Gannett, Caleb, 1745-1818. Papers of Caleb Gannett, 1768-1820: an inventory
©President and Fellows of Harvard College, 2011
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Call No.: HUG 1411
Creator: Gannett, Caleb, 1748-1818
Title: Papers of Caleb Gannett, 1768-1820
Quantity: .26 cubic feet (1 half-legal document box)
Abstract: The papers of Caleb Gannett (1745-1818; Harvard AB 1763), Harvard College Steward from 1779 to 1818, consist of a small assortment of miscellaneous personal records including a personal account notebook used between 1768 and 1777, two pieces of correspondence, miscellaneous financial documents, and records created in the settlement of Gannett's estate. Notably, the collection includes a 1775 letter written by Gannett discussing his smallpox inoculation and news of the Revolutionary War, and detailed inventories and appraisals of Gannett's estate including listings of his furniture and personal library.
Note: This document last updated 2013 April 29.
Most items in the collection were donated by Michael R. Gannet in 1981. The documents contained in Series IV, Estate papers
were donated by Michael Gannett in 1975. The receipt for certificates of funded debt (HUG 1411 Box 1, Folder 4) was donated by Jeremiah Colburn in May 8, 1882. The 1792 disbursement receipt (HUG 1411 Box 1, Folder 5)
was originally part of the Collected Papers of the Bursar (UAI 70.6).
The Papers of Caleb Gannett are open for research.
Copying of fragile materials may be limited.
In the Harvard University Archives
In the Houghton Library
In the Massachusetts Historical Society
Gannett, Caleb, 1745-1818. Papers of Caleb Gannett, 1768-1820. HUG 1411, Harvard University Archives.
The material was first classified and described in the Harvard University Archives shelflist prior to 1980. The material was re-processed in 2011 and the call numbers were simplified to HUG 1411. A list of superceded call numbers is available at the end of the finding aid. Re-processing involved a collection survey, re-housing in appropriate archival folders and boxes, and the creation of this finding aid.
Five quarter bills, one to Thomas Jones in 1805 and four to Charles Brown between 1808 and 1812, as well as an 1812 payment receipt for Brown, signed by Caleb Gannett in his capacity as College Steward were moved to the Records of the Steward, 1801-1875 (UAI 70.6).
This finding aid was created by Diann Benti in January 2011.
Preservation and description of the Papers of Caleb Gannett was supported by the Arcadia-funded project Harvard in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.
The collection is arranged in five series:
Caleb Gannett (1745-1818), Harvard College Steward from 1779 to 1818, was born August 22, 1745 in Bridgewater, Mass. He received an AB from Harvard in 1763 and an AM in 1766. Gannett was a member of the Pembroke Church and studied theology with Ebenezer Gay (Harvard AB 1714). In June 1768, Gannett traveled to Fort Cumberland, Nova Scotia, and served as a minister there until September 1771. He returned briefly to Massachusetts in October 1768 to be ordained as the Cumberland minister by Gay. In 1773, the Harvard Corporation appointed Gannett a tutor of Natural Philosophy and Mathematics. In May 1775, he left Harvard to be inoculated for smallpox and then returned to aid the College in its relocation to Concord, Mass due to the Revolutionary War. During the War, Gannett served regularly as a preacher in nearby towns. In 1779, the Corporation asked Gannett to succeed Jonathan Hastings as the College Steward; he accepted and remained in the position until his death in 1818.
On January 17, 1781, Gannett married Katherine Wendell, and after her death on July 25, 1798, he married Ruth Stiles, the daughter of Yale President Ezra Stiles, on January 19, 1800. Gannett was appointed a Justice of the Peace for Middlesex County in 1804, and was involved in many local civic organizations; he was a founder of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Friendly Fire Society, and the Humane Society of Cambridge. His wife Ruth died in June 1808, and Gannett died on April 25, 1818. Gannett had five children: John Mico (Harvard AB 1802), Katharine Brattle Bascomb, Thomas Brattle (Harvard AB 1809), Elizabeth Latham Andrews, and Ezra Stiles (Harvard AB 1820).
- Shipton, Clifford K. Biographical Sketches of those who attended Harvard College in the classes of 1761-1763. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1970.
The papers of Caleb Gannett contain a small assortment of miscellaneous personal records including estate documents. The collection is comprised of a personal accounting notebook used by Gannett between 1768 and 1777; two pieces of correspondence consisting of an undated letter from Thankful Smith to her sister Mary Dunster, and a 1775 letter written by Gannett to Harvard Professor Edward Wigglesworth discussing Gannett's smallpox inoculation and news of the Revolutionary War; and three miscellaneous financial documents. Additional records include estate papers created in the process of appraising and auctioning Gannett's estate, including lists of his furniture and personal library; and two handwritten, undated epitaphs written in remembrance of Gannett.
The collection does not include records related to his work at Harvard College.
Series: III. Correspondence, ca. 1767-1775 .02 cubic feet (2 folders)
Scope and Content: This series contains two pieces of correspondence: a letter from Thankful Smith of Pembroke, Mass. to her sister Mary Dunster of Harwick, Mass., likely written in the late 1760s, and a letter from Gannett to Harvard Professor Edward Wigglesworth, written in 1775, discussing Gannett's case of smallpox and events of the Revolutionary War.
- [Letter from Thankful Smith to Mary Dunster, ca. 1767] HUG 1411 Box 1, Folder 2
Acquisition Information: Donated by Michael R. Gannett in 1981.
Scope and Content: Handwritten one-page undated letter from Thankful Smith to Mary Dunster of Harwick, Mass. The letter is witnessed by Judith Smith, Elisha Parker, and Caleb Gannett. The short letter is playful and provides cryptic details about Smith's life. Though the letter is closed, "I remain your dutiful Parent," the author appears to be Thankful Smith writing to her sister Mary Dunster.
Historical Note: Thankful Smith (b. 1749) and Mary Smith Dunster (1739-1796) were the daughters of Reverend Thomas Smith (Harvard AB 1725) and his wife Judith Smith of Pembroke, Mass. Mary married Rev. Isaiah Dunster (1720-1791; Harvard AB 1741) in November 1766. Caleb Gannett, before leaving for Nova Scotia in June 1768, was a member of the Pembroke church, suggesting the letter was written at some point between Mary's marriage in 1766 and his departure from Pembroke in 1768.
- [Letter from Caleb Gannett to Edward Wigglesworth], 1775 May 2 HUG 1411 Box 1, Folder 3
Acquisition Information: Donated by Michael R. Gannett in 1981.
Scope and Content: Handwritten letter from Caleb Gannett to Professor Edward Wigglesworth written in "Saybrook" on May 2, 1775. In the letter Gannett mentions that he "took the small-pox" and describes it briefly and requests Wigglesworth to investigate the state of his possessions left behind at the College. Gannett references the College being used as a barracks and discusses events in the Revolutionary War. The verso includes the note: "Letters from C. G. to Prof. Wigglesworth given me by Rev. Dr. Andrews Apr. 1841."
Historical Note: Edward Wigglesworth (1731/2-1794), the second Hollis Professor of Theology at Harvard, was the son of Harvard Professor Edward Wigglesworth (Harvard AB 1710). From Harvard he received an AB in 1749 and an AM in 1751, and also received an MA from Yale in 1752. Wigglesworth worked as a merchant and as a schoolmaster before accepting a tutorship at Harvard in 1764. On October 16, 1765 he became the second Hollis Professor of Theology following the death of his father who had previously held the professorship. Wigglesworth was elected to the Harvard Corporation in 1779 and served as acting president of the College from 1780-1781. Wigglesworth resigned from Harvard on June 31, 1790 and died on June 17, 1794.
Series: III. Financial documents, 1791-1801 .03 cubic feet (3 folders)
Scope and Content: This series contains three documents: two receipts from 1791 and 1782 generated by the Commissioner of Loans in the State of Massachusetts relating to certificates of funded debt purchased by Caleb Gannett, and an 1801 receipt of subscription funds entrusted to Gannett to pay for a burial monument to Harvard Tutor John Wadsworth.
- [Receipt for certificates of funded debt], 1791 January 28 HUG 1411 Box 1, Folder 4
Acquisition Information: Received May 8, 1882 from Jeremiah Colburn.
Scope and Content: Printed Commissioner's Office receipt form acknowledging three certificates of funded debt received by Caleb Gannett from Nathaniel Appleton, Commissioner of Loans in the State of Massachusetts. The receipt, No. 712, is signed by Gannett and dated January 28, 1791.
Historical Note: After the Revolutionary War, the federal government offered certificates of federal debt to help pay the cost of the war. Commissioners for each state issued certificates for which subscribers received stock issue and interest starting in 1791. Nathaniel Appleton (Harvard AB 1749) served as the Continental loan officer for the state of Massachusetts from 1786 to 1792.
- [Receipt issued for interest on stock], 1792 February 2 HUG 1411 Box 1, Folder 5
Acquisition Information: Originally filed in the Collected Papers of the Bursar (UAI 70.6). Donated by Michael R. Gannett in 1981.
Scope and Content: Printed Commissioner's Office receipt form acknowledging the disbursement of money to Caleb Gannett from Nathaniel Appleton, Commissioner of Loans in the State of Massachusetts, for interest on stock in the funds of the United States. The receipt, No. 484, is signed by Gannett and dated February 2, 1792.
- Subscription for John Wadsworth Monument, 1801 October 10 HUG 1411 Box 1, Folder 6
Acquisition Information: Donated by Michael R. Gannett in 1981.
Scope and Content: Handwritten document acknowledging the receipt of money by Caleb Gannett from a subscription drive to erect a monument for Harvard tutor John Wadsworth who died in 1777 and was buried in the Cambridge burying ground. The document is signed by fourteen individuals and lists their contributions.
Historical Note: John Wadsworth (1739-1777), a Harvard tutor, received an AB from Harvard in 1762 and an AM in 1765. In July 1770, he became a tutor in Logic and Metaphysics at Harvard College, and was elected to the Corporation in 1774. He died of smallpox on July 12, 1777 in Newton, Mass. Wadsworth's body was initially buried in Waltham, Mass., but two years later Gannett had it removed to the Cambridge burying ground; money collected in 1779 for a monument was made worthless by war-time inflation. In 1801, money was successfully raised and a gravestone was purchased for Wadsworth.
Series: IV. Estate papers, 1808-1820 .14 cubic feet (14 folders)
Acquisition Information: The documents in this series were donated by Michael Gannett in 1975. The items were formerly owned by Ezra Stiles Gannett (Harvard AB 1820).
Scope and Content: This series contains documents created during the inventorying and sale of Caleb Gannett's estate after his death in 1818, by estate executor Thomas B. Gannett and appraisers William Hilliard, James P. Chaplin, and Royal Morse. The papers also include an 1808 Cambridge land deed between William Porter and Oliver Hildrith.
Historical Note: Thomas Brattle Gannett (1789-1851), the second son of Caleb and Katherine Gannett, received an AB from Harvard in 1809 and was the minister of the Cambridge Port Parish from 1814 until 1841. He served as the executor of his father's estate.
- [Deed between William Porter and Oliver Hildrith], 1808 March 31 HUG 1411 Box 1, Folder 7
Scope and Content: Printed land deed between grantor William Porter, a brick-layer, and grantee Oliver Hildrith, a cordwainer, for a lot of land on Winsor street in Cambridge.
- [Court appointment to inventory the Gannett estate], 1818 April 29 HUG 1411 Box 1, Folder 9
Scope and Content: A one-page printed Middlesex County Court of Probate form appointing and authorizing William Hilliard, James P. Chaplin, and Royal Morse to inventory of the estate of Caleb Gannett.
- An inventory of all of the estate of Caleb Gannett late of Cambridge in the county of Middlesex, Esquire, deceased, appraised upon oath by us the subscribers, duly appointed to that service by the Hon. James Prescott Esq. Judge of Probate & wills, in said county of Middlesex, viz., 1818 May 21 HUG 1411 Box 1, Folder 10
Scope and Content: Eight-page handwritten inventory and appraisal of Caleb Gannett's real estate and personal estate by William Hilliard, James R. Chaplin, and Royal Morse with an attached certification of the Middlesex County Court of Probate signed May 26, 1818.
- Sales at auction of property of the late Caleb Gannett Esq. of Cambridge, 1818 HUG 1411 Box 1, Folder 13
Scope and Content: Eleven-page handwritten list of items sold from the estate of Caleb Gannett, dated May 29, 1818. Items are arranged by house location (such as "in the kitchen") and entries consist of the item name, the purchaser, and the price. The list includes a substantial section of "books in Office sold June 3, 1818." The verso of the last page includes the note: "Account of Sales at auction of the personal estate of C. Gannett- copied from auctioneer's book."
The call number for all material in the papers of Caleb Gannett is now HUG 1411. To assist researchers in identifying materials noted in previous citations, the list below provides references from obsolete call numbers to new box and folder numbers. Please use the current call number, HUG 1411, with the appropriate box and folder number in place of the superseded call number when citing material from this collection.
Formerly HUG 1411.10 Papers of Caleb Gannett (including his preaching book)
See HUG 1411 Box 1, Folders 1-6 and 21-22
Formerly HUG 1411.8 Caleb Gannett's estate file
See HUG 1411 Box 1, Folders 7-20
Formerly UAI 70.6 1791
See HUG 1411 Box 1, Folder 5 [Disbursement receipt]