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OLD DARTMOUTH HISTORICAL SKETCH
Shipbuilders of Mattapoisett
By Charles S. Mendell Jr.
PAPER READ AT MEETING OF THE OLD DARTMOUTH HISTORICAL SOCIETY: JULY 15, 1937
AT THE HOME OF F. GILBERT HINSDALE, MATTAPOISETT
It is a great pleasure to welcome you here today. Mattapoisett is indeed honored by this visit of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society; and, as I hope to show, it is entirely fitting that such a visit should take place. From the earliest settlements in Mattapoisett, the relationships between the seafaring and shipbuilding citizens of this village and those of all portions of Old Dartmouth were of the closest nature. Unfortunately, with the exception of those wise people of New Bedford who show their good taste by choosing Mattapoisett's shores for their summer homes, there has been in recent years a deplorable tendency on the part of New Bedfordites to regard Mattapoisett as the furthest outpost of the wilderness. On many occasions have I driven the short seven miles to New Bedford for an evening's entertainment, only to be greeted with an astonished, "What! You came all the way from Mattapoisett?"
But in the great days of whaling the people of New Bedford were well acquainted with Mattapoisett and what the name stood for. New Bedford merchants, shipowners, whaling agents, captains, and sailors--which meant, of course, the entire male population of the city--knew that from the Mattapoisett shipyards came many and many of the finest whaleships that New Bedford's great fleet could boast. Nor was that all. Mattapoisett shipmasters captained New Bedford whalers; many young men of this village helped swell the crews of your ships; timber from the forests hereabouts was used in your shipyards; and on several occasions Mattapoisett shipbuilders established yards in New Bedford. I won't go so far as to say that they showed your shipbuilders a trick or two in the business, but at least they were highly regarded for what they were--experts in their trade.
In its day Mattapoisett was the most famous whaleship building port in the world. The list of vessels known to have been built at Mattapoisett now numbers 300; and all indications show that if the early Custom House records of Nantucket and New Bedford were available, this number would be doubled. Mattapoisett built ships not only for Nantucket and New Bedford, but for Salem, Boston, Yarmouth, Barnstable, Fairhaven, Edgartown, Dartmouth, Westport, Newport, Providence, New London, Sag Harbor, New York, and as far south as Delaware. Her vessels were not only whalers, but sailed in the general North European trade, in the wine trade to France and Italy, and the salt trade with the islands off the coast of North Africa. She provided a fleet of coasters for the West Indies and southern coastwise trade, and vessels built where we sit today brought back tea and spices from China to Boston and New York.
It was from New Bedford and Nantucket, however, that the bulk of Mattapoisett-built vessels sailed. It was in particular the great industry of your whaling city that kept the shipyards and their 300 workers bustling along this waterfront. And so this afternoon I want to show how closely connected was the shipbuilding and maritime commerce of Mattapoisett and New Bedford for two centuries.
The shipbuilders came to Mattapoisett some 25 years before the American Revolution, but before I come to that I wish to speak of the first link between Old Mattapoisett and Old Dartmouth.
One of the best known citizens of Old Dartmouth was Benjamin Crane, your noted land surveyor. The man who worked with him for many years was Captain Benjamin Hammond, one of the first settlers of Mattapoisett, and a very famous land surveyor in his own right. Some of his surveys of Old Rochester lands are in the Plymouth Registry today. Thus, at the very beginning of Mattapoisett's existence, one of her foremost citizens helped to lay out and plan much of the property and some of the towns of Old Dartmouth.
But this was by no means Captain Hammond's only occupation, nor his only link with Old Dartmouth. His is the first record of maritime commerce between the two townships. But before we look into his homemade pigskin journal, let us glimpse the background of the events it brings to us.
The first settlers came to Old Dartmouth about 1652, but it was not until King Philip's head was safely perched on a pole in Boston that white men dared to come into the "Plantacion of Mattapoyst," as it was then called. This "Plantacion of Mattapoyst" was the southwestern portion of the Lands of Sippican, incorporated in 1686 as "Rochester Towne-in-New England," and including the present towns of Rochester, Marion, Mattapoisett, and a very large share of Wareham. The first settlers who came to their wilderness home in Mattapoisett in 1680 did not take up their homesteads along the harbor where the village is now, but to the East in Pine Islands, where William Dexter and his four sons built their houses and a grist mill; and to the West, along the Mattapoisett River and on the Necks, where Benjamin Hammond and his four sons raised their houses and cleared their farms. Captain Benjamin Hammond, the surveyor, was the youngest of these sons.
The more one reads the early records, the more one realizes that the opportunity of profitable commerce by sea was one of the prime appeals of this territory. In 1687, but seven years after these first settlers arrived, little sloops were engaged in such a brisk coasting trade that the Proprietors had to order angrily "that all timber, Bourdes, Bolts, Shinales, Clabourde Cooper Stuff, or Shuch like, that is brought to the water side or any landing place" for transportation out of the town "shall be forfited". . .; and this prohibition was followed by several equally sharp warnings.
Now although Captain Hammond was a busy surveyor, a prosperous farmer with vast properties and over 100 head of cattle, a Justice of the Peace holding his commission from Queen Anne, a Representative to the Great and General Court, and a Selectman of the Town of Rochester, he still found time to take advantage of this profitable commerce in "Timber, Bourdes, Shinales, Clabourd Cooper Stuff, or Shuch like." In his journal, a remarkable picture of homemade life in those days, he records loading cargo in his sloop, the Dolphin.
"1703 (mark how early is the date) April the 10th, We loded at Cushnot for Jonathan Hathaway 7 cords of wood and 2 do. of rals and 40 post; for Seth Pope 100 rals and 20 post, (and) on Sat of whol timbor."
"April the 27th we loded at ponagansett. . .9 cords of rals and 110 posts."
These records continue for the years 1703, 1704, and 1705, loading at these ports of Old Dartmouth and at Mattapoisett, Sippican, and Wareham. The cargos show plainly that the wealth of these lands lay in the forest--fence posts, rails, tar, barrel staves, shingles, cord wood, maple coal, timber, and even "bongs". They were transported to Nantucket and Newport, and it must have been a perilous business, what with the unwieldiness of the homemade craft, the uncharted treacherous tides and shoals, and the horrible menace of pirates. Pirates hovered all along the coast in those far off days, and their danger is evinced by the bold lettered relief with which Captain Benjamin wrote, on the occasion when 30 of them were condemned at Newport, "The pirats was hanged at Rhodisland july the 19th day 1723."
Captain Ben had a young apprentice named Tom Toby, and if Captain Ben's hair was not already grey, Tom must have finished the job. For this footloose youth was forever running away, and his good master again and again charged up to Tom the expenses occurred in looking for him and dragging him back to the farm. Perhaps the most important items in the journal are the following:
"October the 23 day--1713
Tom Toby went from me to go a whaling and he came to me again in February the 15th day--1714"
And the next year:
"October the 29th day 1714
Tom Toby went from me to go a waling and he came to again in jannuary the 31st day 1715.
For looking (for him) when he run away from me--20 shillings."
It has always been supposed that whaling in this vicinity was started by Joseph Russell in New Bedford in the 1750's; yet here is a whaling record of 1713. It is fairly obvious that Tom Toby, a poor boy bound to a farmer as an apprentice, could have travelled neither to Nantucket nor to the Cape, where whaling is known to have been [underway] at this early date. Moreover there is in existence a record of a whaling voyage from Wareham in 1736. In other words, then, in addition to the coastwise trade in timber products, whaling was an established maritime pursuit along these northern shores of Buzzards Bay from almost the earliest dates of settlement.
Captain Ben Hammond lived just to the northwest of the picturesque Arch Bridge a half mile up the Mattapoisett River, where the cellar hole of his house may still be seen. As the years rolled on, the descendants of Captain Ben and his three brothers populated a whole village along this river. It was a flourishing community with grist and saw and shingle mills, a church, a tannery, iron works and blacksmith shops, a school, stores, and, and below the Herring Weir, many little landings built along the shores of the capacious salt pond which ran in there before the railroad embankment closed up its mouth. For over a hundred years sloops and schooners sailed from these wharves with timber, cord wood, tar, resin, turpentine, and pink granite for mill stones, carrying these cargos to Nantucket and Newport, to Savannah and the West Indies.
These vessels, many of them, were built along the lower Mattapoisett River, on the harbor, and in Pine Island; but their builders can in no real sense be called shipbuilders. They were farmers who went down to the sea as a means to make more money than they could farming; and their vessels, although calculated to withstand the pounding of the Atlantic Ocean, were clumsy and blunt-bowed, and today would seem little better than scows. But even as Hammondtown, as this settlement on the River was rightly named, grew into a thriving Yankee community, the future center of the village of Mattapoisett became established along the harbor--and it was professional shipbuilders who put it there.
Strangely enough, one of the first shipbuilders, perhaps the first, to come to Mattapoisett, was a man named William Rotch. Whether this was the William Rotch later of Nantucket, London, Paris, and New Bedford, I don't know. In fact, the only thing I know is that in 1760, William Rotch, of Rochester, shipwright, sold the present Lowe property on the harbor, and then disappears from sight.
Aside from this mysterious figure, the first shipbuilder to come to Mattapoisett was Charles Stetson, a shipwright from the yards of Scituate in the North River, where his ancestors had been building ships for several generations. In 1752 Stetson made a dicker with Deacon Constant Dexter, whose homestead comprised almost this entire village and more besides, and purchased, along with numerous woodlots, a strip of land--roughly between the present Pearl and Barstow Streets--extending from the shore three-quarters of a mile back into the forest to what is now Park Street, but was then the main highway from Hammondtown to Pine Islands. As far as I know, there was not then a house in what is now Mattapoisett village; but within 25 years--that is, by the time the Minute Men rushed to Lexington,--no less than eight other shipbuilders, besides numerous mariners and shipyard laborers, came to this shore, established shipyards and wharves, built their homes and cleared their farms.
So, 185 years ago this summer, the sound of the hammers of the shipcarpenters was heard along this harbor for the first time--a resonance that rang over the fields and woods for more than a century, a sound so penetrating that woodsmen getting ship timber in the forest needed no watches to tell them when noon and suppertime had arrived, a hammering so all-pervading that old people still remember it as the dominant feature of Mattapoisett.
At first glance one might wonder why skilled craftsmen would have established businesses and come to this out-of-the-way, almost uninhabited spot. But a moment's reflection will show that it possessed the prime requisites for a desirable shipbuilding location. Here was a fine harbor--in those days of small wooden ships the best between the North River and New Bedford. Here was a source of supply--an almost untouched supply of virgin timber extending miles and miles inland. And close at hand was the third necessity--markets that were greedy for ships; for Nantucket's whaling and maritime commerce was booming, and the little village on the West side of the Acushnet River was sending out more and more vessels every year.
Charles Stetson's shipyard lay at the foot of Pearl Street extending from the present Town Wharf property over to where Mr. Stackpole lives. His house, which was built before 17?7, was, it is almost certain, the lovely old house now occupied by Mrs. Barklie. He must have prospered; for before long others came--in 1760 Nathaniel Cushing from Pembroke and Gideon Barstow of the famous Barstow builders in Hanover; in 1762 Stephen Cushing from Pembroke; in 1767, Joshua Studley, and later Seth Barstow, from Tisbury; and from then on the property along the harbor passed to so many shipbuilders and with such frequency, that it is hard to keep track of it. Most of these men bought strips of land extending inland from the harbor half a mile or more. They built their houses and barns close to the shore, almost in their shipyards; and from these their plowed fields, pastures, and orchards stretched back; for in those pioneering days a shipbuilder was also a farmer if he wanted to eat.
Of course, at this early date, it is impossible to learn of the precise position of each shipyard, but in general it suffices to say that the Nathanial Cushing yard lay in the corner of the harbor at Cannonville; the Joshua Studley and later Seth Barstow's yard on the present R. L. Barstow waterfront, and Gideon Barstow's yard between Mrs. Hinsdale's and the present Anchorage property. Of the vessels that were built before the Revolution nothing is known, save for one, and that only because it was named the Rochester and was wrecked off Nantucket in 1774 while starting on a whaling voyage. But from scattered sources we find that the shipyards were active; that more mariners came, more wharves were built, more men sailed south and returned with molasses, corn, and sugar; more men came to work in the shipyards,--blacksmiths, blockmakers, sailmakers, caulkers, and various other craftsmen; and the houses along the cartpaths from shore to forest increased in number.
Yet as a whole, shipbuilders did not prosper in those days. Few people today realize what hard times existed in Massachusetts from 1760 to 1775, when the trouble between the colonies and England was coming to a boil. There was practically no money in those days. Even building a ship was done by barter--each vessel was the property of a group of men who contributed either labor or materials toward her construction. Then if she were sold to some merchant in Nantucket or Dartmouth or Newport, he promised to pay for her out of the proceeds of her voyage. And her voyage was so apt to be a total loss. The mortality of those little vessels was tremendous; gales, uncharted coasts, French and Spanish privateers, pirates--all took a heavy toll. If the merchant couldn't pay for the vessel, what happened to the shipbuilder who was responsible to the men who had financed her?
Charles Stetson, the first of the shipbuilders, furnishes a sad example of this. In 1767 and 1768 numerous court executions were obtained against him, and the plaintiffs in these cases show plainly with whom Stetson did business and for whom he built ships. They were Jonathan Burnell, Joseph Rotch, and Joseph Nicols of Nantucket, and Joseph Rotch Jr. and John McPherson of Dartmouth--all important shipping merchants of those places, McPherson being the victim whose wharves, ships, and warehouses on the Acushnet River were burned by the British in 1778.
Stetson struggled along for over a year, selling his woodlots and saltmarshes piece by piece to pay off his debts, until finally there was but one left; and a June day in 1768 the Constable rode along Pine Island Way, turned down the cartpath to the shore, drew up to the house still standing there, and pulled out a warrant.
"Bristol, ss. George the Third, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, et cetera--
To the Sheriff of our County of Plymouth. . .
Whereas Joseph Rotch and Joseph Nichols both of Sherburn in the County of Nantucket, Merchants, and Joseph Rotch Jr. of Dartmouth in the County of Bristol, Merchant, by the consideration of our Justices in our Inferior Court of Common Pleas, holden at Taunton. . .have recovered judgment against Charles Stetson of Rochester. . .Shipwright, for the sum of thirty-six pounds, six shillings, and sixpence, lawful money of his Majesty's Province of Massachusetts Bay, we command you therefore that of the Goods, chattels, or Lands of the said Charles. . .you cause to be paid and satisfied to the said Joseph Rotch, Joseph Nichols, and Joseph Rotch Jr. and for want of Goods, Chattels, or Lands, we command you to take the body of the said Charles Stetson and him commit into our Goal at Plymouth. . ."
And so the man who had first brought to the shores of Mattapoisett harbor the sawpit, the scaffolding, the ox-drawn loads of timber, and the ever sounding hammers of the caulkers, went by the board and lost his shipyard. He continued to live in Mattapoisett, as did his sons, for they fought in the Revolution as Rochester soldiers; but when the war was over, the sons, and perhaps the old father, moved to New Bedford and established a shipyard quite a way north of the present bridge, where the Stetson sons built over 50 ships for the young village of New Bedford; and the descendants of these men were New Bedford whaling captains for many years.
But Charles Stetson was not the only one. Every shipbuilder who came to Mattapoisett before the Revolution failed--save one. Gideon Barstow, who bought his first shipyard property from William Rotch in 1760, was as prosperous as his competitors were unfortunate, for he not only weathered the Revolution, but by 1784 he and his sons owned every shipyard but one along this waterfront.
In that year his son, Gideon Jr. purchased the R. L. Barstow property and continued building there for half a century; and eight years later, Gideon Sr. sold to another son, Captain Wilson Barstow, his old William Rotch yard and what is now the Lewis Bolles property, where Captain Wilson built the house now live in by Mr. Bolles.
As this would indicate, a younger crop of shipbuilders was appearing. Two of these were the Cannon brothers, Ebenezer Jr. and Eleakim; and it was the descendants of these two, along with those of Gideon Barstow, who made Mattapoisett famous for shipbuilding. For three generations Cannons and Barstows ran most of the shipyards and furnished the finest ship carpenters. This hereditary craftsmanship is most interesting, and reminds one of the old guilds in Europe, where the secrets of each craft were handed down for generations from father to son.
After the Revolution a few names of vessels built in Mattapoisett begin to appear. The first, in 1778, was the sloop Eliza, built in Aucoot by Abner Pease, probably to carry salt from the Hiller saltworks in that vicinity. Abner Pease continued to own a small shipyard there, building sloops and schooners, until 1804, when he moved to North Fairhaven where he built vessels for many years.
Likewise, we begin to get some record of vessels built on the Mattapoisett River. According to tradition, vessels were built there during the Revolution which were used to dodge the British warships in Long Island Sound. There were several small shipyards along the River; but the last and best known was on the East bank only a few rods below the present Herring Weir, and was run by George Washington Gifford, the grandfather of Henry Rogers. Only a few sloops and schooners of his building are known, except the Brig Brutus, of 200 tons, built in 1801. Tradition has it that when she was launched, she slid across the river with such rapidity that she stuck firmly in the mud on the opposite side, and it took six weeks to get her out and down into deep water. This trouble was prophetic, for two years later she was lost at sea. Her master, Capt. Aseph Price, who had been master of the ship William and Mary of New Bedford, was lost with her.
After the Revolution, shipbuilding in the village yards evidently started in where it had left off, and began to flourish. In 1786 Minister Le Baron wrote: "Navigation is so much the object of our attention as to be a great disadvantage to our husbandry. . .we have about 4 vessels employed in the whaling fishery, about the principal source or our specie. Shipbuilding and iron are two branches of manufactory not unprofitable." Scattered records are being brought to light revealing, so far, some 25 vessels built in the next twenty years for New Bedford, Nantucket, Newport, Providence, New London, and New York.
An old account book in the Whaling Museum gives the first vessel, whose name is known, to be built specifically for a New Bedford merchant. She was the Brig Thomas, built by Captain Wilson Barstow in 1805. She was used in the merchant trade between New Bedford and New York for a number of years, and then seems to have been sold back to Mattapoisett.
From 1800 to 1812, that is, just before the war with England, this waterfront became a beehive of activity. Meager records alone give three, four, and five vessels a year; and that these are but a fraction is shown by an article in the Massachusetts Historical Society's Collection for 1815, which states:
"At this harbor (Mattapoisett) there is an increasing village of perhaps 40 houses, 3 or 4 wharves, a ropewalk, and shipyards, where in 1811. . .upwards of 8000 tons of shipping were constructed. Five vessels were ship rigged, and of the burthen of 300 or more tons."
Now much as I would like to believe it, that "8000 tons" seems as if it must be a misprint. That would be twenty ships of 400 tons each, and even in the balmy days later on this figure was never reached. But it may be so. There were at least six shipyards going full blast, and if they built only three vessels a piece, as often happened in later years, this total would nearly be reached. And it is known that at this time William Moore was building 400-ton ships for the New York-European trade. There is a record of two of these, the Andes and the Xenophon, in 1810 alone. At any rate, it is obvious that a tremendous amount of shipbuilding was being done, more than in any other port in Southeastern Massachusetts.
Of these early shipyards not much is known. Yet one anecdote has come down the years, showing in what esteem the skill of these ship-carpenters was held. One day a barefoot man walked down the sandy cart-track to one of the shipyards and asked the master carpenter for a job. The latter demanded some proof of the applicant's skill, whereupon the newcomer seized a broadaxe, balanced himself on a large stick of timber with his toes spread wide apart and curled over the edge, raised the axe over his head, and brought it down again and again, striking the spaces between his toes in swift succession. He got the job.
This may or may not be an exaggeration. The skill of these ship-carpenters was something for us to marvel at. With a few crude tools--a broad axe, an adz, a chisel, a saw, and a hammer--they could fashion rough pieces of timber into a fleet sailing vessel. And "many a man among them could with the broad axe hew so closely to the line, and so smoothly, that the plane could hardly improve the surface."
The War of 1812, with H.M.Brig Nimrod in Buzzards Bay, put a temporary crimp in activities; but after 1815 we come to the 45 years when the American merchant fleet became the largest in the world, and when New Bedford became the center of the whaling industry, one of the great businesses of the world. As the years rolled on, Mattapoisett became the premier supplier of ships for that industry.
Many of the vessels in the whaling fleet were merchant ships rebuilt and altered into whalers; but as the years went by, agents realized the wisdom of purchasing sturdy vessels built specifically for whaling by men experienced and skilled in the craft. These shipyards of high reputation for their whaleships lay almost wholly in Mattapoisett and within the confines of Old Dartmouth. Of the best known of these, one was in Dartmouth, three in New Bedford, two in Fairhaven, and five in Mattapoisett. And yet, during these years the population of Mattapoisett was much smaller than any of the rest. She was, in truth, a village of shipbuilders.
A though a great deal is known of the 200-odd ships built in Mattapoisett during these years, of their builders and the yards, and of the Nantucket and New Bedford firms for which they sailed, it is manifestly impossible in a short paper to speak of even a fraction of them; so I will give merely a resumé of the shipyards and of those whalers which became well-known to New Bedford people.
To the west of the present town wharves and extending around by the foot of Pearl Street, lay the yard of Gideon Barstow Sr., which later passed to his son Gideon Jr. and his grandson Wilson. Wilson Barstow's yard was one of the most noted of its time. He was no business man--he failed three times--but he hired the finest master builders available, and for over a quarter of a century, down his ways slid three, four, and five ships a year, and the majority sailed out of the harbor and around the Neck to join the New Bedford and Fairhaven whaling fleets. From his yard, also, came the largest vessel ever built in Mattapoisett, the ship George Lee, of 650 tons, built in 1854 for the shipping firm of Cabot & Lee & Co. of Boston.
On the present Town Wharf property was the shipyard of Ebenezer Cannon Jr., established in 1792 and continuing until the formation of the Mattapoisett Wharf Co. in 1834. The vessels built here were mostly small merchantmen, one of the first of which was advertized in The Medley, New Bedford's first newspaper.
The present Shipyard Park was the site of the famous Holmes shipyard, started in 1812 by Josiah Holmes Sr. and continuing until the Bark Wanderer, built where the bandstand sits now, slid down the ways in 1878, the last vessel ever launched in Mattapoisett. Josiah Holmes first formed a partnership with Benjamin Barstow; but in 1826 they agreed to disagree, and after that Holmes ran the yard by himself and then with his sons, Josiah Jr. and Jonathan. After the old man's death, the firm of Josiah Holmes Jr. and Brother was well known indeed in New Bedford, and particularly was it popular with the Quaker whaling agents, for Josiah Jr. was of this faith. After the Civil War had ruined the industry, he moved to New Bedford and started the Holmes Coal Co., later carried on by his son and grandson.
Where the Anchorage is now was the yard of William Moore, established in 1800 and perhaps the first to build large ships for New York. Moore failed in 1818, and the yard was purchased by Uncle Leonard Hammond, as he was called, a very versatile business man, and one of the shrewdest of shrewd Yankees. He ran the Plymouth County House, a tavern which sat between the present Anchorage and the street, and which burned on a bitterly cold February night in 1855 when New Bedford sent a fire engine down that wouldn't pump until its insides were heated by hot bricks. (Also, it is related, many of the fire fighters were in a like fix until rum was used for the same purpose).
It is said that on one occasion a farmer on the Neck had run up quite a bill for rum at the County House, and Uncle Leonard has his weather eye out for some means of collecting. The farmer had a very large hog; but there was a law that if a man possessed only one pig, it could not be attached for debt. So Uncle Leonard bided his time until his sow had a litter. Then he gave the runt to the farmer and drove pell-mell over to the Neck and took the hog for debt.
Besides running the shipyard, the County House, an extensive salt works on the Neck, a coastwise trade to Charleston, Savannah, and New Orleans, Uncle Leonard was a government Lighthouse contractor. He built the lights at Mattapoisett and Gay Head, and in 1838 he sailed from Mattapoisett with two ships and a large crew of men to construct two lighthouses on the Gulf of Mexico. It is related that Uncle Leonard did not finish the Mattapoisett light within the specified time, and when the Government Inspector arrived, Uncle Leonard sent a man posthaste to lay some planks on barrels to give the impression that the floor was completed. After a friendly glass of rum, Uncle Leonard drove the Inspector down to view the job; but unfortunately the Inspector stepped on the end of a plank not over a barrel, and disappeared into the foundation.
Next to the East from the Anchorage, on the old William Rotch yard, Captain Wilson Barstow built until he failed in 1807. William Moore took it over and built until he failed; and then the yard was run by Eliakim Cannon until he failed in 1827. It is said that in this yard the bowsprits of the ships on the stocks hung far out over the street, so if you arrived in Mattapoisett 115 years ago in the New Bedford and Plymouth Stage Coach, you would have ridden under the overhanging rigging as you jounced up to the Mattapoisett House across the street.
At the foot of Mechanic Street, on the present Hinsdale property was the famous Meigs shipyard. Joseph Meigs Esq. was a prominent Citizen, State Senator, prosperous shipping merchant, and a successful shipbuilder. He built and ran an old fashioned country tavern and store in what is now the Bay View Hotel. The tavern business must have been thriving, for it is said that Squire Meigs stood on a hill and every farm he could see was mortgaged for rum. In his early days he was commission Merchant for the Rotches, Howlands, and Rodmans of New Bedford, handling their trade in Naval Stores, Lumber, Sugar, Molasses, and Cotton in Savannah, Charleston, and New York. Of Squire Meigs' two sons, Joseph Jr. was by far the smarter, and his tragic death in his early thirties when he had just taken over the shipyard, broke the old man's spirit, and he passed away a few years later, in 1846. The other son, Loring, carried on the business until he was ruined by the panic of 1857.
Down at Cannonville at the foot of Ship Street, were two more yards of high reputation. The first was that of Benjamin Barstow, a nephew of old Gideon, who came from the Hanover shipyards before 1800, learned his trade in Mattapoisett, and then moved to New Bedford where he bought the shipyard which had been run by Colonel George Claghorn before he went to Boston and built the Constitution. Here Benjamin built ships for several years; then returned to Mattapoisett and went into the partnership with Josiah Holmes. When this broke up in 1826, he started the yard at Cannonville, later taking his sons, Nathan H. and Henry into the firm, which continued in business until the discovery of gold in California in 1849 sent Nathan and Henry, along with over a hundred other Mattapoisett men, around the Horn and up to the gold fields. From this yard came many ships, among them the Ship William C. Nye, the first live oak vessel built in Mattapoisett, whose workmanship was so expert that 10 years later a New Bedford newspaper spoke of it.
The other yard at Cannonville was that of Ebenezer Cannon 3rd. This yard ran for only a few years during the 1830's, but at least two fine ships a year were launched there to augment the Nantucket whaling fleet. On one occasion Dr. Robbins tells in his diary of two full rigged ships launched on successive days.
What a business this was when these shipyards were in full swing! Anywhere from six to sixteen vessels were launched each year, and if the high tide came in the cool of the evening, the townspeople flocked to the shore to see the graceful vessel glide into the water. Four hundred men thronged the streets every morning, noon, and night, on their way to work in the shipyards or their allied shops. Fifteen or twenty whalers sailing regularly. Schooners and brigs coming into the wharves with lumber--yellow pine from Charleston and Savannah; live oak and spruce from Maine. In the back sections of the town a dozen sawmills whined all day long. Seventy-five yoke of oxen hauled the timber from the woods to the mills and from the mills to the shipyards.
The whole waterfront was a scene of intense activity; vessels with their tall rigging towering over the wharves; half-built ships bellying up on the stocks; caulkers perched on the scaffolding encircling the hulls as their flailing arms hammered in the oakum; shipyards and wharves covered with lumber and whale oil casks; plodding oxen hoisting timber from the schooners, and casks from the whalers; the harbor full of merchant brigs, lumber schooners, packet sloops, gleaming new vessels fresh from the yards, and older New Bedford whalers which had come around to be hauled up and repaired. Rope walks, blacksmith shops, cooper shops, blockmaker shops, sail lofts, whale boat shops--everything going full blast to complete the ships. And in the evening when the clangor of the hammering had ceased in response to the bell which rang at the foot of Gossips Lane, now Mechanic Street, the ship carpenters could be seen each trundling home a wheelbarrow full of chips and blocks of wood to be used as fuel for the evenings' fire.
In the 15 years, after the war of 1812, incomplete records show one hundred vessels launched from these shipyards. Many of these were smaller craft; for of the whaling ships for Nantucket and New Bedford, only a dozen are known. These few, however, almost without exception, attest to the superb craftsmanship of their builders. Their average span of life was almost half a century, and some of them sailed the seven seas for over 60 years. For a wooden sailing vessel to round the Horn and battle its gales 30 or 40 times, to sail the length of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans for more than 50 years, to swelter in the tropic South Seas and be pounded by ice in the Arctic--that is a test.
Two or three of these vessels had noteworthy careers. The Cicero, built in 1823 by Barstow and Holmes, sailed 55 years from New Bedford for Kollock and Grinnell, Lemuel Kollock, Loum Snow & Son, and J. P. Knowles 2nd. She was known as a fast sailor, and was said to have outdistanced many Baltimore clippers, which, if true, was quite a feat for a vessel built at the time when whalers were supposed to have been built by the mile and sawed off by the yard.
Another fast sailor was the Alexander Barclay, built by Benjamin Barstow in 1826 for John A. Parker Esq. and Captain Joseph Dunbar of New Bedford and used by them in the iron trade with Bremen and Gottenburg. When she first arrived in Sweden, a Gottenburg newspaper called her "the most handsome and complete merchant vessel which has ever been seen in that river." And in September 1828, the New Bedford Mercury had this to say:
"Dispatch--The ship Alexander Barclay, Joseph Dunbar, Master, left this port on the 14th May and arrived in Baltimore in 4 days passage, where her ballast was discharged, and the bulk of 800 hhds of Tobacco taken on board. She left the Capes of Virginia on the 12th of June, arrived at Bremen in 27 days passage, discharged and sold part of her cargo, took on board 200 tons of ballast, arrived in Gottenburg in 50 hours, discharged her ballast and took on board 600 tons of iron, and left on the 25th August. She arrived here in 31 days passage, having performed the voyage in 4 months and 13 days."
But I suppose the best known New Bedford whaler built in Mattapoisett during this period was the Young Phoenix, built in 1822 by Barstow and Holmes. In a private New Bedford newspaper of this period we read this rather prejudiced account:
"September 28, 1822; Arrived, Mr. John A. Parker's new ship from Mattapoisett; she has been for some time on her way, being unfortunate, we understand, that her name is the Young Phoenix and Captain Joseph Dunbar is going master of her."
The Young Phoenix sailed for four years between New Bedford and Sweden in the iron trade for John A. Parker, and then he handled her as a whaler for 30 years. In 1857 she was sold to William Phillips & Son, and it was while sailing for that firm that she made the famous rescue of the 42 survivors of the wreck of the Scottish Bark Strathmore on one of Crozet Islands in the Indian Ocean. This was her last voyage, for in 1879 she was abandoned in the Arctic ice pack. Yet the old ship would not give up. Instead of going to pieces, she remained nearly intact and was reportedly carried about by the ice for a year or two, a silent and deserted "ghost ship" to mystify observers.
From 1830 to 1850 over fifty whaleships were launched from the Mattapoisett yards. To Nantucket went most of these, although not a few sailed under flags of New Bedford firms; and of course many Nantucket whalers ultimately were sold to New Bedford.
A Nantucket anecdote shows in what high regard these vessels were held. Some 30 years ago a Mattapoisett man was visiting in Nantucket, and without letting on where he was from, asked an old whaleman where Nantucket got her whaleships. The old timer replied:
"Oh, we go 'em from everywheres; but we got our best ones from a little place near New Bedford, a town called Mattapoisett."
The best known whaler built here during these ten years was the Ship Sharon, built by Gideon Barstow & Son in 1837 for Gibbs and Jenney of Fairhaven. In 1842 the Sharon, while whaling in mid-Pacific, was the scene of a peculiar mutiny. The crew were all out chasing whales, leaving the captain, the cabin boy, and three Kanaka sailors to tend ship. Sneaking up behind the captain, the Kanakas struck him dead, and then chased the cabin boy in the rigging. When the boats returned, the natives threatened to kill the first man to set foot on board. The crew waited until dark; then the 3rd mate climbed up the rudder and through the stern windows, and by a surprise attack killed one of the mutineers and held the others off until the rest of the crew got aboard.
The running of a shipyard was an undertaking requiring a great deal of shrewdness, judgment, and business acumen. Not only did the shipbuilder need a complete knowledge of ship construction and the vagaries of different kinds of timber, but he also handled 50 or 60 men--all of whom had to be good. He had to be able to calculate up into tens of thousands of dollars on a job involving all sorts of material--timber, iron, oakum, lead, paint, spars, canvass, cordage, and varnish. He had to keep his eye on the general financial condition of the nation, for shipbuilding is always the first industry that depression brings to a standstill. He had to keep in touch with all sorts of new appliances and size up their true worth at short notice. And above all he had to be a shrewd man at finances and keeping costs down, for an additional few hundred dollars in costs would come near to putting him out of business.
In the early days, money--actual money--was a rare commodity; and consequently, in order to enable himself to pay his men, every shipbuilder ran a store in connection with his yard. The present Anchorage Gift Shop was such a store, built by Barstow & Holmes in 1820. These stores were kept stocked with provisions brought from New York by packet sloops, of which each shipbuilder had one or two; and with the goods thus bought at wholesale, the workmen were paid at retail. No shipcarpenter received wages; he traded at his employer's store, and from time to time a reckoning was made and the amount of his purchases balanced against so many days' work of the ship. One is struck, and amused, by the frequency with which these two columns precisely balance each other. Only rarely did the shipbuilder owe his men any cash.
The building of each ship called for an elaborate contract specifying each item in great detail. From the nails in the hull to the varnish on the topmast, not a thing was left understood, and any change of these sacred decisions required weighty deliberation. For instance, in the spring of 1856 Josiah Holmes Jr. & Brother were building the Bark Sunbeam for J. & W. R. Wing of New Bedford. Everything had, of course, been definitely stated, but the builder wanted to move the mizzenmast further forward. The following is the reply of the Wing firm:
"Messrs. J. Holmes Jr. & Brother--
On thinking the matter over concerning the mizzenmast, we have concluded and consented to have it moved one foot farther forward and no more--so says Abner, and we agree with him in the matter."
In the voluminous correspondence that the shipbuilding industry entailed, a foreign note now and then intrudes, as in this letter from one of Josiah Holmes Jr.'s Quaker business associates:
Mar. 20, 1856
I send thee, perhaps at the eleventh hour, my very low terms for the spar job you mentioned about.
It is, the Snug little Sum of five hundred and Seventy-five dollars, with wood for the caps included.
If it "Strikes you favorably" I will buy the mahogany from you, provided you will trust me--
I remain the humble aspirant for the good heart and fair hand of some sweet looking Quakeress "in good standing."
The 1840's were the heyday of whaling, and again about fifty whalers slid down the ways in Mattapoisett Harbor. Time permits of speaking of only two of these--the Platina, which had the distinction, while sailing for the firm of J. & W. R. Wing, of capturing the only white whale ever taken; and the Ship Acushnet, which was, I suppose, the whaleship having the greatest claim to fame. The Acushnet was built in 1840 by G. Barstow & Son in their yard at the foot of Pearl Street, and on her maiden voyage from Fairhaven she carried as one of her crew, Herman Melville who immortalized the whaling saga in his Moby Dick. The log of that first voyage seems irretrievably lost, and if found would be worth a fortune. The log of her second voyage, when she sailed under Capt. William B. Rogers of Mattapoisett, reposes peacefully in the Harvard Library; but alas, this is not the one we want. In all probability, the Acushnet was almost like the Charles W. Morgan. True, one was built in Mattapoisett and the other in New Bedford, but their launchings were less than a year apart, and their dimensions and tonnage were practically the same. The Acushnet was lost on her third voyage on St. Lawrence Island, Aug. 16, 1851.
The shipyard owners, of course, ran their whole shipbuilding business, but often they seem not to have taken direct charge of the construction of the vessels. This actual designing and building of the ship was superintended by a master carpenter, or master builder. There were many of these in Mattapoisett, but the best seem to have been the four Cannon brothers--Arvin, James, Watson, and David. There was a whole slew of Cannon shipcarpenters--all expert craftsmen--but these four sons of the shipbuilder Eliakim Cannon were the finest of the lot.
They were all master builders for the various Mattapoisett yards, but Arvin was the real master craftsman. I suppose that Arvin Cannon of Mattapoisett and Reuben Fish of Fairhaven were the finest ship designers and builders along this part of the coast; and certainly in the whaleship building industry no one ranked above them. Whenever a Mattapoisett shipbuilder got a contract to build a ship, he scurried after Arvin as fast as he could leg it. Arvin built for New Bedford and Fairhaven such well known whalers as the Belle, the Sylph, the Oliver Crocker, the Arctic, the Northern Light, the Siren Queen, the Eliza, the South Seaman, the Gay Head, and the Wanderer.
David Cannon was the grandfather of Mr. John Shaw 2nd of New Bedford. During the Civil War he, along with others, went to the Charlestown Navy Yard to build ships for the Government. When an old man he had a shock while working around the mill at Dexter Elm. It is related that when someone rushed to his home on North Street and told his wife, she put her hands on her hips and exclaimed:
"David Cannon had a shock! Well! I've never known David Cannon to do a thing like that before."
The first seven years of the 1850's marked the peak of whaleship building in Mattapoisett. Only three yards were in operation--Wilson Barstow, Holmes, and Meigs--but in eight years these three yards launched 47 vessels. These were the yards that carried Mattapoisett's reputation far and wide, and brought forth such comments as these in the New Bedford papers:
"This thriving town ranks high in shipbuilding and is distinguished for its naval architecture." (Whaleman's Shipping List, 6/20/1851)
The Bark R. L. Barstow "is a perfect gem of shipbuilding." (Ibid.)
"The reputation of our Mattapoisett friends. . .in naval architecture is justly very extensive. . ." (New Bedford Standard, 1855.)
In two years, 1851 and 1852, eighteen vessels were launched, 14 of them whalers, and 12 going to New Bedford. In 1852 alone Wilson Barstow built five--all for New Bedford--which was such a record that the Whaleman's Shipping List commented on it. Perhaps some idea of this bustling business can be gleaned from a few items from New Bedford newspapers of the time:
"A beautiful clipper ship of about 400 tons was launched on the 29th ult. from the shipyard of Wilson Barstow in Mattapoisett. She is owned by J. B. Wood and Co. of this city, and. . .is called the Gay Head." (Whaleman's Shipping List, 8/3/1852)
"A fine medium clipper ship of about 475 tons was launched on Tuesday last by Josiah Holmes Jr. & Brother, at Mattapoisett. She is called the Polar Star. . ."(Whaleman's Shipping List, 8/24/1852)
"The new bark John A. Parker was towed around from Mattapoisett on Friday. . .Her bow is ornamented with a good representation of her namesake, at full length, standing in his well known peculiar attitude, with the right hand upon the lapel of his coat, and the left hand extended in the act of speaking." (Whaleman's Shipping List, 10/5/1852)
"The Bark Huntress, belonging to Messrs. Cook & Snow of this city, and the ship South Seaman, belonging to Edmund Allen Esq. of Fairhaven, will be launched from the shipyards of W. Barstow and Loring Meigs in Mattapoisett this evening. An excursion train will be run over the Fairhaven railroad, leaving Fairhaven at six and a quarter o'clock, in order to afford all who may desire an opportunity to witness the launches." (New Bedford Standard, 7/2/1856)
But the death knell of this splendid business had already sounded. 1856 was the last big year--nine whalers, three in a row looming up in Shipyard Park. The blows were coming: 1856--petroleum discovered; 1857--panic, and Meigs yard closed forever; 1861--the Civil War, and the Alabama and the Shenandoah; after the war, the scarcity of whales and the losses in Arctic ice. During the war the Holmes's built a small steamboat and a tugboat; in 1866 Wilson Barstow built his last ship--the Contest, for Gibbs & Perry of New Bedford. After the war the Holmes's built a schooner and four whalers--the Alaska for Jonathan Bourne, the Concordia for G. & M. Howland, the Gay Head 2nd for Gifford & Cummings, and in 1878 the Wanderer for the same firm.
This was the end. For the last time Arvin Cannon with his lips pursed over his toothless gums carefully drew out the vessel's hull in the loft over the Holmes Office. For the last time the hammering of the caulkers awakened echoes through the streets and across the farms into the woods. For the last time the shipcarpenters had their glass of grog at "eleven and four." And for the last time the townspeople gathered to see the graceful vessel start slowly, and then glide down the greased ways into the harbor of the shipbuilders.
It was the end of a Yankee seaport village where native born sons worked all their lives in a native industry. Where every house--and most of them are still here--was the home of a shipcarpenter, outfitter, or whaleman. Where the schools and churches and homes were built with money from the shipyards. And where practically every man was an expert craftsman of high integrity.
It seems entirely fitting that the mizzen mast of the Wanderer should stand as a flagpole in Shipyard Park, a few feet from where she was built. And even more, it seems a proper coincidence that the Wanderer, the last vessel built in Mattapoisett should be the last whaleship to sail from New Bedford--New Bedford, whose whaling industry was responsible for Mattapoisett's shipbuilding fame.
LIST OF VESSELS BUILT IN MATTAPOISETT
This list is by no means complete, but the information given has in most cases been carefully verified. The list is arranged chronologically, and then the vessels listed alphabetically within each year. The order for each entry is: name of vessel, type, tonnage, builder, and port or ports where she was owned.
Barnst.; Barnstable, MA Nan.; Nantucket, MA
Bev.; Beverly, MA N. B.; New Bedford, MA
Bos.; Boston, MA N. L.; New London, CT
Bk.; Bark Npt.; Newport, RI
Br.; Brig N. Y.; New York, NY
Cal.; California Plym.; Plymouth, MA
Chat.; Chatham, MA prob.; probably
Dart.; Dartmouth, MA Prov.; Providence, RI
Edg.; Edgartown, MA Sand.; Sandwich, MA
Fair.; Fairhaven, MA Sav.; Savannah, GA
Fal.; Falmouth, MA Sch.; Schooner
F. R.; Fall River, MA S. F.; San Francisco, CA
Grnpt.; Greenport, Long Island Sip.; Sippican (Marion, MA)
Herm.; Hermaphrodite Sl.; Sloop
lat.; later Ston.; Stonington, CT
Matt.; Mattapoisett, MA West.; Westport, MA
M.C.; Master Carpenter Yarm.; Yarmouth, MA
Eliza, Sl., 61 T., Abner Pease (prob.) Matt.
Betsey, Sl., 32 T. Matt.
Matthew, Brigantine, 60 T. Newport
Katy, Brigantine, 120 T. Salem, Boston
Bethany, Sch., 39 T. Barnst., Prov.
Drusillia, Sl., 41 T. N. B.
Mehitaba, Sch., 50 T Prov.
, Eben. Cannon Jr.
, Sch., Eben. Cannon Jr.
Venus, Sch., 72 T. No. Kingston, RI
Nile, Brig, , G. W. Gifford Matt.
Olympus, Brig. Matt., N. B.
Projector, Ship Matt., N. B.
Ann, Sch., 92 T. Barnst., Prov.
Brutus, Brig, 200 T., G. W. Gifford Matt.
Mars, Sch., ,Capt. W. Barstow (prob.)
John Jay, Ship Nan.
Victory, Sl., 39 T. Prov.
Sunberry, Sch., 80 T. Matt.
Amity, Sl., 24 T. Yarmouth
Susan, Sch., ,Capt. W. Barstow (prob.)
Thomas, Brig, ,Capt. W. Barstow N. B.
,Sl. ,G. W. Gifford
Grampus, Sl., 30 T. Nan.
,Sch., ,G. W. Gifford
Frances, Ship, 320 T., Wm. Moore
Morning Light, Sl., 42 T. Smithfield, RI
,Eben. Cannon Jr.
Andes, Ship, 409 T., Wm. Moore
Xenophon, Ship, 383 T., Wm. Moore ,Sag Harbor
Amelia, Sl., 39 T., G. Barstow Jr. Matt.
Betsey, Brig, 93 T. F. R., Prov., N. L.
Frances, Ship, 348 T. N. B.
President, Ship (lat. Bk.), 293 T. Nan., N. B.
Tybee, Ship, 228 T.
Excellent, Sch., 43 T. Matt., Barnst., Dennis
John Adams, Ship, 296 T. Nan.
Keziah, Sl., 35 T. Matt.
Galen, Sl., 36 T., Josiah Holmes
Peeler, Sl., 44 T., (Libny Rogers, M. C.)
Wild Deer, Sl., 36 T., (Sam'l Purrington, M. C.) Fair.
Fenelon, Sch. (lat. Br.), 115 T. Bev., Salem
George, Ship, 359 T. Nan., N. B. or Fair.
(Four or Five ships built for Nantucket)
Good Hope, Sl., 81 T. Matt.
Hero, Ship, 313 T. Nan.
Maro, Ship, 315 T., Barstow & Holmes Nan.
Martha, Ship, 349 T., Hammond & King N.Y.
Nancy, Sl., 50 T. Tisbury
Resolution, Sl., 37 T., Hammond & King (prob.)
Ann, Sl., 56 T. Matt. & Sip.
Earl, Sch., 95 T. Fair.
Emily, Sl. 85 T., Nath'l Crosby
Enterprise, Sl., ,Barstow & Holmes
Joseph, Sl., 49 T., Joseph Meigs Dennis
Syren, Sl., 37 T., Barstow & Holmes Matt.
Gleaner, Brig, 150 T., G. Barstow Jr. (prob.) Salem
Leopard, Sl.,49 T., Joseph Meigs (prob.) Matt.
Liberty, Sl., 69 T., Barstow & Holmes Matt., Hallowell, ME
Orion, Brig, 99 T., (Sam'l Purrington, M. C.) Matt.
William, Sch., 87 T. Matt.
Barclay, Ship, 301 T. Barstow & Holmes Nan.
Harriet, Sl., 86 T. Prov.
North America, Ship, ,Barstow & Holmes
Odin, Sch., 94 T., Joseph Meigs (prob.) Matt.
Regulator, Sl., 47 T. Matt.
Franklin, Sch., 89 T., Leonard Hammond Matt.
Mentor, Sl., 42 T., G. Barstow & Son Matt., Sand.
Ontario, Ship, 354 T. Nan.
Telegraph, Sl., 57 T., Barstow & Holmes Matt., Dennis
Volusia, Sl., 88 T., G. Barstow & Son Matt.
William, Sl., 62 T., (Wm. LeBaron, M. C.) Matt.
Almira, Ship, 372 T., Barstow & Holmes Edgartown
Brilliant, Sl., 38 T., (Malachi Ellis, M. C.) Matt., Chat.
Phoenix, Ship, 323 T., Barstow & Holmes Nan.
Spartan, Ship, 333 T. Nan., N.B.
Franklin, Bark, 218 T., Leonard Hammond N. B.
Leader, Sl., 36 T., Barstow & Holmes
Mercury, Ship, 339 T. N. B.
Volusia, Sch., 52 T. Matt. & N. B.
Young Phoenix, Ship, 377 T., Barstow & Holmes N. B.
Ann Maria, Sl., 72 T., (John Coleman, M. C.) Matt., Sand., N. B.
Cicero, Ship, 251 T., Barstow & Holmes N. B.
Congress, Ship, 339 T., Eliakim Cannon Nan., N. B.
Elbe, Brig, 191 T., G. Barstow & Son Matt. & N. Y.
Marathon, Ship, 375 T., Eliakim Cannon N. Y.
Potomac, Brig, 197 T., Leonard Hammond N. Y.
Regulator, Sl., 55 T., (Wm. LeBaron, M. C.)
Rose, Ship, 350 T. Nan.
St. Marys, Sl., 75 T., G. Barstow & Son Matt., St. Marys, GA
Support, Sl., 59 T., (Wm. LeBaron, M. C.)
China, Sch., 97 T., Eliakim Cannon
Empress, Brig, 125 T., Eliakim Cannon N. B., Boston
Mary Ann, Brig, 175 T., G. Barstow & Son (lat. Bk.) N. B.
Sarah, Brig, 171 T., (lat. Bk.) Matt., N. B.
Cameo, Brig, 222 T. Barns, Boston
Cicero, Brig, 179 T., Benj. Barstow N. B.
Columbia, Sch., 77 T., Josiah Holmes Matt.
Conductor, Sl., 49 T., G. Barstow & Son Matt.
Emeline, Sl., 58 T., (Eben. Coleman, M. C.)
Forrester, Brig, 241 T., G. Barstow & Son (prob.) Matt., Salem, N.B.
Halcyon, Brig, 156 T., Joseph Meigs Matt.
Lady Washington, Brig, 115 T., Eben. Cannon Jr. Matt.
Lama, Brig, 144 T., G. Barstow & Son (prob.) Salem
Mariner, Sch., 85 T. N. B.
Mariner, Sl., 49 T., Josiah Holmes Matt., Sip., Darien
Penguin, Sch., 82 T., Eliakim Cannon N. L., Prov.
Philip 1st, Ship, 293 T., (lat. Bk.) Grnpt., N. L.
Roanoke, Brig, 251 T. Matt.
Sophronia, Sch., 72 T., G. Barstow & Son Matt.
Telegraph, Sl., Altered to Sch., Josiah Holmes Dennis
Tuscaloosa, Ship, 284 T., Eliakim Cannon Npt., N. Y., N. B.
Agate, Sch., 81 T., Joseph Meigs (prob.) (lat. Br. Matt., N. B.
General Marion, Sch., 121 T., Josiah Holmes Matt.
La Plata, Brig, 124 T., (Sam'l Purrington, M. C.) Matt.
Nile, Brig, 135 T., Eben. Cannon Jr. Matt.
Omega, Ship, 363 T. Nan., Edg., Bos.
Statira, Ship, (lat. Bk.), 346 T. Nan., N. B.
Swift, Ship, 456 T. Nan.
Alexander Barclay, Ship, 465 T., Benj. Barstow N. B., Bremen
Ann, Ship, 361 T., Joseph Meigs Nan., N. B.
Crawford, Sl., 77 T. Sav., Tisbury
Good Return, Ship, 377 T., G. Barstow & Son N. B.
Lexington, Sch., 87 T., G. Barstow & Son Matt.
Lydia, Sl., 76 T., Josiah Holmes Matt.
Mary Mitchell, Ship, 354 T., (Thos. Howland, M. C.) Nan., S. F.
Washington, Brig, 169 T., Eben. Cannon Jr. Matt., Plym.
Zone, Ship, 363 T. Nan., Fair., N. Y.
Henrietta, Sl., 50 T., Josiah Holmes (prob.) Matt., Sand.
Meridian, Ship, 381 T. Edg.
Caduceus, Brig, 110 T., Joseph Meigs Matt.
Grotius, Ship, 299 T., G. Barstow & Son Matt. & Salem
Richard Mitchell, Ship, 386 T., G. Barstow & Son Nan., N.B., Edg.
Clarkson, Ship, 380 T., T. G. Barstow & Son Nan.
Hero, Sl., 25 T., Joseph Meigs Matt.
Lexington, Sl., 39 T., G. Barstow & Son Matt.
Mary Ann, Ship, 240 T., G. Barstow & Son Matt., N. B.
Mary, Ship, 369 T. Nan., N. Y., Cal.
Alexander Coffin, Ship, 381 T., Benj. Barstow & Son Nan., N. B.
Catherine, Ship, 384 T., G. Barstow & Son Nan., N. L.
Gideon Barstow, Ship, 379 T., G. Barstow & Son Matt.
Hobomok, Ship, 412 T., Benj. Barstow & Son Fal., N. B., N. Y.
Mariner, Ship, 349 T., G. Barstow & Son Nan.
Mount Vernon, Ship, 384 T. Josiah Holmes Nan., Matt., N. B.
Vineyard, Ship, 381 T., Joseph Meigs (prob.) Edgartown
Young Eagle, Ship, 377 T., G. Barstow & Son Nan.
Champion, Ship, 390 T., G. Barstow & Son Edgartown
Galen, Brig, 130 T., Josiah Holmes Matt.
Levi Starbuck, Ship, 376 T., Josiah Holmes Nan., N. B.
Ohio, Ship, 381 T., Joseph Meigs Nan., N. B.
Richard Henry, Sch., 123 T., G. Barstow & Son (Br., Bk.)
Three Brothers, Ship, 384 T., Eben. Cannon 3rd (prob.) Nan., N.B.
William C. Nye, Ship, 389 T., Benj. Barstow & Co. N.L., N.B., S.F.
Alpha, Ship, 345 T., Cannon Nan., S. F.
Christopher Mitchell, Ship, 387 T., G. Barstow & Son
Nan., N. B., S. F.
Elizabeth Starbuck, Ship, 381 T., Josiah Holmes Nan.
Ansel Gibbs, Ship, 319 T., G. Barstow & Son Fair., N.B.
Catawba, Ship, 335 T., Eben. Cannon 3rd Nan, N. Y.
Charles Frederick, Ship, 317 T., Joseph Meigs N. B.
Gold Hunter, Brig, 202 T. Edgartown
Nile, Ship, 321 T., Benj. Barstow & Co. N. B., N. L.
Splendid, Ship, 392 T., Joseph Meigs (prob.) Edg., New Zealand
Waverly, Ship, 327 T., G. Barstow & Son N. B.
Allatamaka, Sch., 125 T. Rochester
Annawan, Brig, 148 T., G. Barstow & Son Matt.
Frederick, Ship, ,Josiah Holmes
Henry, Ship, 346 T., Ebenezer Cannon 3rd Nan.
Jefferson, Ship, 377 T. Nan.
Mattapoisett, Brig., 150 T., Joseph Meigs Matt., West., N.B.
Virginia, Ship, 346 T., G. Barstow & Son N. B.
James Loper, Ship, 384 T., Josiah Holmes Nan., N. Y.
Mariner, Sch., 117 T., Josiah Holmes Matt.
Sarah Frances, Ship, 301 T., G. Barstow & Son Fair.
Sharon, Ship, 354 T., G. Barstow & Son Fair., Bos.
Daniel Webster, Ship, 336 T., Joseph Meigs Nan., N. B.
Napoleon, Ship, 360 T., G. Barstow & Son Nan., N. B.
Willis, Bark, 164 T., Ebenezer Cannon Matt., N. B.
Young Hero, Ship, 339 T., G. Barstow & Son Nan.
Benjamin Tucker, Ship, 349 T., G. Barstow & Son N. B.
Ellen Rodman, Sch., 100 T., G. Barstow & Son Matt., Fair.
Henry Clay, Ship, 385 T., Joseph Meigs & Son Nan.
Volant, Bark, 210 T., Josiah Holmes Sippican
Acushnet, Ship, 359 T., G. Barstow & Son Fair.
Lydia, Ship, 351 T., Joseph Meigs & Son Nan., Fair., N.L.
Massachusetts, Brig, 164 T., Josiah Holmes Matt.
Annawan, Brig (lat. Bk.), 159 T., Nathan Barstow & Co. Matt., N.B.
David Paddock, Ship, 352 T., Joseph Meigs & Son Nan.
Edward Cary, Ship, 353 T., G. Barstow & Son Nan., S. F.
Elizabeth, Bark, 219 T., Cannon
Harrison, Ship, 371 T., G. Barstow & Son N. B., Honolulu
Massachusetts, Ship, 360 T., Josiah Holmes & Son Nan.
Monticello, Ship, 358 T., Josiah Holmes & Son Nan., N. L.
Narragansett, Ship, 398 T., Joseph Meigs & Son Nan.
Potomac, Ship, 356 T., Josiah Holmes & Son Nan.
Callao, Ship, 324 T., G. Barstow & Son N. B.
James, Ship, 321 T.
Janus, Ship, 321 T., Nathan Barstow & Co. N. B.
Joseph Meigs, Ship, 338 T., Joseph Meigs & Son Matt., N.B., N.Y.
Empire, Ship, 403 T., Joseph Meigs & Son Nan., N. B.
Arnolda, Ship, 360 T., Nathan Barstow & Co., N. B.
Belle, Ship, 320 T., Wilson Barstow, Arvin Cannon, M. C. Fair.
Isaac Walton, Ship, 438 T., Wilson Barstow N. L.
Josephus, Herm., Brig, 142 T., Josiah Holmes & Son Matt.
Milton, Brig, 167 T., Joseph Meigs & Son N. B.(?)
Niger, Ship, 437 T., Wilson Barstow N. B.
Cachelot, Bark, 230 T., Wilson Barstow Matt., N.B., Valparaiso
Norman, Ship, 339 T., Joseph Meigs & Son Nan., N. B.
Ormus, Brig, 175 T., N. H. Barstow & Co. N. B.
Atkins Adams, Ship, 350 T., Wilson Barstow Fair., N. Y.
Dunbarton, Bark, 200 T., Wilson Barstow Matt., N. B.
Helen, Sch., 29 T., Seth P. Ames Matt.
Laura Jane, Sch., 138 T., J. Holmes Jr. & Bro. Matt.
Osceola II, Brig, 195 T., J. Holmes Jr. & Bro. Matt., N. B.
Sarah, Sch., 141 T., N. H. Barstow & Co. N. B.
Sarah, Ship, 370 T., J. Meigs & Son, A. Cannon, M.C. Matt., N.B.
,Ship, 375 T., N. H. Barstow & Co.
Brothers, Bark, 493 T., N. H. Barstow & Co. Yarm., Barnst.
Cleone, Ship, 373 T., N. H. Barstow & Co. Yarm., N.B., N.Y.
George, Ship, 280 T.
Nenuphar, Brig, 192 T., Wilson Barstow Matt.
Platina, Ship (lat. Bk.), 266 T., Wilson Barstow West., N.B.
Sylph, Ship, 356 T., Meigs, Arvin Cannon, M.C. Fair.
Union, Bark, 300 T., J. Holmes Jr. & Bro. Matt., N. B.
Eliza, Sch., 139 T., N. H. Barstow & Co. N. B.
Lamartine, Sch., 73 T., Wilson Barstow Matt.
Nauticon, Ship, 372 T., Meigs & Pratt Nan., N. B.
President, Bark, 180 T., Wilson Barstow West., N. B.
Arctic, Ship, 431 T., Wilson Barstow, A. Cannon, M.C. Fair., N.Y.
Norman, Herm., Brig
Oliver Crocker, Ship, 353 T., W. Barstow, A. Cannon, M.C. N.B.
Alice Mandell, Ship, 413 T., J. Holmes Jr. & Bro. N. B.
Eliza Dunbar, Bark, 257 T., Wilson Barstow N. B.
Europa, Ship, 381 T., Wilson Barstow N. B.
Northern Light, Ship, 513 T., W. Barstow, A. Cannon, M. C.
Fair., N. B.
R. L. Barstow, Bark, 209 T., Leonard Hammond
Matt., N. B., Nan., Callao
Sea Queen, Brig, 263 T. J. Holmes Jr. & Bro. West., Dart., N.Y.
Watkins, Bark, Wilson Barstow
Clara Belle, Bark, 296 T., Leonard Hammond Matt., S. F.
Daniel Flanders, Ship S. F.
Daniel Wood, Ship, 345 T., Wilson Barstow N. B.
Gay Head, Ship, 389 T., Wilson Barstow N. B.
Gazelle, Ship, 340 T., Wilson Barstow Nan., N. B.
John A. Parker, Bark, 342 T., Wilson Barstow N.B., Sydney, Aust.
Polar Star, Ship, 475 T., J. Holmes Jr. & Bro. N. B.
Vigilant, Bark, 282 T., Wilson Barstow N. B.
Lapwing, Ship, 432 T., Wilson Barstow N. B., Mauritius
Petrel, Ship, 350 T., J. Holmes Jr. & Bro. N. B.
Reindeer, Ship, 450 T., J. Holmes Jr. & Bro. N. B.
Syren Queen, Ship, 460 T., Meigs, A. Cannon, M. C.
Fair., Sydney, Australia
George Lee, Ship, 647 T., Wilson Barstow Boston, England
Matthew Luce, Bark, 409 T., Wilson Barstow N. B., Boston
Onward, Ship, 460 T., J. Holmes Jr. & Bro. N. B.
Ocean Rover, Ship, 417 T., J. Holmes, Jr. & Bro. Nan., Spain
Plover, Ship, J. Holmes Jr., & Bro. N. B.
Contest, Ship, 441 T., Wilson Barstow N.B., N.L., Valparaiso
Eliza, Bark, 367 T., Meigs, Arvin Cannon, M. C. N. B.
Huntress, Bark, 384 T., Wilson Barstow N. B., Boston
Merlin, Bark, 348 T., J. Holmes Jr. & Bro. N. B.
Sea Ranger, Bark, 366 T., J. Holmes Jr. & Bro. Nan., Prov., N.B.
South Seaman, Ship, 498 T., Meigs, A. Cannon, M.C. Fair.
Sunbeam, Bark, 359 T., J. Holmes Jr. & Bro. N. B.
Thomas Pope, Ship, 323 T., Wilson Barstow N. B., N. Y.
Bolivia, Ship, 417 T., Arvin Cannon Boston
Ocean Rover, Bark, 313 T., J. Holmes Jr. & Bro. Matt.
Raid, Steamer, 106 T., Jonathan Holmes N. B.
Contest, Ship, 341 T., Wilson Barstow N. B.
Alaska, Bark, 340 T., J. Holmes Jr. & Bro. N. B., S. F.
Concordia, Bark, 368 T., J. Holmes Jr. & Bro. N. B.
Laura Robinson, Sch., ,Jonathan Holmes
Gay Head, Bark, 265 T., Jonathan Holmes N. B.
Wanderer, Bark, 303 T., Jonathan Holmes N. B.
SHIPS BUILT IN MATTAPOISETT, DATES UNKNOWN
Fancy, Sl., 38 T., (Built before 1806) Wareham
George C. Gibbs, Sch., Wilson Barstow
John Milton, Ship, G. or W. Barstow
Polly Hall, Cannon
Rochester, Sl., (Sailed from Nan., June, 1774)