sold; & her voice would go far with Edward…I am anxious to sell my farm, Mill & timber lot…”

     

    4 pp, 8 ¼ x 10 ¾ New Orleans, September 14, 1852, Paul Oliver Sr., ALS, to his niece Mary, with a beautiful hand drawn sketch of his room.  “I am fairly fixed in my new abode & I may say, am a little more comfortable than most young men of my age…Captain Burnell will arrive here at a good time as freights are going up very high.  My violin is now improving & if you come out, I will give you a tune. Here is a picture of my room [a very fine diagram follows]…” Much more about his living quarters.

     

    4 pp, 5 x 8, Newport [RI], August 15 [n.y.], Paul Jr. writes to his niece Adelaide Bonnell.  “I have just returned from witnessing a fox hunt. It was exceedingly pretty. The ocean on one side, the open green fields on the other, the hounds bellowing and bounding after the fox, two or three men in red coats leading the chase, the rest ladies & gentlemen following. They did well. Every conceivable kind of private carriage & mount that can be imagined was there…There is only one hotel here and most people live in magnificent cottages…Uncle Paul…”

     

    2 pp, 8 ½ x 5 ¾, Paul Oliver Jr. on his stationary – Manufacturer of Oliver’s Powder – 21st May 1883, ALS to Niece Adelaide Bonnell, referring to the arrival of visiting relatives, “…We will try to have a good time. I want them to stay at least a week or two…The Donkey’s ears are growing every day, look formidable. Everything is ready for the summer…Uncle Paul” Cover included containing a circle postmark of Oliver’s Mills.

     

    6 pp, 5 x 8, H. Bonnell, July 10, 1886, to “Dear Mountaineers at Laurel Run.”  Bonnell writes, “Henry & I have just got back from Coney Island…We saw…Grover Cleveland & wife, also the Queen of Sheba. There was an attempt at robbery here the other night…The officer was almost clubbed to death but was kept from death by frequent application of bad rum & ginger ale…Shortly after two while all good people are in bed, there is a loud noise & a scuffle comes from the lunch room…We…see a gentleman of color forcefully dragged along the station as he is not the man, he is allowed to go & as he stands there about to go & as he stands there about to explain, he receives an eye opener on the ear. There is a general set to in which two coats are badly torn & the quiet is restored & the n[racial slur] is about to explain when H who has been a silent spectator, steps up & tells him he had better skip by the light of the moon for he is in great danger…”

     

    4 pp, 8 ¼ x 10 ¾, Paul Oliver Jr. on his business stationary – 11th Feb., 1891, ALS to niece Adelaide Bonnell, “…I am not superstitious and yet! – Four weeks today at half past three, we had the 1st fire in the Press house.  Two weeks today, we had the 2nd fire there at twenty minutes past four. At 2 o’clock [they] commenced cleaning up unusually well…At 3 we [stopped] for inspections. From 3 till 5, when we quit or stopped…I saw them go around look at every point with unusual care…No one said or in the least hinted at anything. MacDonald came in & looked at me & I at him. We understood each other, but withheld said a word…Everything running well and yet a light, hissing sound, a cloud of smoke, the cry of fire & men jumping through the doors, all this happened in the smallest fraction of a second, but we are running now. I looked at my watch, fifteen minutes of five. Lord the days work will be done! How slow the time goes…Through the dirty windows of the Press House, I watch for the steam, whistle of the engine roared to blow its signal to stop…for the day…Uncle Paul”

     

    The broadside, printed and sold by D. Felt & Co. of New Orleans, is signed by nine seamen, including some with their X’s, along with their monthly wages. It is an agreement between the United States and Oliver Sr. governing the actions of the ship’s crew. “…Should the ship…be seized, detained, or fined for smuggling Tobacco, or any other article…the undersigned sailors…shall be responsible for damages…and shall severally forfeit their wages…NO GROG ALLOWED…” Several acts are listed on the verso, dating from 1790 to 1840.

     

    The 12 pp journal, 3 ¾ x 6 ¼, disbound, contains some monthly expenses for the ship Tiber, including the wages of the Captain ($80), the mate ($30), 2nd mate ($20), 11 men, $12 each ($132), interest on the ship’s value $90, national debt for Great Britain, revenue of the United States collection, measurements for a box of Havana sugar, Ship Tiber carries 500,000 lbs of cotton, monthly expenses for the Ship Louisiana, wages for captain ($40), mate ($25), 2nd mate ($20), 10 men ($120), cabin provisions $30, insurance for the ship, ($67). The journal also mentions the birth of Oliver Jr. on the ship Louisiana.

     

    A wonderful archive representing early shipping and gunpowder manufacturing in the United States.

     

    Folds, toning to the letters. A couple of tears repaired with archival tape. The broadside is generally in very good shape with several tear repairs.

     

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