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Historic Nantucket

A Publication of the Nantucket Historical Association

Fall 2010 Volume 60, No. 3


Board of Trustees

Historic Nantucket A Publication of the Nantucket Historical Association

Fall 2010


Vol. 60, No. 3

Janet L. Sherlund, PRESIDENT Kenneth L. Beaugrand, 1ST VICE PRESIDENT


William R. Congdon, CLERK

Two Illustrated Nantucket Whaling Journals in the New Bedford Whaling Museum

William J. Boardman


Hampton S. Lynch Jr., 2ND VICE PRESIDENT Thomas J. Anathan, TREASURER

Constance Cigarran Franci N. Crane Denis H. Gazaille


Nancy A. Geschke Whitney A. Gifford Georgia Gosnell, TRUSTEE EMERITA Susan Zises Green

Bino, Old Jack, and Some Others: Pets on Whaleships DR . LESLIE W. OTTINGER


Mary D. Malavase Sarah B. Newton

12 Thomas Nickerson’s Account

Anne S. Obrecht Elizabeth T. Peek

of the Wreck of the Two Brothers

Christopher C. Quick



L. Dennis Shapiro Nancy M. Soderberg

13 Lost and Found in Papahänaumokuäkea Marine

Bette M. Spriggs Jason A. Tilroe

National Monument: The Possible Wreck Site of the Nantucket Whaleship Two Brothers



Editorial Committee


Richard L. Duncan


Peter J. Greenhalgh Amy Jenness


Cecil Barron Jensen Robert F. Mooney Elizabeth Oldham

From the Executive Director WILLIAM J . TRAMPOSCH

18 The Earliest Picture of the Essex Disaster

Nathaniel Philbrick


Bette M. Spriggs James Sulzer

20 NHA News Notes

Ben Simons EDITOR

Elizabeth Oldham

COVER: Composite of two log books. Top: William A. Folger, “A True Specimen of a New Zealand Whale,” pencil, ink, and watercolor on paper, KWM #822, Courtesy of the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Bottom: Anonymous artist, the ship Ganges of Nantucket taking a pilot outward bound, ca. 1849, pencil and watercolor on paper. ODHS #1014, Courtesy of the New Bedford Whaling Museum.


Historic Nantucket welcomes articles on any aspect of Nantucket history. Original research; firsthand accounts; reminiscences of island experiences; historic logs, letters, and photographs are examples of materials of interest to our readers.

Eileen Powers/Javatime Design

©2010 by the Nantucket Historical Association


Historic Nantucket (ISSN 0439-2248) is published by the Nantucket Historical Association, 15 Broad Street, Nantucket, Massachusetts. Periodical postage paid at Nantucket, MA, and additional entry offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Historic Nantucket, P.O. Box 1016, Nantucket, MA 02554 –1016; (508) 228–1894; fax: (508) 228–5618, For information log on to


Historic Nantucket

Printed in the USA on recycled paper, using vegetable-based inks.


Into the Deep America,Whaling & theWorld BILL TRAMPOSCH


his issue of Historic Nantucket is about whaling. Although our island’s history is rich in so many other ways, the whaling era is of course what has defined this “elbow of sand.” As a complement to this issue, we hope that readers have by now seen the remarkable documentary, Into the Deep: America,Whaling & the World. Produced by acclaimed filmmaker Ric Burns, this two-hour epic envelops us in the history of the American whaling era, capturing the romance and the ghastly realities of the industry in such ways as to make us feel, at times, like shipmates in the search for leviathan. Of course, for a producer to tell this story required that he and his crew spend time in the industry’s one-time “capital.” Ric Burns and his Steeplechase team had come to Nantucket several times prior to the launching of the film this April. Those of us on staff who witnessed (and assisted with) these visits were greatly impressed with the crew’s nearcarnivorous curiosity about this place and its significance. NHA board president Janet Sherlund graciously provided accommodations for the crew at her property in ’Sconset, and I mention this not only because we are grateful, but also because Janet reports to having little recollection of seeing them during any of their visits: Each

day would begin at 4 A. M. and end perhaps as late as midnight. While the crew’s activities were well planned and the result of myriad cell-phone calls at all hours, we noted that all of this could (and did often) change in an instant because of the promise of a dramatic sunset, or, perhaps, a call stating that it was possible, after all, to ascend the Unitarian Church tower. Furthermore, one day’s drama might feature low (very low!) flyovers in a helicopter, catching waves at Surfside, Coatue, or Brant Point Light, while another day might be all about the precise filming (and refilming) of a diminutive whaleoil lamp shedding light on a map or manuscript. The NHA’s remarkable collections, from scrimshaw to rare Essex material, were front and center in the filming. It was an education for all of us to watch Ric and his crew at work. When you see the dramatic opening of Into the Deep, think also of the generosity of ’Sconseter Joe Arvay, of The Corners, who shared with Ric and us his extensive collection and knowledge of whale-oil lighting implements. During these visits to Nantucket, Ric Burns was also working on another film, a twenty-minute “gateway” film for the Nantucket Historical Association that will be unveiled in the summer of 2011. This film, benefiting greatly from the efforts it took to make

Into the Deep, will capture the essence of Nantucket and its rich history, both natural and human. It will do this in ways that are much less didactic than affective—ways that have made Ric Burns and his Steeplechase Films famous. Steeplechase has also produced The History of New York; Eugene O’Neill; The Donner Party; Into the West, to name a few, and most of their work has been in concert with WGBH’s American Experience initiative. We are very excited about our “gateway” film, for it will serve as a short, transformative experience that all Nantucketers and their guests will want to see. The Nantucket Historical Association “preserves and interprets Nantucket history,” and this film will be an eloquent example of how we work to “interpret.” Greater Light, meanwhile, will be completed in 2011, and the restoration will represent, as eloquently, ways in with our association strives to “preserve” Nantucket history for the future. Into the Deep appears on the WGBH Web site, and copies of the DVD are available in the NHA Museum Shop, or by request to shop manager Georgina Winton (


Executive Director

Fall 2010




Historic Nantucket

By Michael P. Dyer

By 1850, the “long, proud roll” of Nantucket’s whaling fleet was diminished in numbers from its legendary and pioneering days of the 1820s. Earlier even than that, before the long, difficult war-torn and depressed decades of the American Revolution and the War of 1812, her colonial fleet numbered over a hundred vessels. While the fleet may have shrunk in numbers by the mid-nineteenth century, the pride of Nantucket’s whalemen, navigators, seamen, and mariners never diminished. Those “sea hermits . . . issuing from their ant-hill in the sea” have left a long and fascinating trail of documentation, rich in illustration and detailed in geographical knowledge, providing fascinating insight into the American experience in global seafaring in the nineteenth century. Left: William A. Folger, title page of Folger’s journal kept onboard of the ship Monticello of Nantucket, 1851. KWM #822 Courtesy of the New Bedford Whaling Museum

Below: Anonymous artist, the ship Ganges of Nantucket off and about Norfolk Island, February 29, 1850, pencil and watercolor on paper.

Anonymous artist, the ship Ganges of Nantucket taking a pilot outward bound, ca. 1849, pencil and watercolor on paper. ODHS #1014 Courtesy of the New Bedford Whaling Museum

ODHS #1014 Courtesy of the New Bedford Whaling Museum

Fall 2010


Two whaling journals held at the New Bedford Whaling Museum illustrate Nantucket’s whaling culture with remarkable immediacy. The persistence of art in the milieu of the alternatingly tedious, and harrowing, commercial deep-ocean hunt speaks volumes about the culture of the individual American whaleman. From the viewpoint of common mariners, the opening passages of each journal define the shifting arena of challenges faced, as the larger, deep-draft ships maneuvered across the bar of Nantucket harbor and outfitted at Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard. For one of the journals, that of the ship Ganges, the behind-the-scenes story of her agent, Barker Burnell Jr., proves to be as fascinating as the journal itself. On September 12, 1849, the ship Ganges, Thomas Coffin 2nd master, “caim over the bar in the camils [sic].” They sailed immediately to Edgartown and anchored for the night, presumably to complete their outfitting. The next day they set sail past Nantucket’s Great Point and Sankaty Head, where they left the pilot and “steered for New Zealand and then cruis for a voige [sic].” Such oft-told tales like that of the bargelike “camels,” essentially a floating dry dock that Nantucketer Peter Ewer created to lift whaleships over the sandbar at the mouth of the harbor, never come to life as well as when the whalemen themselves describe the event as this journal keeper did. The anonymous chronicler of this voyage, while not a reliable speller, kept a good account of events and was a skilled and determined artist. He drew many of the vessels seen and spoken by the Ganges on the voyage as well as the exotic landfalls of the South Pacific. He evidently also designed his own sperm-whale profile logbook stamps, as numerous large stamps (seven inches long) adorn the front and back pages of the volume. Artistic skills like his were often employed by serious mariners as aids to navigation, use for future reference, and probably for their own amusement on these long voyages. Below: Anonymous artist, the ship Ganges of Nantucket at Apoler [sic] Navigator Islands, May 2, 1850, pencil and watercolor on paper. ODHS #1014 Courtesy of the New Bedford Whaling Museum

In the finest tradition of Nantucket whaling, the Ganges was a sperm whaler. Her master, Thomas Coffin 2nd, had been hunting sperm whales since at least 1835 without a break of more than a few months.


Historic Nantucket

The anonymous chronicler of this voyage, while not a reliable speller, kept a good account of events and was a skilled and determined artist.

Above: Anonymous artist, the ship Ganges of Nantucket at Baring’s Island, August 31, 1850, pencil and watercolor on paper. ODHS #1014 Courtesy of the New Bedford Whaling Museum

William A. Folger, frontispiece illustration of Monticello journal, pencil, ink and watercolor on paper. KWM #822 Courtesy of the New Bedford Whaling Museum

He commanded the ship Mary of Nantucket, managed by Daniel Jones, on two voyages to the Pacific—1835 to 1839 and 1839 to 1843. He next commanded the Henry Astor, managed by William R. Easton, on another voyage to the Pacific, 1844 to 1848. By following the successful pattern, established since the 1820s by Nantucket sperm whalers, of cruising around New Zealand, along the Equator, and off the west coast of South America, he filled up his vessel on every voyage. The Ganges, likewise, returned to her owner, Barker Burnell Jr. (1819–61), 1,800 barrels of sperm oil worth $1.20 per gallon in July of 1853, of which money Burnell was, no doubt, sorely in need! Barker Burnell Jr. was cashier of the Manufacturers and Mechanics Bank of Nantucket and was accused of embezzling $130,000 of capital stock between 1843 and 1845. He was arrested, indicted, tried and ultimately acquitted but the bank nonetheless collapsed and took a significant amount of the island’s whaling industry with it. The Ganges was the only vessel for which he is listed as agent, although he invested in many other voyages and whaling-related interests. This 1849 to 1853 voyage of the Ganges is the last for which Burnell appears as a managing agent. As for the voyage itself, it was formulaic, and the journal keeper does a good job of keeping day-to-day entries. On the outward passage, Captain Coffin cruised past St. Vincent in the Cape Verde Islands, a profile of which the keeper duly drew, and then south around the Cape of Good Hope, making a straight-wake for the Tasman Sea, where their first sperm whales were taken in January of 1850. While cruising in the region, the journal keeper painted these far-off islands of the South Pacific in watercolor. Norfolk Island, for instance, he drew approaching from the southwest showing its settlement at Kingston on Sydney Bay, with the small Nepean Island and the larger Phillip Island. The keeper of the Ganges journal went beyond simply recording the outlines of landfalls for reference in navigation. He also detailed events in his pictures as they transpired. For instance, when the Ganges made harbor at Apia, Upolu Island, in

the Navigator Group (Samoa), he drew the entrance to the harbor, its anchorage, and the general appearance of the town ashore. He did the same thing at Baring’s Island, Namorik, of the Marshall Islands, showing the Ganges surrounded by the islanders’ canoes as they came off to trade hats, fowls, and coconuts. This volume is a particularly useful example in interpreting the veracity of such pictorial sources as primary evidence, not only because the pictures themselves are informative, but also because at a certain point about halfway through the volume the drawings stop appearing even though the entries continue to be spaced in a way that suggests the keeper meant to include artworks such as ships spoken and landfalls but never did; they were perhaps added at a later date and not as the events transpired. The voyage of the ship Monticello, on the other hand, was in some ways an atypical Nantucket voyage. Like the Ganges, the Monticello cruised for sperm whales around the Tasman Sea, the South Pacific, and New Zealand. Unlike most Nantucket voyages, however, the Monticello then proceeded to cruise to the Arctic for bowhead whales. The journal itself, kept by William A. Folger, is a masterpiece of whalemen’s art. He includes watercolor illustrations of all of the house flags of Nantucket and New Bedford vessels, a complete broadside portrait of the Monticello, an elaborate title page, a curious rendering of a sperm whale, and an important captioned illustration of a sperm whale that offers insights into the natural history of this animal in the seas around New Zealand. Folger, it seems, like Stubb in Moby-Dick, may have considered whalebone whales like the bowhead and right whales to be “ignoble” and a “foul lump of lard.” His frontispiece painting of a sperm whale captioned “A Good Catch” also includes the cryptic words written inside the whale’s mouth above its teeth: “Nantucket Whalebone.” This certainly implies that Nantucketers saw the sperm whale as their particular quarry and the beast’s great ivory teeth as their Fall 2010


own product. He was certainly glad to get clear of the Arctic. After cruising for six months along Kamschatka and in the Bering Sea, he noted with glee “Adieu to the frozen regions for we are bound away!” Folger was careful to illustrate the quality of sperm whales and the good whaling grounds to be found around New Zealand. His illustration “A True Specimen of a New Zealand Whale” is marked under the fin with the number “100,” signifying a one-hundredbarrel sperm whale—a very large animal. Signing his name and the name of his vessel to this picture signifies the pride that ran strong through these Nantucket sperm whalers. On the next page he drew what, to a Nantucket whalemen, was a fine sight indeed: “A Shoal of 60 bbl. Whales off the North Cape of New Zealand.” William A. Folger and the anonymous journal keeper onboard the ship Ganges met and gammed on Wednesday, May 14, 1851. Each recorded the meeting in his journal, and Folger noted that the Ganges was out thirty months with a thousand barrels of sperm oil. Within a few years, the Ganges would be condemned at Talcahuano, Chile, and the Monticello would be sold to New London, Connecticut, where she would make seven more voyages before being lost in the Western Arctic disaster of 1871. By that time, Nantucket was completely out of the business, but not before having left superb records of her sperm-whaling heritage. Michael P. Dyer is the maritime curator at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.


Historic Nantucket

William A. Folger, “A shoal of 60 bbl Whales off the North Cape of New Zealand,” ink and watercolor on paper. KWM #822 Courtesy of the New Bedford Whaling Museum

William A. Folger, “A True Specimen of a New Zealand Whale,” pencil, ink, and watercolor on paper. KWM #822 Courtesy of the New Bedford Whaling Museum

Bino, Old Jack, and Some Others

Pets on Whaleships By Dr. Leslie W. Ottinger

General Note to the NHA Research Library Manuscript Collection 220: Whaling Logbooks and Journals The description of NHA Collection 220 is that it consists of: “Logs, generally kept by captains or first mates of ships, chiefly sailing out of Nantucket, Mass., including information on longitude and latitude, weather, ships sighted, record of whales seen and/or taken, crew members, cargo, and ports visited, and sometimes containing poems and drawings; and journals, often written by captains’ wives or other passengers, relating to such sights and events as crew punishments, illness, or contact with natives.” Through donations and active acquisitions, the collection presently includes 393 logs, journals, and other items documenting whaling cruises, most between 1825 and 1855. A few items are fragmentary and others have been made largely illegible through what was an unfortunate practice of using them as scrapbooks, but approximately two hundred logs are relatively complete and readable. They document, usually in meticulous detail, the events of whaling cruises. No doubt in order to provide ship owners with sufficient information to satisfy them as to the affairs and effort of the captain and crew, they contain an entry for every day and often each eight-hour watch. The journals, although intended for the personal use of the keeper, almost always follow the same pattern.

Right: Monkey from the log of the whaleship American, November 1, 1833. MS 220 Log 16; Above: Dolly Bristles from the log of the whaleship Richard Mitchell, June 30, 1833. MS 220 Log 319


fforts to summarize and classify items in Collection 220 were made in the past, but these lists were very restricted because of limitations in data storage and accessibility. More recently, in 1997, a new, comprehensive program was instituted to extract useful material from each log and journal and to store and make the information available in the library’s computer data bank. Betsy Lowenstein, then director of the NHA Research Library and Archives, selected a comprehensive indexing list and set her volunteers to work extracting material and, under her close supervision, entering it into the library database. The list begins with “abandonment of ship” and “accidents,” and ends with “women” and “wrecks,” and covers a hundred and thirty subjects. Also included are the range of the voyage, including ports and land sightings, the dates on which whales were taken, and a list of ships spoken. Data from nearly one third of the usable logs and journals have now been entered and are available in the database on line. Whereas looking for material pertaining to a specific subject in the logs was formerly an extremely formidable and almost impossible task, this is no longer true. To illustrate, the material to be used in this article was found by searching such topics as animals, dogs, cats, etc. As the information from more and more logs is entered, searches of this kind will obviously become increasingly rewarding. As might be expected, the pets most mentioned are dogs. Owen Chase, first mate during the ill-fated encounter of the Essex with a large whale in 1819, and by now master of the Charles Carroll, reported in 1839: This day lost my famous mut Dog over board and was Dround—What a pity.1 Whereas, Samuel Coffin of the Lima was able to relate that The dog fell overboard—lowered a boat and got him.2 The unknown keeper of Fall 2010


Pets he has paid the debt of nature. the great power whom we all acknowledge has seen fit to remove him from this troublesome world. Tread lightly Shipmates. Though but a dog he was beloved by all the pride and pet of all our crew his kind disposition and winning manners whenever he sought to please secured to him the friend ship of many. But mourn not for him for he sleeps on the beach Vavaoo’s lonely Isle. His Requiem the waves are chanting all the while (7/11/57). 8

“Mr. Hogg,” from journal kept by Eliza S. Brock aboard the whaleship Lexington, October 2, 1854. MS 220 Log 136 the log of the Richard Mitchell reported in 1851 that, Master’s dog, Rover, died at 4 P.M. of Dropsey after 19 days sick; faithful companion for 8 years.3 Captain Edward C. Joy noted from the Constitution in 1836, At 7 1⁄2 AM our poor dog Murphy came to his end under a boat and was committed to the deep.4 And we learn of Mrs. Brayton’s Dog, Carlow on the Columbia in 1850: Mrs Brayton has been confined below Decks for the last few Days on account of Seasickness and Extreme BadWeather. Mrs Brayton is a Lady Passenger and has been left from the wreck of ship Isabella of New Bedford whose Captain was her Husband (Capt. John Brayton) a worthy gentleman was dead when the Ship was wrecked, 3/28/50. At 5 PM Mrs Brayton’s dog (Carlow by name) departed this life while in a violent fit, very suddenly. 5

Captain Crosby and his dog Dash were passengers on the ship Nantucket in 1857.6 The dog of Captain Hedge of the ship Elizabeth, borrowed for a few days, was returned when Captain Hedge came to the Susan to recover him in 1843. Eliza Brock, who accompanied her husband, Captain Peter C. Brock, on the Lexington in 1853, reported that Jack Jones was put in safe keeping for stealing a dog from a native and striking an old chief, and fined twenty-five dollars. The captain refused paying so large a sum and Jones was carried back to the calaboose. This was at the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, in 1855.7 And then there is the sad tale of Bino of the Edward Carey. There is a note that a dog, perhaps Bino, had been obtained from the Daniel Webster in 1856. At any rate, when anchored in the Vava’u Islands in the South Pacific, Joseph Ray, a boatsteerer, who kept the log, reported: Starboard watch ashore took Bino with them he was taken in fits and ran away At Sundown nowhere to be found offered a large reward for him (7/8/54). Starboard watch ashore found Bino and took him aboard the Ship great was the joy of all on the occasion but the poor fellows sight is gone for Ever he is Blind (7/9/54).Bino is no more.



Historic Nantucket

And if there were rats, there must have been cats. And there were rats. From the Mariner in 1841: Employed in stowing our sails not in use in casks to keep them from being destroyed by rats which have begun to be troublesome. And, seven weeks later, while anchored in Callao, Peru: smoking ship for rats; opened the hatchways and found a large number of dead rats.9 Aboard the Constitution in the Galapagos Islands in 1848: Firing up to kill rats; Took off the hatches but did not find any dead ones; Fired up and on hatches again; At 2 PM took off the hatches and it put a person in mind of the field of Palo Alto to see the dead rats laying around.10 So we find from the Richard Mitchell in 1834, Mouse puss delivered of 3 dead kits.11 and the Norman in 1858: Ashore at Peels Island— besides provisions they brought aboard a cat.12 From the Mary Mitchell in 1835, the Kitten fell overboard. Lowered a boat but did not find her.13 And from the Maria in 1833: At 6 AM our poor cat (which had ever been so good-natured the voyage thus far) was found dead in the storage. A Jury of inquest was called and they gave it their unanimous opinion that she came by her death in consequence of surfeiting too much on fish.14

Other miscellaneous pets included a goldfinch along with a dog from the bark Brune of Bordeaux and two parroquets from Macauley Island in 1854 to the Edward Carey.8 Susan Veeder, who cruised with her husband on the Nauticon from 1848 until 1853, received from a brig bound for Lisbon some birds and a monkey. David, the monkey, died two-and-a-half years later and was buried at sea.15 Finally, the log of the American records that their monkey was lost overboard in 1838.16 As to other animals, whaleships often resembled floating barnyards, no doubt contributing to what was often described as their overpowering stench. And inevitably, some of the members of their living larder eventually became pets. Outward bound, the Edward Carey had taken on fresh supplies at Fayal in the Azores. Sixteen months later, there is the rather cryptic note: Discharged two passengers Byrons Island Mr William Goat and Mrs Nancy Goat both natives of Fayal.8 Too old or too dear for the table? And then there were Dolly Bristles and Old Jack. Dolly Bristles was a longtime resident on the Richard Mitchell. We take up her story in 1834: At 10 AM Dolly bristles was delivered of 7 as fine pigs as ever blest a mother. A week later: At ½ past 2 oclock PM Dolly long face departed this life for the land of hoggs after an illness of 6 days during

Turtle, hogs, and other creatures from logs of the Richard Mitchell (Log 319), Congress (Log 28), American (Log 16), Constitution (Log 64).

which time she had every medical attendance that her situation afforded she had ever lived an honest upright life and enriched the good will of all of her shipmates she left a young and very helpless family who mourn for her with a noise that can better be imagined than described (with those that are acquainted with pig squealings).11

And from the log of the Three Brothers in 1853:

unhurt after an hour19 and lightning that so damaged the Susan in 1843 that only the assistance of the nearby Obed Mitchell prevented her from sinking.6 And imagine my surprise, in the first log I worked on, finding a lock of hair from George W. Riddell, who died of consumption on the Maria in 1844: at 11 0’clock we lay him out in a white shirt and everything that was decent . . . in the morning i cut a lock of hair from his head and put it in a book that i had of his called the life of Lorenzo Dow . . . He has gone where the wicked cease from troubling and the weri are at rest.20 There are several other important collections of American whaling logs. Notable ones, for example, are held at the New Bedford Whaling Museum and in the Providence Public Library. Other logs are widely scattered in libraries, and many are no doubt still to be found in family and private collections. Unfortunately, they remain a splendid but largely inaccessible source of the experiences, vernacular, and even emotions of whalers. Dr. Leslie W. Ottinger, a physician, retired to Nantucket in 1996. He has been a volunteer reader of whaling logs and journals in the Research Library since 1999 and has contributed several articles to Historic Nantucket.

At 2 PM orders was given by the old man to kill Old Jack and preparations made accordingly at one half past 2. He fell beneath the steel ofWilliam Channing and great was the fall thereof. Oh bloodiest picture in the book of time, That grunter fell unwept without a crime, Dropped from his nerveless jaw a half gnawed ear, Closed his dark eye and curbed his high career, Hope for a season bade the sty farewell, And porkers squealed when that big grunter fell. Alas for poor Jack. He was one of his kind that could bear some severe thumps without a grunt or squeal.We have laughed at his famous battles with the dog for grub.We have laughed at his other sports which will take too much time to enumerate but suffice to say that he will make good dinners but with a sigh will I think of my old shipmate as I put my knife and fork into some of his tender flesh. He was born on board ship Three Brothers in Okhotsk Sea May 30th. Died with a knife being run in his throat. Died as he lived, a peaceable citizen.17

The work on the NHA log collection continues to be advanced slowly by volunteers. And for those of us involved in the project of reading and cataloging the material, the work is in itself a remarkable experience; to open a log and begin to read for perhaps the first time for more than a century the words so carefully recorded; to find in the margins the names of people at home or notes of homesickness or dreams. And to come to expect surprises. A severe squall of rain from the SE attended with tremendous thunder that seemed to shake the whole universe and such sharp lightning that the world seemed to be in a continual blaze.18 Lightning that split the mast of the Charles Carroll and struck senseless Charles Gilchrest at the helm, only to have him come to

Footnotes 1 Log 36, Charles Carroll, 1836–40, master Owen Chase, keeper. 2 Log 138, Lima, 1838–41, mate Samuel C. Coffin, keeper. 3 Log 307, Richard Mitchell, 1848–52, Robert McCleave master, keeper unknown. 4 Log 64, Constitution, 1835–39, master Edward C. Joy, keeper. 5 Log 43, Columbia, 1846–50, master Joseph C. Chase, keeper. 6 Log 339, Nantucket, 1855–59, Richard C. Gibbs Jr., keeper. 7 Log 136, Lexington, 1853–56, journal kept by Eliza Brock. 8 Log 73, Edward Carey, 1854–58, Joseph Ray, boatsteerer, keeper. 9 Log 149, Mariner, 1840–44, keeper unknown. 10 Log 66, Constitution, 1857–52, keeper unknown. 11 Log 319, Richard Mitchell, 1831–34, John Conant, keeper. 12 Log 165, Norman, 1855–60, keeper unknown. 13 Log 242, Mary Mitchell, 1835–36, Joseph McCleave Jr., keeper. 14 Log 331, Maria, 1832–36, Charles Murphey, keeper. 15 Log 347, Nauticon, 1848–53, journal kept by Susan C. Austin Veeder. 16 Log 16, American, 1838–41, master David Baker, keeper. 17 Log 367, Three Brothers, 1851–54, Tobias Tyler and Charles Coffin, keepers. 18 Log 102, Harvest, 1828–31, George Washington Gardner Jr., third mate, keeper. 19 Log 359, Charles Carroll, 1840–43, Charles Gilchrest, keeper. 20 Log 342, Maria, 1843–46, Charles C. Mooers, keeper. Fall 2010



Thomas Nickerson’s Account of the Wreck of the Two Brothers By Ben Simons

Nickerson’s account of the “Loss of the Ship Two Brothers of Nantucket.” MS 106 F3.5

After surviving the harrowing ordeal of the whaleship Essex, Captain George Pollard Jr. returned to Nantucket aboard the whaleship Two Brothers, arriving on August 5, 1821, to a huge crowd of some 1,500 gathered to witness the tragic captain’s homecoming. According to one eye witness, “the cliffs and wharves were lined with spectators . . . . [Captain Pollard] walked home through an awe-struck, silent crowd.” Remarkably, he was immediately entrusted with command of the whaleship that had brought him home, Two Brothers. Even more amazing, he was accompanied on the voyage by fellow survivor and former Essex cabin boy Thomas Nickerson, now promoted to boatsteerer. The date of sail of the Two Brothers was November 26, 1821—one year and six days from the date of the Essex attack. Pollard’s and Nickerson’s fate had been cruel, but with the amazing sang froid of the Nantucket whalemen, they returned to the bosom of their profession. Pollard’s famous response to the scene of the Essex attack had been: “My God, Mr. Chase, what is the matter?” Owen Chase said of his fellow crew at the time, “We looked at each other with perfect amazement, deprived almost of the power of speech.” But the seasoned whalemen had taken immediate action on the Essex— gathering supplies and navigational equipment, preparing the whaleboats—all examples of good decision-making under pressure that led to measures that would affect their ultimate survival. Now, picture the scene aboard the Two Brothers in February 1823. Cruising in consort with the whaleship Martha to the west of the Sandwich (Hawaiian) Islands, she was separated from her sister ship, and, caught by a severe gale, navigation became difficult. Thomas Nickerson, the great chronicler of the Essex disaster, penned a brief but poignant account of events as they transpired on February 11, 1823: It was raining and blowing hard at Seven Bells with a high rolling Sea, one of the men remarked that the water alongside looked whiter than usual. I had stepped into the Cabin to get my water Coat when I observed the Captain standing upon the railing and looking over the davit into the Sea. I had just put my hand upon my Coat when the Ship Struck with a fearful Crash which whirled me head foremost to the other side of the Cabin.I gathered myself up as quick as I was able,Supposing that we had run into some passing Ship.I sprang upon deck and you may judge of my astonishment to find ourselves Surrounded with Breakers apparently Mountains high, and our Ship Carreenning [sic] over upon her broadside and thumping so heavily that one Could Scarcely Stand upon his feet.

It is interesting that Nickerson thinks immediately of having struck another ship, not realizing that they had grounded on a coral reef in shallow water—he apparently makes no association back to the calamity that he had recently endured. His description of Captain



Historic Nantucket

Pollard, however, points to a more haunted vision: Capt. Pollard Seemed to Stand amazed at the Scene before him. . . .

Once again, the mates and other whalemen respond quickly and efficiently: Under the Swift management of the two mates Mr. Eben Gardner and CharlesW.Riddell two boats were got clear of the wreck and all hands Crowded into them Saveing nothing but what they Stood in. Capt.pollard reluctantly got into the boat just as they were about to Shove off from the Ship.

A thousand unspoken thoughts, and indeed Pollard’s whole character, can be found hidden in that lowercase “p”: “Capt. pollard.” Nickerson also turned the episode of the Two Brothers wreck into a lengthy, rolling poem, the highlight of which is precisely the moment of Pollard’s nearly suicidal paralysis: Deep lost in thought, his reasoning powers had flown, He Cared for Others Safety, not his own, And when the boats prepared, he lingered yet, And Seemed his own Salvation, to forget.

In a note, Nickerson writes, “The Capt when Calld upon, could scarcely be prevailed upon to embark.” Finally, Pollard joins the crew in the boats. Nickerson tells that after passing a “dismal night among the reefs and breakers, at day break we discovered a Ship within the reefs and to our joy as we approached her we could discover that she Rode To her anchor Easy and Clear of the Bottom.” Their salvation came in the form of their consort whaleship Martha. In sharp contrast to the aftermath of the Essex attack, no tragedy ensued, apart from the material loss of the ship, which lay on the sea floor in the vicinity of French Frigate Shoals, protected by the ocean until modern discovery could unearth her scattered remains. Nickerson wrote: “We had not seen a vestage of Our ill fated Ship nor have I heared that a vestage of her has ever been Seen Since.” Twice was too many for Captain George Pollard Jr. He considered himself, and not his vessels, to be “ill-fated.” In a superstitious industry, he chose to hang up his hat and retire (he would captain a merchant vessel, and then return to Nantucket to become the town’s night watchman). A scarred man, in Nickerson’s terse words, “Captain Pollard Returned [from Oahu to Nantucket] in the Brig Pearl of Boston and relinquished theWhaling business for ever.” Ben Simons is Robyn & John Davis Chief Curator of the Nantucket Historical Association and editor of Historic Nantucket.



Found In Papahänaumokuäkea Marine National Monument: The Possible Wreck Site of the Nantucket Whaleship Two Brothers By Kelly Gleason, Ph. D. Jason T. Raupp, Ph. D. Candidate

One of four large trypots discovered at an unidentified whaling shipwreck site at French Frigate Shoals in the NWHI (the “Shark Island Whaler”).

Fall 2010



Lost Found

Manyare familiarwith the fate. . .



Historic Nantucket


Maritime archaeologists Cathy Green and Jason Raupp document artifacts at an unidentified whaling shipwreck site at French Frigate Shoals (the “Shark Island Whaler”).

of the Nantucket whaleship Essex, stove by a whale in the Pacific Ocean and well known as the inspiration for Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. After the tragedy of the Essex, Captain George Pollard Jr. and other survivors endured a journey of more than ninety days in small boats that resulted in sickness; starvation; and, ultimately, cannibalism. However, that dramatic experience was not the final chapter in Pollard’s career as a whaling captain. After his return to Nantucket, Pollard was entrusted with command of the whaleship Two Brothers, a vessel smaller than the Essex at 217 tons. The Two Brothers set sail for the Pacific, leaving Nantucket on November 26, 1821. She made her way around Cape Horn, up the west coast of South America, and headed for newly discovered whaling grounds in the Pacific. Sailing in consort with the whaleship Martha, they encountered stormy weather in the vicinity of French Frigate Shoals in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands [NWHI]. Not long afterwards, the ship struck a reef and was surrounded by breakers. Stunned by the disaster and by his recurrent misfortune, Captain Pollard was reluctant to abandon the ship. The crew pleaded with their captain to get into the small boats, to which they clung for survival throughout the night. When they awoke, the crew found the Martha anchored in the lee of a fifty-foot-tall rock (now called La Perouse Pinnacle). The Martha rescued the entire crew of Two Brothers and headed back to Oahu. Captain Pollard’s career as a whaling captain was over, but the story of the Two Brothers remains on the seafloor at French Frigate Shoals within Papahänaumokuäkea Marine National Monument [PNMN]. The story of this shipwreck, and the possibility of discovering its remains, connects the small island of Nantucket with one of the largest protected marine areas in the world. Papahänaumokuäkea Marine National Monument lies beyond the main eight populated islands of Hawaii. The low-lying atolls of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) contain years of seafaring history and the stories of over a hundred and twenty

Kure Atoll (Kanemiloha`i) Known: Gledstanes (1837) Parker (1842)

Whaling Ships Lost in Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument

Midway Atoll (Pihemanu) Lisianski Island (Papa`apoho) Reported: Holder Borden (1844) Konohasset (1846)

Pearl and Hermes (Holoikauaua)

Gardner Pinnacles (Puhahonu)

Known: Pearl (1822) Hermes (1822)

Necker Island (Mokumanamana)

Laysan Island (Kauo)

N cer Tropic of Can

Reported: Unidentified American Whaler (pre 1859)

French Frigate Shoals (Mokupapapa)

Maro Reef (Nalukakala)


Known: Shark Island Whaler (1844)

Nihoa Island

Reported: Two Brothers (1823) South Seaman (1859) Daniel Wood (1867)

shipwrecked vessels and sunken aircraft. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) and PMNM Maritime Heritage Programs are committed to preserving these resources, and to date maritime archaeologists have documented many vessel and aircraft wreck sites in these remote islands and atolls. Efforts to fully document these sites are ongoing, along with work to interpret and share these virtually inaccessible time capsules with the public. The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are geographically and historically remarkable. On June 15, 2006, President George W. Bush established the Papahänaumokuäkea Marine National Monument. Management of its resources includes the natural, cultural, and maritime-heritage resources of this remote and dramatic place.The surrounding waters contain a large percentage of all coral reefs found under United States’ jurisdiction and support more than seven thousand marine species, of which one quarter are unique to the Hawaiian Islands chain. In addition, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands have been an area of continuous maritime activity for hundreds of years. The legacy of seafaring can be seen in the record of over sixty known ship losses and over sixty-seven known aircraft crashes in these remote atolls. Vessel activities included exploration, merchant shipping, fishing, guano mining, military use, wrecking, and salvage. As a result of these activities, the wrecks of fishing vessels, copra traders, Japanese sampans, trans-Pacific colliers and bulk carriers, as well as U.S. and Japanese Naval vessels and aircraft are known to have occurred. Whaling activities in the Pacific in the early- to mid-1800s also form an important part of the seafaring legacy of the NWHI, and the material remains of this era can be seen on the Monument’s seafloor. This string of tiny islands, atolls, shoals, and banks possess the remains of at least ten whaling vessels reported lost in the most remote archipelago on earth. In the first half of the nineteenth century, global whaling

operations spread north into the Pacific in search of lucrative whaling grounds off South America; Australia; Japan; and, finally, the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea. Hawaii won its place on whalers’ charts soon after the British ships Balaena and Equator harpooned the first whale off the coast of Maui in 1819. American and British whalers first encountered the low and uncharted atolls of the NWHI on their passages westward from the ports of Honolulu and Lahaina to the newly discovered Japan Grounds in 1820. Whalers played an important role in early exploration of the Pacific. Midway Atoll was originally sighted by Captain Daggett of the New Bedford whaler Oscar in 1839; Laysan was reportedly discovered by the American whaleship Lyra prior to 1828; and Gardner Pinnacles was named by Captain Allen of the Nantucket whaler Maro in 1820, the same year the ship came across Maro Reef. Sometimes shipwrecks even played a role in giving the islands their western names. One example is Pearl and Hermes Atoll, which was named for the wrecks of the British whalers Pearl and Hermes, lost in 1822. The opening of the Japan Grounds sent many whaling ships through the low-lying atolls of the NWHI. Over the decades, ten whalers were reported lost in the area and, to date, five of the wrecks have been located and investigated by NOAA and PMNM maritime archaeologists. Sites of whaling shipwrecks from the early nineteenth century are quite rare, and those in PNMN provide a unique glimpse into our maritime past. The annual maritime archaeological surveys conducted in the NWHI focus on the exploration and discovery of new maritime-heritage sites and the documentation and interpretation of known sites. Exploration for new shipwreck sites in the NWHI involves a combination of archival research and field work that includes diver surveys using SCUBA and towboarding methods (when a snorkeler is drawn behind a boat to maximize Fall 2010



Lost Found

coverage of the survey area). In 2008, the maritime-heritage team focused its work on diver surveys in areas of potential loss of the British whaleship Gledstanes, lost in 1837 at Kure Atoll, and at a historic anchorage at French Frigate Shoals. In previous years, the Monument’s maritime-heritage program documented the whaling shipwrecks Pearl and Hermes, two British whalers lost in 1822 when they encountered the uncharted atoll that now bears their names, and the New Bedford whaler Parker, lost during a fierce storm at Kure Atoll on September 24, 1842. During the 2008 expedition, the team met with exciting success at both survey areas with the discovery of two new whaling shipwreck sites.


Maritime archaeologist Kelly Gleason measures agrinding wheel at the site of an unidentified whaling shipwreck at French Frigate Shoals (the “Shark Island Whaler”).

The first ofthese discoverieswas madeat KureAtoll,when,following two days of diver surveys,tucked in closealongthe fore reef,the NOAA diveteam identifieda pile of iron ballastand chain. 


Historic Nantucket

The first ofthese discoveries was made at Kure Atoll, when, following two days of diver surveys, tucked in close along the fore reef, the NOAA dive team identified a pile of iron ballast and chain. The ballast led a trail into the dramatic topography of the reef where more artifacts were found scattered, including four large anchors, iron ballast, cannon, and the remains of a trypot. The team is confident that the remains are those of the British whaler Gledstanes, which wrecked in heavy seas on the reef at Kure Atoll in 1837. Investigation of the story of the Gledstanes and her survivors is under way and, though currently limited, adds to the important legacy of shipwreck survival stories at Kure Atoll. After the loss of their ship, the crew launched the ship’s small boats and made for the closest dry land, which was Ocean Island on the other side of the atoll. In a short time, the ship broke apart in the heavy surf, but the crew salvaged what it could from their destroyed ship and set about fashioning a thirty-eight-foot vessel that they named Deliverance. Like so many other sites in the Monument, the Gledstanes site has truly become part of the environment over the last 170 years. Some heavy metal artifacts (such as the cannon) have been weathered and worn to the point that their features are difficult to distinguish. The trypot is also buried deeply in the sand, almost as if it has been consumed by the reef itself. Following the exciting discovery of the Gledstanes, the maritime archaeology team continued its work at French Frigate Shoals. Again, the team began to explore for new shipwreck sites using tow-board surveys, this time in an area near a historic anchorage.Within minutes of the first tow, in approximately fifteen feet of water, the divers spotted a large anchor, the age and size of which led them to believe that it had not been used as a mooring in an anchorage. After further snorkeling in the area, the team came across the first clue that this site might be more than a lone anchor: a trypot set into a hole in the reef top. This discovery initiated a larger survey of the area, and soon the team found two more trypots, another large anchor, and hundreds of bricks scattered in pockets of the reef. As the

The discoveryat French Frigate Shoals is certainly intriguing; however,the identity ofthis unexpected find remainsa mystery. team explored further along the shallows, they discovered hawsepipes and the remains of standing rigging. The discovery at French Frigate Shoals is certainly intriguing; however, the identity of this unexpected find remains a mystery. What ship could this be trapped on the sea floor beneath the waves at French Frigate Shoals for so long? The trypots and bricks clearly indicated a whaler, and features of both anchors point toward an early-nineteenthcentury date. Only three whaling ships, all American vessels, have been reported lost at French Frigate Shoals: the South Seaman, wrecked in 1859; the DanielWood, wrecked in 1867; and the Two Brothers, the Nantucket whaler wrecked in 1823 and described earlier through her connection to the ill-fated career of Captain George Pollard Jr. In the summer of 2008, the NOAA maritime archaeology team collected a considerable amount of information at the mystery shipwreck site, including measurements, feature distribution, and the location of artifacts—all clues that will help them determine the identity of this ship and how it came to its end. In 2009, the team returned to the unidentified whaling shipwreck site at French Frigate Shoals (now named the Shark IslandWhaler for the sandy island nearby) in order to conduct an ecological survey. At that time, the team came across an exciting new portion of the wreck site. In addition to the discovery of a fourth trypot, three blubber hooks, a grinding wheel, and a kedge anchor, the team found four small cast-iron pots that resemble small trypots. Existing accounting records in Nantucket describe the sale of this type of cast-iron pot for use on whaleships. The team also came across what appears to be the tip of a whaling harpoon, another exciting discovery with the potential to yield information about the vessel’s identity. Following the careful recovery, conservation, and treatment of this artifact in 2010, we may be able to date and potentially identify the mystery shipwreck at this site.

In May of 2010, maritime archaeologists returned to the site of the Shark Island Whaler. The team has the permits to recover the artifact that appears to be a whaling harpoon, which will be sent to a professional conservator who will conduct analyses, conservation, and treatment in hopes of using the object to help identify the shipwreck. It is known that blacksmiths would often stamp their initials and the initials of the ship’s name on the harpoon. Although it is difficult to anticipate the effects of over a hundred years on the seafloor on an iron artifact, the potential to identify this shipwreck site, as well as share this remote and inaccessible site with the public at the Monument’s Mokupapapa Discovery Center in Hilo, Hawaii, add to the importance of the work that will have taken place in the summer of 2010. Important partnerships and connections developed with the Nantucket Historical Association will help to continue to build the ties between whaling in Hawaii and the community of Nantucket in the early 1800s. Whatever the identity of the Shark IslandWhaler turns out to be, it will add to the underwater museum of whaling history that rests on the seafloor of Papahänaumokuäkea Marine National Monument. These whaling ships are the material remains of a time when America possessed over seven hundred whaling vessels, and over one-fifth of the U. S. whaling fleet may have been composed of Pacific Islanders. Dozens of vessels stopped in Honolulu, and, for better or worse, transformed the islands. Many of these vessels would travel up to four years and around the world to get to whaling grounds in distant places. The whaling shipwreck sites in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands help us to tell this part of Hawaiian and Pacific history, and remind us that this remote part of the United States is connected with small communities in New England halfway around the world. Kelly Gleason, Ph. D., is Maritime Heritage Coordinator of the Papahaänaumokuaäkea Marine National Monument. Jason T. Raupp is a Ph.D. Candidate and Research

Itwas our interest in learning more about the fateful voyage of the Nantucket whaleship Two Brothers that ended in disaster at French Frigate Shoals in 1823 that inspired a visit to the NHA Research Library in March of 2010. The library contains the primary source material that will help maritime archaeologists discover whether the vessel at French Frigate Shoals is indeed the wreck of the Two Brothers. Preliminary research conducted by maritime archaeologist Kelly Gleason of PMNM and Deirdre O’Regan of Sea History Magazine in the NHA’s manuscript collection in March of 2010 disclosed firsthand accounts of the Two Brothers wreck. Crewmembers Eben Gardner and Thomas Nickerson recounted the events that occurred the night of February 11, 1823, in the remote atolls of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands when foul weather cast the vessel on rocks in the vicinity of a few small islands. A true copy of Gardner’s account included an approximate location of where the Two Brothers was lost, which may be helpful in comparing it to where the Shark Island Whaler rests.

Fellow at Flinders University, Department of Archaeology.

Acknowledgments Thank you to Papahaänaumokuaäkea Marine National Monument staff for its support of maritime heritage research in the NWHI. Additional thanks go to the crew of the NOAA vessel Hi’ialakai for support and facilitation of this research in a very remote location. Thanks to the rest of the maritime heritage teams of 2008 and 2009 who enabled the further discovery and interpretation of maritime heritage in the Monument: Hans Van Tilburg, Tane Casserley, Cathy Green, Deirdre O’Regan, Derek Smith, and Ann Mooney. Much gratitude and appreciation go to the Nantucket Historical Association, including Ben Simons, Elizabeth Oldham, and Tony Dumitru for their assistance, generosity, and hospitality in Nantucket, as well as the invaluable advice and information provided by Robert Hellman and Mark Foster. References and footnotes are on file and available upon request.

Fall 2010





The Earliest Picture of the Essex Disaster Cyprien Gaulon (b. 1777), Sinking of the Nantucket Whaleship Essex by a Whale on 20 November 1820. Colored lithograph, (12 3/8” x 16 7/8”). Bordeaux, France, 1821/22. “On 13 November 1820, the American ship Le Sussex, captain G. Pollard, was attacked by a monstrous whale hitting it at the bow, at the equator, 20° West longitude. Having lost part of its false keel, it filled within 10 minutes. With all the water and bread they could salvage, the crew took to the boats. Since a southerly course could not be laid, the crew landed at Ducie Island, a volcanic rock, where three of the shipwrecked men preferred to remain. They were later picked up by captain Reine from New South Wales. In want of sufficient sustenance, the other unfortunates soon set sail from the island. One of the boats was picked up 17 days, the other one 90 days after their departure. In the latter boat only the captain and a mess boy survived. Casting lots, the others had successively served as food to their comrades [extracted from Journal des Voyages].” Barthelmess Whaling Collection, Cologne, Germany, # 1275.



Historic Nantucket


he gruesome fate of the Nantucket whaleship Essex forms the core of the most dramatic episode in American whaling. The story of a sperm whale ramming and sinking the Essex on 20 November 1820, some two thousand nautical miles west of present-day Ecuador, and of the ensuing ordeals—with only eight of twenty men surviving to be rescued after trials lasting between eighty-nine and a hundred and thirty-nine days, and the trauma of having to resort to cannibalism—has been told and retold. It is chiseled indelibly into the lore and historiography of whaling. In international-shipping intelligence, reports of the disaster set in soon after the British merchantman Indian, the Nantucket whaleship Dauphin, and the British Australiaman Surrey had picked up three groups of Essex survivors in February and April 1821. Owen Chase’s influential, book-length eyewitness account also appeared that same year in New York. On 9 June 1821, the Australian Sydney Gazette published a lengthy article on the Essex, based mostly, besides other sources, on an interview with Thomas Raine, master of the Surrey, the trading vessel that had rescued the last group of survivors from Henderson Early image of the attack in Mariner’s Chronicle, New Haven: A. B. Wilcox, 1834. Courtesy of the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Island. Through the negligence of the anonymous journalist putting the piece together with a quick quill, there is some confusion of facts, such as two discrepant dates of the disaster, 13 and 20 November. modernes: ou archives géographiques et statistiques du 19. siècle, Contemporary imagery of the dramatic incident did not keep pace edited by the Paris Society of French and Foreign Geographers. The with the rapid and widespread press coverage. Newspapers of the day September issue of 1821 had a short, twenty-line news piece on the were not illustrated. Illustrated broadsides and pamphlets—the loss of two vessels, i.a. the Essex (Vol. 11, No. 35, pp. 371–72). Three European and American precursors of newspapers since the late months later, in December 1821, there was a detailed four-column 1400s—had gone out of fashion. And the years of the illustrated report on the disaster (Vol. 12, No. 38, p. 372), based on the article in magazine—relying on the marketing effect of the image—were yet to the Sydney Gazette of 9 June 1821. It yielded all the drama of the come. Breaking news in maritime intelligence could do, and had to horrific human ordeal. The French translation, however, only do, without interesting but costly and slow-to-produce pictures. Thus, compounded the Sydney journalist’s careless reporting. Thus, the even in the country of registry of the Essex, the first images of the hapless Nantucket whaleship’s name appears as Sussex, doubtless a disaster did not appear until fourteen and fifteen years after the event, blend of the English county and the ship’s name, Surrey—one of the in two issues of the Mariner’s Chronicle, New Haven, 1834, and rescue vessels—and the whale-wrecked Essex. The date on which the Boston, 1835. whaleship met her doom is given as 13, not 20, November 1820, and But abroad, in Old Europe, the worldwide coverage of the the longitude as 20° West instead of circa 120° West. unprecedented drama tickled the fancy of an enterprising Lacking a prototype to copy, Cyprien Gaulon employed artistic lithographer. Cyprien Gaulon, born in 1777, had set up his print shop license when he illustrated the reportage with a gripping image that in the French maritime port of Bordeaux in 1815. In 1824–25, he he hoped would find an eager clientele in the market for ephemera would gain perennial fame by supervising Francisco de Goya in prints. The ship technically is not a whaleship, and the whale perfecting the Spanish artist’s skills in the novel art of lithography, and ramming the ship is not a sperm whale, but a bowhead. It is copied by seeing through his press one of Goya’s famous series of bullfighting from one of the numerous images in the influential iconographic lithographs. Gaulon’s print shop also pioneered the mass printing of tradition of Friedrich Martens, a German shipboard surgeon who had Bordeaux wine-bottle labels—ephemera highly coveted by joined Hamburg whalers on their voyage to the Arctic in 1671 and connoisseurs and collectors today. published a widely circulated book in 1675, illustrated with etchings Three years before Gaulon’s fruitful cooperation with Goya, the based on his own remarkable and fairly realistic drawings. Gaulon’s Essex disaster was covered in two articles in the French geographical whale is also far too large in comparison to the vessel. and maritime monthly Journal des voyages découvertes et navigations Gaulon’s zoological confusion can be explained linguistically. The Fall 2010





Thomas Nickerson (1805–83), pencil drawing from his manuscript diary of the Essex disaster, 1876. MS106 F1 Nantucket Historical Association.

generic French term “baleine” is used for the zoological order of cetacea, or whales in general, but also to distinguish “baleen whales”— such as bowheads and right whales, or rorquals—from the “sperm whale,” which in French is called “cachalot” (from old Provençal and Catalan words like “catxalot” or variant spellings, which all point to an etymology having to do with “big tooth”). The French translator never bothered to verify which whale species the Australian journalist had in mind when referring to “whale,” and just used the generic term “baleine.” The four-line French caption of Gaulon’s lithograph carries over the factual inaccuracies that had accumulated in the text on its long transmission from Sydney via Paris to Bordeaux. Time being of the essence in ephemera publishing, the speed with which print shops turned out decorative broadsheets on current events was often quite amazing. Thus, the print may have been published either in December 1821, the month the Journal des Voyages published the report, or early in 1822 at the latest. In spite of the artistic license and its resulting flaws, the colorful broadsheet is the earliest pictorial representation of the famous disaster that befell the Nantucket whaleship Essex, predating the first American print versions of it by more than a dozen years. By a similar 


Historic Nantucket

lapse of time it also precedes the first indigenous American whaling prints showing identified vessels, viz the two aquatints printed in 1835 and 1838 by John Hill after sketches by Cornelius B. Hulsart. Gaulon’s lithograph astounded the public a generation prior to Benjamin Russell’s imaginative Essex disaster scene in the 1848 Russell– Purrington Panorama (New Bedford Whaling Museum). Finally, it predates the only recorded depictions made by an eyewitness and survivor of the drama, Thomas Nickerson, by more than fifty years. Further to these comparative “firsts,” it is one of the rarest whaling prints of all. Besides the one in the author’s whaling collection, which led to the research presented here, so far only a second copy has become known, in a library in Geneva, Switzerland. Klaus Barthelmess, of Cologne, Germany, is a whaling and sealing historian, museum and media consultant, and collector of whaling- and sealing-related art. He earned his degrees from the University of Cologne, has authored and coauthored several books and numerous scholarly articles on whaling and sealing history, the history of cetology, whale-related fine arts, historical whale distribution and stranding records and the whaling debate, and serves on the editorial boards of several specialized international periodicals.

News Notes & Highlights Exhibition Highlights YEAR OF THE NANTUCKET WOMAN APRIL 22–DECEMBER 31

A Passion for People: 40Years of Nantucket Portrait Photography by Beverly Hall Whitney Gallery in the NHA Research Library, 7 Fair Street A Passion for People showcases photographer Beverly Hall’s outstanding eye for portraiture through four decades of Nantucket history. The retrospective opens a window on the remarkable changes that have occurred on Nantucket in the last four decades. The exhibition features several hundred images on multiple presentation screens in addition to traditionally framed images. Hall’s work captures an important chapter in Nantucket’s postwar history, a time that is increasingly important to record and showcase as part of Nantucket’s modern history.

Ruth Chapel Grieder and Joe Lopes, by Beverly Hall


Photographer Beverly Hall mentoring teens at the Nantucket Boys & Girls Club

Visions of Her exhibition opening

Visions of Her: Portrait Photography by NantucketYouth Hadwen & Barney Candle Factory, Whaling Museum, 13 Broad Street This exhibition features modern portraits of Nantucket women captured by teens from the Nantucket Boys & Girls Club and Nantucket High School. The photographs showcase the essence of women the young photographers admire, as well as the island itself. Bonus film interviews offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the creative spirit of the project. The NHA offers this fresh, contemporary mix as part of its “Year of the Nantucket Woman” offerings, which include the two seasonal exhibitions: A Passion for People: 40 Years of Portrait Photography by Beverly Hall and “Sometimes think of me”: Notable Nantucket Women through the Centuries.


“Sometimes think of me”: Notable Nantucket Women through the Centuries Peter Foulger Gallery, Whaling Museum, 13 Broad Street The colorful lives and histories of outstanding women from four centuries of Nantucket history are the focus of this year’s major exhibition. Such fascinating individuals as Wampanoag maiden Wonoma, whaling wife and journal keeper Eliza Brock, whaling wife and journal illustrator Susan Veeder, scientist Maria Mitchell, abolitionist Eunice Ross, and many contemporary Nantucket women are presented in lively detail, using the NHA’s rich collections of artifacts, logbooks, and manuscript material. The exhibition showcases thirty-four exemplary Nantucket women, whose lives are the subjects of “embroidered narratives” by Nantucket needlework artist Susan Boardman. An accompanying exhibition catalog, written by island historian and NHA Research Fellow Betsy Tyler, is available at the Museum Shop. Fall 2010



News Notes & Highlights Découpage paperweight

Art Inspired by Nantucket History One-day autumn workshops in early American arts and crafts offered at 1800 House The NHA is delighted to announce a fall program offering numerous one-day workshops designed for busy people. These workshops in early American arts and crafts will be held on Tuesdays from 4 to 7 P. M., with special pricing due to the generosity of a loyal underwriter. All classes will be held at the 1800 House, 4 Mill Street, and will be offered through November 5. A sampling of classes include: Découpage Paperweights, SailorsValentine Ornament, Noah’s Ark Theorem, Dorset Buttons, Miniature Nantucket Lightship Basket Flower Frog, Cookie Decorating,Wooden Whales and Rainbow Fleet Ornaments, Folk Art Painting for Holiday Cards, Scrimshawed Ivory Ornaments. The NHA is also pleased to offer year-round Nantucket residents between the ages of thirteen and twenty-five the opportunity to apply for scholarships to be used toward classes in early American arts and crafts at the NHA’s 1800 House. Funds are available to underwrite the cost of a limited number of enrollments, and students will be accepted—based on their applications—on a first-come, first-served basis.

Above: Dorset Buttons; Left: Sailors Valentine ornament

Class size is limited in some instances. Fee includes all materials. Reservations and prepayment are required, NHA member discounts available. Please call or go to for full course listing and registration information.

Thirty-Third August Antiques Show On the weekend of August 6–8, visitors from across the country traveled to Nantucket to view American and English furniture, fine art, Oriental rugs, books, maritime antiques, folk art, and Nantucket memorabilia at the NHA’s August Antiques Show—once again held under the large white tent at Bartlett’s Farm. The major fund-raising event for the NHA’s preservation and education programs, this year’s chair was Barbara Hathaway; honorary chairs were Arie L. and Coco Kopelman. “The NHA August Antiques Show is one of the premiere shows in the country, with established dealers and a sophisticated clientele,” said Hathaway. “We are very pleased with how everything came together this year, and the strong dealer list makes it such an interesting and successful show.” For the seventh consecutive year, the August Antiques Show Preview Party was sponsored by EatonVance Investment Counsel, and for the twelfth year, the dinner was underwritten by Trianon-Seaman Schepps. The NHA remains extremely grateful for their generosity. The prestigious Antiques Council—an organization dedicated to ensuring the quality of antiques and historical works of art—manages the August Antiques Show. Mark your 2011 calendar for the Thirty-Fourth August Antiques Show, again to be held at Bartlett’s Farm. The show will run from Friday, August 5, to Sunday August 7, 2011.



Historic Nantucket

Walden Chamber Players in Concert In keeping with what has become an island tradition for young and old alike, the Walden Chamber Players will once again give two concerts during the weekend of September 24. These magical performances will be offered on Friday at 7 P. M. in the Whaling Museum, featuring Mendelssohn’s String Quintet No. 2 in Bflat Major, Op. 87, and Brahms’s String Quintet No. 2 in G Major, Op.111. The Sunday, September 26, 12 P. M. concert will feature Ravel’s Duo for Violin and Cello; Ligeti’s Sonata for Viola Sola, “Facsar and Chaconne Chromatique”; Beethoven’s Serenade in D Major, Op. 8, for String Trio. Each concert has been underwritten by a generous anonymous donor. For ticket information, please call (508) 228–1894, ext 0.

Food for Thought Lecture Series The very popular brown bag lunch lecture series, Food for Thought, will resume for the season in October, and will be held weekly throughout the fall and winter months on Thursdays at noon in the Whaling Museum. Admission is free, and you may bring your lunch. This year’s theme is Nantucket’s Talent: Celebrating the Ingenuity and Resourcefulness of Nantucketers from All Walks of Life. The Food for Thought programs are supported by a grant from the M. S. Worthington Foundation. For additional information about the Food for Thought series, please call (508) 228–1894, ext. 0, or visit to view the full schedule.

Time to renew? To join? To give a gift membership? The Nantucket Historical Association is grateful to have you as part of our organization, and we enjoy building longstanding relationships with you through our membership program. Receiving no operating support from state, local, or federal funding, the NHA relies on your yearly renewal to continue offering exceptional year-round exhibitions and education programs for all ages, and to help develop and care for our collections and properties. Membership benefits include: unlimited admission to the Whaling Museum, Research Library, and historic sites; Historic Nantucket subscription; and discounts for classes, events, and the Museum Shop. Should you have any questions regarding your membership, or would like to purchase a gift membership for family or friends, please visit or call 508.228.1894, ext. 116, and ask for Michelle Soverino. Your involvement in the NHA is vital to its operation. Thank you for your continuing support.


F E S T I VA L o f W R E AT H S “It’s the most wonderful time of the year. . .” Take a chance and bid on one of the eighty beautifully crafted wreaths in the Peter Foulger Museum, second floor of the Whaling Museum, during the festival’s preview party on the evening of Tuesday, November 23. This year’s festival, chaired by Alison K. Forsgren, will be held on Wednesday, November 24, Friday and Saturday, November 26 and 27, 10 A. M.– 5 P. M., and on Sunday, November 28, 10 A. M.–2 P.M. Admission is free, and the festival is handicapped accessible. The museum will be closed on Thanksgiving.


F E S T I VA L o f T R E E S “Where the treetops glisten and children listen. . .” Under the imaginative eye of Wendy M. Hudson, chair, the Whaling Museum will once again be transformed into a festive winter wonderland. This island tradition will feature around eighty brilliantly decorated trees designed by community members, local merchants, nonprofit organizations, artists, artisans, and schoolchildren. This season, the festival will remain open Thursdays to Mondays through December 20, and will reopen on Saturday, December 26 and 27, 1–4 P. M. and again on January 2 and 3, 2011, 1– 4 P. M. Both festivals are a magical way to kick off the holiday season!

Fall 2010



Warren Jagger

P.O. Box 1016, Nantucket, MA 02554-1016

Periodical POSTAGE PAID at Nantucket, MA and Additional Entry Offices

THE HERITAGE SOCIETY Planning today for the NHA’s Tomorrow


he Nantucket Historical Association invites you to join forwardlooking donors who have included the Association in their wills. Your gift will help build financial stability to continue the NHA’s mission for future generations.

For further information, consult your financial professional or contact Cristin Merck. 508 228 1894, ext. 114 email:

Historic Nantucket Fall 2010  

Historic Nantucket is a publication of the Nantucket Historical Association. Themes as diverse as whaling, genealogy, and folk art are explo...

Historic Nantucket Fall 2010  

Historic Nantucket is a publication of the Nantucket Historical Association. Themes as diverse as whaling, genealogy, and folk art are explo...