Posted by: Karlee A. Turner | October 21, 2012

21st October

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.

Nathan and Charlotte Jernegen’s first-born child, a son, died at the age of four months and was buried, having never met his father, who was at sea aboard the Niger. Thousands of miles away, the Niger was whaling in the northern Pacific. After striking two bowhead whales, the largest yielded 170 barrels (approximately 535 gallons), the smallest 13o barrels (about 409 gallons), sailor Maxfield made the following journal entry (Part 3 of III):

“…the third mate went on to lance and got stove [boat destroyed by the whale]. The whale took his line, two lances and four irons and went off slowly spouting blood [a sure sign the whale was mortally wounded]. The men clung to the boat and oars and hung on like good fellows for their lives. But God saw fit to take one of them. He was washed off the boat and sank like a stone. He was numbed with the cold so that he could not help himself and live it out until the [other] boats got to them. When they did, they was about all gone. Ten minutes longer and they would all have perished. The boy that was lost was named John A. Portugee. Lost the whale but saved the boat. Double reefed the topsails and furled the jib. Blowing a gale at night. Bad day’s work for us. But we have all got to die [sometime].” 

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