Biography of the Tillotson Family
William Tillotson was born at his father’s farm in Huntington, Long Island, about 1801. In 1827, following his marriage to Charity Blydenburgh, the couple moved to nearby Mount Sinai where he began cutting and eventually transporting cordwood. He shipped aboard the cordwood-carrying sloop FACTOR for several seasons, but in 1842 was crippled by an accident and died three years later.
William’s son Richard started his 61-year seafaring career as a cook on the FACTOR. He owned and/or commanded several coasting vessels including the sloops SERAPH, OLIVE BRANCH, PEARL, CONTRACTOR, JULIA ANN, and EXCEL. During the Civil War years Richard sailed the sloops OBSERVER and MARGARET. In 1871 he sailed a schooner (the ELLA JANE) for the first time, and soon after, the schooner WONDER. In 1884 he purchased the schooner NELSON, but lost her in a storm on the beach at Mount Sinai eight years later. Richard Tillotson’s last vessel was the sloop GROVER CLEVELAND. He sold her in 1898 and retired from the sea. He spent his final years in comfortable retirement with his wife, Julia, at their home in Mount Sinai.
The Captain’s son, Richard D. Tillotson, would begin his seafaring career in 1880, working for his father aboard the schooner WONDER. By 1890 he had progressed to the command of his own vessel. He sailed cordwood vessels, coal schooner barges, pleasure yachts, oyster schooners, and eventually large three-masters along the eastern seaboard. He managed large sailing vessels during the 1920s, but soon fell victim to the Great Depression. Richard D. Tillotson’s later life was filled with a series of broken marriages and failed attempts to find work. He died at a state hospital in Middletown, New York, in 1940. His son Henry (1891-1919) also is represented in this collection, as are several other family members.
NOTE: For a more comprehensive biography of the Tillotson family please see The Tillotson Family, Long Island Cordwood, and the Decline of East Coast Sail by Willis H. White; Penobscot Press 2008.
Scope and Contents of the Papers
Box 1 contains Correspondence, both personal and business, arranged chronologically between the years 1822-1909. Most letters are either to or from family members, including William Tillotson, Richard and Julia Tillotson, and Richard D. Tillotson and his son Henry R. Tillotson. Others represented include Alilah “Lillie”Tillotson (Mrs. Samuel H. Miller), her daughter Grace Miller, Deborah Tillotson (Mrs. Erastus Howell), and William James (called James) Tillotson. Several vessels are mentioned.
Box 2 begins with a continuation of the correspondence files from Box 1, arranged chronologically (folders 2/1-2/7). There are more letters from Richard D. Tillotson and his sister Alilah Miller, plus correspondence from Henry R. Tillotson. Folder 2/8 begins a series of general shipping Papers arranged chronologically from 1838 to 1873. Many vessels are represented, most of them belonging to Capt. Richard Tillotson. These papers reveal that Tillotson did most of his shipping business with companies in Port Jefferson and New York, and to a lesser extent at numerous ports along Long Island Sound.
Box 3 continues this series for papers dated 1874-1911. The names of many vessels appear, especially between 1874 and 1891. Domestic or personal papers are found in the remaining folders.
Box 4 contains Miscellaneous Material, ca. 1830-1900. Of particular interest are property deeds for land purchased by William and Richard Tillotson around Brookhaven, NY, from 1830 to 1862. There is a collection of 11 bills of sale for vessels acquired by Capt. Richard Tillotson between 1845 and 1895, as well as a small hand colored drawing of the Sloop PEARL.
Boxes 5 and 6 contain 20 Volumes, primarily vessel account books and business records, which are described more fully in the Detailed Description of the Collection.
Restrictions on Access
Available for use in the Manuscripts Division.
Restrictions on Use
Various copying restriction apply. Guidelines are available from the Manuscripts Division.
Coll. 355, Manuscripts Collection, G. W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport Museum, Inc.
Detailed Description of the Collection
The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.
|1||1||Correspondence; 1822 and 1833|
|2||1||Correspondence; 1910 Jan-Nov|
|2||Correspondence; 1910 Dec|
|3||Correspondence; 1911 Jan|
|4||Correspondence; 1911 Feb-Jun|
|6||Correspondence, American Seamen’s Friend Society; 1923-1925|
|Shipping papers; bills, receipts, accounts, etc., for Long Island coasting vessels; 1838-1873|
|Shipping papers; bills, receipts, accounts, etc., for Long Island coasting vessels; 1874-1911|
|14||Papers; 1900-1911 [+1923]|
|Miscellaneous material; ca. 1830-1900|
|4||1||Property deeds (6); for land purchased by William and Richard Tillotson around Brookhaven, NY; 1830-1862|
|2||Unidentified account book pages; ca. 1828-1836|
|3||Donations for support of William Tillotson and Family; 1842|
|4||Drawings, Sloops PEARL (1854) and OLIVE BRANCH (photocopy, n.d.);|
|5||Bills of Sale for enrolled vessels (11); 1845-1895|
|Sloop OLIVE BRANCH); 1845|
|Sloop PEARL; 1854|
|Sloop CONTRACTOR; 1855|
|Sloop MARGARET; 1862|
|Sloop SIREN; 1868|
|Sloop ELIZA A. JAYNE; 1871|
|Schooner WONDER; 1873|
|Sloop LENA BECAR; 1882|
|Sloop ROSEBUD; 1883|
|Schooner NELSON; 1883|
|Sloop GROVER CLEVELAND; 1895|
|6||Cargo manifest, Sloop OBSERVER; 1861|
|7||Manuscript, “Our Trip on the Wonder,” poem by Ida F. Rodgers; 1880 24 Sep|
|8||Bills for goods purchased by Richard Tillotson from F.F. Darling & Son, Port Jefferson, NY; ca. 1900-1902|
|9||Almanacs (2); 1848 and 1903|
|10||Pocket notebooks (3) of unidentifiable notes and scribble; ca. 1858|
|11||Miscellaneous printed material: bill heads, advertisements for goods, machinery and equipment, homeopathic manual, booklets and other printings; ca. 1850-1900|
|12||Miscellaneous business cards and calling cards; ca. 1850-1900|
|13||Envelopes, stamped and addressed, primarily to Richard Tillotson; ca. 1880-1900|
|14||Miscellaneous newspapers and clippings; ca. 1874-1905|
|5||1||Account Book, 1817-1821; Sloop FAVOURITE and Sloop HERALD; crew accounts, expenses, profits, etc.|
|2||Account Book/Journal, 1846-1852; voyages by Sloop OLIVE BRANCH and Sloop SERAPH;|
|3||Account Book, 1846-1854; Richard Tillotson with Sloops OLIVE BRANCH, SERAPH and PEARL. Includes arithmetic exercises (1844)|
|4||Account Book, 1849-1880; Richard Tillotson with Sloop OLIVE BRANCH (1849-1853), and Schooner WONDER (1879-1880)|
|5||Pocket Diary, 1853; Richard Tillotson. Weather entries and miscellaneous data|
|6||Account Book/Notebook, ca. 1870; primarily mill accounts, some information regarding construction of the Sloop JULIA ANN, and accounts re Sloop PEARL. Includes a “list of Norwich packets in 1843”; also “names of vessels and captains that followed the wood trade and loaded outside along shore at the different landings from Port Jefferson to Luces Landing Northville in the year 1837 and later.”|
|7||Account Book, 1856-1881; accounts for Sloop JULIA ANN (1856) Sloop EXCEL (1857-1862); Sloop OBSERVER (1863); Sloop MARGARET (1863-1866); Sloop CELERITY (1866); Sloop SIREN (1868); Schooner ELIZA A. JAYNE (1871-1874); Sloop OPERA (1872); and Schooner WONDER (1881)|
|6||8||Pocket Notebook, May-Dec. ca. 1870-1880; miscellaneous domestic notes and accounts, etc.|
|9||Account Book/Notebook, March-November 1873; accounts and notes regarding unidentified Sloop.|
|10||Diary, 1876; miscellaneous record of purchases and expenses, etc.|
|11||Account Book, 1875-1884; accounts for mill at Mt. Sinai.|
|12||Pocket Diary, 1880: “R.D. Tillotson, Mt. Sinai”. Miscellaneous scribbling, names and data. Schooner NELSON mentioned.|
|13||Pocket Notebook, ca. 1880; notes regarding crew and cargoes of wood and coal.|
|14||Account Book, 1882; Capt. R. Tillotson with Sloop LENA BECAR.|
|15||Account Book, 1884-1888; Richard Tillotson with Schooner NELSON.|
|16||Pocket Diary, 1884; dated entries July 1885-November 1891, regarding loading wood cargoes.|
|17||Account Book, 1888-1891; loading wood cargoes, Schooner NELSON.|
|18||Account Book, 1891-1892; Schooner NELSON, crew, labor and miscellaneous expenses.|
|19||Diary, 1892; weather entries recorded January 1-18, 1892.|
|20||Account Book/Journal, 1893; provides accounts and activitiesof Schooner ANN AMELIA. Cargoes of coal and wood.|