Posted by: Karlee A. Turner | October 20, 2012

October 20

Amazingly, not one of our regular whaling wives made a single entry from Oct. 19 – 21, 1847 (Mary Brewster), 1858 (Mary Lawrence) and 1860 (Eliza Williams).

But, not wanting to disappoint all you loyal followers, I selected the first (of three) entries below.

This first of three journal entries were made by a young man of 22 years, by the name of W.S. Maxfield, who sailed on the Niger on October 14, 1852 (the first day of a three-year voyage). Although written by a young man rather than a young wife, it clearly demonstrates that the feelings of the sailors were not uncommon from what the wives also felt as they departed the shore.

This entry was made the first Sunday out from MA on board the Niger. His journal entry continues: “Strong breeze from the north. Scrubbed decks in the morning. O, how I wish I was at home today to go to meeting [church], and tonight also for to see the girls. That’s what I like, is the girls — girls forever for me, I say. Steering east, half south. Moderate towards night. Made single reef in mizzen topsail jib [a certain way of setting the sail to capture as much wind as possible]. So ends the day — but homesick.”

No doubt, young Mr. Maxfield’s captain [Nathan M. Jernegan] was feeling just as homesick, especially since his wife, Charlotte, did not come on this voyage but remained behind at New Bedford, awaiting the delivery of their baby. Charlotte safely delivered a baby boy, christened Thomas Dunham Jernegan, but four months later baby Thomas died having never met his father. The Vineyard Gazette printed the following lines, ‘So fades the lovely blooming flower; Frail smiling solace of an hour…’


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