The Webb & Whitmore account book is a double entry ledger itemizing the debits and credits for various vessels involved in the fishing industry in Deer Isle, Maine between 1867 and 1872. Webb & Whitmore were also country store merchants and fishing traders. Webb & Whitmore provided much needed goods for the vessels, but also maintained the financial end of business. Wages paid to crewmen and profits paid to owners of vessels is also accounted for in the book. Note that the crewmen wages were paid according the share of mackerel caught.
The front cover and inside flyleaf have the following dates inscribed: 1867-1868, 1869-1870. The accurate date range is 1867-1872. Written on the back flyleaf are the initials E. F. H. and C. H. S. Webb. Although I cannot identify who the initials E. F. H. belong too, I do know that C. H. S. Webb was the bookkeeper for Webb & Whitmore. This information is based on a court transcript dated April 2, 1878 regarding a dispute between Executors of Samuel Whitmore estate (Thomas Warren and Franklin Closson) against Seth Webb and Seth Whitmore, which I believe may be Webb & Whitmore, although I can not be 100% sure. The dispute was over the ownership of the schooner A. H. Whitmore and payment of shares:
“The books of Webb & Whitmore, in their account with the estate of Samuel Whitmore, show a charge against the estate of $2,319.36, for one-fourth of schooner A. H. Whitmore, on July 9, 1867; and C. H. L. Webb, their book-keeper, testified that “the charge of $32,319.36 was cash for one-quarter of the A. H. Whitmore, paid out by Webb & Whitmore.” (Thomas Warren et als,1878, p.138)
The book mentioned in the quote above is the book in this collection. On page 41 in the account book we can find the exact entry as quoted above. This confirms the accounts book belonged to Webb & Whitmore, fishing outfitters of Deer Isle, Maine. The bookkeeper is identified as C. H. L. Webb, however, I feel this is an error. I believe the bookkeeper was C. H. S. Webb as is written on the back of the accounts book.
All of the vessels in the book are identified as schooners except for two being identified as boats—Mary & Thomas and Mermaid. The primary trade of business was mackerel fishing and fishing in general.
There is little information about Webb & Whitmore other than they were fishing outfitters and the managing owners of fishing schooners. The mystery of Webb & Whitmore is who were they. The name Webb may have been Seth Webb and Whitmore may have been either Seth Whitmore or Samuel Whitmore Jr. There are five key people that are all connected with Webb & Whitmore that I feel need mentioning in this collection:
1. Seth Webb, Retail business (country store), retail fish dealer and partial owners of A. H. Whitmore (Schooner) (Occupation listed in 1860 census: Clerk / 1870 Fisherman / 1880 Farmer)2
2. Seth Whitmore, son of Samuel Whitmore, Sr., possible partner of Webb & Whitmore (Occupation listed in 1870 census: fisherman)2
3. Samuel Whitmore, Sr., partial owner of A. H. Whitmore (Schooner)
4. Samuel Whitmore, Jr., partial owner of A. H. Whitmore (Schooner) (Occupation listed in 1870 census: retail merchant)2
5. C. H. S. Webb, Retail business (country store), fish dealer, retail, bookkeeper for Webb & Whitmore (Death certificate listed as retired merchant in 1920)2
Webb & Whitmore are listed as country store retailers and retail fish dealers in the 1867 Maine Business Directory. They lived and worked in an area of Deer Isle now called Whitmore Neck, formerly Babbidge’s Neck, nearly a separate island. The village there is Oceanville.
In the 1869 directory, Webb & Whitmore (sometimes spelled Whittmore) are listed in three businesses: country store, fish dealers and fishermen’s outfits. In the 1873 directory, Webb & Whitmore are only listed as fishermen outfitters. In the 1874 directory, they are listed both as fish dealers in the wholesale market and fishermen outfitters. During these brief time period as is evident in the accounts book, Webb & Whitmore’s chief business was fitting out vessels, inspecting mackerel and owning vessels employed in the business as well as furnishing employment to many.5 By 1877, we do not see the name Seth Webb or Webb & Whitmore. Instead we see C. H. S. Webb who is listed as a country store merchant and in the fishing trade business. C. (Charles) H. S. Webb was the bookkeeper for Webb & Whitmore.1,2,4
Seth Webb was born August 24, 1822 to William Webb and Eliza Smith at Deer Isle. He Married Deborah Webb in 1847 and they had eight children. Deborah died in 1874 at the age of 40 and Seth remarried a year later to Ariadne L. Kimball and they had four children.2 In the 1873 Maine Business Directory, Seth Webb is listed as a country store owner and retail fish dealer, a change from the 1867 and 1869 which lists Webb & Whitmore as the owners of these two businesses. The 1874 directory continues to show Seth Webb in the retail fishing trade business.4 The United States Federal census lists his occupation as sailor in 1850, a trader in 1860 and a merchant in 1880. Seth Webb died in 1899 at the age of 77.2
Seth Whitmore, son of Samuel Whitmore Sr. (b.1764-d.1864) and Abigail H. Joyce (b.1795-d.1868), was born on March 18, 1826 in Deer Isle, Maine. He married Harriet Whitmore (b.1827-d.?) on October 28, 1850. The 1860 United States Federal Census listed Seth Whitmore’s occupation as clerk. In 1870, he was listed as a fisherman and in the 1880 Census as a farmer. Seth and Harriet Whitmore had five children, three daughters and two sons. Seth Whitmore died on January 9, 1899.2
Samuel Whitmore, Sr., son of Joseph Whitmore (b.1755-d.1841) and Abigail Babbidge (b.1764-d.1850), was born April 29, 1794 in Deer Isle, Maine. His father, Joseph, was a soldier in the Revolutionary War.5 He married Abigail H. Joyce on February 4, 1817 and they had nine children—Lemuel (b.1817-d.1875), James (b.1822-d.?), Seth Whitmore ( b.1826-d.1889), Susanna R. (b.1828-d.1861), Samuel Jr. (b.1830-d.1906), Mary Jane (b.1832-d.1913), James Joyce (b.1834-d.?), Joseph (b.1835-d.?) and William (b.1839-1870). Samuel Whitmore Sr. was engaged in trade and owned considerable vessels of which most were engaged in the fishing business.5 By 1886, Samuel Whitmore Sr.’s place of business was occupied by C. H. S. Webb.5 Before his death in 1864, he turned his business over to two of his sons (possibly Samuel Jr. and Seth or William Whitmore). He died April 3, 1864.
Samuel Whitmore, Jr., was born March 20, 1830 at Swan’s Island to Samuel Whitmore, Sr. and Abigail H. Whitmore. Both father and son had shares in the A. H. Whitmore, a 69 net ton schooner built in 1867 by Jeremiah Burnham at Essex, MA. Both father and son also owned shares in the schooner Sarah. Samuel Whitmore, Jr. married Lois A. Smith and both resided in Deer Isle, Maine. They had one daughter, Lucy Abigail (b.1854) and one son, Charles E. (b.1866). Samuel died Feb. 5, 1906 at Morrill, Waldo County, Maine.2
Charles H. S. Webb handled the bookkeeping business of Webb & Whitmore of Deer Isle, Maine. Born February 16, 1840 in Deer Isle, Maine, C. H. S. Webb owned a retail goods store and fishing trade business.4 He married Katie B. Webb and they had six children; three sons (Fred E., Seth S. and Charles L.) and three daughters (Susie V., Senora W. and Clara B.). During the 1880s, C. H. S. Webb and Seth Webb owned a lobster packing plant in Oceanville, Deer Isle, Maine. Charles H. S. Webb died of chronic bronchitis on September 2, 1920 in Stonington, Maine.3
Deer Isle early residents relied heavily on fishing, which has been its primary employment for a large part of its history. In 1860 alone, “there were owned by inhabitants of Deer Isle ten thousand tons of vessels in which a large part were employed in the fisheries.” 5 Between 1830 and 1860, Samuel Whitmore, Sr. was heavily engaged in this industry.5 Dried, salted mackerel and cod were the primary fish caught off the coast of Deer Isle and Webb & Whitmore made their money based on shares of mackerel caught. Webb & Whitmore owned shares in the schooners A. H. Whitemore, Deborah B. Webb and Collector. Seth Webb also had shares in the schooner Sarah. Webb & Whitmore also provided many vessels with much needed supplies, building materials, stores and trade goods such as sugar, molasses and corn and outfittings for the fishermen.
The accounts book maintained by Webb & Whitmore gives us a glimpse into the business end of the fishing industry in Deer Isle, Maine between 1867 and 1872.