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Charles V. Minott Shipyard Records

Overview

Abstract

Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Business Records

Vessel Papers

The Brick Store

Personal Papers

Publications



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Charles V. Minott Shipyard Records, 1835-1974 | Maine Maritime Museum Manuscript Collection Online Catalog

By Anastasia S. Weigle

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Collection Overview

Title: Charles V. Minott Shipyard Records, 1835-1974Add to your cart.

Predominant Dates:1854-1917

Primary Creator: Charles V. Minott Sr. (1826-1903)

Other Creators: Charles V. Minott, Jr. (1867-1936)

Extent: 181.0 Boxes

Arrangement: The records are organized into five series: Series I: Business Records (22 boxes), Series II: Vessel Papers (154 boxes), Series III: The Brick Store (1 Box), Series IV. Personal Papers (2 boxes), and Series V: Publications (3 boxes).

Date Acquired: 05/21/1991

Subjects: Abbie Bowker (Three-mast schoooner), Accounts, Ada F. Brown (Four-mast schooner), Alice M. Minot (Bark), Alice M. Minott (Ship), Armoriel (Ship), Aruan (Ship), Ben Hur (Schooner), Berlin (Ship), Booklets, C. V. Minott (Bark), Charlotte A. Morrison (Ship), Cherub (Schooner), Comet (Bark), Cora (Three-mast schooner), Cortes (Ship), Cortez (Ship) alternate spelling, Crew lists, Dickinson, John R., Captain, Dickinson, Wiley R., Captain, Emma E. Cutting (Schooner), Exchange (Schooner), Flying Dutchman (Schooner), Frances M. (Four-mast schooner), Hyue (Schooner), Ivy (Ship), J. C. Rogers (Schooner), J. D. Robinson (Three-mast schooner), James Drummond (Ship), Log-books, Maps, Marcus L. Urann (Five-mast schooner), Marine protests, Mary E. Riggs (Ship), Mentor (Schooner), Merchant seamen, Merom (Four-mast schooner), Merom (Schooner), Merom (Ship), Merome (Schooner) alternate spelling, Minott, Charles V., Jr., Minott, Charles V., Sr., Nebraska (Brig), Orizon (Schooner) Built 1834, Orizon (Schooner) Built 1870, Phippsburg (ME), Planet (Schooner), Richard W. Denham (Schooner), Rival (Schooner), Rogers, David C.ampbell, Captain, Rogers, John C., Captain, Rogers, Sarah Campbell, Sarah L. Harding (Schooner), Schooners, Senora (Three-mast schooner), Shipbuilding, Shipbuilding industry, Shipbuilding—Costs, Shipbuilding—Materials, Ship captains, Shipping, Ships, Ships, wooden, Ships—Maintenancre, Ships—Owners, Shipyards, Shipyards—Phippsburg (ME), St. Charles (Ship), St. Mary (Ship), St. Thomas (Shp), Standard (Ship), Tiger (Ship), Vincent (Brig), Wages, William (Schooner)

Languages: English

Abstract

Business and vessel records of  Charles V. Minott shipyard in Phippsburg, Maine. The records consist of business accounts, bills, receipts, documents, and correspondence relative to the shipbuilding and management activities of the Minott shipyard. Bulk of collection are vessel papers including, but not limited to, ownership and registration papers, construction accounts, captains letters, freight lists, bills of lading, crew wages, articles of agreement, portage accounts, protest and legal matters. A few records pertain to the Brick Store including correspondence, invoices, two small account books, and one ledger. Personal papers include letters between family members and/or friends. Maritime Publications consisting of 13 titles including Laughlin McKay’s book, The Practical Ship-Builder, considered the first American treatise on shipbuilding, four pamphlets, two magazines on nautical history and one aerial perspective illustration map of the city of San Francisco, ca. 1912 commemorating the Panama Pacific Exhibition.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The records date from 1839 to 1974, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1854 to 1917. The largest part of the collection consists of 154 boxes of vessel papers. The primary focus of the collections is Minott’s shipbuilding ventures in Phippsburg, Maine. The Charles V. Minott shipyard records are sorted into five series:

I: Business Records II: Vessel Papers III: The Brick Store IV: Personal Papers V: Publications

Starting with Series I (22 boxes), the majority of the papers in this series are business correspondence between Charles V. Minott, Sr. and agents, brokers, captains, business people and various businesses. Letters concern a variety of topics from building ships, cargo of lumber, payment of bills, charter or commission rates, etc. A larger portion of the business records are correspondence with shipbrokers James W. Elwell & Co. and William, Dimond  & Co. (8 boxes). Numerous Minott vessels are referenced in these letters as well as other vessels and their locations.

A note of possible interest is a letter from the self-taught marine artist, S. F. M Badger, dated July 23, 1914. He asked if Charles V. Minott, Jr. would like him to paint a picture of schooner Ada F. Brown. Badger described how he would draw the four-mast schooner; in oil colors on linen canvas under full sail at side view passing light-ship showing deck fittings. In his letter, he stated he had painted the Ada F. Brown for Capt. Merry when she was first built.

Insurance records contain letters from agents, account summaries and some receipts. There is an insurance book that lists valuation of vessel, where affected, interest insured, and the amount on ship for various vessels. On opposite, reverse side of book is title Ship Book where vessel statistics are listed such as date built, length, breadth, and old and new tonnage. Only the insurance section of the book is used.

Financial records consist of small bank books, a ledger showing expenses and earnings of vessels and their owners ledgers (B17/F1), canceled checks, exchange drafts, construction and repair receipts, and four payroll and time books. Four fairly large drawings of unidentified vessels are in this series. One shows the rig of a ship, the second is a line drawing of a vessel, the third is a plan for a 60 ton schooner, and the fourth is a partial drawing of a vessel (OS Box MS90, folders 1-4). There is a block list (B20/F25) but does not indicate the vessel being built.

Vessel papers include ownership papers for Phippsburg owners in vessels for 1896, 1897, 1898-1926 including shipping interests and earning between 1903 and 1911 (B20, F26-31). There are also bills, invoices and/or receipts, bills of lading, and freight charges.

The remaining papers in Series I are freight circulars, product catalogs, advertising cards and flyers, and other ephemeral materials. One document of interest is a court case between John P. Berry and Charles V. Minott containing correspondence and affidavits regarding the schooner G. P. Taylor. The case states Charles V. Minott “willfully and maliciously cut and carried away mast and rigging of said schooner destroying said schooner.” (B22/F9)

The second series (154 boxes) is the most extensive part of the collection containing the papers of vessels either built and owned by Minott or built for Minott (refer back to Ada’s list, pg. 6-7). Although not all the vessels’ papers are complete, those that are contain construction accounts, timber purchases, lumber memorandum or surveys, invoices following the voyages of vessels, captains’ letters, articles, crew wages, freight lists, and a number of protests.

Correspondence is between Charles V. Minott, Sr. (Charles V. Minott Jr. after May 1903) and his agents in many ports concerning his ships and their cargoes, bills and receipts for provisions and supplies for ships and crews, insurance documents, and shipping contracts. The letters between the captains and Minott document the management of the vessels.

Invoices of voyages contain receipts for goods purchased, upkeep, stevedoring, customs, consular papers, towage, and berthing covering 63 years of operation (1854-1917). Accounts for cargo such as manifests, freight lists, freight accounts and bills of lading can be found as well as crew lists, wages, charter parties, agreements and portage bills. Insurance policies during the construction and voyages can be found with most of the vessel papers.

The vessels with the least amount of papers are the Abbie Bowker (Three-mast schooner), Comet (Bark), Cora (Three-mast schooner), Cortes (Ship), Exchange (Schooner), Flying Dutchman (Schooner), Merom (Schooner), St. Charles (Ship), Sarah L. Harding (Schooner), Senora (Three-mast schooner), Tiger (Ship), Vincent (Brig), and William (Schooner).

A few lists of stores can be found with the Berlin (Ship), Comet (Bark), and Merom (Four-mast schooner) papers,

Notes of interest are records of the ship St. Mary (B157, F1-25) that wrecked five months into its maiden voyage. Letters from Capt. Jesse Carver (B157/F15) and steward, O. M. Clark (B157/F17) are particularly interesting. A drawing of the wreck incident can be found in folder 21. There is a typewritten letter from Capt. Jesse T. Carver (B157/F15). This is a transcription from an original letter that, unfortunately, is not in the collection. The letter contains no date other than the location (Port Stanley) and month (August) and was written to his wife.

The most complete sets of vessel papers are of the four-mast schooner Ada F. Brown (11 boxes), ship Alice M. Minott (9 boxes), Aryan (11 boxes), four-mast schooner Frances M. (13 boxes), ship Ivy (10 boxes), ship Merom (7 boxes), four-mast schooner Merom (7 boxes), and ship Standard (9 boxes).

The last vessel built in the Minott shipyard was the five-mast schooner Marcus L. Urann (2 boxes). On the stocks at the time of Charles V. Minott’s death in May 1903, his son Charles Jr. took over finishing the vessel. Letters from the Marcus L. Urann papers point out a dispute over the management of the five-mast schooner between brokers Donnell & McKown and attorney Marcus L. Urann.  Attorney Urann considered Donnell & McKown poor managers of this vessel as indicated in numerous letters. Donnell & McKown did not seem to get along with Marcus L. Urann or Capt. Blair. Donnell & McKown and Marcus L. Urann competed over the managing ownership of the vessel by getting others to sell their interest to them (B121/F4).

Although the vessel papers give us a history of Minott’s shipping business, it is clearly not a complete collection.

Other vessels papers (B174/F1-10) can be found in Subseries IIB and did not fit with the overall vessel papers. There are not enough papers to give us a history of the vessel or how they affected the Minott’s business. There are minimal papers that go along with these vessels. It is difficult to determine if Minott had a vested interest in all of these. They are the:

Abby Morse (Schooner) Aberdeen (Bark) Bessie E. Dickinson (Three-mast schooner) Courtney C. Houck (Five-mast schooner) Henry C. Winship (Three-mast schooner) M. V. B. Chase (Three-mast schooner) Miles M. Merry (Four-mast schooner) Milo (Sloop) Montebello (Ship) Sabina (Schooner)

The remaining captain’s letters that did not seem to fit with any of the vessel papers was placed in Subseries IIC. These are letters (B174/F11-23) to Charles V. Minott from captains and members of their families while they were at sea aboard an unidentified vessel, which may or may not be owned by Minott. These captains were:

Cromwell, Wm. Emery, Thomas L. Fletcher, Reuben E. Hagan, Proctor A. Howe, George H. Jewett, T. Lewis, Erwin F. McIntire, Geo. E. Otis, Jesse Percy, Asa L. Rogers, David C. Small, W. H.

A small number of items represent the Brick Store owned by Charles V. Minott, Sr. and includes small accounting books, letters and receipts. One small account book (B/F3) for receipts of goods purchased and deliveries made to customers. The first page has entries for one trip made by ship Charlotte A. Morrison with passages to Boston and New York. Entries made for schooners Flying Dutchman and Merom/Merome appear to be for goods purchased. The Brick Store was established at Phippsburg in 1861 and supplied local residents (including many of Minott’s workers) and vessels. One entry was a schoolhouse bill. Although this small book is undated, the ship C. A. Morrison was built in 1856 and sold in 1863, the schooner Flying Dutchman was launched in 1859 and the schooner Merom mentioned in the book is most likely the schooner built for Minott in 1839. One large ledger with missing boards gives accounts for goods sold. The majority of entries in this ledger are for individual people but there are some goods sold to Minott vessels. Unfortunately, this is but a fraction of the brick store records. The remaining ledgers were donated to the Baker Library at Harvard by Charles V. Minott in 1931. There is one reference to the brick store found in the ledger book for new vessels in Subseries ID (B20/F24).

Personal papers are primarily family letters with the most being between Charles V. Minott, Sr., his wife Sarah C. Rogers and son, Charles V. Minott Jr.  The distinction between business and personal is difficult. Letters between Charles Sr. and his wife do discuss various shipping matters as does letters between Charles Sr. and Charles Jr.

There are a few letters from his brother Thomas Minott, Jr. (B175/F4) and his oldest daughter Alice M. There is one letter from a cousin James F. Minott (B176/F3).

There are three letters, which stand out for their personal content. The first two letters are to Vincent R. R. Minott, the oldest son of Charles Minott, Sr. These letters were from his uncle Thomas Minott, Jr. The letters were sent April 9, 1865 and Dec 25, 1865 (B176/F15). Thomas Minott addresses his young nephew as Capt. V. R. R. Minott. On the opposite side is a letter written to Sarah C. Minott, whom he addresses as “sister.” The third letter is written by Capt. John S. Lowell of the ship Mary E. Riggs dated March 19, 1866 offering condolences on the death of his son Vincent, whom Lowell calls “little Vinta.” (B123/F3). Vincent R. R. Minott died January 11, 1866. Sadly, the brig Vincent, named after his son, wrecked a month later at Squibnocket Point off Martha’s Vineyard February 13, 1866. Had Vincent lived, he would have worked with his father at the shipyard, thus leaving Charles to pursue a career of his own. But as fate would have it, the oldest child of Charles V. Minott, Sr. died at the young age of 9.

Both Alice and Abbie received letters from Bessie E. and Grace B. Dickinson, daughter of Capt. Wiley Dickinson, while they were aboard the ship Rappahannock in 1891 (B177/F9,11).  There are references to the wreck of the ship St. Mary in the personal family letters.

Personal papers also include personal diaries. An early diary belonged to Thomas Minott, Jr., (B177/F12) brother of Charles V. Minott, Sr., when he was ships carpenter for the ship Arracan. The diary is dated August 19, 1864, bound from New York to San Francisco with Capt. Biram Whitmore as captain. Thomas writes on January 22, 1864 that the ship was 250 miles from San Francisco. The next entry is dated June 4, 1865 from Gardner City, Aurigon. This was a misspelling for Gardiner City, Oregon. The next entry Thomas wrote, “Commenced work for John Cruse on the first day of May Monday May the 1/65”  It is not known what vessel he is speaking of. Other entries (August 1865) indicate he was in Gardiner City, Oregon and Seabeck, Washington (October 1865.)  Other entries indicate that he was on the west coast for a couple of years. On September 1867 he is back in Phippsburg. Thomas writes, “Commenced work on the Schooner, the 23 Day of September 1867. Other workers include Moses Black, ? Grant and Frank Bowker. This could be the schooner Hyue. Thomas listed some Minott name on the last page of the Diary:  C. V. Minott, Phippsburg Center, John C. Minott, Bowdoinham, Me., Marietta L. Minott, Bowdoin Center, Me., and Lizzie C. Minott. A transcription of this diary can be found in Ada Minott Haggett’s research notes found with the supporting documents.

The second diary belonged to Charles V. Minott, Jr.  Entries start January1, 1893 with a final entry April 19, 1893. He is 26 years old. His diary is personal in nature, giving us a glimpse of life in Phippsburg, his observations and feelings. But he does give day-to-day goings on at the Minott shipyard and these entries will be useful to users. Although Charles V. Minott helped his father with the shipyard business and shipping matters, this was not Charles Jr.’s vocation. His first entry of 1893 clearly shows his desire to leave:

“Again does the opening of a new year find us in the town of our birth. Again do we find ourselves passing away the winter in doing chores and loafing about the store? I shall soon begin to believe as true what a certain person told me less than a year ago viz. that it was impossible for me to ever think of going away from this place. Yet I think the pages of this book if it is faithfully kept will demonstrate it otherwise. The ties, which have held me so immovably here are weakening rapidly and I have a full realization of the difficulties which I shall encounter should I break out into something else also those which beset me if I still remain here.”

Comments like this pop up from time to time in the early part of the diary. His writings are eloquent and you can hear his desire to leave or feelings of something else for him out there. Wednesday, January 25, 1893:

"The embargo which the severe cold weather has placed on our harbor has sent freights into the air a little and also has caused some of the papers to recall the legislation embargo which occurred in 1897. Maritime Affairs have always been in an uncertain state and the eras of prosperity seem to be growing shorter and shorter. Father tells me that the 1807 embargo caused the ruin of his grandfather’s prospects in the shipping business. It seems strange that after two generations had given it up that father should go into the same business and make a success of it. I am tempted to take the same view as my great grandfather did and sometimes wish I were free to try something else ... ”

There are entries about vessels and people of Phippsburg. Charles Jr. was interested in the field of Electrochemistry and writes (Jan. 9) “It is high time that I introduced a subject which is consuming some of my attention. It is the consideration of the purpose with which I settled down here. That purpose was that I would make myself as generally useful as possible and employ my spare time in investigating the question of using the ocean as an electrolyte profitably.” On Wednesday, February 8 he writes “I have confidence enough in myself in handling dangerous chemicals and still the qualms of ones mind especially if he is working alone are rather disagreeable. Yet I think I shall try it tomorrow.”  Other entries in his diary reveal that Charles Jr. was attempting to extract magnesium from the seawater through the process of electrolysis. He talks about this idea throughout his diary hoping to find capital and make a go of this business.

His diary captures life in Phippsburg and mentions local deaths, town politics, and philosophical view of life. He references a few vessels throughout his writings. He tells us he saw the launching of the Katahdin (Feb. 4) and says, “The launch was very successful and if this type of vessel proves the most efficient in the wars of the future there will have to be quite a revolution in the style of vessels which we shall have to accustom ourselves to behold.”  His Feb. 9 entry tell us the three-mast schooner Oliver S. Barrett came in the previous day and was being loaded that afternoon. He also reminisces of the ship St. Mary on March 20, “Just three years ago today and on just about such a day as this the St. Mary was launched and consigned to the bosom of the waters of old ocean marking the entrance of her short but eventual existence.”

His last entry dated April 19, 1893 may be for the ship Aryan,

At last the planking of the ship is furnished and we can now expect to enter in the beginning of the end. Of all clinging jobs and tasks that would be a match for the patience of Job I think this craft now on the stocks takes the cake. Ever since I came home from college I have been at work on her and there still remains more than two months more before I can expect to see the last of her. When she does finally disappear from view down the river I do not think I shall waste much time wishing her back here again.”

It did not seem Charles Jr. was enthusiastic for the shipping business, but we know now that Charles Jr. did not leave to find his place in the world. He was very much tied to the Minott shipyard business.

Personal miscellaneous papers include a sheet of lined manila with pencil drawings on both sides. The drawings are child-like and done by Eugene T. Minott, son of Thomas Minott, Jr., and nephew of Charles V. Minott Sr. There is no date on the drawing. On one side is a map of the middle Atlantic states drawn from memory and the other side is a drawing of the schooner Mentor. Eugene T. Minott did not follow the maritime life like his father Thomas Minott, Jr. Instead, he became a school teacher. He died on November 23, 1898 at the age of 22 from appendicitis.

Other papers include a land survey written by Charles V. Minott, Jr., a list of workmen, their time and pay for working on snow roads for the 1902-03 year and the 1903-04 year, presumably in Phippsburg.

There are also two letters. One is to Capt. Wiley Dickinson dated 1914 from a doctor in Brunswick, Maine. Although Dickinson is not part of the Minott family, he was a Minott captain. The last letter is difficult to determine the relationship with the Minott family other than they were from Phippsburg. The recipient and sender do not have name as it is addressed to “Dear Wife” and is signed “Father and Husband.”  There is one cancelled check written out to Geo. A Churchill & Co. signed by Charles Jr. for the estate of R.T. Kelly dated 1915. Redford T. Kelley was captain of the four-mast schooner Merom and the three-mast schooner St. Thomas.

Series V. Publications are various maritime books, a few pamphlets and two nautical magazines. There are two titles that need to be pointed out. The first is the book by Lauchlan McKay titled The Practical Ship-Builder: Containing the Best Mechanical and Philosophical Principles for the Construction of Different Classes of Vessels, and the Practical Adaption of their Several Parts, with Rules Carefully Detailed. This book is considered the first American treatise on shipbuilding and is notable for its glossary of shipbuilding terms and its direct and detailed treatment of shipbuilding techniques. This book is the first 1839 edition and was written when Lauchlan was a young man, after a youth spent in the shipyards of New York and having served with his more famous brother Donald McKay as an apprentice to Isaac Webb. Charles V. Minott Sr. was 21 when he acquired this book.

The second title is an 1835 Atlas by T. G. Bradford. The official title is Atlas: designed to illustrate the abridgement of universal geography. Although this book did not belong to Charles V. Minott, it does have a connection with the family. Written in the book is the name “Mary J. O. Pettingill” and “Mrs. David C. Rogers.”  Capt. David C. Rogers was brother of Sarah Catherine Rogers Minott. Mary J. O. Pettingill was wife of Capt. David C. Rogers. Inside the book were some papers that seemed to have belonged to the Rogers. There are three letters in the books. One is to Aunt Mary dated April 23, 1865, one to Messr. Creesy & Farwell regarding shipping papers (author unknown) dated November 26, 1856, and a letter to a Mr. Buck dated April 1, 1865 (author unknown) regarding deck plank spruce.  On the opposite side of the letter to Mssrs. Creesy & Farwell is a bill for ship stores for the William Purington for a month’s voyage. The vessel type is not identified nor is there a date. Lastly, there is a sheet of paper on which one side is a handwritten poem/song. Further online research identifies this poem by Elizabeth (Akers) Allen (b1832-d1911) titled Rock Me to Sleep. On the other side is song that, upon further research may be an early American song titled Little Jennie.  An aerial perspective illustration map of the city of San Francisco as it appeared circa 1912 commemorating the Panama Pacific Exhibition is found after the publications. The geography of this perspective is the city of San Francisco proper, San Francisco Bay, and the Golden Gate looking east to west as if you are flying over downtown San Francisco from Harward toward the Pacific.

There are 4 appendices found after the container list. The indexes were created to help guide the user through the collection.

Appendix A. Minott vessel statistics Appendix B. Minott captains and the vessel they commanded. Appendix C. Vessel events (protests, legal issues) Appendix D. Vessel names (other than Minott vessels)

Collection Historical Note

Charles V. Minott, Sr. built his first vessel in 1854, the brig Nebraska.  By the time of the launching of the ship Cortes on January 20, 1855, Minott was listed as both Builder and Managing Owner.  Minott launched two ships in 1856—ships Armoriel and the Charlotte A. Morrison.

Minott, Sr. then built the bark Comet and launched her November of 1858 and a year later built the schooner Flying Dutchman. Then he sold the bark Comet April 1864. His fourth ship Tiger was launched in 1860. She sank off the coast of Ireland two years later on January 23, 1862.  That same year he built the Bark Alice M. Minott, named after his oldest daughter.  Charles V. Minott, Sr. built his fifth ship, the 1073 ton Mary E. Riggs and launched her in December 1863. The Mary E. Riggs was much larger than the previous four ships built by Minott Sr.

Although Minott, Sr. interspersed his ships in succeeding years with schooners and an occasional brig or bark, it was his three largest schooners that became known as the Minott Fleet. They were the four-mast schooners Merom (923 tons, 186’), Frances M. (1228 tons, 1076’) and the Ada F. Brown (1456 tons, 221.5’). The last two were the most successful of the three schooners. The four-mast schooner Merom was sold in 1903 and then lost in 1906 whereas the Frances M. and Ada F. Brown were profitable until they were sold in 1916 and 1917 respectively before the Minott shipyard closed. Charles V. Minott, Sr. followed these schooners with full-rigged ships, which became so well known as they sailed the Seven seas. These were the Alice M. Minott, Merom, Ivy, Standard, the James Drummond, Berlin, St. Charles and the largest ship of all, of which the family was very proud, the Aryan (2124 tons, 248.6’), the last wooden full-rigged ship built in North America.

Charles V. Minott, Sr. also owned nine schooners not built by him starting with the coasting schooners Orizon (blt. 1834) Planet (Wiscasset, 1836), Merom (Yarmouth, 1839, William (blt. 1854), Cherub (blt. 1857) and Exchange (blt. 1857). He owned the schooner Emma E. Cutting built 1867, the Richard W. Denham built in 1873, and the three-mast schooner Abbie Bowker built in 1890.

The risk taken by shipbuilders is the loss of any vessel and Minott, Sr. had many. Nine vessels were lost between 1855 and 1890 starting with the ship Cortes. Four months after her launching in January of 1855, she wrecked on May 15 at Kamiesch at either Corsica or the Crimean Peninsula. The owners did not receive word of her loss until January 9, 1856. The ship Armoriel wrecked and abandoned at sea on December 12, 1859, just three and a half years after her launch in May of 1856. The schooner J. C. Rogers wrecked off Chatham, Massachusetts January 25, 1879 followed by the ship Mary E. Riggs, who gave Minott, Sr. 16 years of service. She wrecked on French Key near Key West, Florida on April 25, 1879. The brig Vincent, named after his oldest son, Vincent R. R. Minott, wrecked off the coast of Massachusetts, one month after the death of Vincent, age nine. The three-mast schooner Cora wrecked off Pascagoula, Mississippi on February 12, 1893 and three-mast schooner J. D. Robinson wrecked off Delaware on September 1899.  The schooner Mentor, launched in 1879, gave Minott 26 years of service before wrecking on Boston Flats in 1905.

A devastating accident happened with the ship St. Charles, launched in 1883. On May 17, 1892 at 7:40 am, the second mate went down the fore hatch to get potatoes. He brought along a lantern and another crewman.  As they were entering the potato bin the coal gas ignited with tremendous explosion. The main hatches were blown overboard, several main deck beams were broken and the whole main deck was blown out. The ship was a total loss.

The loss of the ship St. Mary was a blow to the Minott shipyard on her maiden voyage. She was 242 feet in length, 42 feet in beam and 18 feet depth of hold, a majestic ship. Her keel and frame were of white oak and the other timbers of yellow pine. But she was a risky investment for she was built when steam driven vessels and steel hulled rigs were challenging the wooden ship. Charles V. Minott, Sr. was the largest shareholder with Captain Jesse Carver holding a substantial interest. The St. Mary launched on March 20, 1890 bound for New York before setting sail for San Francisco. On August 6, 1890, just off Cape Horn, she passed the Minott ship James Drummond. Unknown to Carver, he was on a collision course with the British ship Magellan.  At 1 a.m. the Magellan struck the St. Mary on her port quarter, carrying away the mizzen rigging and the sail, the mainsail yard, inflicting damage to her hull.  The Magellan sank with all hands and the Captain and crew of St. Mary fought to keep their crippled ship going until they could reach Port Stanley.  Unfortunately, the St. Mary stuck fast on Pinnacle Rock and went aground. By early morning the ship was all but lost, breaking into pieces. The crew abandoned ship but Capt. Jesse Carver refused and when the carpenter returned the next day, he found Capt. Carver dead in his cabin. The loss of the St. Mary was a tremendous financial blow to the Minott shipping business.  Regardless, Charles V. Minott, Sr. was not deterred and a year later built the four-mast schooner Merom and then the ship Aryan in 1893.

Biographical Note

Charles V. Minott, Sr. was born in Bowdoin, Maine on October 13, 1826 to parents Thomas Minott of Brunswick and Frances Campbell Coombs of Bowdoin. He was the eldest of eight children—Nancy (1828), Rufus (1830), Frances (1833), John (1837), Marietta (1841), Thomas, Jr. (1843), and Elizabeth (1845). He married Sarah Catherine Rogers (1832-1913) of Georgetown, daughter of Capt. John C. Rogers of Farmington and Abigail Stinson of Georgetown, on May 31, 1855.  Sarah Catherine’s brother was Capt. David C. Rogers. Charles Sr. and Sarah had four children; Vincent Rufus Rogers (1857-1866), Alice Maud (1860-1934), Charles Vincent (1867-1936) and Abbie Frances (1873-1944).

Charles V. Minott, Sr. received a common school education leaving school after eighth grade to help work the family farm. But he had an interest in the shipping business and left home in 1845 coming to Bath. He was 19 years old. He worked at the Levi Houghton shipyard learning the shipbuilding trade. In 1849 he went to a Georgetown shipyard in Robinhood Cove to work for General Joseph Berry and became a master builder there in 1850. In October 1853, he left the Georgetown Shipyard and moved to Phippsburg Center. Obtaining financial backing from Capt. James Drummond, who became his business partner, he leased a shipyard site in Phippsburg Center just east of the church to build his own vessels. He eventually bought out Capt. Drummond. 

The first vessel built by Charles Minott Sr. was the brig Nebraska for Trufant & Drummond. After building the brig Nebraska, Minott Sr. moved to another yard just down the river. He eventually bought the yard and a number of associated properties.

He bought McCobb-Hill home in Phippsburg Center in 1854 and married Sarah C. Rogers a year later. 

Minott, Sr. rarely built vessels on contract, instead building on his own account. Between 1854 and 1903, the Minott shipyard built 34 vessels under his supervision as master builder; Minott built 13 ships, 2 brigs, 3 barks and 16 schooners. His first vessel was launched in May 1854 and his last in May 1901. He is best known for the ship Aryan launched July 13, 1893; said to be the last full-rigged ship built in North America.

Minott, Sr. also ran a general merchandise store known as the Brick Store. The building was built by Mark Hill and Thomas McCobb in 1806.  Minott, Sr. bought the building in 1861 as a general merchandise store providing much needed goods to the community as well as to vessels. The Brick Store operated up until 1921. It was left vacant and the building was razed in 1958.

Minott, Sr. was active in Phippsburg town affairs being its Treasurer for several decades. He died on May 2, 1903 after suffering internal injuries from a carriage accident a week prior to his death.

Subject/Index Terms

Abbie Bowker (Three-mast schoooner)
Accounts
Ada F. Brown (Four-mast schooner)
Alice M. Minot (Bark)
Alice M. Minott (Ship)
Armoriel (Ship)
Aruan (Ship)
Ben Hur (Schooner)
Berlin (Ship)
Booklets
C. V. Minott (Bark)
Charlotte A. Morrison (Ship)
Cherub (Schooner)
Comet (Bark)
Cora (Three-mast schooner)
Cortes (Ship)
Cortez (Ship) alternate spelling
Crew lists
Dickinson, John R., Captain
Dickinson, Wiley R., Captain
Emma E. Cutting (Schooner)
Exchange (Schooner)
Flying Dutchman (Schooner)
Frances M. (Four-mast schooner)
Hyue (Schooner)
Ivy (Ship)
J. C. Rogers (Schooner)
J. D. Robinson (Three-mast schooner)
James Drummond (Ship)
Log-books
Maps
Marcus L. Urann (Five-mast schooner)
Marine protests
Mary E. Riggs (Ship)
Mentor (Schooner)
Merchant seamen
Merom (Four-mast schooner)
Merom (Schooner)
Merom (Ship)
Merome (Schooner) alternate spelling
Minott, Charles V., Jr.
Minott, Charles V., Sr.
Nebraska (Brig)
Orizon (Schooner) Built 1834
Orizon (Schooner) Built 1870
Phippsburg (ME)
Planet (Schooner)
Richard W. Denham (Schooner)
Rival (Schooner)
Rogers, David C.ampbell, Captain
Rogers, John C., Captain
Rogers, Sarah Campbell
Sarah L. Harding (Schooner)
Schooners
Senora (Three-mast schooner)
Shipbuilding
Shipbuilding industry
Shipbuilding—Costs
Shipbuilding—Materials
Ship captains
Shipping
Ships
Ships, wooden
Ships—Maintenancre
Ships—Owners
Shipyards
Shipyards—Phippsburg (ME)
St. Charles (Ship)
St. Mary (Ship)
St. Thomas (Shp)
Standard (Ship)
Tiger (Ship)
Vincent (Brig)
Wages
William (Schooner)

Administrative Information

Repository: Maine Maritime Museum Manuscript Collection Online Catalog

Access Restrictions: There are no restrictions on the study or use of these materials. Fragile items should be handled with care. Please ask for Librarian for assistance.

Use Restrictions: The material described herein is the physical property of the Maine Maritime Museum Library. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or the various items, or to their legal representatives, or to Maine Maritime Museum.  For further information, consult the library staff.

Physical Access Note:

Because the majority of the contents of the collection were scattered throughout the second floor of the Brick Store, the condition of the records varied between very poor to good. Those records considered in poor condition had insect and rodent damage, water damage, mold and mildew, surface dirt, and staining. Bundled records were flattened using a tacking iron on medium heat. Conservation work was limited to minor tear repairs, removal of pins, clasps, twine, string and rubber bands and creating enclosures for log books. Some of the more fragile papers were rehoused in Melinex™. A request for librarian assistance is recommended when handling the more fragile items.

User will find notes written in pencil or pen by Ada Minott Haggett on some of the documents.

Acquisition Source: Accession No. 91.44 on May 21, 1991, 2006.027 on May 9, 2006, 2007.021 on July 14, 2007, 2011.009.07 on April 21, 2011 and 2011.047.10 on Nov. 8, 2011.

Acquisition Method:

Beginning on May 21, 1991, Ada (Minott) Haggett, granddaughter of Charles V. Minott, Sr., donated to the Maine Maritime Museum the Charles V. Minott shipyard records in five separate accessions.  Accession No. 91.44 on May 21, 1991, 2006.027 on May 9, 2006, 2007.021 on July 14, 2007, 2011.009.07 on April 21, 2011 and 2011.047.10 on Nov. 8, 2011.

The records of the Minott shipbuilding and shipping enterprises were stored on the second floor of the old brick store on the shipyard property. After the death of Charles V. Minott, Jr. in 1936, the property was neglected. Ada Minott Haggett, daughter of Charles Jr. inherited the property but never entered the Brick Store. In 1956, Ada and her husband, Fred, decided it was time to demolish the old building. Upon entering the second floor, Ada found numerous boxes open and their contents on the floor. Only two boxes were found with their contents intact as bundled records. After inspecting the papers dispersed about the upper level of the store, they recognized them as the business records. They found names of captains who had corresponded with Minott. Ada Minott recognized these as worth preserving. They gathered up the records, a total of 70 cartons full, and for the next 40 years, on and off, Ada organized the collection.

By no means is this a complete record of the Minott business interests in shipbuilding and other various business matters. In 1930, Charles V. Minott, Jr., donated to the Baker Library at the Harvard Business School an extensive set of ledgers, daybooks, and cashbooks, documenting the Minott business interests. These included twenty-three ledger books that document the Brick Store and, to a lesser degree, Minott shipping ventures. Minott started an account ledger when he opened the general store in 1861, and the books run continuously to 1907. The Harvard collection also contains a large portion of the St. Charles (Ship) papers. A description of the Charles V. Minott records at Harvard can be found in the supporting documents along with facsimiles of the construction accounts, portage accounts, and the first officer statement and crew report on the wreck of the ship St. Charles.

Related Materials: Related material available at repository, Abbie Minott photograph collection, PC-300, acc. no. 2011.047.14

Preferred Citation: Charles V. Minott Shipyard Records, MS-90, Research Library, Maine Maritime Museum, Bath, Maine.

Processing Information:

Ada Minott Hagget was the initial processor of the records. She had already processed approximately 75% of the collection before it came to the Maine Maritime Museum leaving the remaining papers to be processed by the MMM project archivist. Mark Hennessey guided Ada through the process of organizing the records. Ada M. Haggett sorted the records using a collection of notebooks of various colors. This is how the processed part of the collection came to the museum:        

- A black notebook contained all correspondence pertaining to a particular vessel.    A wine colored notebook contained insurance policies. - A green colored notebook contained all bills such as construction accounts and labor, account summaries, invoices, receipts of any kind including insurance, exchange drafts, bank notes, canceled checks, crew wages, hospital dues, etc. - A blue notebook contained charter parties. - A grey notebook contained portage accounts/articles of agreement/crew lists. - A white notebook contained captains letters. Ada supplied a notebook for each captain if necessary.

All items in these notebooks were sleeved in Mylar™ and organized in chronological fashion by creation date first. The remaining papers came bundled in their original wrappings or string or they came in loose sheets. These came in storage boxes and included publications, oversize freight list books, log books, protests and general averages, diaries and journals. Some personal papers and general business records were partially processed.

The papers from the notebooks were removed from their sleeves, re-housed in archival folders and placed in manuscript boxes in the order Ada put them in. Some reorganization was required from time to time if necessary such as removing any insurance receipts or letters pertaining to policies and placing them with the insurance records, removing account and captains summaries from the bills and placing them together. Sometimes charter parties were found with bills. These were removed and placed in their appropriate group, and so forth. The remaining records required flattening and reorganizing to follow the same sequence.

Ada Minott Haggett created the list below of all vessels built and/or owned by Minott. Of the 34 vessels built, 13 are ships, 2 brigs, 3 barks, and 16 schooners. Vessel names in bold are those that Minott did not build (9 schooners). Ada M. Haggett based her organization of vessel papers by this list.

All of Ada’s research notes were preserved and placed in two manuscript boxes, as these will be quite useful to users of the collection. The boxes will be found with other supporting documents found by the project archivist.

The following comments about processing should be noted:

1. Twine, rubber bands, metal fasteners, and pins are considered “acceptable loss,” therefore removed and tossed away.

2. Series I, business records, relate to general business and shipyard work. There are records that may contain the names of more than one Minott vessel in one document. These letters cannot be housed with Series II, which are records grouped by a specific vessel. The researcher is encouraged to review both Series I along with Series II.

3. Series II vessel papers, correspondence are all incoming to Charles V. Minott, Sr. (Minott, Jr. after May 1903) unless otherwise noted. There are no copybooks in the Minott Records. However, a few outgoing letters from Minott (copies and/or originals) have survived and are identified only as outgoing. Any letters sent to Captains, other than Minott, are identified as “Incoming to Capt ...”

4. Charles V. Minott, Sr. is the primary creator of the collection and the majority of letters are written to him. The papers of the two men were not separated into their own folders so researchers may find a few letters to Jr. within the correspondence both in Series I and Series II especially after the 1880s. Letters dated after May 1903 are to C. V. Minott, Jr.

5. There were no copybooks in this collection and only a few outgoing letters from C.V.M. Sr. and/or Jr. These letters were placed in separate folders.

6. Researchers can find much information about the Minott shipping business in the James W. Elwell & Co. and William, Dimond & Co. correspondence found in Series I.

7. Users interested in Minott’s shipping business should study the personal correspondence between Charles V. Minott Sr. and Jr. in Series IV together with business correspondence in Series I.

8. Conversations between Minott family members regarding the wreck of the ship St. Mary can be found in the personal letters Series IV.

9. Series II accounts general are organized by vessel voyage. There are times when receipts do not indicate where the vessel is. Users are encouraged to review letters, charters and bills of lading to determine where the vessel has gone and where it is bound to if there are gaps in these invoices.

10. From time to time, an “orphan” receipt is found that cannot be connected to any voyage. These were sometimes attached to a corresponding letter or placed in miscellaneous papers.

11. “Commission on charter” receipts may be found with voyage papers or with charter party contracts.

12. The ship Frances M. had numerous trip statements including many which were not dated. These trip statements were compared with their voyage invoices to determine their year. However, accuracy of this organization cannot be guaranteed so further investigation by the researcher is encouraged.

13. Series IIC are letters to Charles V. Minott from captains and members of their families while they were at sea. Any letters written to Minott by captains who were not at sea were placed in Series I, general correspondence.

Other Note:

There are 4 appendices found after the container list. The indexes were created to help guide the user through the collection.

Appendix A. Minott vessel statistics Appendix B. Minott captains and the vessel they commanded. Appendix C. Vessel events (protests, legal issues) Appendix D. Vessel names (other than Minott vessels)

Other URL: http://Related material available at repository, Abbie Minott photograph collection, PC-300, acc. no. 2011.047.14


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Series:

[Series I: Business Records, 1853-1974],
[Series II: Vessel Papers, 1853-1924],
[Series III: The Brick Store, 1858-1892],
[Series IV: Personal Papers, 1857-1940],
[Series V: Publications, n.d., 1835-1906],
[All]

Series IV: Personal Papers, 1857-1940Add to your cart.
Letters between Minott family members and friends, pencil drawings, a land survey, a cancelled check, and a list of workers maintaining snow roads. Two personal letters not created by Minott were also placed in this subseries because of their relationship with Minott or with Phippsburg.


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