Creator: Unknown
Dates: 1855-1893
Quantity: 1.0 linear foot (2 manuscript boxes, 9 land surveys, rough sketches (flat file), 7 land surveys (mounted on hard back), 2 certificate (mounted on hard back)).

Accession #: 1998.28 ; Donated by: William James.

1999.19, purchase.

Identification: A10 ; Archive Collection #10
Citation: [Document Title]. The David W. Low Papers and Land Surveys Collection, [Box #, Folder #, Item #], Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, MA.
Copyright: Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be addressed to the Librarian/Archivist.
Language: English
Finding Aid:  Howard Thomas, July 2000, supervised by Ellen Nelson, archivist.

View the collection here.


Lt. Col. David W. Low was born at Gloucester, Massachusetts on Nov. 27, 1833, the son of Capt. Frederic G and Eliza Davis Low. A life-long resident of Gloucester, he died on Oct. 5, 1919. A concise summary of his life is set forth in the following quote from his obituary which appeared in the Boston Herald on Oct. 5, 1919:

"Lt. Col. Low Dies at Gloucester

Veteran Was Prominent in City Affairs

(Special Dispatch to the Herald)"


"Gloucester, Oct. 5 Lt. Col. David W. Low, one of Gloucester’s foremost citizens, died at his home on Stanwaad [sic] avenue, West Gloucester, this afternoon after a long illness. He was born here on Nov. 27, 1833, a descendant of Capt. John Low, vice admiral of the fleet of 12 which brought over the Massachusetts colony in 1630.

"Col. Low was on of Gloucester’s “minute men of ‘61”, responding to the call as a lieutenant in company G of the 8th Massachusetts infantry. He served several enlistments until Oct. 31, 1864, when the command was sent home to be mustered out. He returned with the rank of major and participated in many engagements. His company held a strategic point in the defense of Newbern and afterwards joined the army of the Potomac.

"Returning from the war, Maj. Low resumed land surveying. He was chosen town clerk in 1868 and resigned in 1873 to accept the postmastership of Gloucester, holding the office for 13 years. He continued his service in the militia and became the first provost marshal in 1871. He held this office until 1876, when he was appointed inspector general with the rank of lieutenant colonel on the staff of Gen. Rice, to assist in the reorganization of the militia.

"For nine years, from 1856 to 1895, he was one of the commissioners of Essex county. He was secretary of the Essex Agricultural Society from 1885 to 1890, and in 1886 was special agent of the state census bureau on fisheries and manufacturers. For more than 20 years he was corporation clerk and treasurer of the Gloucester Gas Light Company. During his term as postmaster the letter currier system was installed here. He took a prominent part in the affairs of the city until about 15 years ago, when he retired from active life. He leaves a widow, Mrs. Amanda (Friend) Low, three sons, Frank D., Fredrick F and D. Wilbur Low, and three daughters, Mrs. Julia F., wife of Frank C. Pearce, Mrs. Amanda D., wife of Joseph W. Lufkin, and Miss Ellen P. Low."



This collection provides an illuminating insight into the many and varied activities and events experienced by David W. Low during his life, including his service in the military, his work as a land surveyor, his invention of life saving apparatus for a bank dory (patented 7/10/1883) and his continued interest in promoting the fishing industry.

The items in this collection were acquired from two different sources over a period of several years with little organization or identification of the material. For example, the collection includes two scrapbooks of newspaper clipping but neither scrapbook cites the source of the clippings and few of the clippings contain dates of publication. Likewise, the collection contains a large number of photographs (presumably of David W. Low’s family) but few have identification or date.

We have arranged the material in subject series and, where appropriate, in a chronological arrangement within each series.


Series 1. Military Service

a. Co. G 8th Reg. Mass. Volunteers

b. Ephemera

Series 2. Land Surveyor

a. Land surveys mounted on hard back – flat file

b. Land surveys rough sketches – plastic sleeves

c. Land surveys rough sketches – flat file

Series 3. Inventor

a. Life-Saving Apparatus (Bank Dory) patented 7/10/1883

Series 4. Personal Material

a. Photographs

b. Correspondence

c. Ephemera


Series 1. Military Service

A. Co. G 8th Reg. Mass. Volunteers

Box 1

Folder 1

1) Scrapbook of newspaper clippings, Co. G., 8th Reg. “War of the Rebellion” 3 month campaign 1860-1861

2) Extract from John J. Babson’s “History of Essex County” Summary of Co. G., 8th Reg. service in the Civil War.

3) Extract from private letter re: Co. G., 8th Reg. march from Annapolis to Washington, April 1861?

4) Miscellaneous letters 1863-1864 To Maj. Gen. N.P. Banks from Col. F. J. Coffin, Co. G., 8th Reg. Newburyport, Dec. 22, 1863 re: appointment of D. W. Low to Brigadier Gen. G.L. Andrews from S.G. Rogers, Roxbury, Jan 20, 1864 re: appointment of D. W. Low To headquarters from Col. B.F. Peach, Baltimore, Oct 8, 1864 re: leave of absence for D.W. Low To Brig. Gen. W. Schouler from D.W. Low, Gloucester, Apr. 26, 1864 re: garrison duty To Brig. Gen. W. Schouler from D.W. Low, Gloucester, Mar 14, 1864 re: saved & lost Co. G. 8th Reg. property in 1864 Main St. fire.

5) Letter to brother Henry Friend from Albert Friend, Newberne[sic], Jan 16, 1863 with news.

6) List of items left behind at Newberne[sic] after breaking camp suddenly June 24, 1863

7) Letter to Col. W.H. Browne from Maj. D.W. Low Camp Bradford, Sep. 9, 1864 & various responses re: supplies & quarters for the sick

8) Newspaper clipping re: reunion of 8th Reg. (1883 or 1886?)

B. Ephemera

Box 1

Folder 2. Scrapbook of newspaper clippings

List of Gloucester Soldiers and Sailors who served 1861-1865

Copy of Cape Ann Advertiser 10/25/1861 - “War Correspondence”

Copy of Cape Ann Advertiser 3/4/1864 - Main St. Fire

Two copies of Gloucester Telegraph 9/14/1861 contains list of taxpayers;

12/10/1864 contains Pres. Lincoln’s State of the Nation address to Congress.

Extract of Regulations on pay & bounty, 11/9/1861

Copy of General Order #201, on clothing & equipment, 12/9/1862

Flat File

Drawer G.

Certificate of Appointment of D. W. Low as Provost Marshal of the Second Brigade, 7/24/1874

Certificate of Honorable Discharge 12/26/1876

A Colt revolver, 1862, engraved “Lieut. D.W. Low, Co. G., 8th Reg., MVM April 17th 1861 to Lieut. Stephen Rich, Co. D., 1st Bat., Mass. Vol. Dec. 18th 1861” with a leather holster and brass capper is located in the lower storage room.


Series 2. Land surveyor

A. Flat file: Drawer G.

7 land surveys mounted on hard back 1860-1874 of Gloucester property: Pearce’s Wharf; A.H. Wonson’s Wharf; Samuel W. Brown; Capt. F.G. Low; Walen & Wonson’s Wharf; John P. Ober; and Dennis & Ayer Wharf.


B. Box 1

Folder 3. Thirteen Land Surveys in plastic sleeves. Some of the names are: Chas. Rogers, Estate of Israel Trask, Heirs of Judith Sawyer, Sinclair & Low’s Battery Wharf, Cpae Ann Savings Bank, Sayward, estate of Francis Mayo, estate of Epes Marchant,

4. Eleven rough sketches, undated.

5. Vicinity map bound by the Harbor, Annisquam River, Burying Ground Lane and Summer St. and small notebook titled “Low’s” which contains various notes relating to land development, surveying and construction. The land surveys are dated from 1855 to 1883.

C. Flat File: Drawer G.

9 un-mounted land surveys and rough sketches, mostly undated. Names include: J.O. Procter, Butman Ave., Heirs of Joseph L. Friend, Reed & Gamage Wharf, Stage Fort, Fernwood Lake, Charles Gott, Benjamin F. Butler and Chas. Sawyer.


Series 3. Inventor

A. Life-Saving Apparatus (Bank Dory) Patent #280.842 dated 7/10/1883.

The original patent with specifications, promotional material, drawing of installation, list of narrow escapes & table of loss of life of Gloucester dorymen 1883-1887

Box 2

Folder 1. Original patent, promotional material, drawing, lists of losses and narrow escapes 1883-1887


Series 4. Personal material

Box 2

A. Photographs [inc. #1998.28 envelope & 2 photos]

Folder 2. Scanned 21601, 21602, 21603, 21604 & others unidentified.

B. Correspondence

Folder 3.

1) Cover letter from D.W. Low to H.E. Davidson of CAS&LA, 1877, enclosing 15 letters from various persons & companies re: introduction of fish as a ration in the army & navy, 12/10/1861 - 1/9/1863

2) Letter from War Dept., to D.W. Low, Sep. 17, 1877 re: amount of pickled & dried fish purchased by the army 1861-1865

3) Letter from Sen. Frye of ME to D.W. Low, Apr. 13, 1886 re: the fishing industry

4) 6 letters from D.W. Low to his wife, Amanda Friend, 4/16/1893 - 5/28/1893, re: the Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

C. Ephemera

Folder 4.

1) Newspaper obit for D.W. Low

2) Address by D.W. Low before Essex Agricultural Society Sep. 28 & 29, 1880 “The Pioneer Industries of Essex County: Planting and Fishing” by David W. Low