Posted by: Karlee A. Turner | March 19, 2013

The FIRST wife aboard the “Charles W. Morgan”

During 1864, Lydia Ann (Goodspeed) Landers was the first C. W. Morgan wife given permission to sail aboard the whaling vessel. She spent a portion of her childhood on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, lived a few years at Marston’s Mills (Barnstable) MA and in the Autumn of 1863, at the age of approximately twenty-two years of age (or twenty-one; sources vary) married widower Captain Thomas L. Landers at New Bedford, MA.  However, at the time of her marriage and when the C.W. Morgan departed December 1, 1863, the owners (J. & W. R. Wing) did not allow wives to accompany their husbands.

Lydia and Thomas Landers

In the first six to nine months of 1864, the owners had a change of heart (currently the “when and why” are unknown) and Lydia had the difficult task of “catching up” to the Morgan by way of steamboat, train and/or stagecoach (or a combination of all three).  Remember, the U.S. Civil War was still ongoing and there were numerous Indian uprisings in the west. HOW, then, was this young bride going to manage to reach the Morgan once it rounded Cape Horn (the Panama Canal had not yet been built) and dropped anchor in San Francisco or Honolulu, Hawaii (then called the Sandwich Islands)?  In that era, overland by way of the continental United States was too risky, especially for a young woman; but what other transportation opportunities were there?

John F. Leavitt, author of a book titled, The Charles W. Morgan (Mystic Seaport, 1973) suggested Lydia Landers went by way of steamboat, stagecoach, and train. Recently, while conducting research, I learned that for at least a portion of the trip, she took at least one (and most likely several) steamboats possibly from New York to Panama, Panama to San Francisco, and finally to Hawaii where she joined her husband aboard the Morgan. How she completed the first and final leg of her journey, possibly from New Bedford to New York (and San Francisco to Hawaii) and by what mode of transportation, has yet to be determined and confirmed. However, thanks to a friend who is a professional historian and genealogists, I know during the Autumn of 1864 she was listed as a passenger on board a Pacific Mail Steamship from Panama to San Francisco.

And so….the research continues to uncover the curious situation of HOW (and exactly WHEN) Lydia Landers traveled from New Bedford to Hawaii during several months of 1864.


  1. […] In 1864, Thomas Landers, one of the Morgan’s 21 captains, tried to persuade his young wife, Lydia, to join him on the voyage. He ordered a gimballed swinging berth in his sleeping quarters as an inducement. She actually went, perhaps because he promised her a trip to Hawaii. […]

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