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Bath Custom House Records



Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Port of Bath

Port of Boothbay

Port of Wiscasset

Port of Portland

United States Department Agencies, Publications

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Bath Custom House Records, 1856-1983 | Maine Maritime Museum Manuscript Collection Online Catalog

By Anastasia S. Weigle

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Collection Overview

Title: Bath Custom House Records, 1856-1983Add to your cart.

Predominant Dates:1802-1960

Primary Creator: Bath Custom House

Extent: 30.0 Boxes

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.

Date Acquired: 02/12/1973

Subjects: Applebee, Robert B. (1885-1979), Bath Customs House, Boothbay Customs House, Cate, Charles W., Charter-parties, Clancy, Joseph D., Coombs, Isaac C., Coughlin, Bartholomew H., Customs houses, Dooley, John H., Freight and freightage, Hawes, Herbert W., Identification cards, Imports, Letter books, Manifests, Marr, Chrles J., Merchant seamen, Moody, Daniel H., Motorboats, Motorboats--Sport fishermen, Navigation, Ophelia (Ship), Port districts, Portland Customs House, Ports of entry, Pythian Opera House, Reports, Seamanship, Ship captains, Shipping--Laws and legislation, Ships—Equipment and supplies, Ships—Inspection, Ships—Measurement, Sleeper, Charles M., Steamers, 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: English


Custom House records from the ports of Bath, Boothbay, Wiscasset and Portland. Arranged by port and thereunder by type of record and includes administrative and fiscal records, reports of imported merchandise, dock books, weight and measurement booklets, patrol reports, admeasurements, entrance and clearance records, and entry of merchandise reports, bunker fuel reports, and motor boat registration. Numerous government publications are also included in this collection.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

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.

Biographical Note

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.

Subject/Index Terms

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

Administrative Information

Repository: Maine Maritime Museum Manuscript Collection Online Catalog

Access Restrictions: There are no restrictions on the use of these materials for study or research.

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 Source: 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

Acquisition Method: 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

Preferred Citation: Bath Customs House Records, MS-026, Research Librry, Maine Maritime Museum, Bath, Maine.

Processing Information:

The records were already loosely organized into archival boxes. Many records were arranged by type of document and then chronologically placed in folders.  In particular, outward foreign manifests and inward foreign manifests were grouped in this manner. However, there are other documents, which are filed together by name or ship. We left these in their original order.  Any records that truly seemed to have no organization were placed in their correct folders based on document type.

The Seaman’s Certificates of American Citizenship and Custom Intelligence Bureau bulletins accompanied by their own indexes were filed in binders that had water activated adhesive strips. Pages were glued to these strips. Each page was carefully removed from these strips, re-housed in archival Mylar sleeves, and placed in folders. They were kept in their numbered order. All of the Seaman’s Certificates of American Citizenship were accompanied with photographs—some original (possibly silver gelatin prints) while others were photo duplicate copies. These photographs were attached with staples. These, too, were removed carefully and kept with the original documents. Others were adhered with glue that has darkened through the years. We were unable to remove these without causing damage so they were left as is. Additionally, the special licenses (to navigate in the harbor and adjacent waters of a port of entry) and index located in similar type binder were treated in the same manner. In order to preserve space in the collection, all empty binders have been removed. They are currently stored in a large file box in the library stacks labeled Bath Custom House Records materials. 

The collection was organized into groups by the ports of Bath, Boothbay, Wiscasset and Portland as documents were created at these particular ports. The records also include assorted United States Department Agency publications.  These publications were grouped and then categorized under the appropriate agency. In the administrative section of the Custom House Records, there were numerous blank forms. Five copies of each were retained and all remainder forms including tablets were placed in the museum collection as artifacts.

In order to determine the best way to organize the records, the same hierarchical listing found in the Custom House Classification Form (B2/F2) index was used as a basis for organization. Administrative records were placed at the beginning, followed by fiscal records, and then custom house records. Custom House records were then organized in the same original order as they were received. This may mean that some documents are in alphabetical order, not chronological or file number order. An example of this would be the Entry record receipts for missing documents, Subseries 1.V.e Marine and Navigation Fines.

Subseries 1.V.e Marine and Navigation Fines, Penalties, etc.

Entry record receipt missing documents—A-F, 1961-65 H-N, 1946-65 P-U, 1951-65

Processing Notes regarding indexes

Six indexes were created to help users find names of vessels:

            Index No. 1 Vessel names

            Index No. 2 Vessel names from large Copybook in Box 13

            Index No. 3 Vessel names from “List of Vessel Reports” Box 13/Folder 10

            Index No. 4 Vessel names from “List of Vessel Reports” Box 13/Folder 12

            Index No. 5 Vessel names from Copybook in Box 19/Folder 1

            Index No. 6 Vessel names from Copybook in Box 19/Folder 4

            A master index of vessel names may be found in the supporting documents. This index lists names, type of vessel as indicated in the records, the file authority name and location (box/folder of book/pg.#).  Vessel types were not clearly identified from the Bath Custom House records. Registers such as the Record of American and Foreign Shipping, Merchant Vessels of the United States, Lloyd’s Register of American Yachts, Lloyd’s Registers, and various online databases and resources were used to help identify the vessels. If a particular vessel was not listed in the registers or online, the type of vessel was determined by type of cargo it carried. For example, the Anne Louise entered into the Port of Bath with 107,816 bbls # 6 fuel oil. Although the custom form does not identify type of vessel, she is most likely a tanker. However, it is unknown if she is a motor vessel, tanker or screw steamer, tanker.  If a vessel is identified by its net or gross tonnage and official number on the custom form, a thorough search through the registers is made until a match can be found that identifies said vessel.

Another example of the difficulty of identifying the type of vessels accurately is with the vessel Olive Etta. In 1924, the Port of Boothbay Custom house identified her as a gas screw and a Barge with an official number of 166746. However, in the 1924 List of Merchant Vessels of the United States, the Olive Etta with official number 166746 is classified as a scow. Therefore, regardless what the Custom House officials stated in their letters, the vessel type used was scow as the authority file name.

Under the “Type of Vessel” column the first entry is taken from Custom House records. Any descriptive notes italicized and in parentheses ( ) are taken from either the registers or online resources. Any entries in brackets [ ] are additional comments from the archivist.

Although much information is written on the Custom House document to assist in determining the vessel type, there is no guarantee for accuracy of the vessel name in the index. It is recommended users do additional research work as needed to determine vessel type if there is some question on accuracy. User must ask the Librarian to see the master index.

Lastly, an additional index of names is also kept in the supporting documents. The names and the vessels they were attached to may be captains, owners, builders, and in some cases, crewmen.

Other Note: Index of vessel and Captain names in Repository.  Ask libarian for assistance.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Group:

[Group 1: Port of Bath],
[Group 2: Port of Boothbay],
[Group 3: Port of Wiscasset],
[Group 4: Port of Portland],
[Group 5: United States Department Agencies, Publications],

Group 1: Port of BathAdd to your cart.
Series 1.I: Administration, n.d., 1910-1970Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 1.I.a: Correspondence, n.d., 1925-1969Add to your cart.
Incoming and outgoing correspondence for the Bath Customs House. Includes FTSR letters, circular letters, memorandums, miscellaneous handwritten notes and envelopes.
Sub-Series 1.I.b: Requisitions, n.d., 1939-1955Add to your cart.
Manual of nonexpendable property records, accounting procedures handbook and paperwork for nonexpendable purchased items.
Sub-Series 1.I.c: Customs Forms—Classification and Guidelines, n.d., 1875, 1897, 1923-1968Add to your cart.
A classification index of customs forms including samples of forms with explanation of use.  Catalogues of customs books and blanks (two booklets and one pamphlet). Large assortment of blank forms for accounting (fiscal) and human resource (employee) purposes along with customs house records. Included in this series are five 14” x 21” posters regarding “Warehouse Regulations” and one  14” x 21” poster from the Department of Commerce regarding “Steamboat Inspection Service” regulations. These are housed in an oversize drawer.
Sub-Series 1.I.d: USCG Navy Training Course, 1940-42Add to your cart.
The Bath Customs House was a regional examination center for the United States Coast Guard. In this series, you will find the examination papers for seaman Davis C. Eugene. Includes test memorandum and forms for the USCG Institute training course.
Sub-Series 1.I.e: Customs House Building Renovation and Expansion, 1911-1912Add to your cart.
Building proposal for the extension and remodeling of the Bath Customs House including the Post Office bathroom renovations that was in the same building.
Series 1.II: Fiscal, n.d., 1926-1966Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 1.II.a: General accounts, 1948-66Add to your cart.
Stamped checking sheets and small book recording the use of postage stamps by the Customs House.
Sub-Series 1.II.b: Collections and deposits, n.d., 1926-1963Add to your cart.
Assorted fiscal documentations. Daily and monthly summaries of records and statements of collections, deposits and balances. Reports for “no transactions” and miscellaneous papers such as envelopes, schedules, vouchers, reimbursements, registers and notes.
Sub-Series 1.II.c: Customs informaiton exchange reports, 1955-1963Add to your cart.
Reports of currency value rates, worldwide.
Series 1.III: Weigher’s, Gauger’s and Measure, n.d., 1943-1970Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 1.III.a: Reports—Imported Merchandise, 1962-1970Add to your cart.
Reports of weight, gauge or measures of imported merchandise on vessels along with related notes. Weighers and gaugers (customs officials) assisted surveyors with estimating imports and tonnage duties on goods.
Sub-Series 1.III.b: Dock books, 1943-1955Add to your cart.
Small dock books recording the weight or gauge of a vessel.
Sub-Series 1.III.c: Weight and merchandise booklets, n.d., 1942-43Add to your cart.
Small books of cargo weight with accompanying consignee marks.
Series 1.IV: Enforcement, 1931-1946Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 1.IV.a: Patrol reports, 1931-39Add to your cart.
Local patrol reports for Bath, Boothbay, Wiscasset, Topsham, West Point, Portland, Swan Island, Hallowell and Sebasco. The 1931 Log book for United States Customs patrol boat #4277 stationed at Eastport details USC patrol in areas from Eastport to  Jonesport, Machias, Calais, Lubec, Rockland, Bath, Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor. The 1932-33 log book for the United States Customs patrol boat #4277 now stationed at Boothbay Harbor details boat patrol from Boothbay Harbor to Popham, Bath, Seguin, Rockland, Boothbay Harbor, Portland, Round Pond, Port Clyde, Snow Shipyard, Friendship, Stonington and Sargentville. Miscellaneous loose papers (receipt, notes) found in the 1931 patrol log book.
Sub-Series 1.IV.b: Reports—Seizures and apprehensions, 1935-1939Add to your cart.
Reports of seizures and apprehensions by customs officers for other activities. No transactions were documented between 1935 to 1939.
Sub-Series 1.IV.c: Passports, 1946Add to your cart.
A Statistical Blotter book used to register names of passport holders (possibly non-American citizens?) and their passport ID numbers between June 1944 and December 1945—an 18 month period. It appears the passports were surrendered to the Bath Customs House and returned within six months. All other passports exceeding the six month period were sent to the Chief Passport Division, Department of State. Why these particular people were asked to surrender their passports is unknown.
Series 1.V: Vessels, n.d., 1865-1968Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 1.V.a: Laid-up vessels over 500 tons, 1932-1939Add to your cart.
These are documents notifying customs house of all vessels reported over 500 tons that are laid up at the Port of Bath. Laid-up vessels are inactive vessels at port. Such vessel are not under repair or not actively employed.
Sub-Series 1.V.b: Admeasurements, n.d., 1932-1965Add to your cart.
Memorandum of dimensions taken in admeasurements booklets. These booklets document the tonnage and measurements of vessels in addition to their physical description.  Furthermore, the booklets record locations the vessels were built. Collectors report time, expense, inspections and no transactions for their admeasurements work as well. Also included is a certificate of award for an undocumented vessel, Clement V. McMahan (owner).
Sub-Series 1.V.c: Documentation, 1865-1943Add to your cart.
Two log books pertaining to the bills of sale for enrolled vessels. The 1900 log book has a single entry. Log books include vessel name, vessel type, ownership, master, construction location and date vessel built. The notice for change of master cards document vessel names as well as present and former master. Inspector’s certificate of official number cards list vessel name, vessel type, official number, net tonnage and port. There are call for casualty reports (cards). In particular, one card records the Dorothy B. Barrell (Schooner) was sunk by a German submarine in 1918. There is a loss of vessel card for the James Young (Schooner). Also, there are reports of “No Transactions” for transfer of vessels from or to aliens. Several documents list ownership for the Clara Goodwin (Schooner), Frank T. Stinson (Schooner), John C. Haynes (Schooner) and Katie J. Barrett (Schooner).
Sub-Series 1.V.d: Entrance and clearance forms, 1925-1947Add to your cart.

The outward and inward foreign manifest records in this subseries are extensive.

Outward Foreign Manifests. This includes outward foreign manifests and oath of master to manifest on clearing outward. Some outward foreign manifests list the crew. There are reports of load lines at departure of vessel in the foreign trade in addition to supplementary crew lists. These crew lists name seamen, residence, birthplace, age, naturalization, physical description, wage and employment on vessels. There are records of seamen shipped and discharged on Great Lakes and coastwise vessels. Forms also include application and permit to lade or unlade cargoes of vessels or other conveyances. Affidavits of master or agent of vessel as to cargo short shipped are in this category as well. There are a number of other associated records in outward foreign manifests such as cargo, mail and passenger reports. Some of these are marked in red as confidential (1942, 1944, WWII time). Vessel performance and cargo reports, 1944, are stamped in red as confidential as well.

Inward Foreign Manifests. This includes inward foreign manifests and master’s oaths on entry of vessels from foreign ports. There are master’s oaths on preliminary entry for foreign ports. The Reports Inwards and Reports Outwards both list the stores contents aboard vessels. There are a number of other associated records for inward foreign manifests as well. Some of these include reports of the comparison of the master’s manifests with the inspector’s return in addition to vessels boarded and examined by the USCG. A notice to deliver, detain on board, or remove aliens records that cook Harry Lee was detained aboard the British barge Ocean Transport No. 2 at Bath on September 12, 1940. A letter addresses the whereabouts of Captain George L. Ward when lost at sea on the barge Orleans on June 13, 1940. Some cargo, mail and passenger reports are marked in red as confidential, 1941-42.  There are a few manifests as well with these documents.

Canadian and Other Foreign Trade. The Customs—Canada forms document vessel clearances from Canadian ports to American ports. They report master, the amount of crewmen aboard vessels and type of cargo. There are also weekly reports of commodities imported under quota limitations of Schedule II of the Canadian Trade Agreement with no transactions or importations reported. The daily reports of entry of vessels in foreign trade list manifest number, name of vessel, port and county of exportation, date sailed and date of arrival.

Sub-Series 1.V.e: Marine and navigation fines, penalties, etc., 1946-1965Add to your cart.
These are entry record receipts for missing vessel documents. These small cards are divided alphabetically by owner and arranged A-F, H-N, and P-U. They are an application to make entry of a vessel to a port prior to production of missing documents.
Sub-Series 1.V.f: Entry of merchandise, imports, 1924-1968Add to your cart.
This subseries contains consumption entry records, bulletin notices of entries liquidated and other reports pertaining to imported merchandise. The consumption entry records are of the vessels: Harmattan (British screw steamer) and the Yukon (Store ship : AFF9). Also is a ledger for consumption entries. This ledger records consumption entries as well as records of liquidation for only a handful of vessels. Furthermore, there is a small record book listing import values. Imports listed are material objects such as lamps, earthenware jugs, glassware, dishware, porcelain and rugs.
Series 1.VI: Miscellaneous documents, n.d, 1856, 1941, 1973Add to your cart.
Charter party for Ophelia (Ship), two newspaper clippings and miscellaneous papers.

Browse by Group:

[Group 1: Port of Bath],
[Group 2: Port of Boothbay],
[Group 3: Port of Wiscasset],
[Group 4: Port of Portland],
[Group 5: United States Department Agencies, Publications],

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