Last weekend NEHGS presented a special exhibition in conjunction with the 2013 Ellis Boston Antiques Show. Thousands of visitors from Boston and beyond viewed "Family Treasures from Early Massachusetts," the first exhibition in twenty years of some of our rare fine art and furniture.
The artifacts included a genealogical chart illustrating Benjamin Franklin’s Nantucket ancestry, John Hancock’s armchair from his Beacon Hill home, and a sword belonging to former Massachusetts governor Marcus Morton. Among the other notable items were a portrait of Captain John Bonner, creator of Boston’s first engraved map; a bullet taken from the body of Dr. Joseph Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill; and a cane owned by Peregrine White (c. 1620–1704), the first English child born to a Pilgrim in colonial America. In addition, an oil-on-canvas portrait of Captain Paul Cuffe (1759–1817), a Quaker mariner and merchant at Westport, Massachusetts, and one of the most influential African and Native American people of his time, was displayed.
Visitors to the NEHGS library (open daily from Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesdays until 9 p.m.) can view a sampling of some of our historic paintings and artifacts on display throughout the building.
Owned by Marcus Morton (1784-1864), Governor of Massachusetts, manufactured possibly by William Ketland & Co., early 19th century.
Marcus Morton was born in East Freetown, Massachusetts on February 19, 1784 to Nathaniel and Mary Cary Morton. He had a long and distinguished career as a lawyer, jurist and politician. He was Massachusetts Governor three times – appointed in 1825 to fill the term of William Eustis, elected in 1840, and chosen by the senate in 1843. He died in Taunton on February 6, 1864 and is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
The sword is typical of those made for U. S. military officers in England by William Ketland & Co. (c. 1780-1831). The distinctive eagle head is very typical, as is the bone grip and patterns etched in silver in the bluing – in very good condition on this sword.
Gift of Marcus Kimball, The Lord Kimball, 2010
FOLGER FAMILY TREE
“The Descendants of John and Peter Folger”.
Hand-drawn chart, compiled and drawn by Nantucket genealogist, William Coleman Folger, 1866.
Shows the descendants of John Folger (c. 1590-c.1660) and his son Peter (1617-1690). The Folgers are a Nantucket family with many famous descendants including Benjamin Franklin (Abiah Folger, daughter of Peter, who became the second wife of Josiah Franklin and mother to Benjamin Franklin).
Purchase by NEHGS, 7 Dec 2009
By tradition, a portrait of Captain Paul Cuffe (1759-1817), oil on canvas, artist unknown (formerly attributed to Chester Harding), early nineteenth century.
This portrait, acquired by NEHGS in 2012, is, according to tradition, said to be of Captain Paul Cuffe, a Quaker mariner and merchant at Westport, Massachusetts, one of the most influential African and Native American people of his time. He was born on 17 January 1759 at Cuttyhunk Island to a freed African father and a Native American (Wampanoag) mother. The family moved to Dartmouth where they farmed. Paul took a whaling voyage and other deep water voyages and became a self-taught navigator and mariner. He petitioned Bristol County concerning taxation without representation which led to the 1783 state act to allow voting by all free male citizens. By the late 1700s he owned a fleet of trading vessels. He became a supporter of colonizing Sierra Leone with freed American slaves. He was received by President James Madison at the White House in 1812, providing Cuffe with the distinction of being the first black person other than a slave to be invited to meet with a President of the United States. Madison helped Cuffe have his ship (the brig Traveler) returned which had been impounded by US Customs for trading at British ports. Later, in Traveler, Cuffe would transport thirty-eight black colonists to Sierra Leone. He died 7 September 1817. Further research may help to establish a provenance and a more formal identification for this important portrait.
NEHGS purchase, in honor of Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 2012