Coues Family Papers – MS011

Coues Family Papers – MS011

Provenance: Both parts seem to have one been in the possession of Dr. Elliott Coues. He made notes on letter groups and the scrapbooks. Many of the letters seem to have been removed from a scrapbook; a note by Elliott Coues indicating this is filed in folder 26 and another note has been copied and placed in front of the Samuel to Charlotte Coues correspondence. There are also notes by James A. Spalding (grandson of Samuel Coues’ sister) from 1932 found in the first scrapbook and filed in folder 28. William P. Coues is Samuel E. Coues’ great-grandson.

Citation: Coues Family Papers, MS011, Portsmouth Athenaeum

Size: 1 Hollinger Box (265 items)

Access: No restrictions

Processed by: Kevin Shupe in 1990, revised by Susan Stowe Kindstedt in 2006


Correspondence, scrapbooks, mss., newspaper clippings, and other papers, chiefly of Samuel Elliott Coues, merchant and civic leader, his wife, Charlotte Haven Ladd Coues, author of poems and articles, and other family members. Subjects include Samuel Coues’s activities as founder of the New Hampshire Asylum for the Insane, life in Washington, D.C. (1854-1866) when he worked for the U.S. Patent Office, presidency of American Peace Society, Portsmouth Temperance Society, and Portsmouth Athenaeum, and the fire in Portsmouth in 1802. Family members represented include Samuel’s son, Elliott Ladd Coues, naturalist and author of Key to North American Birds (1872), Elliott’s brother-in-law, Charles A. Page, journalist, Samuel’s adopted daughter, Lucy Coues Flower, a social reformer, and an aunt, Rebecca (Elliott) Hopper, of Paddington, England.

Scope and Content

The Coues Family Papers is a collection of correspondence and two scrapbooks. The papers center around the family of Samuel Elliott Coues of Portsmouth and are divided into five subgroups by addressee and one subgroup for miscellaneous materials and scrapbooks. The scrapbooks in Miscellaneous Subgroup VI include letters and materials related to the other subgroups.

Biographical Notes

Samuel Elliott Coues (June 13, 1797-July 3, 1867), merchant and civic leader, was born in Portsmouth, the son of Peter Coues (1736-1818) and his third wife, Rebecca Elliott (1762-1799). He was one of two children who survived into adulthood; his half-sister Elizabeth (1779-1838), daughter of Peter and his second wife, Elizabeth Jackson, married Dr. Lyman Spalding, compiler of the American Pharmacopea. Rebecca Coues’ father was John Elliott brother of Rebecca Elliott Hopper of Paddington, England and Samuel Elliott (1767-1824). Samuel Elliott lived in Portsmouth and served as Collector of Revenue for three years, as a merchant (his business as well as his house on State Street burned down in the December 26, 1802 fire) and as a Notary Public and broker.

Samuel Coues was successful as a merchant involved in foreign trade, part owner of at least 13 ships, and an agent for the Piscataqua Insurance Company. For many years, beginning circa 1830, he was a partner in a shipping business with Ichabod Goodwin, future governor of New Hampshire. Samuel Coues served in the New Hampshire legislature from 1825 to 1828 and in 1830, and was an advocate and founder of the State Hospital for the Insane. He served as the second president of the American Peace Society 1841-1846 following the death of the first president, William Ladd of Portsmouth. He was the president of the Portsmouth Lyceum and the Portsmouth Temperance Society in the 1840s and became a proprietor of the Portsmouth Athenaeum (#49) in 1822, serving as director from 1838 to 1845. In 1854 he moved to Washington, DC where he worked for the US Patent Office until 1866 when he returned to Portsmouth.

Samuel Coues published three books on the physical sciences: Outlines of a System of Mechanical Philosophy (Boston, 1851), Arithmetical Calculations of the Elements of the Orbit of the Moon (Washington, DC, 1855), and Studies of the Earth, an Essay on the Figure and Surface-Divisions of the Earth, Its Geological and Meteorlogical Phenomena, and Its Astronomical Elements (Washington, DC, 1860). His address before the American Peace Conference in 1842 was also published as War and Christianity (Boston, 1842).

Samuel Coues married Clara Sargent Pearce (1806-1830) in 1823. One child survived infancy, Samuel Franklin Coues (b. September 17, 1825) who was commissioned a Medical Director in the US Navy in 1874.

In 1833 Samuel Coues married Charlotte Haven Ladd (b. September 29, 1813), the daughter of Alexandra and Maria Tufton Haven Ladd and the niece of William Ladd. She was born in a house at 2 Livermore Street which was later given to her and her husband as a wedding gift. In the 1850’s she regularly contributed poems and articles to local newspapers, often using the pseudonym “J.S.” and reporting on the lectures of the Lyceum.

Samuel and Charlotte had three children who survived to adulthood: Elliott Ladd Coues (September 9, 1842-December 25, 1899), Louis Dwight Coues (May 5, 1845-March 19, 1864), and Grace Darling Coues (b. September 4, 1847), and one adopted daughter, Lucy Louisa Coues (formerly Lucinda Parsons Nash). Louis Coues died of pneumonia at the age of 19.

Elliott Coues was a leading naturalist in American Science in the late nineteenth century. He published over 600 articles and books including Key to North American Birds (1872), Birds of the Northwest (1874), and Fur-Bearing Animals (1877). He was also a historian, occultist, and women’s right advocate, publishing and lecturing on each of these subjects. He attended Columbian College and National Medical College (1857-1862). In 1864 he was commissioned as an assistant surgeon in the US Army, stationed in Fort Whipple, Arizona. During the next 17 years that he served in the military, he was stationed and traveled throughout the country. After the military he was a professor of anatomy and zoology at several colleges. Elliott was married three times, first to Sarah Richardson in 1864 which was never consummated and was annulled by the Arizona legislature that year; his second marriage was in 1867 to Jeannie Augusta McKinney who divorced him in 1886; his third was to Mary Emily Bates in 1887.

Grace Coues married Charles A. Page in 1867. Charles Page was a friend of Elliott and the family. He was a war correspondent for the New York Tribune during the Civil War and after the war served as the US Consul in Zurich, Switzerland. He lost the Consul position in 1869 but maintained a position with Anglo Swiss Condensed Milk for whom he had worked during his consulship. Charles died in 1873 and Grace remarried Dana Estes (1840-1909) in 1884. Estes was a successful Boston publisher and in later life collected archeological artifacts in Africa.

Lucy Coues married James M. Flower (before 1869) who was a Lawyer in Madison, Wisconsin with the firm Stevens and Flower, attorneys for the Green Bay and Mississippi Canal Company. Lucy chaired a committee on moral and social reform for the Psychical Science Congress ca. 1891.

Sources: Cutright, Paul R. and Michael J. Brodhead, Elliott Coues, Naturalist and Frontier Historian (University of Illinois, Chicago, 1981). Foster, Joseph, Colonel Joseph Foster: His Children and Grandchildren, (Hartford, 1935), 296-277. Smart, Arthur K., “When New Hampshire Laid the Foundations for Our United Nations,” Historical New Hampshire, volume 5 (March 1949), 3-30.

Series List

I. Samuel E. Coues

II. Charlotte Haven Ladd Coues

III. Elliott Coues

IV. Charles A. Page

V. Samuel Elliott

VI. Miscellaneous

I. Samuel Coues, 1816-1823, 1837

Twelve letters, 1816-1823, to Richard Ela of Portsmouth and later an attorney in Durham, on friendship, health, philosophy, travel and legal subjects. Coues mentions books for the Portsmouth Lyceum, collecting mineral for “the society,” and an organization abbreviated P.F.C. which could be the Portsmouth Forensic Club. There are also three letters, 1837, from his wife, Charlotte Coues, on life in Portsmouth while he was in Boston.

Box 1

Folder 1 Correspondence with Richard Ela, 1816-1823

Folder 2 Letters from Charlotte Haven Ladd Coues, 1837

II. Charlotte Haven Ladd Coues, 1827-1866

There are 53 letters from Samuel Coues from 1853 when he was in Washington, DC waiting for a government appointment. He writes about meetings with President Franklin Pierce, talking with Nathaniel Hawthorne, visiting the Ladd family, and many other contacts and acquaintances in Washington. This is a very interesting series of letters showing the political climate of the period. There are 42 letters, 1864-1866, from Charles A. Page, later to marry Grace Coues, while he was a war correspondent. He writes about the war, about his friend Elliott Coues and his social life. Charlotte’s parents, Alexander S. and Maria Ladd, and her brother, Charles Ladd, are represented by seven letters, 1827-1836. Marianne Mason, the daughter of Hon. Jeremiah Mason, whose family moved from Portsmouth to Boston, wrote letters to Charlotte on her social life in Boston. A similar group of letters are from friend, Harriet Roberts who has moved from Portsmouth to Delhi, NY.

Folder 3 Samuel Coues, April 1853

Folder 4 Samuel Coues, May 1853

Folder 5 Samuel Coues, June-July 1853

Folder 6 Alexander and Maria Ladd, 1828, 1836

Folder 7 Charles Ladd, 1827-1828

Folder 8 Marianne Mason, 1831-1836

Folder 9 Charles A. Page, May 1864-August 1865

Folder 10 Charles A. Page, September 1865-July 1866

Folder 11 Harriet Roberts, 1828-1837

Folder 12 General Correspondence, 1828-1837

III. Elliott Coues, 1865-1866

There are two letters to Elliott, one from his colleague William B. Drinkard, professor of anatomy at National Medical College, describing his life in Washington, DC and Elliott’s career; the other letter is from Charles Page describing his voyage to Europe.

Folder 13 Letter from William B. Drinkard, 1866

Folder 14 Letter from Charles Page, 1865

IV. Charles A. Page, 1866-1872

There is a significant group of letter from Elliott Coues including discussion of his personal life, his second marriage, his scientific work, and his family. Another interesting group are those to and from his brother George H. Page. George was in the condensed milk business with Charles and these letters concern business and finance. Letters from his wife discuss family life and affairs. There are also four letters from DH Wheeler director of the London Office of the New York Tribune discussing Wheeler’s job and future prospects.

Folder 15 Letters from Charlotte Coues, 1869-1870

Folder 16 Letters from Elliott Coues, 1867-1870

Folder 17 Letters from James M. Flower, 1869

Folder 18 Letters from Alexander H. Ladd, 1867-1869

Folder 19 Letters from William F. Ladd, 1866-1870

Folder 20 Letters from George H. Page, 1869-1870

Folder 21 Letters to George H. Page, 1869-1872

Folder 22 Letters from Grace Page, 1870

Folder 23 Letters from D. H. Wheeler, 1866-1867

Folder 24 General Correspondence, 1866-1872

V. Samuel Elliott, 1789-1808

There are three letters from his aunt, Rebecca (Elliott) Hopper, in Paddington, England. The letters discuss family matters, inheritance, and relations between the two countries. Of particular interest is a letter discussing the Portsmouth fire of 1802.

Folder 25 Correspondence with Rebecca (Elliott) Hopper, 1789-1808

VI. Miscellaneous

The Miscellaneous file contains a page from Elliott Coues’ “Book of Dates,” a letter from Isaac Patterson, a copy of a poem, a note to Maria Tufton Coues from her grandmother, Maria Ladd, and a letter of introduction for Samuel Coues from Alexander Ladd. The scrapbooks contain family memorabilia including the beginnings of a commonplace book of Charlotte Coues, writings, lecture notes, literary productions, newspaper articles, letters, signatures, family hair, school honors, and astronomical calculations, representing primarily Charlotte, Samuel, and Elliott Coues but also includes other family members.

Folder 26 General Miscellaneous, 1833-1896

Folder 27 Coues Scrapbook, 1835-1867

Folder 28 Papers from Coues Scrapbook (Folder 27), 1846, 1932

Folder 29 Coues Scrapbook, 1835-1853

Related Material

See family photos in the Small Photograph Collection PS1601_01 – PS1601_21.