Posted by: Karlee A. Turner | June 30, 2014

30th June1849

Mary Brewster, SATURDAY [June] 30th [1849]: “A very pleasant day, plenty of native company. We have had callers from the whole coast I believe, a chief by name Notocken with his wife and child, then another chief who is the greatest man of the nation I expect. We were caressed, touched noses together, and as near as we can understand they are to be our friends. They were all dressed in seal skin trousers and a coat made from deer skin made loose and belted round them. The women dressed the same save their hair is long and braided. Two of the women were very pretty. Their skin which had not been exposed was as white as mine black eyes and red cheeks. I supposed their parents were Russians as there is a settlement in the country 200 miles back — They brought presents of their garments and walrus teeth for which we paid them for with tobacco — they are all smokers & chewers even the children and are extravagantly fond of it –“

“Their chief food is seals; flesh — walrus blubber with fish. The blubber is cut up in slits and I could not help laughing to see a child about 6 months old in the bottom of one of their canoes lying on its back with a strip of blubber as much as could hold in both hands sucking it and apparently very happy — They stopped nearly all day. We gave them bread, combs, needles, thread, and knives and at 4 they left all pleased with their visit. Their canoes are light, covered with walrus skins and balanced with stone and skins inflated with air which are light and are used to buoy up the whales they fasten to — by getting several attached to them the whales cannot go down and they soon weary out, kill, and if it is not near the shore they all meet and peck off what blubber they can easily get then leave the rest. 

Their houses are pitched tent fashion and covered with skins. In winter they are imbedded in snow a passage kept clear every day and as the days are very short they spend most of their time asleep. They have no fire save an earthen dish which is kept full of oil with a wick in the center which keeps up a steady flame. This keeps the room so warm that it is said to be summer heat within. It serves as a fire and light. They all seem very happy and more civilized than one would expect to find them –.”

NOTE: During July 1849, while in the Bering Sea, Mary Brewster made daily journal entries through July 18th. After that, her entries were more sporadic.


Mary Lawrence’s husband’s ship, the Addison arrived at her homeport of New Bedford, MA at sunrise on June 14, 1860


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