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

    R.I.H.S. home page

 Herreshoff-DeWolf Family Papers

 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

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            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.

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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.

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            This collection was donated by Louise Henry DeWolf in 1986, along with the Georgianna Alden Papers.

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Processing note:

            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.

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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

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Bristol, R.I. - Social life and customs

DeWolf, Grace

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

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