Biographical Sketches of
Brewster, MA
From: History of Barnstable County, MA
1620 - 1890
Edited by Simeon L. Delo 1890


The reader of this chapter understands that the Crosby name became early a part of the history of Brewster, and so remarkable has been the success of the later generation that it must be regarded here as among the most prominent families of the town.

Among the descendants of Tully Crosby who came from England, was Josiah Crosby, of Brewster, whose son, Nathan, lived and died in the northeastern part of the 'town. His wife was Anna Pinkham, and of their children, three Sons who survived the latest-Nathan, jr., Roland and Isaac-are well remembered by the present residents of the town,

Nathan Crosby, jr., whose portrait appears, was born here November 11, 1793, and when a young man be went to Chatham as an apprentice to Mr. Berry, a tanner, and in 1819, with his younger brother, Roland, became proprietor of the establishment in which be had learned his trade. Subsequently they built a larger plant in the same locality, between Old Harbor and the town ball, between the present street and the shore, and carried on a successful business until 1832, when Nathan bought a farm and was engaged in agriculture and salt making. Three years later, selling all his interests in Chatham, he returned to his native town and erected, near the place of his birth on the shore of Cape Cod bay, the house in which the last years of his life were passed. In June, 1819, he married at Chatham, Ensign Nickerson's daughter, Catherine, who died in 1885. Their children were: Ann P., Albert. Emeline, Catherine A. N. and Nathan A.-the youngest, dying when a young man. Mr. Crosby, after his return from Chatham, entered largely into the fishing business, owning many vessels at different times, and from 1851 to 1854 was in business in Chicago with his son Albert, and brother, returning to Brewster where he die, November 21, 1882.

He lived a quiet life, and except one year in the legislature as a democrat, he held no public office.

His oldest son, Albert, went to Chicago in May, 1848, becoming there the pioneer of that large and ever increasing Cape Cod element which has made indellible marks on the commercial and financial history of that western metropolis which now counts among its solid financiers the Nickersons, of Brewster and Chatbam; the Lombards, of Truro the Swifts, of Bourne; and the Underwoods, of Harwich.

His personal credit in the east as a Crosby and a Cape Codder enabled him with practically no capital to begin a business in Chicago with $10,000 worth of Boston goods, and establish a wholesale tea and liquor business. In 1851 he established there the largest manufactory of alcohol in the west, and into this business came two uncles, Roland and Isaac, and his father, Nathan, as above stated. Albert continued the business until the 1871 fire, at which time he owned the Crosby Opera House, which was built by his cousin, Uranus H. Crosby-another Cape Cod man and son of Roland. His fire losses, including the opera house, were fully one and a half million dollars-the heaviest individual loss sustained-but before the fires were out he was drawing water from the river to cool the bricks, and in thirty days had finished and resumed business in a brick block two stories high and three hundred feet long.

Albert Crosby was prominently connected with corporate enterprises in Chicago, was president of the Chicago City Railway Company. and was ten years president of a large brewing company there.

Later, after ten years spent in travel, he again, in 1884, took active management of his interests in the brewing company as its vice president and superintendent until 1687, when he retired from all active business in Chicago. Returning then to Brewster he began, in 1888, the erection of "Tawascntha," which was completed according to his own plans in 1889, as shown in the accompanying plate. He employed Cape people almost entirely in the construction, having John Hinckley & Son, of Yarmouth, in charge of the carpentry. It is on the site of the boyhood home of Mr. Crosby, who, with filial care, has incorporated into a wing of the structure a portion of his father's house. The building, exceedingly elegant and roomy, is of the Romanesque style of architecture, with elaborate though tasteful ornamentation, surmounted by a tower sixty feet high, commanding a fine view of the bay. Here Mr. and Mrs. Crosby have brought all that taste and wealth can suggest to adorn the mansion which is now their home. Adjacent to the house is a brick, fire-proof art gallery, seventy-five by fifty feet, in which they have deposited a rare collection of valuable pictures, statuary and bronzes-one of the most valuable collections of art treasures in the state.

ISAAC, youngest chIld of Nathan and Annie (Pinkbam) Crosby, was born May 6, 1809, and married Mrs. Eunice Ryder of Chatham. They had three children, two of whom survive. He received the usual New England district school education, and worked while young on his fathet's farm. Later he engaged extensively in fishing and salt making, displaying the same faithfulness and energy he ever showed in all his business affairs.

In 1848, his health failing, he decided to go to Chicago-then a small city in the far West-where he entered into business with his nephew, Albert Crosby. Subsequently his two brothers, Nathan and Roland, joined them, and for many years their interests wire intimately connected with the growth and prosperity of the city.

In 1855 he returned to Brewster, but, finding its quietness irksome, he engaged in business in Chicago with his son-in-law, S. M. Nickerson, residing a portion of the time in Brewster, and becoming identified from its commencement with The First National Bank of Hyannis-being director at the time of his death, May 20, 1883.

Perhaps no better tribute can be paid him than to quote a few words from the resolutions passed by the directors of the bank after his death. "- in the death of Isaac Crosby we have lost a true friend and the bank a faithful and efficient officer-one of its earliest and best friends, one whose life was upright and noble, an energetic and successful business man, who unostentatiously did many kind acts in his daily life."

James E. Crosby, son of Freeman and Rebecca Crosby, was born in 1838. He began to follow the sea at the age of sixteen, and four years later attained to master. Since that time he has been in foreign trade. He married Modena F., daughter of Rev. Manard Parker They have four children: Freeman M., Edwin H., James Harold and Mabel.

Return to [ Barnstable County Biographies ] [ Online Biograpties ] [ MA History ]

Blind Counter

All pages copyright 2009. All items on this site are copyrighted by their author(s). These pages may be linked to but not used on another web site. Anyone may copy and use the information provided here freely for personal use only. Privacy Policy