Barbara Laighton Durant Collection, 1805-1957 – MS104

Barbara Laighton Durant Collection, 1805-1957 – MS104

Provenance: Presented to the Star Island Room at the Portsmouth Public Library in 1973 by Barbara Laighton Durant and the children of Margaret Laighton Forbes. Gifted by the Portsmouth Public Library to the Portsmouth Athenaeum.

Citation: Barbara Laighton Durant Papers (MS104), Manuscript Collections, Portsmouth Athenaeum

Size: 1.5 Hollinger Boxes (9 linear inches)

Access: No restrictions

Processed by: Susan Stowe Kindstedt in 2010

Scope and Content

The Barbara Laighton Durant collection contains correspondence between various members of the Laighton Family including Celia (Laighton) Thaxter, William Laighton, Thomas B. Laighton, Oscar Laighton, Cedric Laighton, and Eliza (Rhymes) Laighton. There are several folders related to the possible sale of the Isles of Shoals property to a firm in England in the 1890s. The collection also contains original manuscript poetry by members of the family.

Series Listing

I. Laighton, Cedric, 1840-1899

II. Laighton, Eliza (Rhymes), 1804-1877

III. Laighton, Cedric, 1840-1899

IV. Laighton, Oscar, 1839-1939

V. Laighton, Thomas B., 1805-1866

VI. Laighton, William, 1809-1870

VII. Parrott, James

VIII. Rutlegde, Lyman Vincent

IX. Smith, Mayberry M.

X. Thaxter, Celia (Laighton), 1836-1894


I. Laighton, Cedric, 1840-1899

Box 1

Folder 1 Letters from Celia Thaxter to Cedric Laighton

Newtonville, February 15, 1854

Newburyport, December 26, 1854

Newburyport, January 27, 1855

February 10, 1873

Newburyport, December 9


Folder 2 Writings

“Where the mountain waves of the Atlantic…” prose fragment, ms., ca. 1870s?


Folder 3 Family Papers

Letter from “Thea” (Celia Thaxter’s handwriting) to Ruth Stowell Laighton, Shoals, May 24, 1890

Letter from William Mason to Ruth Stowell Laighton, Appledore, July 18, 1902

Letter from Sabrina to Barbara Laighton Durant, New York, May 28, 1957

Letter from “Thea” (Celia’s handwriting) to “Jn,” no date


II. Laighton, Eliza (Rymes), 1804-1877

Folder 4 Correspondence

From Celia Thaxter, 1865?

From Celia Thaxter, Newtonville, September 18, 1870ca.

From Celia Thaxter, Newtonville, October 23, 1870ca.

From John Weiss, Watertown, September 13, 1872


III. Laighton, Cedric, 1840-1899, and Oscar, 1838-1939

Folder 5 Correspondence

From George Battelson, London, January 22, 1890. On a proposition to sell the Isles of Shoals to a British firm.

From George Battelson, London, September 23, 1890. More on the sale of the Shoals.

Mortgage of Isles of Shoals to C. D. Wainwright of Boston, August 12, 1892


IV. Laighton, Oscar, 1839-1939

Folder 6 Correspondence

From J. Ingersoll Bowdithc, Boston, June 15, 1881. Regarding his accommodations during the summer.

From Justin M. Leavitt, Alfred, Maine, October 17, 1884. Regarding copies of deeds for the Shoals.

From J. H. Gardiner of Portsmouth, July 2, 1900. Laighton was vice president of the Gardiner Cable Company, inc. 1893. On having cable repaired.

From Carl B. Bernsten, Chicago, ca. 1930. On getting copies of Ninety Years at the Isles of Shoals and about his father who lived at the Shoals.

Laighton (“Uncle Oscar”) to Edward Forbes (nephew-in-law), Star Island, August 23, 1936. On their busy summer.

Laighton (“Uncle Oscar”) to Edward Forbes, Camden, South Carolina, March 29, 1937. On plans to return to New England.


Folder 7 Writings of Oscar Laighton

“Song,” poem manuscript, not Laighton’s handwriting, 1874

“A warm south wind blows over Appledore! …” poem manuscript, no date. On Appledore House stationary, printed date 1890s.

“At Sunset,” poem offprint from the Boston Transcript, April 12, 1916

“Her School,” poem manuscript in Celia Thaxter’s handwriting, no date.

“Listen dear Unitarian girl…” poem manuscript, no date

“The Sandpiper” (a parody) poem manuscript, no date, initials O. L. and “Before Sunrise” (a parody) poem manuscript, no date, initials C. L.

“Slumber Song,” poem on printed card, no date (2 copies)

“Sweet wind that blows o’er sunny Isles…” poem manuscript, no date

“With joy divine the sparrow sings…” poem manuscripts, signed, no date. On Oceanic Hotel stationary (V. D. Harrington, manager)

“Uncle Oscar,” prose manuscript, not Laighton’s handwriting, April 1935. Possibly notes from conversation with Laighton?


Folder 8 Legal and Financial Papers

Receipt from Colosseum House, Albany, October 23, 1880. For bed and board.

Deed from Mark H. and Ann S. Wentworth to Albert S. and Mary R. Jones, April 10, 1858, for land on State Street, Portsmouth

Deed from Emily F. de Normandie to Oscar Laighton, April 23, 1887, for land on State Street.

Sale agreement from Estate of John F. Hartt to Oscar Laighton, August 25, 1891, for a cottage on Appledore Island

Certificate appointing Laighton a Notary Public for the State of Maine, July 20, 1925

Fine arts insurance certificate for artwork, furniture, dishes and fire buckets in Laighton’s Franklin Street (Portsmouth) house, 1934-1935


Folder 9 Manuscript arithmetic schoolbook, undated. Leather spine, marbled covers. Note near end of book is signed “The Oscar Laighton Jr.” Another note, in different (older?) handwriting is dated 1858.


Folder 10 About Oscar Laighton

“An Ode to Mr. Laighton” by Hope Savage, no date. Poem of three stanzas. Removed from small frame.

“There’s a great big welcome awaits your” by E. T. Start, Saranac Lake, NY, lyrics for song to be sung at Oscar’s birthday, June 26, 1938


Folder 11 Death of Oscar Laighton, 1939 “Resolution of the Star Island Corporation on the Death of Oscar Laighton,” typescript, May 1939


V. Thomas B. Laighton, 1805-1866

Folder 12 Letter from E. A. W., May 7, 1848. Offers to send the wealthy Col. Winchester to Appledore on an excursion

Folder 13 Journal as keeper at White Island Light with accounts of oil consumed, 1839-1841, 1846-1849

Folder 14 Political speech, ca. 1837-1839, manuscript written in paper notebook and typescript

Folder 15 Deeds

Thomas B. Laighton to Levi L. Thaxter, September 1, 1847, for one-half of Hog Island and everything on it

Thomas B. Laighton to Levi L. Thaxter, February 3, 1849, for all Laighton’s interest in Hog Island

Folder 16 Fragment of by-laws and subscription list for a Portsmouth-area company (ca. 1830s). List of stockholders includes Thomas and William Laighton.


VI. Laighton, William, 1809-1870

Folder 17 Journal, 1829-1835, begins with autobiographical essay. Portsmouth. Leather spine (broken), marbled covers, signatures loose.


VII. Parrott, James

Folder 18 “Oho! I rove the woods…” poem manuscript, no date


VIII. Rutledge, Lyman Vincent

Folder 19 “Prayer of Re-dedication on the Golden Anniversary of the Star Island Corporation,” August 21, 1966, typescript and printed program, The Golden Anniversary of the Star Island Corporation, which announces the delivery of this prayer.


IX. Smith, Mayberry M.

Folder 20 “Her garden boats of no tender flowers…” manuscript poem, 1927, and typescript


X. Thaxter, Celia (Laighton), 1836-1894

Folder 21 Cedric Laighton to Celia Thaxter, 1850-1859 (19 items)

Folder 22 Cedric Laighton to Celia Thaxter, 1860 (12 items)

Folder 23 Cedric Laighton to Celia Thaxter, 1861 (32 items)

Folder 24 Cedric Laighton to Celia Thaxter, 1862-1863 (22 items)

Folder 25 Cedric Laighton to Celia Thaxter, 1864 (24 items)

Folder 26 Cedric Laighton to Celia Thaxter, 1865 (25 items)

Box 2

Folder 1 Cedric Laighton to Celia Thaxter, 1866 (21 items)

Folder 2 Cedric Laighton to Celia Thaxter, 1867-1869 (22 items)

Folder 3 Cedric Laighton to Celia Thaxter, 1870 (8 items) *includes letter at one time on display in mezzanine

Folder 4 Cedric Laighton to Celia Thaxter, 1871 (28 items)

Folder 5 Cedric Laighton to Celia Thaxter, 1872-1873 (20 items)

Folder 6 Cedric Laighton to Celia Thaxter, 1875-1880 (6 items)

Folder 7 Celia Thaxter from Oscar Laighton, 1854-1882 (9 items)

Folder 8 Celia Thaxter from Levi L. Thaxter, Watertown, May 30, 1847

Folder 9 Correspondence and autographs

Celia Thaxter from William L. Williams, Boston, October 23, 1873

Celia Thaxter from John V. Paine, Cambridge, August 24, 1878

Celia Thaxter from William Dean Howells, Boston, July 2, 1880

Celia Thaxter from Mary Cowder-Clarke, London, July 18, 1881

Transcript of letter from Celia Thaxter to Mr. Torrey, January 17, 1889

Autographs (Cut from letters)

1. John Greenleaf Whittier (3 items: 2 autographs & piece of letter)

2. Edmund C. Stedman

3. A. W. Greeley


Folder 10 Poetry

“S. Appleton Brown by Celia Thaxter,” poem ms., 4 September 1888, not in Celia’s handwriting

“Moonlight (Childe Hassan), poem ms., 1890, signed

“Carol sweet and Carol dear…” poem ms., no date, in Celia’s handwriting

“Childe Hassam,” typed poem, signed in Celia’s handwriting, no date


Folder 11 Miscellaneous

Piece of anonymous letter, no date. About finding a stone carved image, originally from the Isles of Shoals, in a house in Chelsea and typescript copy of this letter. Unknown handwriting.

“Come, let us look at it closely…” poem ms., no date. Same handwriting as above.

Letter from Joseph W. Warren to Mrs. Struthers, Harrisburg, 4 Jan. 1911. Wishes he were at Appledore.

Memo from John Kingsbury to Dick Durant, Ithaca, NY, ca. 1967. About a colleague’s interest in Olaf Brauner and a copy of information about Brauner and his family.