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Special Collections: Guide to the John L. Goss - Fred A. Torrey Papers

Arranged and described by Brenda Howitson Steeves
Raymond H. Fogler Library Special Collections Department
January 2005
Introduction and Summary Information
Collection Title: John L. Goss - Fred A. Torrey Papers.
Dates of the Collection: 1893-1955 (inclusive); 1901-1940 (bulk).
Provenance: Gift of Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society in 1974.
Collection Number: MS 206.
Box Numbers: 1-48 (formerly Boxes 350a-397).
Size and Arrangement: The collection consists of 47 archival record cartons and one document box of material (49 cubic feet) + 6 linear feet of ledgers.
Conservation Note: The collection has been re-housed in acid-free folders and boxes. Documents have been surface cleaned as needed and metal fasteners removed.
Preferred Citation: John L. Goss-Fred A. Torrey Papers, Special Collections, Raymond H. Fogler Library, University of Maine.
Restrictions on Access and Use: Kept at Fogler Library's offsite storage facility. One week's notice required for retrieval.
The collection contains business records of the John L. Goss Corporation, a granite quarrying business with offices in Boston and Stonington, Maine, and quarries on Crotch and Moose Islands. The records are primarily those of Fred A. Torrey, treasurer and local manager of the company. The collection also contains records of Fred Torrey’s insurance business in Stonington.
John L. Goss acquired possession of Crotch Island, located off Stonington, in 1887, and with his father, Job Goss, started the granite quarrying business there. Goss also acquired the F.S. Warren quarry on Crotch Island in 1896 and began operating on Moose Island in the late 1890’s. Advertising “Goss pink Deer Isle granite,” Goss Corporation contracts included supplying stone for the post office building at Lowell, Massachusetts; the government dry-dock at Portsmouth, New Hampshire; the Pilgrim Monument at Provincetown, Massachusetts; and the Cape Cod Canal. The company also supplied stone for the Manhattan approach to the Brooklyn Bridge, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and a large drinking fountain at John D. Rockefeller’s estate in Tarrytown, New York.
The years 1900-1910 were the most prosperous for Goss Corporation and other producers of Stonington granite. By 1905 the company had a crew of 100 men on Moose Island and 80 on Crotch Island. The company also owned several vessels and tugboats, including the Thelma, the Mabel Goss, and the Annie and Reuben. Its tugs were the Jane Macrea, Stella Pickert, Betsy Ross, and Eugenie Spofford. In 1918, the Goss Corporation supplied granite for the expansion of the government dry-dock at East Boston, the last major contract for Goss. Only rough stone was shipped after that, and in 1922 Goss sold Moose Island to the shipbuilding firm, Billings Brothers. By the 1930’s Goss was forced to close intermittently for lack of jobs; the use of cheaper materials such as concrete led to a lack of demand for granite especially that used for paving blocks. High shipping costs and the use of limestone as a building material also contributed to the decline of the industry at Stonington.
John L. Goss died in 1936 but the company carried on with Max L. Button becoming president; Fred Torrey remained as treasurer and local manager, with William McKenzie serving as general superintendent. In 1953 the Deer Isle Granite Corporation purchased the Goss property on Crotch Island and the Goss Corporation’s long working history in Stonington came to an end. Deer Isle itself defaulted on a loan in 1968 and ceased operations in 1969.
Scope and Content Note
The collection is arranged in two series: Series I: Records of John L. Goss Corporation and Series II: Papers of Fred A Torrey. Series I is further divided into the following sub-series: 1. Administrative records; 2. Administrative correspondence of Fred Torrey; 3. General correspondence; 4. Invoices and receipts; and 5. Records of R.B. Corporation.
Sub-series 1, Administrative records, contains a small number of basic business files of the company, including auditor’s reports, inventories and valuations, and copies of union contracts. Financial information includes journals and ledgers, 1893-1942, some of which are for the various vessels operated by the company, as well as information on notes and bills payable and receivable. Records of Crotch Island and Moose Island payrolls, time books, and fares charged to workers for transportation to the islands are also found here.
Sub-series 2, Administrative correspondence of Fred Torrey, 1894-1947, consists almost entirely of carbon copies of Torrey’s outgoing correspondence to John L. Goss in Boston, and incoming correspondence from Goss to Torrey in Stonington. A small amount of correspondence between Torrey and Max L. Button, assistant treasurer and auditor and later president of the company, is also included. The correspondence discusses routine business matters, jobs the company is doing, shipping of company stone, financial matters, union problems, etc.
Sub-series 3, General correspondence, contains both incoming and copies of outgoing correspondence, most of it to or from Fred Torrey. It is arranged in three chronological groups with approximate dates of 1900-1906, 1907-1911, and 1912-1940. Within each group the letters are arranged alphabetically by correspondent, with broad overlap in the dates occurring in some letters of the alphabet. The collection had been re-foldered at an earlier point after its arrival at the Library, most probably from its original letterboxes, and that order is maintained here. The correspondence is often to suppliers of items needed by Goss, such as construction tools, pipefittings, machine parts, etc. It also contains much information on orders from Goss customers and shipping arrangements for the granite. There is frequent correspondence with A. LePoidevin & Co., which served as the New York agent for Goss, and with Frank Williamson, its Philadelphia agent.
Sub-series 4, Invoices and receipts, contains a record of items purchased by the company for its operations. Arranged in alphabetical order by supplier and dating from 1901 to the 1940’s, it gives an extensive record of goods and services used by the company and the firms which supplied them. These included both local firms in Stonington, Camden, Rockland, etc., and businesses in Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago. Goods supplied included machine tools, derricks and machinery for polishing granite, hardware, and dynamite. Services included loading granite onto barges, machining parts, and providing company insurance.
Sub-series 5, Records of the R.B. Corporation, contains a small group of material, primarily correspondence, tax documents, etc., 1939-1944. Incorporated in 1939 in Rhode Island with offices in Providence and Boston, the company was a firm of general contractors with Max Button as president and Fred Torrey as treasurer. A company tax form lists the John L. Goss Corp. as a subsidiary of R.B. Corporation.
Series II, Papers of Fred A. Torrey, contains primarily correspondence to and from Torrey, 1896-1940, concerning his fire and marine insurance business in Stonington.
The correspondence is with other insurance agencies, ship and insurance brokers, and shipping companies, and concerns coverage for cargo on various vessels, claims for damage to cargo, etc. Torrey also provided insurance to the John L. Goss Corporation and information about those transactions is included. Many of the letters also concern coverage for homes and property of private individuals in the Stonington area. Torrey also seems to have served as a trial justice for Hancock County and as an agent of the Eastern Steamship Company, and a few documents concern those aspects of his life.
Box List
Please note: All items without a folder number and designated as Ledger are kept in wall or oversized storage areas.
Series I: Records of John L. Goss Corporation
Sub-series 1: Administrative records
Box 1
1 Auditor’s reports, income tax returns, 1930’s
2 Boat specifications and contracts, 1924
3 Specifications for building tug for John L. Goss Corp.
4 Tow boat Eugenia Spofford
Ledger Diagram book, 1949-1955 [1 vol.]
Financial information
5 Trial balances, 1906-1913, 1936 [Located in oversized map folder]
6-7 Check registers, 1911-1914
Ledgers Journals and ledgers, 1893-1942 [58 vols.]
Ledgers Notes and bills payable and receivable, 1893-1914 [2 vols.]
8 Inventories and valuations, Crotch Island & Moose Island
9 Legal and financial information
10 Notes from meetings of stockholders and directors, 1915, 1924
11 Photograph, unidentified, undated
12 Plans and drawings [Located in oversized map folder]
13 Promissory notes
14 Schedules of stone shipped for Lewis H. Woods, 1916
15 Union memos, correspondence, etc., 1922
16 Union contracts, etc., 1933
17-19 Fares of Crotch Island quarrymen, 1911-1913
20-22 Crotch Island fares, 1916-1918
Ledgers Time books, 1895-1903 [2 vols.]
Ledger Crotch Island payroll, 1908-1910 [1 vol.]
23-24 Crotch Island payroll, 1910-1913
25 Payroll, 1913: road
26-33 Crotch Island payroll, 1913-1918

Box 2
1-3 Crotch Island payroll, 1919-1921
4-6 Moose Island payroll, 1912-15, 1918-1919
7 Payroll, undated
Sub-series 2: Administrative correspondence of Fred Torrey
Ledgers Letter books of outgoing correspondence, 1894-1903 [5 vols.]
8-19 Correspondence, 1902-1910
Box 3
1-18 Correspondence, 1910-1921
Box 4
1-19 Correspondence, 1921-1927
Box 5
1-14 Correspondence, 1928-1931
15-19 Correspondence, 1936-1940
20-21 Correspondence, 1942
Box 6
1-6 Correspondence, 1942-1947
Sub-series 3: General correspondence
7-10 Correspondence, A, 1903-1910
11-16 Correspondence, B, 1901-1906
17-19 Correspondence, C, 1900-1904
Box 7
1 Correspondence, C, 1902-1904
2-5 Correspondence, D, 1901-1910
6-9 Correspondence, E, 1900-1910
10-12 Correspondence, F, 1901-1910
13-16 Correspondence, G, 1901-1906
17-19 Correspondence, H, 1901-1908

Sub-series 3: General correspondence cont.
Box 8
1-4 Correspondence, H, 1901-1908
5-6 Correspondence, I, 1901-1916
7-8 Correspondence, J, 1901-1919
9-12 Correspondence, K, 1903-1919
13-18 Correspondence, L, 1897-1906
19-21 Correspondence, M, 1901-1906
Box 9
1 Correspondence, M, 1901-1906
2-3 Correspondence, N-O, 1902-1907
4-5 Correspondence, O, 1902-1907
6-7 Correspondence, P, 1901-1906
8-9 Correspondence, P-Q, 1901-1906
10-13 Correspondence, R, 1895-1908
14-20 Correspondence, S, 1901-1922
Box 10
1-4 Correspondence, S, 1901-1910
5-8 Correspondence, T, 1904-1921
9-10 Correspondence, U-V, 1902-1927
11-12 Correspondence, V, 1902-1927
13-20 Correspondence, W, 1901-1910
21 Correspondence, W-Y, 1901-1906
Box 11
1-4 Correspondence, A, 1907-1917
5-12 Correspondence, B, 1906-1913
13-16 Correspondence, C, 1905-1910
17-19 Correspondence, D, 1908-1923
Box 12
1-3 Correspondence, E, 1910-1928
4-7 Correspondence, F, 1910-1919
8-11 Correspondence, G, 1908-1926
12-18 Correspondence, H, 1906-1916
19 Correspondence, L, 1906-1910

Sub-series 3: General correspondence cont.
Box 13
1-3 Correspondence, L, 1906-1910
4-6 Correspondence, M, 1906-1909
7 Correspondence, N, 1905-1921
8 Correspondence, N-O, 1905-1920
9 Correspondence, O, 1907-1921
10-12 Correspondence, P, 1906-1911
13 Correspondence, P-Q, 1906-1911
14-17 Correspondence, R, 1908-1910
18-19 Correspondence, W, 1906-1912
Box 14
1-2 Correspondence, W-Y, 1906-1912
3-6 Correspondence, A, 1914-1923
7-17 Correspondence, B, 1917-1934
Box 15
1-5 Correspondence, B, 1913-1934
6-18 Correspondence, C, 1911-1931
Box 16
1 Correspondence, C, 1910-1915
2-4 Correspondence, D, 1923-1938
5-9 Correspondence, E, 1928-1941
10-13 Correspondence, F, 1915-1926
14-18 Correspondence, H, 1916-1941
Box 17
1-11 Correspondence, H, 1910-1936
12-16 Correspondence, I-J, 1919-1940
17-20 Correspondence, L, 1910-1920

Sub-series 3: General correspondence cont.
Box 18
1-19 Correspondence, L, 1907-1933
Box 19
1-4 Correspondence, L, 1917-1930
5-18 Correspondence, M, 1901-1927
19 Correspondence, P, 1909-1917
Box 20
1-17 Correspondence, P, 1911-1939
Box 21
1-3 Correspondence, P-Q, 1925-1939
4-18 Correspondence, R, 1910-1937
Box 22
1-3 Correspondence, R, 1928-1937
4-15 Correspondence, S, 1910-1937
16-19 Correspondence, T, 1921-1936
20 Correspondence, W, 1910-1931
Box 23
1-17 Correspondence, W-Z, 1910-1931
Sub-series 4: Invoices and receipts
Box 24
1-4 Invoices, A, 1901-1940’s
5-21 Invoices, B, 1901-1940’s
22 Invoices, C, 1901-1936

Sub-series 4: Invoices and receipts cont.
Box 25
1-9 Invoices, C, 1901-1936
10-11 Invoices, D, 1908-1940’s
12-14 Invoices, E, 1901-1940’s
15 Invoices, F, 1902-1940’s
16-20 Invoices, G, 1901-1930
Box 26
1-2 Invoices, G, 1909-1930
3-7 Invoices, J.A. Gott, groceries, Stonington, Maine, 1920’s-1932
8 Invoices, G, 1930’s-1940’s
9-19 Invoices, H, 1900-1940’s
20-22 Invoices, I, 1900-1940’s
Box 27
1 Invoices, J, 1903-1940’s
2-8 Invoices, K, 1901-1940’s
9-20 Invoices, L, 1901-1920’s
Box 28
1-8 Invoices, L, 1920’s-1940’s
9-18 Invoices, M, 1901-1940’s
19-23 Invoices, N, 1901-1911
Box 29
1-12 Invoices, N, 1913-1940’s
13 Invoices, O, 1900-1940’s
14-20 Invoices, P, 1900-1922
Box 30
1-4 Invoices, P, 1923-1940’s
5 Invoices, Q, 1907-1940’s
6-16 Invoices, R, 1900-1940’s
17-19 Invoices, S, 1901-1906

Sub-series 4: Invoices and receipts cont.
Box 31
1-17 Invoices, S, 1907-1940’s
18 Invoices, T, 1900-1903
Box 32
1-12 Invoices, T, 1903-1940’s
13-15 Invoices, U-V, 1902-1930
16 Invoices, V, 1927-1940’s
17-18 Invoices, W, 1899-1906
Box 33
1-11 Invoices, W, 1907-1940’s
12-16 Invoices, miscellaneous, 1924-1940’s
Box 34
1 Invoices, miscellaneous, 1940’s
Sub-series 5: Records of R.B. Corporation
2-7 Correspondence, etc., 1939-1944
8 R.B. Corp. list of exhibits: Bay State Dredging vs. R.B. Corp., 1939-1940
Series II: Papers of Fred A. Torrey
9-20 General correspondence, 1896-1905
Box 35
1-19 General correspondence, 1905-1908
Box 36
1-18 General correspondence, 1908-1911
Box 37
1-18 General correspondence, 1911-1912

Series II: Papers of Fred A. Torrey cont.
Box 38
1-19 General correspondence, 1913-1914
Box 39
1-19 General correspondence, 1914-1917
Box 40
1-18 General correspondence, 1917-1918
Box 41
1-18 General correspondence, 1918-1920
Box 42
1-17 General correspondence, 1920-1922
Box 43
1-17 General correspondence, 1922-1924
Box 44
1-18 General correspondence, 1924-1926
Box 45
1-18 General correspondence, 1926-1928
Box 46
1-17 General correspondence, 1928-1931
Box 47
1-19 General correspondence, 1931-1940

Series II: Papers of Fred A. Torrey cont.
Box 48
1 General correspondence, 1940
2 Invoices and insurance policies, 1902-1916
3 Invoices and insurance policies of John L. Goss Corp., 1918-1923
4 Legal documents, etc.
Miscellaneous material
Ledger Record of orders drawn on the treasurer, town of Deer Isle, 1930-1937
[1 vol.]
Ledger Unidentified volume listing names, real and personal property, undated
[1 vol.]

Finding Aids for selected manuscript collections in the Special Collections Department at Fogler Library are accessible online in URSUS, in a browsable Guide to Manuscript Collections. Please contact Special Collections at or (207) 581-1686 for further information.

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