Phinney Family Collection: 1821–1975

Repository: W.B. Nickerson Cape Cod History Archives

Creator: Phinney Family, 1821–1975

Title: Collection, 1821–1975

Quantity: 1 box containing 12 folders

Abstract: Deeds, memoirs, letters, photographs and genealogy information regarding Phinney family members from Cotuit, MA from 1821–1975.

Processing Information:
Re-processed: October 2011
Re-processed by: Julie Mockabee, Simmons College Intern

Acquisition Information: Donor information is unknown.

Access: Unrestricted

Historical Note:
The Phinney family came to Massachusetts around 1637 where they settled first in Plymouth. They ultimately settled in Cotuit and throughout Barnstable. There are many members of the family. The Phinneys were notable seafarers of the time upon oyster boats.

This collection mainly focuses on the brothers, Isaac W. Phinney (1848–1927) and Irving B. Phinney (1842–1931) and Irving's immediate family. They were active in their communities and many of them had long lives. Isaac W. Phinney lived to be 79 and had sailed for 35 years. Irving B. Phinney was a prominent member of the Barnstable community and lived to be 89. He attended every town meeting since he was 15 until the year he died. He was married to Mary Mackenzie Phinney and they had three children, Sumner, and twins Chauncy and Olivia. Olivia lived to be 93 and was a teacher and librarian. Irving B. was interested in the genealogy of the Phinney family and has researched and created many charts that are included in the collection. The members of the Phinney family married into and to other members of notable Cape Cod families such as the Marston's.

As prominent members of the town, the Phinney's were involved in many important events that took place in the Town of Barnstable, namely the Centennial Celebration of 1839.

Scope and Content:
The Phinney Family Collection includes 12 folders of biographical and genealogical data on the Phinney family of Cotuit from 1821–1975. Included are personal memoirs, family photographs, deeds, correspondence and detailed listings of family ancestry. Genealogy tracing is indicated from the family's arrival in America prior to 1637 to 1882. Several family members are highlighted in this collection, namely the brothers, Isaac W. Phinney and Irving B. Phinney and Irving's immediate family.

The collection contains significant genealogical documents outlining the entire Phinney family and their connection to other families the Mackenzie's, the Marston's and the MacNeil's.

Personal memoirs and stories of sea travel by Irving B. Phinney offer a look at what life was like in Cotuit in the 1800's.

Related Material:
Barnstable; three centuries of a Cape Cod town, by Donald G. Trayser, with articles by Phyllis Bears, Trayser, Donald G. (Donald Grant), 1902-1955. Yarmouthport, MA, Parnassus Imprints; Taunton, MA, W.S. Sullwold, 1971 [c1939] 500, [19] p. illus. (p 392)

The Cape Cod Centennial Celebration at Barnstable, September 3, 1839, of the incorporation of that town, Barnstable (MA) Barnstable [MA]: S.B. Phinney, 1840. 92 page 23 cm. (page 18-19, 85 and 89)

Irving B. Phinney ca. 1880

Folder 1: Documents: Sarah B. Phinney: 1884, 1885 and 1894 (3 items)

  1. Letter to Irving B. Phinney from Sarah B. Phinney, 1884.
  2. Letter from Sarah B. Phinney appointing Isaac W. Phinney as her attorney, April 6, 1885.
  3. Mr. Andrew Lowell and Irving B. Phinney accepting appointment as executors of the will of Sarah B. Phinney, May 8, 1894.

Folder 2: Obituaries: 1907-1975 (4 items)

  1. Obituary of Chauncy M. Phinney, December 2, 1907.
  2. Obituary of Captain Isaac W. Phinney, September 13, 1927.
  3. Obituary of Olivia M. Phinney, January 19, 1975.
  4. Memorial Service Information: Olivia M. Phinney, 1975.

Folder 3: Memoirs: Irving B. Phinney, c. 1929-1931 (2 items)

  1. Some Recollections of My Boyhood, By: Irving B. Phinney, c. 1929-1931 with transcription.
  2. Account of Shipwreck, Irving B. Phinney, c. 1929-1931 with transcription.

Folder 4: Marriage Intents: 1821 and 1843 (2 items)

  1. Marriage intent of Isaac Phinney and Mehitable Ames, August 16, 1821.
  2. Marriage intent of Braddock Phinney to Sarah Hatch, March 6, 1843 (photocopy).

Folder 5: Genealogy: no date – Phinney Family ancestry lists (16 items)

  • 1-5. “Widow Phinney” lists, all handwritten, all slightly different, one is a photocopy
  • 6. Isaac Phinney list.
  • 7. Levi Phinney list (photocopy).
  • 8. Phinney Family Genealogy story with transcription.
  • 9. Historical and Biographical Sketch of the Phinney Family (photocopy).
  • 10. Names and birthdates of three Phinney children, Sumner, Chauncy and Olivia.
  • 11. Transcribed Historical and Biographical Sketch of Phinney Family (not exact to original).
  • 12. Mackenzie and MacNeil ancestry information.
  • 13. Descent of Alex. Robertson.
  • 14. Blank ancestry chart.
  • 15. Finney-Phinney family book order form.
  • 16. Fragment of larger page: rest of page unknown.

Folder 6: Genealogical Notes: no date (25 items)

  • 1-16. Ancestry lists regarding the Marston Family: all handwritten, all slightly different.
  • 17-24. Ancestry lists regarding the Phinney Family: all handwritten, all slightly different.
  • 25. Combined family notes.

Folder 7: Correspondence envelope to E.O. Phinney, c. 1863–1865 (1 item)

  1. Envelope addressed to E.O. Phinney of Melrose, Mass, c. 1863–1865.

Folder 8: Town Centennial Celebration Notes and School Reports, 1839 and 1860 (3 items)

  1. One page containing notes regarding the Centennial Celebration as well as excerpts from letters received from Josiah Quincy, Judge Story and John Quincy Adams. The excerpts are short passages about Cape Cod written by these people in letters they wrote saying they were unable to attend the celebration. Notes written by Sylvanus B. Phinney, 1839.
  2. Information for Centennial Celebration containing lists of who would perform what duties. Written by Sylvanus B. Phinney, 1839.
  3. Report of the School Committee of the Town of Barnstable, April 1860. Possibly written by Irving B. Phinney.

Folder 9: Deeds and Agreements, 1845–1928 (4 items)

  1. Deed of Ephraim E. Phinney, December 14, 1845.
  2. Deed of Irving B. et. al., from Southern Massachusetts Telephone Company regarding access to land owned by Irving B. granting use of the land to the Telephone Company to lay phone lines, June 4, 1913.
  3. Letter returned with Telephone deed above, December 31, 1913.
  4. Agreement between Harry S. Phinney and T.L. Swift regarding a shooting stand and camp, October 29, 1928 (photocopy).

Folder 10: Biographical Data re: Irving B. Phinney, 1926–1931 and no date (13 items)

  • 1. Newspaper clipping with photo of Irving B. Phinney, 1926.
  • 2. Cartoon drawing of 84 year old Irving B. Phinney, 1926.
  • 3. Newspaper clipping: article regarding Irving B. Phinney’s 87th birthday, 1929.
  • 4. Page from Annual Town Meeting book mentioning 88 year old Irving B. Phinney, 1930.
  • 5. Newspaper clipping: meeting Briefs regarding Town Meeting mentioning 88 year old Irving B. Phinney, 1930.
  • 6. Newspaper clipping with cartoon drawing of Irving B. Phinney and short blurb, 1930.
  • 7. Newspaper clipping regarding Town Meeting and Irving B. Phinney’s attendance, February 27, 1931.
  • 8. Newspaper clipping talking about Irving B. Phinney’s attendance at Town Meeting at 89, March 1931.
  • 9-12. Obituaries and newspaper photos of Irving B. Phinney, August 24, 1931.
  • 13. Scrap of paper with Irving B. Phinney’s signature, no date.

Folder 11: Photographs: Phinney Family Members, c. 1865–1960’s (12 items)

  1. Grandmother Phinney, Sarah B. Phinney, c. 1881–1883.
  2. Grandmother Phinney (Mrs. Isaac Phinney) – Sarah Bliss Marston, maiden name, c. 1890's.
  3. Sumner Irving Phinney, c. 1882.
  4. Sumner Irving Phinney, c. 1884.
  5. Chauncy and Olivia Phinney, twin infants, 1882.
  6. Olivia Mackenzie Phinney, c. 1883–1884.
  7. Chauncy and Olivia Phinney, c. 1885–1886.
  8. Chauncy and Olivia Phinney, c. 1885–1886.
  9. Olivia Phinney (?), c. 1960’s.
  10. Mary Mackenzie Phinney, c. 1865–1868.
  11. Mary Mackenzie Phinney (?), c. 1882–1886.
  12. Irving B. Phinney (?), c. 1880's.

Folder 12: Photographs continued: Mackenzie and MacNeil Families and Unidentified photos, c. 1859–1875 and no date (6 items)

  1. Uncle Peter's (MacNeil?) wife and Amelia and Pepita, no date.
  2. Peter MacNeil, 1867 or 1869.
  3. Elizabeth Mackenzie (Mary Mackenzie Phinney's sister), c. 1870's.
  4. Unidentified woman, no date.
  5. Unidentified couple, no date (from part of family that went to Nova Scotia).
  6. Two female children, unidentified, c. 1859–1875.

Added Entries/Cataloging Entries

  • Adams, John Quincy, 1767–1848
  • Phinney, Ephraim E.
  • Phinney, Irving Benjamin, 1842–1931
  • Phinney, Isaac, 1797–1862
  • Phinney, Isaac W., b. 1848
  • Phinney, Mehitable Ames
  • Phinney, Sarah B.
  • Phinney, Sylvanus Bourne, 1808–1899
  • Quincy, Josiah, 1772–1864


  • Cape Cod (Mass.) – genealogy
  • Cape Cod (Mass.) – history
  • Shipwrecks – Massachusetts – Cape Cod
  • United States – History – revolution, 1775–1783