By Archivist Susan Kindstedt
Each collection at the Athenaeum holds the potential to tell many stories. One such collection arrived at the Athenaeum in 2019 during the exhibit “By the Bottle or the Barrel: 400 Years of Brewing in Portsmouth.” The gift of a large box of rolled receipts came from the descendant of nineteenth-century Portsmouth businessman George Scott. He was born in Ireland in 1842 and came to Portsmouth around 1869. He operated a saloon on Market Street from 1870 until his death in 1892. In 1890, in addition to his saloon, he took on the role of vice president of the Portsmouth Brewing Company located at 64 Bow Street. Scott lived next to his saloon (122 Market Street) at 120 Market Street, on the corner of Green Street. He married first Mary (death date unknown) and second Anne Cochoran in 1876. George and Anne (Cochoran) Scott had nine children: Katherine (1876-1944), William C. (1878-1880), a stillborn boy (1879), George Patrick Winfield (1880-1940), Emma Mary (1882-1885), Mark E. (1884-1968), Annie M. (1885- ), John P. (1886-1886) and James Willard (1887-1960). George Scott died 24 April 1892 in Portsmouth. The receipts in the George Scott collection document Scott’s saloon business as well as his investment in real estate and at least two schooners, Satellite and Hattie Lewis.
Receipt for wallpaper and curtains from Elisha Tripp, House, Ship and Sign Painter and Dealer in Room Papers, corner of Daniel and Penhallow streets, June 10, 1873. MS138 George Scott manuscript collection.
George Scott first appeared in the Portsmouth city directories in 1869, at which time he was working as a “spinner” and living at 5 Marlborough Street. In 1870, he purchased a property at the corner of Green and Market streets in the North End. By the mid-nineteenth century, the North End had transformed from a colonial neighborhood with narrow streets and densely clustered houses into a bustling gateway with the advent of the railroad and its depot on Deer Street, and George Scott was one of many of the Irish immigrants to call the North End home.
A view of Market Street near Noble’s Island, looking toward Market Square, c.1895. George Scott owned and operated a saloon on Market Street [building at center] from 1870 until his death in 1892. Scott and his family lived above the saloon. Previously, this was known as Walker’s Tavern, and at the time of the photograph, this was Market Street House operated by Thomas Leary. During the 1900s, this was the home of the Italian Republican Club. [PS0820_08]
By 1873, according to the city directory, his saloon was at 114 Market Street. In 1874, according to a receipt in folder five, the saloon was at 116 and 118 Market Street, and the following year, it was listed in the city directory at 118 Market. From 1877 until his death in 1892, his home was 120 Market and his saloon was located at 122 Market. According to the 1887 Sanborn insurance map of Portsmouth, the area around the intersection of Green and Market streets was home to four saloons, including Scott’s, and one wholesale liquor business. By the end of the nineteenth century, many Irish families and their descendants moved to an area along Islington Creek (now North Mill Pond) still referred to as the Creek (or Crick) neighborhood. During the 20th century, the North End became home to predominantly Italian immigrants, and the neighborhood was demolished during the Vaughan Street Urban Renewal Project (1968-1972).
Detail of the F. W. Beers map of Portsmouth, 1876. George Scott’s saloon and residence is circled in red on the corner of Market and Green streets. The building and the surrounding North End neighborhood were demolished during the Vaughan Street Urban Renewal Project (1968-1972). In the 1980s, the extant Sheraton Hotel was built on this site. [M0394]
The receipts related to Scott’s saloon include purchasing gin, bitters, whiskey, brandy and ale as well as routine operating expenses such as water, coal, wood and delivery of alcohol via railroad. Scott sourced alcohol from local manufacturers such as Frank Jones Brewing Company and Eldredge Brewing Company as well as manufacturers in Manchester and Boston. Receipts for transportation via train and steamboat document how goods came to Portsmouth merchants. The receipts also document everyday expenses such as sprinkling the streets with water to keep the dust down, water provided by the Portsmouth Aqueduct, and clothing purchases. On January 27, 1876, George Scott placed a large order of dessert items with A. Robeck and Sons Fancy Cake Bakery on Congress Street. Also in 1876, George Scott purchased a share of Portsmouth Brewing Company for $500.
Receipt for what is believed to be three butts or 3024 pints of ale from the Portsmouth Cream Ale Brewery owned by Frank Jones of 84 Market Street, November 1872. MS138 George Scott manuscript collection.
In addition to the saloon and dwelling house that he owned at 120-122 Market Street, in 1888 Scott owned nine other properties on Hanover, State, Russell, McDonough, Bow, Penhallow and Water streets (as seen on receipts from the Portsmouth Aqueduct). In 1883, a receipt documents his purchase of 500 rent bills from a Portsmouth printer. In 1872, receipts document a small house project when he hired house carpenter Daniel P. Pendexter and purchased lumber from Albert Fernald for the project. In 1873, Scott did a much larger project, perhaps building a house or constructing a substantial addition. The collection includes receipts for supplies such as molding, clapboards, windows and lumber from local suppliers such as Thomas E. Call and John T. French. That same year, he paid Oliver Ayers for pipe repairs and a faucet. Ayers was the treasurer of the Portsmouth Aqueduct Company. In 1885 and 1886, receipts document renovations to houses on Russell Street, State Street and Water Street including new pipes, painting, carpentry and hardware.
Receipt for the Portsmouth Aqueduct for Scott’s business and residence on Market Street in addition to other property in Portsmouth, January to July 1886. MS138 George Scott manuscript collection.
In 1882, Scott was a part owner of the schooner Hattie Lewis, and the collection includes statements for expenses related to building and outfitting the vessel. In 1886, receipts show that Scott was a part owner in the schooner Satellite. Receipts through the late 1880s document individuals and businesses in Portsmouth that supported ship construction and maintenance.
Although receipts in the collection are primarily business related, some also document personal life, including the medical treatment received just before the deaths of several of the Scott children and caskets purchased shortly after. A receipt in 1874 shows that Scott subscribed to the Irish-American newspaper The Leader, published in Boston. In 1880, he purchased a subscription to The Celtic Mirror, an Irish-Catholic publication out of Augusta, Maine.
Scott family gravestone in Calvary Cemetery off Greenland Road in Portsmouth, NH. The son of Mark Scott and Ellen Buckley of Ireland, George Scott was 50 years and 3 months old when he passed away of heart failure in 1892. Photo by author.
For more information on the MS138 George Scott manuscript collection and to see a folder list of materials, click the button below to see the finding aid.