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Records and Papers




VOLUME II. 1895-1904.


New London, Connecticut.

Press of The Day Publishing Company.


Benjamin Stark Part II

"Master" John Owen "

The "Third Brick School House" " "

Union School House " "

E. B. Jennings, A. M " "

Bartlett High School " "

Nathan Hale Grammar School "

Leonard H. Bulkeley " "

The Bulkeley School House " "

Harriet P. Williams " "

Williams Memorial Institute " "

Hon. Charles Augustus Williams " I V

Elisha Turner " "

Governor Jonathan Trumbull " V

Hon. Richard A. Wheeler " "

Rev. John Avery "

Rev. Samuel George Willard " "

Portrait Hon. LaFayette S. Foster " "

Captain Stevens Rogers " "

Steamship Savannah " "


Facing Page












Facing Page



Facing Page








Avery, Rev. John. Reminiscences of Ministers Meeting, (with 60 brief
biographies) 23.
Memoir, by Amos A. Browning, 479.
Benjamin, Mary Eddye. Secretary's Annual Reports, 399, 403, 407, 421.
Annual and Special Meetings, 400, 402, 405, 406, 409, 410, 415, 41S.
Blake, S. Leroy, D. D. Editor Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the
Settlement of New London. 187.
Oration, 277.
Browning, Amos A. The Preston Separate Church, 153.

Memoir of Rev. John Avery, 479.
Bush, Celeste E. A Letter to my great-great grandmother, Mistress Dor-
othy Lay, 470.
Champion, May Kelsey. Secretary's Annual Reports, 104, 175.

Minutes, Annual Meetings, 103, 173, 506. ,
Chew, James Lawrence. Famous Old Taverns of New London, 69.

Fact and Reminiscence, 86.
Clark, Colonel James. Memoir, by Mary Clarke Huntington, 457.
Ernesty, Frederick 0. Highways, Holdings and Landmarks in the Ancient

Town of Lyme, 462.
Fletcher, Benjamin. Sketch of, and Reception in Hartford in 1693, by

Jonathan Trumbull, 3S1.
Foster, LaFayette S. Presentation of portrait, to the Society, by Jonathan
Trumbull, 490.
Acceptance of portrait, for the Society, by Ernest E. Rogers, 492.
Gorton, Elizabeth. Secretary's Annual Reports, 508, 517.

Board of Directors' Meetings, 503, 505, 514.
Griswold, Conn. Daniel L. Phillips, 448.
Hawley, Joseph R. Address at 250th anniversary of the settlement of

New London, 291.
Harwood, P. Leroy. Minutes, Annual Meeting, 1903, 514.
Huntington, Mary Clarke. Memoir of Colonel James Clark of Lebanon,

Lathrop, George Parsons. Poem — "New London," read at 250th anniversa i \

of settlement, 257.
Law, William H. Address at 250th anniversary of the settlement of New

London, 268.
Lay, Mistress Dorothy. Letter to, by Celeste E. Bush, 470.


Learned, Walter. Oral inn at 250th anniversary of the settlemenl of New

London, 240.
Lyme, Highways, Eoldinga and Landmarks in. Frederick 0. Ernesty, 462.
McGinley, John. Memoir of Charles Augustus Williams, 367.

.Memoir of Benjamin Stark, 371.
Memoir of Elisha Turner from Hartford Courant, 377.
.Memories. Richard A. Wheeler, 474.
Ministers Meeting. Reminiscences, by Rev. John Avery (with 60 brief biog

raphies), 23.
New London. Early Whaling Industry, by C. A. Williams, 3.
Famous I Hd Taverns, in J. I.. < Ih-w . 69.
Euct and Reminiscence, by J. I., (hew, 86.
Historical Sketch of Schools, by Benjamin stark, 115.
Society for Trade and Commerce, l>y X. Shaw Perkins, 145.
250th Anniversary, edited by S. Leroy Blake. 187.
New London County Historical Society.

Minutes annual and special meetings. (Annual) Sept. 6, L894, 103.
Sept. 2, 1895. 173. Sept. 1. 1896, 351. Sept. 1, 1897, 397. Sept. 1,
1898, ID". Sept. I. L899, 102. Sept. 7. 1900. 406. Sept. 3, L90L,
41S. Se,,i. 9, 1902, 506. Sept. 1. 1903, 514.
(Special! Nov. L6, 1895, 176. Jan. 12. 1900. 405. Sept. IS. 1900. 409.
Jan. 26, 1901, 410. May 23, 1901, 415. Nov. 20, 1901, 503. June 4,
190:.'. :.().-,. May L3, 1903, 514. May 20, 1903, 514.
Me,. tin- in Norwich, Jan. 30, 1901, 412.
Meeting in Lyme, June 7, 1901, 416.

Secretary's reports for years ending Sept., 1894, 104. 1895, L75.
1896.353. 1897,397. 1898,399. 1899.403. 1900,407. 1901,421.
1902. 50S. 1903, 517.
Treasurer's reports for years ending Sept., 1902, 513. Sept., 1903,

List of officers for years ending Sept., 1895, 106. 1896, 178, 355*. 1 '.to 1

423. 1902, 420. Elected Sept., 1903, 525.
List of members for years ending Sept., 1895, 107. 1896, 179, 356*.

1901, 424. 1903, 526.
List of publications, 502.
Perkins, Nathaniel Shaw. New London Society for Trade and Commerce, 145.
Phillips, Daniel L. Griswold, Conn., 448.
Piatt, 0. H. Address at 250th anniversary of the settlement of New

London, 263.
Potter, Fannie. Minutes, special meeting, Nov. 16, 1895, 176.
Publications of The New London County Historical Society. 502.
Rogers, Ernest E. Acceptance of Foster portrait, 492.
Rogers, Stevens. Sketch, by Richard B. Wall, 493.

• Date on page 355 should be Sept. 2, 1897.


Russell, Charles A. Address at 250th anniversary of the settlement of New

London, 260.
Separate Church of Preston. Amos A. Browning, 153.
Smith, Rev. George W. Address at 250th anniversary of the settlement of

New London, 298.
Stark, Benjamin. Historical Sketch of the Schools of New London, 1645-

1895, 115.

Memoir, by John McGinley, 371.
Stark, William M. Secretary's Annual Report, 353.

Minutes Annual Meeting, 351.
Trumbull, Jonathan. Joseph Trumbull, First Commissary-General of the
Continental Army, 329.

Memoir of John T. Wait, 375.

Benjamin Fletcher, and his Reception in Hartford in 1693, 381.

Jonathan Trumbull, Governor of Connecticut, 1769-1784, 431.

Presentation of Foster portrait, 490.
Trumbull, Jonathan, Governor of Connecticut. Sketch, by Jonathan Trum-
bull, 431.
Trumbull, Joseph, First Commissary-General of the Continental Army, 329.
Turner, Elisha, Memoir, from the Hartford Courant, 377.
Wait, John T. Memoir, by Jonathan Trumbull, 375.
Ware, Charles B. Treasurer's Reports, 513, 522, 523.
Wall, Richard B. Sketch of Captain Stevens Rogers, 493.
Waller, Thomas M. Address at 250th anniversary of the settlement of New

London, 270.
Wheeler, Annie E. Secretary's annual report, 397.

Minutes, annual meeting, 397.
Wheeler, Richard A. Memories, 474.

Willard, Abby G. Memoir of Rev. Samuel George Willard, 484.
Willard, Samuel G. Memoir, by Abby G. Willard, 484.
Williams, Charles Augustus. Early Whaling Industry of New London, 3.

Memoir, by John McGinley, 367.





Part i. Vol ii.


New London, Connecticut.


Copyright by the New London County Historical Society.


Early Whaling Industry of New London, by C. A. Williams... 3

Reminiscences of the Ministers' Meeting, by Rev. John Avery. 23

Famous Old Taverns of New London, by James Lawrence

Chew 09

Fact and Reminiscence, by James Lawrence Chew 86

Report of Annual Meeting 103

List of Officers 100

List "of Members 107



By C. A. Williams.

Read at the Annual, Meeting of the New London
County Historical Society, Sep-
tember 6th, 1894.



The earliest authenticated account of a whaling voyage is that
of Othen, a native of Heligoland, diocese of Drontheim, Norway,
written out by Alfred the Great in the year 890. Othen communicated
the enterprise and voyage to King Alfred himself, who preserved
it and handed it down to us in his translation of Crosius. Crosius
was a Spaniard who wrote a summary of history in the year 417.
Alfred the Great translated it and added of his own composition a
sketch of Germany, including the valuable voyages of Othen to the
North Pole, and Wolfstan to the Baltic Sea. In 875 mention is made of
the whale fishery on the French coast. The English people first
attempted whaling in 1594. Several ships were fitted from Cape
Breton. One, the Grace of Bristol, took about 800 slabs of whalebone
in St. George's Bay, where two Biscayan ships were wrecked three
years before. The claim of the English to the discovery and first prac-
tice of whaling on the coast and island of Spitzbergen stands undis-
puted. The Dutch allow that the English preceded them to the
Spitzbergen fishery by four years.

In 1598 the port of Hull fitted ships to Iceland and the North
Cape, and to Spitzbergen in 1G07, after its re-discovery by Hud-
son. In 1611 Thomas Edge, in the Marie Margaret of 1(!() tons,
and Jonas Pool, in the Elizabeth of 60 tons, whaled in the Spiiz-
bergen seas and took the first oil there. In 1614 the Dutch made
their beginning. In 1616 Edge says in his journal : " This year
it pleased God to bless their labors, and they filled all their ships
and left a surplus behind which they could not take on.''

On moving resolutions for conciliation with America, House of
Commons, March 22, 1775, Edmund Burke, in that great speech,
the most faultless of his productions, thus noticed the whaling in-
dustry of New England :

" As to the wealtb which the colonies have drawn from the sea by their fish-
eries, you had all that matter fully opened at your bar. You surely thought
those acquisitions of value, for they seemed even to excite your envy ; and yet
the spirit by which that enterprising employment has been exercised ought
rather, in my opinion, to have raised your esteem and admiration. And pray,
Sir, what in the world is equal to it? Pass by the other parts, and look at the
manner in which the people of New England have of late carried on the whale-
fishery. Whilst we follow them among the tumbling mountains of ice, and be-
hold them penetrating into the deepest frozen recesses of Hudson's Bay and
Davis's Straits ; whilst we are looking for them beneath the arctic circle, we hear
that they have pierced into the opposite region of polar cold, that they are
at the antipodes, and engaged under the frozen serpent of the South. Falk-
land Island, which seemed too remote and romantic an object for the grasp of
national ambition, is but a stage and resting-place in the progress of their victo-
rious industry. Nor is the equinoctial heat more discouraging to them than
the accumulated winter of both the poles. We know that whilst some of them
draw the line and strike the harpoon on the coast of Africa, others run the
longitude, and pursue their gigantic game along the coast of Brazil. No
sea but what is vexed by their fisheries. No climate that is not witness to
their toils. Neither the perseverance of Holland, nor the activity of France, nor
the dexterous and firm sagacity of English enterprise, ever carried this most
perilous mode of hardy industry to the extent to which it has been pushed by
this recent people, — a people who are still, as it were, but in the gristle, and
not yet hardened into the bone of manhood."

This graphic portraiture forces recognition of the character of
the industry we are to consider, and makes it evident that only
mighty hunters, sagacious and fearless men, could successfully con-
duct it. But in this commendation New London had no share.

The earliest records indicate that William Hamilton was the first
person to kill whales on the New England coast. He was born in
Scotland in 1643, and coming to ihis country in the early part of
his life, took up his residence at Cape Cod, where he was persecu-
ted by the inhabitants for killing whales, as one who dealt with
evil spirits. Whaling was afterwards carried on by a Mr. Pad-
dock, who went to Nantucket about the middle of 1680 for the pur-
pose of instructing the English in the art of whaling in boats from
the shore, which business continued good and profitable till the
year 1760, when it diminished in consequence of the scarcity of

In 1718 whales were pursued on the ocean in small sloops and
schooners of from 30 to 50 tons. The blubber was brought home and
tried or boiled in try-houses. A few years later vessels of larger
hurthen were employed, and the oil was boiled out in try-works at

In 1775 (the year of Burke's great speech) Nantucket had 150
vessels, and employed in them 2,200 men on whaling voyages, who
took anuually about 30,000 barrels of oil. These, therefore, were
the men who drew forth Burke's encomium.

In 1794 the ship Commerce, owned in Kast Haddam, I77fj
tons, licensed by Samuel Phillips Lord, sailed from New London ou a
whaling vo) age.

In 1795 (April 5) the following notice appeared in the New
London Gazette : " All parsons who wish to be interested in a
Whaling Company to be established in this place, are requested to
meet at Miner's Tavern at 4 o'clock p. m. on Monday, the 20th inst.,
to consider on the most proper means to promote said establish-
ment." Evidently* the response to this call was insufficient, as it
led to no material result.

May 4, 1708, ship Criterion, from Brazil Banks, arrived at
Sag Harbor with 1,400 barrels of oil, 14,000 pounds of bone,
and 500 sealskins, and reported as left on the " Banks," ship
Commerce, Ransou, New London, with 500 barrels of oil. July 0,
1798 (same year), the ship Commerce arrived in New London
from a cruise of fifteen months, full cargo of oil. She must
have made two voyages, but I cannot find that she appeals
again on the New London records. Probably she was withdrawn
from whaling, as was not unusual, and put into some other trade.
The next notice of the Criterion, above mentioned, is as follows :
"The Criterion, belonging to Gen. William Williams, sailed,
armed for Bilboa, from New London, September 19th, 1798 ; she,
also, having been withdrawn from whaling and put into merchant

The next effort was from Norwich. In 1799 a company was
there formed for prosecuting the sealing ami whaling business.
They fitted the following vessels, viz.: Ship Susannah and sehooner
Oneco, which sailed from New Loudon in October, 1799; the ship
Miantonomah, which sailed in April, 1800; and the ship Mars. This
energetic attempt was worthy of a better fate than fell to its lot.
The Susannah was wrecked on the Brazil Banks, and the three

other vessels were seized and confiscated by the Spanish authori-
ties at Valparaiso.

In 1805 another trial was made from New Loudon. A whaling
company was formed mainly through the efforts of Dr. S. H. P. Lee,
whose memory should be cherished as the brave physician who
was faithful to his profession and his post when others fled during
the scourge of yellow fever which prevailed here in 1198. The
company purchased and fitted the ship Dauphin, built at Pawtucket
Bridge by Capt. John Barber with special reference to the whaling
business. She sailed for the Brazil Banks, September 6, 1805, and
returned with her cargo of oil, June 14, 1806. The ship Leonidas
was then bought, and the two vessels sailed in August, 1806, and
returned in 1807 with full cargoes. The company added another
vessel to their list, the ship Lydia, and the three sailed for the coast
of Patagonia. They all returned in 1808 with good catches, but
only the Leonidas is reported as sailing again that year. Then fol-
lowed the embargo, non-intercourse, and war, and from this period
the shadows darkened until all our commerce was entirely broken up.

In 1819 Thomas VV. Williams fitted the brig Mary, Captain
Davis, for a whaling voyage; and Daniel Deshon and others fitted
the ship Carrier, Douglass, master, and the brig Mary Ann, Inglis.
They all returned the next year ; the Mary with full cargo, the
Carrier with half a cargo, the Mary Ann limping after with but 59
barrels of oil. In 1820 the brig Pizarro, Elias Coit, master, was
added, and in 1821 the brig Thames and ship Commodore Perry,
and the ship Stonington, built at Stonington. The Gazette of
September 15, 1821, thus notices her arrival : "Arrived here on
Saturday last from Stonington, the new ship Stonington, 350 tons
burden, owned by Gen. William Williams and others, intended for
a South Sea whaler. She appears to be as fine a ship as ever floated
in this harbor."

As the venture of this ship required a larger employment of cap-
ital than the earlier efforts had done, it was divided into shares of
one thirty-second each ; and the list of ownership will interest to-
day those of our citizens who can recall the names of men who
more than seventy years ago. were active and prominent in the bus-
iness of the community. In this year (1821) the Carrier and the Ston-
ing ton sailed on what was then called the long voyage, i. e., around
the Horn to the Pacific Ocean. The Carrier was absent twenty-

eight and one-half months and returned with 2,100 barrels of oil.
A detailed statement of her cruise is preserved, which is interesting
as showing the parts qf the ocean visited and the class of whales
taken. On " Chili and oft' shore ground " she took 57 whales, on
coast of Japan 58, and on the coast of California 13; a total of 128
whales, yielding less than 17 barrels of oil each by average. The
Stonington was absent about the same time and brought in about
1,550 barrels of sperm oil.

In 1822 the ship Connecticut, built at Norwich, and the ships
Ann Maria and Jones, purchased, were added to the list, and in 1824
the bark Neptune. The Carrier and the four brigs were with-
drawn about this time, and no further additions made to the fleet
until 1827, when the Chelsea was built. That year the whaling list
of the port consisted of seven ships, six fitted by Thomas W. Will-
iams, and one, the Commodore Perry, fitted by N. & W. \Y.
Billings, who were just entering the business, and who, towards
the close of the year, added two ships, the Superior and the Phoenix,
to the list. Ephraim M. Frink, about the same time, fitted the ship
Friends for the Pacific ocean. In 1828 William Williams, Jr. and Acors
Barns established a firm and fitted the ships Stonington and
Electra. In 1829 A. M. Frink fitted the ship Mentor. In 1830
Benjamin Brown entered the business, taking over the aforenamed
ships, Friends and Mentor, and fitting them for the Pacific. In
1832 the Messrs. Frink united, and formed the firm of E. M. & A.
M Frink and fitted the Palladium and Wabash. In 1832 to 1834
two ships were fitted from Norwich. In 1834 Joseph Lawrence fitted
the ship Boston. Mr. Lawrence for some years previous to this
date had been engaged in the sealing business. The firm name of
E. M. & A. M. Frink was this year (1834) changed to E. M. Frink
& Co. In 1835 Coleby Chew fitted the ship Commodore Periy. In
1836 the firm of William Williams, Jr. & Acors Barns was changed
to Williams & Barns, on the admission of Thomas W. Williams, 2d,
to the partnership. In 1837 Coleby Chew associated in business
with the Messrs. Frink, under the firm name of Frink, Chew,

Eighteen years had passed since the business was continuously
prosecuted and now it was firmly established. Since 1 s-27 many
vessels had been added ; and the total number from this port engaged


in whaling in 1837 was 36 vessels, aggregating overl3,500 tons, with
upwards of $1,000,000 capital invested. The experiment stage was
long since passed ; and the energy and capital of New London were
seeking light, sending their ships over every sea to hunt and capture
leviathan. A race of men had been nurtured and trained in these
ships, who were daring and skillful, with keen perceptive faculties
in the pursuit of the big game. They were also able navigators and
seamen, upright and careful managers of the property entrusted
to them. They were gathered from the town or from the surround-
ing country. Naturally there was a fascination to the youthful

"And the beauty and mystery of the ships,
And the niagicof the sea "

compelled them. That often they were disillusioned for a time at
the start mattered not, because at that moment they could not re-
turn to the quiet routine of shore life, and when once their first
misgivings were over they scorned to do so. They were the heroes
of the port, and they looked to pass the grades of promotion
speedily and in due time walk the deck as master. And this,
those of them who were of the right stuff, readily did.

John P. Rice was a boat-steerer in the brig Mary in 1819, and in
1822 he sailed as master of the Pizarro. Robert B. Smith, after
two voyages, sailed as master of the brig Mary. And though these
instances were exceptional, they were sufficient to inspire every
lad who felt and believed that what had been done, he
too could do. The perils and hardships to be encountered
but stimulated their ardor and quickened their faculties. Cap-
tain Rice lived to be the senior captain of the port in date
of commission, and died, respected and honored, in 1867. Capt.
Robert B. Smith, in 1828, on his sixth voyage, was caught in the
line and dragged out of his boat and drowned, by a whale to which
he was fast ; and so, untimely, ended a brilliant career. Capt. Frank
Smith, his brother, made a record of successful whaling unsurpassed.
In seven years, from 1831 to 1837, he accomplished seven successive
voyages as master, and brought into port 17,301 barrels of oil.
Another brother, Capt. James Smith, was also eminently success-
ful, and, retiring from whaling, became a noted commander in the
packet service in the Pacific ocean, between Honolulu and San
Francisco. Geo. Benjamin, in the Clematis, went around the world


in ten mouths and twenty days, and brought home 2,548 barrels of
oil. When such deeds were to be done, and their fame was in the
air, what lad of spirit would be content to till the farm and live
the dull daily round ? The perils were great and the rewards not
certain, but at least the game was worth a trial, and the hard
work and severe discipline tempered wild youth into self-contained
and self-restrained men.

The names mentioned have been taken as illustrations because the
bearers of them had a certain individuality which made public im-
press in their day ; but there were many other worthies of their
time and of later date whose achievements were equally valuable and
interesting, but time would fail us were I to bring them to special
mention. Some of them dwell among us to this day : Captains
Green, Ward, Hempstead, Tinker, Baker, Brown, Allyn, Spicer, and
others, having won their laurels on the sea, now wear them on the
land as good citizens, upright and capable men.

It may truly be said that the industry monopolized the town.
The ships that arrived and their success, the ships that were to sail
and the hopes that went with them, were in the minds of all.
Nearly every one in the community had a personal interest ; some
one out of the family was goiug to venture the voyage, or some de-
mand was made on the special skill or craft of the workers to help
complete the outfit. The coopers, carpenters, blacksmiths, riggers,
sailmakers, caulkers, were all needed, and contributed, each in his
special line, toward the preparation. No more animated scene
could be witnessed than was usual about the wharves where ships
were outfitting and where these craftsmen were at work, whether
when the ship was "hove down," all her length of keel exposed,
her 3eams being caulked, and her bottom coppered, busy mallets
and hammers beatiug a constant tattoo; or when, that work done,
she was righted up, her "ground" tier stowed, and casks, shooks,
and provisions busily hoisted over her side to be hidden away in
" hold " or " 'tween decks," — the hard bread in casks, the flour,
beef and pork and other stores all finding a place in that cavernous
interior. The lading completed, the ship was painted, black outside
and green inside. She was hauled into the stream with all flags
and signals flying. There she lay for a day, the admiration of all
the town, the next morning to spread white wings and sail for dis-
tant seas.


At first the voyages were confined to the Brazil Banks and the
coast of Patagonia. Soon after they rounded the Horn and chased
the sperm whale in the Southern Pacific, and the right whale on the
coast of Chili, or across the wide ocean on the Japan ground.
In these long voyages the islands of the Pacific became well known
to these mariners, and served them as recruiting stations from
which to gather fresh supplies, and as places where the crews
could be allowed liberty on shore, to change the monotony of sea
life for a stretch in the ideal surroundings of cocoa palms, green
jungles, and waving grass, a paradise indeed after months of con-
fined life within wooden walls. The natives of these islands were

Online LibraryNew London County Historical Society (Conn.)Records and papers of the New London county historical society .. (Volume II) → online text (page 1 of 44)