William Ellery Maxson Diaries

Manuscripts Collection 166

Overview of the Collection

Repository: G. W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport
Creator: Maxson, William Ellery, 1818-1895
Title: William Ellery Maxson Diaries
Dates: 1857-1868
Extent: 11 volumes
Abstract: Diaries recording shipyard work, weather, and personal activities. Topics include his activities as partner in the Maxson, Fish & Co. Shipyard and the Civil War.
Identification: Coll. 166

Biography of William Ellery Maxson, 1818-1895

William Ellery Maxson (1818-1895) was born in Westerly, Rhode Island, the son of Silas and Elizabeth Stillman Maxson. At the age of 16 he went to work for his cousins George, Clark, and Thomas Greenman, who had established a shipyard a few miles down the coast at Old Mystic, Connecticut. By 1850 he entered a partnership with Nathan G. Fish and seven others, establishing the Maxson, Fish & Company shipyard at a point in West Mystic known as Oldfield. In 1861 Maxson and Fish bought out the remaining partners and continued in business as Maxson and Fish. Maxson managed the yard, and Fish handled the finances. Notable among the many vessels built under Maxson’s direction were the ship B.F. HOXIE, the armored gunboat GALENA, and the ship DAUNTLESS, which was launched in 1869. After Nathan Fish’s death a year later, the yard soon went bankrupt and Maxson built his last vessel around 1875, at the Maxson & Irving shipyard. He also served a term in the State Legislature. He married Elizabeth M. Smith (d. 1848) in 1839, and Sarah Maria Fenner (1825-1916) in 1849.

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Restrictions on Access

Available for use in the Manuscripts Division

Restrictions on Use

Various copying restriction apply. Guidelines are available from the Manuscripts Division.

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Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the catalog of the G. W. Blunt White Library. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Corporate Bodies (Including Vessels):

Maxson, Fish & Co.


United States–History–Civil War, 1861-1865
West Mystic (Conn.)–Climate


Shipbuilding industry–Connecticut–West Mystic
Shipyards–Connecticut–West Mystic

Document Types:

Diaries–Connecticut–West Mystic

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Coll. 166, Manuscripts Collection, G. W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport Museum, Inc.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.


Diaries; 1857-1868
1 Diary; 1857
2 Diary; 1858
3 Diary; 1859-1860
4 Diary; 1860
5 Diary; 1861
6 Diary; 1862
7 Diary; 1863
8 Diary; 1864
9 Diary; 1865
10 Diary; 1867-1868
11 Extracts from the Diary of William Ellery Maxson (published in the Mystic Times);

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