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Tucker family papers

MS033 (RS2365)


The Tucker family papers (MS033) reflect the life and work of the Tucker family of Wiscasset, Maine, and life at their home, Castle Tucker. The majority of the collection comprises the papers of Richard and Mollie Tucker and their five children, which includes a substantial collection of correspondence. As a result of the Tucker children attending boarding school and then pursuing careers away from Wiscasset, Maine, the papers reveal an extensive and detailed documentation of relationships between parents and children, mistresses and servants, and among siblings. The collection is arranged in thirteen series.


In 1997, Historic New England acquired Castle Tucker in Wiscasset, Maine, as a gift from Jane S. Tucker (1917-2012). The papers contained within the house at the time of acquisition formed the bases of the collection: Tucker family papers (now MS033). Until 2006, the papers remained on site at Castle Tucker. While maintained at Castle Tucker, Jane S. Tucker (1917-2012), in consultation with Historic New England's Library and Archives staff, arranged and described the papers accordingly. In 2006, when the papers arrived at the Library and Archives, the papers remained unaltered and Tucker's original order was maintained. Between 2006 and 2008, Jennifer Pustz, museum historian, created an inventory for the collection.

Update: 2013-2014

In 2013-2014, through a National Historical Publications and Records Commission grant (Award Number: NAR13-RH-50051-13: "Family Manuscript Collections: Expanding Online Access to New England Heritage Project"), twenty-six Historic New England manuscript collections of family papers were re-evaluated and processed/reprocessed to meet current archival standards and "best practices;" corresponding finding aids were created/updated to be DACS-compliant and converted into electronic Microsoft Word document form; and the finding aids were made accessible/searchable online through the use of the Minisis M2A archival database of the Minisis Collections Management System. The Tucker family papers (MS033) were part of the grant project.

Prior to the 2013-2014 collection processing, the Tucker family papers (now MS033) comprised thirty-seven acid-free, legal-size, file boxes (approx. 15.43 linear feet). Most of the boxes were found to be in good condition with the exception of one or two boxes, which were showing signs of stress and wear. The contents of the boxes were comprised of acid-free, legal-size and letter-size, folders and loose material; folders were labeled but unnumbered. Additional unprocessed material was also found with the file boxes, comprising 1 file box, 2 cartons (approx. 2.42 linear feet), 1 oversize box, and loose material. Correspondence by Richard Tucker, Sr., Richard Tucker, Jr., Joseph Tucker, and other family members was acquired by purchase in 2014. Material related to Richard Tucker, Sr. and Jr. were integrated into existing series. A new series was created for the papers associated with Joseph Tucker, which appears out of sequence at the end of the arrangement.

During the 2013-2014 collection reprocessing/updating, the physical collection was maintained within its original file boxes and folders, with the exception of one or two file boxes being replaced due to wear and tear; letter-size folders were replaced with acid-free, legal-size, folders; and the folders were numbered accordingly. Loose material within the file boxes was placed into acid-free, legal-size folders, labeled, and numbered accordingly; loose material was either maintained within its original file box (pending space) or housed in an additional acid-free, file box or carton. No further processing was applied to the collection. A new intellectual arrangement scheme was applied to the collection, drawing off of the previous work done by Jane Standen Tucker (1917-2012), donor, and Jennifer Pustz, museum historian. The processed portion of the collection was checked against the new finding aid inventory; missing items and unprocessed material were noted and reflected in the updated finding aid; and the loose material found within the processed portion of the collection was added to the updated fining aid. Boxes were numbered, labeled, barcoded, and stored accordingly. Scope and content notes were created; brief research was engaged to create a biographical/ historical sketch; and related collections held by Historic New England and other repositories were researched and noted. A DACS-compliant, electronic 2010-2013 Microsoft Word document finding aid was created (with corresponding paper finding aid) and entered into the collection record in the Minisis M2A online database.

NOTE: Processing/updating the collection and making the finding aid accessible online were made possible through grants from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (Award Number: NAR13-RH-50051-13), the Bedford Family Foundation, and an anonymous donor.


Collection Name
Tucker family papers
Collection Code
1758-1997, undated, predominant 1848-1997
Account books, advertisements, autograph albums, blank forms, books, calendars, clippings, correspondence, diaries, deeds, ephemera, exercise books, financial papers, genealogical material, greeting cards, guidebooks, invoices, leases, legal documents, magazines, manuscripts, maps, pamphlets, patents, photographs, picture postcards, plays, programs, report cards, research notes, scripts, sheet music, souvenirs, telegrams, theater programs, trade catalogues, wills, writings; etc., reflecting the life and work of the Tucker family of Wiscasset, Maine, and life at their home, Castle Tucker.
Acquisition Type
Date of Acquisition
Physical Description
16.85 linear ft. (39 file boxes and 1 carton plus 1 oversize folder)

Finding Aid Info
An electronic finding aid is available through Historic New England's Collections Access Portal. A paper finding aid is available in the Library & Archives.

Collection Type
Description Level
Custodial History
·1997: Acquisition of Castle Tucker, Wiscasset, Maine, and all of its contents from Jane Standen Tucker (1917-2012)

·2006: Tucker family papers (now MS033) transferred from Castle Tucker, Wiscasset, Maine, to Historic New England, Library and Archives

·2013: Purchase [1861 broadside] (#OB.5.12)
* 2014: Purchase [90 items of Tucker correspondence] (#39.1-39.8)
Credit Line
Gift of Jane Standen Tucker, 1998.
Reference Code

Historical/Biographical Note

Captain Richard Holbrook Tucker, Jr. (1816-1895) was the son of Richard Hawley Tucker, Sr., and Mary (Mellus) Tucker (c 1788-1879) of Wiscasset, Maine. His education included the Wiscasset Academy, founded in 1807, a private academic high school. After finishing his studies in Wiscasset, Tucker went to Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Tucker dropped out of college in March 1837 for reasons of poor health, ostensibly eyestrain, and returned to Wiscasset. Shortly after his return, he shipped aboard the "Othello" as an apprentice to the captain. Within eighteen months he was in command of the "Othello" and spent the next decade as a ship's captain. In 1848, he effectively cut himself loose from making regular Atlantic passages. Instead he based his operations in Charleston, South Carolina, and became the agent for the Tucker vessels, as well as organizing an agency for a line of packet ships, and participating in a number of other enterprises. In 1857, Captain Tucker married Mary Geraldine Armstrong (1841-1922) in Chicago. The couple moved into the former Silas Lee Mansion in Wiscasset the following year and made it their family home. At the time of their marriage, Captain Tucker was comfortably well off. Although he had been busy for several years pursuing a variety of business ventures, his prosperity was largely grounded on the skills and business connections his father had forged over the years as managing owner of a small fleet of ships engaged in the cotton trade. The Panic of 1857 and the American Civil War both had a deleterious effect on the cotton shipping business. Captain Tucker's other business ventures included operating some small coasting schooners, a pilot boat venture, and a long-term project to develop a new propulsion system for vessels that anticipated the modern pump-drive system. He also invested in enterprises in and around Wiscasset including logging, land investments, a large brickyard, railroads, and a quarry and farm. One of the most successful of these ventures involved a gold mining venture in Nova Scotia that came to involve lumbering and the operation of a general store. The multiplicity of Tucker enterprises as well as their geographic distribution was one source of weakness. Captain Tucker also does not seem to have had the same management skills as his father. This and other factors resulted in a number of high maintenance, high-cost and low-return enterprises that at times seriously depleted the family's resources.

Known as "Mollie," Mary Geraldine (Armstrong) Tucker (1841-1922) was the daughter of Joseph Armstrong and Mary Louisa (Carr) Armstrong. Mollie had grown up in Gardiner, Maine, where her parents ran a grand hotel. After her father's mental breakdown and subsequent death in 1850, she moved with her mother and sister to Chicago, where her mother ran a boarding house. During most of this time, Mollie boarded at St. Joseph's School in Emmitsburg, Maryland (1852-1856). Mollie was only sixteen when she married forty-one-year-old Captain Richard Tucker in 1857. The Tuckers had six children during their marriage, five of whom survived to adulthood: Mary Mellus Tucker (1858-1899), Richard Hawley Tucker, III (1859-1952), Martha Armstrong Tucker (1861-1893), William Armstrong Tucker (1864-1926), and Jane Armstrong Tucker (1866-1964). While her husband spent a fair amount of time away from Wiscasset managing various business ventures, Mollie was more closely confined to the home and the duties of housekeeping and childrearing. In the 1880s and 1890s, when the family's financial situation was especially strained, Mollie attempted to use her home as a source of income. She tried selling her homemade preserves, piccalilli, and apple pie filling. In the early 1890s Mollie and several of her adult children opened Castle Tucker to summer boarders, hoping to take advantage of Maine's growing tourist population. Like her husband's efforts, Mollie's also did little more than keep the family afloat.

Richard and Mollie Tucker's eldest child, Mary Mellus Tucker (1858-1900), also known as "Mame," went to a convent school in Whitfield (St. Joseph's) and a finishing school in Farmington, Maine. Mame returned to Wiscasset after she finished boarding school and developed a desire to become a professional actress, perhaps reflecting her long-time involvement with amateur theatricals. Her decision was not popular with her family, especially with her mother. Mame had a stage career for over twenty years during which she performed with several traveling companies, including the Buffalo Bill Combination during the 1882-1883 season. In April 1887, Mame married fellow actor Al Clayton; their marriage lasted five years. Mame died at age 42 while traveling on the road during a long string of performances with repertory companies.

Richard Hawley Tucker, III (1859-1952), also known as Dick, ultimately assumed a leadership role in the Tucker family, despite the fact that he moved farther away from his family home than the majority of the Tucker siblings. After attending several schools and spending about six months on a voyage to Liverpool, Richard started school at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and graduated in 1879. After graduation he was hired at the Dudley Observatory in Albany, New York, as an assistant observer. He spent several years at the observatory before accepting a position as assistant astronomer at the Argentine National Observatory in Cordoba. Richard returned to the United States in 1893 after completing his tour at Cordoba, and took a position at the Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton, California. In his fifties he married Ruth Standen, with whom he had two daughters, Jane Standen and Mary Ronald.

Martha Armstrong Tucker Stapleton, known as Patty, became the creative member of the family as a successful author, a recognized political reporter, and a leading spokesperson for the suffrage movement in Colorado. After going to school at The Willows and the Moravian Academy, she returned home to teach, help her family keep house, and do volunteer work. She also began writing and sending her stories to newspapers and magazines. After short stints in Boston and Albany, she ultimately settled in Denver, Colorado, where she became the society reporter for the "Denver Tribune" under the name Patience Thornton. In 1883, she married journalist William Stapleton at Castle Tucker. Patty continued to write for newspapers and magazines and published her first full-length novel, "Kady, A Colorado Story," in 1886 under the name Patience Stapleton. In the fall of 1893, she learned she had cancer. Her doctors recommended she have it removed at a private hospital in New York City, which she did, but she died two days after the surgery.

William Armstrong Tucker (1864-1824) attended several schools before finishing his formal education in 1881. After attending Folsom's Business College for a semester, he took a job with a local insurance agency. Within a year, he moved to Newark, New Jersey, and took a job at a leather goods firm owned by the family of a friend of his brother Dick. It was the beginning of pattern of moving from job to job, often with long gaps in between. Will did have the opportunity to see a good deal of America's west from the Great Plains to the Pacific coast, but he never appeared able to establish a stable career as had his brother or elder sisters. He married Elizabeth Mary Worth in 1893 and they had two children, Lois Patience (1893-1897) and Richard Harvey (1899-1975).

Jane Armstrong Tucker (1866-1964) had the longest history of residence at Castle Tucker and was dedicated to preserving her family home and its contents. Like her siblings, she attended a number of schools somewhat irregularly; she concluded her formal education with a year at St. Joseph's for "finishing." Jane pursued a number of careers as an adult, including over two years of work at the Art Exchange and R. H. Stearns (where she painted decorative items, made custom embroidered buttons, and gave lessons in needlework and painting). Some of her other occupations included working at Vantine's (an import firm that popularized Japanese decorative items), taking shorthand, travelling as a saleswoman for the McCalls pattern company, and helping her mother run the summer boarding business in their home. After she returned to live permanently at Castle Tucker, Jane looked to the family house for support. She opened Castle Tucker as a tourist home, farmed the land, and raised squab for the luxury market. Upon the death of her mother in 1922, Castle Tucker became the property of Jane Armstrong Tucker, who maintained it until her death in 1964. Her niece and namesake Jane Standen Tucker, daughter of eldest son Richard, moved to the family home near the end of her aunt's life and served as its steward for over thirty years.

Historic New England research files

Material in other collections

Related collections:
This is not a comprehensive list.

Lick Observatory Records, 1857-(UA36). University Archives, University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz.

William Stapleton Collection (MS #1260). History Colorado, Denver, Colorado.

San Luis Observatory, Argentina, correspondence, Records of the Dudley Observatory, Schenectady, New York.

Tucker shipping papers (M177). George Mitchell Department of Special Collections and Archives, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine.

Richard H. Tucker papers, Lehigh Class of 1879. Special Collections, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.


The collection is arranged in fourteen series: I. Papers of Richard Hawley Tucker, I (c.1791-1867).
II. Papers of Richard Holbrook Tucker, Jr. (1816-1895). III. Papers of Mary "Mollie" Geraldine (Armstrong) Tucker (1841-1922). IV. Papers of Mary "Mame" Mellus (Tucker) Clayton (1858-1899). V. Papers of Richard Hawley Tucker, III (1859-1952). VI. Papers of Martha "Patty" Armstrong (Tucker) Stapleton (1861-1893). VII. Papers of William "Will" Armstrong Tucker (1864-1926). VIII. Papers of Jane Armstrong "Jen" or "Jennie" Tucker (1866-1964). IX.Papers of Mary Louisa (Carr) Armstrong (1815-1895). X. Papers of Jane Ritson (Avigliana) Armstrong (born 1844). Series XI. Papers of Jane Standen Tucker (1917-2012). XII. Other papers. XIII. Photographs. XIV. Papers of Joseph Tucker (1821-1889)

*Collection housing/storage code: #x.x=file box (i.e., #1.2= file box 1, folder 2); C=carton; FB=folio box; FF=fragile files; MB=multi-purpose box; OB=oversize box/folder; OV=oversize volume; VF=vertical files/flat files

Record details

Tucker Family
Other People
Armstrong, Jane Ritson
Armstrong, Joseph, d. 1850
Armstrong, Mary Louisa, 1815-1895
Carr, Isaac J. (Isaac James), 1824-1901
Carr, Joseph, 1827-1852
Carr, Narcissa, 1816-1891
Carr, William, Jr., 1820-1842
Clayton, Al
Coombs, Lavinia, 1818-1904
Donnell, Annie
Lee, Silas, 1760-1814
Stapleton, Martha Armstrong, 1861-1893
Stapleton, William
Tucker, Elizabeth Mary
Tucker, Jane Armstrong, 1866-1964
Tucker, Jane Standen, (1917-2012)
Tucker, Joseph
Tucker, Mary Geraldine, 1841-1922
Tucker, Mary Mellus, 1858-1899
Tucker, R. H. (Richard Hawley), 1859-1952
Tucker, Richard Harvey, 1899-1975
Tucker, Richard Hawley, 1791-1867
Tucker, Richard Holbrook, 1816-1895
Tucker, Ruth Standen
Tucker, William Armstrong, 1864-1926
Descriptive Terms
Centennial Exposition (1876)
Civil War (1861-1865)
Hoosier cabinets
Louisiana Purchase Exposition (1904)
World's Columbian Exposition (1893)
boarding schools (buildings)
brickworks (factories)
building materials
construction (assembling)
dishes (vessels)
estates (property)
flower gardens
gold mines
hardware (components)
hotels (public accommodations)
housewives (people)
lodging houses
paint (coating)
patterns (design elements)
quartz (mineral)
sales personnel
short stories
state government
stoves (heating equipment)
theater (discipline)
theater companies
vegetable gardens
Material Type
family papers
Architectural photography
Lick Observatory
Observatorio Nacional Argentino
St. Joseph's Academy (Emmitsburg, Md.)
Albany (Albany county, New York state)
Augusta (Kennebec county, Maine)
Boston (Suffolk county, Massachusetts)
Charleston (Charleston county, South Carolina)
Chicago (Cook county, Illinois)
Cooperstown (Otsego county, New York state)
Córdoba (Cordoba province, Argentina)
Denver (Denver county, Colorado)
Gardiner (Kennebec county, Maine)
Mount Hamilton (Santa Clara county, California) [mountain]
Lehigh University (Bethlehem, Northampton county, Pennsylvania) [school]
Lewiston (Androscoggin county, Maine)
Long Island Sound (United States) [bay]
New York City (New York state)
Niagara Falls (Niagara county, New York state)
Nova Scotia (Canada) [province]
Palo Alto (Santa Clara county, California)
Pittsburgh (Allegheny county, Pennsylvania)
Salt Lake City (Salt Lake county, Utah)
Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz county, California)
Wiscasset (Lincoln county, Maine)
Wyoming (United States)
Places (Buildings)
Castle Tucker (Wiscasset, Me.)
·This collection is available for research.
·Note: due to aging materials and condition of the materials, the whole of the collection requires handling with care.
Location Note
HGO-02-102-C-B-302; HGO-02-102-C-B-303; HGO-02-102-C-B-304; HGO-02-102-C-B-305; HGO-02-102-C-B-306; HGO-02-102-C-B-301; HGO-02-102-C-B-401; HGO-02-102-C-B-402; HGO-02-105-A-F-105; HGO-02-105-A-E-106
Accruals Note
Accruals are not expected.
Conservation Note
See Scope and Content
Language Note
Materials in English
Physical Access Restrictions
Unprocessed material: 1 file box, 2 cartons, 1 oversize box, 1 oversize folder
Preferred Citation
[Item identification.] Tucker family papers (MS033). Historic New England, Library and Archives.

Processing Information
·C.1997: Original arrangement by Jane Standen Tucker (1917-2012), donor

·2006-2008: Inventory created by Jennifer Pustz, museum historian

·2014 August: Updated by Jennifer Pustz, museum historian, and Susan Jarvis, volunteer; with assistance from Bridgette A. Woodall, project archivist

Rules and Conventions
This finding aid is DACS-compliant.