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Ames Family Papers

Identifier: SpC MS 0017

Scope and Contents of the Records

The Ames family papers consist primarily of the business and personal papers of John K. Ames and his sons, Frank S. and Alfred K. Ames. Also included are records of S.W. Pope and Co. and the Machias Lumber Company; John K. Ames worked for and then owned S.W. Pope and Co. and he and his sons founded and ran the Machias Lumber Company.


  • Creation: 1849-1961
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1870-1934


Restrictions on Access

Kept at Fogler Library's offsite storage facility. One week's notice required for retrieval.

Restrictions on Use

Information on literary rights available in repository.

Biographical Note

The collection contains the business records and personal papers of members of the Ames family of Machias, Maine. It centers on papers of John K. Ames and his sons, Frank and Alfred Ames and also has records of S.W. Pope and Company and the Machias Lumber Company.

John K. Ames was born in East Machias, Maine, on November 7, 1831, a son of Alfred and Mary Gardner Ames. He was in the lumber business in Machias for nearly fifty years. As a young man, he was employed by S.W. Pope and Company, lumber manufacturers, becoming their agent and manager. This company had been formed by Samuel W. Pope and operated sawmills in East Machias, Whitneyville and Columbia Falls. It also owned the railroad at Whitneyville, Harwood Mills, wharves at Machias, and timberland in three townships and parts of three others. It had a business in Boston conducted by William Pope and Sons; John Ames was William Pope's nephew. In 1880 he bought an interest in the company and operated its mills until 1899, when he formed the Machias Lumber Company. He had interests in timberland holdings, a log-driving company on the Machias River, a sawmill and a company store in Machias, as well as involvement with schooners sailing from Machias. The Machias Lumber Company owned about 100,000 acres of timber as well as nearly all of the waterpower, sawmills and wharves on the Machias River. It also had interests in the booms and canals in Machias. By 1908, the company employed thousands of men and shipped its products throughout New England and New York. It produced long and short lumber, shingles, laths, and box shooks.

John Ames was also president of the Machias Water Company, director of the Washington County Railroad, the Bucks Harbor Packing Company, and the Machias Electric Light Company and a trustee of the Machias Savings Bank. He and his sons were also incorporators of the Old Stream Dam and Improvement Company in 1897 and the Machias Lake Dame and Improvement Company in 1899. Mr. Ames was a selectman in Machias for thirty years and served in the Maine Senate from 1893 to 1897. He was also Collector of Customs from 1897 until 1901.

John Ames married Sarah Sanborn in 1855 and they had six children: Edwin G., Anna M., Julia P., Frank S., Alfred K. and Lucy T. Ames. John Ames died in 1901.

Frank S. Ames was treasurer of the Machias Lumber Company and also operated F.S. Ames and Co., dealers in fine groceries, dry goods, boots and shoes in Buck's Harbor, Maine.

Alfred K. Ames was born in Machias on September 4, 1866. In 1900 he married Nellie E. Hill and they had one son, John Keller Ames. Alfred Ames succeeded his father as president and general manager of the Machias Lumber Company. He continued the company's logging and mill operations until 1930 when the firm's holdings were sold to the Seaboard Paper Company. He was also president of the Machias Water Company and the Machias Savings Bank. He served in the Maine Senate from 1915 to 1919 and had an unsuccessful run as the Republican candidate for governor of Maine in 1934. Alfred Ames is also known as the creator in 1930 of a film called "From Stump to Ship," which documented his lumber business and the changing nature of lumbering in Maine. He later worked for the Burrowes Corporation in Portland. Alfred Ames died on May 19, 1950.


63 cubic feet (32 boxes)

57 linear feet (ledgers)

Language of Materials



The collection contains the business records and personal papers of members of the Ames family of Machias, Maine. It centers on papers of John K. Ames and his sons, Frank and Alfred Ames and also has records of S.W. Pope and Company and the Machias Lumber Company.

Arrangement of the Records

The collection was largely unarranged upon its arrival at the Fogler Library so the processing archivist imposed an arrangement scheme. Many of the records were found in tri-folded bundles, often with labels presumably attached by a member of the Ames family. These groups were re-foldered as found, leading to the overlap in dates in the content of many of the folders.

The collection is arranged in seven series: records of S.W. Pope and Co., papers of John K. Ames, records of Machias Lumber Company, papers of Frank S. Ames, papers of Alfred K. Ames, papers of Ames family members, and ancillary materials. Several series are divided further into various sub-series. The series outline and description which follows lists the major types of records in each series.


Series I: Records of S.W. Pope and Company

Sub-series I: Correspondence - This sub-series contains incoming correspondence, 1862-1879, and includes correspondence from Wm. Pope and Sons, the Boston branch of the company. Many of the letters are addressed to John K. Ames in his role as company agent and manager. Letter books of outgoing correspondence, much of it from John Ames, are also included.

Sub-series 2: Bills, receipts, orders - This group of records seems to document primarily the operation of a general store owned by S.W. Pope and Co. A large group of daybooks, 1856-1880, lists daily purchases and prices of groceries with totals given for each customer. Orders to S.W. Pope and receipts for purchases are also found in this sub-series.

Sub-series 3: Notes - Notes, 1850's - 1869, give an indication of the financial arrangements made by the company.

Sub-series 4: Invoices - This sub-series contains invoices, 1863-1878, for items purchased by S.W. Pope and Co., primarily for the general store.

Sub-series 5: Lumbering - Here are gathered the various documents concerning the company's lumber business. Included are permits, 1878-1880, statements and accounts, bills for labor and records of time worked. Also included is a ledger with a record of wood cut, 1871-1873; surveyors' records, 1872-1881, recording the mill, the kind of lumber, the total, by whom sawed and sold and the purchaser; and information about lumber surveyed and shipped and lumber sales.

Series II: Papers of John K. Ames

Sub-series 1: Correspondence - This sub-series contains incoming correspondence and telegrams, 1869-1900. Correspondents include lumber dealers, wholesale lumber commission merchants, especially Walstein R. Chester and Co. of Boston, ship brokers and commission merchants, and suppliers of goods such as marine hardware, groceries, machinery, parts and equipment. A group of letters, 1893-1895, is written to and from John Ames while he was serving in the Maine Senate in Augusta.

Sub-series 2: Legal and financial records - Included here are notes, contracts and deeds, notes and bills payable, as well as account books of J.K. Ames in account with S.W. Pope and Co. A large run of daybooks, 1857-1898, contains information from both S.W. Pope and Co. and John K. Ames and records purchases made at the general store. Journals and ledgers give further information about the financial workings of the company.

Sub-series 3: Records of the grocery business - This sub-series contains information on the merchandise in the general store, including petty and stock accounts, grocery tally bills, and bills for merchandise sold in the store, 1871-1900.

Sub-series 4: General bills, receipts, orders - One of the largest sub-series, this group contains bills and receipts, 1860's - 1900, for goods and services bought and used by John Ames in his Machias mills and lumber operations.

Sub-series 5: Lumbering - Included here are documents from various lumbering accounts for sawing, stumpage and other lumber-related activities. Also included are surveyors' records, especially from Township 24, bills for logging operations and dam repairs, survey bills, 1879-1897, order books for lumber, and time and payroll bills.

Sub-series 6: Shipping - This sub-series primarily contains financial information about various vessels in which John Ames had an interest. It also includes listings of the kinds of materials being shipped, especially lumber.

Sub-series 7: Ancillary records - Included are records of incorporation and minutes of meetings of the directors of the Mopang Dam and Improvement Company, the Old Stream Dam and Improvement Company and the Machias Lake Dam and Improvement Company.

Sub-series 8: Personal papers of John K. Ames

Series III: Records of the Machias Lumber Company

Sub-series 1: Executive and administrative records - This sub-series begins with documents about the incorporation of the company, minutes of meetings of its directors and information about its stock. It also contains records of notes and bills payable and receivable, tax returns, information about its property, and copies of outgoing correspondence, 1899-1912.

Sub-series 2: Financial records - Included here are trial balances, cash disbursements, daybooks, journal pages for selected years, and ledgers.

Sub-series 3: Bills, receipts, etc. - This large sub-series contains bills and receipts, 1900-1927, for items bought and received by Machias Lumber Company. It also contains orders to be charged to the accounts of various customers.

Sub-series 4: Sales - This sub-series is made up primarily of store ledgers, 1900-1930, for purchases made at the company's general store. It also contains a selected group of invoices, 1914, 1920, an order book, 1933-1934, and daybooks of general store purchases, 1933-1935.

Sub-series 5: Lumbering - This small sub-series contains mostly records of logs cut and delivered to the mill, time and payroll records, and information about sales and orders.

Series IV: Papers of Frank S. Ames - This series contains incoming correspondence, 1880's - 1914, including that dealing with Ames's campaign to become Collector of Customs. It also contains sales and financial information from his business in Buck's Harbor, Maine.

Series V: Papers of Alfred K. Ames - This series consists mainly of correspondence to and from Alfred Ames, 1899-1939. Included is correspondence documenting his unsuccessful campaign for governor in 1934.

Series VI: Papers of Ames family members - This series contains correspondence, 1955-1961, to and from John Ames, the son of Alfred Ames, much of it concerning the Machias Lumber Company and other property in Machias. A group of Ames family photographs, most unidentified, is included here, as well as information about Edwin G. Ames, brother of John K. Ames, and Lucy Ames, his sister. Miscellaneous pamphlets and documents not clearly identified with any family member are also grouped here.

Series VII: Ancillary materials - The last series in the collection contains material from various companies and individuals with no clear relationship to the Ames family. Included are volumes of financial information from Daniel and J. Murray Hill, who appear to have had a general store and lumber business in Calais, Maine; order books and financial information from W.C. Leighton and Co., a custom and ready-made clothing business in Machias; financial information from an unidentified blacksmith shop; and store ledgers belonging to Elmer C. Bowles.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Ames family papers were given to the University of Maine Raymond H. Fogler Library Special Collections by Dwight B. Demeritt, Jr. in 1989. Additional materials were purchased in 2003.

Separated Materials

Printed materials which were found with this collection, mostly annual reports of the town of Machias, have been removed.

Separation Record for Ames Family Papers

  1. About Halifax, Nova Scotia. Halifax Board of Trade, 1904
  2. Annual report of the municipal officers of the town of Centerville, 1927-1928
  3. Annual report of the municipal officers of the town of Jonesport, 1927-1928
  4. Annual report of the municipal officers of the town of Machias, 1927-1940-1941
  5. Annual report of the municipal officers of the town of Northfield, 1927
  6. Jonesport Fourth of July celebration, 1964
  7. Statement of the financial condition, county of Washington, State of Maine, 1909-1948
  8. The stock exchange. Information and Press Department, The Stock Exchange, London, undated

Conservation Note

The collection has been re-housed in acid-free folders and boxes. Documents have been flattened and surface cleaned as needed and metal fasteners removed. Photographs have been housed in polypropylene sleeves and remain with the relevant documents.

Guide to the Ames Family Papers
Box And Folder List Available
January 2005
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for uncoded script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Raymond H. Fogler Library Special Collections Repository

5729 Raymond H. Fogler Library
University of Maine
Orono ME 04469-5729 United States