Sunday, April 30, 2017

Hunting the Whale

The Sperm Whale in a Flurry from The Whale Fishery
by Ambrose Garneray via
The current exhibition in the gallery at the Southampton Historical Museum concerns itself with the area's history as a hub of the whaling industry. I spent last weekend considering the plight of the oceans and its inhabitants, whales in particular, while this weekend I marvel at the temerity of those willing to sail across the globe in order to capture and kill whales for oil, ambergris and bone. The irony wasn't lost on me. Banners encircling a pile of whale vertebrae in the center of the gallery depict historically significant members of this community.
Captain Albert Rogers built and lived in the mansion which would become the Rogers Mansion Historical Museum. The history of his family and the whaling industry which created his wealth surround me. Ships logs, scrimshaw, and other accouterments of seafaring are displayed in cases around the room.
Ships Log of the "Neptune"
Kept by Captain Edward Sayre
June 25, 1834 to May 13, 1836 (last entry)
Saturday Nov 15th
Fresh winds from the eastward set the
topsails and cruised saw no right whales
at 11 A.M finished boiling
stowed down 100 blls of (oil)
Monday Nov 17th
Fresh winds from the westward. set
the topsails saw one right whale and chased
it  could not strike.  at ? P.M saw a
shoal of sperm whales put off and took
five  got them alongside at 9 P.M.
I particularly enjoyed the exhibits representation of the women's role during this time. "To stay or to go." One of the sailor's wives that went to sea was Caroline "Caddy" Benedict, who was known as the "Belle of Souhampton" before her marriage to Captain Jetur Rose. She sailed with him on three of his whaling voyages. She gave birth to their daughter Emma while onshore in Hawaii. They lived in North Sea when not on aboard ship. 
The Burnett sister's wedding dresses create a focal point in the gallery.
On July 16, 1887, Elsie age 24 married Jonah Rogers and Rose age 17 married James Jennings in a double wedding ceremony. The Burnett sisters were 9th generation Southampton residents growing up on the 50 acre Burnett Homestead at Flying Point.
Which dress do you think was Rose's and which belonged to Elsie?
Mrs. Capt. Thomas P. Warren & their young son, c.1874
Her husband's voyage as Captain of the "Orca" is delineated below by the yellow line.
A fragment of the wall map depicting whaling voyages.
The outdoor portion of this exhibit opens soon. I look forward to it.


DATES: March 4 to December 30, 2017Southampton Historical Society


  1. Your cup of tea:) How appropriate and perfect for you Gail..I for one know more an=bour whalers wives because of you:)

  2. Wow. Mrs. Hampton was so beautiful and I love the recognition of the women. And don't you love seeing the original handwriting on those documents? That's one thing I think future generations will miss in our technological age!

    1. Jeanie, YES I do love seeing the old documents. It is a challenge to translate the handwriting, with these modern eyes. The Captain had beautiful penmanship.


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