Family of Bristol, R.I.
Papers, 1854-1985. Bulk, 1881-1906
Size: 2 linear feet
Catalog number: MSS 489
Processed by: Harold Kemble, 1987
Finding aid by Rick Stattler, May 2000
USE MICROFILM HQ 1438. R45 Pt 2 Reels 16 - 17
©Rhode Island Historical Society
John Brown Herreshoff (1841-1914) of Bristol, Rhode Island, though blind from childhood, founded the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company with his brother Nathaniel G. Herreshoff. This company became one of America's pre-eminent yacht manufacturers. John's first marriage, to Sarah Lucas ("Sadie") Kilton was turbulent; they were separated in 1885, and finally granted a divorce in 1891. Sadie (Kilton) Herreshoff (1837-1906) was the daughter of John and Catherine Kilton of Boston. She continued to live in Bristol after her divorce. John later remarried to Eugenia T. Tucker.
John and Sadie had one child, Katherine Kilton Herreshoff (1871-1954). She married Lewis DeWolf of Bristol (1853-1900) in 1896; he was a brother of her uncle Nat Herreshoff's wife Clara DeWolf. After his death, she remarried marine photographer Walter James Tubbs (d. ca. 1906), also of Bristol, in January 1901. Shortly after the death of her second husband, Katherine once again began using the name Mrs. Katherine DeWolf. In addition to her home in Bristol, she also resided in Natick and Wellesley, Massachusetts, in her later years.
Katherine and Lewis DeWolf had two daughters, Katherine H. DeWolf (1897-1978) and Louise Henry DeWolf (1898-1986). Louise remained in Bristol for all of her long life, and never married.
Carter, Samuel III. The Boatbuilders of Bristol. New York: Doubleday, 1970.
The Chad Brown Workbook, 2nd edition. Printed by the Rhode Island Historical Society, 1987.
Return to top
Scope and content:
This collection contains some papers of five members of this family: John Brown Herreshoff, Sarah "Sadie" L. (Kilton) Herreshoff, Katherine (Herreshoff) DeWolf Tubbs, Louise H. DeWolf and Katherine's aunt, Grace (DeWolf) Lugo-Vina of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The Sadie Herreshoff papers include extensive material on her separation and divorce from 1885 to 1891, including correspondence, legal papers, and a diary that was apparently kept as evidence. She retained ownership and occupancy of a house which adjoined the property of John's yacht company, which kept tensions running high. This routine-looking memorandum epitomizes the tone of the proceedings:
"Dec. 9, 1887. To S.L. Herreshoff, Bristol, R.I. You are hereby requested to make new arrangements for sewerage from the house no. 9 Burnside St., as, during the ensuing week, the drain pipe from that house will be cut off from its connection to our private drain. - Herreshoff Mfg. Co."
Sadie Herreshoff's later diary entries provide compelling documentation of her crumbling marriage. The earlier volumes are good travel journals. The diaries were all written between the ages of 44 and 48. Only two of the diaries are bound; the rest are loose sheets or only stitched. Sadie Herreshoff's daughter Katherine also kept a diary during the divorce proceedings, in 1887. It was written when she was fifteen years old. There is no direct mention of her parents' separation.
Return to top
This collection was donated by Louise Henry DeWolf in 1986, along with the Georgianna Alden Papers.
Return to top
In 1986, these papers were divided into several distinct collections, and were brought back together in 1995. Details can be found in the collection file at the repository. Some items were removed to the Graphics Division. The Alden Papers, whose relationship to the Herreshoff-DeWolf families is unclear, have been constituted as a separate record group, Mss 940.
Return to top
Subgroup 1: John Brown Herreshoff
Box 1, folder 1. Letters from daughter Katherine K. Herreshoff, 1885-1886
Box 1, folder 2. Letters from daughter Katherine K. Herreshoff, January-June 1887
Box 1, folder 3. Letters from daughter Katherine K. Herreshoff, July-December, 1887
Box 1, folder 4. Letters from daughter Katherine K. Herreshoff, January-March 1888
Box 1, folder 5. Letters from daughter Katherine K. Herreshoff, April-May 1888 and undated
Box 1, folder 6. Other letters received, 1878-1911 (7 items)
Box 1, folder 7. Account book, 1855; paid tailor bill, 1870
Subgroup 2: Sarah Lucas "Sadie" (Kilton) Herreshoff
Box 2, folder 1. Letters received, 1859-1906
Box 2, folder 2. Papers relating to divorce, 1887-1891
Box 2, folder 3. Bills, etc., 1883-1907 (mostly 1905-1906)
Box 2, folder 4. Album, 1854
Box 2, folder 5. Commonplace books, 1855
Box 2, folder 6. Account books, 1865 and 1880
Box 2, folder 7. Diaries, July 15 - December 3, 1881; August 2 - August 17, 1882; August 18 - 27, 1884; November 30 - December 14, 1884; January 9 1884 - October 15, 1885
Subgroup 3: Katherine K. (Herreshoff) DeWolf Tubbs
Box 3, folder 1. Letters received 1883-1892, as Miss Herreshoff
Box 3, folder 2. Letters received 1893-1896, as Miss Herreshoff
Box 3, folder 3. Letters received 1896-1898, as Mrs. DeWolf
Box 3, folder 4. Letters received 1899-1901, as Mrs. DeWolf
Box 3, folder 5. Letters received 1902-1906, as Mrs. Tubbs (none 1908-1916)
Box 3, folder 6. Letters received 1907-1934, as Mrs. DeWolf again.
Box 3, folder 7. Letters, undated
Box 3, folder 8. Invitations, calling cards, ca. 1883-1930
Box 4, folder 1. Bills, etc., 1907-1908
Box 4, folder 2. Walter J. Tubbs, letters received, 1902-1903
Box 4, folder 3. Letters to Santa Claus from daughters, 1906, 1908
Box 4, folder 4. Sketch book, 1880; commonplace book, undated
Box 4, folder 5. Diary, February 15 1887 to November 11 1887
Subgroup 4: Louise Henry DeWolf
Box 4, folder 6. Letters received, 1908-1985
Box 4, folder 7. Misc.; mostly undated theatrical notes
Box 4, folder 8. Misc. unidentified:
G.J. Aldrich to C.K. Amidon, 6/22/1911
Frances H. Telton to "Molly", undated
Subgroup 5: Grace (DeWolf) Lugo-Vina
Box 4, folder 9. Letters received: 1883 from brother Lewis Henry DeWolf
1913-1914 from nieces Katherine & Louise DeWolf
Box 4, folder 10. Letters received from nieces, 1915-1917
Box 4, folder 11. Letters received from nieces, 1918-1920
Return to top
Bristol, R.I. - Social life and customs
DeWolf, Lewis Henry (1853-1900)
DeWolf, Louise Henry (1898-1986)
Diaries - 1881-1885
Diaries - 1887
Diman, John B.
Divorce - Rhode Island
England - Description and travel
Herreshoff, John Brown (1841-1915)
Herreshoff, Katherine Kilton (1871-1954)
Kilton, Sarah Lucas (1837-1906)
Lugo-Vina, Grace (DeWolf)
Tubbs, Walter James
Yachts and yachting - Rhode Island - Bristol
End of finding aid - return to top