OLD DARTMOUTH HISTORICAL SKETCH
Dedication of the Jonathan Bourne Whaling Museum
November 23rd and 25th, 1916
The Jonathan Bourne Whaling Museum, which was dedicated this morning, is the gift of Miss Emily Howland Bourne, daughter of the great whaling merchant in whose memory the unique structure is built, to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society. The building stands on Bethel Street, on that hill anciently known as “Johnny Cake,” opposite the Seamen’s Bethel (that Herman Melville visited just before he sailed on the memorable whaling voyage which gave us Moby Dick, or The White Whale) and the Mariners’ Home, a structure of the 18th century. The museum was built exclusively to hold whaling relics—and the half-sized model of the old bark Lagoda, one of Jonathan Bourne’s old whaling vessels. The museum itself cost about $50,000 and the model is estimated to have cost fully $25,000 more.
The Standard on Jan. 9, 1915, announced to the people of New Bedford Miss Bourne’s proposed gift. On the 14th of March following, the houses numbered 12 and 14 Bethel Street were sold at auction, to make room for it. Henry Vaughan of Boston was its architect, and John Crowe & Co., of Fall River, the builder.
The staging was stripped from the completed museum about the middle of December, 1915. As soon as the interior hall was completed, work on the model of the old bark Lagoda began. The plans were made by Edgar B. Hammond. The bark was built by Frank B. Sistare, aided by William H. Crook, a master shipbuilder, who at various times worked on the old Lagoda. Mr. Sistare also secured the services of several ship carpenters. The result is not only the largest model of a vessel ever constructed under a roof, but one which is complete for the whaling grounds down to the most minute details of construction, and fully equipped with exact replicas of the old whaleship furnishings,—the seven whaleboats, harpoons and lances, buckets and tubs, casks and all.
The museum, with its massive Georgian style, harmonizes in its architecture with New Bedford tradition. Mr. Vaughan, the architect, adapted his plan from the historic custom house at Salem, Mass., in which Nathaniel Hawthorne worked. The building is 118 feet long and 57 wide, and measures, from ground to tip of the topmast of her whaleship weathervane, 96 feet. It is constructed of red (Colonial) brick with limestone trimmings and white woodwork, and is crowned by a belfry, from which a fine view of the harbor may be had.
The interior consists of a large, main hall, in which stands the model of the Lagoda. A barrel-vaulted ceiling arches over the topmasts of the imprisoned ship, whose spars clear the arch by a few inches only. A colonnaded gallery, designed for the exhibition of relics of the whaling days and of articles pertaining to the whaling industry, passes round the hall at the level of the second story. From this gallery, the visitor looks upon the deck of the vessel, and into its rigging. Winding stairs mount to the belfry. The new Lagoda measures 59 feet from figurehead to stern, and 89 feet from her flying jib boom to her spanker boom. The bowsprit measures 15 1/2 feet, and the fore and main yards 28 feet.
Her first measurements were taken from those of the original Lagoda, at the custom house. No photographs and no model of this wonderful historic craft exist. The whaling bark Charles W. Morgan, which sailed last summer for the Antarctic, was known to be similar in many respects. Captain Edward D. Lewis, who commanded the vessel on three voyages was found at Utica, New York. Mrs. Lewis, who with her husband attended the exercises this morning, spent ten years of her life on the Lagoda. Captain and Mrs. Lewis were able to supply many valuable facts concerning the old bark’s rig.
The Jonathan Bourne Whaling Museum, the gift to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society of his daughter, Miss Emily Howland Bourne, was dedicated this morning, and the building and the model of the old whaling bark Lagoda with beautiful ceremonies formally given to the society.
Flags suddenly broke out from the main and fore peaks of the last of the whaling fleet, this forenoon. The hush that had come when the members of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society and other guests of Miss Emily Howland Bourne waited for this traditional rite to be performed, was broken by applause. The bark Lagoda was duly “launched” again, and the museum that contains it given to the society for which it was built, as a memorial to the great whaling merchant.
A soft air breathed across Johnny Cake Hill, as gentle as the name of Bethel Street itself,—”a weather breeder” an old whaler said. The building of the ship was done; her spars slung aloft, and her canvas tucked away ship-shape and according to the laws of the sea. No prophesies of uncertain weather would have kept the first Lagoda, Jonathan Bourne’s old and gallant craft, upon the ways; and neither would gloomy headshakes affect the new bark. For well her builders know that if her hull had been completed below that calm wooden sea upon which she will never be tossed or shaken, this Lagoda could have breasted the wildest gales of the Pacific, and come home at last with a treasure of golden oil. So the quiet voice of William W. Crapo, as he gave the vessel into the keeping of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society, could speak his confidence in the future and success of perhaps the last whaling vessel to be built in New Bedford,—the half-sized model of the bark Lagoda.
The dedicatory exercises began at 11 o’clock. Miss Bourne, the donor, and her special guests, and the speakers, assembled on the Lagoda‘s decks. The Georgian front of the Whaling Museum itself never looked richer or finer than it did in the gray shadows of this overcast day. She seemed already to be borrowing sentiment of that antiquity from which Henry Vaughan, her architect, had borrowed an inspiration for her. Those who entered the museum, felt as they did so, that here was a fitting monument in which to preserve a perfect toy whaleship for future generations, and mentally thanked Miss Bourne again for the gift she has given,—a gift not alone the society’s but the world’s as well,—the wide world’s that will soon be making pilgrimages to the last of the whalers.
Oliver Prescott presided. The speakers included Lieutenant Governor Calvin Coolidge, representing the Commonwealth; William W. Crapo, who spoke on the history of the whaling industry, and whose duty it was to present the museum and the Lagoda to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society in behalf of Miss Bourne; Herbert E. Cushman, president of the organization, who fittingly responded, expressing the deep gratitude, not of the Society alone, but of the entire city for the great gift; Dr. Francis Barton Gummere, professor of English at Haverford College, and himself a former New Bedford man (having been the first head of the Swain Free School), who delivered a polished and scholarly address, and others. The Rev. William B. Geoghegan, pastor of the Unitarian Church, offered the invocation, and the Rev. Raymond Kendrick, rector of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, offered the benediction.
Miss Bourne, the speakers, and Miss Bourne’s guests sat on the bark’s deck amidships. With the speakers sat Dr. John Wyeth, the noted New York surgeon; Captain Edward Lewis (last master of the old Lagoda), Mrs. Francis B. Gummere and Samuel Gummere, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Pierce, Mrs. Merriman, a niece of Miss Bourne’s, and Mrs. Merriman’s two children; Mrs. Emilie B. Michler, the daughter of Miss Bourne’s sister, Mrs. Hunt; A. Kirtland Michler, Miss Joan Michler; Henry Vaughn, architect; Henry H. Crapo; Benjamin Baker; Senator Richard Knowles; the members of the Apollo quartet (in the bow). There also sat on the deck those who raised the flags: Seth J. Besse, Harold S. Bowie, Clifford W. Ashley, Edgar B. Hammond, Delano Dewint, and Alfred S. James.
Lieutenant Governor Introduced.
Mr. Prescott, in introducing Calvin Coolidge, lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, said:
“Miss Bourne, with her usual attention to even the smallest detail, has provided a presiding officer for these dedication exercises. As her father used to send his outside man out upon the wharf to superintend the final preparations for the voyage of the good ship Lagoda, so she has entrusted to the chairman of this meeting the responsibility of seeing that her plans for the starting of this Lagoda on its successful career are carried out. And truly, the putting of this vessel in commission is an important event, justifying the care which has been given it. For while this vessel will not bring back to the port of New Bedford the material wealth which the other Lagoda wrested from the sea in such large measure, she will enrich the present and all future generations by preserving the memory of those strong, able, enterprising men, the New Bedford merchants who directed the whaling industry from their counting rooms along the wharves, and of those other brave and skillful men—the masters and seamen who manned the ships and sailed them on every sea in search of their cargoes.
“It has been claimed with persistent iteration, often in letters large enough for him who speeds by in the train to read, that it required the services of a certain American timepiece to make the American dollar famous. It may be claimed with much greater reason that New Bedford has been an important factor in putting Massachusetts upon the map. For when the New Bedford whalers were sailing about the globe in large numbers and were entering the ports of every continent, they carried with them painted on their sterns the words “Of New Bedford.” And when people with inquiring minds in distant lands took down their atlases to ascertain the exact location of New Bedford, they found that it was situated in a little corner of the United States of America called Massachusetts. The wealth which the whalers brought to New Bedford did not enrich New Bedford alone, but it added also to the prosperity and resources of the commonwealth. The whaling merchants and masters were not only the prominent citizens of this locality, they were also among the leading men in the state, and did their share in directing its destinies. And so today the interest in this whaling museum and what it commemorates is not confined to New Bedford, but is shared by the whole commonwealth. It is fitting therefore that a representative of the commonwealth should join with us today in these dedication exercises. I have the privilege of introducing his honor, the lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, Hon. Calvin Coolidge.”
The lieutenant governor spoke in part as follows:
“It is one of the pleasantest duties that come to those who are in public life in our commonwealth, to be brought more intimately in touch with the highest ideals, the highest aspirations, of the past,—the inspiration from which makes for good citizenship. The present, of course, is always influenced by the past. Your chairman has referred to the great industry which has made the name of New Bedford famous throughout the world, even beyond perhaps the name of Massachusetts; and though those ships which made New Bedford great no longer sail the seas, and the men who commanded them, the men who manned them, and the men who financed them are all now a part of the past,—the character of those masters, the courage of those men, and the business sagacity and ability of those merchants who carried on this industry have left their influence upon the present.
“Jonathan Bourne was one of the successful merchants of this city. Not only was he active, however, in the whaling industry, but a large part as well in other developments which have helped to make New Bedford what it is today. He was not a man who sought public office, but he did consent to serve on the governor’s council.”
The lieutenant governor, after praising Jonathan Bourne’s character and his business sagacity, industry and thrift, continued: “It is as the result of these strong characteristics that we are able to come here today to witness these unusual exercises. It seems to me that we are here, not only to dedicate this enterprise to the memory of the father, but we are here also in grateful recognition of the kindly impulse which led Miss Bourne to bestow this great gift upon her native city.
“So that I take it we should dedicate this Jonathan Bourne Whaling Museum not only to the strength and character of the man whose name it bears, not only to the charitable impulses which have led the daughter to make this splendid gift; but we are here also to dedicate it to commercial enterprise and to every worthwhile enterprise in life, in order that we may go forward together to a happier and more prosperous day.”
William W. Crapo.
William W. Crapo was the next speaker, and in behalf of Miss Bourne presented to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society the memorial museum and the bark, after a resume of the whaling industry. Mr. Crapo was introduced by Mr. Prescott as follows:
“This magnificent museum is to stand for all time as a memorial not only of the whaling industry of New Bedford but also of a man who in his time was one of its leading spirits—one of the captains of the industry. There are but few men left who were themselves in close touch with the whaling industry when it was in its prime and who also had a close personal acquaintance with Jonathan Bourne. But even though there was a multitude thus qualified by experience to speak, I am sure there would be no man who could do it as appropriately and as gracefully as the man whom Miss Bourne has asked to speak for her in the presentation of her gift today,—her old friend and neighbor William W. Crapo.”
William W. Crapo’s Speech.
William W. Crapo’s historical address in its word pictures of the whaling village of years ago and of the men who built up the whale fishing industry was one of the most interesting features of the day’s program. Mr. Crapo said:
The picturesque figure in the capture of the whale is the man standing in the bow of the boat, who, with a brave heart, steady nerve and strong right arm thrusts the harpoon into the body of the monster of the sea. The whale in its efforts to escape plunges deep in the ocean, and, as the line attached to the harpoon leaves the boat, rapidly passing around the loggerhead, the harpooner is proudly conscious that the boat is fast to the whale. The oarsmen are exultant for they have out rowed their companions in the chase, and when the whale arises to the surface they will have the advantage of position in the conflict which must end in the death of the whale or the destruction of the boat. Their skill, daring and endurance deserve our hearty praise.
Yet we should not forget the men in the counting room. The men who planned the voyages and who risked their fortunes in the ventures. The men who procured the ships, adapted them for their special service and provided the equipment, munitions and outfits for the long voyages. The men who designated in what oceans, seas and bays the ships must make their cruising grounds, and who, after careful deliberation, selected the officers and men who were to execute the undertaking. The motive power of the enterprise in its inception from start to finish was the man to be found on the wharf or in the counting room. In some of the earliest log books there may be seen written on the fly leaf, or pasted on the inside of the cover, a communication signed by the managing owner addressed to the master and officers. It described the contemplated voyage and the manner in which it must be conducted. There were suggestions and advice in the event of casualties. The instructions and directions were as positive and explicit as a law written on the statute books and probably as faithfully observed. Indeed it was a common saying along the wharves—”Obey orders even if it breaks owners.”
The Earliest Days.
In the early days of the colony the men who had settled near the shore, not satisfied with the scanty returns obtained from the somewhat sterile soil, sought to gather harvests from the ocean. In boats and small craft they cruised along the coast and taking a whale towed it into this or another harbor, and by the use of tri-pot on the beach the blubber was rendered into oil. As the years went on there were larger vessels and longer voyages, but progress was slow, the fishermen and farmers of the hamlet lacking capital.
In the year 1765 Joseph Rotch of Nantucket, realizing that the island could not afford a seaport adequate for a large maritime commerce, visited the mainland. He came to Dartmouth, the ancient town, before its territory was divided and sub-divided into separate municipalities. He saw the splendid opportunity that was offered by the Acushnet River in providing a safe and commodious harbor with easy access to the ocean. He purchased of Joseph Russell, a large landed proprietor, ten acres of land in that part of the town known as Bedford Village. This tract, starting from the river, near the foot of Center Street, extended westerly up the hill nearly to the present line of Pleasant Street. Later on there came his son, William Rotch, who, in the interval, had carried on a whaling business both at Nantucket and this place. He brought with him his son, William Rotch Jr., and his son-in-law, Samuel Rodman.
Men of Large Wealth.
They were men of large wealth as estimated in those days and with an unquestioned credit. They erected their mansions and had their gardens on this ten acre lot, as it was familiarly called for many years. On the shore they built wharves and improved landing places. They brought many of their ships to this harbor, where their cargoes were discharged and prepared for market, shipping some of the product in their vessels to European ports, bringing back articles of merchandise needed by the colonists. It was the ship Dartmouth, owned by William Rotch, that carried the tea into Boston harbor that was thrown overboard by the revolutionary patriots. These men entered upon the transaction of the whale fishery at Bedford Village with intelligence and vigor. They furnished employment to many artisans, shipwrights, ship smiths, spar makers, riggers, sail makers, boat builders and coopers. Their ships were officered and manned by young men from the town and surrounding country. The little village became a thriving community. Water Street from Union Street, formerly called King Street, extending to William Street was the center and financial heart of the business activities, and the busiest spot of all was the site now occupied as the home of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society and the Whaling Museum.
A Stunning Blow.
William Rotch was a great merchant, broad-minded and far-sighted. It may not be amiss to mention an incident in his life that recalls an event which was of absorbing interest to those then living here. The war of the Revolution had crippled but not destroyed the whale fishery, and when peace was declared there was great rejoicing for the villagers were ready and eager to resume in their fullness their various occupations, and they were cheered in the expectation of an expansion of their business. But almost at the outset there came a stunning blow which brought dismay and forebodings of grave disaster.
Great Britain had enacted a law which in effect prohibited the importation of American caught oil into the kingdom. The purpose of the law was apparent. The New England catch was in excess of the demand for home consumption, and unless there was an outlet for the surplus which had been largely through London there could be no extension of the industry, and the surplus thrown upon a market which did not require it the return would be unremunerative, which would lead to reduction of the fleet and the possible abandonment of the enterprise. Great Britain did not pass this law for the purpose of protecting an existing British industry, nor to encourage or promote a new British industry. Far from it. The words of Edmund Burke in his famous speech in parliament, a few years before, when remonstrating against the war with the colonies were still ringing in the ears of the Britons. He told them of a people living on the New England coast, few in number, who surpassed in maritime adventure and daring the people of every nation in Europe. With rare and impressive eloquence he had portrayed their marvelous triumphs on the ocean. He said they were a people whom equinoctial heats did not disturb, nor the accumulated winters of the poles. That there was no ocean that was not vexed with their vessels and no climate that did not witness their toil. He spoke of them as a people still in the gristle as it were and not yet hardened in the bone of manhood. England was ambitious to be the mistress of the seas and she feared that the new nation should it become strong and powerful might someday challenge her sovereignty of the ocean. Hence she would throttle and destroy at the outset an industry that bred such a race of seamen.
William Rotch went to London. He interviewed the leading public men of that time. He met members of parliament and urged the repeal of the obnoxious law. He was received with coldness. After long and vexatious delay, the matter was referred to the first lord of the admiralty, Lord Hawksbury. Realizing that he could not obtain the annulment of the law, Mr. Rotch still hoped that some agreement would be reached whereby to secure the continuance of the New England whale fishery. He suggested that an English port be designated where American whaleships could enter to make repairs and to purchase the equipment and supplies for their voyage, thereby furnishing employment to English workmen and profit to English tradesmen, and on the completion of the voyages such vessels might reenter that port and discharge their cargoes, which would be sold and distributed by English merchants who would receive a liberal compensation for their service. Mr. Rotch had in mind, if this concession were granted, that the ships owned in Dartmouth and Nantucket would still fly the American flag and be manned with American sailors.
Would that some of our statesmen of today were moved by the same patriotic spirit and instead of repelling and obstructing would encourage the display of the nation’s flag on the ocean.
The concession was not granted,—Lord Hawksbury scornfully saying-“Mr. Rotch, we do not want your ships. England builds ships. What we do want are your men.”
And so he went to France. He met there members of the ministry and explained to them what he wanted to accomplish and asked for certain privileges and protection. These were granted to him by the government. At Dunkirk he established a business for the marketing of American oil which he placed in charge of his son Benjamin. Returning to this country he ever afterwards lived in New Bedford, which had separated from the mother town, and never ceased his efforts for the success of the whaling industry for the community to which he had attached himself.
In the succeeding generation the prominent whaling merchants were John Avery Parker and George Howland Senior. They were able men with full knowledge of all matters pertaining to the fishery. They were enterprising, venturesome, efficient and successful. They added many ships to our fleet and they greatly increased the wealth of the town.
Among the men of that period who had an important part in our special industry was Isaac Howland Jr., the founder and active manager of the firm which bore his name. His firm is remembered by the magnitude of its operations and the gainful results. Its ships plowed the seas and returned with rich cargoes. Then more ships and more cargoes, and when the limit of prudent management had been reached their earnings were invested in revenue bearing securities. The firm was a family affair and its members retained the plain and simple manners of former years and were immune from the ills of wastefulness and extravagance. The firm ceased to exist upon the death of all of its members and when the books were closed the assets figured in millions. The corner stone of this accumulated wealth was the whale fishery, and now, after fifty years, a goodly sum of this wealth is awaiting distribution to the descendants of Gideon Howland through the thoughtfulness of his granddaughter Sylvia Ann Howland, who was a partner in the firm.
Then followed what might be called the golden era of New Bedford when its whaling vessels in number and tonnage exceeded the combined fleets of all other whaling ports and New Bedford became known as the foremost whaling port of the world.
In this customs district in 1856 there were registered at the customs house 418 vessels employed in whaling, and of this number 368 hailed from New Bedford and Fairhaven, the remainder sailing from Westport, Mattapoisett and Wareham, and these vessels were manned by nearly 15,000 sailors. This vast business was conducted by a score or more of managing owners, as they were called, whose counting rooms and storage buildings occupied practically the entire water front from Hathaway and Luce’s wharf at the foot of Walnut Street to the Parker block at the foot of Middle Street. They were men trained to work. They had the benefit of a hundred years of the experience of their predecessors, during which time there had been devices which rendered less hazardous the service on the ocean. There had been improvements in the manipulations of the crude material, newer uses for the product and wider markets. The business was lucrative. It is true there were disappointments. There were perils from ice in the Arctic and from typhoons in the Indian Ocean, and at times whales were not found in plentiful numbers on the usual cruising grounds. But in the aggregate the industry was exceptionally prosperous and profitable. It was the intelligence, sagacity, efficiency and foresightedness of these whaling merchants that made the New Bedford that was and laid the foundation of the New Bedford that is. I need not repeat their names. Some of them were known to and are remembered by many who are present, but there was one among their number, a prominent leader, who is in our thoughts today and to whose memory we pay a tribute of regard.
After leaving school Jonathan Bourne came to New Bedford from a nearby town. He found employment as clerk in a grocery store. In a few years he was its proprietor. He was diligent in business, attentive, active early and late, for he was ignorant of the modern limitation of working hours. He was successful, and his savings he invested by becoming a part owner in sailing vessels. In 1836, when 25 years of age, he purchased for himself and others the bark Roscoe which he, as managing owner, fitted out on a whaling voyage. Other ventures followed, and his name soon became prominent in the list of whaling merchants.
Mr. Bourne was forceful and self-reliant, positive, earnest and untiring. Having carefully formed an opinion he was slow to relinquish it. A notable quality of his business methods was thoroughness. There was no detail so insignificant that it did not have his personal supervision. He appeared to have an innate and intuitive knowledge of men, was quick to discover their weak points and their strong points, and when a position was to be filled and the selection made, the result showed the accuracy of his judgment. His ship masters and officers were loyal to him and they were rewarded with promotions always based absolutely upon merit. A man before the mast whatever his birth or early surroundings, if he showed ambition and excellence in the discharge of his work, was moved step by step through the grades of promotion till he reached the quarter deck. In sending a ship to sea he did not count good luck as an asset, his reliance was upon completeness of preparation.
It has been said that the importations of oil and bone into this harbor by Mr. Bourne were not exceeded in value by any other individual or firm. During his long service he was sole or managing owner of a large number of vessels and at one time there were fourteen ships and barks sailing in various parts of the globe that carried his private signal, a larger number than could be claimed by any other whaling merchant.
Among his early ventures was the Lagoda. Ships have a certain personality. Their names appear on the pages of the ledger in the counting room. An account is opened in the name of the ship the same as with an individual and the ship is charged with its first cost and all expenditures in connection with the vessel and her employment, whether made at the home port or abroad, and the ship is credited with the proceeds of the inward voyages. Mr. Bourne had larger vessels, of greater tonnage, more modern in construction and equipment, but the one which he prized above all others was the Lagoda. In a conversation one day he told me the story of his favorite. He was in a reminiscent mood and it was after he had withdrawn the vessel from his further service on account of age. Ships like men deteriorate with age. Under his control and direction the Lagoda had sailed the seas for 44 years, during which period it had made 12 voyages, the shortest was two years, lacking a few days, and the longest was four years and eleven months. In the final summing up of these voyages from accounts accurately kept and compiled carefully and correctly, there appeared a balance of receipts over expenditures that showed a net profit which had been paid and distributed to the owners amounting to $652,000.
It has been the wish of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society to have a representation or exhibit typical of a whaleship, not a painting or a picture, but a model in wood and metal and other materials, showing the complete vessel and its appurtenances, the hull, masts, spars, rigging, sails, the boats hanging on the davits, the tryworks on the deck, the crow’s nest at the mast-head for the lookout, and the other implements used in its employment. This wish has been gratified. You have before you a facsimile, half size, exact in all its details and dimensions of the Lagoda as she appeared in the lower harbor ready to start out on the ocean voyage. Its presence here is a distinction which worthily belongs to the Lagoda.
Mr. Bourne is remembered not only as the merchant but as an influential citizen, taking an active part in movements for the welfare of the community. He promoted by his capital and advice the introduction of the new industry to take the place of the old which he foresaw was destined to decline through causes which could not be prevented. During five years he served the city as alderman and during another period of five years he was a member of the governor’s council, acting under two governors. I recall the commendation made by Gov. Robinson in speaking of the excellent service rendered to the commonwealth by Mr. Bourne through his business experience and practical knowledge in the inspection of the state institutions. He took a lively interest in local, state and national politics. Three times he represented this district as a member of Republican National Conventions, and in 1860 as a delegate he cast his vote for the nomination of Abraham Lincoln for president. Mr. Bourne was a man of action, not a dreamer. Intense, never timid or evasive.
This Museum has been erected in honor of the men on land and sea who commenced and developed and prosecuted with remarkable success the American whale fishery. It bears the name of one who was a conspicuous factor in the work. It comes as the gifts from his daughter, Emily Howland Bourne. It has been prompted by filial affection and the desire that in a memorial to her father there shall be some representation of the industry with which his long business life was so closely connected. It is moreover an expression of her regard for the city of her birth. Its beneficiaries are the people, present and future, of this locality who will look upon it with pride and study it with satisfaction, and in the years to come the student who desires to know more about an industry once flourishing and prosperous, but which in the lapse of years has faded away, an industry whose exploits in far off seas and among islands inhabited by savage tribes abounds in romance and tragedy will find here the most complete and perfect collection of whaling data in the world. While the Museum has a certain public significance since it is for the gratification of all who choose to visit it, its custody has not been entrusted to the city government. Its care, keeping, management and ownership has been bestowed upon the Old Dartmouth Historical Society, an institution organized to keep alive the story of the past, organized to collect and preserve and hand down to the future the evidence of the events in our local past, to tell of the men and women who have lived here and labored here and what they did and what they accomplished, and to save from the destructive and consuming tooth of time the traditions, documents, manuscripts, correspondence and even the sayings and the articles used in the early days that illustrate the industrial, social and home life of those who have preceded us. The present owes much to the past for the inheritance it received in the example of fortitude and self-denial, of sturdy integrity, the example of frugality and simplicity and of courage to meet and overcome difficulties. It is in historical societies and museums that the present is helped to recognize its obligation to the past.
What is asked of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society in its acceptance of this gift is a pledge of fidelity, faithfulness in its keeping and management and maintenance, and faithfulness in its protection and preservation, that it shall be held as a cherished treasure and that its administration shall be in harmony with the enlightened purpose and kindly spirit of its generous donor.
At the conclusion of Mr. Crapo’s address, Mr. Prescott said:
“It is fortunate for any community when it has a benefactress with the will and the means combined to provide it with such a splendid possession as this Whaling Museum. It is also fortunate when it has in its midst an institution well fitted to be entrusted with the care and custody of such a possession. That the Old Dartmouth Historical Society is today strong enough and vigorous enough to undertake this responsibility is due largely to the energy, enthusiasm and ability of its president, Herbert E. Cushman.”
Mr. Cushman said:
“Duty becomes a pleasure when it calls upon the president of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society to accept in behalf of its officers and members this beautiful building and fine bark Lagoda.
“We all have dreams of what we really wish. It is seldom that those dreams are realized. Less frequently are they idealized. Our dream was of a building on historical Johnny Cake Hill, located on the land which we owned, about 50×30, in which to place the apparatus having to do with the whaling industry, which we had collected. You have only to look about you today to see how far beyond that dream is the reality.
“No one can add one word to what has already been said by our venerable friend and ex-president, William W. Crapo, of the industry which this building will commemorate, or the man to whose memory it has been erected.
“It was not my privilege to know Jonathan Bourne, but I only have to look at the bronze face yonder, and from what I hear from people who knew him, to know that he was a man who was thorough in every detail, and when he fitted out a ship, it was complete from truck to keel.
“Is there any question in your mind today but what the spirit of the father has certainly descended upon the daughter? We extend to her our sincere thanks and appreciation.
“There are many who with their hands and with their minds have helped to bring about the results that you see before you, and they are here to enjoy it, but there is one whose presence we miss—the first one to bring to our good friend the suggestion as to a whaling museum, and one who would have been as proud and as happy as any of us if he were here. You all knew him and loved him. I refer to the Rev. Matthew C. Julien. Let us pause in the midst of our joy, out of respect to his memory.
“Miss Bourne, as president of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society, I accept in behalf of its officers and members this beautiful building, and express to you our sincere gratitude.
“When your father was ready to fit out a ship, they tell me he was careful in the selection of his captain, and that when the ship was ready for sea, everything complete, he turned the ship over to that captain and gave to him his utmost confidence, and his command was to take the ship and do the best that he could with it.
“In that spirit, we take command of the good bark Lagoda today, promising to make it do its best to commemorate the whaling industry, and to do honor to your father’s memory in this generation, and we will pass that same command on with enthusiasm to the generations that are to come.
“Members and friends of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society: I know full well how much you appreciate this gift, and how strongly you desire to in some way express it; and in order that you may do so, I will kindly ask you to rise for a moment.”
Mr. Prescott in introducing Professor Francis Barton Gummere, said:
“In the early days of our country when our forefathers were engaged in their struggle to make the thirteen colonies one of the free and independent states of the world it was the great nation France which came to their assistance at a critical period with men and ships and assured the success of the American Revolution. It is not for us who profited by the gift to question the motive of the giver. We know that there were some Frenchmen at least who shed their blood on American soil who were actuated only by the love of liberty. In later years, as Mr. Crapo has pointed out, when the prosperity of our whaling industry was seriously threatened, it was France again who came to the rescue by giving us the hospitality of her ports. Today as we watch the frightful conflict which is raging across the Atlantic our hearts go out in sympathy and admiration to the men and women of France who are giving of their life and treasure without stint, not only for their own country but to preserve the liberties of all the peoples of Europe, yes and of the whole world. As a symbol of the ties which bind together the two great Republics of modern times. Miss Bourne would like to have us stand while our singers sing to us those two great songs of freedom—’The Star Spangled Banner’ of America and ‘The Marseillaise’ of France.”
“It should not be assumed that the people of New Bedford in the old whaling days thought only of whale bone and blubber. On the contrary they took an active interest in the higher things of life. The whaling merchants and masters and their wives were men and women of keen minds by no means dull to the appeal of the best in literature and thoroughly alive to the advantages of learning. The New Bedford Free Public Library, which had its beginning in the whaling days, was one of the very first in the country. Lecture courses on serious subjects were well attended. The Lyceum flourished. The people of New Bedford in those days believed thoroughly in the necessity of sound education. William Rotch Jr., one of the leading whaling merchants in the early years of the last century, founded the Friends’ academy, for the better instruction of the youth of the community. In later years another New Bedford citizen, William W. Swain, established the Swain Free School as an institution for the higher education of the people. This school has done much for New Bedford, but it never performed a greater service than when it brought Francis B. Gummere to the city and kept him here among us for several years. The occasion that brings him back again, if only for a day, is a happy one and I can assure Dr. Gummere that New Bedford has not forgotten him in the many years which have elapsed since he left us.”
Mr. Prescott then presented Professor Francis B. Gummere.
Professor Gummere’s Speech.
Professor Francis Barton Gummere, professor of English at Haverford, and the first director of the Swain School in this city, came back today to speak at the dedication, and his address was listened to most attentively, as he spoke of the history and romance and glory of the old industry.
Professor Gummere spoke as follows:
Miss Bourne, Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen:
It seemed on the whole unlikely, though possible, that for the sake of what is called local color, one should be announced from the mast head, or crow’s nest, or whatever the right place may be, with a proleptic[sic] cry of “There he blows!” Some of this audience, who remember early days of the Swain Free School, might murmur “Again!” But local color, when faded like this jest, or yellow like this implication, should be shunned. And that wholly surprised and spontaneous reply, which must have occurred to many a speaker under similar circumstances—that he rose, spouting, not to the spur but to the harpoon of the occasion—should also be unsaid, were it not for its serious side. The spur of this occasion has a harpoon’s trick of striking deep. It is a complicated task, both in dedication and in memorial, to stand thus, armed with a little brief authority of speech, linking the future with the past. It is doubly hard, after the lapse of a full generation, after the roll-call of your worthies has been revised so often and so far, to avoid the elegiac note. That old suit of the pious chanson keeps ringing in one’s ears. Where are they all? The hundred or so teachers in your city schools, for example, whom it was so delightful to meet, in or out of the lecture-room, thirty years ago, are surely not all teaching still—though I know no habit so persistent as the pedagogic. Myself, moi qui vous parle, am doing my forty-second year of what is called “time;” and indeed Dr. Holmes once said teachers lived so long because they drew their pay with such soothing regularity.
But this is no matter for jests. It is well not to joke about roll-calls or to coquet with ubi sunt; although that motto of the Paris Figaro is in point, taken from the namesake drama of Beaumarchais: “I make haste to laugh at things for fear I should else have to weep at them.” And we are not going to be lachrymose. Not even the scented handkerchief of reminiscence shall be waved in excess. Yet it is out of the question, under these circumstances, not to feel at the heart an irresistible pull to the past. Life was simpler in many ways thirty odd years ago; it seems in retrospect as if characters, too, were simpler. The census then gave the city only six and twenty thousand inhabitants; and with the smaller numbers went a larger familiarity of man with man. It is true that the familiar places, the cari luoghi, seem now much the same as then; although if I wished to get the real flavor and sensation of old days, I should go where they are tearing up the streets. And that reminds me—dear and mendacious old phrase—of a story I got the other day fresh from the Great War. An Irish soldier, brought back wounded from the front, passed through Dublin, where some of the streets are in sheer ruin from the late rioting. Looking at these ruins in surprise, Pat exclaimed: “I didn’t know we had home-rule already.”
It is not the familiar scenes, however, that move to such sentiment of the past, but rather those old familiar faces which I do not see, and for which the quest is vain. You remember certain beautiful and haunting lines of Stevenson about the highlands, the country places, where the kind old men have ruddy faces, and the youth and maidens quiet eyes. Perhaps it would be better to say of the maidens of New Bedford four and thirty years ago, when I first saw them, that their eyes were rather disquieting than quiet (local papers please copy); but of the kind old men there can be no manner of doubt. I used to wonder whether it was their personal and ancestral traffic with the seven seas that put the wide and tolerant and kindly look into those eyes of theirs. In any case it was the thought of one of those kind old men, who still look out upon us from quiet places of memory, that linked for me, happily enough, a very early experience of mine, as citizen of New Bedford, with the amiable task which your thoughtful and generous benefactress, —today easily your “first citizen”—has entrusted to my hands.
Many of you doubtless recall the kindly face of the elder William C. Taber, one of mine own people, the people called Quakers. Him I met of a fine Sunday morning as I was on my way, not to divine worship, which came later, and not to golf, which came later in another sense, but to the post office,—a secular errand which our highly religious modern government has put out of the list of our temptations. As his way and mine lay for a little time together—I think we were on Fourth Street—I joined him! and, mindful of the fact that I was now in that New England where conversation is inevitably upon the high culture levels,—although the converser cannot rival the American girl abroad who always began a conversation, and always began it with a repartee,—I girded myself for an interchange of positively brilliant thoughts. Now, thought I, for luminous ideas in adequate expression.
And this, as nearly as I can recollect it, was the portentous and polysyllabic question which I fired, full broadside, at this quiet and inoffensive citizen: “What,” I asked, “What, William C. Taber, in thy opinion, are the causes, primary and secondary, of the amazing decline which is so noticeable in that great industry which has made New Bedford famous throughout the length and breadth of our land. I mean the whaling industry?” And this, in a voice slightly touched with a falsetto of age, possibly—why not?—of humor, was his reply:—”No whales.”
Ladies and gentlemen, my good old kindly friend said “no whales”; he did not say “no whalers.” And here lies such point, or such moral, as these words of mine, on this happy occasion, are intended to convey. There were still whalers at that time in both senses of the term, ships and men. I went over one of Edward D. Mandell’s ships, just home from a two years’ cruise; and I think saw and smelt enough to know something of the glorious truths of that calling.
Ten years later, by the bye, I saw that same ship, or its mate, beached at Atlantic City, and open to the inspection of the cheapest of cheap trippers (I went over it again myself) at ten cents a head. But those base uses had not been imagined in the year 1885. Moreover, the human whaler was still in evidence. My friend and colleague of that time, the late Nathaniel Hathaway—another face untimely lost from view—took me once to an old sail-loft, not far, I think, from this very spot, where I saw sundry mariners, home forever from sea, solacing their declining years with the most extraordinary games of euchre that it was ever my fortune to behold. It was not hard to induce these heroes, after the violent exertion apparently necessary to this game—for every card was raised to arm’s length, and then deposited on the table with a desolating slam,—it was not hard, I say, to get from these veterans sundry yarns of their old trade. Yes. I know what sailors’ yarns are, and what measure of exaggeration is dealt out to the credulous landsman; but you and I also know how much solid truth lay under the negligible flourishes of those whalers’ stories. And you and I know, also, what the truth of those yarns betokened in attestation of the glory of American seamanship in days before our Civil War. History and romance have alike done justice to that breed of brave men; we are now concerned only with the whalemen’s share in our ancient pride of the sea. No, my kindly friend could not say that there were no whalers left.
Both of his own and even of a younger generation, they were there; he met them daily on the street and in the counting-room, potential if not actual masters of the harpoon, and fit to sail a ship around the world. But what of one generation, of the next, and of the next again? Do we, our children, our children’s children, know the whalers; and do we keep in mind the lesson which they taught? I am not going to labor the point, obvious as it is, but there is good reason to apply it.
The old order changeth—not the problem or the strife. The old weapons grow obsolete, but not the heart and hand to wield them. True, one says, and trite. But the attitude of modern thought towards ancient methods, discarded means of attaining the external and superseded machinery of accomplishment, precisely such things as this museum is meant to keep before the eyes of men for “a life beyond life”—this attitude, I say, involves too often a state of mind which can be translated only into such words as must demand a contradiction and prompt an affirmative very far removed from what is trite. In our contempt for ridiculous and inadequate machinery we involve the machinist; and we think we have nothing to learn from him. Tell the class in history about those clumsy muskets of infantry used by the soldier, three centuries or more ago; how each man had to carry with him a sort of stand or unipod which he planted in the ground for support of the piece he was going to discharge. Clumsy and ridiculous, they say; and then the adjectives are insensibly transferred to the soldier himself, and so to his time. Then we pass to the inevitable phrase about “the wonderful age of invention in which we live;” and so to the concluding and offensive doxology which praises God because he has made us so much wiser and better than our sires. To combat this mood, one does not need to quarrel with inventions, or to agree with Ruskin, in his famous comment on the railway which spoiled a pet Landscape, that the only good it did was to allow a fool in one town to play the fool in another town an hour sooner than he could have done in coaching days. We do need, however, to combat the fallacy of inference from tool to workman. We need to remember that men who read by the light of whale-oil did not sit in other darkness of the intellect. We need to substitute for the offensive doxology of self-praise that splendid old bidding prayer of Ecclesiasticus. “Let us now praise famous men and our fathers that begat us.”
We need to reflect in the same words of wisdom, that “Some there be which have no memorial,” and to make good, as our generous friend has done here, the defect, the oblivion, the shame. We need more history. The so-called romantic school, in which the great historians of the preceding century were born and bred, laid, perhaps, too great stress upon lessons of the past and neglected too much the economic interest of the present. I heard President Wilson, then governor of New Jersey, in his address at the dinner given in Philadelphia by the periodical publishers, flout this doctrine of security on our national past. We must not, he said, stand at the stern of the ship of state and steer by the wake. True.
But it is well to steer by a chart as well as by a compass; and Montesquieu, the real founder of republicanism and incidentally, of our form of government, said that he knew no chart by which that ship of state could be steered if it were not the chart of history. Yet we discourage all enthusiasm born of praise for famous men of our past. In what I make bold to think to think the most “Roman” passage of all Latin poetry, not even barring the Marcellas episode on the sixth AEneid,—Horace, epicurean, practical, up-to-date Horace, tries to call back degenerating Rome to its civic pride and civic duty by telling in splendid verse the familiar story of Regulus. Did some Alexander sapiens of the day, I wonder, snub Horace with a life of “The Real Regulus”? We give our youth a “real” Washington, a “real” Jefferson, a “real” William Penn, to show not only that they didn’t know everything down in Judee, but that they didn’t do much of anything down in Virginia or at Valley Forge. I am told that a book has just been written by one of our university professors to say that American children should not learn history because it spoils their efficiency, and should not be made to respect their elders even, for that would ruin their independence. It is notorious that standards of all kinds are now suspect, and that so-called classics have no value. We want no checks on eccentricity either in arts or in letters; we are going to build up our world by centrifugal forces alone. Dead author; are dead. If you wish to give your neighbor’s very dog a bad name, call him mid-Victorian. Such praise as is left to men and things of the past is like the doubtful eulogy or elegy pronounced over a Maine farmer whom we may call Eliphalet. In rural regions there, a friend tells me, it is custom at a funeral, after the religious rites are done and before the grave is filled, for the neighbors to utter, one after the other some kindly word of farewell and praise for the deceased. But when Eliphalet was laid away, no neighbor stepped forward; silence reigned; and the situation grew tense. At last one kindly old man, who could bear it no longer, came out and spoke. “Well,” he said, pleadingly, “we kin say of Eliphalet that he wan’t as ornery all the time as he was most of the time.” Such is the praise which we are wont to spend upon men and things of the past.
Surely we know a more excellent way and this occasion as earnest of our knowledge. Time and circumstance have swept away one of the great types of our American manhood, along with a handicraft in which courage, resourcefulness, agility, clear eye, and steady nerve, were the very commonplaces of the calling. The individuals have gone forever with the passing of their trade; but the type is not to vanish from memory. Out of sight is indeed out of mind; love left unshown, as Shakespeare prettily tells us is too often left unloved. And so, in this city of the whaler, there has stood for some years, in plain view of all who go to and fro, the figure of that hunter of the seas in his typical act of courage, energy and skill.
And here, now, for all to see who will see is to stand a memorial and faithful copy of the whaler’s floating home. Here are the tools of his trade, the focal point of his habit and discipline, the scene and the secret of his daily life.
The merest glance shows that he went down to the sea, not in hotels or palaces, but in ships; and that in the great waters he did not pleasure but business,—business perilous and grim. What he learned, and what he came to be in the course of this business of his, he brought back to his civic and national life. What he contributed to that life no man may measure. It is impossible to draw the ultimate circle of influences for good in American development which had beginning when the keel of the first New Bedford whaleship struck the foam.
Let us be done, then, forever, with the deplorable fad of blackwashing our past and depreciating old types of manhood. Let us rather idealize them. It is right to do this. No nation ever lived on its contemporary greatness; it needs to keep its standards, its types, its classics ever in mind. And classics are not always preserved by printer’s ink. Is not this building, this memorial a classic, a faithful transcript from the life which was so full of what is best in life that the memory of it must not perish? Fitting, too, is the dedication in the name of that sterling merchant who at the time of his death, owned more tonnage in this industry than any firm or individual of his day.
The old Puritan and Pilgrim type we know in many a classic, now set down in verse, and now carved in stone. As fine as any is Whittier’s memorial of Abraham Davenport and the dark day in Connecticut. The later type of farmer-warrior in revolutionary days is secure forever in Emerson’s lines on Concord Bridge. Now we are ready to immortalize the type of nation-builder so finely embodied in these simple-hearted heroes of the sea. They have no port yet—at least I know of none—and hardly an adequate chronicler in prose, unless Melville be accepted with his Moby Dick. But here now is the whaler’s habitat. To understand all, the French have long since said, is to pardon all; but, on the positive side, to understand and know is to appreciate, to admire, perhaps to imitate. Here, then, in this realization of the whaler’s ancient world, young Americans of generation after generation shall best learn what he was and why his type is a precious heritage of the American people. Like Abraham Davenport, he too shall stand in memory. * * *
Erect, self-poised, a rugged shape, * • * a witness to the ages, as they pass, that simple duty hath no place for fear.
After the singing of America by all present, the Rev. Raymond H. Kendrick offered the benediction.
Among those present was Gutzon Borglum, the noted sculptor, of New York.
From the Morning Mercury,
Nov. 24, 1916.
Captain E. D. Lewis, who was on for the dedication yesterday, was commander of the Lagoda for three voyages from 1873 to 1886.
Captain Lewis, who is 75 years old, is still hale and hearty, and enjoyed the celebration immensely, for the Lagoda was the last ship he went whaling in, making his sixth, seventh and eighth voyages in her.
Captain Lewis’s whaling career lasted 33 years, and in that time he was shipwrecked once, and nearly wrecked two other times, all in the Arctic Ocean, where the ice floes are nor respecter of ships or whaling masters.
Captain Lewis when only 14 years of age fell for the illuminated whaling pictures of the time that started many a lad on a career that led him to hard knocks, but later to a command and wealth.
Captain Lewis’s own story of how he became a whaleman he tells as follows:
“I was brought up till I was 14 years old in the village of [Oriskany], on the Erie Canal and New York Central Railroad, seven miles from the city of Utica, N. Y. One day in June I was fishing in a lonely spot on the bank of the canal, when I was hailed from a passing canal boat, and was asked if I would like to hire out to drive a pair of mules. I said I thought I would.
“‘Well, jump on here then, and get your dinner,’ the captain said, and he steered the boat up to the bank, and I jumped aboard.
“I had caught a few fish. I left them and all my fishing tackle right there on the bank. No one saw me go on the boat. That night when I didn’t show up, the neighbors got busy and searched for me till all hours of the night, but of course I was not to be found.
“The next morning they resumed the search, and came across my fishing tackle right where I had left it. Well, that settled it. I had fallen into the canal and was drowned. They got grapplings, and dragged for me, and fired cannons over the water to bring me up, all to no avail, for I was getting farther and farther away, on my way to New York.
“The next day after I got there, I was strolling around the wharves, when a land shark picked me up and asked me if I wouldn’t like to go whaling. I said I didn’t know whether I did or not. He took me into a nearby office and showed me some whaling pictures. They took my eye right oft. I told him I thought I would like it. He gave me a paper to sign, then took me over to the Fall River boat and turned me over to someone and told him to take me to New Bedford and turn me over to Potter & Doane.
“My canal boat friends knew nothing of this. I don’t know whether they dragged the East River for me or not. I arrived in New Bedford June 24th, and the next day shipped as cabin boy, and on the 30th sailed as such in bark Peri, with Captain George H. Macomber. Rodney French was her owner.”
On this first voyage the bark cruised to the Indian Ocean and China Sea. She arrived home October, 1856. Lewis came home before the mast.
On his second voyage, Captain Lewis sailed again on the Peri under Captain Macomber, this time as boatsteerer, the Peri cruising to the Indian Ocean, to Desolation, Crozets and Mozambique Channel. She filled up with sperm and right whale oil, and arrived home October, 1859. She was gone two years and four months.
This time Captain Lewis came home as third mate and boatsteerer.
“On my third voyage I sailed in July, 1860, as fourth mate of the bark Roscoe, with Captain G. H. Macomber,” says Captain Lewis. “Loum Snow & Son were her owners, and Mrs. Macomber and two sons were with us all the voyage. Two daughters were born on the voyage, one at Fayal, Azores, and the other at Paita, Peru. When the youngest was a little over one year old, she died at Valparaiso, Chili. She was put in a metallic casket, and we carried her for over a year, and when we got home she was buried in Westport. When three years out the third mate was discharged, and I took his place for the remainder of the voyage. We came home in the fall of l864, having been gone nearly four and a half years.
“June 1865, I sailed in the Roscoe as second mate with Captain Macomber, for the Arctic Ocean. On July 20 we ran into a cake of ice and had three timbers and five planks stove in her starboard bow. We managed to get her down to St. Lawrence Bay tor repairs. We got back to the whaling grounds late in the season and got one whale. We then went down to Honolulu and repaired ship. We cruised between seasons on the line, and took 200 barrels of sperm oil.
“The next season we went to the Arctic again and got 12 whales, making 1,200 barrels of oil and 22,000 pounds of whalebone. We went down to San Francisco and shipped our oil and bone home. The first mate was discharged and I shipped in his place for the remainder of the voyage. Mrs. Macomber joined us there and was with us the remainder of the voyage, sperm whaling on the off shore ground. We were gone nearly five years and made a big voyage. We came home May, 1870.
“I sailed on my fifth voyage in October, 1870, as master of the bark Roscoe on a four-year voyage sperm whaling in the Pacific. When one year out we went to Panama to ship oil home, and while there received orders from Loum Snow, the agent of the Roscoe, to go to the Arctic. On August 26th, 1872, the ship was crushed in the ice off Point Barrow, and was a total wreck.
“As I was the youngest captain in the whaling service at that time, being only 30, I thought my career was at an end. I went from my ship to the Live Oak, Captain Weldin, and 36 hours later she was badly stove. She was saved, and my crew left her and went on board the Jireh Perry, Captain Owens, and were taken in that ship to San Francisco. On arriving there I found a letter from Jonathan Bourne for me to come home, as he would have a ship for me. I arrived in New Bedford December, 1872, having been gone two years and two months.
“In July, 1873, I sailed as master of the bark Lagoda, Jonathan Bourne, owner, on a four-year voyage sperm whaling on the New Zealand grounds. When three years out Mr. Bourne asked me to stay out two years longer, making the voyage five years.
“I wrote him that I would, providing he sent my wife out to join me, and he agreed to do so. I met her in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand. When the four years were up I had to discharge my crew or go home, as their voyage was up. I found that it was impossible to ship another crew, so I came home, arriving in New Bedford October, 1877, having been gone four years and three months.
“I sailed again in December, 1877, as master of the Lagoda on a four-year voyage sperm whaling in the North and South Atlantic Oceans. We cruised on the Commodore Morris ground and down to the River Platte. Mrs. Lewis was with me all this voyage and we got home October, 1881. We were away three years and ten months.”
On his eighth, and last voyage, Captain Lewis sailed in the spring of 1882 as master of the Lagoda on a four-year voyage sperm whaling in the Pacific Ocean. The Lagoda cruised on Chile and the off shore grounds. Mrs. Lewis was with her husband on this voyage. The Lagoda arrived home in June, 1886, having been gone four years.
Editorial Morning Mercury,
Nov. 24. 1916.
The sadness of that melancholy day, not many years distant, when the last of our whalers will have gone to its last port, will be ameliorated by the fact that in the Jonathan Bourne Whaling Museum on the historic hilltop, we have a reproduction of one of the most representative types of whaling bark, with an outfit complete in every detail. A few years hence it would be impossible to construct such a model. The last of the whale craftsmen have been employed in reproducing the Lagoda. There are tricks of rig in an old whaler that will be a lost art but a little later. In fact it was difficult even now to find artisans familiar with the building, the rig and equipment of a whaleship. Those who have looked in upon the work in its progress have realized the situation for the specialists on the job were mostly old men. The visitor was further struck with manifestation of enthusiasm over the work. The old whaleman loved to fashion ship’s models. There was a time when the shop windows in the sailor quarter on Water Street displayed full rigged models of wood and ivory, perfect in the most intricate detail. The building of this larger model has gratified the love of the whalemen for the pastime which occupied his idle hours aboard ship. These are the days of wire rigged ships and steam hoisting apparatus. The technique of an old whaler is infinitely more complicated and we no longer create sailors with the shiftiness to fashion knots, not to mention whittling with a jackknife a quadrant, tear off the rim of the compass focal for an arc and break up a five cent mirror for a speculum with which to navigate in an emergency.
Generations to come will be grateful for the chance to see the type of whaler which brought us fame and gave us a place in a brave chapter of history. The opportunity came to Miss Bourne to create a unique memorial to her father, the late Jonathan Bourne, one of the whaling merchant princes of New Bedford, a man who owned at one time, more ships than any man in New England. This museum will impart distinction to New Bedford and will give a sightseeing attraction to the city that will bring visitors from all the world.
The exercises at the dedication yesterday were an education to New Bedford people for the younger generation has little idea of the importance of the old industry. Any occasion which gives us an opportunity to have an address from William W. Crapo is worth while. Mr. Crapo’s story of the creation of our first industry, and his tribute to the merchants, provided an entertaining recital of local history which the younger generation should know.
First Meeting in the Jonathan Bourne Whaling Museum
Standing on the main deck of the good bark Lagoda in the Jonathan Bourne Whaling Museum Saturday afternoon, President Herbert E. Cushman called to order the first meeting of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society to be held in the fine new building that has just been donated as a memorial of whaling. Aboard the bark were nineteen of the sturdy captains who sailed from this port for many years and carried New Bedford’s name to the farthest corners of the earth.
The value of the whaling museum to New Bedford was presented in an address by Mayor Edward R. Hathaway, its value as a memorial to the whaling industry was discussed by Edmund Wood, and its value to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society was set forth by George H. Tripp. To the large audience of members of the society seated on both sides of the vessel, the exercises were very impressive, and their enthusiastic appreciation of the gift that they have received was shown very forcefully by the vim with which they responded to President Cushman’s call for three cheers for the Lagoda, for Miss Bourne, for the builders of the Lagoda, and for the captains.
Besides Mr. Cushman, the speakers of the occasion, and the nineteen captains, there were aboard the vessel during the exercises Edgar B. Hammond, the designer; Benjamin Baker, who was Jonathan Bourne’s bookkeeper; Henry B. Worth, secretary of the society; and Mrs. O. S. Paige of the Old Colony Historical Society of Taunton.
The captains who were aboard the Lagoda were John T. Besse of Padanaram, William H. Poole of North Dartmouth, Timothy C. Allen of New Bedford, James Marquand of New Bedford, Henry C. Hathaway of New Bedford, Andrew D. West of New Bedford, Alden T. Potter of North Dartmouth, James A. Tilton of New Bedford, Joseph H. Senna of New Bedford, Theodore S. Morse of Mattapoisett, John J. Gonsalves of New Bedford, Manuel F. Santos of New Bedford, James Henry Sherman of New Bedford, George L. Dunham of New Bedford, George L. Howland of New Bedford, Giles P. Slocum of New Bedford, Gilbert L. Smith of Vineyard Haven, J. F. Avery of New Bedford and E. D. Lewis of Utica, N. Y.
The ushers were William C. Hawes, A. P. Smith, Andrew Snow, James O. Thompson Jr., Eliot H. Wefer, Mayhew R. Hitch, W. Kempton Read, William T. Read, and George E. Briggs. The men’s reception committee consisted of Henry H. Crapo, Arthur Grinnell, Oliver F. Brown, Walton Ricketson, Edward L. Macomber, Robert C. P. Coggeshall, and Harry L. Pope. The women’s reception committee included Mrs. Frank Wood, Miss Mary K. Taber, Miss Elizabeth H. Swift, Miss Florence L. Waite and Miss Mary E. Bradford.
Mayor Hathaway said in addressing the society:
It is pleasant in the midst of the rush of present day business to pause for a moment to bring back the memories of the past. It is pleasant to call to mind the fine things which have happened in times gone by, and to preserve the lessons which they teach. It is to such organizations as the Old Dartmouth Historical Society and to such institutions as this that are dedicated to this work of preserving the fine things of the past, without which the present would be poor indeed.
For that reason I want to express in the strongest possible terms, on behalf of the citizens of New Bedford, the deep appreciation that such a splendid gift to the city inspires.
There was a time when the name of New Bedford was better known in the sea-ports across the seas than any other city in this whole United States. I dare say that there were many in these foreign parts who thought that most all the business activity of the whole United States was carried on at New Bedford. The whaling vessels of the type so well portrayed by this model of the good bark Lagoda carried the name of the city into every sea-port in the world, and the high reputation established through them by the whaling merchants of New Bedford played no small part in establishing the foundation for the foreign trade of the United States today.
There was a time when the whale oil from New Bedford was the principal instrument in lighting the world after sun-down. Everyone who burned a whale oil lamp was dependent upon the fearless enterprise for the doughty captains and sailors of the New Bedford whalers for their supply of fuel. In fact, it was this point that is so fittingly the basis for the city seal which we are using today.
The march of progress in time sounded the knell of the whaling industry, but not before the name of the city of New Bedford and the reputation of her citizens had been so well established that it endures today. The fortunes that were built up in those days form the foundation for the wealth of the city today. The courage and enterprise which served so well in the whaling industry made it possible for the business men to turn to the cotton business which today has brought to the city new laurels.
It is fortunate indeed that the industry which was so largely responsible for the prosperity and culture of the city should be commemorated. It is well that the future generations be reminded by this splendid memorial, of the days when New Bedford gentlemen wrested their wealth from the seas and visited every foreign sea in the pursuit of the whaling business.
It is fitting that this museum should bear the name of Jonathan Bourne, one of the greatest of New Bedford’s whaling merchants. His name is written large not only in the whaling industry but in the history of the city and no other name would more appropriately represent the fearless pioneer spirit which fired the whaling industry and made the name of New Bedford so widely known.
A worthy daughter of a worthy sire has presented this splendid memorial to the public. I am sure that there is not a person in the city that does not have a deep feeling of appreciation for the gift. Fortunately we have an organization which is able and willing to take over the building, and its contents, care for it and develop its usefulness to the highest point of efficiency.
New Bedford is to be congratulated, the Old Dartmouth Historical Society is to be congratulated, and each and every person in New Bedford is infinitely richer as a result of the generosity of Miss Bourne.
We are having a revival in New Bedford—a renewal of interest in the whaling industry.
The historical celebration of this week has brought up so vividly the glorious [remembrance] of those early whaling days, that the past seems to be present.
A new ship has been built, apparently as complete in its whaling gear and outfits as any that ever sailed forth hopefully from the harbor of New Bedford. People are talking of the huge profits taken from the ocean. We already begin to feel rich with the psychological wealth of a promoter—that feeling of riches which comes from hearing of the vast fortunes accumulated by other people.
Our loyalty and our pride is not [sic] present prosperity of our city is not diminished in any way by this temporary lapse into the past. We have a past that we can take pride in-—and it is profitable that we recall it on occasions like this.
We have received a beautiful gift of a building and a ship which will stand in all future years—not only as a reminder of the bountiful giver—not only as a monument to the father, the successful whaling merchant, but also as a memorial to the whaling industry, the source of our city’s early pride and most of its wealth. The mayor of the city has told us what this gift will do for New Bedford, and in the sense that this building and ship symbolize the whole industry we are brought naturally to the inquiry: What has the whale fishery done for New Bedford. Why! to put it strongly, whaling is responsible for New Bedford. Without the impetus and the development which whaling gave to us at the beginning why should we be much bigger or prouder than Dartmouth or Fairhaven or Mattapoisett? The industry centered on this side of the Acushnet River, and we have expanded with it from a small fishing settlement, which existed as a mere outlying suburb of the governing center in old Dartmouth; we expanded from Bedford Village into a separate town, and then into a prosperous city.
We like to say that it was the sturdy character of our early citizens that expanded and built up New Bedford. But it was the peculiar nature of this whaling business that developed the hardihood, the endurance, the initiative of our people, while the romance of whaling broadened their horizon and stimulated the imagination.
And, of course, it was the profits yielded by the whaling industry that created our wealth, and this was considerable. For many years New Bedford was the richest city per capita in the United States. We reveled in that reputation.
We were engaged in a hazardous business, but it was more than that. It was one of the greatest games of chance ever organized, and steadily played. It not only appealed to the romantic side of our nature, but it had all the fascination of a lottery. We picked out our favorite captain, or we selected a ship that had the name of being lucky, and we bought a small interest in it, a 16th or a 32nd or a 64th, and then we watched the revolution of fortune’s wheel, and waited with patience one, two, or three years for her return with a good catch and abundant profits—or a broken voyage and the loss of a large part of what we had put in. It was a gamble for all concerned. The captain and the crew were paid on shares, or, as it were called, a lay. The owners received their proportion only. It was the custom for the mechanics of New Bedford, the carpenters, the coopers, the riggers, the dealers in ship stores, to take a share in the vessel in return for selling the goods. Everyone bought on long credit and waited for their ship to come in before they paid their bills.
When we consider the desperate risks of whaling and the training of our whole people in the calculation of chances—win or lose, double or nothing—I wonder sometimes that all their descendants do not crowd around the brokers’ blackboards and buy and sell pieces of the ship, Bethlehem Steel or of the Electric Boat as their only occupation in life.
And ships were not always successful. There were disasters and failures and total losses. I can remember the keenest disappointment of my early youth; what seemed at the time a tragedy to me. I was promised a complete chest of carpenter tools when the good ship Brewster returned. The vessel had been reported as nearly full of oil. One more short season and she would sail into our harbor with a notable catch, and the price of oil extremely high. Weeks and months passed. Other ships came in and gladdened their owners and waiting families. But no ship Brewster and no chest of tools. And she never came. Nor did any report of ship or crew or valuable cargo ever reach New Bedford. It remained and will remain one of the unsolved mysteries of this uncertain and perilous pursuit until such time as the great deep, cruel and remorseless, shall give up its dead.
This ship that we help to dedicate today is worthy to be located in a historical collection for it is historically correct. The faithful reproduction of every detail is surprising. It would have been easy to get the effect, and less expensive and difficult materials would have lasted indefinitely under this roof and with faithful care. But no. This ship is a memorial, and as such it is an honest example of the best work and materials of the time. Our old whalemen who are present today will bear testimony to the staunchness and seaworthiness of this craft,—at least above the waterline. They will see more about the vessel and on the deck than you will see. Days and weeks and many months have engraved on their vision the routine of the life on this deck. To their eyes the shadowy forms of the past are moving here before them. It is the second dog watch. The captain paces the weather quarter, and the mate stands on the lee quarter and converses when the captain speaks first. The second, third, and fourth mates stand in the waist by the main fife rail and swap yarns of old days in Nantucket and on the Vineyard, or in Fayal and Pico Pike. The carpenter and cooper are scrimshorning at the bench, the boasteerers are up in their boats taking off the sheets and lances and harpoons to test the sharpness of the cutting edge. The lookouts are still aloft in the rings hoping that the last minutes of fading daylight may yet reveal a welcome spout; and forward on the bowsprit heel and windlass bits the crew are gathered. The low music of a concertina is heard, and there is some shuffling of feet on the deck, but there is not much noise and things are quite subdued, for they have not seen whales for several weeks, and the older sailors glancing aft don’t like the looks of the old man. The sun sets low below the gorgeous red banks of clouds, the round disc cut by the sharp horizon—the dark comes at once. Sail is shortened for the night. Eight bells sounds loud and clear in the quietness, and the starboard watch goes below.
Only once before in my life have I spoken on the deck of a whaleship, and that was when a very young man I read the service and said a few words at a burial at sea. The cabin steward had hung himself in his own pantry within a few feet of me as I slept, and the captain was angry because he did it. He said he had mildly chided the steward because he wiped his hands on his dish towels, and he didn’t deserve a decent burial, and ordered him thrown overboard. I rather timidly remonstrated with him and said we had plenty of time and plenty of room to give him a funeral. Finally the captain sulked and went below and said I might bury him if I wanted to, but he would have nothing to do with it. After consulting with the mate the body was nicely sewed up in canvas and lay on the portion of the rail taken out at the gangway. All hands were piped aft and stood at attention while in a drizzling rain I went through the service. When it was finished, at a signal, the plank was slowly raised, and the body, weighted at the feet with a cannon ball, shot down into the depths. Then suddenly I had a demonstration of the natural impulses of the untutored man.
The crew was made up of all sorts, Malays, Filipinos, Kanakas and Portuguese. They had stood perfectly still and attentive, but at that moment they all leaped as one man to the rail to see that body sink.
But much of the success and the glory and the romance of whaling vanished with the discovery of coal oil. What should we put our money into, for New Bedford had its money; it had only lost its occupation. It was a time of groping. We had only learned one trade, and we didn’t at once succeed in teaching ourselves new tricks. Some of us remember an unsuccessful glass works, two shoe factories, an iron rolling mill, and so forth. Finally capital gave up attempting home industries, and our money flowed west to develop new lands and construct great railroads.
This was the darkest time for the old city of New Bedford. We were drifting into that stagnant life, the chief occupation of which was to recall the glories of the past, and to worship it. We were not alone. We were running with Nantucket and Salem and Newburyport. With them we were satisfied to say we were a beautiful city to live in.
Then it was that the superior character of our people asserted itself and saved us. The sturdy stock which had sailed uncharted seas and had braved every danger, refused to settle into a life of rust and decay. The Wamsutta Mills had been successful, —so we tried a new Potomska and an Acushnet. Capital came flowing. More mills followed with almost unvarying success, and it seems only a few years and we were the second city in spindles, the first city in the United States in weaving fine goods.
We hart finally struck our gait. More mills followed. Outside capital was attracted. Our population rapidly changed. Our attractive and romantic past was not only forgotten. It was actually repudiated. We were on with the new love. We were irritated to be reminded of our long continued amours with the old. The Board of Trade actually became incensed because someone alluded to New Bedford, the new born queen of fine textiles, as an old whaling town,—almost as much incensed as when some Boston newspaper alluded to us as located on Cape Cod.
This was the extreme that we reached in our infatuation with the new, when we tried to forget the parents who bore us, the industry which not only gave us the sinews for the newer competition, but the industry that had developed our manhood, had fitted us for any contest, which had given us a reputation for hardihood, for courage, yes, for reckless daring, throughout the known and unknown seas.
Gradually we came out from the infatuation of our new success enough to recognize again our noble heritage and the allegiance we bore to an honored past.
Three events have happened in the more recent history of New Bedford which bear testimony to this awakened recognition of what we owe to those early days and to the whaling industry, and it is these three events which by the forces which they exert and the life that they recall will serve to keep us ever mindful and loyal in the years that are to come.
The first was the founding of this historical society. It is not for me to speak now of what our society has done to gather and preserve the treasures of our early history and to record the virtues of our illustrious forbears. It is enough to say that here is an active working memorial to those earlier times.
The second was the gift to the city of the bronze figure of the New Bedford Whaleman by the honored first president of this society.
This imposing statue, located on one of our main thoroughfares will, through the coming time, be our fitting memorial to the men who manned our ships, who braved the sea and its leviathan, who wrested fortunes from the treacherous ocean, and helped to found the prosperity that we now enjoy.
And the third event which will hold us steadfast, lest we forget, is the erection of this magnificent building, and this ship which stand as a memorial to the successful whaling merchant. The owner of the ship, the man with money who was willing to risk it, the man of courage, above all the man of faith who believed in his ship that he had built, in the captain he had personally selected, in the crew he had shipped, and in the whaling enterprise he was engaged in.
Here is a fitting monument—a beautiful tribute from the daughter to her father—a cenotaph at once to the successful merchant and to the whaling industry, which is symbolized by the ship.
We have met in this new addition to our home to express our gratitude to the donor for her most generous gift; to honor the name and the exploits and the success of the merchant, the loving memory of whom has inspired the filial gift; and while doing this to express anew our obligations as citizens of this community for this rich inheritance which has come down to us from those brave men, who on land and sea prosecuted the whale fishery.
George H. Tripp.
The Old Dartmouth Historical Society has been peculiarly fortunate in the gifts which have been bestowed since it was organized thirteen years ago. In the very infancy of the society we were presented with an island with a monument to the first English explorer who attempted to make a permanent settlement in America. Bartholomew Gosnold. This was the first piece of real estate which the society owned, and it will always be a notable possession. Within a few years we were given the building standing on Water Street overlooking the seat of the whaling industry as it thrived fifty years ago. The building presented by Mr. Rogers has served most admirably the purposes of the museum, and as a headquarters for the activities of the organization, and now this week the wonderful gift of a whaling museum with a full rigged ship, perfect in every detail, presented to the society by Miss Emily H. Bourne as a memorial to her father, the most successful whaling merchant of his time, a man whose resourcefulness and great ability maintained for years a large fleet of whaling ships that sailed in every quarter of the world bringing golden harvests to New Bedford.
What does this museum with the model ship mean to this society? It means that the history of this waning industry will be preserved forever; it means that students and historians can here find all the implements of the labor that made New Bedford famous, of the industry so profitable that when at the turn of fortune it had to be relinquished, the capital accumulated in this pursuit was ready to start on a successful career another great industry which in the flood of years has again made New Bedford a leader of enterprises; it means that the youth of New Bedford can here see the history of their city as it was made during the century that is past. There was danger that the boys of this city would grow up in ignorance of their romantic heritage. Gone are the picturesque days of 50 years ago. Boys then were indeed fortunate. It has always seemed to me that boys living away from the coast were to be pitied, and now as I assume the role of laudator temporis acti the feeling is intensified. What glorious days were they when we could watch the ships building on the stocks from the time the keel was laid and the great white oak ribs were hewn out and put in place—the carpet of fragrant chips covering the ground sometimes to the depth of a foot—to the launching day when at the risk of being late at school we were invited to clamber on the deck and run back and forth to give the initial start to the ship as the blocks were cut away below, and the great hull finally slipped into the water. What thrills as the ship slid down the ways! How pleasant in retrospect even our task as we would turn the grindstone to sharpen the tools which shaped the staves which were assembled into the casks to hold the oil which the ships were to bring home; how we loved to pack the casks of hard-tack, being allowed to stuff our jackets with the sweet smelling biscuits as they came hot from Jonathan Buttrick’s oven; how sweet to the memory was the fragrance of the tarred rope; how melodious the song of the caulking mallets as they pounded the oakum into the seams of these stout craft; how the boys would climb the rigging of the vessels at the dock, explore the hold, the forecastle, and even the after-cabin. Then what joy to ride down the harbor on the ferryboat when it was requisitioned as a towboat! Often in those happy days when we would go to take the boat to cross the river, we would have the chance to sail down to Clarks Point towing a ship out of port. We in imagination followed the ship on her voyage buoyed up by promises of rich rewards when our father’s ship came home. In those care-free days we had not learned to differentiate the New England housewife’s love of a clean hearth, and the dismay to the ship owner on the report of a “clean” ship. We were joyfully unaware of philological distinctions. If the memories of the boys of those days are so pleasant, how rich in retrospect must be the thoughts of the men who actually worked on the building of these staunch ships, and of the captains some of whom are present here today—who guided these vessels upon their successful voyages. How proud must they be to behold this perfect model of the whaling craft which made our city famous. No wonder the successful carpenter who has been working so faithfully on the new Lagoda has voiced his sentiments that he wanted to hand down to his children and grandchildren the proud tradition that he had worked on this vessel which should show to all the kind of ship that carried New Bedford sailors—the modern Argonauts— through the seas from the Arctic to the Antarctic.
In future days, visitors to New Bedford arriving at what has been called the civic center of the city will see the spirited whaleman statue, presented by the first president of our society, will see the noble figure of the harpooner poising his harpoon, which points towards the harbor. Following the direction of this harpoon on the parallel of 41 degrees 40 minutes latitude, within a few minutes they will reach the Whaling Museum, and here they will find this ship, perpetually docked in this most sumptuous berth on Johnny Cake Hill.
It should be an unwritten law that no one should refer to this location as Bethel Street. All honor to the Bethel and its great work for the sailors, but the locality is known as Johnny Cake Hill, and that should be its designation on signboard and document. The modern habit of changing old names to new ones of little or no significance is unfortunate, and the Historical Society should set the example correcting this perverted tendency. Who would want to change the local names to conform to the vernacular of the twentieth century? In an early paper read before our society Mrs. W. N. Swift was very emphatic in protesting against the village of Dartmouth being called Padanaram, Dartmouth being peculiarly appropriate from a historical and traditional standpoint. So when a locality has a name attached to it, quaint and significant, that name should be retained. In New York, the Bowery, Maiden Lane, Counties Slip will probably always be kept as historical names; Fleet Street, Thread-Needle Street, Cowcross Street, Mincing Lane, and hundreds of other old-time names in London in the same way preserve the atmosphere and literary suggestiveness of those localities. We should be unwilling to lose such names as Nonquitt, ‘Sconsett, Sconticut, Nashawena, Naushon, Acushnet. So let us as a society insist on Johnny Cake Hill.
When these visitors to New Bedford finally view the “ship that will never sail,” they can study every detail of a full-rigged barque with the peculiarities that distinguish the whaling ship from every other. Here she stands, with her bowsprit ever pointing to the open sea, this noble gift expressing the filial affection of a daughter to the greatest whaling merchant of all time.
It would not require too great a stretch of the imagination to fancy during the midnight watches shades of bygone captains of olden days appearing upon the quarter deck to have a friendly gam, to renew acquaintance and recount the deeds of valor, the wonderful catches, the glorious escapes of those olden days when they each commanded some one of the 400 vessels that made New Bedford their home port. What better trysting place for congenial spirits.
Yes, the gift of the building means much to this society. It should mean a great increase in its active membership. Every able-bodied man and woman should be glad to sign the papers for a lifelong voyage. The wonderful success of the parent ship, the golden treasure ship, the first Lagoda, should stimulate great activity and eagerness to embark on the voyage with the new Lagoda. Even the most timid need not fear the rigors of the wind, or wave, or tempest. They will be assured of pleasant adventures with delightful companions, and a generous “lay.”
History of the Bark Lagoda of New Bedford, Massachusetts
One of New Bedford’s Most Successful Whaling Vessels.
(Taken from a history of “The Jonathan Bourne Whaling Office and Some of Those Connected With It.” by Benjamin Baker).
When vessels were “lucky” in the whaling industry, money rolled in and up fast, as witness the following returns from the Bark Lagoda, the most profitable of Mr. Bourne’s whaling vessels.
This Bark of 371.15 gross and 352.59 net tons, 107.5 feet in length, 26.8 feet beam and 18.3 feet depth, was built at Scituate, Mass., in 1826 by Seth and Samuel Foster, and was further described as of billet head, square stern, two decks and three masts.
Her owners were Ezra Weston of Duxbury, Thomas Otis, Seth Foster, and Samuel Foster of Scituate, Mass., and Daniel W. Brewster was the first master.
As there are no records of this vessel engaged in whaling previous to 1841, she was probably built for the merchant service.
Mr. Bourne purchased this ship in Boston, August, 3rd, 1841. In 1860, he changed her rig from that of a ship to a bark.
The Lagoda arrived home June 3rd, 1886, under command [of] Captain Edward D. Lewis and on July 10th, of that year, was sold by Mr. Bourne to John McCullough for $2,475.00 who, in turn, sold her to William Lewis and others who continued the bark in the whaling business, the vessel sailing from this port May 10th, l887, for the Arctic Ocean. She was condemned as unseaworthy August 7th, 1890, at Yokohama, Japan, Theodore A. Lake, then being in command.
Here follows various data of the twelve voyages, with Mr. Bourne as managing owner and agent:
Sailed Oct. 9th, 1841, for New Holland, Indian Ocean grounds, Edmund Maxfield, master with the following officers:
Thomas S. Dexter, 1st mate.
Francis Russell, 2nd mate.
Joseph Sylvester, 3rd mate.
Her owners then were:
Jonathan Bourne, 3/8ths.
Clement P. Covell, 3/8ths.
O. & E. W. Seabury, l/8th.
Edmund Maxfield, 1/8th.
The vessel arrived home in September, 1843, having been absent one year, eleven months and six days (the vessel’s shortest voyage) with a catch of: 600 bbls. sperm oil; 2,100 bbls. whale oil; 17,000lbs.whalebone
The outfits for this voyage were $28,919.45 and the owners received $37,498.09, showing a profit to them of 29.6 per cent.
Sailed Nov. 8th, 1843, Henry Colt, master, for North West Coast, with these officers:
William H. Maxfield, 1st mate.
John B. Winslow, 2nd mate.
Edwin Mayhew, 3rd mate.
This voyage ended May 26th, 1846, and covered a period of two years, six months and eighteen days.
The owners were charged with the following outfits and received the handsome returns here shown, a profit of 120.57 per cent on the venture.
Owners. Cost Outfits. Divisions Made.
Jonathan Bourne, 3/8ths. $5,119.96 $11,293.03
Clement P. Covell, 3/8ths. 5,119.96 11,293.03
O. & E. W. Seabury, l/8th. 1,706.66 3,764.35
Edmund Maxfield, l/8th. 1,706.65 3,764.34
8/8ths. $13,653.23 $30,114.75
James Finch, master, sailed Aug. 25th, 1846 for Pacific Ocean and North West Coast, with Weston A. Briggs as 1st mate, returned home, June 13th, 1849, this voyage having lasted two years, nine months and eighteen days.
The vessel’s owners, cost of outfits and divisions made, were as follows:
Owners. Cost Outfits. Divisions Made.
Jonathan Bourne, 3/8ths. $6,534.36 $10,909.59
Clement P. Covell, 3/8ths. 6,534.36 10,909.59
0. & E. W. Seabury, l/8th. 2,178.12 3,636.53
Edmund Maxfield, l/8th. 2,178.11 3,636.53
8/8ths. $17,424.95 $29,092.24
This voyage showed a profit to the owners of 66.96 per cent.
Asa S. Tobey, Master, sailed July 1st, 1850, with the following officers:
Charles Kempton, 1st mate.
John D. Willard, 2nd mate.
John M. Downing, 3rd mate.
The vessel arrived home April 23rd, 1853 having been absent two years, nine months and twenty-two days.
The outfits were $19,041.56 and her owners at the end of the voyage had received the following divisions, showing a net profit to them of 177.19%.
Jonathan Bourne, 6/16ths. $19,792.97
O. & E. W. Seabury, 2/16ths. 6,597.66
Edmund Maxfield, 2/16ths. 6,597.66
George A. Covell, 2/16ths. 6,597.66
Asa S. Tobey, 1/16th. 3,298.83
Lemuel M. Kollock, 1/16th. 3,298.83
Almy B. Covell, 1/16th. 3,298.83
Almy B. Covell, guardian
Clarence P. Covell, 1/16th. 3,298.83
B. B. Lamphier, Master. Sailed Nov. 3rd, 1853, with these officers:
George W. Arrington, 1st mate.
Prince A. Fish, 2nd mate.
James Keating, 3rd mate.
Arrived home May 26th, 1856, the voyage having lasted two years, six months and twenty-three days.
The outfits were $31,635.47. and as a result of the thirty- one months’ voyage the owners shared in a division of $62,570.12, a profit of nearly 100%.
John D. Willard, master. Sailed July l9th, 1856, with the following officers:
George P. Smith, 1st mate.
Hiram Smart, 2nd mate.
Frank Sylvia, 3rd mate.
Arrived home June 28th, 1860, this voyage having lasted three years, eleven months and nine days.
The outfits were $24,434.46 and the owners received from this voyage $47,518.08, showing their profit to have been 96.89%.
Zebedee A. Devoll, master. Sailed Aug. 27th, 1860, with the following officers:
E. H. Cranston, 1st mate.
J. C. Vanderipe, 2nd mate.
A. H. Baxter, 3rd mate.
Arrived home April 18th, 1864, having been absent three years, seven months and twenty-one days.
The vessel’s outfits were $20,959.31, divided among these owners:
Jonathan Bourne, 9/l6ths. $ll,789.60
Edmund Maxfield, 2/16ths, 2,619,92
Taber, Read & Co., 2/16ths. 2,619.92
Zebedee A. Devoll, 2/16ths. 2,619.92
Lemuel M. Kollock, 1/16th. 1,309.96
The sum of $97,159.10 was divided among the owners as the result of this forty-four mouths’ voyage, which gave a monthly profit of 363 1/2%, for the voyage. Gross amount of voyage was $138,156.19.
Charles W. Fisher, master, sailed July 25th, 1861, with these officers:
Peter C. Laffray, 1st mate.
Samuel Sylvia, 2nd mate.
Henry R. Williams, 3rd mate.
Arrived home May 26th, 1868, this voyage having lasted three years, ten months and one day.
The outfits were $37,167.77 and the profits divided among the owners 46 months later were $118,631.94, or 219% from their investment. Gross amount of voyage was $200,755.68.
Stephen Swift, master, sailed July 25th, 1868, with these officers:
Raymond Rogers, 1st mate.
Wm. B. Ellis, 2nd mate.
John P. Smith, 3rd mate.
John Matthews, 4th mate.
This was the Lagoda‘s longest voyage, for on her arrival home on June 5th, 1873, she had been absent from port four years, ten months and ten days.
Following will show cost of the outfits and the owners’ receipts from the voyage:
Owners. Cost Outfits. Divisions Made.
Jonathan Bourne, 10/16ths. $22,705.24 $48,877.56
Edmund Maxfield, 1/16th. 2,270.52 4,887.76
Estate Z. A. Devoll, 1/16th. 2,270.53 4,887.75
L. M. Kollock, 1/16th. 2,270.52 4,887.76
Alden Besse, 1/16th. 2,270.53 4,887.75
Stephen Swift, 1/16th. 2,279.52 4,887.75
James V. Cox, 1/16th. 2,270.52 4,887.76
A profit of 115 ¼% for the voyage.
Edward D. Lewis, master. Sailed July 21st, 1873, with these officers:
George F. Allen, 1st mate.
Joseph C. Nora, 2nd mate.
Charles E. Robinson, 3rd mate.
Freeman Dias, 4th mate.
Arrived home Oct. 10th, 1877, the voyage having lasted four years, two months and nineteen days. Gross amount of voyage was $52,948.80.
Edward D. Lewis, master, sailed Dec. 18th, 1877, with the following officers:
George W. Bassett, 1st mate.
Freeman Dias, 2nd mate.
Joseph Grassia, 3rd mate.
August Lewis, 4th mate.
Arrived home Oct. 15th, 1881, the voyage having lasted three years, nine months and twenty-seven days. Gross amount of voyage was $67,777.40.
Edward D. Lewis, master, sailed April 15th, 1882, with the following officers:—
John Edwards, 1st mate.
Aaron Burnham, 2nd mate.
George H. Wheeler, 3rd mate.
Alexander Wilson, 4th mate.
Arrived home June 3rd, 1886, having been gone four years, one month and eighteen days. Gross amount of voyage was $33,991.43.
Without doubt the settlement made with the officers and crew for this, the vessel’s last voyage, was the only example of its kind that this office ever furnished. Mr. Ellis, for many years Mr. Bourne’s confidential clerk, could not remember a similar case. It was usually expected that some allowance must be made in settling a voyage, always taking into consideration the fact that the crew must have their money before the catch was sold. Whether the ship arrived on a weak and falling market made no difference to them; they wanted their share at once, the only time they were willing to allow, being the necessary days in which to break out and discharge the cargo, gauge and grade the oil, and clean and bundle the whalebone. Sperm oil might be $l.l0 asked and $1.05 per gallon bid, in which case the bid price would be the one to settle by. A certain proportion of the oil might be found sour, burnt and of a very dark color, when an allowance thereon was made. As the owners often stored and held the catch for months, entailing added cost of storage and insurance, besides loss from leaking, some consideration was very properly due them.
When the Lagoda arrived in June, 1886, the sperm oil market was very quiet and the first sales reported on the 28th were at 73 cents per gallon, while humpback oil was sales at 27 cents per gallon. Here is the settlement made June 17th, 1886, with the crew:
Nov. 6—Sales shipment home 3,417 galls. sperm oil at
June 7—Balance interest on above to date 755.62
July 13—Sales 478 lbs. whalebone at $3.00 1,434.00
July 13—Sales 8 1/2 lbs. whalebone cullings at 1.62 ½ 13.81
Interest to date 85.28
June 7—Brought home:
31,458 galls. sperm oil at 75 cents $23,593.50 6,542 galls. sour sperm oil at 72 cents 4,710.24 2,820 galls. brown and dark oil at 65 cents 1,833.00 121 galls. lean oil at 50 cents 60.50
5 galls. sales at $1.00 5.00
3,983 galls. humpback oil at 26 cents $1,035.58
3,798 galls. No. 2 humpback oil at 25cents 949.50
6,569 galls. dark and sour oil at 24 c 1,576.56
Less expenses on cargo 638.91
Balance to share in $39,001.53
The owners held the sperm and whale oil brought home in June, 1886, until August, 1887, in the case of the whale, and until September, 1888, when the sperm was sold.
The following sales were made on this account:
Aug. 23, 1887—14,165 galls. whale oil at 28 cents $3,966.20
Sept. 15, 1888—10,400 galls. sperm oil at 60 cents 24.240.00
120 galls. lean oil at 40 cents 48.00
They had settled on arrival of the ship with the crew on a basis of $33,758.88 for these two lots of oil, which gave the owners a loss of $5,504.68 on the transaction, to say nothing of the loss for interest.
During the 44 3/4 years this vessel was managed by Mr. Bourne her catch and gross receipts from sales of same were as follows:
245,844 galls. sperm oil sold for. . . . . . . . . . $262.127.45
an avg. of $1.066 per gall.
740,461 galls. whale oil sold for. . . . . . . . . . 494.781.94
an avg. of .668 per gall.
1,618 galls. black fish oil sold for. . . . . . . . . . 1,979.65
an avg. of 1.22 per gall.
253,337 lbs. whalebone sold for. . . . . . . . . . . .198,889.56
an avg. of .785 per lb.
612 lbs. walrus ivory sold for. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 214.00
an avg. of .349 per lb.
133 lbs. whales teeth sold for. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53.20
an avg. of .40 per lb.
Slush sold for. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.830.61
an avg. of 15.00 per bll.
The above catch of 987,923 galls. covering the sperm, whale and black fish oil, amounted to 31,362 barrels.
Of the Lagoda’s twelve voyages, from her purchase, Aug. 1841 to July 10th, 1886, when the vessel was sold, but two were unprofitable. Starting with the cost of the vessel, her outfits, together with interest and insurance are charged, and are then, at the end of the voyage, deducted from the net profits of same and interest also allowed on this balance to sale of vessel in 1886.
Here follows a list of the Lagoda’s twelve voyages:
Made up to Master Profits Losses
Nov. 25, 1843 Capt. Edmund Maxfield. . .$6,546.14
Oct. 10, 1847 Capt. Henry Colt. . . . . 51,118.33
July 1, 1850 Capt. James Finch. . . . .22,358.56
July 1, 1853 Capt. Asa S. Tobey. . . 108,188.03
Nov. 1, 1856 Capt. B. B. Lamphier. . . 71,174.65
Aug. 30, 1862 Capt. John D. Willard. . .28,594.15
Jan. 1, 1865 Capt. Zebedee A. Devoll. .185,522.16
Jan. 1, 1869 Capt. Charles W. Fisher. .154,912.62
March 1, 1874 Capt. Stephen Swift. . . .41,843.93
March 1, 1878 Capt. Edward D. Lewis. . . . . . . . . .$14,460.47
Jan. 1, 1882 Capt. Edward D. Lewis. . . .6,414.44
July 10,1886 Capt. Edward D. Lewis. . . . . . . . . . .10,253.55
Less loss. . . . . . . . 24,714.02
Net profits the twelve voyages. .$651,958.99
Taking the ten most successful whaling voyages made by Mr. Bourne’s vessels, and the Bark Lagoda furnishes two of the same, ranking fifth and last in said list.
The first of these two voyages was one of forty-six months to the Pacific Ocean in 1864-1868 with Capt. Charles W. Fisher in command.
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 such voyages, was one of forty-four months, also to the Pacific Ocean in 1860-1864, under Capt. Zebedee A. Devoll, when the
Value of the voyage was . . . . . . . . . .$138,156.19
Average catch per mouth . . . . . . . . . . . .3139.91
Average catch per day . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104.66
Average catch per hour . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4.36
The largest catch did not always mean the most profitable voyage for the owners as, for instance, the Bark Lagoda’s leading voyage in amount of catch did not show the largest percent of profit as witness the following two of this vessel’s whaling ventures:
Value Lays Paid Owners %
Master Voyage Capt.& Men Outfits Received Profits Profit
Chas. W. Fisher $200,755.68 $38,694.20 $37,167.77 $118,631.94 $81,464.17 219.18 Z. A. Devoll 138,156.19 26,717.61 20,959.31 97,459.40 76,199.79 363.57
So while in total catch and amount of lays paid, Capt. Charles W. Fisher’s voyage was the largest, that under Capt. Zebedee A. Devoll showed a much larger percent of profit for the owners.
The Bark Lagoda, Capt. Stephen Swift, in company with the Barks Daniel Webster, Capt. George F. Marvin; Midas, Capt. Charles Hamill; and Progress, Capt. James Dowden, of New Bedford; and the Europa, Capt. Thomas Mellen, of Edgartown, were the five vessels selected to bring down the 1200 seamen from the thirty-three vessels wrecked in the Arctic ice in the early days of September, 1871.
The New Bedford Shipping List of Nov. 7th, 1871, under headlines of “Terrible Disaster to the Arctic Fleet,” “Thirty-Three Vessels Lost,” “Safety of the Crews,” “Twelve Hundred Men Brought to Honolulu in Six Whalers,” “Loss at Least $1,000,000,” “Four Only of New Bedford’s Vessels Saved, the Daniel Webster, Midas, Progress and Lagoda,—first three belonging to William 0. Brownell and the latter to Jonathan Bourne and the Europa of Edgartown, belonging to Samuel S. Osborn,” gave its readers brief notice of the Whaling Industry’s heavy loss and in its issue of Nov. 14th, 1871, had more complete details, as follows:
“Since our last, we have been able to gather the following particulars:—the vessels commenced arriving at Cape Thaddeus on the first of May. The first of June, the ice opened and let the fleet up within sight of Cape Navarino. The fleet working northward, found more whales crossing the sea of Anadir and in Behring Sea more and plenty, but experienced much trouble from ice; and when the fleet arrived at Cape Behring and Plover Bay, the whales had passed into the Arctic Ocean whither the fleet followed, meeting with fair success until about the first of September when the ice floes and bergs to a great extent commenced drifting down; and by the 10th, a number of vessels had sunk and the bulk of the remainder were ashore. On the second of September, the Brig Comet of Honolulu sunk; on the seventh, the Bark Roman of New Bedford was drifted bodily out to sea by two floes and crushed like an egg shell. The crew narrowly escaped. The Florida and Victoria of San Francisco were also crushed. On the 13th, the Captains of the fleet hemmed in between Point Belcher and Wainwright Inlet, held a meeting and resolved to abandon the vessels in order to save the lives of the crews, which was done and twelve hundred men took refuge on board the remainder of the fleet which had been fortunate enough to escape outside before the ice closed in the vessels. The ice drove down from the northwest forcing the fleet on the mud banks in the ice, grounding in four feet of water. The number of vessels crushed or abandoned was thirty-three, of this number twenty-two belonged in New Bedford, two in Edgartown, two in New London, three in San Francisco and four in Honolulu. The valuation of the New Bedford vessels with outfits as they sailed, is as follows:
Awashonks J. & W. R. Wing $48,000.00
Concordia George & Matthew Howland 75,000.00
Contest Swift & Perry 40.000.00
Elizabeth Swift Swift & Allen 60,000.00
Emily Morgan J. & W. R. Wing 60,000.00
Eugenia Swift & Allen 56,000.00
Fannie Swift & Allen 58,000.00
Gay Head James B. Wood & Co. 40,000.00
George Gideon Allen & Son 40.000,00
George Howland George & Matthew Howland 48,000.00
Henry Taber Taber, Gordon & Co. 55,000.00
John Wells William O. Brownell 50,000.00
Massachusetts Swift & Allen 46,000.00
Minerva Thomas Knowles & Co. 50,000.00
Navy James B. Wood & Co. 48,000.00
Oliver Crocker James B. Wood & Co. 48,000.00
Oriole Edward C. Jones 48,000.00
Reindeer Edward W. Howland 40,000.00
Roman William Watkins 60,000.00
Senaea Loum Snow & Son 70,000.00
Thomas Dickason George & Matthew Howland 50,000.00
The following taken from the report of the Committee on Claims of the National House of Representatives, contains a very complete account of this disaster and of the quick and generous response made to assist those in distress:
“These memorialists show that, early in the month of September, A. D. 1871, all of said vessels were prosecuting whaling voyages in the Arctic Ocean, at a point about ten miles northward of Blossom Shoals.
“The vessels had been fully and completely equipped for the business at great expense, and were then upon the whaling-ground, fully and completely prepared for the successful prosecution of their voyage. That the season for taking whales upon that ground is from the 1st of September till the middle of October, and they had just commenced to take whales, which were plenty, and available to capture, there being every prospect of a successful catch, amounting to a practical certainty, as near as may be.
“That while thus prosecuting their voyages the masters of said vessels received from the masters of some thirty American whaling vessels, which were lying about 60 miles farther north, a letter, a copy of which is hereafter given, announcing that their ships were hemmed in by an impassible barrier of ice which the winds had packed up, and they would be obliged to abandon them; that their provisions were insufficient to support the ships’ companies until the next summer, even if they could withstand the rigors of the Arctic winter, and that their only chance for life was with the ships above named, which were outside the barrier. The letter is as follows, sent from said distressed ships:
Off Point Belcher, September 12th, 1871.
‘To the masters of the ships in clear water south of Icy Cape:
‘Gentlemen: By a boat expedition which went out to explore the feasibility of a ship’s passage to clear water, report there are seven vessels south of Icy Cape in clear water whaling.
‘By a meeting of all the masters of the vessels which are embargoed by the ice along this shore, as also those that have been wrecked, I am requested to make known to you our deplorable situation, and ask your assistance.
‘We have for the last fifteen days been satisfied that there is not the slightest possibility of saving any of our ships or their property, in view of the fact that the northern barrier of ice has only a narrow belt of water from one-quarter to one-half mile in width, extending from Point Belcher to south of Icy Cape. In sounding out the channel we find from Wainwright Inlet to about five miles east-northeast from Icy Cape the water in no place of sufficient depth to float our lightest-draught vessel with a clean hold, in many places not more than three feet.
‘Before knowing your vessels were in sight of Icy Cape we lightened the brig Kohola to her least draught, also brig Victoria, hoping we should be able to get one of them into clear water to search for some other vessel to come to our aid in saving some of our crews. Both vessels now lie stranded off Wainwright Inlet.
‘That was our last hope, until your vessels were discovered by one of our boat expeditions. Counting the crews of the four wrecked ships, we number some twelve hundred souls, with not more than three months’ provisions and fuel; no clothing suitable for winter wear. An attempt to pass the winter here would be suicidal. Not more than two hundred out of the twelve hundred would survive to tell the sufferings of the others.
‘Looking our deplorable situation squarely in the face, we feel convinced that to save the lives of our crews a speedy abandonment of our ships is necessary. A change of wind to the north for twenty-four hours would cause the young ice to make so stout as to effectually close up the narrow passage and cut off our retreat by boats.
‘We realize your peculiar situation as to duty, and the bright prospects you have for a good catch in oil and bone before the season expires, and now call on you, in the voice of humanity, to abandon your whaling, sacrifice your personal interests as well as that of your owners, and put yourselves in condition to receive on board ourselves and crews for transit to some civilized port, feeling assured that our government, so jealous of its philanthropy, will make ample compensation for all your losses. We shall commence sending the sick and some provisions tomorrow. With a small boat, and near 70 miles for the men to pull, we shall not be able to send much provisions.
‘Feeling confident that you will not abandon us,
‘We are, respectfully, yours,
Henry Pease Jr.
With thirty-one other masters.’
“The memorialists say that but one answer could be made to such an appeal, and that after consultation the masters of the ships thus addressed determined to abandon their voyages and receive the shipwrecked crews, trusting in the justice and generosity of their government to properly compensate them for their losses and expenses thus to be incurred for the purpose of rescuing shipwrecked American seamen.
“Preparations were immediately made for that purpose. The cutting-stages were taken in, the cutting-falls unreeved, casks shooked, and the vessels taken to an anchorage south of Blossom Shoal. That on the 11th day of September and days following the shipwrecked sailors were taken on board and the vessel[s] proceeded with them to Honolulu.”
The owners of the five vessels bringing down these wrecked seamen, presented to Congress their claims for damages from the loss of the season’s whaling, showing these amounts due the following vessels:
Bark Daniel Webster $50,762.50
900 barrels whale-oil, at 75c per gal. . .$21,262.50
16,000 pounds whalebone, at $1.75 per lb. .28.000.00
Loss and damage to outfits and ships. . . . . 120.75
Loss of anchor, 2.500 pounds, at 6 cents. . . 150.00
Bark Europa 71,100.00
Bark Midas 51,052.90
Bark Progress 51,094.30
The bill as finally passed by the First Session of the Fifty-first Congress on Aug. 29th, 1890, and later by the Senate and approved by the President Feb. 21st, 1891, made the following awards on the basis of the men brought down on each vessel:
Bark Midas. . . . . . 143 men at $138.89. . . . . . .$19,861.27
Bark Daniel Webster. . 155 men at 138.89. . . . . . . 21,527.95
Bark Lagoda. . . . . . 170 men at 138.89. . . . . . . 23,611.30
Bark Progress. . . . . 188 men at 138.89. . . . . . . 26.111.32
Bark Europa. . . . . . 244 men at 138.89. . . . . . . 33.889.16 900 $125,001.00
These amounts were to be paid over to the owners for the benefit of themselves; and of such of the officers and crews of said vessels, respectively, as were engaged in that particular season of the cruise in the Arctic Ocean during which said rescue was made, and such moneys should be distributed by the owners between themselves and said officers and crews in the proportion to their respective lays, and in the same manner as the ordinary earnings from the said cruise would have been distributed.