1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

    List of finding aids

    R.I.H.S. Library page

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 Boston, Newport & New York Steamboat  Company Records

 Steamboat firm, Newport, R.I.

 Records, 1838-1891. Bulk, 1863-1869.

 Size: 0.5 linear feet

 Catalog number: MSS 300

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, April 1996 and July 2000

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            The Bay State Steamboat Company was chartered in 1846, and operated regular service from New York to Fall River. The route retained the name "Fall River Line" through several changes of ownership. This connected to rail service from Fall River to Boston.

            Bay State sold its boats to a new company in 1863, the Boston, Newport & New York Steamboat Company, which moved its terminal to Newport, R.I. By 1869, the company had five boats, the Bay State, Empire State, Metropolis, Newport, and Old Colony. These steamers were all sold in turn to a competitor, the Narragansett Steamship Company, in 1869. The line was then acquired by the Old Colony Steamboat Company in 1874, and then New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company in 1894. The Fall River Line became a division of the New England Navigation Company in 1906. Steamship service on this line ended in 1937.


McAdam, Roger W. The Old Fall River Line. Stephen Daye Press, 1937.

Anonymous, "Sixty Years of the Fall River Line," Fall River Line Journal 31:11 (1909).

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Scope and content:

            This collection consists mostly of the business papers of Alexander Holmes (1803- ). Holmes was a native of Kingston, Massachusetts, just north of Plymouth, and the son of Joseph Holmes Jr. He was involved in numerous transportation ventures besides being president of the Boston, Newport and New York Steamship Company. He was involved in the Bay State Steamboat Company prior to 1863, and was president of the Old Colony Railway Company; the Plymouth County directory for 1867 also lists him as an anchor manufacturer. There are also a few papers of Holmes' son Joseph A. Holmes (1832- ), who seems to have followed his father into the steamship business.

            The collection also includes eight folders of paid bills and payroll records from the steamship Newport in its initial years of service, 1865-1866. Most of the charges were incurred in New York City or Newport. The bills document repairs, supplies and other expenses. The detailed records of provisions for passenger meals are among the most interesting; cooks and waiters made up a large proportion of the ship's crew.

            The bulk of this collection relates directly to the Boston, Newport and New York Steamship Company, but it also includes some records of other steamship firms.

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            This collection was purchased from book dealer James Tyson in 1966, except for the steamship Newport records, which were purchased from manuscript dealer Douglas Stein.

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Processing note:

The 2000 accession was processed by dealer Douglas Stein (a retired archivist) before the sale.

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Boston, Newport & New York Steamboat Company:

Folder 1. Corporate papers, 1863-1867. Charter, incorporation, extracts from minutes, deeds, etc.

Folder 2. Stockholder lists, 1863-1864

Folder 3. Season pass lists, 1864

Folder 4. Accounts, 1864-1865

Folder 5. Paid bills, steamship Newport, May - October 1865

Folder 6. Paid bills, steamship Newport, November 1865

Folder 7. Paid bills, steamship Newport, December 1865

Folder 8. Paid bills, steamship Newport, January 1866

Folder 9. Paid bills, steamship Newport, February 1866

Folder 10. Paid bills, steamship Newport, March - April 1866

Folder 11. Paid bills, steamship Newport, May - June 1866

Folder 12. Payroll records, steamship Newport, December 1865 and May 1866

Folder 13. Miscellaneous memoranda (receipts, lists of open berths, financial memoranda, draft documents, etc.)

Alexander Holmes letters (mostly relating to the B.N.& N.Y.S.C.)

Folder 14. 1854-1862

Folder 15. 1863

Folder 16. 1864

Folder 17. 1865

Folder 18. 1866-1868 and undated.

Folder 19. Telegraph messages, 1864-1866.


Folder 20. Bay State Steamboat Company, 1860, 1863 and undated

Meeting notices, stockholder list.

Folder 21. Unidentified account book, 1855-1859 (Bay State?)

Folder 22. Rate adjustment papers, 1858 (Bay State?)

Folder 23. "An interview between directors & Col. Borden with Mr. Tobey", undated.

Folder 24. Misc. other firms, 1838-1875.

                                    Schooner Hope account, 1838

                                    Receipt, Joseph Holmes to sailor on Rialto, 1845

                                    Freight contracts, 1846, 1854

                                    Freight receipts, 1862-1875

                                    Bills receivable and payable, 1857-1862

                                    National Steamship Co. prospectus and notice, 1867

                                    Broadside for steamer Silver Lake of Mass., 1874.

                                    Advertisement for coal, undated.

Folder 25. Miscellaneous letters.

                                    Letter from Fall River Line to Mrs. Holmes, 1872

Letter from John Rothwell to J.A. Holmes, 1891.

                                    Letter from J.A. Holmes to Frank ___, undated

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Bay State Steamboat Company

Cookery, Marine

Fall River Line

Holmes, Alexander (1802- )

Holmes, Joseph A. (1832- )

Merchant seamen - Salaries, etc.

National Steamship Company

Newport (steamboat)

Old Colony and Fall River Railroad Company

Steamboats - Rhode Island - Newport

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