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Warren Fish Company Records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 1986-029

Scope and Contents

The Warren Fish Company Records document the operations of a large commercial fishery operation that handled and shipped red snapper and grouper in the Pensacola area during the late 19th and 20th Centuries. The collection is comprised of the following series: accounting journals, cash books, cash journals, checkbook stubs, daybook stubs, order and delivery records, fish journals, fish receipt books, ship supply books, transfer journals, which listed amounts transferred from various journals to general ledgers, and trial balances. Trial balance books were used to alert bookkeepers to possible errors in their account books. In addition, there are account books kept by the Baylen Street Wharf Company. A noteworthy item in the collection is Andrew Fuller Warren's account book for Boston, from March 6, 1869, to May 24, 1871. These records are important to historians and business historians studying the growth of one of the nation's longest operating commercial fishing enterprises.


  • Created: 1869-1947
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1899-1920

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to all researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has not been transferred to the Florida State University Libraries. All requests for permission to quote, publish, broadcast or otherwise reproduce from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Associate Dean for Special Collections & Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Florida State University Libraries as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

Biographical or Historical Information

According to the Friends of St. Johns Historic Cemetery in Pensacola (FL), Andrew Fuller Warren, co-founder of the Warren Fish Company, was born in 1842 in Massachusetts, attended school in Boston (MA), and graduated from Brown University in 1863. During the Civil War, he served in the 10th Rhode Island Volunteers, and was later employed in the shipping business in Boston. In 1871, Warren came to Pensacola to work for the Pensacola Fish Company, an outgrowth of the city's first ice factory, and soon became a partner in the Company. In 1873, Warren returned to New England to marry Fannie Clark Stearns of Bath (ME). His brother-in-law, Silas Stearns, joined them in Pensacola, and in 1880, they established Warren and Company, a partnership. Later, the name was changed to the Warren Fish Company.

In 1881, Eugene Edwin Saunders and Thomas Everett Welles, bought the equipment and boats from the Pensacola Fish Company and founded E.E. Saunders and Company. About that time, construction of the railroad into Pensacola was completed, providing improved access to large inland and northern markets. For many years, the E.E. Saunders and Warren Fish Company had little or no competition. Working together harmoniously, they prospered. As a result, Pensacola, by the turn of the 20th Century, became the center of the commercial fishing industry, particularly for red snapper and grouper. In 1889, William Hayes, a Scottish sea captain, became Andrew Warren's partner. That year, the Warren Fish Company built a rail spur to its docks at the end of the Baylen Street Wharf, a 2,000-foot pier.

Besides red snapper and grouper, the Warren Fish Company handled large quantities of Spanish mackerel, mullet, bluefish, trout, shrimp, oysters, and a general line of other Gulf-produced seafoods. Its principal markets were in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee with lesser quantities going into eastern states, Colorado, and the Dakotas. Pensacola and Mobile (AL) were the principal ports at which red snapper were landed.

Despite its commercial success, the Warren Fish Company experienced several misfortunes during the first half of the 20th Century, which included weathering devastating hurricanes in 1906 and 1916. In addition, a Company sailing ship, the Silas Stearns (named for Warren's brother-in-law), and its crew were seized by a Mexican government ship near the Campeche Banks off the Mexican coast. The crew was released but the ship was confiscated. After Andrew Fuller Warren's death on October 15, 1919, according to the Friends of the St. Johns Historic Cemetery, the local red snapper and grouper market suffered periods of economic decline due to over-fishing and increased world competition. Frances W. Taylor noted in his "History and Method of Operation of the Warren Fish Company" that competition among larger seafood producers during the mid 20th Century was "rather friendly, and that smaller producers frequently undersold them." However, during seasons when weather conditions were favorable for the smaller producers' vessels, "they gave the Warren Fish Company considerable trouble, particularly in the southern markets."

According to a letter from Taylor to Norman L. Kilpatrick (July 9, 1954), the Warren Fish Company became an incorporated business in 1899, and was re-incorporated in 1942. Its charter was broadened to permit operation of cold storage plants and shipyards, primarily to enable the company to bid on construction of small wooden ships for the U.S. Army and Navy. The Baylen Street Wharf Company, originally incorporated in 1889, owned the real estate on which the Warren Fish Company's plant was located. Its stock was always held by the Warren Fish Company's stockholders. In November 1949, the Baylen Street Wharf Company merged with the Warren Fish Company.

While it is known that the Warren Fish Company operated through the mid 1950s, there is no evidence that it still exists in 2006.


107.30 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Accounting journals, cash books, cash journals, checkbook stubs, daybooks, delivery records, fish checkbook stubs, fish sales, fish journals, fish receipt books, ship account books, ship supply transfer records, trial balances, and details on various accounts held by the Baylen Street Wharf Company, which was later absorbed by the Warren Fish Company.

Arrangement Note

Each series is arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

Norman L. Kilpatrick, Director of Libraries at Florida State University (FSU) and Secretary of FSU's Southern Business History Center, in a letter (July 9, 1954) to Frances W. Taylor, President of the Warren Fish Company, thanked Taylor for sending 95 volumes of its business records, which Kilpatrick felt would be very helpful to students in history or business. These records were subsequently transferred to the FSU Libraries from the Southern Business History Center.

Method of Acquisition

The Warren Fish Company Records were acquired from the Warren Fish Company in 1954.

Processing Information

A preliminary finding aid to the collection was completed in 1989. The finding aid was updated in 2006.

Warren Fish Company Records
Burt Altman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the FSU Special Collections & Archives Repository

116 Honors Way
PO Box 3062047
Tallahassee FL 32306-2047 US