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Captain Rufus Soule Randall Papers, 1746-1946
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Captain Rufus Soule Randall Papers, 1746-1946

By Tracy Lamaestra

Collection Overview

Title: Captain Rufus Soule Randall Papers, 1746-1946

Predominant Dates:1855-1886

Creator: Randall, Rufus Soule, Captain (1830-1888)

Extent: 7.0 Boxes

Arrangement: The collection is organized into seven series: Series I: Vessel Papers, Series II: Personal Papers, Series III: Maritime Trade Publications and Circulars.

Date Acquired: 04/01/1971

Languages: English [eng]


Vessel and personal papers of Captain Rufus Soule Randall a ship captain of various vessels including the John A. Briggs (Ship), Oasis (Bark), Windward (Bark), Acacia (Bark), Ella & Annie (Bark), Annie W. Goddard (Brig), New Empire (Bark), and Gertrude (Bark). The collection has the following groups: Series I. Vessel Papers, Series II. Personal Papers, Series III. Maritime Trade Publications and Circulars.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Captain Rufus Soule Randall papers consist of 7 boxes of manuscript records relating to Captain Randall as a sea captain.  The papers are primarily vessel documents for the John A. Briggs (Ship) and Oasis (Bark).  Account summaries, accounts general, account books, invoices, and receipts detail the financial scope of Captain Randall’s involvement in the shipping industry. Collection contents also include correspondence, registration, insurance, certificates, charter parties, freight and cargo, crew lists, crew wages, crew accounts, articles of agreement, slop accounts, and consul certificates among other maritime documents.

Personal papers capture Captain Randall’s life at home in Freeport, Maine.  Diaries, journals and logbooks chronicle the life of Captain Randall at sea.  Vessel records in the collection also include the Pleiades (Ship), Windward (Bark), Acacia (Bark), Ella and Annie (Bark), Annie W. Goddard (Brig), Gertrude (Bark) and New Empire (Bark).

The collection records foreign and domestic trade, sea routes, nineteenth-century ports, shipping business, merchants, manufacturers, operations, finance, contracts, types of cargo, costs, crew wages, crewmen, mutiny and a captain’s perspective at sea.  Moreover, Randall remarks about his family accompanying him on voyages in writings. In addition, there is an account book for Thomas Scales, 1746-1788.  It was not possible to link Captain Randall to Scales at this time.  This account book records business transactions between Thomas Scales and patrons at the Military Company C in North Yarmouth, Maine.  Furthermore, there is a memorandum marked “A. Jackson of Bath, Maine, 1869” inside the cover. Assorted vessels, names, renters, notes and accounts are recorded by Andrew Jackson.  No link of Captain Randall to Andrew Jackson was found at this time.

Biographical Note

Captain Rufus Soule Randall was born on October 3, 1830 in Freeport, Maine to Robert J. Randall and Lydia Mitchell. In 1840, the father (Robert J. Randall, a sea captain) was drowned at sea after he was washed overboard from the Cairo (Ship) on a voyage from Havana to Mobile. The Randalls were left nearly poverty-stricken after the loss of their father. Family and friends built a small house for them after Grandfather Robert Randall gave them some land on the Upper Mast Landing Road in Freeport.

Captain Rufus Randall married Ann Starkey Townsend (b. 1842, daughter of Earle Townsend and Sarah Holt) on January 11, 1872 in Portland, Maine.  They had children, Caroline Luce (b. 1874), Rufus Starkey (b. 1875), Robert Earle (b. 1877), Thomas Cummings (b. 1878), John Briggs (b. 1880), Russell Lewis (b. 1881), Neal Dow (b. 1884) and Helen Keazer (b. 1886). Captain Randall, wife and children lived at sea from 1872 to March 1877. Caroline Luce was born aboard the Oasis (Bark) while in port in Bristol, England.  Rufus Starkey was born in Rio de Janeiro on the same vessel.  John Briggs was born at sea on the John A. Briggs (Ship).

Captain Randall voyaged on the Nathan Nye (Sloop) as a cook and “roustabout” boy in the summers of 1841 to 1844 for shipmasters Robert Soule, Daniel Grant, and Rufus C. Soule. He was hired as a cook and general boy aboard the Martha Ann (Schooner) by Captain Charles Lambert at 15. Captain Randall worked on the Harriet Rogers (Schooner), James Calder (Ship), Avola (Bark), Madonna (Bark), Eliza (Brig), Empire (Bark), Forest State (Ship) and Lady Suffolk (Bark) among others as a cook, general boy, second mate or chief mate. He was second mate at twenty on the Forest State (Ship) under Captain Pollister. At 25, he was promoted to Master aboard the New Empire (Bark).  In 1857, he was shipmaster of the New Empire (Bark). Captain Randall also commanded the John A. Briggs (Ship), Oasis (Bark), Windward (Bark), Acacia (Bark), Ella and Annie (Bark), Annie W. Goddard (Brig) and Gertrude (Bark).  He became a well-known Freeport captain. Moreover, he was part owner of the Oasis (Bark), Acacia (Bark) and John A. Briggs (Ship).

He commanded the Oasis (Bark) from 1871 to 1879. The John A. Briggs (Ship) with Captain Randall as shipmaster was the largest vessel ever launched in Freeport in 1878. On September 25, 1878 Captain Randall, wife and three children sailed on the John A. Briggs (Ship) to Philadelphia and then on to Germany. In 1881, he began to spend more time ashore at his home in Freeport with an interest in farming. From 1882-1884, Captain Randall sporadically voyaged to Philadelphia, New York and New Jersey to care for the Oasis (Bark) and John A. Briggs (Ship).

Randall retired as a sea captain after a final voyage, 1885 to 1886, on the John A. Briggs (Ship). He lived the rest of his life in Freeport with his family.  Captain Randall died on May 6, 1888 in Freeport, Maine. His wife died on March 19, 1918 in Melrose, Massachusetts.

Administrative Information

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: Mr. and Mrs. L. M. C. Smith donated the Captain Rufus Soule Randall logbooks April 18-29, 1971, acc. no. 71.110. Charlotte Bauer donated Rufus S. Randall documents July 6, 1987, acc. no. 87.31

Acquisition Method:

Mr. and Mrs. L. M. C. Smith purchased the logbooks from Mrs. Helen Keazer Randall (b. 1886) daughter of Captain Rufus Soule Randall.  Willis Shaw Randall donated diaries and journals on June 6, 1977.  Willis Shaw Randall (b. 1910) of Freeport, Maine was the grandson of Captain Randall. Charlotte Bauer gave additional papers in the collection to the Museum on July 6, 1987.

The Captain Rufus Soule Randall papers were originally contained in MS-38 (acc. # G71.110) and MS-167 (acc. # 87.31).  The papers (MS-38 and MS-167) were kept separate due to different accession dates of 1971 and 1987. The 1971 and 1987 manuscripts were already contained in MS-38 together.  These two collections (MS-38 and MS-167) were found to have a direct relationship to each other as they once belonged to Captain Rufus Soule Randall and were a representation of his life as a shipmaster. In order to preserve provenance, Captain Rufus Soule Randall papers in MS-167 were merged with MS-38 into a single MS-38 collection.

Related Materials: Related material in repository:  73.170 (Transcribed interview of Helen K. Randall).

Preferred Citation: Captain Rufus S. Randall Papers, MS-038, Research Library, Maine Maritime Museum, Bath, Maine.

Processing Information:

The manuscript papers were already loosely organized. The collection was grouped into three series. Series I: Vessel papers, Series II Personal Papers and Series III Maritime Trade Publications and Circulars. The first series is sorted into three subseries: Subseries IA. John A. Briggs (Ship), Subseries IB. Oasis (Bark) and Subseries IC. Other vessels. Series II Personal papers is sorted into three subseries: Subseries IIA. Capt. Rufus S. Randall Papers, Subseries IIB: Andrew Jackson Papers and Subseries IIC. Thomas Scales papers.

The Captain’s diaries can be of a personal nature, vessel related or both.  Those diaries that are predominately vessel related are placed with the vessel papers. The diaries that are predominately personal in nature, but make reference to a vessel or vessels, were placed with the personal papers.

Box and Folder Listing

Series I: Vessel Papers, 1842-1901Add to your cart.

Various vessel papers for the John A Briggs (Ship), Oasis (Bark), Annie W. Goddard (Brig), New Empire (Bark), Windward (Bark) and Gertrude (Bark) Ella & Annie (Bark), Windward, Annie W. Goddard (Brig), New Empire (Bark). Included are registration, insurance, correspondence, account books, general accounts, charter parties, freight and cargo, crew wages, Seaman time books, crew lists, articles of agreement, slop accounts, Captain’s diaries, journals and log books.

Note:  Diaries are transcribed, see “A Seaman’s Own Story: Rufus S. Randall, 1830-1888” Maine Maritime Museum Research Library, VK140.R35A3.

Sub-Series I.a: John A Briggs (Ship), 1874-1901Add to your cart.
Sub-Series I.b: Oasis (Bark), 1871-1883Add to your cart.
Sub-Series I.c: Other various vessels, 1842-1880Add to your cart.
Series II: Personal Papers, 1841-1946Add to your cart.
This series is sorted into three subseries. The first subseries is for Capt. Rufus S. Randall. His personal papers seem to have been created when he lived in Freeport, Maine.  Papers include purchases abroad for his residence, correspondence, personal accounts, personal diaries, home specifications and an estate inventory. The second subseries is for an Andrew Jackson and contains a memorandum with “A. Jackson, Bath, Maine, 1869” inscribed inside the cover. Andrew Jackson records assorted vessels, names, renters, notes and accounts. The third subseries is for a Thomas Scales and contains a miscellaneous account book of Thomas Scales of business transactions between Scales and patrons at the Military Company C in North Yarmouth, Maine from 1746-1788.
Sub-Series II.a: Capt. Rufus S. Randall PapersAdd to your cart.
Sub-Series II.b: Andrew Jackson PapersAdd to your cart.
Sub-Series II.c: Thomas Scales PapersAdd to your cart.
Series III: Maritime publications and circulars, 1863-1882Add to your cart.
Various maritime trade publications and circulars. The Benham, Pickering & Co. weekly freight report was publication out of New York and would list charters for the week. The Chas. T. Russell & Co’s Monthly Freight Report was a publication out of London gave information on prices current and market reports in the maritime freighting business. Heinemann & Co. Freight Circular printed out of Hong Kong gave information about the freight market and listed freight settlement’s for various voyages out of Hong Kong. J. W. Grace & Co. Shipping and Commission Merchants published out of California listed freight engagements including list of vessel sailed, loaded or sold. It kept shipbrokers up-to-date on any changes in the shipping industry. The San Francisco Trade Review, the Savannah Prices Current and Whitney Brothers & Co.’s Market Report kept ship brokers and merchants up to date on various freight and charters, trade, financial and commercial shipping information, vessels at port or sailing, etc.