59 School Street, Box 1310, Edgartown MA 02539 - 508.627.4441
Martha's Vineyard Museum MV Museum

A Finding Aid to the Thurston W. Tilton Letters

Descriptive Summary

RepositoryMartha's Vineyard MuseumGale Huntington Research Library
59 School Street
P.O. Box 1310
Edgartown, MA 02539
Call NumberRU477
Creator - creatorTilton, Thurston W., 1839-1906
TitleThurston W. Tilton letters
Date1877-1884, undated
Extent4 folders (0.081 cubic feet)
LanguageThe materials are in English.
AbstractThe collection includes letters created by Thurston W. Tilton of Middleboro and Tisbury, Massachusetts, from 1877-1884. Most of the letters in the collection are addressed to Thurston Tilton's son, Charles O. Tilton.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions to access.

Use and Reproduction Restrictions

Requests to reproduce material from this collection should be directed to museum staff. Reproduction fees may apply.

Preferred Citation

Martha's Vineyard Museum, RU 477, Thurston W. Tilton Letters.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Edward G. Tilton, February 1, 1971. (Accession no. 1971.005).

Custodial History

These letters were received by the donor, Edward G. Tilton from Mrs. William T. Whitener. The brother-in-law of Mrs. Whitener's great aunt was a Tilton and a cousin of Thurston W. Tilton. The death of Elizabeth Dexter in 1967, who was both a Whitener and a Tilton, turned up the letters in an old sea chest which was part of her estate. The provenance of the sea chest is unknown.

Publication Information

Martha's Vineyard Museum

Gale Huntington Research Library
59 School Street
P.O. Box 1310
Edgartown, MA 02539

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by Insley Julier in October 2013. Finding aid completed by Lara J. Ullman in July 2014. Finding aid machine-encoded by Nathaniel Janick, July 2014.

 Creation of this finding aid was sponsored by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Controlled Access Headings


  • Acrostics
  • Correspondence
  • Sketches

Geographic Name(s)

  • Middleboro (Mass.)
  • Tisbury (Mass. : Town)
  • Vineyard Haven (Mass.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Tilton, Mabel, 1874-


  • Tilton, Agnes B., 1838-1925
  • Tilton, Charles O., 1865-1952


  • Fires--Massachusetts--Tisbury
  • Fires--Massachusetts--Vineyard Haven

Biography/Historical Note

Thurston White Tilton was born on March 31, 1839 to Osborn Cary Tilton (1814-1888) and Ann Austin (1815-1883) of the Azores. The family resided in Chilmark, Massachusetts. In 1860, Thurston W. Tilton married Agnes B. Weeks (1838-1925) and the pair had a home in Tisbury, Massachusetts. Thurston and Agnes Tilton had two children: Charles Osborn Tilton (1865-1952) and Mabel Thurston Tilton (1874-). While the children were growing up in Tisbury, Thurston W. Tilton lived off-island, teaching at an academy in North Middleboro, Massachusetts. Thurston W. Tilton died September 26, 1906.

Charles Osborn Tilton was born on September 26, 1865 in Chilmark. He attended school on-island and then shipped on board the whaling bark Sunbeam which left New Bedford, Massachusetts, for the Pacific grounds in July 1882 and returned after a successful voyage in June 1886. In 1887, Charles O. Tilton married Luella M. Smith (1868-1952). Luella and Charles Tilton had one son, George Thurston Tilton (1888-). Charles O. Tilton died in 1952.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of letters created by Thurston W. Tilton, written from North Middleboro, Massachusetts, to his son, Charles O. Tilton, or Charley. The letters have been gathered and bound with string into three volumes which are chronologically arranged. Volume I and II are marked: "Letters for Charley O. Tilton." The third, unnumbered volume is titled; "A Letter to Cha's O. Tilton, (Bark Sunbeam), from T. W. Tilton. Mostly written from North Middleboro." In early letters from 1877-1880 addressed to his son, Thurston Tilton urges Charley O. Tilton to apply himself at school, corrects his spelling and grammar, and reprimands him for poor behavior and for teasing his sister. Later letters from 1883 contain information regarding the health and welfare of family members, acrostics, and descriptions of property transactions in Tisbury or Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts. Tilton recounts the names of Vineyard Haven tenants and property owners, rents, and property prices. He also writes extensively about the damage incurred from the "great fire" of 1883 in Tisbury, describing buildings destroyed, damages claimed, insurance awards, and new construction after the disaster. His letters include several sketches of dwellings and businesses and two hand-drawn maps of Main Street, Vineyard Haven before and after the fire. The maps include keys identifying property owners and businesses. In addition, the volumes contain letters received by Thurston W. Tilton from his wife Agnes B. Tilton, which he forwards to his son. The collection also includes several loose letters, including one written by Mabel T. Tilton to her father, dated 1884.


The collection is arranged chronologically. The material is housed in a box with other small collections.

Collection Inventory


Letters, 1877-1884, undated 


A Letter to Charles O. Tilton, (Bark Sunbeam), 1883 June 05-1883 July 02 


Letters for Charley O. Tilton, Vol. I, 1883 September 04-1883 November 09 


Letters for Charley O. Tilton, Vol. II, 1883 November 17-1883 December 17