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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 5: United States Department Agencies, PublicationsAdd to your cart.
Series 5.I: Board of Economic Warfare Records, Office of Export Control (1941-1945)Add to your cart.
Loose leaf alphabetical list of blocked nationals according to country. Included are cumulative supplements to the proclaimed list of certain blocked nationals. Includes a supplemental list of foreign publications, which have been declared mailable.
Series 5.II: Department of Agriculture, 1922-1966Add to your cart.
Publications that fall under the Department of Agriculture and it’s sub-divisions. This includes publications on prohibitive merchandise, the seed act, sugar consumption requirements, and publications on migratory birds and mammals.
Series 5.III: Dept. of Commerce, n.d., 1930-1970Add to your cart.
Various publications under the Department of Commerce. This series is sorted into five subseries: 5.III.a Bureau of Census, 5.III.b Bureau of Customs, 5.III.c Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation, 5.III.d Bureau of Supplies—Foreign Economic Administration and 5.III.e International Commerce.
Sub-Series 5.III.a: — Bureau of CensusAdd to your cart.
Sub-Series 5.III.b: — Bureau of CustomsAdd to your cart.
Sub-Series 5.III.c: — Bureau of Marine Navigation and InspectionAdd to your cart.
Sub-Series 5.III.d: — Bureau of Supplies, Foreign Economic AdministrationAdd to your cart.
Sub-Series 5.III.e: — International CommerceAdd to your cart.
Series 5.IV: Department of Treasury, 1900-1967Add to your cart.
Numerous publications regarding travel regulations, duty assessments, drug, alcohol and firearms regulations. Includes two copies of “Rules and regulations relating to the anchorage of vessels in the Kennebec River at or near Bath, Maine”  published by the Dept. of Treasury in 1900. This books includes a pull out map showing the Kennebec River anchorage limits which identifies various shipyards and wharfs.
Series 5.V: War Department and Matters of National Defense, 1878-1954Add to your cart.
Various publications such as the Acts, Proclamations and Executive Orders regarding shipping laws, 1917-2. Plus, International Traffic in Arms, Laws and Regulations, 1935-53. There is a thesis “The Control of Sales of Arms, Ammunition, and Implements of War,” by Elizabeth M. Garber, George Washington Univ., Presented to the 77th Congress 1st session by Mr. Davis, 1941. There are assorted other publications relating to the war department and national defense
Series 5.VI: Other U.S. Departments, n.d., 1917-1972Add to your cart.
Various publications from the Dept. of Justice, Dept. of Labor, Dept. of Navy, USCG, the National Archives and the National Audubon Society.

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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