OLD DARTMOUTH HISTORICAL SKETCH
Being the proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society, New Bedford, Massachusetts, on April 3, 1916
MEN I HAVE KNOWN
by Milton Reed, Fall River
SHIP BARTHOLOMEW GOSNOLD
by Henry B. Worth
THE BOURNE WHALING MUSEUM
by Z. W. Pease
NEW BEDFORD OUTFITTERS
The Morning Mercury
Proceedings of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society’s
New Bedford, Massachusetts
April 3, 1916
The annual meeting of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society was held last evening, when reports of officers were made, and officers chosen. The following were re-elected as officers of the society:
President—H. E. Cushman.
Secretary—H. B. Worth.
Treasurer—Frederic H. Taber.
Directors (for three years)—W. W. Crapo, Walton Ricketson, Edward L. Macomber of Westport.
The report of Henry B. Worth, secretary of the society, follows:
The Old Dartmouth Historical Society originated in an address by Ellis L. Howland, a member of the reportorial staff of The Standard, delivered before the Unity Club of the Unitarian church, January 16, 1903. At the close of the meeting a committee of five was appointed to investigate the feasibility of forming a historical society. At a meeting held in the same place May 25, 1903, an organization was effected and a plan adopted for the work of such a society. This provided four departments, Museum, Historical Research, Publication, and Educational. Along these lines the activity of the Old Dartmouth has developed and the institution has become popular and widely known. This appears in the large membership, the number on the roll now aggregating 821. The number withdrawn has been ten and the 23 who have deceased are the following:
Walter S. Allen
Mrs. Francis T. Akin
George D. Barnard
A. Emma Cummings
Mrs. W. L. Chadwick
Clara S. Freeman
Horatio K. Howland
George L. Habicht
George S. Hart
Mrs. Pemberton H. Nye
Mrs. Andrew G. Pierce
Charles S. Paisler
George R. Stetson
Ellen M. Stetson
Thomas M. Stetson
Charles D. Stickney
Mary H. Stickney
Anna H. Parlow
Mrs. John Paulding
Mrs. George F. Klack
Arthur H. Jones
Lydia J. Cranston
Since the last annual meeting three pamphlets have been printed:
No. 41: 16 pages on “The Mills of New Bedford and Vicinity Before the Introduction of Steam.”
No. 42: 23 pages by Robert C. P. Coggeshall—”The Development of the New Bedford Water Supplies.”
No. 43: 20 pages, containing Proceedings of the Annual Meeting and Summer Outing at the Buzzards Bay Canal, to which were added Historical Articles on Oxford Village, Fairhaven and Captain Thomas Taber.
These publications are sought by libraries and individuals throughout the United States on account of the historical and genealogical details relating to the early families, branches of which have removed to every part of the land. People in the west and south who desire to trace their ancestry back to the Mayflower and the good Old Colony days find the Old Dartmouth researches often start them on the right track of investigation.
A meeting was held October 27, 1915, in the rooms on Water Street, and Hon. Milton Read of Fall River gave an address on “Men I Have Known.” This was an extemporaneous discourse and Mr. Read had no notes from which it could be printed. His comments and reminiscences were delightful to his hearers and would have been valuable to publish, but unfortunately could not be preserved for publication. [N.B. There is a report of his address in this historical sketch.]
A meeting was held In the High school auditorium Thursday evening, Feb. 24, 1916, when a large audience present listened to two addresses, one by Dr. Hermon C. Bumpus, president of Tufts college, on “The Historical Society—Its Significance and Value in the Community”, the other illustrated with lantern slides, by Professor W. L. Underwood on his experiences, which he entitled “Fisherman’s Luck.”
Cordial relations between the members and their friends have been maintained through the medium of social gatherings. The first was held at Lincoln Park, Sept. 22, 1915, and called a “jamboree,” combining the features of a fair and a bazaar. The other was held in the Odd Fellows building, March 6, 1916, and was a Mardi Gras festival. Both entertainments were attended by a large number of persons.
The original statement authorizing the work of the society provided that the educational section should aim to inspire interest in history in the schools. In his lecture in the High School, Dr. Bumpus showed that this appeal must be made to the child by exhibition of relics and objects of historical significance and that the Old Dartmouth was able along special lines, through its museum, to effectively engage in this work. It has been expected that arrangements would be made with the school teachers to visit the museum with a convenient number of pupils to see the rooms and the collection. During the past year this work has not been as vigorously conducted as desired for one reason, principally that the rooms have been disarranged by the construction of the addition.
Delegations from the New Bedford and Fall River branches of the Young Men’s Christian Association have visited the rooms and pupils from New Bedford schools with teachers have taken advantage of the opportunity. Miss Emma A. McAfee of the Knowlton School on two occasions; Mrs. Etta M. A. Smead of the Middle Street school; Miss Helen M. Welch of the Lincoln School; and Miss Jane Conway of the Congdon School.
Perhaps this privilege is not fully understood by the teachers. In the future the persons who can sustain this institution must come from the class who are now in school. An interest in history and events of the past can be best aroused while they are pupils by calling their attention to curiosities and objects which illustrate ancient customs and methods.
This is offered to the pupils without any charge for admission as long as they are under direction of the teachers. Nor is it restricted to the city. Exactly the same privilege is extended to the pupils in the neighboring towns that once with New Bedford comprised the town of Dartmouth. It is the desire of the officers to establish cordial relations with the school children not only in the public schools of this locality, but as well in the private schools.
The work of the historical research section does not appear as such except in the publications of the society and in the local press. Valuable articles on a variety of subjects are continually appearing in the New Bedford papers, for which frequently the writers depend on the Old Dartmouth members for material; and means are employed by convenient indexes, to keep these articles available for future use. It has been a fortunate circumstance that the newspaper men of this city have been so cordially inclined towards the history of this section and this, of course, indicates that the public whom they serve are also interested and friendly.
The spectacular event that has chiefly claimed attention of the public is the addition to the Old Dartmouth property on Bethel Street at the top of what was once called Prospect Hill, a name more appropriate than the unexplainable designation of Johnny Cake Hill. After the annual meeting last year another house and lot was purchased and this gave a frontage on Bethel Street of 140 feet. The hill at its crown is 46 feet above tide water, and here has been erected an addition over 100 feet long, surmounted by an observatory. Here will be the only whaling museum in existence, equipped on a complete and elaborate scale, and from the cupola the visitor may behold a view of the sea and shore that would have gladdened the vision of the worthies of a century ago who were eager to discover from the housetops the expected arrival of their whaleships.
Henry B. Worth,
The Report of the Curator.
The report of Frank Wood, curator, follows:
I am sure that the officers of this society have an easier task this evening in presenting to you their annual reports than they had a few years ago when about all they could say was that the society existed. Tonight it must be a satisfaction to you to hear, as it is to us to be able to report, that the Old Dartmouth Historical Society has passed the stage of a mere existence, and is for all time to come a truly live society. One that you should be proud to be a member of. Yes more than that, one that the city should be proud of, as it is the aim of this society to make it for the benefit of all.
Tonight I propose to tell you something of the accessions in way of gilts to our museum, and in this we have been fortunate. I am sure, too, that the coming year will bring us many more for as the Bourne Whaling Museum nears completion, it certainly will create a wider and a more enthusiastic interest. You all know our needs, and at this time I do not think it necessary to appeal to your generosity, as we know it will be to you a pleasure to do your part in filling the cases and walls of our museum.
Francis Reed—Bed Key.
G. D. and Dr. A. A. Julian—Picture of the son of Colonel Ethan Allen. Two plates, cup and saucer that belonged to Colonel Ethan Allen
Mrs. Frank Wood—Two gilt frames
Mrs. Caroline G. Winslow—Picture of her father, Captain Francis Baker. Cabinet of shells and curios
N. P. Hayes—Engraving of New Bedford by Hill
Mrs. John F. Wing—Old pocket-book containing receipts, etc. Mrs. T. M. White—Photographs
Lafayette L. Gifford—Model of brig, ivory busk and old ink well
William A. Wing—Books, china and three quilting blocks
Dr. Charles Hunt—Liverpool pitcher, bound files New Bedford Mercury, photographs, government reports, etc
Charles S. Kelley—Documents
Frank Gilman—Very large pair mussel shells
Arthur Grinnell—Very old hair trunk, Copy of The Old Flag published at Fort Ford, Texas, in the sixties
Allan F. Wood—Manual of the First Baptist church
F. Eban Brown—Model washing machine. Tap and die to make wood screws. Tinker’s pot
Thatcher S. Swift–Pair very old Feather Irons or Hobbles
Luther H. Gifford—Old deed—Paul Cuffee
Frank E. Gilman—Log of ebony from vessel wrecked at Cuttyhunk
Walter Chase—A fine lot of half models of ships, stern board and other articles
Mrs. Annie Seabury Wood—Log book, ship America, Captain Charles P. Seabury
Frank E. Brown—Framed picture of Captain Eben Pierce
Charles M. Hussey—Ships papers box, ship Washington
William E. Robinson—Documents and various articles
Mrs. Bradford E. Walker—Pair silk mitts
George S. Bowen—Old boat builders gauge
Mrs. Lemuel T. Perry—Signal book 1837 and five sketches
Robert C. B. Coggeshall—Signal book 1856
Mrs. Bradford E. White—Poster auction sale, White’s factory, 1843
George H. H. Allen–Sketches member municipal government 1861
A. J. Smith—Odd Fellows regalia and sword and saber used in Civil war
Mrs. Andrew G. Pierce Jr.—Oil painting, steam whaler Mary and Helen
George H. H. Allen–Whaling documents
Mrs. Henry H. Edes–Documents
Eliot D. Stetson–Desk used and owned by his father, Thomas M. Stetson
Miss Mary H. Baker–Two portraits, one of William Russell Jr. and the other of Abagail Brown and his wife
Mrs. Louis Eaton–Portraits from the Standish house
Mrs. Nathanial Cushing Nash–Model of a whale ship
Frank Hammond–Photos of the bark C. W. Morgan.
George R. Phillips–Signal book
Madame Von De Bossach–Slippers made in Belgium
Clarence A. Cook–Copper plate from which the invitations were printed to a ball tendered to the New York Yacht Club in 1856
Miss Anna B. Robinson–Certificate dated 1824, giving three months’ passage over the Fairhaven bridge
Mrs. Sarah G. Smith, South Middleboro–Food warmer and powder horn first owned by Josiah Winslow, a descendant of Kenelm Winslow in the fifth generation. Kenelm was a brother of Governor Edward Winslow of Plymouth
In closing I feel that it will be appropriate to read to you a couple of verses from a poem entitled Our Duty written by our fellow member, Clement Nye Swift, artist and poet:
“Gather the scattered relics of old whaling days,
Bring them with reverent if with tardy hands.
Shrine them and guard them, as in other lands
The rusted swords and dinted helms were hung.
To breathe with their mute eloquence in subtlest ways
Of that heroic epoch when the town was young.
Bring each neglected trophy, furbish it anew,
Each flippant year in passing lays its coat of rust.
Cherish and guard them henceforth as a sacred trust.
For in this Museum’s halls almost we find
That brooding hush that dwells with sacred dust
Where tattered banners hang, and armors rust.
And great deeds rise in memory, and we
Feel the neglected lore of whalemen stir the mind
With our inherent tendency and longing for the sea.”
The report of Frederic H. Taber follows:
Old Dartmouth Historical Society Assets.
N. B. Institution for Savings, Lyceum Fund $1777.27
N. B. Institution for Savings, Life Membership Fund 1050.00
N. B. Five Cents Saving Bank, Lyceum Fund 1168.18
N. B. Five Cents Saving Bank, Life Membership Fund 175.00
N. B. Institution for Savings, Seabury Fund 50.00
$500 Cotton Mill Bond 450.00
15 shares Mechanics National Bank 2300.00
3 shares Merchants National Bank 612.00
Regular account 15.81
House committee account 13.79
Gosnold Island 1.00
Bethel Street 1450.00
Notes payable $1450.00
Men I have Known
By Milton Reed, reminiscent before Historical Society
William W. Crapo tells of Governor Morton’s Majority of One, George Marston, Hosea M. Knowlton and Other Notables of New Bedford.
“Men I Have Known and Met in Our Locality and Other Places” was the subject of some delightful reminiscences by Milton Reed before the Old Dartmouth Historical Society yesterday afternoon. By Mr. Reed, sat William W. Crapo, to whom the speaker frequently referred for corroboration. And Mr. Crapo was helpful in his responses, and related an anecdote that should be given an honored place in the records of the society.
It was told while Mr. Reed was discussing the Morton family, which for many years has had the habit of supplying the supreme and superior courts with justices. He spoke of Marcus Morton, and asked Mr. Crapo if it were not true that Mr. Morton was elected governor of Massachusetts by a majority of one.
“Yes,” replied Mr. Crapo, “he was elected by a majority of one, on the popular vote. The following year, no candidate had a majority, and the election went to the legislature. There also, Mr. Morton was elected by a majority of one.
“At the time of the completion of the Taunton-New Bedford railroad, a celebration in the form of a banquet was held in this city, John H. Clifford presiding. Governor Morton attended, but being old-fashioned in his ideas, he did not lake the first train down, but drove down with his horse and chaise. The banquet began at 12 o’clock and the governor was late. When the guests were about half through dinner, Governor Morton appeared. ‘The governor is here,’ announced Mr. Clifford. ‘He usually gets in by one!'”
Mr. Reed began his remarks concerning the Morton family by a reference to James M. Morton Senior, of Fall River, whom he described as one of the ablest lawyers he ever met. “He retired as a justice last year, at a beautiful old age.” said the speaker. Of Mrs. Morton, Mr. Reed said that she was an admirable woman, active in every good work, and that Judge Morton also took pleasure in those simple charities. “He will even beg money, in behalf of charity, which is a test of man’s usefulness. I balk on that!”
Mr. Reed related an anecdote of a legal encounter between father and son, involving the justice of whom he had been speaking, and James M. Morton Jr., now judge of the district court in Boston. The son was counsel in a land case, in which his father was a hostile witness. “The son in his examination smiled around him, but could not budge his father, and finally began to ask emphatic questions, until his father declared: ‘James, you can’t drive me. You needn’t try!'”
Another difference in the family was cited by the speaker, who stated that while the senior Judge Morton and his wife were both advocates of suffrage, the younger Judge Morton was an “anti” and his wife was president of an “anti” society.
Mr. Reed said that his own advent in Fall River occurred in 1868, John C. Milne visiting him at Harvard and asking him to take the editorship of the News, to succeed Mr. Reed’s brother. With some reluctance, he consented, taking the position on March 30, 1868, and remaining with the paper for three and one-half years, during which time he met many people prominent in Taunton and New Bedford. He recalled an elegant address made during one of the critical campaigns by the late William J. Rotch; and also remembered Jonathan Bourne, “a hard-headed old Yankee from the Cape”; George O. Crocker, Edward Mandell, and Peleg Howland. “One dear friend whom I had in New Bedford,” he continued, “was Charles H. Pierce, treasurer of the New Bedford Savings Bank, a business man and a man of culture. I felt his weath[?] as a personal affliction.
“New Bedford had the two ablest advocates I ever heard on a case—George Marston and Hosea M. Knowlton. Marston was not learned, but possessed remarkable powers of observation, a trajectory of thought that was marvelous. As he followed the testimony of the witnesses his eye would sparkle and he would seize the very core of a case. He understood Yankee jurors and how to go right to the core of their characters.
“Knowlton was of a different type. There is a tendency among lawyers to distort evidence; but Knowlton was one of the most honest men I ever saw. He was rough in his manner, but had a kind heart. I remember the dinner tendered him upon the occasion of his retirement from the office of attorney general. That Saxon berserker almost cried that night, at the overflow of affection for him.
“I would like to speak of a gentleman who is still alive—Thomas M. Stetson. I know of no greater combination of legal knowledge and culture, allied to personal power. He is possessed of wonderful accuracy and magnificent reasoning ability, and few men in the state have his prodigious intellectual power.
“New Bedford has contributed a great many judges to Massachusetts. Lincoln F. Brigham, who was a chief justice, had a photographic conscience, and I never saw a man on a jury-waived case who would hit nearer to the heart of truth than he. He was distinguished for his dignity, his character and courtesy, and was one of the handsomest men who ever sat upon the bench. He moved from New Bedford to Salem while I was practicing law.
“Judge Pitman was a man of high ideals, devoted to temperance, and an admirable lawyer. He had some temperamental qualities that made him unpopular with the bar, as is evidenced by the fact that he could get into a controversy with so urbane a man as Walter Clifford. He seemed like a storm-bird, and apparently rejoiced in controversy, so that he would start all the devil in you, and make you want to throw a book at him. Yet he was a most admirable man. He was pure-minded and of exalted rectitude, although possessed of a certain arrogance and narrowness of vision.” The speaker cited one charge given by Judge Pitman, in which after devoting himself exclusively to flattering commentary upon the defendant and his case, he announced; “I find for the plaintiff.”
Of the late Lemuel LeBaron Holmes, Mr. Reed said; “I never saw a harder-working man. I was once counsel in a case, opposed to him, in which he had the weak side. He pulled out a big packet of manuscript and asked the justice if he could have all the time he wanted. The court assented, and Mr. Holmes read for five hours—a marvelous argument. I had not expected a cyclone. I said that it was magnificent, but not law” and that he could not win his case. And he didn’t. He was an admirable judge and it would be impossible to find one more conscientious.
“Your judges move away from New Bedford when you appoint them,” remarked Mr. Reed. “We used to punch it into the governor, when appointments were to be made, that we wanted a judge from this district, so that the local attorneys could have their motions heard before him. The governor would appoint them, and then they would take the wings of morning and fly away to the ends of the earth.
“You have now upon the bench a sunny-faced judge from New Bedford, a very charming man. I have great respect for him as, after he had a family dependent upon him, he went to Harvard to take the law course.
“When I came from Fall River, with its cotton-factory atmosphere, in the old days, I felt as if I were experiencing what is described in Shakespeare’s Tempest as ‘a sea change into something rich and strange.’ New Bedford had the flavor of the sea, and it was very delightful to see the class of men that could be found upon its streets. Your marine relics in this building remind me of what I used to see.
“In my travels, I have always found New Bedford to be one of the best-known cities in America. On steamship or railroad train, when it is discovered that I hail from Fall River, someone always takes me aside and asks: ‘Do you think Lizzie Borden did it?’ and at the North Cape in Burma, or wherever I go, I am asked the question: ‘Do you know Lizzie Borden?’ You of New Bedford have a happier lot. While I was in Hawaii, the people told me about the number of whalers from New Bedford that had been there. It is pleasant for New Bedford that you have not a horrible tragedy that everything ranges around.”
A Fall River man who made a deep impression upon Mr. Reed was John Westall, afterward minister of the Swedenborgian Chapel in Fall River. The speaker’s initial newspaper experience was the reporting of the first Memorial Day service there, at which a poem was read by Mr. Westall. “He was one of the most interesting men I ever knew,” said Mr. Reed. “Born in England, he came here when a child and went to work in a mill, also attending an evening school kept by the Messrs. Robeson, who afterward came to New Bedford. Westall afterward entered the employ of the American Printing Company, and became a designer of calico printing, making very beautiful designs. He did a wonderful thing—he used every power that he possessed; just as the German empire is doing in its Satanic war. We in America need a lesson in the economy of powers. Westall painted; he was deeply interested in books, and gave delightful talks upon them; he was interested in music, playing the flute and violin. In fact, he seemed to be an admirable Crichton. At middle age he resigned, and Mrs. Mary B. Young furnished the money enabling him to spend a year in Europe. He went to Egypt, where he studied Egyptology, giving lectures when he returned. At last he grew old, and had shaking palsy, but nothing disturbed the beauty of his character.
“Among the most prominent men in Fall River were Colonel Richard Borden, and his sons, Thomas J. Borden, Edward P. Borden, Matthew C. D. Borden, Richard B. Borden, and William Borden; all men of remarkable ability. They were not only able men, but were staunch and true, always upon the side of a good government, integrity, law and justice. The colonel’s brother, Jefferson Borden, manager of the American Print Works, was another of the same type.”
Other names mentioned by the speaker included Hale Remington, Robert K. Remington, and the members of the Brayton and Durfee families.
The speaker said that Taunton had an able bar, and he recalled that Charles W. Clifford read law in the office of Judge E. H. Bennett, a courteous gentleman of the olden time, and a very learned man. At this point, Mr. Reed returned to New Bedford for a moment, saying that he ought not to forget to mention, “Your delightful old judge, Oliver Prescott. A sunnier man I never met; and you know what an honor to your town his son and namesake is.”
Judge William H. Fox of Taunton, Mr. Reed said, was a man who was never appreciated. “He was appointed a police judge,” said the speaker, “and held the position fifty years. Had he resigned and gone into the arena, he would have been one of the ablest lawyers in Massachusetts. He had an incisive intellect, and in his capacity of bar examiner he could ask a single question that would tell the capacity of the applicant for admission to the bar. But he did not take the commanding position that he ought to have taken.”
Among the business men who attained prominence in Taunton, Mr. Reed named William Mason, Enoch Robinson, Samuel Crocker and Chester Read.
In conclusion, the speaker said: “Bristol County has had its full share of the men who have molded honest public opinion, and done something to make the world better, sweeter and nobler.”
Tea was served following the meeting, Mrs. William Huston and Mrs. Andrew G. Pierce Jr., acting as hostesses.
Voyages of Ship Bartholomew Gosnold
By Henry B. Worth
The Bartholomew Gosnold was built in Falmouth, Mass., in 1832, and after a career of over half a century, having been twice a ship and twice a bark, was degraded to a barge and closed her existence in May, 1894.
Captain John C. Daggett of Tisbury, had just returned as master of the bark Pindres of Fairhaven, with a catch of 1200 barrels of oil, taken in the Atlantic Ocean in a short voyage of eight months. This success probably made it easy for him to induce Falmouth men to build him a larger ship, the Prindres being 193 tons. The first owners of the new ship of 300 tons and named the Bartholomew Gosnold were the following:
John C Daggett, master; Shubael Lawrence, Solomon Lawrence Jr., Peleg Lawrence, Ansel Lawrence, Samuel P. Crowell, Stephen Davis, Simeon Harding, Isaac Robinson, Thomas Robinson, Roland Robinson, William Nye, Ephraim Eldridge, Davis Hatch, Nathaniel Eldred, Barachiah B. Bourne. Solomon Lawrence Jr., was the builder, and Ward M. Parker of New Bedford, agent.
In 1843 a radical change in ownership and management took place. She was purchased by Thomas Mandell, Gideon Howland, Sylvia Ann Howland, and Edward Mott Robinson and managed by them under the famous name of Isaac Howland Jr. & Co. She then passed into the hands of Charles R. Tucker & Co., in 1863 and in 1889 was withdrawn from the whaling service.
She completed 13 whaling voyages, one in the Atlantic, two in the Indian and ten in the Pacific Oceans.
No serious disaster befell the ship. During the voyage beginning 1847, John M. Austen, the third mate, died and during the voyage under Captain John Fisher four men were lost fast to a whale.
While the Gosnold made some average voyages none of them were notable. To be gone four years around Cape Horn and return with a catch worth only $27,000 brought no great profit to the owners, for the expenses of the voyage would generally amount to that sum. During the Civil War, products of whaling voyages returned a handsome profit. At one time sperm oil brought $8 per barrel.
An unusual and lucky incident occurred on the last voyage. Captain Poole had come home sick and Captain Hammond was sent out to finish the season. They were cruising for sperm whales on the west coast of Australia in company with the bark Canton, Captain George L. Howland. They were cutting on the blubber from a sperm whale and the second mate, a Gay Head Indian, noticed a swelling in the intestines of the whale and as he probed into it with his spade ne discovered it was hard and recognized it as ambergris, the most valuable product of the sperm whale. The mass was carefully removed and proved to be over 200 pounds in weight. It was put in two barrels and these were placed inside of larger casks, filled with water. Captain Howland states that this method of preserving it was a mistake. His value would not have been injured so much if it had been kept dry, for on one voyage the Canton found 12 pounds that was kept dry and brought $450 per pound. When the Gosnold discovery was reported, it was supposed that the value was prodigious, but when it reached New Bedford the substance was much like black mud and the quality not what was anticipated. While on the wharf it was guarded night and day. But it was not easy to sell it. The chemical manufacturer that used the substance in making perfumery were not satisfied with the quality and after much effort, John F. Tucker, the agent, was forced to sell it in small lots to different customers and it finally brought about $25,000 or an average of $80 per pound, a result one-third of the expected value.
These spectacular incidents do not often occur.
Finally sperm and whale oil became supplanted by other substitutes and it was no longer profitable to send out ships for oil. Fabulous prices were paid for bone, but this was to be captured in the Arctic and preferably in steamers. So the old Gosnold lay at the wharf four years and then the entry appears, “Sold and withdrawn.” Here closed her career of half a century as a whaler. The new owners towed her to Boston where she was dismantled and used as an experiment in a new venture in barge construction which proved a failure. The last entry in the Boston custom house was made May 22, 1894, “vessel burned.” The old hull was taken down Boston Harbor to a shoal called Nut Island and burned. Her log books before 1871 are in the New Bedford Public Library. Her finely carved figurehead is now in the building of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society.
The following schedule shows when each voyage ended, who was master, and the approximate value of the catch, computed from reports in publications on whaling:
1836—John C. Daggett……………………………………………$33,000
1847—Edward P. Mosher………………………………………..$39,000
1854—C. B. Houstis………………………………………………..$63,000
1862—George H. Clark……………………………………………$43,000
1876—James M. Willis…………………………………………….$81,000
1880—Sylvanus D. Robinson……………………………………$27,000
1887—Wllliam H. Poole and James Hammond………….$48,000
Captain Poole returned sick before the last voyage was completed and Captain Hammond was sent out to bring the vessel home. While not unusual, yet no master shipped on the Gosnold a second time.
The Story of the Building of the Bourne Whaling Museum with Reminiscences of Old Counting Rooms
By Z. W. PEASE.
On the east side of Front Street at the head of Merrill’s wharf stands a stone building, massive and severe in design and construction. There are a few similar buildings left along the water front, last reminders of the days of whaling, and the merchants who occupied them.
In these buildings were the counting rooms of the whaling merchants. The first floors were often ship chandlery shops and rooms where whaling outfits were stored between voyages. The counting rooms were on the second floors, and there were sail lofts and rigging lofts on the upper stories.
These counting rooms had a character all their own. There were counters and iron railings behind which were desks of mahogany. The bookkeepers stood up, or sat on high stools. There were few desks in the old counting rooms at which the other help might sit in a chair. About the office walls were models of the ship owners’ whalers and whaling prints reproduced from the paintings of Benjamin Russell. There were boxes on the shelves, lettered with the names of the whale ships, in which the vessel’s bills and papers were kept.
One of these great buildings of stone and brick, unadorned by architectural ornament, and reflecting the tendencies of the business men of the period, in many cases Quakers, is still standing at the foot of Union Street, and is now occupied in part by the offices of the N. Y. N. H. & H. Railroad. The great house of Isaac Howland Jr., & Co. occupied offices here and later on their successors, Edward Mott Robinson, the father of Hetty Green, and Thomas Mandell. Other offices in this building were occupied by Charles R. Tucker, Edward D. Mandell, John R. Thornton, Dennis Wood, Oliver Crocker and George O. Crocker. In old Parker’s block at the foot of Middle Street, now demolished, were the offices of John Avery Parker and Jireh Perry, Pardon Tillinghast and William C. N. Swift, and later on William Phillips and George R. Phillips. Others in the list of merchants that come to mind were George Howland, Matthew Howland, Henry Taber and John Hunt, succeeded by William C. Taber and William Gordon, Edward C. Jones, William Watkins, Alexander Gildes, William O. Brownell, Thomas Knowles, Edward W. Howland, George Barney, Otis Seabury, Edward Seabury and J. & W. R. Wing. These are but a few of the whaling merchants contemporary with Mr. Bourne.
The late Jonathan Bourne, the most successful of all the whaling merchants in New Bedford’s rich history, who owned at one time more ships than any man in New England, carried on business in the old stone block at the head of Merrill’s wharf throughout his career, and his counting rooms are now exactly as he left them, the sole survivor of all the counting rooms which are visualized in the minds of those who remember the fascinating industry, no less than the quaint old ships strongly characterized by their clumsy wooden davits and the crow’s nests, the perches from which the lookouts watched for whales.
There is today, an odor of whale oil about Merrill’s wharf, contributed by a few hundred casks of oil that happen to be stored there at this time, which brings back memories of departed days to the old citizen who gets a whiff of oil and seaweed once so familiar.
The power of smells to evoke pictures was recently emphasized by Mr. Kipling. “Have you noticed,” wrote Mr. Kipling the other day, “wherever a few travelers gather together, one or the other is sure to say, ‘Do you remember the smell of such and such a place?’ Then he may go to speak of camel—pure camel—one whiff of which is all Arabia; or of the smell of rotten eggs at Hitt, on the Euphrates, where Noah got the pitch for the Ark; or the flavor of drying fish in Burma.”
Mr. Kipling’s allusion brought out a swarm of letters from people who tried to assign the characteristic smell to great cities. One man tells that the odor of Paris is a mingling of the fragrance of burnt coffee, of caporal and of burning peat. Berlin, we are told, has the clean, asphaltic, disinfectant smell of all new towns, while Vienna the windy, reeks of dust. The London Times coming in here, is stirred to a pitch of poetical enlargement by the topic. “The subject of smells in their relation to the traveler is an old and favorite topic with Mr. Kipling. Has he not said somewhere that the smell of the Himalayas always calls a man back? And does not his time-expired soldier sing of the ‘spicy garlic smells’ of Burma? The smells of travel are indeed innumerable. The voyager gets his first real whiff of the east when he lands at Aden, and drives along a dusty road to the bazaar within the Crater. It lingers in his nostrils for evermore. On the coast of Burma, and down the straits, the air is redolent of rotten fish and overripe fruit. Tropical jungles have keen olfactory memories of decaying vegetation. The smell of Chinese villages is like nothing else in the world, but the odd thing is that to the true traveler it ceases to be disagreeable.”
So much for smells, apropos of those which linger on Merrill’s wharf. In the old days casks of oil covered with seaweed, covered every wharf along the water front of New Bedford. The leakage saturated the soil and the air was redolent with the heavy odor. After a century in which it was the distinctive New Bedford smell, it has vanished excepting from this little spot where, in the only place on earth, is exhaled the odor of the industry which produced great fortunes and made the New Bedford of old the richest city in the country in proportion to its population.
So after the passing of decades one old counting room survives in a building which was peculiar to the industry and about it clings the old odor. It is one bit of New Bedford which is as it used to be. There even remains the old shed which sheltered Mr. Bourne’s “sundown,” a type of carriage affected by the whaling merchants of his period and distinctive like everything pertaining to whaling days.
But these reminders of the immortal industry are vagrant and transitory and it has devolved upon the last of the generation connected with and in touch with the men and affairs in the golden age of our unique industry to rear monuments to the men who brought fame and opulence to the city through their hazardous enterprise. Several years ago William W. Crapo erected a memorial on Library square to the whaleman. Bela Pratt, the sculptor, selected the harpooner as typifying the whaleman. The harpooner is the most picturesque figure in whaling. It is he who performed the task with the responsibility, the task with the thrill. “It is the harpooner.” as Melville wrote in Moby Dick, “that makes the voyage.” “Nowhere in America,” wrote Melville of New Bedford in the high and far-off times, “will you find more patrician-like houses, parks and gardens more opulent than in New Bedford. Whence came they? How planted upon this once scraggy scoria of a country? Go and gaze upon the iron emblematical harpoons round yonder lofty mansion and your question will be answered. Yes; all these brave houses and flowery gardens came from the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. One and all they were harpooned and dragged up hither from the bottom of the sea.”
But while the sea warrior makes first appeal to the fancy, the men who built the ships, planned the voyages, financed them, took the risk and made the flag familiar on all the seas of earth, were no less daring and extraordinary. The whaling industry was the greatest gamble that ever men ventured, and required no less sportsmanship on the part of the promoters ashore than upon the men who actually went down to the sea.
Now a memorial is building to the late Jonathan Bourne, the most successful of all the glorious host of New Bedford whaling merchants, by Miss Emily H. Bourne, a daughter. This memorial is no less unique than the industry or the man. The memorial has taken form in a splendid building in a historic neighborhood, on the crest of Johnny Cake Hill, for which the architect, Henry Vaughan of Boston, found his architectural inspiration in the old Salem custom house, made famous by Hawthorne. The cupola which surmounts the building is a reproduction of the cupola on the Salem custom house and surmounted by a vane in the design of a whaler, gives a touch to the skyline which is appropriate and prepares the visitor for the atmosphere which surrounds him upon his entrance to the building.
The great feature of the memorial is a reproduction of Mr. Bourne’s favorite ship, the Lagoda, which was the most successful of his great fleet. This feature is an evolution of an idea that has made appeal to the lovers of old New Bedford. The hope has often been expressed that one of the old square rigged whaleships of which only a few are left, might be preserved as a museum. The idea was vague and impractical, as such a vessel would be a constant care, and would deteriorate very fast, while it would be inaccessible to visitors at many seasons. Every time the suggestion was made its lack of practicability has been demonstrated, but there was the germ of an idea which lingered.
So when Miss Bourne expressed her purpose to build a memorial to her father, the idea of reproducing a whaler again received attention. The site for the building was selected in the rear of the museum of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society which will be its custodian. This situation, as we have said, is most appropriate, on a hill near the water front in that part of the old town where stands the Seaman’s Bethel, an institution which was an active philanthropy in whaling days. At first the idea of a building suggestive of a ship, with interior construction to conform and deck arrangement for the first floor, was considered. This was impracticable and then the idea of a large model of a whaleship of the type of fifty years ago was presented to Miss Bourne and met her approval. The model grew in dimensions as well as in general appeal, and at length Miss Bourne added to her original land purchase, and a building covering greater area than was first proposed and of greater height was built to accommodate the replica of the ship.
The traditions of New Bedford’s history are woven on a Colonial background and to perpetuate this feeling the museum was designed in the Georgian style, the architecture which gave the Colonial period to the colonies, and of which so many beautiful examples still exist in this city.
The building is 118 feet long and 57 feet wide; from the ground to the top of the copper whaling ship which swings lightly in the wind above the cupola the height is 96 feet. The exterior is of red brick and limestone trimmings with woodwork painted white to recall in general aspect the character of our public buildings of earlier times. The interior consists essentially of one large hall extending 50 feet from the entrance floor through two stories to the barrel-vaulted ceiling above. Around three sides of the great hall at the second floor level is a colonnaded gallery arranged for the reception of many exhibits of things pertaining to the whaling industry; from this gallery one may also get a closer view of the rigging and top gear of the large whaling ship which will be the chief center of interest within the building.
Edgar B. Hammond, who was selected to make the plans for the model, found many problems, which he attacked with enthusiasm and the work is now well under way. The Lagoda will be reproduced in half size. The model’s length from her figure head to the tip of her stern will be 59 feet, and the measurements from the end of her flying jib boom to the end of her spanker boom will be 89 feet. Her mainmast will be 50 feet in height. The bowsprit will be 15 1/2 feet long, the fore and main yards 28 feet long. The problem of Mr. Hammond can be partly imagined when it is considered that there must be special blocks, special metal work, chain plates, hawser pipes, chocks, windlass, man-rope stanchions, bob stay eyes, pumps, davits, whale boats, rudder hangings and steering wheel.
The first of Mr. Hammond’s difficulties came from the fact that there was no model or photograph of the Lagoda in existence. Her measurements were found at the custom house and it was known she was a flush deck vessel and very similar in all points to the whaling bark Charles W. Morgan which now lies smoldering at Fairhaven, excepting that she was provided with a billet head bow in which the lines of a tub were more closely followed than in the Morgan. Mr. Hammond found Captain Edward D. Lewis, who commanded the Lagoda on three voyages, living at Utica. Mrs. Lewis, the wife of the captain, sailed on three voyages in the whaler, spending ten years of her life aboard the vessel. Captain and Mrs. Lewis were able to supply Mr. Hammond with voluminous information as to the details of the bark’s rig—she was unusual in having carried a spencer, for example—the arrangement of her deck and cabin. Mr. Hammond has spent days in hunting up and interviewing at every stage of the work, old whalemen and artisans who knew the Lagoda. He even took the chance of submitting the rigging and sail plans to a group of old whaling masters for their O. K. Anybody who knows the critical spirit of the old whalemen will realize what a test Mr. Hammond chose to apply to his work. The story is told that when that combination of artists, Von Beest, William Bradford and Robert Swain Gifford, prepared the sketch of the paintings for the whaling prints of The Chase, The Conflict and The Capture, they pasted their sketch on a piece of cardboard leaving a very wide margin and left it where whalemen were wont to assemble with the request that they write criticisms of anything that was inaccurate. The whalemen covered the margin with criticisms and asked for more margin. The artists commenced to make alterations in their picture, but discovering that the whalemen did not agree with each other more than with the artists, the latter published their print for better or worse.
The old artisans who worked on whaleships, like the ships, have largely gone to their last port. There are few men skilled in any branch of whale craft left. Mr. Hammond has found representatives, however, and summoned them to his aid. There is no shipbuilding firm here now, and the contract for building the model was given to Frank B. Sistare, a builder of houses. But William H. Crook, a master shipbuilder, who worked on the Lagoda at various times, aided Mr. Hammond and will have a general oversight of the work. Several ship carpenters were found and employed by Mr. Sistare.
The Lagoda carried seven whaleboats. They will be built, half size, by Joshua Delano, an old whaleboat builder. Other boat builders if provided with designs might build a whaleboat that would defy detection, but no New Bedford whaleman would venture in them.
Building whaleboats in San Francisco was tried at the time when New Bedford sent a fleet into the Arctic from that port, but the whalemen would not use them, and the home product was eventually shipped across the continent as whaleboats have been forwarded to the isles of the seas when a ship has lost her boat. Often a vessel has lain idle in a foreign port for many months, awaiting a shipment of boats. This idea has followed through the whaling business from the beginning. No whaleman would ever use a tub line that was made anywhere outside the New Bedford Cordage Works. Possibly other cordage manufacturers could make a piece of rope just as strong and fine. But a bowhead whale worth $10,000 might be held by that rope. The whalemen knew the New Bedford company’s rope could be trusted, they didn’t know anything about the other manufacturer and they never took the chance. The other day a whaleman down south sent to Ed. Cole, a Fairhaven whale craftsman, for ash poles for his harpoons. He might have found ash poles nearer his destination but how could he know they were right and trustworthy unless they met the approval of a whaling expert? Briggs & Beckman will make the sails and Frank Brown the whaling guns, harpoons and paraphernalia. Men who have built tryworks will build those on the ship and special bricks will be made to afford the right proportions.
Already the timbers of the hull of the model are in place in the memorial building. The model is founded not on a keel, but on hard pine “sills!” But they are fastened as in ship building. The bow of the Lagoda is almost semi-circular. It might be well to correct an impression that the model of whaleships were peculiar or distinctive. The models of our old whalers were like the merchant vessels of the period. In fact the Lagoda was originally a merchant vessel, but she was almost identical in design with the Charles W. Morgan, built for a whaler. The bows were necessarily heavy to accommodate the old fashioned windlass construction. The things which differentiate an old whaler, in the eyes of the layman, from a merchantman of contemporary period are the wooden davits from which the whaleboats swing, the construction of the afterhouse on deck and the crows’ nest. Those versed in the technique of ships also note the location of a yard on the mizzenmast, and variance in rigging made necessary in order to work the sails without complication with the whaleboats a whaler along the rail. Merchantmen were blunt-nosed, originally, and when the first designer turned out a sharp bowed vessel, there were dire predictions that she would run her nose under and capsize. When the fast sailing qualities of a vessel with a sharp, concave bow were demonstrated, the vogue of the clipper ship arrived. The Lagoda was very blunt forward and couldn’t sail very close to the wind. Captain Lewis said the other day that she rarely or never shipped a sea. “She went so fast to leeward,” observed the captain, “that a sea couldn’t catch her.”
The model hull will be [built up] from her natural water line when moderately loaded and will show about a foot of the copper on her bottom. As far as practicable, wood of the same the kind used in the old ships will be employed. In order to find air-seasoned oak that would not crack in a heated building, the country around was searched. The quest succeeded but a price was paid for the oak for the timbers that was about that paid for the finest seasoned quartered oak used in wainscoting.
The model will not be completed before September. New problems with relation to it arise daily, but it is a labor of love with all concerned and it is believed the memorial will quickly secure national fame. There is a gallery about the museum where the great whaling collection of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society will be displayed, the other museum treasures being displayed in the old museum on Water Street.
Jonathan Bourne, for whom this memorial is built was born in Sandwich, Mass., March 25, 1811, and at the age of 17, came to this city where he entered the store of John B. Taylor, remaining there nine months. Then he went back to Sandwich, spent the winter at school, and returning in the spring was employed by John Webster in his store under the Mansion House. He continued there as clerk and proprietor until 1848 when he opened the offices in the stone building on Merrill’s wharf which he occupied until his death, Aug. 7, 1889. He was an alderman of the city five years, from 1848 to 1852, was a member of three national Republican conventions, a member of the executive council for five years, serving under Governor George D. Robinson in 1884, 1885, and 1886 and Governor Oliver Ames in the years 1887 and 1888. Mr. Bourne was married on Dec. 2, 1834, at Fairhaven, by Rev. William H. Taylor, to Emily Summers Howland, daughter of John and Mercy Nye Howland, who died May 12, 1909 at the age of 95. The children were Emily Howland Bourne, Annie G. Bourne, who married Thomas G. Hunt, Helen Church Bourne, who married William A. Abbe, Hannah Tobey Bourne, who married Mr. Abbe after the death of his first wife, Elizabeth L. Bourne, who married Henry Pearce and Jonathan Bourne Jr. Of these children there are three now living, Miss Emily H. Bourne, Mrs. Elizabeth L. Pearce, and Jonathan Bourne Jr. The latter has served as United States senator from Oregon.
Benjamin Baker, who entered the employ of Mr. Bourne in 1880 and remained with him until the close of his service, still occupies the old counting rooms, where he carries on the affairs of the estate. Mr. Baker has spent his leisure time in preparing a record of Mr. Bourne’s connection with the whaling industry, a record of great and permanent historical value and the writer is indebted to Mr. Baker’s record for the facts which follow:
Mr. Bourne’s first venture in the whaling business was the bark Roscoe, of 235 tons which made her first voyage for him under command of Captain Robert Brown, sailing May 26, l836 on a South Atlantic voyage and returning April 9, 1837, with a catch of 92 barrels of sperm, 1033 barrels of whale and 11,674 pounds of bone. There were 22 in the vessel, and all but three were Americans.
In May, 1880, at the time Mr. Baker entered Mr. Bourne’s employ, he was agent for 12 vessels engaged in whaling, with none at home, as follows: Schooner Abbie Bradford, Captain Murphy, Hudson Bay; bark Adeline Gibbs, Captain Besse, Atlantic Ocean; bark Alaska, Captain Fisher, Pacific Ocean; bark Draco, Captain Reed, Atlantic Ocean; bark Eliza, Captain Kelley, Pacific Ocean; bark George and Mary, Captain Baker, Hudson Bay; bark Hunter, Captain E. B. Fisher, North Pacific Ocean; bark Lagoda, Captain E. D. Lewis, Pacific Ocean; bark Napoleon, Captain Turner, Pacific Ocean; bark Northern Light, Captain Mitchell, North Pacific Ocean; bark President, Captain Chase, Atlantic Ocean; bark Sea Breeze, Captain Barnes, North Pacific Ocean.
“During the fifty-three years Mr. Bourne was in the whaling business,” Mr. Baker says, “his agency covered twenty-four vessels, with a tonnage of 7461 and he had interests in twenty-two others of 7421 tons, a total of 14,882 whaling tons. His average ownership of 57.47 per cent in the twenty-four vessels managed by himself equaled an entire ownership of nearly fifteen vessels and his ownership elsewhere brought his total whaling ownership to the equivalent of more than seventeen vessels. The twenty-four vessels managed by Mr. Bourne made 148 voyages, covering 4421 months, an average per voyage of 29.9 months while the average catch per voyage of each vessel was 187 1/2 barrels sperm oil, 1136 barrels whale oil, 12,504 pounds of whalebone. The total sales of catch of the twenty-four vessels managed at different times by Mr. Bourne, although not entirely owned by him, aggregated $7,986,103.08.”
The bark Lagoda, which was, as has been stated, Mr. Bourne’s favorite ship, was a vessel of 371.15 gross and 352 net tons, 107.5 feet in length, 26.8 feet beam and 18.3 feet deep, was built in Scituate, Mass., in 1826 by Seth and Samuel Foster. She was of billet head, square stern, and two decks. She was probably built for the merchant service. Mr. Bourne bought her in Boston, Aug. 3, 1844. In 1860 he changed her rig from that of a ship to a bark. The Lagoda arrived home June 3, 1886 under command of Captain E. D. Lewis and on July 10 of that year was sold by Mr. Bourne to John McCullough for $2475, who, in turn, sold her to William Lewis and others who continued her in the whaling business, the vessel sailing from this port May 10, 1877 for the Arctic. She was condemned as unseaworthy Aug. 7, 1890 at Yokohama, Japan. Theodore A. Lake then being in command. The net profits of twelve voyages made by this vessel, covering a period from Nov. 25, 1843 to July 10, 1896, were $651,958.99. During these voyages her masters were Edmund Maxfield, Henry Colt, James Finch, Asa S. Tobey, B. B. Lamphier, John D. Willard, Zebedee A. Devoll, Charles W. Fisher, Stephen Swift and Edward D. Lewis (three voyages).
Of the ten most successful whaling voyages made by Mr. Bourne’s vessels, the bark Lagoda made two, one taking fifth rank in the list and the other tenth. The first of these two voyages was one of forty-six months to the Pacific Ocean in 1864-1868, with Captain Charles W. Fisher in command:
The value of this voyage was $200,755.68
Average catch per month $4,364.25
Average catch per day $145.47
Average catch per hour $6.06
The second of the voyages was one of forty-four months, also to the Pacific Ocean in 1860-1864, under Captain Zebedee A. Devoll:
Value of the voyage was $138,156.19
Average catch per month $3,139.91
Average catch per day $104.66
Average catch per hour $4.36
On one voyage only in the vessel’s history was there a loss, $14,460.47.
Mr. Baker states that Mr. Bourne was particularly careful in the selection of the men who should have charge of his vessels, upon whom he must depend for good results. It was necessary to entrust a whaling master with a vessel and outfits worth from $40,000 to $60,000, with which the master could do as he pleased at the first foreign port reached. When one of his whaling masters was called by Mr. Bourne into his inner office to receive final instructions, Mr. Bourne said to him, “Captain, eternal vigilance is the price of success.” This was the method Mr. Bourne himself applied in all his transactions and provided against every known risk. This, Mr. Baker declares, was the real secret of many a venture of Mr. Bourne’s which others attributed to “luck.”
Mr. Baker found on the office pay rolls 101 ship carpenters, 18 caulkers, 21 spar makers, 20 riggers, 65 sail makers, 13 stevedores, 8 ship keepers, 11 coopers, 3 gaugers, 4 oil fillers and 7 whalebone cleaners and bundlers. With the passing of the whaling industry their occupation has gone. A few men have survived the occupations but in a few years there will be nothing left to remind the people of New Bedford of their ancient glory excepting the statue on the square, the Bourne memorial and the log books, records and exhibits in the Old Dartmouth Historical Society and Free Public Library.
New Bedford Outfitters
From The Morning Mercury
With the passing within a year of the Leander Brightman clothing firm, from business, and the removal of the J. & W. R. Wing & Co. store from its familiar location on Union Street, where it had been established nearly 50 years, the last two firms which until this year outfitted and infitted whaling crews, the discovery of the records of “The Outfitters Association of New Bedford, Mass., of 1859,” of which Leander Brightman was the last secretary, seems an odd coincidence.
The whalers, few in number, come and go. But the almost daily arrival of a whaler is only memory, and the perusal of the old record of the Outfitters Association seems an echo of the past. The incidents which it tells will be remembered by but few, whose associations carry them back 57 years.
“Trusts,” by that 20th century appellation, were hardly known 60 years ago, but see if the “sharks or sharkers,” as the old record says, the expressions of which were strictly tabooed at a penalty of 25 cents for each offence, were not wise in their generation.
This old record tells of the organization of the association in 1859 and its discontinuance in 1873. In the interval, for 14 years, the members of the organization, which took in practically all the firms that did business with whaling vessels, enjoyed the benefits and profits, the same as the big firms of these latter days who are organized practically on the same lines, without the constant worry that somebody was getting the better of them.
The present generation remembers in a general way how in the latter days of the arrival of whaling vessels, runners of various clothing firms were always first to board a whaling vessel, and how each representative strove to outdo another in getting down to an incoming whaler first, hug the whalemen and tell how glad they were to see him back safe and sound, give him the news of his family and friends, and incidentally to get his promise of trade for the firm he represented.
The “sharks” of the olden whaling days were not much different from those of the present time.
According to the old record recently discovered and in the possession of a collector of old log books and other whaling records, the facts set forth in the book tell how the onetime fierce competition in the boarding of vessels was curbed for the period between the years 1859 and 1873.
On the fly leaf is found the following:
THE OUTFITTERS ASSOCIATION
OF NEW BEDFORD
MARCH 7th, 1859.
William R. Wing,
Franklin P, Seabury,
William S. Cobb.
Secretary—David W. Wardrop.
Skipping a page the following agreement is found.
This agreement made and entered into by and between the respective parties whose signatures and seals are hereunto affixed.
WITNESSETH** That whereas, the several parties aforesaid, being engaged in the business of outfitters and infitters of seamen in the City of New Bedford, and being desirous of so conducting said business as to avoid the necessity of night watching for the arrival of ships at this port without losing the chances of a fair and honorable competition in the same, have united themselves together under the name and style of “The Outfitters Association of New Bedford,” and do hereby covenent and agree to be governed by the following articles of association:
FIRST—Every person who shall sign this instrument shall be a member of the association.
SECOND—The officers shall consist of a secretary whose duty it shall be to keep a record of its proceedings, a treasurer, and a standing committee of three persons, members of the association, all of whom shall be elected annually on the first Monday of March in each year, by ballot, at a meeting of the association, to be notified for the purpose by the secretary by leaving a notice at the place of business of each member, of the time and place at which such meeting shall be held, all other meetings of the association shall be called by the direction of the standing committee and be notified by the secretary in like manner.
THIRD-No ship or vessel arriving at this port, or that of Fairhaven, shall be boarded by any member thereof, or by any person in his behalf, at any time between sunset and sunrise, in any part of the bay, river or harbor, until after the arrival of such ship or vessel in the bay, river or harbor, shall have been announced by signal or otherwise, and the party boarding the same shall not start from the shore, for the purpose of boarding such ship or vessel, at a point farther south than the north side of Hathaway & Luce’s wharf at the foot of Walnut Street.
FOURTH-For any violation of the third article of this agreement the party violating the same shall forfeit and pay to the treasurer of the association for the use of the association the sum of one hundred dollars.
FIFTH-All questions arising out of any alleged violation of the third article aforesaid shall be determined by the standing committee, who shall certify to the treasurer every case of such violation that shall come to their knowledge, and it shall thereupon be the duty of the treasurer to proceed and collect such penalty and it is hereby covenanted and agreed by all parties hereto that the said treasurer shall have a right of action, in his own name, against any member thereof for the amount of said penalty, who shall have been found by the standing committee, guilty of such violation.
For the faithful performance of all the agreements contained in this instrument we hereby bind ourselves each to the other on this seventh day of March, A.D. 1859 at New Bedford, aforesaid:
[Here follows the signatures and seals of the seventeen original members.]
From The Morning Mercury
Very full records of the proceedings were kept from the start of the organization until the close of D. W. Wardrop’s term of office as secretary, April 9, 1860, when afterwards the mere fact of the annual meeting and the names of the officers elected were written in the old document.
Some interesting proceedings were found in the first few meetings of the association.
The first meeting was held at the store of Alden Wordell at 10 a. m., March 7, 1859, when “the discontinuance of night watching upon the Point Road, and improving the general condition of the business,” was discussed. F. P. Seabury was chairman and D. W. Wardrop secretary.
The agreement as given above was drawn up by a committee consisting of William R. Wing, William S. Cobb and T. D. Williams. The meeting adjourned to 7 p. m. the same day, when it was unanimously voted to accept the report of the committee. Officers were elected and a committee appointed to secure rooms for a meeting place for the association.
At a meeting March 10th it was “agreed to have the members divide themselves into squads and arrange for watchmen as can be individually agreed to.” It was voted that no member of the association shall charter any sailboat that is a common carrier, to go down the river in the night, to the exclusion of any member of the association.
A room was hired at 767 Union Street from Harvey Sullings, and it was called Association Hall, the lease to run to Jan. 1st, 1860.
The first report of the treasurer showed the receipts were $15 and the expenses $17.17, leaving a deficit of $2.83[sic]. It was voted to have regular meetings weekly at 7:30.
At a meeting March 11, 1859, it was voted “not to allow intoxicating liquors on board ships, and to call on Captain William West and request him not to allow any intoxicating liquors to be sold, or carried for sale, in his boat, and that ships should be boarded quietly and peacefully.” An assessment of $1 was levied on each member.
At the next meeting it was reported by the committee that was sent to Captain West, “that he was willing to prohibit the carrying of ardent spirits in his boat for sale, and also ale, if the committee wished him to.”
It was voted “not to allow any intoxicating liquors carried for sale in sloop Richmond, or any boat that Captain West may have charge of when used by the Association in the transaction of their business.” An amendment included ale, and one enthusiastic member went so far as to include “bottled cider” in the taboo list. All the amendments were carried.
Simeon Doane moved not to start from shore in the day time for the purpose of boarding a ship, until it was known such ship had arrived at Round Hills.
Captain West was present at this meeting to find out about leaving members on board ship. It was agreed that “all shall return in the boat unless they stated to the boatman they would remain on board. A fixed charge of 25 cents was made for each seaman brought ashore.
At a meeting held Feb. 27, 1860, Simeon Doane wanted the privilege of boarding the boats when going to the ships from the Point Road from sunset until 8:30, instead “of having to run his horse up town, it being a matter of serious inconvenience to him.” This caused a great deal of discussion, but it was finally voted to allow N. S. Ellis and S. Doane to board any boat with Association members from the Point Road from sunset to 8:30, but not to board vessels in their own boats.
It was voted “that the Association hire a watchman whose duty it shall be to station himself upon the Point Road in the vicinity of the lighthouse and there watch for ships, the Association to furnish him with a horse and wagon. When he raises a ship he shall call N. S. Ellis and S. Doane, and wait for them, and bring them up town, and call the rest of the members of the Association, and the boatman after he has reached his boat, shall wait 15 minutes in order to give time for all the members of the Association to get there. The expenses of the watchman shall be shared between the members of the Association.”
At the annual meeting, March 5th, 1860 the secretary charged Nathan S. Ellis of the firm of Taber, Read & Co., with having violated the third article of the Association’s agreement by starting from his wharf on the Point Road, and boarding bark Behring after sunset, on Sunday, March 4th, 1860.
On March 19th, William R. Wing, William S. Cobb and J. W. Ellis, the standing committee, reported finding no possible evidence to sustain the charge.
At the same meeting it was voted not to allow card playing in the sloop Richmond, Jerry, Angel, or any other boats that the members of the Association use. T. D. Williams and D. W Wardrop were appointed monitors to enforce all regulations. It was also seen fit to vote that every member of the Association constitute himself a member to prevent “rowdyism” on board the boats used by the Association.
At this time new rooms were secured at 36 South Water Street at an expense of $30 a year.
Hall & Worth, outfitters who were on the outside of the Association, were reported as having violated the rules of the Association. They were invited to join, and declined, but stated they did not intend to go down the river for the purpose of boarding ships, in antagonism to the Association.
A committee was appointed to wait upon ship agents to notify the harbor pilots of New Bedford not to carry persons engaged in business, or their employees, in their boats when they go out to cruise for ships.
At a meeting March 19, 1860, on motion of Mr. Wardrop, it was voted: “That any member of the Association using the terms ‘sharks, or sharking,’ during any meeting of the, or while in the rooms of the Association, shall forfeit and pay to the treasurer of the Association, the sum of 25 cents for each and every offence, said fines shall be used for the benefit or expenses of the Association.”
The secretary added in the records: “The chairman (W. S. Cobb) in the course of his remarks in answer to the committee’s question was the first person to use the obnoxious epithet, for which the members held him responsible, and demanded the fine. He excused himself, and ruled that the law did not go into effect “until we occupied our new room.” The records do not say that he had to pay the fine.
The records show that a special meeting was held April 9, 1860 in the new rooms, and the next meeting shown by the entry was a regular meeting held March 4, 1861.
From that time on the records were short, merely the fact of the annual meeting being held and the officers elected, being placed in the book.
At the annual meeting held March 3, 1863, S. Doane was elected secretary and at this meeting these names were found on a slip of paper in the book, they being of members who seemed to be present at the meeting:
Taber, Read & Co., A. H. Potter & Co., William & Doane, Pope & Richardson, D. W. Luce, P. D. Slocum, James C. Smith, J. W. Ellis, Alden Wordell, J. & W. R. Wing & Co., Cobb, Pope & Co., Slocum, Cunningham & Co., Chase & West, H. Russell, Doane & Smith, A. Bullard & Son, A. Wordell.
It seems that the Association was reorganized at a meeting held March 7th, 1864, when a new agreement was drawn up, which was almost identical with the first agreement, excepting that an extra article was added, relating to the time when the discontinuance of the association might be considered.
William R. Wing was chairman under the reorganization, J. G. W. Pope secretary, and Frederick Peleg Slocum treasurer. This meeting adjourned to meet the following year. A dozen lines each covered the next few annual meetings, with the same officers elected year after year, and the meetings seemed to have been held around at the different stores of the members.
Leander Brightman was the secretary of the Association for the last two or three years. The last record in the old book was in 1872 when the officers elected at the annual meeting were recorded and the roll call given as follows: Doane, Swift & Co., J. & W. R. Wing & Co., J. G. W. Pope & Co., Alden Wordell, Peleg Slocum & Co., John I. Richardson.
The old association went out of existence the next year according to the following found on a slip of paper: “On motion of Simeon Doane it was voted that these meetings be hereby discontinued, and the organization Outfitters Association of New Bedford, formed by its members under date of March 7, 1864, be and hereby is discontinued from and after this date, March 3, 1873.”