Old Dartmouth Historical Sketch No. 28 - New Bedford Whaling Museum


Number 28

Being the proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society, Water Street, New Bedford, Massachusetts, on March 30, 1910

Containing the following reports:


[Note.—The “Old Dartmouth Historical Sketches” will be published by the Society quarterly and may be purchased for ten cents each on application to the Secretary and also at Hutchinson’s Book Store.]

Proceedings of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society’s
Seventh Annual Meeting
New Bedford, Massachusetts
March 30, 1910

The following officers were elected:

   President—Edmund Wood.

   Vice Presidents—George H. Tripp, Henry B. Worth.

   Treasurer—William A. Mackie.

   Secretary—William A. Wing.

   Directors (for three years)—William W. Crapo, Walton Ricketson, Edward L. Macomber.

President Wood, who presided at the meeting, announced that the members had gathered for the seventh annual meeting. “While this has not been a spectacular year in the society’s history,” he said, “we all believe it has been a year of growth and development. Good work has been done, meetings regularly held, and research work of value, relating to the history of the locality, has been developed by the papers read at the meetings.

The society is indebted to the entertainment committee, which has inaugurated several entertainments, and has not only provided instructive evenings, but has also raised revenue and has money in the treasury.

Referring to the gifts made to the society, President Wood said that many valuable articles were drifting into its possession, for which the members desired to express gratitude. He also dwelt upon the satisfaction which the public should feel that the treasure-house of the society afforded a chance to give a proper housing and exposure to these things.

Report of the Directors
by William A. Wing

Another twelfth-month has passed in the activities of our society, expressed by the various reports of this evening.

We are justly proud that the Old Dartmouth Historical Society holds a recognized and unique place among historical associations.

During the last year the secretary has spent his spare time as librarian of the Rhode Island Historical Society, established in 1822. That organization is practically an historical library. The dignity of age and its methods resulting from long establishment and experience have made the past year one which will be, I am sure, productive of value to this society. Visits when possible to other societies and also from their representatives have been helpful. For the spirit of co-operation is especially necessary in this work as an aid against retrogression.

In Memoriam

Wilhelmina Crapo Clifford (a life member).
Annie Russell Holmes.
John Henry Howland.
Adeline J. James.
David Kinghorn.
Joseph Frank Knowles.
Thomas Henry Knowles.
Winthrop P. Knowles.
Elizabeth Perry Paige.
Henry Huttleston Rogers (a life member).
William Ervin Sargent.
Winfred T. Taft.

We realize the great loss to the community and to this society caused by the death of Henry H. Rogers, to whose generosity we owe this beautiful home, so well adapted to our needs. It is a fitting memorial to the donor and to his ancestors, who were among the earliest and most prominent in Old Dartmouth.

Each member will help this institution, so valuable and much needed in our city and vicinity, by the regular payment of annual dues. This can always be regulated by consulting your last membership card, which is in itself a receipt and memorandum.

By thrift, co-operation, and attention to detail grew from humble beginnings our Old Dartmouth to a great and flourishing community, and so with your help may its namesake, our Old Dartmouth Historical Society.

Report of the Treasurer
by William A. Mackie

William A. Mackie treasurer in account with Old Dartmouth Historical Society from March 29. 1909 to March 30, 1910:


Balance March 29, 1909                                   $383.02

To W. A. Wing, secretary, for dues………………..623.00

To W. A. Wing, secretary, for admissions…………71.25

To W. A. Wing, secretary, for publications………..17.10

To W. A. Wing, secretary, for life members…….. 50.00

To Merchants National Bank, dividend………….. 39.00

To Mechanics National Bank, dividend…………..105.00

To Commonwealth of Massachusetts, rebate of tax 50.56



By N. B. Institution for Savings, life members $50.00

By museum…………………………………55.75

By salaries………………………………..150.00

By labor……………………………………286.88

By repairs and improvements……….63.77

By current expenses…………………..555.58

Balance March 30, 1910                  176.95


Report of the Museum Section
by Annie Seabury Wood

Through the kindness of its many friends much has been done during the year now ended to increase the value and interest of the museum.

A beautiful old desk, belonging to Daniel Ricketson Sr., was given to the society, by his great grandchildren, Arthur, Anna and Walton Ricketson. Daniel Ricketson, son of John Ricketson, was born in Dartmouth in 1745 and died in New Bedford in 1824. The mahogany of which the desk is made was brought by him from Santo Domingo in a ship of which he was master. It is a most finished piece of workmanship, and we value it not only for its own beauty, but because it was the dearly prized possession of a family whose members have been, from the organization of the society, its staunch supporters and generous benefactors. We count ourselves fortunate, too, in coming into possession of an exceptionally fine figurehead from the old New Bedford whaleship Bartholomew Gosnold. A long story might be told about the ship, its voyages and its owners, and about the adventures of the figurehead after the ship was destroyed. Sufficient here to say, however, that it has most fittingly found a home with us at last.

The surveyor’s outfit of Henry Rowland Crapo, born 1804, died 1869, has been presented to the society. Its history is an interesting one. In 1829 Henry Howland Crapo was teaching in the High school at the Head of Westport. He was ambitious to be a land surveyor and had prepared himself, but he had no compass and no means to purchase one. His only alternative was to make one. Using the tools in the village blacksmith shop he constructed a compass and tripod and used them afterwards in many surveys of land within the territory of Old Dartmouth.

A short time ago, William F. Havemeyer of New York presented to the society an oil painting by William Bradford, which is considered one of the strongest of the artist’s pictures. The scene is off the northern coast of Greenland and the name of the picture is ‘The Ice Dwellers Watching the Invaders.’ The ship is the Panther and was hired by William Bradford for this expedition. Dr. Hayes, the explorer, was a member of the party, and it is interesting at this time to note that an uncle of ‘Capt. Bob’ Bartlett, who is to lecture under the auspices of this society on Friday night, was in command of the ship.

The Horace Smith loan collection has added greatly to the interest of the Alaskan room and to the Japanese and Chinese exhibit which has been arranged in the old directors’ room.

Only a beginning has been made in this work, but we feel sure it is the nucleus of a worthy exhibit in the future. Notable among the many other acquisitions is a group of models of Provincetown whaleships given by Abbott P. Smith; a photograph of Warren Delano given by Mrs. Delano-Forbes; the trimming for a parka or Alaskan coat, a most wonderful and artistic piece of work made of tiny pieces of deer hide and brought down from the far north by David H. Jarvis; a working sketch in water color painted in 1880 by Dodge McKnight for the drop curtain of Liberty Hall, given by William L. Sayer; and a pair of whale’s teeth, the largest ever brought into New Bedford, taken from a whale killed by Captain George Winslow of [the b]ark Desdemona.

Nathan C. Hathaway is constantly adding new treasures to his case of ivories, and it is safe to say that Mr. Hathaway’s case, the case of jagging wheels and the case of miscellaneous articles made on shipboard form a collection of ivories which is most valuable and unique and one which it would be impossible to duplicate.

The entertainment committee has presented several interesting talks and lectures during the winter; one by Clifford W. Ashley on a ‘Short Voyage on a Whaleship;’ one by Elizabeth Watson on Old Dartmouth, illustrated with stereopticon views shown by J. Arnold Wright; one by John Colby Abbott on ‘Colonial Dressing in America,’ and to conclude the season a lecture will be given on Friday night, April 1st, by Captain Bartlett of the Roosevelt. We trust he will be given a rousing welcome to New Bedford.

Report of the Historical Research Section
by Henry B. Worth

While the activities of this society are directed especially to historical events of ancient Dartmouth, yet the circle of its investigation may properly include persons and places in which Dartmouth men have been particularly concerned. Along the southern boundary of Buzzards Bay is a chain of islands constituting one of the towns of Dukes county to which the foregoing principle has a peculiar application, and this will plainly appear when the ownership of the islands is considered. Purchased originally by Thomas Mayhew in 1641 they remained in the possession of his family for nearly half a century. Before his death they were conveyed to purchasers who were never associated with Marthas Vineyard but whose names are illustrious in the colonial history of Dartmouth.

Penikese was transferred in 1686 to Daniel Wilcox and soon after to Peleg Slocum by whose descendants it was owned for over a century.

Cuttyhunk was purchased in 1674 by Peleg Sanford, Peleg Smith, Ralph Earle and Thomas Ward, who were well known in the affairs of Newport, and they conveyed the island to Peleg Slocum, in whose family it was held until in 1869 Otis Slocum conveyed it to the Cuttyhunk club. At one time it was called Sanford’s Island after one of its owners.

Nashawena was sold to the same four men, and among the subsequent owners were Slocums, Wrightingtons and Howlands, and in 1698 it was called Slocum’s island. In 1860 the entire island was acquired by Captain Edward Merrill.

Pasque was purchased by Daniel Wilcox and by him conveyed in 1696 to Abraham Tucker family until 1866 when it was secured by the Pasque Island club. For several generations it was well known as Tucker’s island.

Naushon and the small dependencies nearby were purchased by the Winthrops and later by the Bowdoins who founded the college in the state of Maine, and it was held by them until 1843 when a part interest was purchased by William W. Swain of New Bedford and the entire island was later owned by John M. Forbes.

So it clearly appears that the history of the land-owners of Dartmouth would not be complete without a consideration of the Elizabeth Islands. At a time when there is such keen interest in Indian place names and their meanings, it is opportune to consider the designations assigned to these islands by the red men.

There has been considerable liberty in changing names in this locality. The body of water which Gosnold called a sound was designated in 1686 by Governor Mayhew as ‘Monument Bay,’ the name probably being but another form of ‘Manomet.’ Later it was renamed ‘Buzzards Bay,’ but why or by whom has not been explained. Gosnold named the westernmost island “Elizabeth’s Island,’ and during the following century this name was appropriated to the entire group but the author of this change has not been discovered. The Indian group name met a singular fate, which will now be explained.

While these islands were still a part of the New York colony, in 1679, the authorities at Plymouth obtained the testimony of an Indian named ‘Old Hope’ which contained some important statements. He says the collective group name when the English came to this region, was ‘Nashanow.’ This name is derived from a well known Algonquin word meaning “between’ and is the basis of such names as Shawmut and Nashua. It alludes to the fact that this chain of islands is between the bay and the sound. The first liberty assumed by the English with this appropriate name was to abandon it altogether and substitute Elizabeth as the group name. Then they constructed two variations of the Indian word, one, Naushon they applied to the largest island, and Nashawena to the second in size.

The Nashanow islands are fifteen in number and according to Old Hope the name of the largest was Kattamucke, a name found in numerous locations occupied by the Algonquin nation. Its derivation is “Kehtamaug’ and means ‘the chief or principal fishing place.’ In 1734, in one deed, it was designated as ‘Catamuk, the great island or Tarpolin Cove Island.’ The name Naushon was adopted after 1753 when the island was purchased by the Bowdoins.

Between Naushon and the mainland are two islands, the west Uncatena and the east Nanomessett.

Uncatena also spelled Uncatincet and Onkatonka and paraphrased by modern fishermen ‘Uncle Timmy’, was stated by Old Hope to be ‘a neck of land or little island belonging to the great island called Kattamucke.’ The derivation seems to be ‘Uhque-kat-amest,’ which means ‘at the extremity of the greatest fishing-place,’ exactly the definition given by Old Hope.

Nanomeset is the island across the narrow passage from Woods Hole. Possibly its location is the origin of its name. The probable derivation is ‘Nanah am-esset’ and means ‘the little fishing-place at the Strait.’

Wepeckets, three in number, are situated in the bay southwest from Woods Hole. Dr. Trumbull stated that ‘Wepu’ signified ‘narrow.’ If this is the derivation the name means ‘at the Narrows,’ referring to the strait at Woods Hole.

Nonohansett in 1688 was described as an island near Tarpolin Cove. The derivation of the name is: ‘Munahansett’ and means ‘at the little island.’

Pasque is found also in the following forms: Pesketenneis and Peshchamesset; the word from which it is derived is the basis of the names Pascamensett, Pasket, Pascoag and Passaic. The meaning is ‘to burst asunder or to divide,’ but how this applies to Pasque is not clear. To render the name appropriate the island must divide something into two parts; thus Pascoag divides the river into two branches. The exact meaning of the name under consideration is still problematical.

Nashawena is merely a variation of the original group name in another form, the earliest on record is Asnawana.

Cuttyhunk is the name of the westernmost of the group, and is an abbreviation of Pohcuttohhunkkoh, which means ‘to dig up.’ The difficulty is to comprehend the local signification of the term. Dr. Trumbull suggested that the definition should be ‘cultivated,’ but Gosnold found the island not only barren and sterile but ‘unpeopled and disinhabited.’ Some of the English sojourners dug up sassafras and carried it away to Europe where it was of considerable value, and the name of the island may refer to this circumstance. But it must be admitted that no satisfactory reason has yet been given for this designation.

On the north side of the island is an enclosure called ‘the Pond.’ The beach separating this pond from Buzzards Bay was formerly called ‘Copicut,’ which means ‘enclosed.’ At the west end of the island is a small pond with a little rocky island in the center where Gosnold’s exploring party camped for twenty-two days in May, 1602, and where the monument is now located. The name of this island is ‘Quack’ which means ‘Rock-land.’ At the east side of the island is a long narrow neck probably once named ‘Canapitset’ but this name is now restricted to the strait separating Cuttyhunk from Nashawena. A meaning suggested is ‘a sitting on like a bird on a nest,’ which may refer to the fact that sea fowl resorted to this point as a resting place.

North of Cuttyhunk is the island called Penikese where Professor Agassiz established a summer school, and now is the location of the leper colony. Other forms of the name are Painochiset, and Puanakesset. A colloquial abbreviation is ‘Pune.’ The meaning has been suggested ‘at the falling or sloping land,’ but this is no more distinctive of this island than others, and the meaning of the name is still in doubt.

The principal names of this group have been arranged in rhyme as follows: Naushon, Nonamesset, Onkatonka and Wepecket, Nashawena, Pesquinesse, Cuttyhunk and Penequesse.

Report of the Publication Section
by William A. Wing

Old Dartmouth in contrast to those who dwelt within its ancient boundaries has known many sojourners, those “pilgrims and strangers who could tarry but a night.” Divers were their calls and diverse their comments!

Perhaps the most enthusiastic was John Brereton of the Gosnold expedition in 1602. “We stood a while like men ravished at the beautie and delicacie of this sweet life; for besides divers cleere Lakes of fresh water—Medowes very large, full of greene grass, even the most wooddy places doe grow so distinct and apart, one tree from another upon greene grassie ground, somewhat higher than the Planes, as if nature would show herself above her power artificiael.”

Doughty Benjamin Church in his reminiscences of King Philip’s War in 1675 graphically states “Appointing the Ruins of John Cooke’s House, for the place to meet followed the (Indians’) Track until they came near entering a miery Swamp, was told they had discovered an abundance of Indians. Calling one Mr. Dellano (Jonathan Delano) who was acquainted with the ground and the Indian language, were soon among the thickest of the Indians and perceived them gathering Hurtle Berries. An Indian woman told him if they went that way (towards Sconticut Neck) they would all be killed.”

In 1703-4 Thomas Story, an early English Friend of “good birth and education,” wrote of his visits, “We lodged (by invitation) with Peleg Slocum, where we were easy and well and next day being the first of the week, went to the meeting at Dartmouth, which was large and the blessed truth was over all to the glory of his great name. Had an appointed meeting at the house of one Thomas Hadaway (Hathaway) at a village called Cushnet, north of Dartmouth. He was ensign to a company of militia, but both he and his wife (Hebzibeth) were ready to admit of a meeting as at some other times before.”

This is not strange as the wife of Thomas Hathaway was Hepzebeth, daughter of the great Mary Starbuck, at whose home in Nantucket was held the first Friends’ meeting by John Richardson, Peleg Slocum and others.

The gentle John Woolman, whose journal President Eliot has placed on that small and much discussed shelf, made visits in 1747 and 1769 here, but gives but little detail regarding them. He writes in 1760: “Was at meetings in Dartmouth. From there sailed for Nantucket with Anne Gamet and Mercy Rodman of those parts and several other Friends.”

Major John Andre of romantic memory, tells of the British raid in 1778 in rather partisan terms: “We had a few men wounded by people lurking in the swamps and behind stone fences. The Rebels (Americans) carried from Bedford 4 pieces of brass cannon from which they fired a shot or two as they retired on the Boston Road. Three or four men of the enemy (Americans) were found bey-oneted, one an officer. They had fired at the advance party and were not alert enough to get off.”

Elias Hicks in 1793 writes: “Attended the monthly meeting at Apponegansett, alias Dartmouth, which proved a hard and painful session, things being much out of order with Friends there, most of the young people and some of those that were older were very raw and ungovernable so that the meeting was much interrupted by an almost continual going in and out, although frequently reproved for it.”

Elias Hicks’s teachings were somewhat at variance with that meeting, which may account somewhat for the uncomplimentary description. However, “Rode to New Bedford in company with our beloved Friend Thomas Rotch, and stayed at his house, where had a cordial reception and kind entertainment from him and his beloved wife (Charity Rodman), who appeared to be hopeful and young Friends.

The next day we attended their monthly meeting, which proved a very comfortable and edifying season. This monthly meeting was but newly settled and Friends appeared desirous of improvement and there were a number of prominent young Friends in the place.”

About 1805-06 John James Audubon took passage to New York on the New Bedford Brig Hope (belonging to Isaac Howland & Son) bound for Nantes. The captain had recently been married, and when the vessel reached the vicinity of New Bedford, Audubon writes: “Leaks were discovered which necessitated a week’s delay to repair, for (Audubon avers) the captain had holes bored in the vessel’s sides below the water line to gain an excuse to spend a few more days with his bride.” We regret that, as yet, owing to a lack of certain custom house accounts the name of the captain is not certain.

Audubon says he did not mind the delay, but enjoyed himself extremely rowing about the beautiful harbor.

In after years he knew New Bedford very well and numbered among his friends here James Arnold, Joseph Grinnell, William T. Russell, and Charles W. Morgan.

These brief extracts of travelers’ impressions during two centuries, now almost forgotten footnotes in the history of Old Dartmouth, are but suggestion of what we would preserve by our publication section. Anything in reminiscence, diary, letter or document that may throw a gleam of light upon a hitherto unseen or dimmed bit of Old Dartmouth’s history.

Report of the Educational Section
by Elizabeth Watson

The object of the education section for the past year has been the same as reported at the last annual meeting—the education and entertainment of the school children of Old Dartmouth. From time to time, as it seems practicable, classes of school children and their teachers are invited to the rooms of the society, where the various collections are shown and all possible information given.

Owing to circumstances not many schools have as yet had the opportunity to visit us; but we hope during the spring that much more will be accomplished.

In January the children and teachers of the Westport schools spent a morning at the rooms, and later over a hundred of the Dartmouth scholars came with their teachers. Both occasions were mutually satisfactory and interesting to the visitors and the committee.

By invitation of the committee, Miss Irene Belanger, of the last graduating class of the High school, read at the December meeting of the society, her Bourne prize essay. It was on local history, and was suggested by a visit to the historical rooms. It was one of the many gratifying results of the efforts of this committee to make the historical collection of value and interest to the younger generation.

Report of the Photograph Section
by William A. Wing

In 1704 John Russell, one of the “Russell Twins,” married Rebecca Ricketson in “Friends Way.” Their ancient certificate signed by them and the witnesses, early settlers and founders of the Society of Friends in Old Dartmouth, was tucked away for considerably over a century in an antique pocketbook in one of the oldtime homesteads. Afterwards it was borrowed by one whom it interested so much it was not returned for years, then later it was given a descendant, who had a photograph made. John and Rebecca Russell’s son Daniel wedded in 1740 Edith Howland. Their certificate contained the signatures of the ancestors of many of our members, but most blank places available were utilized for “casting accompts.” It was torn and crumbled and would have been burned as waste paper but was rescued just in time, and has now been photographed.

Elizabeth Russell, the daughter of John and Rebecca, married Abraham Tucker Jr. Their son, James Tucker, married in 1741 Ruth Tucker. Their marriage certificate is that of the third generation from John and Rebecca Russell, perhaps an unequalled instance of such papers, one generation after another. On each one has John Russell signed, once as the young bridegroom, in later years that as the father of the groom, and again as the grandfather of his oldest daughter’s son. A photograph of this one was made after some urgent solicitation. It is only such that kept this interesting manuscript from being sent to descendants living in San Francisco just before the fire. Its probable fate is too apparent.

Thus after various vicissitudes our photograph section has preserved permanently for the future generations these three ancient documents of so much meaning in the history of Old Dartmouth.