Edward Augustus Kendall.

Travels through the northern parts of the United States, in the year 1807 and 1808 (Volume 2) online

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Lost on the eastern shores of the Atlantic, it
was once more recovered on the western ; and
the coasts of Virginia, Carolina, Florida, the
Brazils and Patagonia, were successively the
seats of the fishery, and successively exhausted.
But, the chase was not relinquished here. Cape,

'.' '> /.'*'



Horn was doubled, and the whale, still found
where followed, and still retiring when he was
found, drew his enemy, from voyage to voyage,
up the coasts of Chili, Peru and California, to
what is called the Nor;h- west Coast, which is the
present resort. The fishing of the North-west
Coast, however, as past experience gives reason
to believe, will not be more permanent than
the fisheries that have preceded- it ; so that the
fish, should the trade find adequate encou-
ragement, may one day be seen to have
been pursued fairly round the world. Mean-
while, the voyages to the Pacific Ocean have
opened a further object, that of the commerce
in peltries at the Canton market, the vessels
employed in which, in the course of a voyage
of two years, encompass the globe. From Nan-
tucket, they depart in ballast. On the North-
west Coast, they freight themselves with peltries,
and these they carry to Canton, and exchange for
the teas and nankeens of China, and the calicoes
and muslins of India, with which they return, at
length, by the Cape of Good Hope, toNantucket.
The trade here described is at present in more
esteem than the whale-fishery . The voyage round
Cape Horn, an undertaking of so much magni-
tude in the days of Anson, is of no account
with the Nantucket sailor, and the health of
the crews is well preserved, because much care


is taken in this regard, and because many oppor-
tunities are afforded for arresting the progress
of the scurvy. Fresh fish is the ship's provi-
sion, in preference to salted meat. Prodigious
supplies of eggs are obtained on the Falkland
Islands ; and, on the North-west Coast, frequent
communications are had with the shore, whence
vegetable and animal food are procured. Such
is the account of this commerce, Tor which I am
indebted to the conversation of a gentleman re-
sident in New Bedford, but a native and old
inhabitant of Nantucket.

The comparatively total disappearance of the
whale, in the Atlantic, is an unquestionable fact;
and the naturalist has his choice, between the
attributing the phenomenon to the destruction
of the animal, or to its flight : he may believe
that the whales of the northern latitudes of the
east coast of America had perished by the har-
poon, before the fishermen thought of stretch-
ing to the Western Islands; or he may be-'
lieve that they have retired from their pursuers.
The numbers, in which they were formerly
known as high as Davis's Straits, would perhaps
appear to be exaggerated by historians, were they
not supported by modern descriptions of the new
seats of the fishery.

The earliest accounts, of the whale-fishery of
the English, carry back its history only to the


year 1593, when a certain number of ships sail-
ed from England for Cape Breton, some for
morse-fishing, and some for whale-fishing;
and, though the whale-ships were unsuccessful,
yet they found eight hundred fins on the coast,
where a Biscay ship had been lost the year be-
fore.* By xvhale-Jln has always been meant
the barb, from which the whale-bone is really
obtained. The morse or sea-cow affords the
same example, of ancient abundance and actual
scarcity, with the whale. An account is given
of a small bark, by which alone, in 1591, fif-
teen hundred morses were killed at Ramea.f

The whale was formerly numerous in the
Gulf of Saint- Lawrence, and even in the mouth
of the river of the same name ; and, in 1604, the
single harbour of Passamaquoddy is described
as possessing a whale-fishery sufficient for freight-
ing several vessels.^: In 1663, when the royal

* Anderson's History of Commerce.

t Hackluyt's Voyages, vol. iii. p. 192. cited in the
American Annals, vol. ii.

| Charl. Hist. Gen. de la Nouv. Franc, liv. iii.
The Moucouadi and Moucouacadi of the P'rench is the
Passamaquoddij of the English, formerly written Maga-
frada-uic and Macagada-va. The same termination, cou-
cdi) quoddy, gada-uic, gudava, is found in Cha.ba.quid-
diC) the name of the little island that is on the east of
Oldtown Harbour.


charter was granted to the colony of Rhode
Island and Providence Plantations, the adjacent
whale-fishery was particularly provided for.*
Captain David Smith and Captain Gamaliel
Collings, of Truro, were the first that actually car-
ried the fishery into those regions ; but the enter-
prise was recommended to them by Admiral
Montagu. Their first voyage, which was a
prosperous one, was begun in the year 1774.

In 1801, a writer relates, on the authority of a
whaler of Nantucket, that round the island of
Juan Fernandes, " where a harpoon was scarce-
" ly ever thrown, the whales swim in shoals ;
" and that it is quite a matter of choice which
" of the company they [the harpooners] shall

fall upon, "f

The agricultural or rather pastoral interests of
Nantucket are upon a peculiar footing. A small
proportion of the land is inclosed, for crops of
hay and grain ; but the greater part is common-
land. The island was originally divided into

* See the Charter.

t American Universal Geography, in which the name
of Captain Worth, of Nantucket, is the authority cited.
It is added, that the coast of Chili, where no rain falls,
to interrupt the boiling of the blubber, is, for that rea-
son, much more favourable to the profits of the voy-
age, than Hudson's Bay or Davis's Straits, and that a
cargo, of the value of 6,000/. currency, is sometimes
the fruit of a fifteen months' voyuge.


twenty- seven shares ; and, with the exception of a
very few private farms, it is still considered ac-
cordingly. Sh ires, or portions of shares, called
cow's commons, entitle the holder to the pastu-
rage of a certain number of sheep, or of sheep,
oxen, cows, or horses, in proportion ; a cow be-
ing considered as equal to eight sheep, and
a horse to sixteen : the whole number of
sheep, to the pasturage of which the island is es-
timated to be competent, is nineteen thousand.
The arable land, in common, is cultivated upon
the same system. All the produce of the island
requiring to be carted to the port, and oxen not
being used for draught, many horses are kept.

The sheep and cattle range the common-
lands, on which there is no fence ; one conse-
quence of which is, that two or three thousand
sheep are sometimes lost at once, during a
winter's storm. This misfortune is the result of
an anxiety in the animal to escape from the fury
of the winds, without providing for the rising of
the tide. When the wind blows off the land,
every sheep in the flock endeavours to place
himself on the lee side, or behind all the rest.
The whole flock then advances as far as possi*
ble on the beach, and there stands to endure the
storm. When the tide rises, and the surf begin**
to break on the lee side of the flock, the outer
sheep are successively washed away; for the in-
VOL. n. D d



IILT re main immovable, and wait till the waves
Jail also upon them.

Six hundred and seventy-five acres of arable
land are annually planted by the proprietors in
common. One year they are sown with maize,
and the next with rye and oats. In maize, they
yield an average crop of about twelve bushels,
making an aggregate of 8,100 bushels ; to which
is to be added 4,000 bushels, for the produce of
the private farms. In rye and oats, the six hun-
dred and seventy -five acres, held in common,
yield about 500 bushels of the first, and about
8,000 of the second.*

* See Folger and Macy's Account of Nantucket.

In 1791, Mr. Jefferson, then secretary of state, pre-
sented a Report on the Fisheries of the United States,
from which it appears that the number of vessels, then
belonging to this island, was 141, of which 132 were large
vessels, built for the southern fishery. Mr. Jefferson,
was misinformed, however, as to the agricultural re-
sources of the island, or, as he figuratively denominates
it, the sand-bar. What he adds, in regard to the attach-
ment of the inhabitants to their island, is true, not only
v.'ith respect to foreign countries, but even to the neigh-
bouring coasts of Massachusetts : " The people, espe-
" cially the females, are fondly attached to the island ;
" and few wish to emigrate to a more desirable situa-
" tion."* The words of the Report are as follows:

" The American Whale Fishery is principally follow-
" ed by the inhabitants of the island of Nantucket,

* American Universal Geography.


A few Indians, so called, remain upon Nan-
tucket ; but, of the unmixed race, two or three
females compose the entire list. In 1620, as ap-
pears from history and tradition, there were not
less than five thousand. Beside the depopula-
tion by wars, pulmonary consumption is to be
reckoned among their severest scourges. This
disease, which, after the country-people among
the whites, they call a languishment, and which
is so prevalent in the colonial population of the
United States, is equally fatal to the Indians. It is

" a sand-bar^ of about 15 miles long and 3 broad, ca-
" pable of maintaining by its agriculture about 20 fami-
" lies ; but it employed in these fisheries, before the war,
" between .five and six thousand men and boys and, in
w the only harbour it possesses, it had one hundred and
" forty vessels, one hundred and thirty two of which
" were of the large kind, as being employed in the
" southern fishery. In agriculture, then, they have no
" recources; and if that of their fishery cannot be pur-
" sued from their own habitations, it is natural they
" should seek others from which it can be followed, and
" prefer those where they will find a sameness of lan-
" guage, religion, laws, habits and kindred. A foreign
" emissary has lately been among them for the purpose
" of renewing the invitations to a change of situation j
" but, attached to their native country, they prefer con-
" tinning in it, if their continuance there can be made

" supportable."

Mr. Jefferson* 's Report on the Fisheries^ \Qtli Jan.



remarkable, also, that the Indians, like the co-
lonists, have always suffered from a decay of
their teeth. Mr. Roger Williams, the founder
of Providence Plantations, relates, in his MS,
that when he first came into the country " the
" Indians were vastly subject to the tooth-ach;
" and that thei ' stoutest men complained more
" of thdt pain, than their women of the pains of
" travail."*

Falmouth, to which I returned, is a thriving town,
with a sea- port to which there belongs fifty or
six'y sail of vessels ; chiefly coasters, but in part
of three, and even four hundred tons burden.
The employ of the larger vessels is found in the
southern states, for which they carry cargoes to
New York, Boston and Europe. The soil of
Fahnouth is less light than that lower down the
peninsula ; but, still, more proper for the grain
than for pasture. Captain Crocker, of this place,
has twelve thousand feet of salt-works, the roofs
of the vats of which are moved by windlasses ;
the ropes communicating with more than one
range or tier of vats.

* Cullender's Historical Discourse, p. 101. In the
comparison drawn by Mr. Williams, there is less force,
however, than most readers may imagine ; because it
was a part of the Spartan education of the Indians, that
women, in the pains of travail, should not complain
at all.


There are two societies, with their churches,
in the town, but only one clergyman, the Reve-
rend Mr. Lincoln, who, dividing his time into
five parts, gives three-fifths to one society, and
two-fifths to the other ; and the societies con-
tribute after the same rate, to the amount of
his salary.

From Falmouth, the readiest communication
with the west shore of Buzzard's Bay, is the ferry;
but 1 preferred to drive round the bay, through
parts of the tow T ns of Sandwich, Wareham and
Rochester. At the head or northern extremity of
Buzzard's Bay, is an inner bay, called Buttermilk

Thickly wooded hills, and steep declivities,
distinguish a great part of the road between Fal-
mouth and Buttermilk Bay : but, arrived at the
bay, the country is more level and open, and com-
posed of rocks and sands. Such, in particular,
is the description of the soil for seven miles, be-
tween Buttermilk Bay and the church of Ware-
ham ; but the land southward, on the Agawam,
is of a superior quality. The church is at the
head of a spacious green, which spreads from
the western extremity of a dam. The dam ar-
rests the course of a stream immediately
where it enters the sea ; so that there is fresh
water on the north side of the dam, and salt on
the south. There are two other rivers in Ware-
}iam, upon which are fulling, flower and saw


mills, forges and carding- machines. Warcham
has ten or twelve sail of coasting- vessels.

In this town, there are four poor persons main-
tained, of whom three are aged women, and one
a male ideot. They are farmed out, at seventy,
eighty or ninety cents per week, accordingly as
they are able to make themselves in any degree

Rochester, which adjoins New Bedford, is a
busy place, and rapidly advancing in wealth and
population. It occupies, in a direct line, fifteen
miles of coast ; and by reason of its numerous
inlets, possesses a sea-board of at least thirty
miles. Its inland limits comprehend part of a
small lake, called Assawampset Pond, besides
the entire surfaces of other pools or ponds ;
and exclusive, of several brooks, it has
two small rivers, the Matteposset or Mata-
poiset and the Sippiwan. The Matapoiset
falls into a creek or bay, called Matapoiset
Harbour ; but this harbour is of less importance
to the town than Rochester Harbour, called
after its own name.

Ships are built in Rochester, for the port of
New Bedford, and there is commonly two thou-
sand tons upon the stocks. Many vessels also
sail out of the port of Rochester, particularly
fifty or sixty coasters, and some ships of two


hundred and fifty and three hundred tons. There
are six plaees of public worship.

The soil, in that part of the town which is
crossed by the road, is rocky, and sandy ; and,
though it improves as we approach New
Bedford, it is light throughout the district,
and unfit for pasture : it produces, however, good
crops of maize and rye.

New Bedford is a town, commercial village,
and port of entry, of which the trade is active,
and promises to increase. Its situation is on
an inlet or arm of the sea, in Buzzard's" Bay,
which inlet, in the town itself, is called t he river*
The head of the inlet receives a brook or rivulet
bearing the Indian name of Acushnet. A bridge,
the building of which was commenced after the
year 1796, is thrown across the Acushnet, at what
is called the head of the river, but which is the
mouth of the river, and head of the inlet. At
three miles below the bridge, is the village.
Above, the Acushnet, impeded at two or three
places in its course, spreads itself into diminutive

The village has two streets that run parallel to
the water, and two or three cross streets ; and the
number of houses is about three hundred. All
the buildings are of wood, but many of them
are handsome ; and the whole appearance oi the
place bespeaks prosperous industry. Ship-build-



ing is a principal employment of the place;
and there were at this time seven large vessels on
the stocks. A hundred square-rigged vessels
belong to the port ; and the ports of Falmouth,
Dartmouth and New Bedford, possess together
a hundred and fifty. Vessels of more than three
hundred tons cannot conveniently come to the
wharfs of New Bedford, Their chief employ
is that of carrying freights between New York
and Europe; rarely, if ever, fetching freights from
the West Indies, but loading with West India
produce at New York. The country round New
Bedford has nothing to export, and it consumes
but few imports. There are some handsome
warehouses, built on the wharfs ; but the
decline of the little trade in which New Bed-
ford was lately engaged, and the entire transfer
of its tonnage into the carrying-trade, will pro-
bably prevent the building of more. The former
trade arose out of the products of the whale-fish-
ery ; but the decline of the market for these pro-
ducts has reduced the merchants and ship own-
ers of New Bedford to abandon the pursuit.

One or two small salt-works are erecting in
New Bedford. A manufactory of sheaves for
ships blocks has been established in the village,
the machinery of which is turned by sea-wuter,
thrown upon an over-shot wheel. The water is
raised by sails; but this expedient, which is well


adapted for raising water for the salt-works, in-
adequate to the service here required. All the
water, that it ordinarily raises in forty-eight hours,
being expended in four.

Many of the inhabitants of New Bedford are
emigrants from Nantucket; and the rest are gene-
rally from the towns to the eastward. In West-
port, which is on the western boundary of Mas-
sachusetts, and is separated from New Bedford
only by the town of Dartmouth, a colony has lately
been begun, by adventurers from Yarmouth.
Their particular inducement is the acquisition of
a more convenient harbour than their old one, in
which they can load and unload their fish with less
handling and consequent damage.

New Bedford itself was made a town so lately
as the year 1787, though the Acushnet is said
to have been discovered in 1602. In 1778,
when it had become a nest of privateers, Acush-
net could boast of losses to the amount of
97,000/. currency, by the hostilities necessarily
committed for its destruction. In 1794, when
it was engaged in commerce, its exports amount-
ed to 82,085 dollars. In the village is a marine-
insurance office, and a printing-office, at which
is published a weekly newspaper ; and there is a
quaker's meeting-house, and a congregational
church; but no settled clergyman. At the
Head of the River is another church ; and jt

VOL. ii. E e


is not long since, and both were regularly
served ; but the pulpits are now only occasion-
ally filled, and then only by methodist and other
travelling preachers. One Smith has here re-
cently propagated the doctrine, that there will be
no resurrection for the wicked ; and he is much

From the Head of the River to the mouth of
the inlet is a space of seven or eight miles. The
town lies on both sides of the inlet, which, op-
posite the village of New Bedford, is about a
mile in width. The village of New Bedford is
on the west shore, and the villages of Fairhaven
and Oxford on the east. Fairhaven fronts New
Bedford, but Oxford is below. Fairhaven has
a church with a spire ; and I saw several large
vessels lying at its wharfs.

Middleborough, a populous town, engaged in
the nail manufacture and other works in iron,
of the ore of which metal it possesses great
quantities, lies between New Bedford, and
Taunton, or rather Taunton river, in which di-
rection I now proceeded. On a rising ground,
by the road side, and on the banks of a large
body of water, called Long Pond, is an open-
burying-ground, in which, on a rude slab of slate,
is rudely cut the following biographical inscrip-


** In memory of the Rev. William Nelson. He
died April llM, 1806, in his 65th year.

" In Middleborough i had'my birth,
" At Warren my classical education,
" At Tiverton I had my ordination,
u At Norton my dwelling-place ;
" Dartmouth an assylum for my health,
" At Middleborough my exit and grave."


Massachusetts Dighton Taunton.

AT New Bedford, I was for the second time
in the neighbourhood of Narragansett Bay,
though on that portion of its shores which be-
longs to the territory of Massachusetts. At the
distance of a very few miles, I gained the banks
of a river, that, like many others in the United
States, being without a name, is called Taunton
River, from the town past which it flows. It
falls into Mount Hope Bay, an inlet of Nar-
ragansett Bay, above Rhode Island ; and is navi-
gable, for small vessels, as high as Taunton.

All the ground in this vicinity, if not classic,
is at least historical. The English colonists in


the year 1620, found it in the possession of a
numerous people, whom they called Narragan-
setts, or Narragansett Indians, and of whom there
may remain a hundred souls, settled in the neigh-
bourhood of some little lakes, in the town of
Charlcstown, to the westward of the bay. Of
the Narragansetts, or at least of their sachem or
chief, styled by historians King Philip, we are
still reminded at every step, by the traditionary
manes. All the country is described as part of
King Philip's territory. The town of Raynham
is said to have been King Philip's hunting-
ground ; another tract was King Philip's fowl-
ing- ground; a rock on Mount Hope was King
Phiiip's Throne or Chair; and " they show the
" spot (Kikemutt Spring in a farm, belonging
" to Stephen Paine, Esquire, in Bristol,) where
" Philip received the news of the first English-
" men that were killed, and wept at the news."*
It was a vestige of the Indians, still remain-
ing on Taunton River, that I now proposed to
visit. It consists in a sculptured rock, known
to the inhabitants by the name of the Writing
Rock, and which has long excited some portion
of antiquarian curiosity ; several drawings having

* Callender's Historical Discourse on the Civil and
Religious Affairs of the Colony of Rhode Island, &c.
Boston, 1739.



been made, of which one, by Mr. James Winthrop,
is in the library of Harvard College, and has been
engraved in die Transactions of the Massachu-
setts Academy of Arts and Sciences ; and another,
procured in the beginning of the preceding cen-
tury, by Dr. Cotton Mather, may be seen in
one of the volumes of the Transactions of the
Royal Society of London. The rock is on the
east side of the river, in Berkeley, a new town,
comprehended within the former limits of the
town of Dighton, and on a tongue of land that
projects to the southward, and is denominated
Asonnet Neck.

Though the Writing Rock is a monument as
rude as it is unintelligible, yet it deserves atten-
tion, as well for what it really is, as for what
various observers have supposed it to be : it is not
a monument of the Phoenicians, nor of the Car-
thaginians, nor of the lost tribe of Israel, nor of
Prince Madoc, nor of Captain Blackbeard, nor
of Captain Kyd; but it is a monument of the
sculpture of the ancient inhabitants of America,
whether Narragansetts or others.

The rock is an insulated mass of fine-grain-
ed gray granite or grunstein, lying northwest and
southwest, on the sands of the river, a few
Feet above the present low-water mark, but
covered at every tide. Its length is eleven feet,
and its height fourandahatf. Toward the land, its



form is broken and irregular, but inclining gra-
dually outward, from the summit to the base ;
toward the water, it presents a regular face, and
nearly smooth, forming an inclined plane, of about
sixty degrees elevation. Of this face, which is of
the length of the rock, and about five feet broad,
the whole appears to have been originally filled
with sculptures ; but those, immediately at the
base, if such there were, are now entirely worn
away. A little above, sculptures discover them-
selves but faintly ; while those at the summit are
very perfect. In what figures the sculptures con-
sist will be best learned from the accompanying
plate; but a few words and they are very few
are to be added, on the style of workmanship.
The whole is composed of outlines, hollowed, or
cut in intaglio ; and of which the breadth is gene-
rally less than an inch, and the depth, where deep-
est, does not exceed half an inch. From the ap^
pearance of the sculpture, and from the hardness of
the stone, it is probable that the upper parts have
suffered little injury ; and yet the edges are here
broken, and the whole execution appears barbar-

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Online LibraryEdward Augustus KendallTravels through the northern parts of the United States, in the year 1807 and 1808 (Volume 2) → online text (page 12 of 17)