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Deyo's transportation chapter
BREWSTER SHIP MASTERS
J. Henry Sears.
With Foreword By Joseph C. Lincoln, Author of "Cape Cod Ballads," "Cap'n Eri."
TOGETHER WITH A Chapter in Reminiscence By Joseph H. Sears.
YARMOUTHPORT, MASS.: C. W. SWIFT, PUBLISHER. 1906.
Page Ship "Ellen Sears." 2
960 tons. Built in East Dennis, 1864. Sailed from San Francisco, 1867, for Liverpool, and was never heard from. Commanded by J. F. Bartlett, who was first officer of ship "Wild Wave" with Captain J. F. Knowles, when she was lost on Oeno, February, 1858. From a painting now in possession of J. Henry Sears.
"Ten Brothers." [not in book]
231 tons register. Built at Sullivan. Maine, 1810. Type of vessel of that time. Commanded by Elijah Cobb, Freeman Foster, David Nickerson, From a painting in possession of Mrs. C. A. Bradley.
Brig "Carib." [illustration is labeled "Brig Sally"]
200 tons. Built about 1825. Commanded by David Nickerson. From a painting in possession of H. Sears Hoyt of New York.
Ship "Imperial." [not in book]
1331 tons. Built at Quincy, Massachusetts, 1869. Converted into a coal barge, 1894. Lost on Barnegat Shoal, New Jersey, 1896. The figure-head was taken off when she was made into a coal barge and is now mounted upon a pedestal near the shore in Brewster. Commanded by James E. Crosby.
Ship "Ocean King." 22
Built at Kennebunk, Maine, in 1874. 2516 tons register. The first four-masted ship built in this country and one of the largest at the time. Abandoned at sea on fire on her passage from Puget sound to San Francisco, May, 1887. Commanded by Captain "William Freeman, but he was not in her when she was lost. From a painting in possession of Captain Freeman.
Ship "W. B. Dinsmore." 26
1075 tons. Built at Bath, Maine, 1864. Abandoned at sea on fire, 1870, while on her passage from Cardiff to Bombay. Commanded by Captain N. F. Foster. From a painting belonging to Brewster Ladies' library.
Ship "Faneuil Hall."
547 tons. Built at Medford in 1846. Lost off the coat of Brazil in 1866. Masters at different times were Elisha Bangs, Joseph H. Sears, Freeman H. Bangs, Barna C. Foster, J. Henry Sears.
2360 tons. Built at New York in 1854. Abandoned at sea, March, 1859, on the passage from Callao to London. Commanded by J. Henry Sears. From an oil painting now in possession of the Bostonian society, of Boston.
Ship "Konohassett." 50
520 tons. Built about 1840. Commanded by Captain Jonathan Foster. From a painting in possession of H. E. Foster.
About 300 tons. Built previous to 1795. Commanded by Captain Elijah Cobb and Captain David Nickerson. Type of ship of that period. From a painting in possession of Miss C. A. Dugan.
Ship "Glory of the Seas."
2120 tons. Built by Donald McKay at East Boston in 1869. Now lying in the harbor of San Francisco, no paying business being available. Commanded at different times by Captain E. F. Sears and Captain J. N. Knowles and Captain Joshua Freeman. This photograph is from an oil painting now in possession of H. J. Knowles. It represents the ship entering the harbor of San Francisco after her famous passage of 95 days from New York.
Tug "Anglo-Norman." 78
Built for the purpose of towing ships from mouth of the Mississippi river to New Orleans. Exploded on the trial trip three miles above the city in 1850.
About 250 tons. Type of vessel built in 1830. Commanded by Captain Solomon Freeman. From a painting in possession of Mrs. O. C. Winslow.
Bangs, Elisha 6
Bangs, Elkanah 16
Berry, Benjamin F. 8
Clark, Isaac 10
Cobb, Elijah 14
Crosby, Tully 24
Foster, Freeman 30
Freeman, Solomon 34
Freeman, William 36
Hopkins, Reuben 38
Knowles, Josiah N. 40
Knowles, Winslow L. 42
Mayo, Jeremiah 62
Nickerson, David 66
Nickerson, Frederic 68
Nickerson, Joseph 70
Sears, Elisha F. 72
Sears, J. Henry 74
Sears, Joseph H. 76
THE writer, in presenting this book to the public, desires to place in print the records of Brewster ship masters. This chronicle includes those who were masters of ships or vessels engaged in foreign trade and who were born or lived in the town, and others who made it their home while pursuing their occupations.
With few exceptions this record commences with those who were living in the town not earlier than 1840, and the larger proportion of them were personally known to the writer. During the Revolution many were engaged in privateering and whaling, and of the thirty-two soldiers whose graves are marked in the old burying ground as having served as soldiers during the Revolution, a great number of them were sailors.
It is believed that more shipmasters engaged in foreign trade went from the town of Brewster than from any other town or place in the country, in numerical proportion to its inhabitants. From a population numbering about one thousand people we have the names of one hundred and fifteen shipmasters living since the year 1840, and during the year 1850 there were over fifty living there at one time. Some few others were engaged in fishing and in the coasting trade from one port to another in the United States, but most of the young men in the town who followed the sea became masters of vessels engaged in trade to all parts of the world, Generally they had an interest in and were part owners of the ships they commanded and often two or three of them would join together and own in the same ship and would take turns
ii Brewster Ship Masters.
in its command; consequently a part of them would be at home all the time.
They would often meet mornings, after taking their breakfast, in Joe Lincoln's grandfather's shop, and it was the writer's privilege when he chanced to be at home to hear them tell stories of their voyages at sea. It was interesting to hear these old captains, who had visited nearly every port in the world, tell their adventures.
In the early times and up to about 1845 they purchased their cargoes and traded between different ports, usually returning to their home port with cargoes purchased abroad. Later they engaged to take cargoes from other parties and then while in foreign ports had to decide what cargoes to take and what business was most desirable in which to engage. The master, besides sailing his ship while at sea, in port had to act the part of merchant in buying and selling cargoes and procuring freight for his ship. Up to the time of telegraph and cable communication, he had entire charge of procuring business for the ship after leaving the home port, which in most cases was Boston.
The town was in the halo of its prosperity about 1850. From that time the number of ship masters began to decrease. The business declining, there was no inducement for young men to go to sea. At the present time there are but three ship masters living in the town, and so far as can be ascertained but four others, who were born or ever lived in the town, now living elsewhere. As late as the year 1855 the shipyards in New England were very active in building ships for their own use. Too, they built and sold them to foreign countries. They could be built at less cost than elsewhere and were better ships, always commanding the preference of taking cargoes in any foreign ports. At that time, however, the English commenced to build iron ships and steamers. The cost of construction in this country was made greater. Our ship owners could not build nor buy them in any foreign
Brewster Ship Masters. iii
country and place them under our flag. So the business between our country and foreign countries soon passed into other hands. With the decline of our shipping, there was no chance for the Brewster boy to go to sea, with any prospect of advancing to become master, and he was obliged to seek other means of a livelihood.
Had our navigation laws allowed us to build or buy ships wherever we could and in the lowest markets and place them under the American flag, the writer believes the Atlantic carrying trade would now be under the American flag and the ships would be owned by Americans and many of them now be commanded by Brewster captains.
During the writer's business life from 1860 to 1890, he had sailing as captains of vessels thirty ship masters from this town, of ships under his control or of which he was agent or part owner. Many of these masters were part owners of the ships they commanded.
From the year 1800 to 1830 the ships then employed in foreign trade were on an average about 300 tons register.
In 1850 there were many ships of from 1000 to 1200 tons register.
From 1860 to 1870 they increased in size and there were several of about 2400 tons. While there are very few full-rigged ships of any size now in existence, there are schooners of double the size of the ships of 1860.
The coastwise trade, in which no foreign flag can engage, is in a prosperous condition, while the foreign trade, open to flags of all nations, is almost entirely done by other countries.
The day of the supremacy of the Brewster ship masters has passed and with it one of the most prosperous periods in Brewster's history. Of the two remaining commanders now living in the town, Captain William Freeman at the ripe age of eighty-six is still hale and hearty, and the other representative is not far behind.
The character of the town is changed and but few of the old
iv Brewster Ship Masters.
stock has any descendants now living in the town. The summer visitor has come, and it is for the interest of all to make the town as attractive as possible, so that it may regain its former prosperous condition, only in a different way.
In obtaining the information in regard to the records of the ship masters, the writer has made inquiries of the descendants and relatives, so far as they can be found, and has supplied additional data from his own personal recollections. He was very ably assisted in preparing the work for the printer by Mrs. Ellen Foster Sears, who has since passed away.
Elsewhere in this volume are recorded the tributes of two sons of the Cape, who have done much to perpetuate the name and fame of these captains courageous. Their estimates of the hardy race of mariners are fitting tributes to their worth and appropriately form a foreword to be followed by the human documents themselves, as embodied in the records.
J. HENRY SEARS.
By sport of bitter weather
We're walty, strained and scarred
From the kentledge on the kelson
To the slings upon the yard.
Six oceans had their will of us
To carry all away —
Our galley's in the Baltic,
And our boom 's in Mossel bay !
BEFORE noon of a day in October, 1849, Henry David Thoreau, author and nature-lover, quitted the Cape Cod train at what was at that time the railroad terminus at Sandwich and took "that almost obsolete conveyance, the stage, for 'as far as it went that day,' as we told the driver." "As far as it went that day," was, as a matter of fact, as far as the down-the-Cape stage from Sandwich went on any other day, and that was as far as the Higgins tavern in Orleans. It is probable that the driver was Mr. Higgins himself and, if so, that he wore his carefully brushed silk hat and passed it about among his passengers as a depository for their fares. That this was Mr. Higgins's regular custom, the writer believes, because his grandmother used to tell him so, just as she told him the story of Moses in the bulrushes, and of the wonderful sagacity of Capt. Barney Paine's little schooner, the Boston packet, which, being lost in the bay during a violent storm and with a broken compass, stranded on the flats directly opposite her skipper's home in Brewster, thus proving that "she knew her way home all by herself."
At any rate, Mr. Thoreau, as passenger in the stage, was
vi Brewster Ship Masters.
driven that day through Barnstable, Yarmouth and Dennis, until "late in the afternoon we rode through Brewster, so named after Elder Brewster, for fear he would be forgotten else. * * * This appeared to be the modern-built town of the Cape, the favorite residence of retired sea captains. It is said that 'there are more masters and mates of vessels which sail on foreign voyages belonging to this place than to any other town in the country.'"
Thoreau did not like Brewster, principally, it appears, because of the prevalence of "modern American houses" and the evidences of thrift and prosperity. He did not alight there, but went on to spend the night at the Higgins tavern in the next town. Therefore, Brewster missed the opportunity of figuring prominently in the Thoreau book, "Cape Cod," and that book, so we of Brewster heritage believe, lacks just so much of deep sea flavor and local color. There was more of Cape Cod than the odd characters, the poverty-grass and the sand dunes, that the hermit of Lake Walden found in '49, and more than the magnificent beaches and inspiring ocean views, which attract the summer resident today.
And Brewster, before and after Thoreau's transitory visit, was "the modern-built town of the Cape." Its streets were shaded with fine old trees, its houses were large and substantial and the men who built and owned them were large and substantial, too. They made their fortunes—fortunes that were the beginnings of bigger ones for their descendants in Boston, New York and many another city—by sailing over pretty nearly all the wet places on the earth's surface and bargaining and risking and daring, with Yankee shrewdness and Yankee bravery.
Sea captains ? Why, there were none but sea captains, or the wives and children of sea captains, in Brewster of old. When the writer was a Brewster boy, in the 70's, the American merchant marine was on the wane, but even then it was practically certain and safe to hail an adult Brewster
Brewster Ship Masters. vii
citizen by the title, "Cap'n." Cap'n Snow kept the village grocery, Cap'n Foster was chairman of selectmen, Cap'n Baker endowed the library, Cap'n Nickerson's donation repaired and painted the meeting-house, and of that meetinghouse, deacons and pew holders, sexton and choir-leader,— indeed, every male but the minister himself, was captain.
In the 40's and 50's the young man born in Brewster, who did not go to sea as soon as his schooling was complete, was a shiftless no-account, unfit to associate with the aristocracy. His comrades shipped as cabin-boys, under Brewster captains of their fathers' acquaintance and with Brewster mates and many Brewster members of the crew, studied navigation, and, at ages ranging from twenty-one to twenty-five, became captains themselves. Later they intended to become ship-owners, with offices in Boston or New York and with property afloat on every sea. Some day they were to come back to Brewster, build fine houses and settle down at ease, while their own sons took up the work.
In the old Brewster houses were ivory carvings and Japanese silk hangings, sandal-wood boxes and alabaster images of the Coliseum and the Leaning Tower at Pisa. On each side of the grand, unused front doors were mammoth seashells of curious shapes. In the closets, usually, were boxes of other shells picked up on tropic beaches or purchased in the bazaars of Calcutta or Mauritius. The children of the household had these shells for playthings. The " box of shells " still lingers in many a gray-haired youngster's memory.
The stories by the fire, the gossip at the postoffice or at the breakfast table, were all of the sea — salty. Nearly every family had at least one member afloat and letters came at intervals with queer foreign stamps, and news months old, to be read and discussed over and over again. Captains and their wives left town to be gone for years, or came home to be welcomed and made much of. Women and children saw husbands and fathers only at long intervals and waited for
viii Brewster Ship Masters.
news of their arrival in far-off ports. Sometimes they waited, and when the news came it was in the form of a letter from a mate or a steward and told of a death and burial at sea. Sometimes they waited—waited—and no news came, no news of ship, nor officers, nor crew. Many a stone in the Brewster cemetery has "lost at sea" carven on it and the mystery of that loss will always be a mystery.
And now all this is changed. The merchant marine of America, the fleets of square-rigged sailing ships, are no more. The young men of Cape Cod no longer go to sea. In Brewster, only one or two of the old-time sea captains yet live. The houses are closed in winter and in the spring opened only as havens for city-weary sojourners. The Cape is becoming only a summer resort and its deep-sea flavor only a memory.
So, as a tale of a life that is ended, these records of Brewster's sea captains are of value to Cape Codders wherever they may be. They are incomplete and fragmentary, because men of action are seldom men of words and the deeds they did and the dangers they dared were, to them, only parts of the day's work. Their descendants are scattered and, in many cases, their recollections are those of children, who remember that their father went to sea during a portion, or all, of his life, that he commanded such and such a vessel — only, perhaps, one or two of the number that he did command — and that he "never talked much about it." Why should he have talked about it — to them ? Seeing them, it may be, only at intervals of from one to three years, he doubtless considered that he had other things of infinitely more importance to talk about.
But that the little town of Brewster, Massachusetts, should have sent forth so many commanders of deep-sea ships in times when there were few or no cables, and when in the hands of the captains were, of necessity, left responsibilities of both owner and shipper, is something to be proud of. Add to this
Brewster Ship Masters. ix
the fact that in a few years there will, in all probability, be no more Cape Cod captains of sailing craft, and this collection of brief biographies, incomplete though it be, becomes distinctly worth while.JOSEPH C. LINCOLN.
New York, November 30, 1905.
RECORDS OF BREWSTER SHIP MASTERS
WILLIAM A. ARTHUR.
Born in Brewster in 1822. He went to sea in early life, as sailor and mate, in ships in foreign trade. He volunteered and served as master's mate in the navy during the civil war. After the close of the war he was master of the ship "Kentuckian," making several voyages in the Atlantic trade. He retired from the sea in 1878. He always made Brewster his home and died there in May, 1892.
BENJAMIN C. BAKER.
He was born in Brewster, September 29, 1841. His first voyage as boy was in the ship "Tropic " to Australia. Later he was mate of the ship " Memnon," and then master of that ship for seventeen years, making voyages to South America, Europe and East Indies. An account of his voyage in the barque W. H. Besse in 1883 is as follows:
Nestling since yesterday in her cosy quarters in South Boston, the barque W. H. Besse, from Manila, the first that has reached us with vivid realization of the volcanic eruptions in Asia, gives little indication of the extraordinary perils through which she has passed. The strange particulars as gleaned by a Journal reporter from a careful reading of the log book, as well as from the narratives of the captain, mate and others, resolve themselves into the following story:
2 Brewster Ship Masters.
After forty days, spent in the capital of the largest island, Manila, where Capt. Baker's vessel suffered the loss of several seamen by the epidemic of cholera, the W. H. Besse set sail for Boston on the 27th of May. The Macassar straits were soon reached, with light and variable winds. She fell in with the barque J. M. Bourne and ship Northern Light and kept company as far as Thousand Islands, the Northern Light being ahead and the Bourne astern most of the time. At 5 p. m., on June 24, she struck on a coral reef, which has not yet been found on any chart. They hailed the Bourne, about 75 yards astern, to keep off, which she did. The pumps were set to work, but they were unable to start off the reef until 11 p. m., and then she floated in eleven fathoms.
The vessel began to fill, and it was found necessary to heave over a portion of the cargo (sugar). After letting go the port anchor and getting the lifeboats ready, the whole power of those on board was required to keep out the water during the night. Three heavy hawsers were lost in the vain attempt to pull the vessel off. At midnight the men were completely exhausted, and the pumping was stopped. Happily, on the 26th, the Dutch steamer Governor General Peit came up and succeeded in starting the barque off toward Batavia, 40 coolies who were on board being constantly employed in keeping the water out until they arrived at Batavia Roads at 7.30 a. m., on the 27th. Here the barque was repaired, new supplies were had, and the log book received the signature of the resident American consul. The backward step to Batavia consumed two months, but a pleasing change from the choleric and eruptive Philippines was found in this quaint old Java seaport, the capital of the Netherland Islands, with its Dutch canals and Yankee horse-cars, and its absorbing trade of the Malay archipelago.
Having sailed toward the Straits of Sunda on the 26th of August, light airs and calms were met. Throughout the afternoon and night heavy reports were heard like the
Brewster Ship Masters. 3
discharge of heavy artillery, the sounds seeming to come from the direction of Krakatoa island, situated in the Straits of Sunda, latitude 6 deg. 9 min. south, longitude 105 deg. 29 min. It became very dark and cloudy through the night, with continued and countless flashes of lightning. The barometer was 30.15. Monday, August 27, opened with strong breezes and thick, cloudy weather. At 9.30 a. m. the pilot left the vessel. Since daybreak a dark heavy bank had been noticed to the westward, which continuing to rise, the sun was obscured and the whole heavens black. All hands were called on deck, every bit of canvas furled, the port anchor let go, and Captain Baker, with the fortitude of one resolved to die at his post, calmly awaited the catastrophe. Scarcely had the sails and port anchor been disposed of than the squall struck the side of the barque with terrific force. The starboard anchor was then let go with eighty fathoms of chain. With the squall came a heavy shower of sand and ashes. The atmosphere was darker than the darkest night. The barometer continued to rise and fall an inch at a time. The wind blew a hurricane, and the water was lashed into such a tumultuous motion as can hardly be conceived. A heavy rumbling, with reports like steadily increasing thunder, continued, and the awful blackness overhead was made still more appalling by the lurid and fitful lightning that flashed in jagged yet concentric streaks. The captain describes the darkness as the most intense he ever knew, and, although still daytime, there was not enough daylight to see one's own hand. At this time Breeze island was bearing north by west about five or six miles, and Anjier, which witnessed the terrible destruction of land and life from the earthquake and eruptions, was in comparative proximity. A stifling smell of sulphur filled the whole atmosphere, making it difficult to do the amount of breathing necessary to sustain consciousness. All the elements of nature seemed massed in menacing hostility. The tide was setting strongly to the west, and the barque rushed along under bare poles at the rate of
4 Brewster Ship Masters.
14 knots an hour. The sounds and scenes through all the hours of day and night were of the most awful description. The shrieking wind, the spuming and churning waves, the murky and impenetrable veil overhead and on every side, and the tons of ashes, pumice stone and earthy fragments that threatened to engulf the fated vessel, combined to daze and appall every soul on board. From the poor little Chinaman, who had linked his lot with this vessel for six years, to the hapless native of the Philippines, the hardy Scandinavian who had weathered many a gale, the cheery and courteous mate, and even to the master of the ship, there was spread the common feeling of some catastrophe and the sense of disturbance in nature utterly beyond any experience of a mariner. Several were sure that the day of final judgment had come.
At 3 p. m. the sky began to grow a little lighter, although the ashes and other volcanic matter continued to fall. The barque hove short on her starboard anchor. The barometer rose and fell rapidly and then became stationary. The whole ship, rigging and masts were coated with sand and ashes to a depth of several inches.
August 27 began with light airs and thick, smoky weather, and there was a dead calm through the day and night. We saw vast quantities of trees and dead fish floating by with the tide, the water having a whitish appearance caused by a surface of light ashes. It was soon discovered that mighty changes had been wrought in the outlines of sea and shores, while islands had sunk, the entire northwest part of Krakatoa island had disappeared, and the beautiful forest-clothed islands of Lang and Verlaten had been completely denuded. The day ended with a dead calm and thick, smoky atmosphere.
On August 28, the day came in with calm, thick, murky weather. Immense masses of cocoanuts, trees and fish were encountered, the debris extending over a surface of more than five hundred miles. In the afternoon no lighthouse or sign of
Brewster Ship Masters. 5
life could be discerned. All light sails were furled, and the barque stood out under easy sail through the night. On Thursday, August 30, the water was covered with large trees and driftwood, it being almost impossible to steer clear of them. A sharp lookout was kept in the forecastle through the day and masses of dead bodies were passed. At 10 a. m. Java lighthouses were sighted, and wind hauling ahead the barque kept away to the westward of Punce island. On August 31 four seamen were off duty on account of Java fever; the remainder of the crew were kept engaged in clearing ashes off the rigging. The captain now suffered a new deprivation in the serious illness of the mate, Mr. S. B. Gibbs.
On September 7, a severe squall struck the ship, and the deck was flooded fore and aft. With comparatively little exception, fair weather was then had until November 26' when latitude 35.05, longitude 74.25 was reached, and a heavy swell from northwest was felt and flashes of lightning were seen in the north. At 2 a. m. the next morning, without the least warning, the sky was lit from southwest to southeast, and, the storm increasing rapidly, all hands were called on deck, all sails furled and hatches battened down. A strong gale came on, which increased to a hurricane, and a topsail was lost. The ship rolled and the men worked the pumps constantly. For several days the gale continued, the seas made a clean break over the ship, and it was necessary to extend life-lines fore and aft in order to protect the crew, who were almost prostrated by their exertions at the pumps. Seventy-five tons of sugar were thrown overboard to save the ship.
A sad event at this time was the death and burial of the Scandinavian mariner, Scrit Salensan. Of a crew of 22 had at Manila, only five men available for work were left when the barque was towed up Boston harbor. Two were lying sick when she reached the wharf in South Boston, and late in the afternoon the mate was obliged to send to the hospital one
6 Brewster Ship Masters.
who was not expected to live through the night. In consequence of the losses it was found necessary to secure extra men for the work of the ship. "You bet," said the little man of Chinese race and Philippine growth, "You bet we had a hard voyage."
He was born in Brewster, October 3, 1802. He was master of vessels in the West Indies trade, and on one of those voyages was lost at sea in 1840. We have been unable to ascertain the names of the vessels he commanded.
JOHN FRANKLIN BAKER.
He was born in Brewster, November 5, 1836. He commenced a sea life as sailor and officer of several ships, and later was master of ships "Kentuckian," "Gold Hunter," "Pride of the Port," and barque "Aurelia." Upon retiring from the sea, he settled in Osterville, where he is now living (1905).
JUDAH P. BAKER.
He was born in Brewster, December 7, 1807. He started as a sailor when a boy. He soon rose to the command of the barques "Anita," "Maria" and "Black Hawk" in the Mediterranean trade. Later he commanded the ships "Shooting Star" and "Flying Dragon," making some very short passages to and from San Francisco and China. He died while in command of the ship "Flying Dragon," on the passage from Boston to San Francisco in 1853.
He was born in Brewster, October 7, 1805. He began early to go to sea, and soon had the command of ships "Rajah,"
Brewster Ship Masters. 7
"Denmark," "Faneuil Hall" and "Crimea." He retired from the sea about 1855, and owned and was interested in many ships in the foreign trade, and was a prominent man in the town. He always lived in Brewster and died there April 9, 1886.
He was born in Harwich, now Brewster, July 29, 1783. In 1829, he was in command of the brig "Danube," on a voyage from Boston to Valparaiso. Through the kindness of his grandson, W. H. Bangs, we were permitted to examine the log book of this brig while under his command on a trading voyage to Valparaiso, Coquimbo, Callao and several other ports in South America, returning again to Boston. Evidently there was no chronometer on board, as the log shows that the positions were ascertained daily by altitudes of the sun, moon or stars. After retiring from the sea he owned and managed several ships in the foreign trade, under the firm name of E. Bangs & Son. He died in Brewster, August 23, 1863.
FREEMAN H. BANGS.
Born in Brewster, November 1, 1809. He commenced going to sea as a boy. In 1836, had command of the brig "Roxana " in the Mediterranean trade. He was commander of several different ships, among them being the "Joseph Holmes," "Faneuil Hall" and "Celeste Clark." While he had the "Faneuil Hall," she was lost off the coast of Brazil, bound to Calcutta. He retired from the sea in 1865, and died in January, 1866, in Brewster, where he had always made his home.
GEORGE F. BANGS.
He was born in Brewster, October 19, 1831. After serving as sailor and mate of several ships, he had charge of barques
8 Brewster Ship Masters.
"Rienzi" and "Corea." While master of the barque "Corea," he died at Panama, July 8, 1875, and was buried there.
HIRAM B. BANGS.
He was born in Brewster, September 11, 1824. After serving as sailor and officer of several ships, he had command of the ships "Reliance, " "Rienzi" and "Mary Bangs." While master of the "Mary Bangs," she was lost in the Gulf of California. After retiring from the sea, he moved to Orleans, where he died, October, 1879.
BENJAMIN F. BERRY.
He was born in Brewster, June 1, 1802. Followed the sea. Among the later ships that he commanded were the barques "Valtralla," "Rienzi" and " Cochituate," and ship "Reliance." He retired from the sea in 1855, and always lived in Brewster, where he died in June, 1864.
He was born in Brewster, July 6, 1786. All that can be ascertained of his sea life is that he had command of the brig "Sally," which sailed from Amsterdam for Boston in January, 1822, and was never more heard from. It is supposed that she was lost on this coast in a storm that occurred about the time she was due to arrive in Boston,
BENJAMIN F. BERRY, JR.
He was born in Brewster, November 11, 1836. He started early to go to sea. The first ship that he had command of was the "Oxenbridge," in the Atlantic trade. Later he had the "Titan," in the California trade. He was master of the "Titan" for twelve years, and died while in command of her on the passage from Manila to Boston, in 1881. He was buried in Brewster.
Brewster Ship Masters. 9
He was born in Brewster (Harwich), July 5, 1779. He was master of vessels in the Mediterranean trade, but nothing definite can be ascertained in regard to the ships that he commanded. He died in Dennis about 1855.
BELA B. BERRY, JR.
He was born in Brewster, October 26,1831. He commanded the barques "Young Turk" and "Nautilus" in the Mediterranean trade, and barques "Sumter," "Philomena," "Mountain Wave " and "Central America" in the South American trade. While in charge of barque "Young Turk," she was lost on Cape Sable, Nova Scotia. Crew all saved. He sailed from New York for London, February 20, 1863, in command of barque "Augusta," and was never heard from after leaving New York.
WILLIAM H. BURGESS.
He was born in Brewster, February 25, 1829. He began going to sea in his boyhood and rose to the command of several fine clipper ships. Among them were the "Whirlwind" and "Challenger." His family removed to Sandwich while he was at sea. The time and place of his death have not been ascertained, as none of his descendants are living in Brewster.
He was born in Harwich, now Brewster, October 10, 1761. He was a ship master in the Russia trade. Was chosen representative to the general court from 1803 to 1812 (nine years). He had ten children. He commanded the first Mercantile vessel to display the American flag in the White sea. He died on the coast of Africa, February 11, 1819.
10 Brewster Ship Masters.
He was born in Brewster, February 7, 1808. He went to sea early and the names of his first ships are not known, but later he commanded the ship "Brewster." He always lived in Brewster and died there in 1888.
WILLIAM H. CLARK.
He was horn in Brewster, July 12,1839. His first command was the ship "Brewster." Later he had the barque "Olive " and the ship "Electra." He died on board the latter on her passage from Manila to New York, three days before her arrival. He was buried in Brewster.
He was born in Harwich, now Brewster, July 4, 1768. He was in command of the ship "Monsoon" in 1801, "Paragon" in 1815, "Ten Brothers" in 1820. He retired from the sea in 1820 and remained in Brewster, holding various civil offices. He was a strong supporter of the Universalist church.
Through the kindness of Miss Mary L. Cobb, we are permitted to publish "Extracts from his Journal," as follows:
By my first voyage to sea, I gained $20 and a suit of clothing, placing in my mother's hands this sum — the largest she had received since she became a widow. I spent the summer in the coasting business, and in the fall shipped as a common sailor. After about a year was promoted to the office of mate and served in that capacity for six or seven years; but, seeing no disposition on their part to employ me in any other way, left them, and after going two voyages to Europe as first mate of a ship, got the command of a brig under Edwin and William Reynolds. After making several voyages, I went to the Cape and was married. I was then 25 years old. I continued in the employ of the Reynoldses about two years longer, when
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they concluded to send me on a voyage to Europe. Their object was Cadiz, but it was recommended that I clear for Corunna. I was, however, saved the trouble of enquiry by being captured by a French frigate, and here commenced my trouble. It was during the time of the French revolution and the bloody reign of Robespierre (1794). I minuted down 1000 persons that I saw beheaded by the infernal guillotine, and probably saw as many more that I did not minute down. All my papers had been taken from me. My vessel was there, but her cargo had been taken out and was daily made into soups, bread, etc., for the half-starved populace, and without papers I could not substantiate my claim to the ship. They merely condescended to send me and some of my crew to board at a hotel about six weeks. I wrote to the French charge des affaires in Paris and received for answer that he regretted my situation and those of my countrymen, but we must exercise patience, and "the government will do what is right in time." In about six weeks the officers called and brought the decision and a linguist to explain it to me. Thus had they tried and passed sentence without my even learning or knowing I was on trial. The decision, however, was so favorable that it gave new feelings to my life. I was waited upon to sell my cargo when it is presumed there was not a pound of rice or of flour in existence. We fixed the prices on the invoice. Bills of exchange were payable on Hamburg, 50 days after date. I ballasted my vessel, sent her away, and remained to take charge of the payment. In about two days I was under weigh for Paris with the national courier for government. We drove Jehu-like without stopping, except to change horses and mail, taking occasionally a mouthful of bread and washing it down with low-priced Burgundy wine. As to sleep, I did not get one wink during the whole 684 miles. We had from ten to twelve mounted horsemen for guard during the night, and, to prove that the precaution was necessary, the second morning after leaving Brest, just before the guard had left us,
12 Brewster Ship Masters.
we witnessed a scene that filled us with horror: the remains of a courier lying in the road, the master, postillion, and five horses lying dead and mangled by it, and the mail mutilated and scattered in all directions. However, the next stage was only five miles and not considered dangerous, and we proceeded on. We reached Paris at four o'clock on a beautiful June morning. The carriage stopped before the Hotel de Bosten, being just 74 hours from the gates of Brest, during which I had not lost myself in sleep, had taken nothing upon my stomach, or used water upon either hands or face. I was obliged to wait for my papers. With both sets lost, there was little comfort in the hope of redress.
While sitting with writing materials before me, in the act of writing for another set of papers, a French gentleman, who occupied the next room, passed my door. I asked him in and related to him my grievances. He advised me to endeavor to obtain an interview with Robespierre, saying that he was partial to Americans, and that he had no doubt he would give me aid. By his advice, therefore, I wrote the following billet:
"An American citizen, captured by a French frigate on the high seas, requests a personal interview and to lay his grievances before the citizen Robespierre.
In about an hour I received the following note:
"I will grant citizen Cobb an interview tomorrow at 10 a. m.
After the interpreter left the hall, he conversed with me in very good English. Finally he told me to call at an office in Rue St. Honore, called the office of the 23d dept., and demand my papers. I told him I had done so repeatedly and had been forbidden to come again. "Go," said he, "to that office and tell citizen F. T. that you came from Robespierre, and if he does
Brewster Ship Masters. 13
produce your papers and finish your business immediately, he will hear from me again in a way not so pleasing to him." I rendered my grateful thanks to him and left him.
I went direct to the said office, and by the privilege of using Robespierre's name direct was kindly received and my business completed next day. I arrived in Hamburg the day before my bills became due.
The fortunate result of this voyage increased my fame as a ship master, but allowed me only a few days at home. After another voyage I received charge of a new ship, the "Monsoon." They put on board a valuable cargo and wanted me to find a market for it in Europe; but as I had some American rum, they advised Ireland for that. Finding no prospect to obtain permission to land the rum in Ireland, I concluded to try elsewhere. Matters were arranged, however, so that between the cove of Cork and the Scilley islands eight hogsheads of New England rum were thrown overboard and a small pilot boat hove on board a small bag containing 64 English guineas. Although I saw them haul on board the eight hogsheads I was satisfied. I found in Hamburg a good market for my cargo, and my employers were so well pleased that they could hardly allow me to visit the Cape. I had stayed in Hamburg all winter; heard there of the illness of my wife, the death of my brother, and had a severe illness which took away my hair.
I reached home in August. One more voyage in the "Monsoon," and then she was sold. I had not been many weeks at home before the owners sent for me to come to Boston and look at a new brig, the "Sally and Mary," and another Hamburg voyage was planned. When I reached Hamburg it was blockaded, and I was sent to Yarmouth, Eng., where I was pronounced free to go to any port not blockaded.
I concluded that Copenhagen would be the best market and steered my course for that port. On my arrival I proceeded to Lubeck, and from there my cargo could be readily sent on,
14 Brewster Ship Masters.
in defiance of the blockade, to Hamburg and a return cargo given me. This done, I went to the Cape for another visit. While there a messenger came for me to go to Malaga. I arrived there, January, 1808.
On my arrival I was informed that the British Orders in Council went into force on that day, forbidding vessels taking a return cargo. Of course this would make such a cargo very desirable. The American consul thought there would be but little risk if I hurried, and in eight days I was ready to sail. In order to escape investigation, I waited for a strong east wind, and left Malaga, thinking to reach the Rock of Gibraltar that evening, which I did; but, unfortunately, as I approached the wind died out. I had to make tack under the Spanish shore, and while standing over for the Rock, was boarded by the boat of the frigate under pretence that I was bound for Algeciras. I told them the truth: that I was from Malaga bound for Boston; that I had come there to avail myself of a clearance from a British port and a convoy through the gut. But after I had seen the principal, placing on the counter before his eyes a two-ounce piece of gold, I was permitted to go with my clearance to the American consul's. A signal gun was fired that morning and I was the first to move, being apprehensive that some incident might yet subject me to that fatal investigation. How it was managed to clear out a cargo of Spanish goods from Gibraltar, under the British Orders from Council, was a subject of most intense speculation in Boston, but I had made a good voyage for all concerned.
I remained home but a short time, when I was asked to go to New York to take charge of a ship belonging to them — the "William Tell"— for a voyage to Europe. I accordingly went to Alexandria in Virginia, loaded the ship with flour and sailed for Cadiz in Spain, where I sold my cargo, ballasted my ship with stones, and returned to Norfolk. Here I found letters and orders to go up to Alexandria and load for another voyage. During an unavoidable detention of a few days, a
Brewster Ship Masters. 15
violent storm came on, and while I was securing my vessel to the wharf, Mr. Fisk, the merchant with whom I advised, came down and told me he had just received a dispatch from Mr, Randolph in Congress, saying to him: "What you do must be done quickly, for the embargo will be upon you at 10 a. m. on Sunday." It was now Friday p. m. We had about 100 tons of ballast on board, which must be removed, and upwards of 3000 barrels of flour to take in and stow away, provisions, wood and water to take on board, a crew to ship, and to get to sea before the embargo took possession. I found that we could get one supply of flour from a block of stores directly alongside the ship, and by paying three-eighths of a dollar extra, we had liberty if stopped by the embargo to return it. Saturday morning was fine weather. About sunrise I went to the "lazy corner," so called, and pressed into service every negro that came upon the stand and sent them on board the ship, until I thought there were as many as could work. I then visited the sailors' boarding houses, where I shipped my crew, paid the advance to their landlords, and their obligations to see each sailor on board at sunrise next morning. It had now got to be about twelve o'clock, and the ship must be cleared at the custom house before one. I accordingly prepared a manifest and went to the custom house to clear the ship. Mr. Taylor, the collector, knowing my situation, said, "Why, Cobb, what is the use of clearing the ship? You cannot get away. The embargo will be here at 10 o'clock tomorrow niorning; and, even if you get your ship below, I shall have boats out that will stop you before you get three leagues to sea." Said I, "Mr. Taylor, will you be so kind as to clear my ship?" "Oh, yes," said he, and accordingly the ship was cleared and I returned on board and found everything going on well. Finally, to shorten the story, at nine, that evening, we had about 3,050 barrels of flour, one long boat on board in the chocks, water, wood and provisions on board and stowed, a pilot engaged, and all in readiness for the sea.
16 Brewster Ship Masters.
The tide would serve at eight o'clock Sunday morning, and we could not go before 10 o'clock, and at that time the embargo was expected. Well, the morning arrived, and the sailors were brought on board by their landlords, the pilot came, and at eight o'clock we started with a fair wind down a crooked, narrow river. The fair wind dying out, our progress was slow. When we entered Hampton Roads, it had got to be after eleven o'clock and nearly calm. Feeling anxious I kept a sharp lookout astern, and with a spy-glass at about 12 I saw a boat coming down under the full operation of sails and oars. "Well," said I to the mate, "I fear we are gone." But very soon, to appearance, a fresh breeze sprung from the north shore and I saw that the boat had already taken it. I then ordered all the light sails set ready to receive the breeze. When it reached us the boat was so near that with my glass I traced the features of the men; but ten minutes later the boat gave up the chase and returned, and I went to sea without further molestation. I then proceeded to Cadiz, and carried there the first news of the embargo. The day before I sailed, I dined with a large party at the American consul's, and, it being mentioned that I was to sail next day, I was congratulated by a British officer on the safety of our flag. Well, I thought the same, when at the time war between England and America was raging.
I sailed from Cadiz on the 25th day of July, 1812, bound for Boston, and I never felt safer on account of enemies on the high seas. I had just entered upon the eastern edge of the Grand bank. In casting my eye to windward, I saw a sail to all appearance bearing down directly for us. At sunrise I ordered the ensign hoisted at the mizzen peak. No sooner were our colors up than his went up in the smoke of a gun. I saw that she was a schooner under the English colors, and that she was armed. But it did not alarm me, so I continued to lay by. She said to me very mildly, "I will thank you to continue to lay by and I will send my boat on board," Seeing
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she was a cutter schooner with ten brass guns, I, of course, acquiesced, and her boat came on board with two petty officers and two men. While I was in my stateroom, one of them says to me, "Captain, what cargo did you carry to Cadiz ?" "Flour." "You got a good price, I presume ? " "Yes," said I. "Got cash on board, I suppose ? " "No," said I, "I remitted my money to England." "Well, said he, "you've a fine ship here." "Yes, tolerable." "What," said he, "do you think she is worth ? " This question roused my curiosity. I stepped to the door of the stateroom and, looking the man in the face, said to him, "Have you any idea of buying or taking the ship?" "Oh," said he, "Captain, you will excuse our inquisitiveness; it was without meaning." When I was ready, one of the officers went into the boat with me, the other remaining on board the ship. I was conducted to the cabin to the captain. He showed me an American paper twelve days old, which was the declaration of war. He then asked me what I carried to Cadiz. I said, "flour." "Did it sell ? " "Yes; it brought $20 a barrel." "Oh, you've cash on board," said he. " No," said I, " I remitted the proceeds of my cargo to London, and I have my thirds of exchange to satisfy you." "Well," said he, "you have a fine ship here. What will you give for her, and we give you a clear passport into Boston?" After a little reflection I named $4,000. "Well," said he, "give us the money." "Oh, I thank you," said I, "if it were on board, you would take it without asking. I will give you a draft on London." "No," said he, "cash, or we burn the ship." "Well," said I, "you'll not burn me in her, I hope." "Oh, no; you may give orders for your men to pick up their duds, and we will carry them on board the frigate. You may remain on board and select yourself a servant from the crew. The ship is too good to burn." I accordingly selected my nephew, E. G. Crosby, to remain with me.
It was six days before we arrived at St. Johns. The next morning I was conducted to the port admiral, Sir John Thomas
18 Brewster Ship Masters.
Duckworth. After he had made inquiries relative to my voyage, he told me I had the liberty of the town, provided I chose to keep my residence on shore, or I had the liberty of remaining on board the ship, but could not have access to the ship and shore both. I finally told him that I would like to remain on board the ship until my officers and men were sent in, after which I would like to come on shore. In four days my officers and crew were sent in. The next day I took up my residence in Prisoners' Hall, so called, where there were about twenty masters and supercargoes, prisoners like myself. I found there were about twenty-seven American vessels in port as prizes.
Six days after this, we were greeted at a very early hour in the morning with the sound of an American cartel flag flying in the harbor. We were soon in the town and learned that a ship had arrived during the previous night under the command of an American officer, with a cartel flag, but the officer had then gone to report himself to the port admiral. We forthwith repaired to a noted coffee-house, where the American officer soon arrived. Although we were all strangers, he cordially took us by the hand as Americans, and told us he was second lieutenant of the frigate C-----n, Capt. Porter, and through the importunities of the British captain, she had been sent in by Captain Porter with her officers and crew all aboard to be exchanged for the same number of Americans. " But," said the officer, "I have cause to fear that I may be a prisoner with you; for," said he, "I left the admiral in a violent rage at Captain Porter's proceedings of making a cartel on the high seas." The officer told him he had no terms to make, but orders from Captain Porter there to lie for 24 hours, and if the terms were not complied with, to proceed on to America with the prize and her crew, "and be your prisoner," said he, "as I am in your power." However, in a few minutes a note was received from the old admiral, saying that on a perusal of Captain Porter's dispatches, he found that the honor of the
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British officers was pledged for the fulfilling of the contract, and as he knew his government always redeemed the pledges of its officers, he would receive the officers and crew of the Alert, and would give in exchange every American prisoner in port (and there were two to one), and we must be off in 24 hours. Now commenced a scene of confusion and bustle. The crew of the cartel were soon landed, and the Americans as speedily took possession.
The next morning we weighed the anchor of the Alert, left the harbor of St. Johns and bade sail for New York with 246 Americans on board. Two days after we arrived in New York and dispersed for our several homes. * * * Well, at 12 o'clock, as before stated, I arrived at my home; knocked at the window. It appears my wife had been re-perusing my lengthy letter and revolving in her mind all the horrors of my situation in an English prison, after she had been in bed, and had not been asleep when I knocked at the window. " Who is there ? " said she. "It is I," said I. "Well, what do you want?" " To come in." "For what ? " said she. Before I could answer I heard my daughter, who was in bed with her, say, " Why, ma, it's pa!" It was enough. The doors flew open, and the greetings of affection and consanguinity multiplied upon me rapidly. Thus in a moment was I transported to the greatest earthly bliss man can enjoy, viz.: to the enjoyment of the happy family circle.
The foregoing was written by General Elijah Cobb during the year 1848 with the intention of completing it, but the state of his health prevented. He remained at home from 1812 to 1815 or 1816, when he made several voyages to Europe in the ship "Paragon," built for him and considered one of the finest ships of the day. In 1819 and 1820 he made two voyages to Africa in the ship "Ten Brothers," taking with him on his first voyage his son Freeman. During the second voyage there was much sickness of a contagious character, and the ship on her return was sunk at the end of the wharf, to
20 Brewster Ship Masters.
prevent contagion in the city of Boston. He left the sea in 1820 and after that time remained in Brewster, filling the various civil offices of town clerk, treasurer, inspector general, representative, senator and justice of the peace and quorum; also the military rank of brigadier general. He was a strong supporter of the Universalist church in town, in which doctrine he took much interest.
WILLIAM B. COBB.
He was born in Brewster, June 30, 1828. After serving the usual grades at sea, he had command of the barque "J. Godfrey" and clipper ship "Empress of the Sea," in the California trade. He then went in the employ of the Pacific Mail Steamship company, where he remained for eighteen years, having charge of steamships "City of Sydney," "City of Rio de Janeiro," "City of Pekin," and several others, sailing between San Francisco, Japan, China and Australia. After retiring from the sea, he resided in San Francisco, where he died in 1896.
He was born in Ireland, in 1838. When three years of age he came to this country with his parents and settled in Brewster. He worked on a farm until he was fifteen years old, then began his sea life. He was master of the ship "Charger" for several years in the California trade. Later he went in the employ of the Pacific Mail Steamship company, having charge at different times of steamships "Montana," "China," "Colorado" and "Grenada." He died in San Francisco in 1887.
He was born in Brewster, February 25, 1820. He was
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master of ships "William A. Cooper," "Expounder" and "Electra." He died while in command of the ship "Electra," on the passage from Batavia to Manila in 1883.
BENJAMIN SNOW CROSBY.
He was born in Brewster, February 21,1810. He commanded the ships "Eurotus " and "Oregon."
George W. Higgins, Esquire, formerly of Brewster, has sent the following, which is an account of the trip to California, made by the Brewster people in 1849:
We sailed from Boston October 30, 1849, in the hermaphrodite brig "Archelaus," of one hundred and twenty tons, loaded with lumber. She was a West India trader with high quarter deck. There were twelve of the party who owned the vessel and cargo, the whole costing about eight thousand dollars. The names were Captain Benjamin Snow Crosby, Captain Burgess, Joseph Foster, Ben. Crocker, John Crocker, Joseph Pratt, Freeman Snow, George W. Higgins, and four others from Boston. By vote Captain Benjamin S. Crosby was made captain, Captain Burgess, first mate, and Joseph Foster, second mate; the rest were common sailors, but we all lived together in the cabin. The cook worked his passage, and we had six passengers. We were all square-rig sailors except Ben. Crocker, who had been mate on one of our Boston packets; he was made captain of the main boom, as the square-rig sailors were afraid of it.
We had a good passage until off the River La Plata, where we struck one of their pamperos, that washed our decks and stove our galley to pieces. We were without anything hot to eat or drink for three days, until our stove could be repaired, from that we met no trouble. We went through the Straits of Le Maire and made a good passage around the Horn. We were ninety days to Valparaiso, where we stopped for several days. From there we encountered light winds, which made
22 Brewster Ship Masters.
our progress slow, bringing into San Francisco from Boston in one hundred and forty-seven days. There we sold the brig as we dropped anchor for about one-half what it cost us, and each man took his own course.
Captain Benjamin Snow Crosby died in New Orleans, December 15, 1851, while in command of ship "Oregon."
He was born in Brewster, June 13, 1833. He commanded barque "Kedar," ships "Forest Queen" and "Joseph Holmes." He was accidentally killed by the discharge of a gun while at Bassein and was buried there, June 5, 1864.
He was born in Brewster, November 5,1814. He commanded ship "Louisiana," sailing from Boston in 1849 for Oregon, going around Cape Horn. One of his relatives writes as follows:
In April, 1850, he went to Oregon for a year, then to Turn Water, Puget sound, at that time a wilderness. He bought claim of his brother, Nathaniel Crosby, with saw and grist mills, also house in rough. There were no houses within two miles. Finally he had flour mill and general merchandise store. His grist mill was the first north of Portland, Oregon. These brothers were more properly pioneers of the West after leaving the sea. He died in Portland, Oregon, in 1879.
Born in Brewster, August 28, 1819. He commanded ships "William Gray " and "Anglo Saxon." He died on board the "Anglo Saxon," on her passage from New Orleans to Liverpool in 1853.
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Born in Brewster, May 11, 1818. George W. Higgins, Esq., writes his recollection of Captain Elisha Crosby as follows:
I do not know much of his early years at sea. In 1843, '44 and '45, I was with him as a boy before the mast in the barque "Leouesa," in two voyages around Cape Horn to the coast of Central America and California. We made about the same sort of voyages as in Dana's "Two Years Before Mast," except that our hides were collected ready for us. He was mate of the barque on these voyages.
The next year he was made captain of the schooner "Indiana," of about ninety tons. Freeman Mayo, Jr., was his mate, sailing along the coast of Central America. His cargo was "a little of everything." He traded from there to San Francisco and China. My brother, John Higgins, was with him on that voyage. He afterwards made voyages to the Mediterranean, but soon left the seas, and, being without employment, came out to Chicago, and remained the winter of 1876-77. He died soon after leaving Chicago.
Born in Brewster, December 4, 1802. He was master of the ship "Gem of the Ocean" and others, names unknown. He retired from the sea early in life and always lived in Brewster. He died October, 1861.
FREEMAN CROSBY, JR.
Born in Brewster, June 9, 1831. He commanded ships "White Swallow" and "Liverpool Packet. The "Liverpool Packet" left Hong Kong for Shanghai in 1863 and was never heard from after leaving Hong Kong. It is supposed they Were lost in a typhoon.
24 Brewster Ship Masters.
Born in Brewster, August 23, 1796. He was in the West India and South American trade. He died at sea, August 13, 1834.
JAMES EDWIN CROSBY.
He had command of ships "Oscar," "Magnet" and "Imperial," He had command of the latter ship for twenty-two years in the California and China trade. His last voyage was made from Manila to Philadelphia, arriving there during the month of December, 1893. He contracted a cold there and came to his home in Melrose, where he died the following month, January, 1894. His native place was Brewster, where he was born February 11, 1838.
Born in Brewster, October 11, 1822. He commanded vessels in the West India trade and died on one of his voyages in 1853.
Born in Brewster, November 3, 1810. He sailed in ships, the names not ascertained, and went to Oregon in 1846, where he built the first frame house, which was completed in 1849. From 1854 to 1858 he was engaged in taking ship spars from Puget sound to China, being the first cargoes ever shipped to Hong Kong. He died in Hong Kong in 1859.
He was born in Brewster, July 22, 1809. He had command of brig "Old Colony," barque "Arab," and ships "Kingfisher," "Monterey," "Antelope " and "Charlotte."
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His son has furnished the following sketch:
He was the youngest of ten children. After receiving a limited education in the district schools of his town, he left home, at the age of thirteen, in the old packet sloop " Fame," for Boston, where he joined his eldest brother, Joshua, who was master of the brig "Telemachus," on a voyage to Surinam as cabin boy. He remained with his brother for several voyages, and at the age of twenty-three received his first command, the brig "Old Colony," built at Plymouth. He followed the sea for twenty-five years and successfully commanded some of the finest clipper ships of those days.
At the age of forty-five, Captain Crosby retired from the sea and settled on his farm in Brewster. In 1856, he was elected representative to the general court, and was a member of the extra session in 1857 to establish districts for the choice of councillors, senators and representatives; also again in 1865, and was present during the exciting times, consequent upon the surrender of Lee and the assassination of President Lincoln. Always public-spirited, he gave to the service of the town and state an honest, true-hearted loyalty.
Captain Crosby died at his home in Brewster, December 14, 1891.
TULLY CROSBY, JR.
Born in South Boston, August 21, 1841, and early moved to Brewster. He commanded the "George Darby." He gave up going to sea and settled in Brewster, where he is interested in the town affairs, having been selectman, town clerk and treasurer. He is now living in Brewster (1905).
Born in Brewster, August 12, 1811. He commanded ships in the South American trade, names of which we have been unable to ascertain. He was lost, while in command of a
26 Brewster Ship Masters.
ship, on Minots ledge, at the entrance to Boston harbor, in the severe gale of April, 1851.
Born in Brewster, February 8, 1817. Among other ships that he commanded was the "Kingfisher." A relative writes as follows;
Once while crossing the Atlantic in the "Kingfisher," in a severe northwest gale, as he and his mate were taking the sun, they were struck by a heavy sea, which carried them both overboard. The mate sank from sight at once, but Captain Crosby, when being carried over the side, grasped a rope and took a double turn around his arm as he was going into the sea. The man at the wheel saw what had happened and rang the bell; the watch rushed aft, caught the other end of the rope and hauled him on board. He was severely wrenched, so that he was unable to stand on deck, and he was lashed to deck-house that he might direct the sailing of the ship all that afternoon. This occurred on the voyage from 1851 to 1853. He died at La Paz, Lower California, while in command of ship "Kingfisher."
JAMES S. DILLINGHAM.
He was born in South Harwich, December 24, 1831. He commanded ships "Nabob," "Blue Jacket" and "Snow Squall," and steamer "Finance," in the Brazil trade.
Mrs. Dillingham, now of Chelsea, has sent us the following account of the chase of the ship by a Confederate privateer:
In Civil War time one of the lineal descendants of the Dillingham family of Brewster, Captain James S. Dillingham, Jr., in command of the ship "Snow Squall," had an experience most exciting, and it should be known to all who dwell in Brewster, as a narrow escape from the hands of those who commanded bark "Tuscaloosa." Communications from friends
Brewster Ship Masters. 27
at home at that time were long delayed, and for six months the captain had no news relating to the privateering business, and did not know that a sailing vessel was used for that purpose. After loading the "Snow Squall" at Singapore, partially, and finishing at Penang, the good ship started from Penang for New York. After a very quick and pleasant passage to the Cape of Good Hope, one noon a sail was seen by the man at the wheel low down on the horizon, looking just a speck; but she was watched, of course, with interest by all on board the "Snow Squall." She gradually came towards us, and Captain Dillingham, thinking she needed assistance in some way, hoisted the flag of his country on the ship. At once the stars and stripes were flying on the stranger. After awhile Captain Dillingham and his mate, Mr. Sears, were noticed talking very seriously together, and had discovered that the newcomer had portholes in her side. Coming to windward of us, she took the wind from our sails, and she was so near to us that the two captains did not have to use their trumpets in order to be heard. The captain of the privateer said, "What ship is that?" to Captain Dillingham. "The ship "Snow Squall,'" he replied, " from Penang to New York." And "What ship is that?" said Captain D. to the other captain. " You heave to and I'll send some one aboard to tell you," he said; and in an instant open flew the portholes, and the after gun was fired at us, the stars and stripes were hauled down and the Confederate flag hoisted in its place.
I presume visions of their good luck filled the minds of those officers on board the "Tuscaloosa," but they were to be disappointed. "Aye, aye," said Captain Dillingham, as if he were going to comply with the request, and as there was some commotion on the "Snow Squall," they probably thought it all meant that soon they would be on board. In the meantime, the "Snow Squall" had moved a little ahead and got a portion of the breeze in her sails. When the "Tuscaloosa " people saw that, they fired another gun, but as the sea was a
28 Brewster Ship Masters.
rolling one, the guns did no damage and were doubtless fired to intimidate.
Captain Dillingham was not so easily frightened, and knew his ship could beat almost anything in sailing close to the wind; the chase began and lasted till nearly night time. At four o'clock the "Tuscaloosa" fired a broadside at us, to say they gave up the chase; but Captain Dillingham remained on deck all night to watch the steering of the ship and to look for the approach of another privateer, should another come that way, and he used to say he was not looking for any other vessels all the way to New York. A plucky man and a sharp fine sailing vessel saved the "Snow Squall" and its valuable cargo, and it was appreciated by the underwriters, who very substantially remembered him when he arrived in New York.
Captain Dillingham died while in command of steamer "Finance," on entering New York harbor, November 14, 1883.
He was born in Brewster, February 15, 1824. He commanded barks "Lenox" and "Warren White," ship "Kit Carson" and steamer "City of Topeka." He served in the navy during the Civil War. In 1870 he removed to Titusville, Pa., in a manufacturing business. Later he settled in San Diego, California, where he died in 1895.
Born in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, July 17, 1811. He removed to Brewster, about 1840. He commanded barks "Altof Oak" and "Magnolia" and ships "Brewster," "North America" and others. He retired from the sea in 1854, and was of the firm of Dunbar & Colby, brokers and shipowners, in New York. He removed to Brooklyn, N. Y., about 1858, where he died January 1, 1864.
ALBERT H. DUNBAR.
He was born in Yarmouth, July 21, 1837, and came to
Brewster Ship Masters. 29
Brewster with his parents in 1840. He commanded ships "Josiah Bradlee," "Alhambra," "Gardner Colby," "Thacher Magoun," "Kentuckian " and "Grecian." While in command of the "Grecian," she was wrecked in the China sea on her passage from Manila to Boston in 1889. After retiring from the sea he settled in San Diego, California, where he died February 15, 1892.
Born in Brewster, August 11, 1810. He had command of several ships, among them being the ship "Brewster." He died in Brewster, July, 1874.
He was born in Brewster, August 24, 1834. He had charge among other ships of the "Mountain Wave." He died in Brewster in August, 1884.
He was born in Brewster in 1856. He was the son of John and Margaret Fitz of Scotland. He was mate of ship "St. John Smith" for several voyages. Later as captain of the same ship he sailed from Liverpool for San Francisco with a cargo of coal and was never heard from. The ship was supposed to have foundered. This was in 1882.
Born in Brewster, September 9, 1809. The names of the ships that he commanded cannot be ascertained other than the ship "Santa Claus," of which he was master for several years. He died in Brewster, June, 1892.
30 Brewster Ship Masters.
BARNA COBB FOSTER.
He was born in Brewster, February 28, 1825. He commanded the ship "Faneuil Hall," and died in Brewster in 1850.
He was born in Brewster, September 27, 1772. He was a sea captain and filled important town offices, being treasurer in 1818 and town clerk, both of which he held for six years. He died March 10, 1848.
He was born in Brewster, October 1, 1794. He commanded several ships, the names of which cannot be ascertained. He always lived in Brewster, where he died September 12, 1873.
ELISHA FOSTER, JR.
He was born in Brewster, December 4,1825. He commanded a ship that was lost on Nantucket shoals, the name of which is not known. He died in Brewster, December 29, 1852.
FRANK B. FOSTER.
He was born in Brewster, September, 1842. He commanded barque "Celeste Clark" and ships "Kentuckian" and " Nonantum." He died on the passage from San Francisco to Liverpool, in command of ship "Nonantum," and was buried at sea.
He was born in Harwich, now Brewster, May 1, 1782. He commanded the brig "Rice Plant," ships "Ten Brothers," "Choctaw" and others.
Brewster Ship Masters. 31
The grandchildren of Captain Foster have furnished the following sketch of his career :
Tradition says that he was an unusually large, sturdy boy, and began seafaring at the age of ten, Bailing on fishing trips with his father, David Foster, who had been a whaler. At the age of fourteen he shipped in the merchant service and soon worked his way to the quarter-deck. His opportunities for education were limited, the years of his boyhood being employed on the farm when not engaged in fishing; nevertheless, he acquired what was considered in those days a good business training, as some of his account books still in existence show. So far as known, he commanded the ship "Ten Brothers." He made several voyages in the brig "Rice Plant" before 1831, and superintended the building of the " Choctaw " and sailed in her in 1832. She was built in Bristol, Maine, and was Captain Foster's last ship. The "Ten Brothers " was about 250 tons. This ship has a special history, which is given elsewhere.
An old charter party of the brig "Rice Plant" says she was "one hundred and twenty-three tons burthen or thereabouts, to go to Matanzas in Cuba, to St. Petersburg in Russia and back to Boston. 21 day February, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-one."
His voyages were confined to the North Atlantic, he never having crossed the line. His work was between Boston and the West Indies, New Orleans and the Russian ports of Archangel and Cronstadt, and to Elsinore.
About the age of fifty-five he retired to his farm in Brewster, where he resided until his death.
During the war of 1812, he served as captain of the militia, and "April 11, 1815, Gen. Cobb of the third brigade appointed Freeman Foster brigade quartermaster."
About the time that peace was declared, the Brewster Militia company, Freeman Foster, captain, marched to Wellfleet on military duty. On the march home, when Captain
32 Brewster Ship Masters.
Foster's house was reached, the company halted and placing the flag opposite the house saluted it by firing their muskets. One shot accidentally struck the flag, and they continued firing salutes until the colors were in tatters. On his return from his next voyage Captain Foster presented a new flag and staff to the town.
He was twice chosen representative to the general court.
He was an early convert to Universalism, and was one of the founders of that church in Brewster.
Captain Foster was of commanding presence, standing over six feet and stout in proportion. He had a family of ten children and left behind him a reputation for strict integrity and sterling manhood. He died February 25, 1870.
He was born in Brewster, January 11,1799. He commanded the brig "Stephen" for several years in the Mediterranean trade and died in Havana in 1833.
Born in Brewster, October 23, 1770. He commanded sloop "Stork," brig "Byfield," and ship "George Porter." His grandson, George T. Foster, writes as follows:
I understand that the "George Porter" was the first American ship to enter the port of Archangel, Russia. He was taken by a French letter of marque in the English channel, while in the brig " Byfield." He died in Brewster, January 4, 1855. He was a man of prominence and was sent representative to the general court.
He was born in Brewster, May 22, 1790. He commanded ship "Konohassett" and others, whose names are not known to the writer. He died in Brewster, January, 1862.
Brewster Ship Masters. 33
He was born in Brewster, June 17, 1824. He commanded schooner "Melita" and bark "Tally Ho" in the Central American and Mediterranean trade. He was one of the Brewster people who went to California in 1849, in the vessel with Captain Benjamin Snow Crosby. He died in Brewster, May 19, 1881.
NATHAN F. FOSTER.
He was born in Brewster, December 4, 1833. He commanded ships "Expounder," "Morning Star," "W. B. Dinsmore" and "Centaur."
While in command of the "W. B. Dinsmore," on the passage from Liverpool to Bombay, the ship took fire by spontaneous combustion of the cargo of coal, the crew being rescued by an English ship. Later, while in command of ship "Centaur," on the passage from Liverpool to San Francisco, the ship took fire in the same way, and was abandoned by the crew. They left the ship in three boats. Two succeeded in reaching the island of Tahiti; the third boat, in which was the captain, was never heard from. It was supposed she was lost during a storm the night after leaving the ship, August, 1874.
WILLIAM LOW FOSTER.
He was born in Brewster, September 30, 1822. He commanded barques "Tom" and "Maria," and ships "Morning Star," "Malabar," "Pride of the Port," "Belle of the Sea" and "Celeste Clark.'' He died in Brewster, January 2, 1876.
CHARLES H. FREEMAN.
Born in Brewster, June 29, 1853. He commanded ships
34 Brewster Ship Masters.
"Mystic Belle " and "James A. Wright." He was wrecked in ship "Calcutta" at the Cape of Good Hope in August, 1882, when thirteen men of the crew were lost and the ship was a total loss. He is at present (1905) master of the steamer "El Monte," sailing between New York and New Orleans.
He was born in Brewster, June 15, 1822. He commanded whaling ships, making long voyages in the Pacific and Arctic oceans. His ships hailed from Stonington, Connecticut. The last ship was the "Betsey Williams." The names of the others are not ascertained. He died in Brewster, 1890.
He was born in Brewster, December, 1808. He commanded ships "Ellen Brooks," "Coromandel," "Scargo," "Climax" and several others. He retired from the sea in 1855. He always lived in Brewster, where he died, August, 1884.
He was born in Brewster, April 20, 1826. He had charge of ships "Catherine," "Chattanooga," "Mary Whittridge" and "Anahuac." In early life he began going to sea as a fisherman, but gave that up, and learned a carpenter's trade. Later ho went to Oregon, where he spent some time, then returned to Boston. Then began his seafaring life in earnest. In 1884 he sailed from New York in the "Anahuac " for Australia and thence for Sourbaya, Jave, where he died, November 14, 1884.
He was born in Brewster, August, 1838. The first and only ship he had charge of was the " Menmon," and he died while in command of her in Batavia, May, 1865.
Brewster Ship Masters. 35
He was born in Brewster, March 25, 1800. He commanded the bark "Arab" and ship "George Thacher." He retired early in life and settled in Brewster, where he died, July 2, 1864.
JOHN FREEMAN, JR.
He was born in Brewster, August, 1835. He had charge of ships "Sybil," "Kentuckian," barques "National Eagle," "Guy C. Goss" and "Pilgrim." Upon retiring from the sea, he engaged in the ship chandlery business in Boston. Later he removed to his farm in Brewster, where he died June 17,1900.
He was born in Brewster, December 12, 1806. He commanded ships "Alexander " and "Gertrude " and others whose names cannot be ascertained. He died in New York in 1839.
JOSHUA FREEMAN, JR.
Born in Brewster, July 10, 1835. He commanded ships "Christopher Hall," "W. B. Dinsmore," "Gold Hunter " and "Glory of the Seas." He was master of the "Gold Hunter " for seventeen years in East India and California trade, and was for eighteen years in charge of the "Glory of the Seas." He is now (1905) in business in Victoria, British Columbia.
Born in Brewster in February, 1800. He had charge of the brig "Margaret" and ship "Malabar" and others, whose names cannot be ascertained. He retired from the sea early. He was representative to the general court for several terms,
36 Brewster Ship Masters.
and was prominent and interested in all town affairs. He died in Brewster in April, 1887.
SOLOMON FREEMAN, JR.
He was born in Brewster, April 9, 1833. He was in command of ship "Franklin," and died on board in London, February, 1862.
He was born in Beverly, January, 1820. He had command of ships "Maine," "Undaunted," "Kingfisher," "Monsoon," "Mogul," "Ocean King" and "Jabez Howes," the steamers "Zenobia," "Palmyra " and "Edward Everett."
Captain Freeman writes as follows:
In November, 1853, on the passage from Liverpool to Bath, the "Maine " was lost on a bar at the mouth of the Kennebec river.
In 1859, soon after leaving Boston on the ship " Undaunted," a part of the crew mutinied, and I was severely wounded; but after a consultation with the officers I decided to go on and finish the voyage to St. John, N. S., where the mutineers were turned over to the U. S. consul and by him sent back to Boston.
On the passage of the ship "Mogul" from Liverpool to San Francisco the cargo of coal took fire by spontaneous combustion on July 26. We remained by the ship until August the 7th, when we were compelled to leave. Having prepared three boats, we divided the crew of twenty-seven men as equally as possible, and at seven o'clock on the evening of August 7, in latitude 17.53 south, longitude 100 deg. 25 min. west, we left the ship with instructions to try to reach the Marquesas islands, 2100 miles distant. This, all were fortunate enough to do, after eleven and twelve days. Remained on the island five days, when we were taken in a small sloop to the island
Brewster Ship Masters. 37
of Nukahioa, where we found the French governor and placed ourselves in his care. After about two weeks we were taken in a schooner to Tahiti, and from there were sent by the U. S. consul to San Francisco, where we arrived four months after leaving the ship.
He is at present living in Brewster.
Date and place of birth unknown, but he lived for many years in Brewster. He had command of the ship "St. Charles," which was wrecked on Baker's island, in the South Pacific ocean, while loading guano, 1870. Place of death unknown.
He was born in Brewster in 1826. He had charge of ship "Colchis," "T. H. Perkins," "Augusta Norwood," "Sarah H. Snow" and "Chattanooga." He died in Queenstown in 1866, while in command of the "Chattanooga."
Born in Brewster, February 25, 1835. He commanded ships "Kingfisher," "Mountain Wave" and "Santa Claus" and brig "Lorana." He died while in command of brig "Lorana " in Havana and was buried there, October 24, 1866.
He was born in Brewster, February 26, 1801. He had command of the barque "Binney," ships "Oxenbridge," "Berkshire " and "Cape Cod." He retired from the sea early, and removed to Arlington, where he died January 22, 1877.
38 Brewster Ship Masters.
Born in Brewster, January 4, 1804. He was master of the brig "Senator " and several others whose names have not been ascertained. He died in Brewster.
GODFREY HOPKINS, JR.
He was born in Brewster, January 15,1832. He commanded bark "Carib," ships "Australia," "Joseph Holmes" and "William Brown." While in charge of the ship "Australia," she was lost near the port of Akyab. He then took charge of the ship "Joseph Holmes," lying in the port of Bassein, taking the place of Captain Charles Crosby, who had lately died there. Later, while master of the "William Brown," she was lost in a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, bound to Galveston. He retired from the sea about 1870, and was interested in town affairs up to the time of his death, February, 1902.
He was born in Brewster, August 12, 1802. While a young man he commanded vessels in the coasting trade and also in the West India trade. Later he conducted a lumber business in Charlestown, where he settled, and died in Charlestown in 1868.
He was born at the Shetland Islands, about 1835, and came to this country while a boy, making Brewster his home. He commanded the bark "Cochituate " and ships "Sunrise " and "Expounder." On retiring from sea, he entered into the lightering business in Galveston, Texas, and died there in 1895.
ALBERT F. KNOWLES.
He was born in Brewster, December 8, 1839. He
Brewster Ship Masters. 39
commanded ships "Richard Busteed," "Western Star" and "Southern Eagle." While in command of ship "Southern Eagle," on the passage from Rangoon to Liverpool, was supposed to have been lost in a typhoon about May 1, 1870.
ALLEN H. KNOWLES.
He was born in Eastham, June 12, 1814. He removed to Brewster about 1843. He commanded ships "Coquimbo," "Albatross," "R. C. Winthrop," "Western Star," "Chariot of Fame," "Agenor" and "Conqueror." He removed to Yarmouth, where he died, July 5, 1875.
ELIJAH E. KNOWLES.
He was born in Orleans, September 5, 1829. His family removed to Brewster when he was very young. He commanded bark "Lillie," ships "White Swallow," "Nonantum " and "Landseer." After retiring from the sea in 1882, he took an interest in town affairs. He was a director in the Cape Cod National Bank, trustee of the cemetery, and prominent in affairs of the church.
He was born in Brewster, July 20, 1834. He commanded ships "Albatross," "Western Star" and "Belle Creble." After retiring from the sea, he removed to Rockford, Illinois, where he died, July 27, 1893.
JOSIAH N. KNOWLES.
He was born in Eastham, May 26, 1830. He was master of ships "Wild Wave," "Kentuckian," "Charger " and "Glory of the Seas."
40 Brewster Ship Masters.
The following account of the loss of the ship "Wild Wave" is taken from Capt. Knowles's diary :
On February 9, while in command of the fine clipper ship "Wild Wave," of 1500 tons, with a crew of thirty, all told, and ten passengers, on the passage from San Francisco to Valparaiso, the ship was wrecked.
On March 5, at 1 a. m., the ship was going at the rate of thirteen knots an hour, when the lookout reported " breakers under the lee." So near were we to the reef and so great our speed, we could not avoid running upon it, and in less than five minutes the ship was on a coral reef, full of water and the sea breaking over her. At daybreak we discovered we were on Oeno island, which is about half a mile in circumference. We landed passengers and crew, with sails for tents, and provisions. Water we found by digging on the island. After remaining on the island nearly two weeks, I selected my boat crew — the mate, Mr. Bartlett, and five of the men — and set out in a boat for Pitcairns island about one hundred miles away. I had upwards of $18,000 in gold, which I took with us in the boat.
When we reached Pitcairns, we found to our great surprise that the former residents had left for Norfolk island, and notices to that effect were posted in many of the houses. Again we were on an uninhabited island; but here we found plenty of fruit, such as oranges, bananas, bread fruit, cocoanuts, etc., also sheep, goats, bullocks and chickens, the latter in abundance. A day or two after we landed, our boat was stove by the surf and rendered useless. We decided that we must build a boat, and collected from among the houses six axes, one hammer and a few other tools and began the boat. We had to burn some of the houses to get nails and iron. The timber we had to cut and hew as best we could. The boat was called the "John Adams " and was finished and ready to sail on July 23. An ensign was made from the red hangings of the church pulpit, white cotton from an old shirt and the
Brewster Ship Masters. 41
blue of a pair of overalls. The gold all this time had been buried under the boat while building. Captain Knowles took the gold and with the mate and two men started for Tahiti, lying about 1500 miles northwest from Pitcairns. The other three men preferred to stay at Pitcairns. The wind being unfavorable we headed for Marquesas.
August 4, we reached the island of Nukahiva, and to our great joy found there the U. S. sloop of war "Vandalia." There was a French settlement on the island, but no American here ship had been for nearly five years. The next day I sold the boat to the missionary and the "Vandalia" sailed for Oeno and Pitcairns by way of Tahiti.
On reaching Tahiti, Captain Knowles was offered passage to Honolulu on the French frigate "Eurydice." The "Vandalia " sailed for Oeno with the mate, Mr. Bartlett, who had joined her as an officer, and rescued the people left at Oeno and Pitcairns. After a passage of sixteen days the "Eurydice" arrived at Honolulu, and here Captain Knowles found the American bark "Yankee" loading for San Francisco, and sailed in her, arriving in San Francisco, September 19. Here Captain Knowles had news from home, but there was no overland telegraph then and only a pony express to take the mails.
October 6, Captain Knowles sailed for New York, via Panama, on the steamer "Golden Gate," where he arrived October 28, and where he could telegraph to his own people. This was the first news they had had of him in all that time.
Fourteen years afterwards, in the ship "Glory of the Seas," Captain Knowles stopped at Pitcairns island. A boat came alongside with the governor of the island on board, who was much surprised to find this was the Captain Knowles who had been wrecked and on that island, and who had left a record of his doings while there. He went on shore with them and was greeted very cordially by all the people. When he left, they followed him to the boats, each having a present, which
42 Brewster Ship Masters.
consisted of oranges, bread fruit, bananas, chickens, ducks and even sheep — enough to load a boat. Years afterwards, when settled in San Francisco, the governor of the island always visited Captain Knowles whenever he came there.
After leaving the sea, Captain Knowles engaged in business in San Francisco, where he died, June 10, 1896.
He was born in Eastham, April 22, 1823. He removed with his family to Brewster about 1843. He died on the passage to San Francisco, April 2, 1852, and was buried in San Francisco.
WINSLOW L. KNOWLES.
He was born in Eastham, July, 1789. He removed to Brewster in 1843. He commanded several ships in the Valparaiso and South American trade; among them were ships "Chili," "Sophia," "Coquimbo " and "Albatross." He died in Brewster, January 26, 1870.
Mr. George W. Higgins, formerly of Brewster, has sent us the following account of his brother, John Higgins, who, although not a shipmaster, was a Brewster man and had an unusual experience:
My brother, John Higgins, in 1849, sailed to San Francisco with Captain Winslow Knowles. He heard of the great wealth of the Australian gold mines and decided to go. He worked his passage on the steamer "Monumental City." She was wrecked on the coast of Australia, and only half of her passengers and crew were saved, John being one. He then shipped on a brig as second mate on a trading voyage, and was again wrecked.
We did not hear from him for a year or so, and we mourned for him as dead. After a long time, a New Bedford whaler from the Wellington islands, which is of the Caroline group,
Brewster Ship Masters. 43
brought us a letter from him. These islands are in about 6, north latitude. After his last wreck he had in some way drifted there. It was inhabited by about six hundred harmless savages. John went right among them and soon became their leader. The old chief learned to love him as if he were his son, in fact, John married the chief's daughter. He taught them to build houses, to clothe themselves, and the sanctity of marriage. He became almost an idol among them, and the whole tribe was like his great family. I think this was in 1856 or '57. Two sons were born to him.
The missionary brig "Morning Star " visits all these islands, and in a little book published by this organization they speak of my brother, saying, "John Higgins of Brewster has done more towards civilizing these natives than any missionary possibly could."
Let me mention here that this brig "Morning Star" was built in East Boston by Sunday school children all over the world. Stock was issued at ten cents a share, which the children bought. Ten thousand dollars was the amount asked for, but the money came pouring in until thirty thousand was raised. The first vessel was wrecked. The third or fourth is running now. At one time a captain from Yarmouth sailed one,—I do not remember his name.
To return to my brother, he established a regular trading business with whalers, raising hogs, making cocoa oil, and gathering tortoise shell. The whole family (all the natives) were his workers, and in return he supplied them with everything they needed. Captain Charles Freeman stopped and made him a little visit on one of his whaling voyages.
In 1862 or '63, some natives from an adjoining island, who were jealous of the prosperity of John's island, came over there and got into a fight with some of John's people. He stepped between them to stop the fracas, when one of the other islanders stabbed and killed him. His own people were so enraged that they tore the intruders limb from limb, and
44 Brewster Ship Masters.
then cast them into the sea for the sharks, which, according to one of their superstitions, is the most dreadful thing that can happen to one, dead or alive, as it means no future life for them.
John's effects were put on board a New Bedford whaler to be brought home. My father not receiving them wrote to the owner of the vessel to find out the reason, and learned that the captain had proved to be unworthy, and they were obliged to send some one for the vessel. Through him they lost twenty thousand dollars, and of course John's effects were gone, too. They consisted chiefly in silver dollars taken in trading with whalers.
His boys have grown to manhood. The elder, Harry, was a protegee of a Captain Tripp, who brought him up almost as a son. The other, John, married a Carrie Sturgis, a half breed, whose father was a Massachusetts man. Both he and his wife were educated by the missionaries, and, until the death of his wife, teachers among the natives, doing wonderful work on account of speaking their language. They had a boy and girl born to them, and they are growing up to be a fine man and woman.
My son Edward of Chicago has ordered John's estate to be placed in exactly the same condition as before the typhoon, which lately swept across the island and destroyed the buildings, at his expense, and we have sent a large box of everything in the clothing line.
Both of John's sons visited my brother Thomas when he was living in Honolulu, and in one of his letters, Thomas says, "We need not be ashamed of our brother's children." The climate, however, was too cool for them and began to tell on their constitutions, and they returned to their native isles.
WINSLOW L. KNOWLES, JR.
He was born in Eastham, May 24, 1817. Removed to Brewster about 1843. He commanded several ships in the
Brewster Ship Masters. 45
Valparaiso and East India trade, the names of which have not been ascertained. He died in Calcutta while in command of a ship, on October 5, 1863.
He was born in Brewster, Dec. 12, 1804. He had charge of the brig "Carib " and bark "Nautilus." He was engaged for many years in the fruit trade between Boston and the Mediterranean ports, for William Worthington & Co. In 1856, he was appointed port warden of Boston by the Boston Marine Society, which office he held for twenty years. He died in South Boston January 2, 1877.
He was born in Brewster Dec. 1, 1810. He commanded ships "Alexander," "South America," "North America," and others. He died in Brewster July 1, 1873.
He was born in Brewster September, 1829. He commanded ships "Pocahontas," "T. B. Wales," "Hercules," "Gold Hunter," "Agenor " and "Charmer." After leaving the sea he was appointed port warden of Boston and died while in that office February, 1897.
Born in Brewster in January, 1827, he commanded the ship "Hercules," and several others, the names of which we have been unable to ascertain. He died April 17, 1874.
JOHN W. LINCOLN.
Capt. Lincoln was born in Brewster in 1827. He was in
46 Brewster Ship Masters.
command of the ship "Kentucky" and died on the passage from San Francisco to Boston in 1853.
He was born in Brewster in 1825. He had command of the barks "Mist," "Maria" and "Aurelia." He died in Charleston, S. C., while in command of the latter December, 1870, and was buried in Brewster.
He was born in Brewster, October 22, 1810. His daughter, Mrs. Allen, writes as follows :
He began going to sea quite young. When a cabin-boy of twelve years of age he was captured by pirates. During his seafaring life he had command of brig "Draco" and bark "Mary." On one of his voyages he took his ship through the straights of Magellan, an unusual event at that time. He rode by invitation on the first train that left Boston for Worcester, going as far as Newton at the rate of eighteen miles an hour. Many people asked what were his sensations in going at such a fearful rate. He left the sea at the age of 35 on account of ill health and later carried on a grocery business or general country store. He died in Brewster May 14, 1900.
Captain Lincoln was captured by pirates in 1822, while on a voyage in brig "Iris." The following record of the voyage is from his pen :
We sailed from Boston about the first of November, 1822, in the brig "Iris," owned by William Parsons, Esq., of Boston. Our crew consisted of eleven, all told, viz.: Freeman Mayo, of Brewster, master ; Richard Rich of Bucksport, Me., first mate; Sylvanus Crosby of Brewster, second mate; Brewster Mayo of Brewster, seaman, who was the first child born in Brewster, or rather, he was a twin; Josiah Wing of
Brewster Ship Masters. 47
Brewster, seaman; two other seamen; _____ Hooper of Boston, seaman; negro for cook; Mr. Greenleaf of Baltimore, a passenger, and the cabin boy 12 years old belonging in Brewster and the teller of this story.
This was my first voyage, and for the first three days out I was very homesick and seasick. Nothing remarkable occurred until about the 20th. We had passed the Bahama Banks and passed the Double Headed Shot Keys during the night. About sunrise I was called to my duty, which was to keep the cabin tidy, set the table, clear it away, wash the dishes, etc. When I came on deck the island of Cuba was in sight about 30 miles distant, the wind light, the water smooth. We were sailing by the wind, as the sailors term it, "full and by." I soon noticed the first mate in earnest conversation with the man at the helm and came near enough to hear the mate say :
"They may be pirates," referring to two vessels in-shore of us, "and I will call the captain."
He went into the cabin and called Captain Mayo. His first exclamation, spy-glass in hand, was,
"Damn 'em, they are pirates! Call all hands on deck, put up your helm and keep her off ; square the yards, set the fore-topmast studding sail; bear a hand ! "
These orders were speedily executed. But the wind being light, it did not increase our speed much. Again the captain spied them and saw they had sweeps out and that their colors were up; the sweeps were large oars, well manned, the craft low in the water and they could propel her fast even in a calm. One of the crafts took after us and the other after a schooner bound into Matanzas. She proved to be the " Mary & Eliza," Capt. Cole, of Salem. The pirate in chase of us fell in our wake about three miles astern, and was gaining on us. Soon we saw a puff of smoke rise from her deck and heard the report of a large cannon. This was evidently a signal for us to heave to. We, however, kept on our course. By and by
48 Brewster Ship Masters.
another puff of smoke and the dull, heavy report of a cannon. Capt. Mayo then called the officers and Mr. Greenleaf for a consultation. It was evident they were gaining rapidly on us and would soon be alongside, and if we kept on our course it would so enrage them that when they got on board they were likely to kill all hands. The result of the consultation was the command to "haul down the studding sail, down helm, back the main topsail, and let them come alongside." Officers and passenger went into the cabin to hide their valuables. After they came up I went into the cabin and took from my chest a pretty little wallet with small artificial flowers under a crystal on the front and containing three dollars in bank bills and a few coppers, all my treasures. I got upon the transom, opened a small place containing bits of rope, canvas, etc., called the boatswain's locker, dug down to the bottom and there covered my treasure and went on deck. By this time the pirate vessel was close to the "Iris," and we had a fair view of her deck, which was crowded with men in white duck frocks and trousers and wide brimmed hats. Amidships, mounted on a pivot, was a 24-pound cannon and on each side several smaller cannon. When abreast of the "Iris," they launched a boat and eight men, each armed with a sword, pistol and a long, wicked looking knife, got into her and came alongside the "Iris." We put over our gangway ladder and man-ropes, trying to treat them as politely as possible. Just before they got alongside they sent a pistol ball whizzing over our quarter deck. It was an exciting moment when they got hold of our man-ropes to come on board, and I saw pale faces among our crew. We all feared they would attack and kill all hands.
Captain Mayo stood by the gangway. Six of them came up in single file, and as they stepped on deck one of them, the lieutenant, shook hands with Captain Mayo and asked, "Where are you from, captain, and where bound ? " "Bound to New Orleans." "Have you a cargo ? " "Only about 200
Brewster Ship Masters. 49
boxes of axes and 300 casks of nails, just to help balance the brig." "Have you any provisions to spare? We are a privateer, cruising after pirates; have you seen any ? " "No; I might spare you some beef, pork, etc." "Captain, square away your maintopsail and stand in for the land." He then stationed two of his men abaft the tiller-ropes on guard, and the rest of them went into the cabin, broke open chests, trunks, desks, etc., and the lieutenant came on deck dressed in our captain's best suit of clothes and watch in his pocket, and then acknowledged they were pirates.
We stood in close to land, and then tacked off shore. The pirates began searching for luxuries to eat and drink. They found a large cheese in the store room, brought it on deck, drew a sword, hacked it in pieces, threw part of it in a basket with some hard bread, and set it under the bow of the long boat for the sailors. We had on board a barrel of New England rum, it being the custom then to allow the sailors grog once a day at sea. They filled a decanter and set it on the coops with an invitation to all to help themselves. We tacked on and off shore all day, beating the "Iris " down the coast of Cuba. The pirate vessel left us in the afternoon in chase of another ship they saw in the offing. Our officers, sailors and passengers, by secret consultation, had agreed to suddenly seize the pirates' weapons, as some of them lay carelessly about the deck, kill the pirates and run the "Iris " into Mantanzas. During the afternoon, Crosby, the second mate, called me into the steerage and told me the plan agreed on, which was as follows:
We all expected the "Iris " would be anchored near the land before night, and the sailors sent aloft to furl the sails. When they came down all hands were to rush on the pirates, seize their weapons and kill or drive them overboard. Before sunset the "Iris " was anchored near the land, and the sailors went aloft to furl sails. As they were coming down, Captain Mayo took his station where they would jump on deck, and I
50 Brewster Ship Masters.
stood by his side. The pirates, as if mistrusting our intentions, came and stood near Captain Mayo, and as the men came down on deck, drew their swords and drove them into the forecastle. They then struck Captain Mayo and told him to go, too, and also the mates and passenger, and I followed. When we were all down they shut and fastened the door, and placed a guard on each side the forecastle deck. There were eleven of us, and the room was small for so many. The weather was warm and we nearly suffocated for want of fresh air. Fortunately there was a scuttle or hatch unknown to the pirates, that opened into the lower hold. The captain took off the hatch (our firewood was beneath) and stood on the wood, and in that position the deck was nearly up to his breast. Now this hatchway led into the lower hold, thence aft, and up into the cabin or on deck. All we could hear of the pirates was the two on guard over our heads, and every step they took we could hear the clink of their swords. After about an hour the doors were opened and they called for the cook to get water for them. He was afraid to go, but Captain M. told him he must. We begged them to send us a bucket of water and they did. The mate said there was tobacco in it, but it quenched the thirst of those who drank it. Soon we heard some one coming in the lower hold. The captain put on the hatch and stood on it. Then came the voice of the cook, crying, "Oh, do for God's sake, let me come up; they are going to kill me!" The captain said, "You must not come up ; the pirates must not know of this hatchway." He begged for some time, but finally displaced the wood, lay down, and hauled the wood over him. The pirates came down with lights, found him, beat him with their swords and drove him aft, but did not wound him. Shortly after the doors were again opened and they called for the captain. We then expected they were going to kill all hands. We listened for the sound of his voice, but could hear nothing but the clink, clink of those guards' swords. Then the door was again opened, and
Brewster Ship Masters. 51
they called for the passenger and the boy. I thought they had killed the captain and would kill me; but Mr. Greenleaf said, "Come along, I don't believe they will kill us; we must go." We went up and were told by the guard to go aft and into the cabin, and there I saw our captain alive, but he had been cruelly treated and his life threatened. The pirates, four or five of whom were in the cabin, ordered Captain Mayo and the cook to go into the forecastle. They then searched Greenleaf, took his knife, etc., from him, showed him a bunch of keys, and asked him, " Where are the trunks these keys belong to ? " He answered, "In Baltimore." They then asked him, "Where is your watch?" He told them he had no watch. I knew he had a valuable one. They questioned him about money, etc., and then told him to go into the forecastle. I asked to go with him, but they said,"No, you stop here." The cabin was well lighted, and on the table were cakes of chocolate, bread and cheese, a decanter of New England rum, cider, etc. One pirate filled a tumbler with rum, handed it to me and told me to drink it. I told him I did not want it. He caught up a long knife and said, "You drink." I tried, but it was so strong I could only swallow a very little, and put the glass down. He then asked me if there were any money on board. I said, "There is none that I know of." He seized me by the foretop and threw me back, caught up the knife from the table and said, "Now tell me where the money is or I will kill you." "Oh! " I said, "do n't kill me." He let me up and urged, "Come, tell me where the money is." I answered him as before, and again he seized me and threatened to kill me. I sat on my chest and trembled with fright, and wondered if I gave him my wallet it would pacify him. I got up on the transom, hauled out my wallet and gave it to him. Instantly the others sprang up on the transom, hauled everything out of the locker, and finding no money were mad, threw me down and placed the point of the knife on my head so hard as nearly to penetrate. I cried out, "Oh, do n't kill me!" "Hush,
52 Brewster Ship Masters.
hush," he said, and took me by the hand, saying he would throw me overboard. When I cried out he let me fall down the stairs, and told me to go to bed. I crept away and lay down on the sails.
At daylight they called all hands up from the forecastle, cut the hemp cable and made sail, the pirate vessel in company. All day we were beating down the coast, and at sunset sailed in between Stone Key and Point Jacobs and anchored and furled the sails. That night the "Iris" was crowded with pirates, going to and from our vessel and robbing us of everything. They drank freely of the rum and quarelled over the booty. Our crew kept out of their way as much as possible, some aloft and some out on the bowsprit. Captain Mayo called me, and we crept under the long boat and lay on the main hatches.
At sunrise all hands were called. We weighed anchor, made sail and ran the "Iris" about three miles into a bay and came to anchor. We were now in the pirates' rendezvous, close to the shore. They ordered the long boat put overboard and carried our cargo of axes and nails on their vessels. After the cargo was on their vessels, they ordered the long boat stowed in her place. In the afternoon the captain of the pirates came on board and told his lieutenant if he did not find money within two hours to kill all hands and burn the brig. He then ordered me to go in his boat with him. I objected. The order to kill and burn was given in Spanish, which one of our men understood, and he ran and told Captain Mayo. Captain Mayo stepped up to the pirate captain, just as he was going into his boat, and begged him to let us have the long boat and spare our lives. He said, "No; I have money or your lives." "I have no money on board," answered Captain Mayo; " but if you will let me go to Mantanzas I will get you any sum you may name." After a moment, he said, "Well, you may go to Mantanzas. I give you three days, and bring me $6,000; if you are not back on the third day, I will
Brewster Ship Masters. 53
kill your crew and burn the "Iris." That night at dark they gave him his best suit of clothes and watch, and told him to get ready and go on board one of their vessels. The mates, passenger and myself never expected to see him again. He said to me, "If they order you again to go on board of their vessels, do you go, and you will sometime have a chance to escape." We bade him good-by. His last words were, "I shall come back, whether I get the money or not."
The pirates carried him to the harbor of Mantanzas, put him on a boat and sent him into town. He first applied to the governor, who did not seem inclined to assist him. He then went to the merchants, but they were not willing to treat with the pirates, at any rate. He, however, got together $3,000. The American captains in port agreed to muster a force, and got together about thirty volunteers to go down and re-capture the "Iris," but these numbers were not deemed sufficient for the undertaking and it was given up. This was the second day since he left the "Iris," and the third day he was to be back with the money. Again he went on shore and tried to raise more money, but with no success. When almost in a state of despair, he saw a U. S. man-of-war coming into the harbor. He immediately went on board of her. She proved to be the United States schooner "Alligator," Lieut. Allen, with fourteen guns and well manned. Captain Mayo reported his situation and orders were quickly given, " Ready about!" Captain Mayo as pilot. On the morning of the day he was to return with the money, he was at the entrance to the bay on the Alligator, and found four vessels at anchor— one a pirate schooner, the others prizes which they had captured. At sight of the "Alligator" they left their prizes and took to sweeping into the bay, firing a large gun as warning to their comrades who were guarding the "Iris."
After Captain Mayo left us to go to Mantanzas, things went smoothly until the morning of the third day, when, shortly after sunrise, we were all ordered to go below, and the doors
54 Brewster Ship Masters.
closed upon us. Asking why we must do so, the lieutenant said, "Merchants are coming from Mantanzas to examine our cargo and you must not be seen." The lieutenant and all his men then left the "Iris" and boarded one of their own vessels, which was anchored near us. After awhile, Crosby, the second mate, said, "I 'm going to have a look out," and he went up the stairs and pushed the door ajar, so that we each had a lookout. On the deck of the vessel near us we could see the men, merchants and pirates. Suddenly we heard the report of a cannon. Crosby said, "Hark! That report means something." Again he pushed open the door. The pirates were getting their vessel under weigh with sweeps out, and the merchants were making all speed up the bay in their barge. Crosby pushed the door wide open, calling out, "Come up, come up. They are all gone." We all went on deck and saw the pirate vessel sweeping around the Point, with three boats in chase of her, and soon they commenced a battle. We could hear the reports of the cannon and muskets, and see the glistening of guns and swords. Some of our men thought the pirates were fighting each other; others said, "Pirates' guns would not glisten like that; it must be a man-of-war's boat." Crosby was anxious to get nearer, and seizing an axe ran aft and cut the lashings to the boat, saying, "I swear I'll go somewhere." The battle lasted about half an hour; then boats and schooner went out of the bay, the other pirate schooner up to the head of the bay and all seemed quiet. " Now," said the mate, "let's have some breakfast. Bring up the dishes, boy, and set the table on the quarter deck."
I was just pouring out the coffee, when some one said, "There's a boat coming up the bay." Instantly every eye was on her, and we soon saw she was coming toward us. Excitement was intense. Our mate hailed the schooner "Mary and Eliza " and asked:
"What do you think of that boat?"
Answer : "We think it an American man-of-war's boat the
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pirates have captured, and now they are coming to kill us all. If you will send for us we will all go on board the "Iris " and with the ballast and kedge anchor we 'll try to sink their boat."
Chief mate and one sailor sprang into our boat and were lowered into the water. They went alongside the schooner and took in her crew; but instead of coming back to us they pulled for the shore. Crosby shouted, "Come back, for God's sake, and let's all die together." But they did not heed. The pirate boat came nearer and nearer. I ran down in the hold, hurried aft to the stern post and leaning there heard the hellish tumult on deck. I heard the terrible screams of Crosby as he ran, with the pirates after him cutting him till he jumped overboard. Then they threw broken dishes after him. They found the sailors in the lower hold, drove them about, cutting and wounding them as they begged for mercy. I could hear every blow they struck, and thought all would surely be killed.
Crosby found it hard to give up and drown. He caught at the davit tackle, climbed on deck, walked forward and said, "Now kill me, if you like; I wont run any more for you." They told him to get into the boat, and made loud calls for the boy.
The tumult lasted about fifteen minutes, and then all was quiet, except the tramp and the Spanish language of the pirates. Suddenly one of them came down near me, drew his sword, and, seeming to look me right in the face, felt about with his sword; but just as I was about to spring up, he turned and went on deck. I wondered if he really did not see me. Then one of the sailors came down, and I asked who was killed. "No one is killed, my boy, but all are wounded. You had better go up, for they know you are on board and they are going to burn the vessel." So I went up. Five or six men circled around me, clashing their swords over my head, and were greatly excited over me, some wanting to kill me, others not willing to kill a boy. They called for powder and then for fire. I told them I could not get either. Then they
56 Brewster Ship Masters.
told me to get into the boat. I went to the side and saw the boat with Crosby in the bow, his head badly wounded and the blood running over his face and neck. Greenleaf stood by his side and some of the sailors were there also. As I came into the boat one of the pirates said to me, "Ah, ha! You no come when we call. Never mind, we fix you by and by." Another sailor, a Swede, came into the boat, and as he sat down a sword came whizzing by my ear and struck him on the fleshy part of his shoulder, laying open a long, deep gash. Fearing I should get a blow next, I sprang up, intending to jump overboard. Then I saw a slight commotion in the boat, and Crosby whispered to Greenleaf, "Now is the time to escape; whisper the man next you and tell him I am going to push off." The man answered, "It wont do." Crosby cried out, " I swear I 'll do it." He pushed off the boat, sprang aft, seized the pirate by the throat and sent him backward overboard. One moment later would have been too late, for the pirates were just ready to get into the boat. They ran and got handspikes, buckets, etc., to throw at us, but Crosby seized a musket and aimed it, saying, "Now, damn you, fire!" and they all dropped out of sight. We pulled away from the brig as fast as possible. We landed on the Point, hauled our boat up on the beach, took out the ammunition and ran into the bushes.
Crosby sang out for all to return to the boat, launch her and keep close to the shore, and if there were any danger from pirates to go into the bushes. We kept near shore and pulled for Mantanzas, about thirty-three miles off, we supposed. The wind favored us, and the sailors, in spite of their wounds, took their turn at the oars, their gladness because of their escape nerving them beyond their real strength. All day we rowed. At dark we entered the harbor of Mantanzas. Wishing to avoid the Spaniards, and, if possible, get on board an American vessel, we muffled oars and kept silent. Soon there came, "Boat ahoy!" We answered, "Halloo!" "What boat is that?" We told of our escape and asked to go on board.
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They called to us to come on board, and when they saw the blood on the wounded, the captain got out his medicine chest and dressed all the wounds, and then had beds brought up on deck under an awning, and we all lay down to such peace and rest as must be realized to be appreciated.
We will return to the man-of-war "Alligator." You will remember that at the sight of her the pirates left their prize vessels and swept into the bay, at the same time firing a cannon as warning to their companions. Captain Allen, finding that he could not overtake them with the "Alligator," took to his boats, selecting twelve of his best men with Captain Mayo for his boat, Lieutenant Dale with twelve good men for a second boat, and the gig with six men. With this force they attacked the pirates. Captain Allen stood up waving his sword and cheering his men, while shot flew like hail about them. Captain Mayo was paying his $6,000 in powder and ball. They took the first vessel without loss of a man, driving the pirates to their boats. On nearing the next vessel Captain Allen was shot in the head. Seeing their leader wounded the men wavered, but he still cheered them on. Soon three men were wounded, and they were ordered to retreat. On the retreat Captain Allen received his death wound through the body and died soon after on board the "Alligator."
On the afternoon of this day, Captain Mayo with men from the "Alligator " went on board the "Iris," but found not a soul on board and expected every one was murdered. They brought the "Iris," together with the whole fleet, six in number, all under convoy of the United States schooner "Alligator," with the body of Captain Allen on board, got under weigh and came into the harbor of Mantanzas, where Captain Mayo was much surprised to find all his crew save one. Captain Allen was buried in Mantanzas. Lieutenant Dale, then captain, took all the papers of the vessels re-captured by the "Alligator," and proceeded toward Charleston, S. C, in order to settle the salvage with the United States government. The second
58 Brewster Ship Masters.
night out the "Alligator" ran on to a reef on the coast of Florida and was lost.
We arrived in Charleston, where Captain Mayo bought a musket and sword for each man of his crew, and then we sailed for New Orleans, under convoy of the brig "Belvidere " of Beverly, Captain Lampson. We kept with her until past Cuba and arrived in New Orleans the first of February, 1823.
The death of Captain Allen caused the United States government to send out a fleet of war vessels, which effectually put a stop to piracy.
The Cabin Boy.
He was born in Brewster, January 29, 1786, and died there May 2, 1867. His granddaughter, Mrs. E. C. Dugan, of St. Paul, Minnesota, has very kindly loaned the following:
The subject of this sketch was a Brewster man, having spent a lifetime in his native town.
Jeremiah Mayo was the son of Asa Mayo and Sally Seabury. The nine sons of Asa Mayo measured 55 feet in the aggregate. Jeremiah was 6 feet, 4 inches. When 14 years of age he went fishing to the Straits of Belle Isle and earned $225 that summer. Previous to this he had been out of school summers working on the farm. His father looked out that his boys did their share of work in the blacksmith's shop. Jeremiah had a forge of his own, and when 16 years of age shod all the horses that were brought to the shop.
The spring after he was 18 he wanted to go with Captain Solomon Crosby to the Bahamas for a load of salt. His father was willing, if he would agree to go a fishing voyage that summer on his return — he still meant to make a blacksmith of him. But the young man was equally opposed to black-smithing and fishing. Accordingly on his return from this six weeks' voyage he shipped with Captain Hastings of Chelsea, who was going a voyage to Marseilles in the ship "Sally." In
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1804, he sailed with Captain Hastings, and, being a new hand, it was left with the captain to pay what he judged was right. At the end of the voyage, he was pleased to receive from Captain Hastings $22 a month, which he said was $2 more than he paid any other sailor.
His next voyage was made on an armed ship, the "Industry." They sailed up the Mediterranean, stopping at the ports of Malaga, Leghorn, Alicant and Marseilles. On this voyage they took out a cargo of fish, returning with wheat. On the passage home, near Gibraltar, they were attacked by the Turks in three lateen vessels. This was in 1805, when the Algerines were so troublesome. This engagement lasted two hours, during which Jeremiah received a flesh wound in the leg.
During the encounter, the captain of the "Industry" had his leg shot off and was left in a hospital in Lisbon. The man was Captain Gamaliel Bradford, and his brother who was first mate, took charge of the ship on her home passage. The vessel sailed from Lisbon to Dublin, where the cargo of wheat was left and the ship brought home in ballast. This was called a large ship in those days, being of about three hundred tons.
After remaining at home for a few days, he shipped as mate in the brig "Salem," Captain Kimball Clark in charge. They sailed first to Amsterdam, then to Cadiz, returning to Boston with a cargo of salt and wine. Soon after leaving Amsterdam, Captain Clark was seized with colic, which was followed by a fever, and he was unable to be on deck when they arrived at Cadiz. This was Jeremiah's first voyage as mate. The navigation was difficult in the North sea, and the second mate, his cousin, Nathan Atwood Mayo, was young and had had but little experience. Both mates were but 19 years of age. It was a trying time for the young man, who came out of it with credit.
A second voyage as mate was made with Capt. Clark in the "Salem," when they took a cargo of fish to San Sebastian.
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When two or three days out the brig sprang aleak. The men being covered with salt water from the seas breaking in upon them from both sides, became afflicted with boils. Owing to this, together with the constant pumping, much suffering followed. Capt. Clark soon gave up in despair, saying that they would go to the bottom. The mate asked if he would give up the charge of the vessel to him. The captain said he would, for he should not come on deck again. The mate then took in sail and put her under close reef main topsail. He treated the crew from a barrel of cider on board and gave them plenty of crackers to eat, for during this time they had no opportunity for cooking, subsisting on dry codfish. They were set to pumping. The leakage was due to too heavy a cargo and fish were ordered to be thrown overboard. As many as three or four hundred quintals were disposed of in this way, the fish having but to be thrown upon the deck, when they would be washed overboard. The leakage soon subsided, though it had continued four or five days. When they arrived at San Sebastian they had to lay in quarantine forty days. This was a Spanish custom. There was but one vessel in port, a brig from Philadelphia. Capt. Clark ordered the long boat to be filled with fish and to be carried to that brig, the money received being paid over to the mate, for, as the captain said, it was through his efforts that his vessel and their lives were saved. The sale amounted to $200. There was not a vehicle of any kind in San Sebastian, all burdens being carried upon the heads of the men and women. This cargo of fish was taken off wholly by the women, who brought baskets of sand, emptying them in the vessel's hold for ballast to Bordeaux. About sixty were employed.
At Bordeaux Capt. Clark sold the "Salem" and left for home. The mate remained with the vessel, for the French owners of the brig wished him to take her and run to the northern ports of France with claret wine. The vessel cleared, but there being war at the time between France and
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England, permission would not be given to clear for a French port. The first day out the "Salem" was boarded by an English man-of-war. The ship's papers appeared all right and the brig was allowed to proceed without molestation. She sailed by Brest and Ushant, cleared for the bay upon which lies Morlaix, which was the real destination of the brig. Here the cargo of wine was discharged and the seams of the vessel were covered with pitch as a pretense for landing at this port. On the return to Bordeaux the brig was again boarded, but was for the second time released after the plausible account of leaving the cargo at Morlaix for repairs to the vessel.
Claret wine was then worth three or four times as much at Morlaix as at Bordeaux. No Frenchman thought he could take his dinner without claret.
On his return to Bordeaux, Jeremiah shipped with an American captain as first officer of the "Victoris." They went to Poliac, where they loaded with a cargo of wine called Medoc. This they took to Spain. They were in Corunna a few days after the battle between the French and English, January 16,1809.
He speaks of the prisoners which he saw then as the most wretched-looking creatures he had ever beheld.
On returning to Boston he made arrangements with Joshua Ellis to take command of the schooner "Lawry," owned by him, which was then loading for Southern ports. He then went to Brewster, where he married as his first wife, Sally Crosby, on April 30, 1809. During the years 1809-10 the young Captain Mayo made voyages in the "Lawry" to Baltimore, Norfolk, Edenton, N. C, Wilmington and Petersburg, Va. In 1811, he went to Baltimore, whence he sailed for Oporto and Vigo. A second voyage was made to Corunna, where he saw the monument erected to the memory of Sir John Moore, who fell in the battle. Early in March he sailed for Gottenburg, thence to Boston.
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The following summer, soon after the declaration of war between the United States and Great Britain, he started from Boston with a crew for the ship "Ariadne," of which he was to take command. The ship was then at Baltimore loading with a cargo of flour for Lisbon. As the schooner entered Chesapeake bay, soon after daybreak, the mate who was on deck, rushed down stairs and roused the captain, saying:
"Lynnhaven bay is full of frigates."
There was but a light wind at the time and they hoped to escape the enemy by running up the bay towards Baltimore. But they had no sooner attempted this than a boat manned by marines started in pursuit of them. The captain armed his crew and sent them below with instructions to remain there until he called them, leaving but one man and a boy on deck beside himself. The wind dying away, the enemy approached near enough to reach them with their guns. The captain hove to and a boat came alongside and took possession. The British officer who came on board asked how many men he had, to which Capt. Mayo replied, "one man and a boy, as you see." After waiting for sometime for the wind to rise that they might take the vessel into the bay, they departed, leaving only a guard of three or four men on board. They were becalmed most of the day and towards night two boats' crews were sent to tow the vessel in. When the officer came on board Captain Mayo called to his crew to come on deck. As they filed up, one after another, the officer shouted with an oath of astonishment, "how many men have you ? " "Enough to show you the way to Baltimore, if we had been favored with a wind," was the reply. The officer said: "I should not have blamed you if you had." It was Captain Mayo's intention, if the wind had risen, to have disarmed the guard and taken them prisoners to Baltimore. Captain Mayo was taken on board the British frigate, where he was kept three days. He then paid the ransom for his vessel and was allowed to proceed to Baltimore.
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On reaching Baltimore he received orders from his owners to by no means attempt to evade the blockading squadron, news of which had reached them as guarding the entrance of Chesapeake bay. This was a great disappointment to the captain, who believed he could safely sail out of the bay and make his foreign voyage. So, contrary to his judgment, he had to obey instructions and take his cargo over land from Baltimore to New York, a most difficult undertaking on the corduroy roads, with a most uncouth set of men as teamsters. Often barrels of flour would be stolen during the night, as they were asleep under the wagons, some of which they would recover by searching the following day.
In 1812, a town meeting was held in Brewster, at which time delegates were appointed to attend the convention to be held at Yarmouth, for the purpose of taking measures "relating to the distresses of the present war with Great Britain." Of the ten men chosen to represent the town, all were sea captains, among whom was Jeremiah Mayo. It was said that at this time, there was a greater proportion of commanders of vessels in Brewster than in any town of its population.
In the spring of 1813, Captain Mayo went to Newburyport to superintend the building of a brig, the "Sally," and while here he visited Lord Timothy Dexter, the man who made a fortune by exporting warming pans to the West Indies.
Captain Mayo went several foreign voyages to Liverpool, Havre, Gottenburg, Stockholm and other places, in the "Sally," taking out a cargo from Southern ports in the United States and bringing home a portion of his cargo to some port in the South, as well as to New York and Boston. Once when on a passage home from Gottenburg he encountered thick weather after leaving the coast of Denmark, and was unable either to take an observation or get a sight of land before reaching the ocean, being obliged to sail by dead reckoning. He was spoken by an inward bound vessel, who asked his latitude and longitude, having been unable himself to take an observation
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for a long time. Captain Mayo replied that he was off the Scilly islands. He was asked when he last verified his position. Captain Mayo said he had not seen land since he left the Cattegat. The captain could hardly believe that he could be sure of his locality, but Captain Mayo was confident, and, on taking an observation shortly after, showed that he was correct and proved his skill as a navigator.
During the time he was in command of a vessel, he never lost a man nor suffered shipwreck. He kept careful watch himself, never trusting to his men.
While in Havre, about a month after the battle of Waterloo, he was interviewd by an agent of Napoleon Bonaparte, who inquired if he would undertake to carry the emperor to the United States. Although aware of the danger of the enterprise, which in case of capture would result in the confiscation of his vessel and cargo, he replied promptly that he would. Soon after, he heard that he had surrendered himself to the British. If he had taken him, he would probably have reached our coast in safety, for his vessel was not spoken from the time he left Havre until he reached Boston. The "Sally" was a fast sailer and never encountered a vessel that could outsail her.
Captain Mayo had a great admiration for Napoleon and saw him at Bayonne on horseback, in 1808, when he was landing his army in Spain. He was in Paris the day of the execution of Marshal Ney, December 7, 1815, and heard the shot fired in the garden of the Luxembourg. On another of his visits to Paris Lafayette was pointed out to him. The marquis was in a carriage just drawing away from the Hall of the Assembly.
Captain Mayo's vessel was one of the first to reach England after peace was declared. The captain of an English frigate lying in port sent him an invitation to dine with him on board his ship. He was most courteously treated. The British officer complimented the Americans on their skill and bravery in naval engagements. He said that he had heard that the
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"Cyanne " and "Levant" had been captured by the "Constitution," and asked if she had reached port with her prizes. He was told that one had reached port and the other had been re-captured. The officer said that it was a daring and skilful exploit; he added that he was employed during the war to convoy an English fleet of vessels to Canada. He was well prepared to resist an attack from an equal force, but he was very thankful that he did not encounter the enemy, for although he might have stood an equal chance of success in an engagement, yet the Americans fought with such desperation that there must have been a severe encounter.
Captain Mayo resigned the charge of the brig "Sally," and the owners secured the services of Captain Isaac Berry, who with his wife sailed on her next voyage, from which they never returned, nothing being ever heard from the brig or crew.
Captain Mayo received a commission as captain of the Brewster artillery company in 1819 and as major in 1820. In 1822, he was commissioned as brigadier general of the third brigade, 5th division, state militia, which position he held for seven years, resigning in 1829. His resignation was accepted by a letter, which complimented him on the satisfactory manner in which he had performed his duties during the time he had held this office.
He held a commission as justice of the peace from 1829 to 1867, the year of his death. He was often called upon to write deeds and other legal documents, to administer on estates and to appraise the value of property. He was well read in law and his judgment on legal points was held in high esteem. Of the many cases tried before him, while a few appealed to a higher court, in not a single instance was his decision reversed. He was a licensed auctioneer and was often called upon to sell woodland and other property at auction. He was a skilful surveyor and draughtsman and attended to all business of that kind in town. He was president of the Brewster Marine
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Insurance Co., which gave him employment for a number of years. His farm comprised forty acres, with crops of grass, potatoes, corn, rye, oats and other cereals.
He married as his second wife Mary Paddock Clark, daughter of Isaac Clark and Temperance Sears, May 2, 1824.
Mr. Benjamin Drew wrote in 1881: "General Mayo seemed to me a man who had seen a great deal of the world. He had rare conversational powers. Usually his talk was of the narrative order, but in narrating he would give word pictures of places and scenes."
He was interested and active in, town affairs up to the time of his death in 1867.
He was born in Harwich, now Brewster, July 7, 1789. He was master of the brig "Iris" in 1822. Near the coast of Cuba the brig was chased and captured by pirates. Captain Mayo was allowed three days to go to Mantanzas to obtain money to redeem the brig. He found there the United States schooner "Alligator," Captain Allen, fourteen guns, who sailed for the "Iris." In the fight, Captain Allen of the "Alligator" was killed. This caused the United States government to send war vessels enough to put an end to piracy among those islands. This story is told at length by Captain Warren Lincoln, who was the cabin boy at that time and wrote the account for the entertainment of his family.
Captain Freeman Mayo died in Brewster.
CHARLES E. MYRICK.
He was born in East Brewster, February 2, 1841. In 1872, he was master of the brig "Red Wing;" in 1875, barque "Amazon;" in 1880, barkentine "Spotless;" in 1887, "Adda J. Bonner;" in 1890, barkentine "Good News." These were
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in the coffee trade, sailing between Baltimore and Rio de Janeiro.
In 1873, the "Red Wing" was dismasted in a severe hurricane. The crew were taken off the wreck, after drifting about for five days, and finally landed at Pensacola.
He writes that he made nineteen voyages in the "Amazon," in the "Spotless " fourteen, in the "A. J. Bonner" seven, and in the "Good News," since 1890, thirty-four voyages to Rio and hopes to make a few more.
He is now (1905) living in Baltimore.
He was born in Brewster, August 13,1792. He commanded ships sailing to Mediterranean ports and the Western islands, names of which we have been unable to ascertain.
He died in Brewster, August 12, 1843.
He was born in Chatham, July 18, 1772. In early life he removed to Brewster. He had command of the ships "Monsoon" and "Ten Brothers," and schooner "Hope." He died on the passage from Africa to Boston on board of the schooner "Hope," February 26, 1819.
He was born in Brewster, August 11, 1799. He was master of the brig "Carib," in the Honduras trade, and others, names unknown. After retiring from the sea, he settled in Boston and established the house of D. Nickerson & Co., engaged in shipping and South American trade. At the time of his death he was president of the Mechanics' Bank.
He died in Boston, September 3, 1847.
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FRANCIS F. NICKERSON.
He was born in Brewster, March 19, 1817. He had charge of the bark "Carib" and other vessels, names not known, sailing between Boston and Honduras.
He died in Truxillo, February 6, 1869.
He was born in Brewster, December 15, 1808. He was a sailor in his early days, and master of vessels in the Surinam and South American trade when quite young.
On retiring from the sea, he became partner in the house of D. Nickerson & Co., later F. Nickerson & Co., engaged in the foreign and shipping trade, and was a large ship owner. He was much interested in Western railroads and was a director in several of them.
When he retired from the sea, he resided in Boston, and for the last twenty years made his summer home in Brewster. He took a great interest in all town and church matters and contributed largely towards them.
He died in Boston, January 12, 1879.
JONATHAN S. NICKERSON.
He was born in Brewster, March 18, 1807. He commanded vessels in the South American and Surinam trade in his younger days. Later he was of the firm of F. Nickerson & Co., and was also largely interested in Western railroads. Upon retiring from the sea, he removed to Boston, where he died January 18, 1882.
He was born in Brewster, March 3, 1804. He had charge of ship "Kentucky" and others, whose names have not been ascertained.
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After leaving the sea he engaged in the ship chandlery in Boston. He was also largely interested in Western railroads. He contributed generously towards the library in Brewster and also in support of preaching in the Unitarian church and in the care and protection of the "Old Burial Ground." On retiring from the sea he removed to Boston, but was always interested in his native town.
He died in Brewster, February 28, 1880.
EBEN W. PAINE.
He was born in Brewster, November 10, 1835. He commanded barks "Sicilian," "J. W. Ropes" and "Joseph Ropes" in the trade between Boston and Zanzibar on the coast of Africa. He was for six years agent for Messrs. Ropes & Co. at Zanzibar. He retired from the sea in 1886. He was town clerk and treasurer for many years, also treasurer of the Cemetery association.
He died in Brewster, August 19, 1904.
He was born in Brewster, 1810. He had command of the ship "Hamilton," barks "Binney" and "Wacoma." He died in Brewster, November 18, 1848.
He was born in Brewster, June 2, 1806. He was master of the brig "Senator" in the West India trade and of other vessels, the names of which we have been unable to ascertain. He died in Brewster, April 11, 1885.
ELISHA FREEMAN SEARS.
The following sketch is furnished by Mrs. E. F. Sears:
He was born in Brewster, March 28, 1831. He had com-
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mand of ships "Cape Cod," "Wild Ranger," "City of Boston," "Kentuckian" and "Glory of Seas," and steamer "City of Bath" in the transport service in the Civil war, and steamships "Concordia " and "Erie."
In 1852, in the "Cape Cod," he carried the first load of ice to Iquique and the framed house for storing it. In the "Wild Ranger" he made several voyages between Boston, the East Indies and Europe.
In March, 1861, in the "City of Boston," on the passage from Boston to Liverpool, he saw the English barque "Augusta," loaded with grain and leaking badly and flying a signal of distress. Although it was blowing hard, he was able to take off all the crew of thirteen men and carry them to Liverpool. The "Augusta " sank soon after the crew left her.
In the transport service in 1862-'63, he carried and placed the big gun called the "swamp-angel," that was expected to re-take Fort Sumter, at Charleston. He was at Ship island with troops for General Butler at New Orleans. He was in the "Concordia" several years, sailing between Boston and New Orleans.
In 1870, in the steamship "Erie," he carried a valuable cargo of war material to the French at Brest. On the return passage, via London, with a number of passengers and a large lot of animals for Barnum's menagerie, the propeller was lost. They tried to come to New York under sail. When they reached St. Thomas, their provisions were nearly gone and the last of the flour was being baked. After fitting out with provisions for themselves and the animals, they sailed for New York, where they arrived after a passage of about fifty days from London. There were one hundred and fifty persons on board, and the provisions had to be measured out carefully-There were four large lions and several tigers. They were obliged to kill some of the trained ponies and goats to feed the valuable wild animals.
Afterwards, Captain Sears was superintendent of the
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Boston and Nantasket excursion boats, and after 1886 he was superintendent of Simpson's patent dry dock at East Boston.
He lived in Melrose from 1863 to 1869, and after that in Jamaica Plain, where he died April 15, 1897.
J. HENRY SEARS.
He was born in Brewster, June 8, 1829. At an early age he went to sea and in 1851 had command of the ship "Faneuil Hall," making voyages between the Atlantic ports and Europe.
In 1853, he commanded the clipper ship "Wild Ranger," making two voyages to San Francisco, returning via Callao.
In 1855, he took charge of the ship "Titan," then engaged by the French government to take troops and munitions of war between French ports and the Crimea, during the Crimean war. The ship was in this business for two years. After the war, in 1857, the "Titan" went to New Orleans, taking from that port to Liverpool the largest cargo of cotton ever carried in any ship previously. On entering the port of Liverpool in a heavy gale, the ship, while in charge of a pilot, became unmanageable. She was leaking badly and had so much water in the hold that she would not steer. Her main and mizzen masts were cut away, when the ship righted and was taken into port.
After repairs were made, the "Titan" took on board 1030 passengers for Melbourne, Australia, making a successful voyage. Thence to Callao, loading a cargo of guano for London; but on the passage, owing to heavy weather and leaking badly, she was abandoned in the South Atlantic, 1100 miles east of the coast of Brazil. The crew took to the boats, intending to reach the coast near Rio de Janeiro, but were taken off by a French ship, after being in the boats for a week, and landed at Pernambuco.
Later, Captain Sears commanded ship "Franklin Havan" in the Australia and California trade, leaving her in San Francisco in 1861. He retired from the sea at that time.
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In 1863, he was engaged in the shipping business in Boston as partner in the firm of J. Henry Sears & Co., acting as agents of ships and steamers to Southern ports and Liverpool and London.
He retired from active business in 1898, and moved to Brewster, where he has a summer home. During his business life he resided in Dorchester. He is now (1905) president of the Cape Cod Pilgrim Memorial association.
JOSEPH HAMBLEN SEARS.
He was born in Brewster, November 9, 1801. As a boy he worked on the farm and in the making of salt. He was engaged in the packet service between East Dennis and Boston and was mate and captain of the packets "Combine" and "David Porter" for several years, and after that master of schooners "Atlas " and "Cornelia " in the coasting trade. His last voyages were in the ships "Asia," "Faneuil Hall" and "Expounder" in the foreign trade. While in command of the "Faneuil Hall" at New Orleans, he was invited to go on a trial trip of a new tugboat, the "Anglo Norman," just built there. About one hundred and thirty invited guests were on the steamer. She steamed for about twenty miles up the Mississippi river, then turned and started to come down to the city. Just before reaching New Orleans, while under full steam, the boilers exploded, completely wrecking the upper part of the boat. There were about forty of the guests either killed or blown overboard. Captain Sears escaped all injury.
He retired from the sea in 1855.
He was treasurer of the First church for many years, and trustee of Brewster cemetery, and was always interested in the improvements of the town. He always lived in Brewster and died there February 3, 1885.
He was born in Brewster, October 26, 1826. He commanded
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ship "John M. Mayo" in the foreign trade. He was for several years master of steamers "Oriental" and "Alhambra," sailing between Boston and Prince Edwards island and Halifax, and also between Boston and New Orleans. His last command was the ship "Electra" in the East India trade. He died in Brewster, July, 1895.
He was born in Brewster, 1830. He was master of ships "Antelope" and "Stephen Brown" and brig "Annette." He was in charge of the "Stephen Brown," on the passage outward from New York in January, 1856, and was never again heard from.
He was born in Brewster, September, 1795. He always lived in Brewster, but the names of the vessels he commanded are not known. He died in July, 1865.
He was born in Brewster, 1793. He commanded the ship "Valhalla" and several others, the names of which cannot be ascertained. He died in Brewster, April 20, 1853.
He was born in Brewster, January 23, 1841. He had charge of the ship "White Swallow." After retiring from the sea, he engaged in the ship chandlery business in Boston, where he is now living (1905).
He was born in Brewster, December 11, 1802. In 1844, he was master of the schooners "Combine," "Vinton" and
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"Watchman," all in the West India trade. Later, he had charge of the barque "Sabra." While in charge of the "Sabra," he died at Manzanilla, Mexico, July 4, 1851, and was buried there.
THERE is an old saying somewhere that "he who travels much learns much." It used to mean more than it does now. When people moved but little from their own firesides in their own districts, when railroads were unknown and ships moved by the power of the winds of heaven, when to go a hundred miles meant some danger to life and limb, he who travelled learned of other lands and other peoples, and he who staid at home learned nothing of either but such as came to his fireside. The newspaper, if there was one, told of the doings of the town and somewhere on its four small pages gave a column to the news of the world brought in by the last packet.
It would probably be impossible today for any one of us, who has begun to think for himself since the introduction of electricity and steam, to imagine just what the broadening influence of journeys to Europe and Asia meant before those first days began. The only way to get an idea of the mental situation is to project yourself into some little hamlet where there is no newspaper, where the railway engine does not sound, and to talk with the man who is fifty and who has never been ten miles from his own door. He does not know who is President of the United States. He has not heard of the Spanish war. His mind is quiet and asleep. As a man he is just as fine in character, his thoughts wander as widely, his ambitions soar as high while he works in the fields. But he knows nothing of contemporary events the world over.
Let some one of these men go around the world, taking a year for it, and then return to the little out-of-the-way town by stage; and for another year he will sit in the corner grocery, night after night around the fire, or on the porch with
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his chair tipped back against the side of the house, telling the others something absolutely new every time he opens his mouth. If he was observant on his travels, he learned an immense amount and his talks are such an education to his friends as was never taught from books.
That, to a greater or a lesser degree, as you hit upon an earlier or a later day in New England, was what happened when a young, naturally clever, energetic man came home from his long sea voyage from Hong Kong to his Cape Cod town. The women of his household wore the prim clothes of their neighborhood. He told of the nations he had seen where the women went without clothes—much to the embarrassment of these women folks and to their absolute unbelief. Still more. He brought home dresses from India and China, Japan and Europe—all different, all beautiful, all suggestive of something entirely new and strange. He told of hundreds of little things, yet he could never tell of what he had learned and seen and adapted to himself. He could never give anyone else all that he had taken into his mind by the agency of his five senses.
These men who grew up in such towns as Brewster were the men of energy of New England. They were ready to create, to build up their own fortunes, and in doing so they built up the fortunes of their town.
It is interesting, perhaps, to see what they did for this country of ours in those early days. New England, like the rest of the Atlantic coast, was full of the spirit of religious belief handed down as an inheritance from our ancestors. To study and become a clergyman was the ideal of educated life. But in the midst of the hereditary ambition to refinement, soldiering and high living, these energetic young men began to go out from their homes down to the sea in their ships, and in due time they came back with new ideas. It began to appear that these men had the new things of the town. They were the men who were turned to for opinions. They were the individuals who were turned to for news. They were
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the people who gradually began to gather in the worldly goods of that part of the country.
Furthermore, as they arrived in other parts of the world and discharged their cargoes, it became necessary to look for shiploads of other goods to bring home on the return voyage. Again and again the return cargoes depended entirely on the ability and judgment of the Cape Cod sea captain, who perhaps had now grown to own an interest in his vessel. He was the sole judge as to whether tea or silk, coal or manufactured goods, were to bring the highest prices in New England and make his voyage produce the highest profit. These men became the commercial pioneers of the day. They gambled on cargoes, and sometimes in those days fortunes were made on a single voyage. In a way these were the forerunners of the Americans who have put our country at the head of the nations in wealth—the men who conceived big commercial ideas and carried them out, who later built railroads across the continent and laid telegraph wires under the sea.
Some of the stories of these ventures—gambles they were really, just as they are today—are always new and interesting, though they are so familiar to us all—of the sometime captain who suddenly conceived the extraordinary idea of sending a shipload of New England warming pans to the West Indies, to the unbounded amusement of his townsmen; and who made a fortune out of the cargo, because on its arrival in a place where cold was never known the pans commanded fabulous prices as utensils for boiling out sap from sugar cane. Or, of the New Englander who sent a shipload of babies' cradles to California, around the Horn, in '48 and sold them at wonderful prices to serve as "rockers" for gold mining, just as the first furor of '49 began. Or, still again, of the idea of sending ice to the tropics where such a thing was never heard of before and where profits of thousands per cent. were made.
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Such men and many, many others, among them those of Brewster, were the originators of new ideas in commerce, because they saw how different were the conceptions and ideas of other peoples and how easily one might broaden and learn and try new ventures suggested by the adaptation of foreign ideas to the demands of their native land. You have found as you have read these biographies that precede in this volume hints of such men and what they did in their own quiet way. They thought and knew so little of what influences they were exerting in their communities that hardly any of them ever considered it worth while to keep any record, except the log of the voyages. But many of us can remember back in the early days of our childhood, which ran from the second to the seventh decade of the nineteenth century, that our first ideas of the life these men led was gathered from those tales of shipwreck and fight and struggle with man and the elements, which came out now and then of an evening just before bedtime when the family sat about the fire. Some of us small ones sat on the sailor's knee and heard how at seven bells we saw the old ship go down under full sail, in latitude This or That, the wind then blowing lightly from the southeast, the mate's boat with eight men to the northward and the second mate's boat with seven nearby. And then how for weeks and weeks we ate what little we had and sucked the water from rain in the bottom of the boat out of an old sponge, until in other latitudes and longitudes the good ship Something hove in sight and—here we are safe and sound.
They were real stories of the sea from the lips of the man who went through the episodes. They were all in the first person, except where the "I" was not at home now to tell of it himself, because he had never been seen again. So many of that kind there were, too—of Captain Ben This and John That, who cleared the port of Liverpool or San Francisco or Shanghai on the 10th of February and went to the port from which nobody ever "clears" again. That was all they heard
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in those days. What things the wives and mothers must hare read between the lines of that wordless record!—the storm, the collision, the rocks, and finally the suffering and end wherefrom no one of the ship's crew, no stick nor timber of the good ship, was ever even reported by anyone anywhere, except in the big Eternal Log.
That life, that breed of the earth's children, developed its part of the country and made it the home of industry and brains. The descedants moved in time westward and have made now the great Northwest and northern Mississippi Valley the centre of the creative energy of our land. They were literally the original Captains of Industry. They invented the term. And the Captains of Industry today are their lineal descendants.
There are no young sea captains today hailing from Cape Cod or New England of the same type as those men told of in this book. Not because the breed is dead, but because the occasion for them in that line of the world's work has passed; because steam and electricity have done away with all such industry and the same brains have turned into more up-to-date channels. You often hear a complaint at the disappearance of the sea captains—how sad a fact it is that they are gone. They are not gone. They have merely become captains of other industries more in keeping with the times. They have adapted themselves to the new and better industries of later days. And it would seem that this is a cause for rejoicing instead of complaint. Cape Cod itself has, to be sure, little or none of the bustle of other days. But the energy is somewhere else and just as strong or stronger because of the foundations these shrewd, active men laid in their time. Cape Cod itself is not at this moment fitted to be a scene of this day's energy, but just as sure as the years pass, its day will come again. And in the meantime it has earned an honored and well deserved rest from its labor, to prepare for another day that is to come.
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But the fine old record of the real men ought to live, and so far as the meager records can be discovered they have been gathered together for that purpose.This was scanned from the volume at Boston University. My notations in the indexes show that that some illustrations planned for the book were not included, one was moved to be the frontispiece, and one was substituted. That is, there are no indications that illustrations were removed from the book after printing. In fact, the illustrations are of such mediocre quality, that no one would be likely to remove them. Several actually look better on this web page than on paper.
JOSEPH H. SEARS.
New York, February 5, 1906.
Many of the Brewster captains were closely related. For example, Capt. Joseph Hamblen Sears (1801-1885) was married to Olive Bangs, daughter of Capt. Elkanah Bangs (1783-1863). They were the parents of the compiler of this volume, Capt. Joseph Henry Sears (1829- ), of Capt. Elisha Freeman Sears (1831-1897) and of Ellen Sears (1834- c1858). The clipper ship Ellen Sears was named for this Ellen, commissioned in 1864 by her brother, J. Henry Sears. She married Capt. Josiah Nickerson Knowles (1830-1896), son of Capt. Winslow Knowles (1789-1870) and brother of Capts. Allen Hinckley Knowles (1814-1875), Thomas Knowles (1823-1852) and Winslow Knowles, jr. (1817-1863).
Capt. Joseph Lincoln (1825-1870) was the father of author Joseph Crosby Lincoln (1870-1944), who was just becoming famous when he wrote the Foreword here. It is probably not a coincidence that Joseph Hamblen Sears (1865-1946), son of Capt. J. Henry Sears, and author of the Reminiscence above, was president of D. Appleton & Co. from 1904-1918, the publisher and copyright holder of nearly all of Joseph C. Lincoln's many books, beginning in 1908.
This book focuses on the ships' masters, obviously, but an interesting book could be written about the ships themselves. In particular, for a Cape Cod focus, the Shiverick shipyard in Dennis built 5 medium and 3 extreme clippers—built, owned and sailed by Cape men. These were the Revenue, Hippogriffe, Belle of the West, Kit Carson, Wild Hunter, Webfoot, Christopher Hall and Ellen Sears.