Finding Aid 04

Chatham Historical Society
Thomas J. McGrath Business Papers (1948 – 1961)

Volume: 198.0 Linear Feet
Provenance: Papers came from the estate of his wife Virginia Harding McGrath
Restrictions: None
Processed by: Geraldine M. Cox 2004 – 2009

Biographical Note

Thomas McGrath ran a printing business in Chatham from the late 1940’s through the early 1960’s. He was born August 31, 1887 in Roxbury, Massachusetts (1), the first of nine children of Thomas J. McGrath, Sr. and Marion F. Cartwright McGrath (2). Census records reveal that his father and an uncle were printers in Boston as early as 1880 (3) and that a younger brother also became a printer (4). In 1910 he was living with his family in Boston, working as a salesman at a soda fountain (5).On January 5, 1917 he registered for the draft for World War I. His draft registration card states that he was 29 years old, working as a manager for the Dudley Amusement Company at 2220 Washington Street, Roxbury, Massachusetts. He was tall, of medium build, with blue eyes and black hair. He had previously served three years as a Private in the Coast [?] Artillery (6).

It appears that he was indeed drafted for the next record of his life is his marriage on 22 May 1918 in Rochester, Monroe County, New York to Gertrude (Waters) Bowman. At this time his occupation was listed as soldier and his residence at the Aerial School, Kodak Park City. Gertrude was a widow and a musician in Syracuse, New York (7). Thomas was in the first class to be trained in aerial photography at Rochester and he served in the Mexican Border Incident and as a sergeant in the Army Signal Corps as an aerial photographer (8). By 1920 he and Gertrude were living in Boston; he was working as a printer and she as a musician in a theater.

The next documentation of the life of Tom McGrath is that of his second marriage on October 11, 1951 in Chatham, Massachusetts to Virginia Harding (10). daughter of a prominent Chatham family. There are job tickets from his Chatham printing business dating from 1948 so it is known that he was in Chatham at least by that year. What brought him to Chatham and what became of his first wife remain to be discovered. In 1952 town records indicate that his printing shop was located on Main Street near the corner of Chatham Bars Avenue (11). Later, perhaps near the end of his life when he was not well, the Virginia Harding McGrath papers (X. 7128.008) state that the printing business was run out of their home which was on Mill Pond Road (12).

Most of the job tickets in the papers donated to the Chatham Historical Society date from the 1950’s; only a few are dated from the 1960’s; 1962 is the last date in the collection. Apparently he was not well for the next documented event is his death on January 13, 1963 (13) after a lengthy illness. From his obituary it is learned that he had previously worked as a theatrical manager, a newsreel cameraman, a news photographer, a newspaperman and a proofreader and that he was a member of the American Legion and the Disabled American Veterans (14). He is buried with his second wife and her parents in Union Cemetery, Chatham, Massachusetts (15).

End Notes

  1. Ancestry .com. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917 – 1918. The Generations Network, Inc. 2005. 6 Aug 2009.
  2. Virginia Harding Mc Grath Papers, 1920 –1936. Marriage License, New York State Department of Health, 22 May 1918. The Chatham Historical Society, Chatham, Massachusetts.
  3. Heritage Quest Online. 1999 –2009. ProQuest LLC. 1880 United States Federal Census, Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts. Series T9, Roll 559, Page 5. 5 Aug 2009.
  4. Ibid, 1920 United States Federal Census, Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts. Series T625, Roll 735, Page 31.
  5. Ibid, 1910 United States Federal Census, Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts. Series T625, Roll 735, Page 231.
  6., op. cit.
  7. Virginia Harding McGrath Papers, op. cit.
  8. ”Deaths and Funerals.” 15 Jan 1963. Cape Cod Standard Times. Falmouth Library (Oct 1866 – Present) on microfilm. Copy requested through Eldredge Public Library, Chatham, Massachusetts.
  9. Heritage Quest Online, op. cit. 1920 United States Federal Census, Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts. Series T625, Roll 734, Page 218.
  10. Chatham Massachusetts Vital Records 1930 –1954. Page 55. Eldredge Public Library, Genealogy Department. Chatham, Massachusetts.
  11. Annual Report of the Town Officers, Chatham, Massachusetts for the Year 1952. Page 154, Article 56. The Chatham Historical Society, Chatham, Massachusetts.
  12. Cape Cod Standard Times, op. cit.
  13. Chatham Massachusetts Vital Records 1955 – 1973. Page 94. Eldredge Public Library, Genealogy Department. Chatham, Massachusetts.
  14. Cape Cod Standard Times, op. cit.
  15. Gravestone Inscriptions – Chatham, Mass. In the collection of the Chatham Historical Society.

Scope and Content Note

The thirty-six boxes contain the business papers from Thomas McGrath’s print shop which operated in Chatham from 1948 through 1962. The majority of the papers are job tickets for printing orders almost all of which contain samples of the printing job itself, along with notes for the type and style of printing, the size of the printing job and the price. In addition there are three ledger books containing accounts for the years 1948, 1949-1957, and 1957-1962. The job ticket envelopes are of interest for the wide range of Chatham and Cape Cod businesses, organizations, churches, individuals who ordered items to be printed. For example among the items he printed were:

Brochures for motels, cottage colonies, rooming houses, etc., many of which include photographs or drawings

Restaurant menus

Advertisements for shops and other businesses: gifts, clothing , shoes, food, yarn shops; laundries, gas stations, garages, electricians, plumbers, oystermen, etc.

Clubs & organizations & churches, such as the American Legion, Kiwanis, men’s & women’s clubs, garden clubs, sailing clubs, etc. ordered flyers for planned events (including old house tours,) meeting notices, dues notices, rules & regulations, membership lists

Individuals ordered business cards, stationery, Christmas cards, letterheads, billheads, wedding invitations

Local towns, libraries, schools ordered forms, flyers

In short, the collection provides a unique window on the activities of the Chatham community in a certain small period of time.

The original order of the job tickets has been preserved (mostly alphabetical order by name of the customer) and one of the original boxes in which they were filed has been saved as well. The documents which were used as sources in writing the biography of Thomas McGrath are filed in a folder under McGrath Family Papers (X.6687.005.002).

Box 8 — Abell, Rollin – Barnstable Unit 206
Box 9 — Barnstable Unit 206 – Byrnes, Lillian
Box 10 — Cahoon, Grace – Chatham Beach Club
Box 11 — Chatham Beach Club – Chatham Bars Inn
Box 12 — Chatham Bars Inn – Chatham Dramatic Guild
Box 13 — Chatham Dramatic Guild – Chatham Ice Co.
Box 14 — Chatham Jewelers – Chatham Post 253, A. L.
Box 15 — Chatham Post 253, A. L. – Chathamport Nurseries
Box 16 — Chathamport Nurseries – Chatham Furniture Store
Box 17 — Chatham Park Dept. – Town of Chatham
Box 18 — Town of Chatham –Chatham Trust Co.
Box 19 — Chatham Trust Co. –Chatham Womens Club
Box 20 — Chatham Womens Club – Christian Science Society
Box 21 — Cleverdon, Stella – Crosbie, Jim
Box 22 — Dailey, Jack –Eastward Ho Country Club
Box 23 — Eastward Ho Country Club – Eldredge’s Garage
Box 24 — Eldredge’s Garage – First District Presidents’ Club
Box 25 — Board of Fire Engineers – Gould, Art
Box 88 — S. W. Gould & Son – Hanson, Eugene
Box 91 — Harding, Charles – Hawthorne Inn
Box 92 — Hazelton, James B. – Howes, D. Elmer
Box 93 — Howes, O. Clifton – Kittredge, K. B.
Box 114 — Knights of Pythias – Long, Al
Box 115 — Loveland, Mrs. Ethel – Manson Motors
Box 116 — Manson Motors – Milley, H. C.
Box 117 — Milley, H. C. – Mosher, Mrs.
Box 118 — Monomoy Theater – Olson, A. B.
Box 119 — Olson, Axel – Queen Anne Inn
Box 120 — Radio Shack – Ryders Cove Yard
Box 121 — Sail Loft – St. Martin’s Lodge
Box 199 — St. Martin’s Lodge – Schluter, Jack
Box 200 — Seaman, Theodore W. – Snow Inn
Box 201 — Snow’s Pet Shop – Twin Gates
Box 202 — Twin Gates – Wayside Inn
Box 203 — Wayside Inn – W. Vernon Whiteley
Box 281 — W. Vernon Whiteley – Account Book

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347 Stage Harbor Road
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