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Guide to the Papers of Abiel Chandler, 1806-1873 [1818-1852]


Descriptive Summary

Creator: Chandler, Abiel
Title Remainder: Papers. 1806-1873
Dates: 1806-1873
Identification: MS-869

Other Descriptive Data

Papers of Abiel Chandler, 1806-1873 [1818-1852]


Biographical Sketch of Abiel Chandler

Abiel Chandler was a sixth-generation, American-born member of the Chandler family, descended from William and Annis Chandler, who settled in Roxbury, MA in 1637. Abiel's grandfather, Captain John Chandler, was one of the first proprietors of Concord, NH and a man of distinction. Abiel Chandler was born to Daniel and Sarah (Merrill) Chandler in Concord, NH on February 26, 1777. He was the seventh of eight children born to Daniel and Sarah, his second wife. Daniel was a farmer and not financially prosperous. As a child, Abiel was described by John Bradley, a friend to the Chandler family in Concord, as “steady” and demonstrating a “persevering purpose.” He was diligent and mature beyond his youth and worked hard for his father on the farm. Mr. Bradley was so impressed with Abiel's attitude and stature that he offered to give Abiel forty acres of land in Stow, Maine if Abiel would agree to settle there and work the land. Abiel had accepted the offer and moved to Stow by around 1798.

Understanding the need for an education, Abiel attended school in the fall and winter at the Fryeburg Academy, Fryeburg, ME and later at the Phillips Academy of Exeter, NH. While under the tutelage of Paul Langdon of Portsmouth, NH, he became acquainted with graduates of Dartmouth College and realized from their intelligence and articulation that a college education was a necessity for him. He prepared for an education at Harvard College by selling his land and persuaded Mr. Bradley to become a bondsman for his college debt. Abiel graduated from Harvard with an AB in 1806. According to records from the Harvard University Archives, Abiel also attained a second degree from Harvard, an AM, in 1809.

In subsequent years, Abiel Chandler was a teacher at the Salem Latin Grammar School in Salem, MA and also taught at a school in Newburyport, MA. He remained a teacher until around 1817, when he moved for about a year to Baltimore, MD. Abiel next ventured into the commission merchant business. He and Benjamin Howard formed the partnership of Chandler, Howard & Company located on Central Wharf Street in Boston. He was in business with Mr. Howard from about 1818 until 1845, acquiring a substantial fortune and social distinction through hard work and good business practices.

Abiel Chandler married Dorcas Sargent of Gloucester, MA in May of 1827. Dorcas was related to Epes Sargent (1813-1880), author and traveler. Her father and younger brother were also named Epes. Dorcas was the second youngest of nine siblings. Abiel and Dorcas had no children. Dorcas died in Boston in February of 1837, aged 48 years.

Since Abiel and Dorcas had no children of their own, Abiel used his wealth to assist in the lives of his family and his wife's family. It is known that he personally saw to the education of a niece, Orilla Flanders, daughter of his sister Abigail (Chandler) Flanders. Abiel supported his nephew Charles Chandler, son of his younger brother, John Chandler, while he was committed to the New Hampshire Asylum for the Insane in Concord. Charles was an epileptic and suffered frequent seizures. Abiel paid for his nephew's board and medical expenses throughout his stay at the asylum. During this time, Abiel purchased and donated a horse-drawn carriage to the asylum since it had inadequate means for transporting its inmates. Charles died in the Concord asylum of an acute epileptic seizure in 1848, aged 33 years.

When Abiel Chandler retired in 1845, he sold his house in Boston and moved to Walpole, NH. There he bought a farm, known as the Bradley Place, from a gentleman named Henry Tudor. At the time of his retirement, Abiel had amassed a fortune from his business dealings amounting to between $90,000 and $100,000. By late 1850, he began planning for how his money would be used after his death by drafting a will which specifically outlined the dispersal of his estate. The future executors to Abiel Chandler's estate were identified as Francis Brown Hayes (Dartmouth H1851), a Boston lawyer, and John James Dixwell (Dartmouth H1851), a Boston merchant. Mr. Dixwell was his nephew, son of his wife's sister, Esther (Sargent) Dixwell. The will established legacies for more than fifty nieces and nephews, members of his wife's family, several friends in business (including the named executors), and the New Hampshire Asylum for the Insane. However, the largest beneficiary of the will was Dartmouth College. Abiel wanted to benefit his home state of New Hampshire and decided to do so by leaving the sum of $50,000 to Dartmouth so that a scientific school could be established and endowed (see the Guide to the Chandler Scientific Department Records, 1851-1940, Collection Number DA-6). The will stipulated that “a perpetual board of visitors” be created to oversee the administration and use of the Chandler Fund, as well as the operation of the school itself, and any administrative details, therein. In the will, coexecutors Dixwell and Hayes were also appointed as Visitors to the newly created school.

Abiel Chandler died in Walpole, NH on March 22, 1851. It was his desire that he be buried near his wife, Dorcas. His body was transported by train to Boston, where it was relayed by carriage to Mt. Auburn Cemetery, in Cambridge, MA and interred therein on March 25, that year. He is buried in Lot #107, originally purchased by his sister-in-law, Catherine Sargent. Its location is near Central Avenue and Abiel is buried with several members of his wife's family, including her parents, Epes and Dorcas (Babson) Sargent.

The Chandler Scientific Department, which was created with the $50,000 Chandler bequest to Dartmouth College in 1852, existed only until 1893. However, the Chandler Fund remains as a viable, endowed fund administered by the Chandler Foundation, which still has appointed visitors who oversee the appropriate use of the fund. As of May 18, 2000, the market value of the endowed Chandler Fund was listed at slightly over $1,300,000.

The New Hampshire Asylum for the Insane benefited further from the Chandler estate when it was found that residual funds existed beyond the $50,000 bequeathed to Dartmouth. Any such funds were to be given to the asylum as stipulated in the Chandler will. The final amount of the fund (bearing the Chandler name) ultimately bequeathed to the asylum was fixed at more than $30,000 in 1885.

A portrait of Abiel Chandler currently hangs near the lower west entrance into Baker Library on the Dartmouth College campus. The inscription reads: “Painted by Joseph Ames, after Francis Alexander. Gift of Mr. Chandler's Executors.” Its completion date is not known. Neither is the date it was given to Dartmouth, though it was possibly within the two-year limit for the settlement of the estate, as stipulated by Abiel Chandler in his will. Since it was given by the executors, this could have occurred before the middle of 1853.

Scope and Content Note

The Papers of Abiel Chandler, 1806-1873 [1818-1852], 2 boxes, 2.5 linear feet, contain letters, letters patent and other deeds, financial statements, trial balances, executors' probate records, bills and receipts, insurance policies, agreements, a checkbook, personal memoranda and lists, and a printed will. It is a combination of material, consisting of personal papers and some material related to the administration and settlement of the Chandler estate. The papers do not contain detailed information related to the dispersal of the estate in regard to the legacies intended for the New Hampshire Asylum for the Insane or Dartmouth College. They also do not contain information on the formation of the Chandler Scientific Department, which occurred in 1852. (For information of this nature, please see the Guide to the Chandler Scientific Department Records, 1851-1940, Collection Number DA-6.)

The bulk of the material is dated from the 1830s and 1840s, during which time Abiel Chandler was the controlling partner in the commission merchant business Chandler, Howard & Company in Boston, MA. Though most detailed financial information from the business is lacking, there is sufficient material to indicate the value of Mr. Chandler's financial assets and the finances of the company near the time of his retirement in 1845.

There are many personal and business letters accumulated from the latter part of this same time period. Of particular interest are letters received from Horace Mann (1796-1859), renowned American educator from Massachusetts. They are written by Mann on the level of personal friendship and do discuss some of Mann's philosophies on education. Other notable letters come from George Chandler and Dr. Andrew MacFarland of the New Hampshire Asylum for the Insane. They discuss the disposition of Abiel's nephew, Charles Chandler, and the pending gift by Mr. Chandler of a horse-drawn carriage for the asylum.

Other material of interest in this collection concerns land owned by Abiel Chandler in the western territories of the United States in the early-to-mid-1800s. There are letters to Mr. Chandler from land agents and others concerning land owned by him near Mineral Point, Iowa County, Wisconsin Territory. Letters patent signed by United States President James Monroe for land originally given by the General Land Office to former army personnel in 1818, and later signed over to Abiel Chandler, appear with other deeds in the collection.

Information pertaining to the work of the executors to the Chandler Estate appear in letters to the legatees, as well as in the papers dealing with the first probate account of the executors Dixwell and Hayes. The breakdown of the financial aspects of the estate are shown in a number of probate documents produced by the executors. They give an understanding of the size of the estate and the work done to disperse all legacies to the numerous legatees.

The collection is arranged alphabetically by folder title, with oversized materials appearing at the end of the collection.

An appendix is included at the end of the box contents listing. It is a genealogical chart showing Abiel Chandler's lineage, beginning with the first known ancestors of his family in America, William and Annis Chandler, who settled in Roxbury, MA in 1637. It also details the families of his siblings and members of the immediate family of his wife, Dorcas (Sargent) Chandler. The appendix is provided to assist in the description of the dispersal of Abiel's estate to the numerous legatees described in his will. It is as complete as can be verified, but is believed to be accurate.

Adjunct Descriptive Data

in Rauner Special Collections Library in Webster Hall

Dartmouth College Library

May 2000

Hanover, New Hampshire

Related Materials

Chandler Scientific Department of Dartmouth College

History of Dartmouth College

A History of Dartmouth College and the Town of Hanover, New Hampshire

The Chandler Family: the Descendents of William and Annis Chandler who Settled in Roxbury,

Massachusetts, 1637

PAPERS OF ABIEL CHANDLER, 1806-1873 [1818-1852]

(2 boxes, 2.5 linear feet)

BOX : 1

Item No.1

Guide to the Papers of Abiel Chandler

1806-1873 [1818-1852]


Accounts, bills, and obligations: miscellaneous

Jun 1846-1850


Accounts current with Abiel Chandler and Chandler, Howard & Company, Boston, MA: agreements

May 1837-Jul 1841


Accounts current with Chandler, Howard & Company: specifications of notes receivable, payable debentures, and import bonds



Accounts current with Abiel Chandler and Chandler, Howard & Company: statements of accounts

Aug 1845-Apr 1849


Accounts current with Chandler, Howard & Company: statements of earnings and trial balance sheets

Jan 1830-Mar 1833


Accounts current with attorney John James Dixwell

Jan 1849-Mar 1850


Accounts current with nieces Betsy and Orilla Flanders

Jan 1845-Mar 1847


Agreements, miscellaneous

Apr 1847-Apr 1849


Androscoggin Manufacturing Company, Brunswick, ME.: acts of incorporation

Mar-Apr 1841


Bills and receipts

May 1838-Feb 1849


Brunswick Company, Brunswick, ME.: inventories, statements, letters

Apr 1840-Aug 1842, n.d.


Burial map of lot #107 (the Sargent lot), Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, MA. Includes burial locations for Abiel Chandler and his wife, Dorcas (Sargent) Chandler

Jul 1873


Canceled checks: Eagle Bank, Boston, MA

Jan-Mar 1848


Certificates of stocks and notes due to Abiel Chandler

1845-1860, n.d.


Checkbook: Eagle Bank, Boston, MA

Oct 1845-Apr 1848


Fire insurance policies

Aug 1846-Dec 1849


First probate account of the executors to the Estate of Abiel Chandler, Francis Brown Hayes and John James Dixwell

Jun 8-Jul 7, 1852


First probate account, Paper A: gain on sales of the personal estate

Jun 1851-Jun 1852


First probate account, Paper B: cash collected of sundry persons on notes and bonds

May 28, 1852


First probate account, Paper C: cash collected as rents of real estate

Nov 1851


First probate account, Paper D: personal estate not appraised

Jul 13, 1852


First probate account, Paper E: interest on personal property, cash received

Nov 3, 1851


First probate account, Paper F: paid funeral charges of deceased

March 24-25, 1851


First probate account, Paper G: paid taxes of real and personal estate

Jun 1851-Apr 1852


First probate account, Paper H: paid sundry debts of deceased

May 1850-Jun 1852


First probate account, Paper I: paid sundry legacies

Feb 1852


First probate account, Paper J: expense of administration

Oct 1850-Jul 1852


First probate account, Paper K: cash advanced to the New Hampshire Asylum for the Insane, Concord, in part of residuary devise

Nov 1851-Jun 1852


Form of receipt for legacies paid over by Merrill Wyman, nephew of Abiel Chandler and trustee under his will



Letter from Epes Sargent, father of Dorcas Sargent, to Epes Sargent, brother of Dorcas Sargent (later wife of Abiel Chandler)

Jul 2, 1806


Letters and accounts sent to legatees of the Chandler Estate by executors Hayes and Dixwell. Includes letter to neice, Orilla Flanders, RE: her uncle's health declining; could she visit him in Walpole, NH

Dec 5, 1850; Jul 5, 1851


Letters received by Abiel Chandler

Apr 1839-Dec 1844


Letters received



Letters received



Letters received



Letters received

Jan-Oct 1848


Letters received

Nov-Dec 1848


Letters received

Jan 1849-Jun 1851, n.d.


Letters received from niece Orilla Flanders

Feb 1848-Apr 1849


Letters sent by Abiel Chandler

Apr 1848-Jan 1849, n.d.


List of articles belonging to Mr. Abiel Chandler at No. 8 Temple Place [Boston, MA?]

Oct 20, 1848, n.d.


Memoranda; comparisons of Account Book #1 with ledger

Apr 8, 1849


Memoranda: sums given by Abiel Chandler in charity

Jan 1842-Apr 1849


Memorandum: names of nieces and nephews



Receipts for taxes paid on land owned in the State of Illinois and Wisconsin Territory, United States

Dec 1847-Jan 1848


Schedule of lands owned by Abiel Chandler in Iowa and Lafayette Counties of the Wisconsin Territory, United States

Oct 1, 1847


Trial (debit and credit) balances

Apr 1845-Apr 1848


Will of Abiel Chandler. Printed


BOX : 2


[Oversized] deeds of property owned by Abiel Chandler



[Oversized] deeds of property owned by Abiel Chandler. Includes Letters Patent for land in the Illinois Territory originally issued by the General Land Office, Washington, D.C., and signed by U.S. President James Monroe

Nov 1817-May 1818


[Oversized] map of Mineral Point (and vicinity), Iowa County, Wisconsin Territory, United States. Shows land parcel owned by Abiel Chandler

circa 1847