Jacob Hill Bates, Papers, 1783–1906

Administrative Information

Biographical Sketch

Scope and Content Note

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Series Description and Folder Listing

3 document boxes
Processor: Juliet Demeter
.25 linear feet
Date: December 2000
Updated, September 2008

Acquisition: The Papers of Jacob Hill Bates were likely donated by Grace Treadwell in 1970.

Access: There are no restrictions on items in this collection.

Permission to Publish:
Requests for permission to publish from the collection should be made to the Executive Director.

Copyright: The Cambridge Historical Society does not hold copyright on the materials in this collection.

Biographical Sketch

Jacob Hill Bates was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on January 22, 1788 the eldest surviving son of Joseph Bates and Mary Snow. Joseph Bates was a wheelwright by profession and served as a sergeant in Colonel Thomas Gardner’s 1st Middlesex Regiment in the Revolutionary War. Jacob Hill Bates attended grammar school in Cambridge. He served as a Corporal in the Cambridge Light Infantry during the War of 1812. On March 8, 1812, his intention to marry Elizabeth Wait of Boston was published. Jacob and Elizabeth Bates had seven children. Three of these died in infancy and three of their remaining children perished between 1834 and 1842 most likely from tuberculosis. The Bates family lived on the corner of Brattle and Church Street in Cambridge in a home Bates had built in 1829. This house remained in the Bates family until Lillian E. Bates sold it in 1926 (The house was removed and Sage’s Market was built in its place, now the site of Market in the Square). Jacob Bates was a painter and glazier by profession. He was employed by Harvard College between 1819-1840 where he performed work on Divinity Hall and Gore Hall. He had numerous real estate investments including land and property in Cambridge, Tewksbury and Lowell, Massachusetts as well as in Ipswich, New Hampshire. He held stock in several banks including the Cambridge Savings Bank, where he served as bank president from 1852-54. Bates was executor to the estates of his brother in law Aaron Parker in 1822 and to his father in law William Wait III in 1847. He served as guardian from 1850-1860 for Annie L. H. Pratt. Jacob Hill Bates died at the age of 73 on November 30, 1861 at his home on Brattle Street in Cambridge.

Scope and Content Note:

This collection is arranged in six series:

I. Correspondence
II. Family papers
III. Memorabilia
IV. Real estate
V. Professional activities
VI. Financial records

The collection provides some insight into 19th century Cambridge life. Much of the material relates to Bates’ numerous property holdings in Cambridge, particularly his homestead on Brattle Street, as well as land he owned in Lowell, Massachusetts. The correspondence consists of many letters between Bates and his children, including letters written to and from his son Jacob Hill Bates Jr. while on a voyage for health to South America in 1841. The family papers include two of Bates’ school workbooks from 1801 and 1807 and composition books belonging to Bates’ daughters Elizabeth and Mary. The collection also includes Jacob Bates Jr.’s journals from his South American trip. Memorabilia is primarily made up of poetry, transcribed and original, collected by Bates and his daughters and two autograph books from Mary Augusta Bates, ca. 1860-1870. Also included in this collection are recipes for paint and varnish used by Bates. The financial records include tax receipts, account books, and material related to the estates of Aaron Parker and William Wait III.

Series I, Correspondence, 1833-1865 consists of letters between Jacob Hill Bates and his wife and children. Included here are letters regarding the illness of Bates’ daughter Elizabeth written by her husband, George Palmer. Some of these letters were written to and from St. Augustine, Florida where Palmer had taken his wife in hopes of bringing about an improvement in her health. The series also includes the letter Palmer wrote to Bates to ask permission to marry Elizabeth. There are several letters written by Jacob Hill Bates, Jr. from his voyage for health to South America. Finally, this series includes letters written from Bates’ grandson George Palmer, Jr. to his grandmother between 1861-1865. This series is arranged chronologically.

Series II, Family papers, 1801-1906, includes several school notebooks from Bates’ childhood and from his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. There is material in this series related to Mary Bates’ husband Horatio Merriam who retained close ties to Jacob Hill Bates for many years after Mary’s death in 1834. This series also contains one folder relating to deaths in the Bates’ family, including obituaries for Mary Bates Merriam. Also contained in this series are the journals kept by Jacob Hill Bates, Jr. on his South American trip in 1841. There are papers in this series, which relate to the Cutter Family, who were related to the Bates’ by marriage. This series is arranged chronologically.

Series III, Memorabilia, 1800-1870, includes a list of Cambridge Grammar School Students, ca. 1801 written by Jacob Hill Bates. This series also contains poetry collected by Bates and his daughters Mary and Elizabeth. One poem written to Mary includes a lock of braided hair. There are also two autograph books owned by Mary Augusta Bates, Jacob’s great niece who lived in the Bates’ Brattle Street home late in the 19th century. This series is arranged chronologically.

Series IV, Real estate, 1783-1873, consists of material relating to property owned by Bates in Cambridge, Tewksbury, Malden, and Lowell as well as in Ipswich, New Hampshire. This material includes deeds, leases and letters concerning Bates property. This series also contains the deed for his father Joseph Bates’ property near the Cambridge Common, which Bates inherited along with his siblings after their father’s death. Much of the material in this series relates to the Bates’ home on Church and Brattle Street in Cambridge. These papers include building plans and an Orchard plan for the property. This series is arranged chronologically.

Series V, Professional activities, 1809-1841, consists of paint and varnish recipes used in Bates work as a painter and glazier. This series also includes the wallet used by Bates to carry these recipes. There is also a copy of a trade newspaper called the Boston Evening Mercantile Journal dating from 1841. This series is arranged chronologically.

Series VI, Financial records, 1818-1862 consists of: tax receipts, account books, stocks, receipts, estate records, guardianship records, and wallets. Tax receipts are from Bates’ property in Cambridge, Tewksbury and Lowell and from property owned by Bates’ father in law William Wait III of Boston. Account books include Jacob Hill Bates financial records from 1815-1859. They record everyday expenses as well as income earned from real estate and labor. The account book dated 1815-1849 records work performed at Harvard College on both Gore Hall and Divinity Hall. Also included are account books for William Wait III and for William Bates 2nd, Jacob Hill Bates’ nephew. Stocks include notes held by Bates at various Boston and Cambridge banks. Receipts are for work done at the Brattle Street property between 1829 and 1863. This series also contains documents regarding the estates of Aaron Parker and William Wait III as well as Bates own estate. Guardianship records include an additional account book, which records expenditures during Bates’ guardianship of Annie L. H. Pratt. Wallets that Bates used to carry many of these financial records are also included in this series. Series is arranged chronologically by record type.

A survey of the collection was conducted by Heather Maclndoe in January 1991. The materials from this initial survey have been retained and are located in the last folder of Box 3.

Library of Congress Subject Headings:

Cambridge (Mass.) – Social life and customs

House painters

Land titles – Massachusetts – Cambridge

Land titles – Massachusetts – Lowell

Land titles – Massachusetts – Malden

Land titles – Massachusetts – Tewksbury

Land titles – New Hampshire – Ipswich

South America – Description and travel

Series Descriptions and Folder Listings:

Jacob Hill Bates Papers, 1783-1906, (bulk dates, 1830-1860)
[table tablesorter=”0″ class=”table table-border”]
||Series I. Correspondence, 1833-1865
1|1|Elizabeth A. Bates correspondence, 1830-1841
1|2|Jacob Hill Bates correspondence, 1833-1841
1|3|South American correspondence, 1841, undated
1|4|George Palmer correspondence, 1861-1865, undated
1|5|Miscellaneous family correspondence, 1841-1863, undated

||Series II. Family Papers, 1801-1906
1|6|JHB school workbook, 1801
1|7|JHB school workbook, 1807
1|8|Mary Bates commonplace book, 1826
1|9|Elizabeth A. Bates composition book, 1831
1|10|Family death records, 1834-1861
1|11|Cutter family papers, 1835-1906
1|12|Jacob Hill Bates, Jr., South American Journals, 1841
1|13|Merriam family papers, 1844-1858, undated

||Series III. Memorabilia, 1800-1870

1|14|JHB collected poetry, 1800-1807
1|15|JHB list of Cambridge grammar school students, 1801
1|16|Mary Bates collected poetry, 1826-1840, undated
1|17|Elizabeth A. Bates collected poetry, undated
1|18|Miscellaneous family memorabilia, 1837-1867, undated
1|19|Mary Augusta Bates autograph books, ca. 1860-1870

||Series IV. Real Estate, 1783-1873

2|1|Deeds, Joseph Bates Cambridge property, 1783-1814
2|2|Deeds, Malden land, 1803-1848
2|3|Deeds, Watertown Road property, Cambridge, 1805-1831
2|4|Deeds, other Cambridge property, 1810-1853
2|5|New Hampshire land, 1825-1848
2|6|Deeds, Brattle Street, 1829-1873
2|7|Brattle Street building plans, 1829, undated
2|8|Miscellaneous deeds, 1830-1857
2|9|Lowell land, 1831-1861
2|10|Tewksbury land, 1832
2|11|Brattle Street orchard plan, undated

||Series V. Professional Activities, 1809-1841
2|12|Paint and varnish recipes, 1809-1829, undated
2|13|Newspaper, Boston Evening Mercantile Journal, 1841
2|14|JHB paint recipe wallet, undated

||Series VI. Financial Records, 1818-1862

3|1|Cambridge tax receipts, 1810-1862
3|2|Tewksbury tax receipts, 1832-1833
3|3|Lowell tax receipts, 1835-1860
3|4|William Wait III tax receipts, 1845-1848
3|5|JHB account book, 1815-1849
3|6|JHB account book 1823-1859
3|7|JHB account book, 1829-1833
3|8|JHB account book, 1835-1840
3|9|JHB account book, 1840-1841, undated
3|10|Loose papers from account books, 1831-1861
3|11|William Wait III account book, 1833
3|12|William Bates 2nd account book, 1853
3|13|Stock notes, 1823-1859
3|14|Building receipts, 1829-1830
3|15|Building receipts, 1855-1863
3|16|JHB will and estate records, 1832-1862
3|17|Aaron Parker estate, 1818-1833
3|18|William Wait III estate, 1839-1851, undated
3|19|Elizabeth A. Bates (Palmer) estate, 1841, undated
3|20|Annie L. H. Pratt, 1850-1860
3|21|Wallets, undated