Title: Manuscript ledger recording accounts for two whaling voyages undertaken by the Eunice H. Adams of Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
Place Published: Various places
Date Published: 1884-1885
Approx. 61 pp. of handwritten entries, plus some blank pages. 34.3x21 cm (13Â½x8Â¼"), quarter sheep & mottled boards, ink ms. paper cover label.
Significant 19th century maritime ledger of whaling voyage accounts from a noted Massachusetts whaling ship. The record is important for chronicling the business aspects of whaling, the details and costs of preparation, provisioning, rigging, carpentry, and other aspects revealed.
Built in 1845 and launched from the Amos Crandall shipyard in Bristol, Rhode Island, the Eunice H. Adams began her seafaring life as a coasting schooner. In 1867, the 82 foot, 110 ton vessel was re-rigged as a hermaphrodite brig and commenced her new life as a whaling ship. Named after the wife of one of her original Nantucket, Massachusetts owners, she was the last whaling vessel registered at Nantucket. The Eunice H. Adams embarked on numerous whaling voyages from the ports of Edgartown, Nantucket, and New Bedford, Massachusetts. Her original carved, wooden figurehead is on display at the Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, Connecticut.
Edgartown was one of the principle American whaling ports of the 19th century, and the hub of whaling activities on the island of Martha's Vineyard. From 1816-1894, the thriving port town on the eastern shore of the island played host to 178 whaling voyages. Between 1835 and 1845 alone, 110 whaling captains built homes and lived in Edgartown. Among the town's most experienced sea captains was Cornelius M. Marchant, shipmaster and co-owner of the Eunice H. Adams along with Samuel Osborne, Jr. Captain Marchant was at the helm of the Eunice H. Adams for the first voyage in the present volume, while New Bedford sea captain Manuel E. Costa piloted the second voyage here. Shipmaster Marchant captained four Edgartown whalers in his seafaring lifetime, the Ellen, Clarice, Emma Jane, and Eunice H. Adams. Notably, he would die in Barbados while aboard this ship on the first voyage chronicled here.
The majority owner of the Eunice H. Adams was another celebrated Edgartown resident, Samuel Osborne, Jr. (1823-1895). The Martha's Vineyard storekeeper developed a keen interest in the lucrative profits generated by the whaling fleet sailing from the port of Edgartown, and became first agent of the ships Almira and Europa and part owner in other vessels. Mr. Osborn's holdings in whaling vessels steadily increased, and from 1870-1885 he was extensively engaged in the whaling industry. By 1880 he was considered the largest individual owner of whaling assets in the United States, with a fleet of 8 vessels bringing in about $600,000 annually (several million dollars by today's standards). When Samuel Osborne, Jr. died at the age of seventy-two, the Vineyard Gazette newspaper noted that "In his passing away Edgartown loses a citizen who contributed much to the upbuilding and maintaining the name and fame of his native town."
Manuscript entries here chronicle accounts associated with whaling voyages undertaken by the Eunice H. Adams on June 3rd, 1884 and July 11th, 1885. First Voyage encountered harrowing conditions at sea, forcing the vessel ashore for repairs before setting sail once again a month later. "Brig Eunice H. Adams sailed about June 3rd 84 Marchant Master and returned to port in about 19 days, having encountered a hurricane during which lost 3 boats & various articles washed off deck and vessel started leaking. During her absence took about 35 bbl's sp. oil as appears by sale on p. 14. Sailed for New Bedford, made repairs, and sailed again on the 3rd of July or thereabouts." Capt. Marchant would later die on this same voyage. Several entries chronicle the sale of sperm, humpback, and blackfish whale oil at places such as St. Micheal, Barbados and Fayal Island in the Azores. Other entries chronicle expenses such as pilotage to sea, casks, caulking, blacksmith, wharfage, cooperage, sails, crew outfits, sails, rigging, mates, chronometer, freight on deck planks, castings, iron poles, metal, tinware, paint, etc. The names of numerous crew members and parties with whom the Eunice H. Adams had dealings can also be found throughout.
As a further note, Cornelius M. Marchant (1826-1885) was descended from one of the oldest and most distinguished families on Martha's Vineyard. John Marchant (c.1625-bef.1693) is believed to have settled on the island in 1682 and acquired land there before dying in Edgartown sometime before 1693. Henry Marchant (1741-1796) has been called "The Vineyard's most distinguished son". Born on Martha's Vineyard, Henry Marchant graduated from the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania) in 1762. He was the Attorney General of Rhode Island from 1771-1777 and a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1777-1779. Marchant was also a member of the Constitutional Convention in Rhode Island that ratified the Federal Constitution. On July 2nd, 1790, Marchant was nominated by President George Washington to be the first judge of the newly created United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island, and served in that capacity from 1790-1796. In 1846 another Marchant, Edgar, founded the Vineyard Gazette, the island's oldest, continuously operating newspaper.