Creator: James G. Tarr & Bro. Wholesale Fish Dealers
Dates: 1894-1901
Quantity: 1.75 linear feet (4 manuscript containers)
Acquisition: Accession #: 1997.38 ; Donated by: Roland & Martta Blanchet.
Identification: A06 ; Archive Collection #06
Citation:  [Document Title]. The James G. Tarr & Bro. Wholesale Fish Dealers 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, June 1998; supervisor, Ellen Nelson, archivist

View the collection here.


The James G. Tarr & Brother Wholesale Fish Company was just one of the business activities in which the Tarr brothers were involved. The 1869 Gloucester City Directory lists James G. Tarr as being with Dodd, Tarr &Co., also Tarr & Wonson, also James G. Blatchford & Co. (See 1869 Directory p. 92)

Andrew Dodd and James G. Tarr started a fisheries business at Rocky Neck in 1855. By 1859 business had grown to the point that they owned several fishing vessels. With Typical Yankee ingenuity, they established a marine railway to service their own vessels and others as well.

Dodd, Tarr & Co. was a grocery and supply store located at Rocky Neck, owned and operated by Stephen Dodd, James G. Tarr and David Tarr.

James G. Blatchford & Co. was listed in the 1869 directory as ship painters, and included the names of James G. Tarr and Augustus H. Wonson.

According to David Tarr’s undated obituary, Andrew Dodd left the firm in 1864 and Stephen Dodd (son?) left in 1874. At this time the name of the firm became James G. Tarr & Bro. Advertisements in the 1875 directory show Stephen Dodd & Co. as a wholesale fish dealer at the Gloucester National Bank Building and James G. Tarr Bro. as wholesale fish dealers at Rocky Neck.

Tarr & Wonson was the copper paint manufactory established at Tarr’s wharf in 1863 by Augustus Wonson and James G. Tarr. The paint business was so successful that it moved in 1870 to it’s present location. An advertisement in Pringle’s History of Gloucester, Mass. 1623- 1892 published in 1892, shows James H. Tarr as the manufacturer of New England Brand Copper Paint. James H. was the son of James G.

An ad appears on the same page in Pringle’s for Jas. G. Tarr & Brother, wholesale fish dealers and includes the names of five Tar men: James G., D. Sherman, B.N. (Benjamin, David, and T.L. the name of the Firm remained Jas. G. Tarr & Brother.

As early as 1858, Dodd(s) and Tarr(s), with others, had owned shares together in fishing vessels. In the 1870 issue of List of Vessels Belonging to the District of Gloucester, Dodd, Tarr & Co. owned thirteen vessels and the Tarr Bros. owned five. By 1853, the next issue available, Dodd is not listed and James G. Tarr & Bro. own fourteen vessels. A spot check of the years, 1870 to 1908, show that the Tarrs registered between eleven and fourteen vessels each year.


This collection provides a vignette on the everyday operation of the Gloucester wholesale fish dealer, James G. Tarr & Bro., from 1894 to 1901.

This collection was received in a weathered cardboard carton containing papers haphazardly scattered and two full, moldy commercial organizers. The organizers were labeled “B” and “C” but the material stuffed into them and the other papers in the box had no apparent relationship to these letters. The names of all the firms and individuals represented in the carton fall between the letters “A” and “N” of the alphabet and the dates range from 1894 to 1901 with one exception. This indicates that this group of papers is a small part of the Tarr 

Company’s complete office filing system and it also indicates that the Tarr Company probably used and alphabetical, chronological filing system.

We have arranged these papers in subject series, which may or may not have been used by the Tarr Company, while at the same time trying to maintain an alphabetical, chronological arrangement within each series.


Series 1 General Correspondence

a. Accounts

b. Credit companies’ reports

c. Rail shipment notices

d. Items regarding vessels and fisherman

e. Solicitations from other businesses

f. Personal

g. Outgoing – copies


Series 2 Traveling Salesmen’s correspondence and orders

a. Lane, Albert W. (Bert)

b. Babson, N.H.


Series 3 Merchandise broker’s correspondence and orders

a. Edward J. Davis, broker

b. Miscellaneous wholesale fish dealers


Series 4 Miscellaneous


Series 1 General Correspondence

Box 1

Folder 1

A. Accounts

Folder 2

B. Credit Companies’ reports

Folder 3

C. Rail Shipments

Folder 4

D. Vessels and fishermen

Folder 5

E. Business and solicitations

Folder 6

F. Personal

Folder 7

G. Outgoing


Series 2 Traveling salesmen, correspondence and orders

A. Lane, Albert W. (Bert)

Folder 8 February 16, 1900 to April 11, 1900

Folder 9 May 4, 1900 to August 16, 1900 (includes note from Mrs. Lane Feb. 9, 1901

B. Babson, N.H.

Folder 10 July 13, 1899 to March 31, 1900

Folder 11 April 2, 1900 to may 15, 1900


Box 2

Folder 1 May 2, 1900 to June 30, 1900

Folder 2 July 1, 1900 to July 25, 1900

Folder 3 August 2, 1900 to August 16, 1900


Series 3 Merchandise Brokers

A. Edward Davis

Folder 4 February. 1 1894 to December 1, 1894

Folder 5 January 14, 1895 to December 21, 1895

Folder 6 January 1, 1896 to July 17, 1896

Folder 7 march 3, 1899 to March 12, 1900

B. Miscellaneous wholesale fish dealers (arranged alphabetically by company then chronologically within company)

Folder 8 Akron Grocery Co. to Ayer & Andrews Co.

Folder 9 Babcock, Hurd & Co. to Barton & Wheadon


Box 3

Folder 1 Bateman & Co. to E.H. Betts

Folder 2 Bliven to G.F. Burton

Folder 3 S.D. Chamberlin & Sons to C.H. Critchett

Folder 4 C.E. Crouse & Co. to C.A. Curtze

Folder 5 Davis Brothers to A.W. Doolittle

Folder 6 Dries back to Dwyer & Vhay

Folder 7 E.E. Eagle to H.C. Fisher


Box 4

Folder 1 Jobst, Bethard & Co. to Judge & Co.

Folder 2 C.T. Keene to Krause, Ingham and Hiester

Folder 3 Lackawanna Store Assn., Ltd. To S. H. Levin’s sons

Folder 4 Likens’ to Geo. T. Moon (also includes Phelps, Brace & Co. and Riggs Market

Folder 5 Single items from other fish dealers


Series 5 Miscellaneous

Folder 6 Office supplies

Folder 7 Fish price list

Folder 8 Boston Fish Bureau report

Folder 9 Tarr Company advertisements

Folder 10 Stock certificate book