Guide to the Bunker Family Papers, 1796-1919

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Research Library at the Nantucket Historical Association. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the internet.

Collection Details

Collection Number:
Bunker Family Papers
Bunker family
Nantucket Historical Association
Material is in English.

Information for Users

Restrictions to Access: No restrictions. Open for research.

Restrictions to Use: No usage restrictions.

Copyright Notice: Copyright is retained by the authors of items in this collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Preferred Citation: [identification of item], in the Bunker Family Papers, Nantucket Historical Association.

Acquisitions Information:

Folders 19, 20, 21 gift of Thomas J. Hallowell Jr.; Folder 28 gift of Ester Gibbs; Folder 34 bequest of Lauriston Bunker; Folder 35 letters from Thomas Macy and F. C. Stanford gift of Paul Blackmur.

Sensitive Materials Statement:

Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual’s private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the Nantucket Historical Association assumes no responsibility.

Subject Headings

  • Personal Name
    • Bunker family.
    • Bunker, Asa, 1802-1869.
    • Bunker, James, 1818-1902.
    • Bunker, James Madison, 1811-1873.
    • Bunker, Phebe Ann West, 1839-1915.
    • Chase family.
  • Topical Term
    • Businesses—Massachusetts—Nantucket.
    • Education—Massachusetts—Nantucket.
    • Homing pigeons.
    • Migration, Internal--United States--19th century.
    • Local government—Massachusetts.
    • Women—Education—Massachusetts—History—19th century.

Biographical Information

Descended from George Bunker (-1658) and Jane Godfrey Bunker (-1662), who came to Nantucket in 1659 and were among the first white settlers on the Island, the Bunker family was active in the fields of education and local politics. Among the Nantucket family members represented in this collection are James Madison Bunker (1811-1873), his daughter Phebe Ann West Bunker (1839-1915), Asa Bunker (1802-1869), and James Bunker (1818-1902). Those who left the island are represented by Augusta Bunker (1855-1886), who married Walter M. Fee and moved to Washington Territory and Waha, Idaho, to operate a ranch and teach school, and Madison Bunker (1853-1916), who became a veterinarian in Newton, Mass.

James Madison Bunker was born in Nantucket, Mass., to Reuben R. Bunker (1775-1855) and Rachael Chase Bunker (1779-1854). He was a lawyer and the Town Clerk of Nantucket before he became Justice of the Bankruptcy Court in New Bedford. He married Sarah West (1817-1858) before 1838, and the couple had five children, Alfred Bunker (1838-), Phebe Ann West Bunker, Paul W. Bunker (1846-1879), Madison Bunker (1853-1916), and Augusta Bunker (1855-1886). After the death of his first wife, he married Lucretia F. Macy (1832-1893) in October 1859. Together they had three children, Louisa Bunker, Alice Bunker (1860-), and Irving Bunker (1862-1881).

Asa Bunker, born in Nantucket, Mass., to Hezekiah Bunker (1780-1811) and Lydia Gardner Bunker (1784-1867), served as Nantucket’s Register of Deeds. He married Mary Ray (1805-1858) and they had five children, Matthew Bunker, Phebe R. Bunker (1828-), Elisabeth Ann Bunker (1831-), Sarah G. Bunker (1834-), and Lydia G. Bunker (1842-). He died in Martinez, Calif.

James Bunker was born in Nantucket, Mass., to William Bunker (1789-1866) and Parnal C. Morris Bunker (1791-1845). He was a notary public on the island between April 1872 and April 1879. He married Sarah G. Folger (1822-1858) and, after her death, Rebecca Hussey (1822-) in September 1864. He had no children surviving beyond infancy.

Scope and Content

The Bunker Family papers consist primarily of letters between family members, diaries, and personal papers, but also includes government records, primarily those kept by Asa Bunker while serving as Register of Deeds.

The Asa Bunker letter books give detailed accounts of the financial status and credit rating of Nantucket businessmen. His letters also discuss education in Nantucket and the place of women in education. Detailed records and discussion of the raising, training, and flights of carrier pigeons and the Chase family genealogy are also included.


  • Box 1 Folder 1 Reuben Bunker papers, 1829-1856
  • Box 1 Folder 2 Anne Bunker papers, 1820-1833
  • Box 1 Folder 3 James Madison Bunker papers, 1864-1872
  • Box 1 Folder 4 Lucretia Macy Bunker letters, 1866, undated
  • Box 1 Folder 5 Alfred Bunker correspondence, 1883-1921
  • Box 1 Folder 6 Cordelia Barker Bunker letters, 1897-1898
  • Box 1 Folder 7 Paul West Bunker papers, 1857-1880
  • Box 1 Folder 8 Madison Bunker letters, 1883-1899
  • Box 1 Folder 9 Emma Pierce Bunker letters, 1897-1899
  • Box 1 Folder 10 Augusta Bunker letters out, 1882-1883
  • Box 1 Folder 11 Augusta Bunker letters out, 1884-1888
  • Box 1 Folder 12 Augusta Bunker letters of condolence on death, 1886
  • Box 2 Folder 13 Phebe West Bunker diaries, 1853-1858
  • Box 2 Folder 14 Phebe West Bunker diaries, 1859-1868
  • Box 2 Folder 15 Phebe West Bunker letter book, essays, poetry, 1853, undated
  • Box 2 Folder 16 Phebe West Bunker letter out, 1857
  • Box 2 Folder 17 Phebe West Bunker letters in, 1861-1890
  • Box 3 Folder 18 Asa Bunker letters out, 1856-1865
  • Box 3 Folder 19 Asa Bunker journal, 1841-1845
  • Box 3 Folder 20 Asa Bunker letter book, 1844-1846
  • Box 3 Folder 20.50 Asa Bunker certification of vote by land owners, 1846
  • Box 3 Folder 21 Asa Bunker letter book, 1844-1854
  • Box 3 Folder 22 Asa Bunker credit ratings, undated
  • Box 3 Folder 23 Asa Bunker letters in, 1865
  • Box 4 Folder 24 Asa Bunker indexes to Nantucket County Registry of Deeds books, undated
  • Box 4 Folder 25 Asa Bunker indexes to Nantucket County Registry of Deeds books, undated
  • Box 4 Folder 26 Phebe R. Bunker letters to father Asa Bunker, 1860-1865
  • Box 4 Folder 27 Charles Bunker papers, 1848
  • Box 4 Folder 28 Elishai Bunker papers, 1835
  • Box 4 Folder 29 Hezekiah Bunker papers, 1796-1821
  • Box 4 Folder 30 John Bunker character & talents by phrenology, 1844
  • Box 4 Folder 31 Peleg Bunker papers, 1802
  • Box 4 Folder 32 William P. Bunker papers, 1864
  • Box 4 Folder 33 Bunker family papers, 1721-1904
  • Box 4 Folder 34 Lauriston Bunker papers, 1799-1829
  • Box 4 Folder 35 David Bunker correspondence, 1844-1858
  • SV-3/1 James Bunker journal, 1870-1876

Items Separated

  • SV-3/1 James Bunker journal

Processing Information

Processed by NHA staff. Finding aid by Abbie Minard and Amelia Holmes, June 2018.

The Nantucket Historical Association preserves and interprets the history of Nantucket through its programs, collections, and properties, in order to promote the island’s significance and foster an appreciation of it among all audiences.

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