Bath Custom House Records, 1856-1983
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Brief Description:

The Bath Custom House records consist of 27 manuscript size boxes and 3 oversize boxes. The records are primarily documents from the Bath Custom House. Records include the ports of Boothbay, Wiscasset and Portland. These various documents were provided by or to the Custom Office at ports. The Port of Bath administrative papers consist of correspondence, requisitions, Custom forms and a proposal for remodeling the Bath Custom House. Fiscal records for the Bath Custom House include general accounts, collections, deposits and Custom information exchange reports. There are weigher’s, gauger’s and measure reports of imported merchandise in addition to dock books with weight and measurement booklets.  Collection content also includes patrol reports along with seizure and apprehension reports.          

Laid-up vessels over 500 tons, admeasurements, miscellaneous documentation, outward foreign manifests and inward foreign manifests are examples of the type of documents in this collection. Vessel manuscripts include Canadian and foreign trade reports, entry record receipts for missing documents, consumption entries and liquidations. Lastly, there are miscellaneous papers for the Bath Custom House. These include a charter party for the Ophelia (Ship) and newspaper clippings. Bath Custom House Records also has numerous blank forms and office supplies including ink blotters, manifest envelopes, various tags (Custom declaration tags, special manifest tag, baggage in bond tag), U.S. Custom Transportation Entry forms, a Reference Indorsement pad, Work Tickets and Warning Stickers.

The Boothbay papers consist of correspondence, bunker fuel reports and vessel papers. In particular, there is a letter copybook for the Boothbay Custom House with Chas. J. Marr as collector. The first thirty pages document Chas. J. Marr and Luther Maddocks as managers of the Pythian Opera House in Boothbay Harbor. The Pythian Opera House (1894-1958) also known as the Boothbay Harbor Opera House was built by the Pythian Hall Company and designed by Franscis H. Fassett. The opera house was a government facility for Boothbay Harbor until the 1930s.  The building served the community as a meetinghouse, entertainment site and recreational hall until the late 1980s as well. Chas. J. Marr and Luther Maddocks scheduled events at this location. Records include miscellaneous vessel documents, special licenses, identification and admeasurements and Seaman’s Certificates of American citizenship for Boothbay port. Such papers have attached photographs of seamen. These manuscripts list physical descriptions of the seamen as well.  Included are records of births for some seamen and supporting letters for certification of American citizenship. Furthermore, the Custom Intelligence-C.V.R. Bureau bulletins provide notification of suspicious or dangerous (pro-German inclinations) individuals to the nation. Some of these manuscripts have attached photographs.

The records of the port of Wiscasset include two letter copybooks. One of the copybooks contains collector of correspondence for both Wiscasset (1910-13) and Boothbay (1914-18). The other copybook pertains to just Wiscasset. A Louisiana State Bureau of Identification and Investigation fingerprint card for John J. Mitchell alias Frank M. Moore was found in a letter copybook. Bureau of Custom wanted him for jumping bond in connection to the Audrey case.    There is also a single bound volume titled  “Record of Miscellaneous Conveyances of all Kinds” for the Collector’s Office at the Custom House dated 1895-1899, 1917-1918. The record book was initially from the Port of Wiscasset and later transferred to the Port of Boothbay.  The Custom officer kept an accounting of stamps sold to 57 small rural post offices in Lincoln County. Included in the record book are handwritten copies of bill of sale documents for vessels and merchandise. One bill of sale is for merchandise aboard the schooner Aquopimoquk and bills of sale for the scow A. B. Clark, the schooner Ernestine and the lighter Fannie F.  There are also entries for war savings accounts delivered to the district office (Port of Boothbay) from the small rural post offices where residents deposited their money. The account entries cover December 1917, January 1918 and February 1918. In 1858, the primary purpose of the Custom House was to house the Collector of Customs and the United States Post Office. The book “Record of Miscellaneous Conveyances of all Kinds” illustrates this. This single bound volume was part of accession no. 2004.66.397 donated by Charlie Burden on December 17, 2004. The volume came with five other volumes that pertained to the U. S. Marine Hospital at Bath (MS-374).

The records of the port of Portland are comprised of motorboat records and include notices to owners who have violated navigation laws and other records or correspondence pertaining to such penalties. This series also includes awards of motorboat numbers to owners.  There are two publications which address Custom District 1 news in addition to a speech about shipbuilding and commerce in Maine.

The Bath Custom House collection also includes United States Department Agency publications. Agencies include the Board of Economic Warfare Records, Office of Export Control in addition to the Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Treasury, U.S. War Department and Matters of National Defense and other U.S. Department Publications (Dept. of Justice, Dept. of the Navy, Dept. of the Interior and Other Publications). The Department of Commerce includes the Bureau of Census, Bureau of Custom,

Bureau of Marine Navigation and Inspection, Bureau of Supplies, Foreign and Domestic Commerce, Foreign Economic Administration and International Commerce. Publications and content varies.

This collection captures Custom procedure for port entry and exit of vessels. Import regulations are evident through manifests, consumption entries, certificates, oaths, liquidations and declarations as well. Papers record the process for vessel enrollments or registrations via master carpenter certificates and admeasurements. Plus, the collection exhibits vessel licensing and the granting of official or motorboat numbers by Custom house officials. Records also reveal Custom collectors span of duties. The collection addresses Custom enforcement through patrol, fines, violations, seizure and apprehensions with additional records identifying potential threats toward the United States during World War II with warnings of suspicious individuals via bulletins and notifications of blocked nationals. Additionally, entrance and clearance (cargo, mail and passenger reports) forms were being stamped in red as “Confidential” at this same time period.

Held at:
Maine Maritime Museum Manuscript Collection Online Catalog
243 Washington Street
Bath, ME 04530
Phone: 207-443-1316
extension 323
Email: garrison [at]
Created by: Bath Custom House
Volume: 30.0 Boxes
Acquired: 02/12/1973.
Arrangement: Records are organized into five groups: Group 1—Port of Bath, Group 2—Port of Boothbay, Group 3—Port of Wiscasset, Group 4—Port of Portland and Group 5— United States Department Agencies, Publications.
Biographical Note for Bath Custom House :

The United States Government constructed the Bath Customs House located at 1 Front Street in Bath, Maine between 1852 and 1858 for a cost of $105,891.25. Previous to that, Customs records were housed in various locations in the City of Bath including the former public library building in 1888 and a music hall located on the northeast corner of Centre and Washington Streets.

Architect Ammi Burnham Young, the supervising Architect of the United States Treasury, designed the Italianate structure built entirely out of granite. The Office of the Collector for Bath and the United States Post Office both conducted business within the building. In 1858, Joseph Berry was Collector of Customs and Joseph C. Snow was U. S. Postmaster. The building also had a room for federal judges, a Port Surgeon office and a room for the Merchant’s Exchange and Board of Trade.  The customs service operated out of the second floor and the post office from the bottom floor. The Bath Post Office moved to Washington Street in 1975. The Bath Customs House closed and relocated to Portland at this same time as well. The Bath Customs House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Access Restrictions: There are no restrictions on the use of these materials for study or research.
Subject Index
Applebee, Robert B. (1885-1979)
Bath Customs House
Boothbay Customs House
Cate, Charles W.
Clancy, Joseph D.
Coombs, Isaac C.
Coughlin, Bartholomew H.
Customs houses
Dooley, John H.
Freight and freightage
Hawes, Herbert W.
Identification cards
Letter books
Marr, Chrles J.
Merchant seamen
Moody, Daniel H.
Motorboats--Sport fishermen
Ophelia (Ship)
Port districts
Portland Customs House
Ports of entry
Pythian Opera House
Ship captains
Shipping--Laws and legislation
Ships—Equipment and supplies
Sleeper, Charles M.
United States--History--World War, 1914-1918
United States--History--World War, 1939-1945
United States Coast Guard
United States Customs House (Bath, ME)
Wiscasset Customs House
Languages of Materials
English [eng]
Rights/Use Restrictions: The material described herein is the physical property of the Maine Maritime Museum Library.  Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors of the various items, or to their legal representatives, or to Maine Maritime Museum.  For further information, consult the library staff.
Acquisition Notes: Anonymous donor, February 12, 1973, acc. No. 73.24. Charles Burden doanted "Misc. Conveyances, Collector's Office" Dec. 17, 2004, acc. No. 2004.66.297  The Bath Custom House records in this collection were removed for disposal in 1973 and donated to the Maine Maritime Museum that same year. Other records from the Bath office were transferred to Portland Custom House in 1975.
Related Materials: MS-007 Robert B. Applebee Collection
PreferredCitation: Bath Customs House Records, MS-026, Research Librry, Maine Maritime Museum, Bath, Maine.