Ship Captains

We have a lot of sea captains in our line. That’s especially interesting to me since I went into shipping too.  That reminds me of an old joke:  My wife is on crack, my daughter is a whore, my sister’s house got repossessed, but the one I’m really ashamed about went into the shipping business!

Robert ANDREWS –  (1560 – 1643) Ship Captain, First tavern keeper in Ipswich (1635)  Capt. Robert Andrews came from Norwich, Norfolk, England,early in the year 1635,as owner and master of the ship”Angel Gabriel.” This Capt. Andrews had a sister Mary,who was the wife of Robert Burnham. Their three boys were John,Thomas and Robert,it is said,were put in the charge of their uncle Andrews, master of the ship”Angel Gabriel.” This ship was cast away at Tammaquid, in Maine, in a terrible storm Aug. 15,1635, after which loss, Capt. Andrews settled with his three nephews at Chebacco in Massachusetts Bay.

On 3 Sep 1635, Robert Andrews was licensed “to keep ordinarye(an Inn) in the plantacon where he lyves during the pleasure of y court.” This is the earliest reference to a public house in the records of Ipswich. Robert lived near the South Church. In 1635;Robert is allowed the sell wine by retail “If he do not wittingly sell to such as abuse it by drunkenness.” May 13,1640,Robert is granted to draw wine at Ipswich,with the conditions of the towne

William KNOWLTON (1584 – 1639) died on the voyage to America, probably off the coast of Nova Scotia.  It is believed that William was at least part owner of the vessel in which he sailed for America.In 1839, a headstone was found by a surveyor in Shelburne, Nova Scotia reflecting “William Knowlton, 1632”. Tradition says his widow and children proceeded to Hingham, MA, where it is said she remarried.  Alternatively, William died 6 Jun 1639 at sea near Nova Scotia, Canada.

John MASTERS (1584 – 1639)  In 1631, he was the pioneer of marine engineering in this country. He made a channel 12′ wide and 7′ deep from the Charles River to Newtown.

Edward BANGS (1591 – 1678) was a shipwright and served on several town committees, holding a responsible position within the community.

William HILTON Sr. (1591 – 1656)   Around  the turn of the 16th/17th century, the Hylton family appears to have had quite a large and successful fishing fleet, fishing in the north sea and off New Foundland. Eric Lamberton says that “both William and Edward Hilton were north sea fishermen operating out of both Monkwearmouth (where the fishing grounds are) and London.  William and Edward are believed to have been amongst the first English fishermen fishing off Newfoundland in the early part of the 17th century. The Hyltons had a monopoly on salt production in Elizabethan England; salt was needed to preserve the catch on its voyage back to England where it was sold at the Billingsgate fish market. Edward was a member of the Fisherman’s Guild of London.”

Capt. John CUTTING (1593 – 1659) was a “Master” mariner; the first record shows him in command of the ship “Francis” of Ipswich, England which set sail the last of April 1634 with some eighty passengers aboard.

Captain John Cutting decided to make his home in New England and brought over his wife and children, probably sometime early in 1636, where they settled in Watertown, Mass. Between 25 July 1636 and 16 June 1637, Capt. John had three grants of land, the first being 60 acres in he First Division, the second being 10 acres in the Beaverbrook plain, and the third being 10 acres in the Remote or West Pine Meadows. He later received an addition 10 acres of upland.

Mariner Capt. John continued his work as a sea captain until at least 1656. It is reported that he made thirteen trans Atlantic trips. His wife, Mary, proved herself of being very capable of managing her husband’s affairs while he was at sea. On one occasion, in 1639, she wrote a letter to the Governor, addressing him as “Right Worshipfull John Winthrop”. She was seeking the Governor’s support in obtaining payment for service of a man, brought over as a servant by them to New England, who was “bound” for eight years. Many of the early, especially single, people “indentured” themselves for a period of time in return for passage and nominal support costs. In this case, a Capt. Thornback, a kinsman of the servant in question, arrived from Virginia to negotiate the release of the servant; Capt. John was amenable to the idea but in the meantime the servant just departed with his goods in wife Mary Cutter’s shallop (a rowing or sailing vessel for use in shallow waters). Mary was asking the Governor’s support in obtaining 20 pounds from Capt. Thornback which she, Mary, thought was “little enough” for three and one years support of the servant including the servant’s original passage cost.

The Cuttings removed to Newbury, Ma. around 1639; in 1641 a document shows Capt. John and his son, John, of Newbury, as Master Mariners of the good ship “Desire”, were bound to pay Lawrence Hazzard, shipwright of London, and Robert Crisp and William Wilbert, mariners, noted sums of money upon arrival of the ship “Desire” in London, England. In 1642, Capt. John Cutting was a “freeholder”,i.e., owner of a freehold, a form of tenure by which an estate, land/house etc, is held for life. He was one of the eight commissioners appointed to arrange for the moving of the village from Parker River to the Merrimac River. By 1645 Capt. John had received many other land grants including a 200 acre farm bounded by Falls River on the south.

Samuel GRAVE’s (1594 – ) son Thomas was a mariner as well as farmer. Thomas and Mark Graves testified at a session of the Court in 1653 to making several voyages in the boats of the Iron Works at Saugus to Boston, Weymouth, Braintree and Hingham, and in 1658 he testified that his boat carried seven tons of bar iron and delivered it to Mr. Hutchins. The iron works were in operation in 1643, the first in America.

Nathaniel WELLS (1600 – 1681) owned many and valuable shipyards in Colchester, Essex, England as well as a large hotel.

Edward SHEPARD (1600 – 1680)  came with his family from England in 1639, he being the captain of his own ship, and settled in Cambridge, Suffolk, Mass.   Edward continued to be a mariner his entire life. Twice he asserts to being a mariner in deeds – to Richard Champney, Mar. 19, 1652/53, and to W. Fessenden, Feb. 18, 1679/80, as well as in his own will dated Oct. 1, 1674. Also, mention is made in the record of the steward of Harvard College 1654, of two importations of wheat “from aboard Edward Shephard’s vessel.” He reportedly carried on trade between Boston and Hartford, and probably other parts.

Albert Andriese BRADT (1607 – 1686)  On 15 May 1658 Albert Andriesen Bradt and Wilem Martensen Hues advertised to sell to the highest bidder their “sloop as it rides at anchor and sails” (as is)

Barent Jacobsen KOOL (1610 – 1676) Barent Jacobsen Cool sailed to New Amsterdam, possibly from Amsterdam as a sailor in late 1632 on the ship Soutberg, which arrived in April 1633 with 140 soldiers. At that time, New Amsterdam, now New York City, had a population of only 400 to 500 people.   Barent later was captain of the yacht Amsterdam between 1638 and 1644. He sailed on the Hudson River and was a river pilot for other boats.  On April 13, 1654, Barent became a wine and beer carrier for the Dutch West India Company. He watched the company warehouse and was appointed by the New Amsterdam burgomasters as an exciseman. He, along with Joost Goderus, boarded ships in New Amsterdam, searched their contents, and levied duty on the goods they found. On September 21, 1663, Barent was appointed as a public porter and was elected foreman (Elder of the Beer Porters) on July 17, 1665.

Capt Matthew BECKWITH: (1610 – 1680) With two partners owned three ships, the “Speedwell,” the “Hopewell.” and the Endeavor.” These ships ranged from 50 to 82 tons, participated in trade between New England, New Amsterdam, and the Caribbean. He owned 30 acres and with two others owned three ships, one of the ships (the “Endeavor,”) was sold in Barbados for 2,000 pounds of sugar, at death the estate was inventoried at 274 pounds.  Matthew’s property is today’s Rocky Neck State Park, the port from which his three ships were based was called Beckwith’s Cove.

William HILTON Jr (1617 – 1675) was an explorer who mapped Cape Fear , rescued English castaways eventually leading to the founding of Wilmington NC which has a large port in on the Cape Fear River.

14 Aug 1662 –  Hilton set sail from Charlestown on his first voyage to explore the Carolinas, commanding the Adventurer. He returned in November with enough information for Nicholas Shapley, a Charlestown navigator, to draw a detailed map of Cape Fear.

10 Aug 1663 – Engaged by a group of businessmen from New England, London, and Barbados, Hilton embarked on a second exploration of the southeastern coast. Again commanding the Adventurer, he set out from Speights Bay with Captain Anthony Long and Peter Fabian. Upon their arrival in the vicinity of St. Helena Sound and the Combahee River they discovered the English castaways being held captive by the local American Indians. During negotiations with the local natives for the release of the castaways, he learned much about the local culture. After sounding the entrance to Port Royal Sound, he set out for Cape Fear, but the ship was blown off course toward Cape Hatteras. On October 12, the crew of the Adventurer finally arrived at the entrance to the Cape Fear River and explored the area until December.

1664 – Hilton published a book about this expedition called A Relation of a Discovery Lately Made on the Coast of Florida, which spurred interest in colonizing the area. A colony established on the Cape Fear river in 1664 led to the establishment of Charles Town (later Charleston, South Carolina) nearby on the Ashley and Cooper rivers.

Thomas HUSKINS (1618 – 1679)  Thomas had a landing place or wharf near his house, where he discharged and received freights.  1 Mar 1653 – Thomas was licensed to sell wines and strong waters until the next June court. He had probably been authorized to keep an ordinary, or public house, during the previous ten years. He was for several years receiver of the excise imposed on the importation of wines and liquors and powder and shot. In the last mentioned year, he was captain of the packet, and he brought into the town for himself 35 gallons of wine and 9 of brandy, besides liquors and powder and shot for other persons.  He was one of the ‘farmers’ or partners that hired the Cape Cod fisheries. In 1670 considerable quantities of tar were manufactured in the colony, and he was appointed one of the purchasers.  Oct 4, 1675.    Thomas and his son Joseph were cast away in hs vessel and perished in a gale 9 Nov 1679 .

Andrew NEWCOMB Sr. (1618 – 1686)   Page 281 of Charlestown (Mass.) Records, shipment of cattle, etc., Fell. 28, 166(5-7, by John Page, of Boston, in Ketch [name blank], Andrew Newcome, Master for Virginia for account of John Ely and Eliakini Ilutchinson—various horses described—avouched by Mr. Page, beinsr bought of Capt. Hutchinson and Samuel Gough

New York Col. MSS. at Albany, vol. 21), page 13, date Aug. 28, 1679, show “Andrew Newcombe” to have been “Master of y’ Sloope Edmund and Martha,” then in the port of New York and bound for “Boston in New England;” probably from Virginia—a part of his lading being tobacco.

Suffolk Court files at Boston contain deposition of Philip Foxwell, in which the statement is made that Andrew Newcomb was with his [ Newcomb’s] vessel iu Saco River from Boston, Oct., 1684—this being the last mention of his name prior to proof of his Will a little more than two years later.

Edward HARRADEN’s (1624 – 1683) son John Harraden (1663- 1724) was pilot of HMS Montague, (sixty guns, commanded by Sir George Walton) in the disastrous 1711 expedition against Canada.

General characteristics after 1698 rebuil
Class and type: 60-gun fourth rate ship of the line
Tons burthen: 905 long tons
Length: 143 ft 10 in  (gundeck)
Beam: 37 ft 8 in
Depth of hold: 15 ft 4 in
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Full rigged ship
Armament: 60 guns of various weights of shot.

A Fourth Rate, 60 gun Ship of the Line


Lyme was a 52-gun third rate Speaker-class frigate built for the navy of the Commonwealth of England at Portsmouth, and launched in 1654

After the Restoration in 1660 she was renamed HMS Montague. She was widened in 1675  and underwent her first rebuild in 1698 at Woolwich Dockyard as a 60-gun fourth rate ship of the line. Her second rebuild took place at Portsmouth Dockyard, from where she was relaunched on 26 July 1716 as a 60-gun fourth rate to the 1706 Establishment.

Montague was broken up in 1749.

The Quebec Expedition, or the Walker Expedition to Quebec, was a British attempt to attack Quebec in 1711 in Queen Anne’s War, the North American theatre of the War of Spanish Succession. It failed because of a shipping disaster on the Saint Lawrence River on 22 August 1711, when seven transports and one storeship were wrecked and some 850 soldiers drowned; the disaster was at the time one of the worst naval disasters in British history.

Edward’s grandson Andrew Haraden (1702 – )  In 1723 and 1724 a gang of pirates and freebooters under command of the notorious John Phillips infested the New England waters. During their first season of marine depredations they had taken 34 vessels, which they looted, killing or maltreating crews. In April, 1724, the sloop Squirrel of Annisquam, commanded by Andrew Haraden, while engaged on a fishing voyage was taken by Phillips. The Squirrel was a fine new craft, therefore Phillips abandoned his own vessel and appropriated the fisherman for his piratical purposes. The vessel had been sent to sea so hastily that the craft had not been finished inside, consequently tools were left aboard to complete the work when the conditions were unfavorable for fishing.

John Phillips forces a captive to drink alcohol. Engraving from The Pirates’ Own Book.

Phillips employed Haraden and the other prisoners in the finishing of the craft. One of the men, Edward Cheeseman planned a recapture. Midnight of the 18th was the time appointed. The vessel was ploughing through the water at a lively rate when Cheeseman seized John Nott, one of the pirate chiefs, who was on deck and threw him overboard. At the same time Haraden despatched Phillips with a blow from an adze, James Sparks the pirates’ gunner suffered the same fate as Nott, while a man named Burrell, the boatswain was killed with a broad axe. Capt. Haraden sailed home to Squam with the heads of Phillips and Burrell fixed at the mast head of the recaptured craft.

John Phillips Pirate Flag

Edward great grandson Jonathan Haraden (1710-1803) (Wiki) was a privateer during the American Revolution. Two destroyers of the United States Navy have been named USS Haraden for him.

Thomas WELLS (1626 – 1700) In 1677 he bought a farm in Westerly RI and that year engaged in constructing vessels at a shipyard in the Pawkatuck River – styled `of Ipswich, shipwright’. In 1680, a lawsuit with Amos Richardson about a vessel of 48 tons which Thomas had contracted to build for AR.

Edward WANTON (1632 – 1716) Wanton Yard was on the old Wanton estate, located on the Scituate side of North River. The old  yard was later divided by a wall, thus making two yards, which  were used separately during the 1700′s and the early part  of the 1800′s. . Edward Wanton began ship-building here, probably,  as early as 1670, and vessels have been recorded as having been built  by him as late as 1707.

Thomas  WEBBER (1639 – 1686)  was a fisherman and a sea captain. He was a mariner of Boston as early as 1644 if not sooner, and the master of the sloop “Mayflower”, while still resident in England in 1652.   By 1660 there were approximately 8 known ships bearing the name ‘Mayflower.’ His ship is not the same ‘Mayflower’ of 1620 .  In 1652 he sold about a quarter of this vessel of two hundred tons, and removed to Maine.

At one time, some unscrupulous individuals attempted to make some fast money from the descendants of Thomas Webber, Sr. Apparently, he once held a deed to land in N.Y., probably at a time when it was New Netherland. He may have taken land land deeds in payment for goods that had been shipped into the New World.  At any rate, some sly genius calculated that this land was now in the heart of New York City and persuaded the descendants to band together to claim 1 foot of land on Wall Street. However, after investigating, it was found that Thomas Webber’s claim to any land in NY took place so long ago that it was impossible to describe the present land, let alone prove that his right existed.  Needless to say, many descendants lost a great deal of money in legal and investigation fees.  So all descendants of Thomas Webber should be aware of this scheme to get rich quick does exist, and you are their targets, even today.”

John BROWN (Hampton) (1640 – 1677 ) built the first ‘barque’ (small boat) ever built in Hampton, New Hampshire in 1641 or 1642 at the river near Perkins Mill.” “… it would seem that this barque was the one that John Greenleaf Whittier features in his poem, ‘The Wreck of River Mouth’.”    This poem expands on the true story of a Hampton shipwreck (click for original report) from 1657, when a group of eight were killed in a sudden storm.   Whittier also includes the character of  another of our ancestors Rev. Stephen BATCHELDER in this poem.

Captain William Kidd (1645 – 1702) When Samuell BROADLEY’s daughter Sarah married Captain William Kidd, she was in her early twenties, already twice widowed,  and was one of the wealthiest women in New York, largely due to her inheritance from her first husband, William Cox.  Sara had two daughters by Cox. She applied for her license to marry William Kidd only two days after the death of John Oort, sparking rumors that her husband may have been murdered. No proof was ever produced, however, and she went on to marry Capt. Kidd, a wealthy widow.

Stephen CROSS (1646 – 1704) was a mariner, owned and lived on Cross Island (an island, just off the Massachusetts coast from Ipswich).

Stephen purchased the twenty ton sloop Adventure in 1672

1672 – Stephen purchased the sloop Adventure . Samuel Cogswell of Ipswich owning a share, and was supposedly made fit to go to sea by Moses Chadwell of Lynn, who did a slow and poor job and lost in the resulting suit in 1676. His business as the captain of a coasting vessel, the sloop Adventure of twenty tons, took him as far afield as Wethersfield in Connecticut and the towns on the Exeter and Piscataqua rivers, the voyages frequently resulting in lawsuits for payment of freight which Cross usually won. Later John Lee owned a share in the sloop. The business was apparently prosperous and Capt. Cross became a personage entitled to the title “Mr.” in the records.

1682 – Stephen had a negro slave in his crew who was “very well known a wicked person.”

1684 – Capt. Cross sold his Water street house to Job Bishop and bought the Richard Saltonstall place from Bishop, the property consisting of fourteen acres of land on both sides of Saltonstall brook, an orchard and the house. Here he opened an inn and began again to be summoned to court, for illegal sales of spirits and for impairing the morals of Ipswich youth, including his future son-in-law, Benjamin Dutch, by providing a “shovelboard.”

Summer of 1689 – The last heard of the Adventure is when Capt. Cross’s sloop, laden with a cargo of deal boards, was off Cape Cod and was captured by the pirate Thomas Pound, who kept the sloop and put her crew into the ketch from which he was operating at the moment and “sent them away”–good treatment from a pirate?

1690 was a commander of the ketch Lark in the Battle of Quebec.  The Lark was a Salem vessel and Cross brought her back to her home port on March 18, 1690/91, and the arms on board were placed in Mr. Derby’s warehouse.  His was one of about thirty-two ships (only four of which were of any size) and over 2,3000 Massachusetts militia men.

Jean PERLIER I (1648 – 1688)  came from a maritime family in La Treamblade France  and grew up to be a Pilotte de Navire, a title that literally translated means a naval pilot. Back then that meant not only a navigator but the person who actually created the charts. He worked for ship owner Andre Arnaud and married his daughter Marie Arnaud. During this time there was a great turmoil in France and the Huguenots were under tremendous pressure. The Edict of Nantes, decreed by French King Henry IV in 1598 guaranteed full civil rights, freedom of conscience and public worship to the country’s minority Protestants.  Gradually, these rights were stripped away until in 1685, Louis XIV revoked the Edict altogether.  It was open season on Protestants including the Perliers.  When the slaughter and persecution began, the Perlier family was ripped apart.  Possibly Jean was at sea, for he managed to flee north to Holland.  He never saw his family again and for many years believed then dead.

Andre Arnaud smuggled daughter Marie and the two boys out of the country hidden in wine casks  aboard one of his ships. It has been told that they hid in hogsheads which had holes bored in them and were stored with the freight in the bottom of the ship until they were out of reach of the inspectors.   On the ship Marie met the captain, Pierre Traverrier.  Marie and Pierre were married4 Jan 1688  in the church at Frenchtown, Narragansett, Rhode Island.

Joseph WELLS (1658 – 1711)

3 Jan 1680 – Joseph Wells signed a contract to finish up a vessel then on the stocks at Pawcatuck.

20 May 1680 – Joseph signed another contract for the building of a vessel, wherein he describes himself as of Mystic, Conn.

Jean PERLIER II (1669 – 1823) was a ship carpenter by trade.

John HEDGE’s grandson Barnabas Clarke (1723 Harwich, Barnstable, Mass; –  1772 Dedham, Mass)  was a shipmaster in 1740 sailing from Boston to London and the Provinces.  After some years Captain Clarke quitted the sea, and became a merchant in Boston.

The Boston Gazette of May 15, 1768, has the following:

Imported in the London Packet, Capt. Calef, from London, and to be sold by Barnabas Clarke at his store on Treats Wharf, Boston, near the market at the lowest rates: –Bohen Tea by the chest or less quantity; Pepper by the bag or ditto; Spices of all kinds; Best Durham Mustard by the box; Russia, English and Ravens Duck; Gun powder by the cask. Also Kippen’s Snuff by the cask; best French Indigo; Pimento; Ground and Race Ginger; Muscovado Sugar; Philadelphia Flour; Bar Iron;Iron Hoops; Anchors.”

David WING IV’s grandson Capt. Josiah Wing (1799 Barnstable, Mass-  1874 Suisan, Solano, California sailed his ship  Diantha around the horn to San Francisco in 1851.  He purchased a the Ann Sophia, and sailed between San Francisco and Sacramento, in the process, founding Suisun City on the Delta.  Late in live he mastered the brig Pride of the West to catch fish in the North Pacific.  The next year he took command of the Dominga and for the next five years he sailed to Petropoulski, on the Okhotsk Sea, returning each autumn with 70,000 to 100,000 codfish.  Other fishing expeditions took him to New Zealand.

In 1822 when he was 23 years old, Josiah was captured by pirates while on a voyage in brig “Iris.”   Warren Lincoln   recorded the adventure  : [Click the link for the rest of the story]

We sailed from Boston about the first of November, 1822, in the brig “Iris,” owned by William Parsons, Esq., of Boston. Our crew consisted of eleven, all told, viz.: Freeman Mayo, of Brewster, master ; Richard Rich of Bucksport, Me., first mate; Sylvanus Crosby of Brewster [Josiah’s father-in-law], second mate; Brewster Mayo of Brewster, seaman, who was the first child born in Brewster, or rather, he was a twin; Josiah Wing of Brewster, seaman; two other seamen; _____ Hooper of Boston, seaman; negro for cook; Mr. Greenleaf of Baltimore, a passenger, and the cabin boy 12 years old belonging in Brewster and the teller of this story.

This was my first voyage, and for the first three days out I was very homesick and seasick. Nothing remarkable occurred until about the 20th. We had passed the Bahama Banks and passed the Double Headed Shot Keys during the night. About sunrise I was called to my duty, which was to keep the cabin tidy, set the table, clear it away, wash the dishes, etc. When I came on deck the island of Cuba was in sight about 30 miles distant, the wind light, the water smooth. We were sailing by the wind, as the sailors term it, “full and by.” I soon noticed the first mate in earnest conversation with the man at the helm and came near enough to hear the mate say :

“They may be pirates,” referring to two vessels in-shore of us, “and I will call the captain.”

He went into the cabin and called Captain Mayo. His first exclamation, spy-glass in hand, was,

“Damn ’em, they are pirates! Call all hands on deck, put up your helm and keep her off ; square the yards, set the fore-topmast studding sail; bear a hand ! “

From   The Way It Was – Capt. Wing steered Suisun City’s early course:

After his first wife’s death, Josiah went back to Brewster, Mass., where he married a widow, Mercy Hurd. He sold the farm in New York and moved to Michigan.  The gold discovery in California drew him away from farming to try his hand at the more lucrative business of transporting passengers and cargo to the gold fields.

Once in California, he went into the business of supplying building materials, goods and food for the miners. He established a very profitable business when he began sailing out of San Francisco to Sacramento. Josiah also converted the ship that he sailed around the horn, The Diantha, into a store ship and then built the Pine Street Hotel in San Francisco from the timber that he had brought with him.

San Francisco Harbor 1851

Evidently The Diantha never sailed again and was broken up or allowed to sink in the bay, the fate of hundreds of ships whose crews jumped ship to pursue the lure of gold.

Followed the acquisition of the schooner Ann Sophia, in 1852, Josiah Wing  came to Suisun. He purchased Suisun “Island” and a tract of adjoining marshland, about 600 acres in all, for $500. He established a permanent wharf at Suisun and built a warehouse with sleeping quarters, then moved   his wood-frame home from its location on Pine Street in San Francisco to Suisun.

He also discovered, that at low tide, Suisun was not an island. Using willow logs, he raised the low-tide connection between the island and the Suisun Valley shoreline. Later this connection would be called Union Avenue.

Next, he sent for his family back in Massachusetts. His wife, Mercy, and children reached San Francisco in August of 1852.

With wife Mercy, and the 10 children from both their marriage and his previous marriage, the family became the founders of Suisun City.

The embarcadero quickly grew into a bustling business district, especially for the farming community in the upper county area. Records of 1852 note shipments of potatoes, another of the early local attempts to develop a variety of agricultural commodities.

In 1854, Capt. Wing began plans for the layout of the new town, with street grids and lot subdivisions with assistance by Owens to be called Suisun City.

Suisun waterfront, today

“They were then engaged in stock raising. Wing’s schooner used to carry away the grain which was brought in from the valleys, being hauled to Suisun by teams of sixteen to twenty mules. I can remember when the stagecoaches came in here, one line running from Benicia to Fairfield and the other from Napa to Sacramento.”

By 1855, the Solano Herald already said about the flourishing town: “It is the point of embarkation of the produce of the county and has for the past few months been the busiest place in the county.”

Suisun became a bustling port of commerce where fortunes were made. At the time, there was a wheat boom. There was a huge demand in Europe for flour.

In the 1850 census, Josiah was ship master in Brewster, Barnstable, Massachusetts. In the 1860 census, Josiah was a seaman in Suisan, California.

By the late 1850s, he sold part of his landholdings in Suisun, including the wharf.  Josiah kept sailing his new ship, The Ann Sophia, on the Sacramento River, and was especially busy at harvest time. He found the land holdings to be a distraction from his first love of shipmaster,   He continued to use the wharf for his business until 1864, when he also sold the Ann Sophia.

Instead of local politics, Josiah’s interests had shifted back to the sea. Over the previous decade, he had made changes to his holdings that eventually allowed him to be gone for much of the year.

In the spring of 1866, at age 67, Josiah Wing went back to sea. This time, the North Pacific beckoned with its highly profitable fishing grounds.   He mastered the brig Pride of the West to catch fish in the North Pacific. His voyage was “crowned with success,” according to news reports.For the next five years, he fished the Pacific Northwest, sailing all the way to the Okhotsk Sea, off the Russian Coast. In some years, he would return with nearly 100,000 caught codfish.

The next year he took command of the Dominga and for the next five years he sailed to Petropoulski, on the Okhotsk Sea, returning each autumn with 70,000 to 100,000 codfish.  Other fishing expeditions took him to New Zealand.

In 1871, he planned on arriving back in Suisun to give the bride away, when his daughter Laura married, but he was delayed for 18 days by calm winds.   His final voyage ended in November 1871. At age 72, he left the sea for good  and he decided to open a fish market.

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6 Responses to Ship Captains

  1. Pingback: Favorite Posts | Miner Descent

  2. Pingback: Favorite Posts 2011 | Miner Descent

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  4. Hi, I am Barbara Muller, president of the Heritage Library Foundation on Hilton Head Island, SC. This fall we will be celebrating twin anniversaries: the sighting of Hilton Head by Captain William Hilton and the 30th anniversary of the incorporation of theTown of Hilton Head Island. You may be interested in participating or at least knowing about the celebration. (I see you have reference to the Captain’s relation of his discovery.) I am also in touch with Jerrold Hilton who is a descendant.
    Let me know if you want more details and/or might make it to Hilton Head for the celebration — Sept. 29 – Oct 5 2013
    My phone is 843 715 0153

  5. Pingback: Favorite Posts 2013 | Miner Descent

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