GOURGAS FAMILY PAPERS, circa 1834-2000

Vault A45, Gourgas Unit 1

Francis Richard Gourgas

EXTENT: Approximately 4 linear feet.

ORGANIZATION AND ARRANGEMENT: Organized into four series: I. Family papers, 1834-1979; II. Genealogical papers, 1938-1980, divided into two subseries: Subseries II.A. Gourgas family overall, 1960-1970s, and Subseries II.B. Gathered Freemason records related to John James Joseph Gourgas and the Gourgas Medal, 1938-1980; III. Photographs and images, pre-20th century-late 20th century, divided into three subseries: Subseries III.A. Images of people, pre-20th century-1940s, Subseries III.B. Images of 98 Monument Street and Concord,1938-late 20th century, and Subseries III.C. Images found with the collection, 1906; IV. Collected town reports, special publications, clippings and histories about Concord, Massachusetts and Weston Massachusetts, 1961-1980s, divided into three subseries: Subseries IV.A. Concord, Massachusetts, 1861-1900, 1925, Subseries IV.B. Weston, Massachusetts, 1980s, and Subseries IV.C. Clippings, 1960-1970.

FAMILY HISTORY: The Gourgas family in this collection refers to one family line descended from Jean Lewis Gourgas II, a Huguenot who emigrated to America from Switzerland in the 1700s after serving as a general in the French army in the American Revolutionary War. The Gourgases were centered around two towns: Concord, Massachusetts, and Weston Massachusetts, with some family members residing in Milton, Massachusetts, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts, Brooklyn, New York, New York, New York, and Cincinnati, Ohio.

The collection consists mainly of the papers of:

The Gourgas family of Concord consisted of Francis R. Gourgas (1811-1853), his wife, Abigail Pierce Hastings Gourgas (1816-1896)—married in 1836—, and their children John Mark Gourgas III (1845-1919), Francis R. Gourgas Jr. (1843-1925), and Abigail Margaret Gourgas (1837-[unknown]). They resided in the house currently numbered 98 Monument Street (then numbered 20 Monument Street) early in the 1830s; they were the neighbors of prominent Concord families including the Keyes family and the Bartlett family. During their time in Concord, Francis R. Gourgas had the first indoor bathroom in Concord installed in the house.

Born in Dorchester, Massachusetts and raised in Weston, Massachusetts, Francis R. Gourgas (1811-1853) was the son of wealthy Weston, Massachusetts resident John Mark Gourgas I, and the grandson of Huguenot and Revolutionary War General Jean Lewis Gourgas. Francis R. Gourgas was educated at the Concord Academy before attending Amherst College (1828-1829) and Harvard (1830) without graduating. He gained prominence in Concord during his 1835-1842 tenure as the owner and editor of the conservative anti-Freemason newspaper, the Concord Freeman. John Mark Gourgas I, who was managing the family’s funds at the time, funded Francis R. Gourgas’s purchase of a controlling share of the newspaper.

In addition to being a voice of the Democratic party in Concord, Francis R. Gourgas also lead an active life of public service, serving in Concord in the following positions:

His local influence also contributed to his becoming a member of the Social Circle in 1848. On the state level. Gourgas also served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in the General Court (state legislature), 1840 and 1842, Massachusetts Senate in 1843, and the Massachusetts Governor’s Council in 1852. He was a member of the state Constitutional Convention in 1853, the year he died of typhoid fever.

Francis R. Gourgas Jr. (1843-1925) moved to New York at the end of the 19th century. He married Mary Josephine Beatley in 1904. Their son, John Mark Gourgas IV, was born in Brooklyn in 1916. When his brother and sister, who had stayed in the house at 98 Monument Street died, Francis R. Gourgas Jr. used the house as his summer home. By the 1920s, Francis R. Gourgas Jr. had moved back to Massachusetts; he died in Brookline, Massachusetts in 1925.

John Mark Gourgas IV (1916-2001) served in the Army during World War II and was an active Freemason. It appears that much of the genealogy work in the collection was done by him in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1972 he gained employment at Jericho Village in Weston and lived and worked in the town for the rest of his life. He married twice and fathered five children before his death in 2001.

The Gourgas family is also known for its connection to Scottish Rite Freemasonry; John James Joseph Gourgas (1777-1865), younger brother of John Mark Gourgas I, was a founder and the first Secretary General of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Northern Supreme Council. He is revered for supporting the cause of Freemasonry during a time of anti-Masonic sentiment. The highest award of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Supreme Council, 33° Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, the Gourgas Medal, is in his honor. Established in 1945, the award has since been conferred upon Freemasons such as Henry S. Truman, Gerald Ford, John Glenn, and Arnold Palmer.

SCOPE AND CONTENT: The collection holds mainly papers of the Gourgas family in Massachusetts. In addition to these papers, there are some materials related to the Bartlett family of Concord (Edward Jarvis Bartlett and his descendents), neighbors of the Gourgases on Monument Street.

Papers consist of account books, ambrotypes, daguerreotypes, photographs, letters, certificates, town reports, photocopies of research material, and research notes. The bulk of the collection consists of photographs and papers of individuals in the Gourgas family, most prominently those of John Mark Gourgas IV (1916-2001) of Weston, Massachusetts. Other family members’ papers include Francis R. Gourgas of Concord (1811-1853), Massachusetts, and his father, John Mark Gourgas I (1766-1846) of Weston, Massachusetts. There is also a sizable collection of records regarding the genealogy of the Gourgas family, likely gathered by John Mark Gourgas IV. The collection also includes Concord town reports owned and annotated by members of the Gourgas family in Concord.

ASSOCIATED MATERIALS: Bartlett Family Papers, 1816-1972, William Munroe Special Collections, Concord Free Public Library (Vault A45, Bartlett, Unit 1, finding aid at http:/www.concordlibrary.org/special-collections/fin_aids/Bartlett_fam_papers). Bartlett-Jackson Family Papers, 1832-1966, William Munroe Special Collections, Concord Free Public Library (Vault, A45, Bartlett, Unit 3, finding aid at http:/www.concordlibrary.org/special-collections/fin_aids/bartlett).

External finding aids related to the Gourgas family consulted for this finding aid: Gourgas family papers, 1614-1842, Massachusetts Historical Society. Gourgas Family, Papers, 1815-1843, The State Historical Society of Missouri.

NOTES/COMMENTS: Accessioned 2007 (AMC 160). During processing, town reports of Concord from the late 19th century and early and mid-20th centuries that were not relevant to the collection were removed. Further, unannotated copies of commemorative material related to Concord anniversaries was also removed from the collection. The silhouette portrait of Francis R. Gourgas, signed by artist Auguste Eduoart, 1842 January 21 was confirmed using Ancestors in Silhouette by Emily Jackson (New York: John Lane Company, 1921).

PROCESSED BY: Janaya Kizzie, 2015. Finding aid completed December 2015.



Series I. Family papers, 1834-1979:

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Series II. Genealogy, 1938-1980:

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Series III. Photographs and images, pre-20th century-late 20th century:

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Series IV. Collected town reports, special publications, clippings and histories about Concord, Massachusetts and Weston, Massachusetts, 1861-1980s

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Not to be reproduced in any form, including image, without permission from the Curator of the William Munroe Special Collections, Concord Free Public Library, Concord, Mass.

Mounted 30 December 2015. rcwh.