Posted by: Karlee A. Turner | April 27, 2013

Whaling Wife Augusta Penniman, 1864-1868

Mary Brewster’s journal for her voyage from 1845 – 1848 ended on March 8, 1848 when the Tiger arrived home (Stonington, CT). Mary and her husband, Samuel did not return to sea for their last voyage until June 1848. However, Mary’s journal-writing did not resume until July 13, 1848.

Mary Lawrence’s journal will resume May 1, 1859.

Eliza Williams made sporadic journal entries from Feb. 27 – May 7, 1861. Eliza’s future journal entries will be posted on May 8, 10, 11, 13.

Betsy Augusta (Knowles) Penniman spent many years at sea aboard the whaling vessel the Minerva. Her first voyage occurred ten years after her marriage to her husband, Edward. However, although Edward served as master of several vessels that spanned more than thirty years, from 1860 – 1868, he was captain of the Minerva, one of many nineteenth century whaling vessels from the state of Massachusetts. Augusta kept a journal during the 1864-1868 voyage; during the Civil War, and unlike the Charles W. Morgan, the Minerva was in the Arctic at the same time as the Confederate’s merchant raider, the Shenandoah was busy burning whatever Union vessels they encountered.

Based on the entries of Augusta’s journal, the last few months of 1864 (and the first months of her voyage) were relatively quiet, but that changed by mid-June 1865. On June 25, 1865, Augusta wrote: “Off Plover Bay [in the Arctic]. Spoke French ship Gustave. Reporting the Pirate Shenandoah off Cape Thaddeus, having burnt several ships saw havy [heavy] smoke supposed to be ships burning.”

Then less than a month later, on July 15, 1865, Augusta wrote: “Ship near Ounimak Island [part of the Aleutian Island chain] about noon was very much startled, by our ship twice striking bottom on a reef but, wore around and got of [off] without any damaged. About four o’clock felt quite a severe shock of an earthquake.”

After that, things quieted down somewhat. By early November of that year (1865), Augusta began preparations for their arrival at Honolulu, Hawaii where she and her son, Eugene would spent three weeks. While there, she enjoyed lots of “gams” with numerous captains’ wives and had a pleasant Thanksgiving on land – always a special treat for Sister Sailors (whaling wives).



  1. I’ve been to the captain penniman house-Eastham? Can’t quite remember but I summered in s. Orleans on the cape for several years. Was in fact in Hyannis this past w/e!

    • Wow! Small world! The Cape and Nantucket are on my list of places to see – I need to do some primary document research on a current project. Hopefully, I will get there sometime this summer. Thanks for taking an interest in my Blog posts. KE

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: