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Coe Family Papers

Identifier: SpC MS 0104

Scope and Contents

The Coe family papers consist primarily of business records of the brothers Eben S. Coe and Thomas Upham Coe, with a few papers of Thomas’s wife, Sada L. Coe. The materials reflect the involvement of the Coes in land acquisition and management and the lumber industry in the northern part of Maine, as well as Eben Coe’s partnership in the S.R. Bearce and R.C. Pingree companies in Lewiston, Maine. Much information is also included about the administration of the very sizeable estate left by Thomas Upham Coe at his death in 1920.


  • Creation: 1836-1943
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1860-1942


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 the Library.

Biographical Note

The collection contains the business records and personal papers of members of the Coe family, especially the brothers Eben S. Coe and Thomas Upham Coe. The family, centered in Bangor, Maine, owned and managed large tracts of forest land in northern Maine. Their father, also Ebenezer S. Coe, established the family business presence in Maine when he became a partner with David Pingree of Salem, Massachusetts in various timber enterprises in the Allagash region and in Aroostook County. Pingree, a shipping merchant in Salem, sought other investments in the 1830's and acquired a large tract of timber land in western Maine. Coe, an engineer, was employed by Pingree to survey the region. He advised Pingree to buy more land and moved to Bangor to manage the estate. In the 1840's Coe and Pingree purchased land in the Allagash lakes region and Coe established a farm on the shore of Chamberlain Lake. The farm provided hay for the workhorses and vegetables for the lumber crews. Coe was also instrumental in constructing dams on the Allagash River and reversing the flow of the upper Allagash into the east branch of the Penobscot River. The Coe office in Bangor supplied and financed jobbers, maintained river improvements, and handled leases and maintained files of applicants for sporting camps on Coe and Pingree land. Ebenezer Coe died in 1862 and David Pingree in 1863; the estates then passed to David Pingree, Jr. and the Coe brothers.

Eben S. Coe (the younger) was also a partner with Samuel R. Bearce in the firm of S.R. Bearce and Co. in Lewiston, Maine. They were dealers in lumber and operated a sawmill to manufacture boards, clapboards, shingles, and laths. Bearce, in Lewiston, was the active member of the firm. Upon his death in 1874, his estate was sold to R.C. Pingree and the partnership of R.C. Pingree and Co. was formed. This firm continued to operate a sawmill in Lewiston and to provide finished lumber products, including moldings, building finish and trim, doors, windows, blinds, and mantels.

Eben Coe also acted as manager of the forest lands belonging to himself and Pingree heirs and siblings David Pingree, Anna P. Peabody, and Ann Maria Wheatland. The Pingrees had acquired large holdings of land which became available when the European and North American Railroad failed as well as from other sources and their property topped one million acres of forest land. Eben Coe was also one of the incorporators of the Androscoggin River Improvement Company and was associated with the Richardson Lake Dam Company and the Errol Dam Company.

Eben Coe died on December 9, 1899, and his brother, Thomas inherited the majority of Eben's land holdings.

Thomas Upham Coe was born in Northwood, New Hampshire, on December 8, 1837. His family moved to Bangor when he was eight years old. He attended Bowdoin College, graduating in 1857, and received his A.M. from Bowdoin three years later. He graduated from the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia in 1861 and then went to Paris for two years, where he studied at the Ecole de Medicin.

In 1864 he returned to Bangor and practiced medicine for about 15 years. He then withdrew from his practice in order to give more time to his financial and business interests. He had acquired large tracts of timberland in Maine and New Hampshire and also managed the land he had inherited at his brother's Eben's death in 1899. He was the owner of large amounts of real estate in Bangor, especially commercial property, and in 1892 he constructed a business block in the city.

Thomas Coe was also a director and member of the executive board of the Merrill Trust Company, the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad Company, the Orono Pulp and Paper Company, and a trustee of the Penobscot Savings Bank. He was also a trustee of the Bangor Public Library and president of the Bangor Opera House Association.

Thomas Coe married Sada L. Harthorn on May 23, 1867. Their only son, Dudley Coe, died at age 14 in 1887. Thomas Coe died on July 31, 1920, and Sada Coe died on November 3, 1926.


15 cubic feet (19 boxes)

7 linear feet (ledgers)

Language of Materials



Consist primarily of business records of the brothers Eben S. Coe and Thomas Upham Coe, with a few papers of Thomas's wife, Sada L. Coe.

Conservation Note

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


The papers are arranged in four series: Papers of Eben S. Coe, Papers of Thomas Upham Coe, Records of the estate of Thomas Upham Coe, and Papers of Sada L. Coe. The papers of Eben Coe are divided into three sub-series: Executive records of E.S. Coe, financial records of E.S. Coe, and logging operations of E.S. Coe.

The executive records sub-series consists primarily of incoming correspondence, 1864-1888, to Eben Coe from S.R. Bearce, R.C. Pingree and others involved in running the companies in Lewiston, discussing routine business matters, shipments of lumber and finished materials, supplies, etc. The letters also give accounts of river levels and conditions of logs in the river. This sub-series also contains information on Coe and Pingree land purchases and holdings, maps and plans of property, and advertisements and circulars relating to the workings of a sawmill.

The financial records of E.S. Coe contain information on notes and bills payable and receivable, 1854-1899, and Coe’s accounts with various townships and towns in which he had land holdings. Information given in these accounts includes lists of tools used, amounts paid to various loggers, and state and county taxes collected. Accounts for the Chamberlain Farm make up part of this group of records.

The sub-series involving Coe’s logging operations contains applications for permits, 1886-1899, surveys of logs cut, annual inventories and sales of lumber, 1854-1883, and Coe’s notes and other information about lumber and logging.

The papers of Thomas Upham Coe include a series of daybooks, 1904-1920, maintained by his private secretaries and containing financial information and a record of day-to-day operations of his office. The series also includes lease plan books, 1915-1920, for Coe’s forest lands, records of rents of his properties, 1902-1927, and information about the estate of his brother Eben, for which Thomas served as executor. It also includes cashbooks, journals and ledgers giving financial information about Coe’s activities.

The records of the estate of Thomas Coe, meticulously maintained by estate administrator Charles A. Potter, include daybooks from August 1920 to December 1942 detailing investments, expenses, etc., related to the trusts established by Coe, specifications for construction in 1928 of the Coe building in Bangor, and expenses from Coe’s other real estate holdings, 1930-1932. Also included are income tax documents related to the estate, 1921-1943, and cashbooks, journals, ledgers and check registers.

The papers of Sada L. Coe contain correspondence, 1926-1927, about her estate; daybooks recording financial information, 1920-1928, about her inheritance from her husband and then from her own estate; and check registers and a cashbook from her estate.

The collection also contained a number of printed publications and pamphlets which have been removed. A list of these materials can be found in the separation record.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Coe family papers came to the University of Maine Raymond H. Fogler Library Special Collection as a gift in 1989 from Henry Sutcliffe Coe through the Coe Management Group of Bangor.

Guide to the Coe Family Papers
Box And Folder List Available
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