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Full text of "Lumbering and Coasting: Ellsworth, Maine and the Schooner Storm Petrel"

Lumbering & Coasting: 

Ellsworth, Maine and the Schooner Storm Petrel 



Edward Stem 

College of the Atlantic 

April 2003 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2011 with funding from 

Lyrasis IVIembers and Sloan Foundation 



http://www.archive.org/details/lumberingcoastinOOedwa 



Lumbering & Coasting: 
Ellsworth, Maine and the Schooner Storm Petrel 



Edward Stem 



College of the Atlantic 
April 2003 



Contents 

Acknowledgements / 

Preface 2 

Introduction 5 

Ellsworth and Early Union River 

Lumbering 6 

Riseof Ellsworth Shipbuilding 12 

Basics of Union River Lumbering 14 

Peak and Decline of Ellsworth's 

Lumber Trade 18 

Shipbuilding Peak 20 

Ellsworth's Last Giant: Whitcomb, 

Haynes, and Whitney 22 

Whitcomb, Haynes, & Co. in 1913 26 

Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney's 



Waning Years 


30 


Storm Petrel 


33 


Comments on Storm Petrel 's 




Document hidex 


42 


Storm Petrel's Business in 1916 


44 


Conclusion 


47 


Glossary 


49 


Bibliography 


51 



Appendix: Index of Storm Petrel's 
bills, receipts, etc. 54 



Tables 

1 . Hancock County Shipping, 1 820 10 

2. Vessels Built at Hancock County 

Ports, 1700s-1900s 13 

3. Hancock County Shipbuilding, 
Tonnage Produced, 1854 20 

4. Ellsworth Lumber Production, 

1877 23 

5. Whitcomb, Haynes, & Co. vessel 

ownership on 1 3 August 1913 28 



Illustrations 

Figures 

1. Water Street's upper end in 1881 11 

2. Water Street's lower end in 1881 11 

3. Milliken's dam and mill site in 
1881 15 

4. The second dam and mill site in 
1881 15 

5. Mill sites six and seven in 1881 16 

6. La volt a 22 

7. Storm Petrel 22 

8. Ellsworth Falls Village in 1881 24 

9. Storm Petrel after her 1 889 
rebuild 34 

10. Freeman Napoleon Closson in 
about 1952 39 

11. From Capt. Potter's 1916 accounts 
for Storm Petrel 44 

12. A section of the "schooner bills" 
for Storm Petrel 's 1916 season 45 



Maps 

1 . Hancock County and the Union 

River in 1881 4 

2. Maine. Hancock and Washington 

Counties Highlighted 8 

3. Whitcomb, Haynes, & Co. 

timberlands in Hancock and 
surrounding counties in 1913 27 



Acknowledgements 

Few are peer to Mark Honey's knowledge of Hancock County's history. When 
work on this senior project began in October 2002, Mark was right there to encourage me 
and offer his expertise on Ellsworth's coasting, lumbering, and shipbuilding trade. This 
project would have failed early on without Mark's help. 

John Arrison's efforts this fall in securing a workspace for me in the Stephen 
Phillips Memorial Library at the Penobscot Marine Museum was such a big help. 
Without John's energy I would not have had access to the Whitcomb, Haynes, and 
Whitney Papers as frequently as I did. Thanks for all the little things as well. 

Todd Little-Siebold at College of the Atlantic (COA) was my lead advisor for this 
project. His direction helped me properly organize my thoughts and methods to build a 
project much better than what I would have developed otherwise. Who knows what 
direction this project would have taken without Todd there to keep me on track. 

Thanks also to my regular COA advisor Isabel Mancinelli and my student advisor 
Diane Lokocz. Their reviews of multiple project drafts and their patience when listening 
to me vent about my research difficulties were greatly valued. 

Conversations with Deale Salisbury, Herb Silsby, and Paul Stubing over the 
previous months contributed immensely to my understanding of Ellsworth's history. 
Their stories offered a wholesome background from which this project could evolve. 

Spending a week living and conducting research at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut 
was an impossible task without the generosity of the Maritime Studies Program of 
Williams College and Mystic Seaport. To Jim Carlton, Glenn Gordinier, and everyone 
else at Williams-Mystic, thank you so much for all you have done. 



Preface 

Relative to the rest of Maine, little documentation exists on the Union River 
Valley's history. What I set out to accomplish with this senior project has continued to 
transform as I learned how to best utilize the few sources that do exist. Few 
undergraduate projects venture into areas with such minimal documentation, so allow me 
to briefly explain this project's beginnings. The seed for this project was a College of the 
Atlantic independent study in the spring of 2002 with Ellsworth historian Mark Honey. 
Mark needed an assistant to help clean and catalog a large collection of business papers 
from the Whitcomb, Haynes, & Whitney lumber firm of Ellsworth, Maine. As we 
worked through the collection, we recognized considerable documentation from different 
vessels belonging to this company. The schooner Storm Petrel was one vessel which had 
significant documentation in these papers and one that seemed ripe for fiirther research. 

One of my goals in researching Storm Petrel was to tell the story of Ellsworth's 
coastwise trade through a narrative of that schooner. With mixed success I completed 
this research. Storm Petrel 's documentation was richest for her business in the late 1910s 
and 1920s. Significant gaps in my research remain, such as Storm PetreVs cruises before 
she joined the Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney fleet early in the twentieth century. This 
paper presents what research I have completed over the past several months. Although 
substantially patchy, this narrative offers a window into Ellsworth's shipbuilding and 
lumbering economy. 



Introduction 

The Union River Valley's timberlands and the accompanying mills along the river 
would help feed the world's insatiable desire for lumber through the beginning of the 
twentieth century, and Ellsworth-built vessels would deliver much of that lumber. Settled 
in the last decades of the eighteenth century, the Union River Valley possessed rich 
timber resources into the early nineteenth century. These natural resources and a series 
of cascades near the head of the river provided a prime location for settlement and 
lumbering operations to begin. Communities along the river relied heavily on the forest 
as a source of income, energy, or shelter. 

"Bounded by a chain of bald granite mountains," the Union River drains an area 
of approximately five-hundred square miles.' There are roughly fifty-one ponds and 
forty-three streams in the watershed. Most of those streams feed three primary tributaries 
of the Union River: the East, West, and Middle Branches. It is twenty-two miles from 
where the East and West branches meet to Spindle Head at the head of Union River Bay. 
The final stem falls 100 feet, but 85 feet of that drop is contained in a two-mile stretch 
just before the head of Union River Bay and is the location of Ellsworth (map 1).^ 



' Walter Wells, Water-Power of Maine {Augusta: Sprague, Owen, &Nash, 1869) 186. 
" Stanley B. Atwood, The Length and Breadth of Maine (Orono, Manie: University of Maine, 1974) 258; 
Spindle Head received its name from the long iron bar which once protruded from a rock crevice. Atop 
this bar hung a lantern, lit and mamtained by various individuals. This was Ellsworth's lighthouse. Mark 
Honey, conversation with author, Ellsworth, 15 January 2003. 




Map 1 . Hancock County and the Union River Valley in 1 88 1 . 

The 85 foot drop through the cascades at Ellsworth Falls to the head of the tide 
was an ideal location for mills and dams, and enterprising businessmen built no less than 
seven dams here. Ellsworth and Ellsworth Falls at one time hosted a total of thirty-seven 



mills: eleven gang sawmills; nine single sawmills; eight shingle sawmills; five box mills; 
three clapboard mills; and one excelsior mill.^ The town was the industrial heart of 
Northern Hancock County fi"om the early nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries. 
Numerous other small sawmills lined the Union River north of Ellsworth along with three 
tanneries, located in Amherst, Mariaville, and the 39 Mile Tannery in Township 39. 
Ellsworth required a significant fleet of vessels to ship all of this timber to market, and 
with plentiful resources at hand, Ellsworth grew into both a significant shipbuilding and 
lumbering port in Maine. "* 

Ellsworth's role as a significant port-of-call and shipbuilding port along the New 
England coast has been all but forgotten. An assortment of secondary sources published 
over the previous century may mention Ellsworth vessels and shipping, but only to the 
most limited extent. Those few publications are largely stories and anecdotes of people 
remembering times gone by, valuable for their own unique purposes but by no means 
dependable, scholarly works. Three local newspapers, The Ellsworth American, The 
Ellsworth Freeman and Ellsworth Herald contain the most complete documentation of 
Ellsworth and the surrounding communities' day-to-day history. By using articles from 
these papers, a minor assortment of other secondary sources, and related material in the 
Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney Papers at the Penobscot Marine Museum, I have pieced 
together a narrative for one Ellsworth-built vessel, the schooner Storm Petrel. 
Coincidentally, Storm Petrel's narrative mirrors the decline of the Ellsworth lumber 
industry so I have linked it to the broader economic changes taking place in the region 
from roughly 1870 to 1930, the lifespan of the schooner. Later in this paper, I begin with 



See glossary 

Honey, 1 5 Jan. interview. 



a description of Storm Petrel, followed by a piecemeal chronology of her life and finally 
an examination of her cruises and business in 1916 as an attempt to describe one example 
of Ellsworth's role in New England's coasting trade. These insights reveal the long slow 
death of Ellsworth's lumber and shipbuilding industry. 

Ellsworth and Early Union River Lumbering 

The area which is now Ellsworth was settled in the mid 1760s by Benjamin 
Milliken and his daughter Abigail of Scarborough, Maine. He was one of many settlers 
flocking to the coast after the French & Indian War's conclusion, when Britain gained 
sole control over the area from the French. The township officially had the name "Union 
River Settlements" until 1800, though certain deeds from 1790 call the town New 
Bowdoin.^ Five years later, on February 26, 1800, Ellsworth was incorporated as a town 
and received her current name in honor of Massachusetts Supreme Court Judge Oliver 
Ellsworth.^ 

Milliken's first endeavor was a dam and mill at or near the head of the tide, close 
to where the present Bangor Hydro dam lies. Milliken's dam, built around 1765, was 
likely the first built on the river. For one reason or another this mill was a failure for 
Milliken, so around 1768 he and his brother Thomas built another dam and mill nearby.^ 
Both mills produced little profit, though it is interesting to note that some of the lumber 



' "Ellsworth History, No. 11" Ellsworth American, 26 Dec. 1900. 

Ava H. Chadboume, Maine Place Names and the Peopling of its Towns (Bangor: Furbush-Roberts 
Printing, 1955)267-268. 

Historical accounts of Ellsworth's first mill vary. Milliken's first mill was possibly tidal-powered, but it 
is a mystery if this mill was at the Bangor Hydro dam's location or on a small stream feeding the Union 
River several hundred yards away. For further information see the Ellsworth American, 19 Dec. 1900, 
Albert Davis's History of Ellsworth, Maine, and Ava Chadboume's Maine Place Names. 



Milliken did produce went to the British for the construction of Fort George in Castine. 

MilHken was the first to build a dam on the Union River, but it was a 
philanthropic Philadelphia banker named William Bingham who inadvertently laid the 
foundation for the Union River Valley's lumber industry. In 1793 he purchased roughly 
one-million acres in northern Hancock and Washington counties (map 2). Bingham 
dreamed of establishing small, sustainable communities along the Union River. In 1801, 
managers of Bingham's lands established the Union River's first successful sawmill and 
the small community surrounding it at Mariaville Falls, several miles up river from 
Ellsworth. Mariaville Falls was the gateway for settlers moving in iirom the Penobscot 
River. General David Cobb laid out the original road, locally known as the Airline, so it 
would pass through Mariaville Falls on to Debec Pond and then continue toward the 
Penobscot River Settlements at Eddington.^ Bingham considered this mill at Mariaville 
Falls and its profits complementary to his mission. Besides the mill at Mariaville Falls, 
Bingham's homesteading dream failed and he returned to England where he died in 
1804."^ 



Chadboume, Maine Place Names, 267; Phillip T. Coolidge, History of the Maine Woods (Bangor: 
Furbush-Roberts Printing, 1963) 41. 

Some years later the Airline was reconstructed to run its present course from Debec Pond to Amherst and 
the road and community at Mariaville Falls was finally abandoned. Mark Honey, conversation with author, 
Ellsworth, 15 February 2003. 

Mark Honey, Mariaville. A History of William Bingham 's Settlement on the Union River (Ellsworth: 
Ellsworth Public Library, 1986) 39. 




Map 2. Maine. Hancock and Washington 
Counties highlighted. 

It was the manager of Bingham's estate John Black who recognized the land's 
potential to support a significant lumbering business. John Black came to Gouldsboro 
from London in the late 1700s to work as a clerk for General David Cobb. Black would 
serve as General Cobb's clerk from the headquarters at Gouldsboro, and gradually would 
assume more and more management responsibilities, eventually becoming fiill manager 
of the Bingham estate. Black's financial backing for his move into the lumbering 
industry came primarily from the Baring Bank of London. Two of Bingham's daughters 
who had married into the Baring family made this backing possible.'^ John Black used 
this capital to construct dams at strategic places along the Union River and build 
sawmills, which were principally in Ellsworth. Black also established shipyards in 
Ellsworth to build the vessels he required for delivering lumber to markets along the East 
Coast and throughout the world. 



" Honey. 15 Jan. interview; Honey. Mahaville. 39-40; One of the brothers became Lord Ashburton who, 
along with Daniel Webster, settled the Maine Boundary between Maine, New Brunswick, and Quebec. 
(Honey, 15 Feb. interview.) 



Floating manufactured lumber to Union River Bay for shipment gradually led to 
Black's decision of establishing mills at Ellsworth. According to the Ellsworth 
American, "Col. John Black came into possession of the mills on the lower dam in 
1820."'" Bingham's mill at Mariaville Falls would continue to serve local needs until the 
late 1 820s, though the dam remained and played a critical role in the river drives into the 
1900s. Black also moved his operation's headquarters to Ellsworth from Gouldsboro. 
With Black's refocused efforts on Ellsworth, the new mills and dams at the falls quickly 
became the hub for lumber operations along the Union River.''' Despite significant 
disruption in the local economy during the American Revolution and the War of 1812, 
John Black's relocating to Ellsworth and his investment in Ellsworth's infrastructure was 
the impetus for substantial growth in the Union River's lumber and shipbuilding trade. 

By 1 820 Ellsworth ranked sixth among Hancock county cities and towns for tons 
of shipping, and Ellsworth would climb this list rapidly over the coming years (table 1). 
Shipbuilding and the lumber industry together brought wealth and growth to Ellsworth 
and helped define the character of the area in the nineteenth century as Downcast's 
largest and most successful lumber port. Ellsworth's growth led to a political squabble 
over who would hold the county seat. Originally held by Castine on Penobscot Bay, 
Ellsworth eventually won the status as the county seat in ISSS.''* During the 1830s 
Ellsworth also became the hub of the Frenchman's Bay Customs District, as well as the 
core retail outlet in the county. 



" "Ellsworth History, No. 11" Ellsworth American, 26 Dec. 1900. 

Honey, 15 Jan. interview; Honey, Mariaville, 40; Mark Honey, conversation with author, Ellsworth, 
Feb. 2003. 
'■' Honey, 15 Feb. interview. 



Table 1 

Hancock County Shipping, 1820'^ 



Value of stock 
Port Tons of shipping in trade 



Castine 


2515 


$43,635 


Deer Isle 


1409 


$2,800 


Mt. Desert 


1375 


$878 


Sullivan 


1082 


$1,734 


Vinalhaven 


902 '/2 


$500 


Ellsworth 


842 


$6,100 


Total 


8125 'A 


$55,647 



Such intense lumber production required significant means to transport the final 
product to markets, and until a rail system could reliably handle Ellsworth's production in 
the end of the nineteenth century, coasting vessels were the prime means of 
transportation. Water Street, running parallel to the Union River's eastern shore, was 
home to wharves, shipyards, sail lofts, shipsmiths, chandleries, and other waterfront 
industries and businesses (fig's. 1 & 2). At one time no less than eighteen wharves and 
docks lined the shore from Card Brook Cove to the Main Street Bridge."^ 



' Moses Greenleaf, Survey of Maine (1829; reprint, Augusta, Maine; Maine State Museum, n.d.) 854-855. 
' Chadboume, Maine Place Names, 268; Honey, 15 Jan, interview. 



10 




City of 

Ellswort^I 

VILLAGE PLA^4 N ° t 

Scale- aoo Fect-lljAl 




Fig. 1 . Water Street's upper end in 1 88 1 



Fig. 2. Water Street's lower end in 1881 The stream at the 
bottom of the image is Card Brook Cove'^ 



S. F. Colby & Co., Atlas of Hancock County, Maine (EUsworth: S.F. Colby & Co.. 1881) 10. 
Colby, Atlas, S. 



11 



Rise of Ellsworth Shipbuilding 

Although Milliken buiU the community's first vessel here in 1773, Ellsworth was 
only of minor importance as a shipbuilding town until the early 1830s. Milliken's vessel 
Susan and Abigail, named for Benjamin Joy and Benjamin Milliken's eldest daughters, 
made annual trips to Demerara, British Guinea, with pine shingles and oak staves. This 
trade was the township's primary business for some time. A British cruiser destroyed 
Susan and Abigail during the Revolutionary War, so Captain Isaac Smith, Joy, and other 
townsmen built another, larger vessel for the West Indies trade. '^ 

Captain Smith sailed his new vessel to Demerara eight times between 1785 and 
1801. Two local crewmen, Thomas Wilberton and Joel Mace, died on the third trip, and 
on Captain Smith's eighth voyage he lost all his crew except his brother William and his 
nephew Nathaniel Joy. With no crew and no luck obtaining a cargo for the return from 
Demerara, Captain Smith returned to Boston in ballast after a difficult four weeks at sea 
and sold the vessel in Boston. ^° 

Several others conducted various small-scale shipbuilding operations at Ellsworth 
in the early 1800s, but it was Nahum H. Hall who initiated Ellsworth's commercial 
shipbuilding industry in 1825 with the launching of the schooner Augusta. Hall would 
build about forty vessels between 1825 and 1855. Other builders moved to the Union 
River waterfront as lumber production and the required shipping, thus the demand for 
vessels, increased. Ellsworth experienced two distinct periods of shipbuilding, those 



Albert H. Davis, History of Ellsworth, Maine (Lewiston, Maine: Lewiston Journal Printshop, 1927) 114. 
Davis authored one of the very few publications on Ellsworth's history. Due to the scarcity of sources on 
Ellsworth I repeat some of his research, though by no means do I assume his word is gospel. Nevertheless, 
I use his story as it is what exists, expecting that future research will either confirm or confute his and the 
few other accounts of Ellsworth's history. 

Davis, History. 1 14; Cargo vessels are designed to sail fully loaded, and when a vessel must sail without 
cargo she usually will take on extra ballast, which is usually stone or sand. 



12 



concerns in operation before and after the Civil War. Some of the shipbuilding firms and 

families in Ellsworth prior to the war were Andrew Peters, Seth Tisdale, the Tinker 

family, and the Jones family. After the war Abram Lord, Paul Curtis, and Isaac M. 

Grant's operations would become the most significant in Ellsworth. 

Ellsworth produced roughly one-hundred-seventy vessels between 1773 and the 

early twentieth century.^" Considering the number of vessels produced over time, 

Bucksport was the only Hancock County port to build a greater number of vessels than 

Ellsworth.^'' Table 2, from Mark Honey's notes, is only a rough estimate of the total 

vessels produced in each listed port from the 1700s through the early 1900s. Understand 

that vessel construction in Hancock County is by no means extinct, and that the research 

presented here concerns a period of shipbuilding prior to World War I. 

Table 2 

Vessels Built at Hancock County Ports. 1700s - 1900s^^ 

Approximate Approximate 

Port number of vessels Port number of vessels 



Bucksport 


207 


Surry 


72 


Ellsworth 


170 


Brooksville 


62 


Blue Hill 


144 


Orland 


60 


Castine 


120 


Franklin 


57 


Sedgwick 


113 


Penobscot 


51 


Sullivan 


81 


Total 


1.137 



Businesses and individuals up and down the coast purchased Ellsworth-built 
vessels, though many remained in Ellsworth and served local needs for most or all of 
their useful lives. One vessel which remained in Ellsworth for almost all of her sixty- 



"' Davis, Histoiy, 115; Honey, 8 Feb. interview. 

^^ Honey, 8 Feb. interview. 

^^ Honey, 8 Feb. interview. 

-* Builders in Hancock County continue to build vessels for commercial and recreational use. Mount 

Desert Island is one of the Northeast's prominent areas for modem boatbuilding, and builders both large 

and small exist throughout coastal Hancock County. Possibly the World Wars marked the beginning of 

Hancock County's current boatbuilding industry, though that story is for another time. 

^^ Table copied from Mark Honey's notes. 



13 



year career was the schooner Storm Petrel. She was one of the last in Ellsworth, thus 
held some significance to those who knew her in the 1920s as one of the few connections 
to a dying industry and way of life. Isaac Grant launched Storm Petrel in 1870, and she 
continued to operate as Ellsworth's lumbering and shipbuilding industry slowly 
collapsed. Later we will investigate some recently archived material concerning Storm 
Petrel's life, using her story as an example of Ellsworth's role in New England's 
maritime economy. 

Basics of Union River Lumbering 

Following lumber from timberlands in Northern Hancock County through mills 
along the Union River to schooners waiting along Water Street in Ellsworth takes only a 
moment. The annual cycle of timber harvesting, milling, and shipping begins with the 
migration of men to the woods every winter. They set up or returned to camps dotting 
the county and begin taking down timber, hauling it to the frozen river, and stacking it on 
the ice to wait for the spring river drive. 

Almost all timber harvested in the Union River Valley came from woodlots 
abutting the Union River. Lumber could be dragged by oxen or horse-teams from lots 
further inland, but this mode of transportation moved limited amounts of timber and 
required significant time and company resources. One common way timber made its way 
to the Union River was through small-scale family harvesting operations. Families along 
the river who were so inclined would harvest timber on their own lots, move it to the 
river, and sell it to whichever company wished to purchase the harvested lumber. 



Honey, 8 Feb. interview. 

14 



The most efficient way to move timber throughout the Union River Valley was by 
floating it along the river to waiting mills. In late April the river had usually begun to 
thaw and the annual river drives begin. The river's water level was controlled by various 
dams along the Union River. When these dams were opened, the held water and logs 
belonging to a number of different companies would flow down river to the next dam 
together. River drivers would maneuver and encourage the logs all the way to Ellsworth. 
Once close to Ellsworth, the lumber was identified by markings left when it was 
harvested and sent to the appropriate mill. 

Ellsworth had numerous mills along the falls to process this lumber. All told, 
seven dams sat along the falls at Ellsworth. Milliken's dam was first along the river, and 
several hundred yards up river from Milliken's dam was the Hopkins dam, built 
sometime after 1768 (fig's. 3 & 4). 





Fig. 3. Milliken's dam and mill site in 1 88 1 Fig. 4. The second dam and mill site in 1 i 

Nathaniel Dunn built a mill on Hopkins dam's east side in 1845. James Grant buih the 
first mill on the west side of this dam in 1848. Next was the third dam, also built after 
1768. In 1845 Joseph Woodman built a mill on the third dam's east side. Isaac Y. 



Colby, Atlas, 12. 
Colby, ^fte, 11. 



15 



Murch and Charles Doyle built and operated a mill on the third dam's west side. The 
"burnt dam" was next along the river. Seth Tisdale built the first ill-fated mill on this 
dam in 1846. Tisdale's mill burned a decade later. A large stave mill was buih on 
Tisdale's old mill in 1860.^^ Shortly after its completion, this mill too burned, hence the 
dam's nickname. About 500 feet upriver from this dam was the fifth dam. A.P. Goodale 
built a stave mill on the dam's east side in 1860. 




Fig. 5. Mill sites six and seven in 1881 



See Glossary 
'Colby. Atlas, 16. 



16 



Above this dam was the sixth dam, one of the last to operate in Ellsworth. Tisdale built a 
mill on the east side here in 1 842. Frank Kelliher built a shingle mill next to this mill, but 
his burned in 1868. The west side of the sixth dam had a mill as well, probably built by 
Tisdale in 1838 (fig. 5). Near the beginning of the falls was the seventh dam, nicknamed 
either "the upper gang" or the "Tisdale Dam" (fig. 5). Tisdale built a mill on the east side 
in 1847. He also built a mill on the dam's west side. This mill served as a stave mill for 
years under the control of the Hartshorn and Ellis firm, and finally as an excelsior mill 
under a local man named Hallowell. ' Once processed into boards or other minor 
products such as shingles or staves, the lumber was carted by horse to Water Street and 
loaded onto waiting vessels. These vessels delivered Ellsworth lumber to markets 
throughout the world. 

By 1907 the mills at dam sites two through five were little more than decrepit 
symbols of a once booming industry. In that year Bar Harbor & Union River Power Co. 
completed a large concrete dam for hydro power at the first dam and mill site at the head 
of the tide. " Unlike the previous sawmill dam, this new hydro dam blocked the entire 
river and submerged dams and mill sites two through five, creating Leonard Lake. This 
left the sixth dam, with Charles Treworgy on the west side and Whitcomb, Haynes & Co. 
on the east side, and the upper gang dam, possibly with a stave mill on the west side and 
a mill on the east side owned by Whitcomb, Haynes & Co. 



'' Davis, Histoiy, 144-147. 

^^ See Glossary. 

^^ Found company name in Ellsworth American, 24 Oct. 1906. 

^* B^v\s, Histoiy, 146-147. 



17 



Peak and Decline of Ellsworth's Lumber Trade 

The 1850s were Ellsworth's peak years for shipbuilding, and some of its most 

profitable for lumbering. The mills operated day and night in Ellsworth Falls, and vessels 

frequently sat two- or three-abreast at the wharves loading lumber. Ellsworth was the 

largest lumber port in eastern Maine, followed by Calais and Machias, two other 

significant lumber ports further Downcast. ^^ Accurate accounts of the Union River's 

total lumber production firom year to year are difficult to ascertain, though local 

newspapers can offer some help in this area. Accounting for lumber production in 1852, 

the Ellsworth newspaper Eastern Freeman states, 

[t]he quantity of lumber yearly manufactured and exported fi"om Union 
River, is by no means inconsiderable, amounting, as we are informed, to 
about one-fifth of that manufactured and exported fi'om the Penobscot, the 
great lumber mart of down East. 

By 1860 Ellsworth began to feel the impact of dwindling timber resources. The 

decline was slight, yet noticeable, as commented in the local newspaper Ellsworth 

American. 

The season just closed has been one of more than ordinary success to our 
business men. The principle business, that of lumbering, has yielded a fair 
reward to those engaged in it. The prices opened in the Spring, full better 
than were the closing prices of the season before, and demand continued 
up to the last shipments! These prices, though a little in advance of the 
previous year, are yet hardly up to a remunerating point, unless the season 
for getting the lumber and manufacturing it is propitious. The margin for 
a bad winter's work, and bad drives and drouths, is altogether too small to 
be inviting to new beginners, unless backed up with long purses. In 
addition to the uncertainty of this kind of business, its liability to 
fluctuating markets, and the hazard and delay in getting ready for the 
market, there is another fact bearing upon it which might as well be looked 
in the face now as a few years hence that is, the scarcity of lumber. Every 
year's operation carries the lumbermen farther in the interior, thereby 



William H. Rowe, The Maritime History of Maine: Three Centuries of Shipbuilding and Seafaring (New 
York: W.W. Norton, 1948) 251-252. 
^* "Ellsworth Enterprise," Ellsworth Freeman 29 Apr. 1853. 



18 



increasing the cost of unmanufactured lumber, and adding to the hazards 
of getting it down where it is to be manufactured. These additional 
expenses add to the already vexations attending this business; and there 
should be an inviting look ahead for good prices, to justify a large 
[illegible] in this field of labor. . . 

The business is growing more hazardous and perplexing every year. The 
cost of operating increases faster than the prices for the manufactured 
article. We must not, therefore, expect to find lumber ranging lower than 
present prices for years, unless business becomes dull. If it does, the 
lumbermen will have to seek other business or be ruined. ^^ 

As the article above states, lumbering along the Union River was beginning to feel 

pressure fi-om depleted resources by 1860, but overall production was still very strong. 

The quote below, fr"om a later part of the same Ellsworth American article quoted above, 

is a statement about Ellsworth's lumber production for 1859. Note that larger harvests 

came in the early 1870s, with fifty-five million feet of timber coming down the Union 

River in 1872, though the overall profit for this harvest is questionable as compared to 

those prior to the Civil War.^^ 

The following estimate approximates the truth, as to the amount of lumber 
manufactured and shipped from Ellsworth during the season just closed. 
Thirty millions of sawed lumber of various kinds and qualities. About 
200,000 of sugar box shooks have been manufactured, out of a portion of 
this sawed lumber. The quantity of laths we do not know. But not so 
large a quantity as in former years. A large amount of pickets have been 
made, larger than at any previous year. 

From an estimate of one whose opportunities are not exceeded by any 
other person, about 3500 cords of Hemlock bark was shipped, and 2700 
cords of wood, during the season. There might have been, perhaps, 
10,000 cedar sleepers, and 13,000 cedar posts. Of the wood and bark &c., 
Capt. G. R. Griffin Shipped 2500 cords bark, 1,500 cords wood and 
10,000 cedar posts. Perhaps there has never been a season, when half of 
the quantity of Hemlock bark has been shipped from this river, as has been 
this. 



37 ., 



'Ellsworth and its Business," Ellsworth American 13 Jan. 1860. 
David C. Smith, A History of Lumbering in Maine. 1861-1960 (Orono, Maine: University of Maine 
Press, 1972) 45; From the Bangor Daily Commercial 3 June 1872, quoting The Ellsworth Ameiican. 



19 



Over the course of a century John Black's timber empire was divided among 
many smaller mills as Ellsworth's peak years came and went. Ellsworth steadily 
exhausted the Union River Valley's timber resources, eventually overcoming smaller 
mills' ability to turn a profit. Around 1880 timber lots began to trickle back into a few 
large companies' possession. By the mid 1910s, two large lumber firms held most of 
Hancock County's timberlands, Charles J. Treworgy and Whitcomb, Haynes & Co.^^ 

Shipbuilding Peak 

Ellsworth's shipbuilding peak, according Honey's research, was in 1854. 

Ellsworth's production in 1854 also topped all other shipbuilding ports in Hancock 

County (table 3). Shipbuilding in Ellsworth would continue through the remainder of the 

1800s with a range of production from year to year. Honey's research offers some of the 

most reliable information on Ellsworth shipbuilding, though his research is still 

developing. 

Table 3 

Hancock County Shipbuilding, Tonnage Produced, 1854 

Total measured 
Port tonnage 



Ellsworth 


3,400 


Bucksport 


2,603 


Castine 


2,200 


Sullivan 


1,520 


Surry 


1,364 


Blue Hill 


1,130 


Orland 


1,097 



Total 13,134 



' Honey, 15 Jan. interview. 



20 



With the large volume of shipping out of Ellsworth, Ellsworth industry had to 

bring in vessels from where it could when locally built vessels were unavailable. In 1853 

Ellsworth individuals and businesses owned in whole or part one hundred forty-nine 

vessels. In 1870, the year Isaac Grant launched Storm Petrel, Ellsworth beat Bucksport 

their nearby competitor in number of vessels launched. 

Launch. At half-past 12 o'clock to-day. ..the Lizzie Cochran will be 
launched. . . This is the only vessel which has been built this season on the 
Penobscot river, above Sandy Point, and there will probably be a large 
crowd present to witness her launch. — [Bangor WJtig of the lO' . 
Is this so? We have an impression that some one or more vessels have 
been built at Bucksport this season. But this gives us the opportunity to 
say for the credit of Ellsworth, that eight vessels have been built and 
launched on Union river this season, at Ellsworth, while there is the hull of 
a new tug-boat on the stocks nearly completed, and work commenced on 
another freighting vessel in Mr. Grant's yard.'*^ 

Fourteen years later, in 1884, only ninety-two vessels could call Ellsworth home.'" The 

Union River fleet continued to diminish by several vessels every year. Here are some 

comments from the Ellsworth American on the Union River's dwindling fleet in 1901. 

Union river's fleet of vessels has been sadly reduced since last year, 
mostly by sale. Out of a total of thirty-seven vessels hailing from 
Ellsworth last year, only twenty-six remain."*^ 

By the time Albert Davis published his History of Ellsworth, Maine in 1927, only two 

vessels remained in the Ellsworth fleet, the Ellsworth-built schooners Lavolta (fig. 6) and 

Storm Petrel (fig. 7), both nearly sixty years old. Railroads served to transport what 



"" "Launch," Ellsworth American, 7 Nov. 1870. 
Davis, History, 113. 



"Ellsworth Vessels: The Union River Fleet Has Grovm Sadly Smaller Since Last Year," EUswortii 
American, 1 May 1901. 



21 



products Ellsworth still produced, and Ellsworth was quickly becoming "just another 



small, sleepy community in Downcast Maine. 




Fig. 6. Lavoltd 




Fig. 7. Storm Petrel' 



Ellsworth's Last Giant: Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney 

Whitcomb, Haynes, & Co. would grow into the predominant lumber firm in an 
era when timber lots in Hancock County no longer contained the immense trees that once 
grew there. In order to survive, lumber companies had to produce products out of 
younger, smaller timber unsuitable for long lumber production (meaning generally wide, 
long boards of varying thicknesses). Whitcomb, Haynes & Co., and to a lesser extent 
their competitor Charles Treworgy, recognized this reality and successfully diversified 
their businesses to produce a wide variety of products in addition to long lumber. 

Some of the minor products coming out of Ellsworth before and after these two 
companies took hold of Ellsworth lumbering were laths, shingles, box shooks, 



Honey. 1 5 Jan. interview . 
Mystic Seaport Photograph 
Mystic Seaport Photograph 



22 



clapboards, excelsior, and barrel staves and heads/^ In 1877 Ellsworth's lumber 

production was varied in this way, as shown in table 4. 

Table 4 

Ellsworth Lumber Production, 1877"*^ 



Product Amount 

Long Lumber 1 9,300,000 feet 

Staves 15,500,000 

Heads 210,000 pairs 

Shingles 11,850,000 

Laths 3,450,000 

Stove Wood 700 cords 

Clapboards 18,000 

Excelsior 210 tons 

Pickets 35,000 

Fish boxes 5.000 

Barrel staves and heads played a significant role in Ellsworth. Harold Stuart, a 
mill worker from Ellsworth around 1900, remembers two stave mills around Ellsworth 
Falls in 1900, both belonging to Whitcomb, Haynes & Co."* Charles Treworgy also had 
a stave mill, and collectively Whitcomb, Haynes & Co. and Charles Treworgy's stave 
production made Ellsworth the stave capital of Maine in 1900. These and other products 
afforded Whitcomb, Haynes & Co.'s superb growth.''^ 

Before discussing the breadth of Whitcomb, Haynes & Co.'s empire, we should 
understand the company's foundation. Eleazer Whitcomb was a Blacksmith, probably 
ran a general store, and was postmaster at Ellsworth Falls in the 1850s. Eleazer 
Whitcomb and his wife Abigail Green Joy Whitcomb bore John Fairfield Whitcomb on 1 
September 1838. Jolin Whitcomb grew up in Ellsworth Falls, learned the blacksmith 



See glossary. 

Smith, Lumbering, 124; From the Bangor Daily Commercial 27 Dec. 1877, quoting The Ellsworth 
American. 

Harold Stuart, interview by Sandy Ives, transcript NA 679, July 1971, Maine Folklife Center, Orono, 
Mame, 679.001B-679.002. 

Honey, 1 5 Jan. interview. 



23 



trade, and witnessed the best years of Union River lumbering in the 1840s and 50s. Upon 
the outbreak of the Civil War, John Whitcomb joined Company C, 26^ Maine, as T* 
Lieutenant. He saw action at Irish Bend and the siege on Port Hudson, Louisiana. In 
August 1863, Col. John Whitcomb completed his service and returned to Ellsworth 
Falls. ^'^ 

Whitcomb began a general store the October after his discharge, and his brother- 
in-law Charles H. Haynes joined the store shortly after (fig. 8). In 1868 the thirteen-year- 
old John O. Whitney, John Whitcomb' s nephew, joined the store as an employee. Seven 
years later Whitcomb accepted Whitney into the firm itself, and the business became 
Whitcomb, Haynes, & Co. until 1913 when it was re-named Whitcomb, Haynes, and 
Whitney. ^^ They operated out of the old comer store in Ellsworth Falls. This store 
remained their headquarters for the life of the business, and supplied lumbermen, mill 
workers, and the local community with clothing, groceries, and supplies. 




Fig. 8. EUsworth Falls in 1881 



^° Davis, History, 181; Mark Honey and Edward Stem, The Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney Papers Index, 
Vol 1. Stephen Phillips Memorial Library, Penobscot Marine Musemn, SearsporL Maine. 2002. 
^' Davis, History, 186, 192. 
^^ Colby, Atlas, 16 



24 



Whitcomb, Haynes & Co. took their store profits and invested in timberlands as 
early as 1 Jan. 1 877, when the company purchased the Clow lot in Waltham, near where 
the East and West branches of the Union River meet. Three years later Whitcomb, 
Haynes & Co. would make a series of purchases in Waltham and Township 28, thus 
laying the first tiles of a company destined to be the backbone of Ellsworth's economy by 
the turn of the century, owning over eighty-thousand acres of timberlands by 1913.''^ 

Whitcomb, Haynes & Co. was more than a successful lumber firm, their growing 

influence stretched into Ellsworth's political and commercial arenas. John Whitcomb 

"was postmaster of Ellsworth from 1867 to 1871, and represented [Ellsworth] in the 

Legislature in 1872-73. In 1874, he was appointed lieutenant colonel on Gov. Dingley's 

staff." John Whitney held a variety of positions in Ellsworth, as described by Albert 

Davis. 

[Whitney] was president of the Ellsworth Board of Trade, and of the 
festival chorus. He was a director of the Union Trust Company, president 
of the Loan and Building Association, and treasurer of the Ellsworth 
Hardwood Company. He also had an interest in Morrison Joy & 
Company and H. C. Austin & Company.^^ 

Whitcomb died on 13 August 1913. Within two years Whitney would become president 

and general manager of Whitcomb, Haynes, & Co., then renamed to the Whitcomb, 

Haynes, and Whitney lumber firm. 

Charles Haynes was the only one of the three who would have little involvement 

in the politics of the community. Haynes served in Company C, 2"'' Maine Volunteers 

from 1861 to 1865. He lost his left leg below the knee during the Battle of the 



Honey, Whitcomb, Section 3; John F. Whitcomb, Partnership Estate of John F. Whitcomb, 8468. Probate 
Office, Ellsworth. 2. Whether the Clow lot was the first ever purchased by Whitcomb, Haynes, & Co. or 
just the earliest purchased that the company still had in 1913 is unknown. 
^^ Davis, Histoiy, 181. 
" Davis, Histoiy, 192. 



25 



Wilderness on 5 May 1864. Haynes' disability limited his physical activity, so he 
worked as the company's bookkeeper until his death in 1916.^^ 

Whitcomb, Haynes & Co. in 1913 

By 1913, Whitcomb, Haynes & Co. had monopohzed the Union River lumber 
trade. Upon John Whitcomb 's death in 1913, Ellsworth conducted a detailed inventory 
of his estate including his personal belongings and his partnership in Whitcomb, Haynes, 
& Co, essentially a detailed snapshot of Ellsworth's largest business in 1913. According 
to this inventory, Whitcomb, Haynes, & Co. owned mill properties, wharves, and other 
real estate, not including timberlands, in Ellsworth, Ellsworth Falls, Nicolin, Trenton, 
Bucksport, and East Machias. Distributed between their five mills at the time of this 
inventory were about five-hundred cords of mill waste, seven-hundred cords of cedar and 
poplar, four-thousand-four-hundred cords of stavewood, one hundred thousand laths, two 
hundred thousand shingles, one hundred seventy thousand pairs of heads, one million 
nine hundred thousand staves, and two million four hundred thousand feet of long 
lumber; a total value of $56,266.80. All of these products came fi-om the company's 
timberlands in Hancock, Washington, and Penobscot Counties - a total of approximately 
eighty thousand eight hundred acres (map 3).^^ 



^^ Davis, History, 186, 192. 

Whitcomb, Estate, 2-8. Whitcomb, Haynes, & Co. had a little under twelve-hundred acres in Penobscot 
County, about nine-thousand-five-hundred acres in Washington County, and just about seventy-thousand 
acres in Hancock County. These lands trickled mto the hands of Whitcomb, Haynes, & Co. through 
individual purchases through the 1880s and 1890s. 



26 




Map 3. Whitcomb, Haynes, & Co. timberlands in Hancock and surrounding counties in 1913. 

This inventory also shows us that in 1913 Whitcomb, Haynes, & Co. owned in 
whole or part ten schooners and a tug boat (table 5). Including these, Whitcomb, Haynes, 
& Co. had interests in over thirty-five vessels during the course of their business. 



27 



Whitcomb, Haynes & Co.'s vessel ownership illustrates the deep connection between the 

lumbering and maritime shipping economies. Vessels in service under Whitcomb, 

Haynes, & Co. carried timber products to markets in Maine and along the eastern 

seaboard, Canada, and occasionally overseas. These vessels also carried other cargoes 

when opportunities presented themselves, such as coal or granite. The profits fi"om this 

extra trade helped Whitcomb, Haynes, & Co. during any lean times they experienced. 

Table 5 

Whitcomb, Haynes, & Co. vessel ownership on 13 August 1913 

Rig Vessel Shares Value 



Sch. 


Henrietta A. Whitney 


Whole 


$5,000.00 


Sch. 


Julia Frances 


Whole 


$5,000.00 


Sch. 


Lulu W. Eppes 


Whole 


$2,000.00 


Tug 


Little Round Top 


Whole 


$ 500.00 


Sch. 


Storm Petrel 


3/4 


$2,500.00 


Sch. 


Nellie Grant 


7/16 


$ 787.50 


Sch. 


Lavolta 


246/672 


$1,097.20 


Sch. 


Harry W. Haynes 


1/4 


$2,000.00 


Sch. 


Lejok 


20/64 


$3,125.00 


Sch. 


Melissa Trask 


5/64 


$ 310.00 


Sch. 


Winchester 


1/64 


$ 78.10 






Total: 


$22,397.80 



One way to explore the inventory and Whitcomb, Haynes, & Co.'s business is to 
hypothetically consider the number of schooner-loads of lumber remaining at their mills 
in August, a time well into the 1913 coasting season. Storm Petrel was an average sized 
vessel for the Union River and offers a reasonable medium with which to discuss 
Whitcomb, Haynes, & Co.'s lumber trade. She could carry about eight hundred fifty 
thousand laths, or one hundred fifty thousand board feet of long lumber, or fifteen 
thousand bundles of staves, or one hundred thirty-five cords of pulpwood, or some 
combination of these different products. For Storm Petrel to move all the long lumber at 
Whitcomb, Haynes, & Co.'s five mills would require about sixteen trips. Depending on 



28 



the distance, Storm Petrel would take between four to eight trips in a season. This means 
that it would take a minimum of two years for Storm Petrel to move all the long lumber 
from Whitcomb, Haynes, & Co.'s mills if she had short trips, fair weather, and no 
troubles. These two years could be shortened if we account for the building boom in 
nearby Bar Harbor. Bringing a cargo of lumber to Bar Harbor required about two days 
loading for a vessel of Storm Petrel's capacity, a day's trip down Blue Hill Bay and 
around Mount Desert Island, and two days off-loading. Sometimes the firm's tug Little 
Round Top might tow a vessel the whole way around to Bar Harbor, making the trip even 
easier. 

It would require much less time for Storm Petrel to move the other products at 
Whitcomb, Haynes, & Co.'s mills. Although one million nine hundred thousand staves is 
an impressive number, a single stave is small and staves were bundled prior to shipping. 
Maybe a bundle contained fifty staves, and if this is the case, then only thirty-eight 
thousand bundles of staves are left in Whitcomb, Haynes, & Co.'s mills. This requires 
much less than three full cargoes for Storm Petrel to deliver all of this product. In order 
for Storm Petrel to cart off all of the laths remaining at the five mills requires little more 
than a full cargo, or what is surely a full cargo on a larger vessel. 

Whitcomb, Haynes, & Co. had complete control over the three schooners that 
they owned outright and a controlling interest in Storm Petrel. The other vessels, if they 
averaged the same trips per season as Storm Petrel, could easily handle all of the 
company's product within twelve months. Remember that it is August, so the numbers in 
the inventory are only what is left at the mills, not what has already been shipped that 
year. And the Union River clears itself of ice by late April, so Whitcomb, Haynes & Co. 



29 



has already been shipping for a couple of months, the first cargoes of the season going 
out in late May. 

Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney's Waning Years 

The Union River could support Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney for only so long. 
Even with their diverse business, the late 1910s into the 1920s were an increasingly 
difficult time for them. Three causes besides the depletion of timberlands led Whitcomb, 
Haynes, and Whitney's demise: the increasing demand for lumber delivered quickly by 
rail, the flooding of company lands in Waltham from the construction of the Brimmer 
Bridge Dam, and the subsequent blow out of that dam. 

Transportation was changing; many of the best schooners were gone, and those 
remaining required significant upkeep to remain serviceable. Rail was increasingly 
becoming the principal means of transportation and trucks were beginning to find a place 
in the evolving transportation network. Maine Central Railroad carried much of 
Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney's lumber in the 1900s. Orders shrank as customers 
began ordering boxcar loads rather than a full vessel load. Additional costs of dealing 
with multiple small loads instead of several large cargoes and the desire of customers to 
receive their cargo within days or weeks rather than months very well may have strained 
Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney severely.^^ 

In 1922-23 Bangor Hydro built a dam above Ellsworth at Brimmer's Bridge, 
closing the dam in early April, 1923, and rapidly forming Graham Lake. This was a 
twofold curse upon Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney, still recovering from a disastrous 



' Mark Honey, conversation with author, Ellsworth, 24 Feb. 2003. 
' Honey, 15 Feb. interview. 



30 



fire which destroyed their long lumber mill at the seventh sawmill dam two years 
earlier. The lake flooded hundreds of acres of company lands. Whitcomb, Haynes, and 
Whitney did attempt to harvest what they could before the dam was complete, but the 
loss of those lots meant a loss of any future growth there. 

Secondly, the Brimmer Bridge Dam was poorly built and would not last. On 28- 
29 April, 1923, close to five inches of rain fell on two to three feet of snow. The next 
day, 30 April, Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney's wing dam's gave way on the east side 
of the seventh dam and the west side of the sixth dam. On 2 May, Wednesday afternoon, 
Graham Lake's depth was one-hundred-eight feet and one-half inch, four feet greater 
than this new lake's planned depth. That same afternoon, a one-hundred-twenty-five foot 
section - including the entire east wing - of the just-completed Brimmer Bridge dam 
gave out. The torrent destroyed mills, wharves, bridges, most of Ellsworth's 

waterfront industry, and cost Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney $33,560.^^ For about a 
week the Union River ran far above its regular height as the Union River purged Graham 
Lake. Even the three-story powerhouse at the lower Bangor Hydro dam was 
submerged.^'' A loss of this magnitude brought Ellsworth commerce and Whitcomb, 
Haynes, and Whitney to a halt. With no easy or rapid recovery possible, Ellsworth could 
do little more than suffer. This calamity rapidly furthered the decline Whitcomb, Haynes 
and Whitney. 



*" Ellsworth American, 13 July 1921. 
*' Ellsworth American, 2 May 1923. 

Mark Honey, "estimated damages for breach," private collection, Ellsworth. One of the company 
tugboats, E.P. Dickson, broke her mooring and went down the river. Some individual rescued her as 
salvage, and Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney had to purchase her back. The company also lost machinery 
and some lumber, but luckily the spring drive was incomplete and more lumber came down the Union 
River that sprmg. (Mark Honey, telephone conversation with author, 17 Feb. 2003) 

Ellsworth American, 2 May 1923. 



31 



Over the next six years Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney would rebuild and 
continue operating on a limited scale, but their days were numbered. To compensate for 
the lack of timber production, Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney emphasized more on its 
retail market. Customers could order household goods and bulk food supplies from the 
company headquarters, and even clothing from the Reliable Clothing Co., one of 
Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney's side businesses. Nevertheless, the decision to sell 
Whitcomb, Haynes and Whitney and their approximately eighty-five-thousand acres of 
Hancock County timberland to Edward B. Robinette of Philadelphia came in October 
1929, just before the stock market crash. "^"^ Robinette could not fulfill the terms of sale 
following the crash, and the company was turned over to Ellsworth Forest Products. 
After a few failed attempts to re-open Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney's mills the 
business was abandoned and the remaining timberlands were sold to giant paper 
companies elsewhere in Maine. '^^ With the closing of Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney, 
thus ended the Union River's once grand industry as Ellsworth faded into the depression. 



Ellsworth American, 23 Oct. 1929. 
' Honey, 1 5 Feb. interview. 



32 



Storm Petrel 

The rise and fall of the timber industry as illustrated by Whitcomb, Haynes, and 
Whitney is paralleled by the growth and decline of the shipbuilding industry. This 
industry dually supplied local lumber firms with vessels to ship lumber and other assorted 
cargoes and also served itself by selling its vessels to buyers up and down the New 
England coast. As I mentioned earlier in this paper, Storm Petrel was one such vessel 
built in Ellsworth that helped carry Ellsworth's lumber to markets along the East coast for 
nearly sixty years. The following is a patchy narrative of her life, followed by a 
discussion of related documents irom the Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney Papers with a 
focus on her cruises and business in 1916. 

Isaac Grant's yard, on the east side of the Union River along Water Street in 
Ellsworth, launched Storm Petrel on 25 October 1870. Her launching was one of two in 
Ellsworth that week, with Maid of the Mist launched the day before from Dyer P. 
Jordan's yard. Similar to many Ellsworth-built vessels, Storm Petrel was a two-masted 
schooner. Her dimensions were; length ninety-eight feet, breadth twenty-seven feet, 
depth close to eight feet and she measured one hundred thirty-six gross tons, one hundred 
twenty-nine tons net.^^ Isaac Grant built her for Joseph Tilden Grant, no relation.^^ 
Joseph Grant in turn hired Capt. James William Davis, a prominent captain in Ellsworth, 
to command Storm Petrel. Soon after Storm Petrel sailed, she "made the round trip from 
Newport [Rhode Island] to Jacksonville [Florida] and back in twenty-one days. Five 
days out and eight retuming."^^ Capt. Haskell had Storm Petrel for a short time in 1872. 



"" Ellsworth American, 27 Oct. 1870. 
'^ See glossary. 

Joseph Grant was once mayor of Ellsworth. 
*^ Ellsworth American, 29 Dec. 1870. 



33 



Around 1873 Capt. Davis may have purchased a majority of Storm Petrel's shares, 
though by 1878 he only held 1/8 interest valued at $300.™ He continued to sail her out of 
Ellsworth until his death on 6 July 1878. Out of respect for Capt. Davis, "[t]he flags were 
at half mast on the vessels in this port on Monday the day of his funeral."^^ 




Fig. 9. Storm Petrel after her 1 889 rebuild with a load of laths. Notice the distinct difference between her new and old 
planking just above the water's surface. If she was loaded this heavily prior her rebuild, then her deck would be just 
about at sea level. '^ 

Storm Petrel circulated through a series of owners after 1878. After Capt. Davis's 
death. Storm Petrel again became the property of Joseph Grant, now in partnership with 
his brother George H. Grant. In 1888 her master was Capt. Henry Herrick. The 



Robert Applebee, Sailing Vessels built in the Frenchman 's Bay District, Maine (Searsport, Maine: 
Stephen Phillips Memorial Library, 1947, rev. 1960); James W. Davis, James W. Davis inventory, 3602. 
Probate Office, Ellsworth. 
" Ellsworth American. 11 Jul. 1878. 
'' Paul Stubing Collection 



34 



following year found Storm Petrel back at Grant's yard for a significant rebuild. This 

report from The Ellsworth American on 26 September 1889 describes her improvements. 

Last Wednesday we visited, at I.M. Grant's wharf, the schooner "Storm 
Petrel" which, having been thoroughly re-built throughout was ready for 
sea. "I wish she was lying off in the stream so that you could get an 
unobstructed view of her. I tell you she's a pretty a vessel as was ever 
built in Ellsworth; see what a sheer she has got!" enthusiastically 
exclaimed Capt. L.D. Remick, her managing owner, as he proudly gazed 
at the longitudinal curve of the schooner's side, with a nautical eye 
appreciative of fine marine architecture. Capt. Remick was right. She is 
indeed a pretty vessel and has been re-built in a thoroughly substantial 
manner from top to bottom by Capt. I.M. Grant. Her planking, timbers, 
ceiling, deck, etc., are all new and substantial throughout, and she is 
strongly fastened by heavy iron bolts. She has a full poop and her net 
tonnage has been increased from 129.71 tons to 165.87. She is 
commanded by Capt. R.C. Bonsey, one of Ellsworth's most successful 
ship masters. We wish the Storm Petrel great success. 

Roland C. Bonsey was master in Storm Petrel from the late 1880s until 1901, and 

is probably the only captain to sail her before and after her improvements. Her new 

dimensions after the rebuild were; length about one hundred feet, breadth just over 

twenty-seven feet, depth close to eleven feet, and she measured one hundred seventy-four 

gross tons, one hundred sixty-six tons net. Grant accomplished this by raising her deck to 

about the height of her original rail. Additionally, Grant added a solid wood rail instead 

of the traditional open fly rail, and enlarged her poop deck to stretch from rail to rail (fig. 

9). Isaac Grant owned Storm Petrel in 1892. In 1901 Capt. Alexander Bonsey took 

command oi Storm Petrel, and had her until around 1910. In early 1902 Storm Petrel 

was launched from the Charles Curtis Yard in Ellsworth after another rebuild, though her 

dimensions remained the same. The Ellsworth American had this to report on her 

condition on 23 April 1902. 



35 



The schooner "Storm Petrel," as trim and staunch a vessel as sails out 
of Union river, sails this week for Rondout with staves, hi all except the 
name, Capt. Alexander Bonsey has practically a new vessel. Her house is 
the envy of less fortunate captains. An improvement over the captain's 
quarters found in most small coasters, is the separation of captain's cabin 
from his stateroom. Capt. Bonsey has a roomy, light cabin, with a 
stateroom opening off of it, and toilet room on opposite side of the 
companionway. The interior finish of the house, hard pine in the natural 
grain, is neat and attractive. All the rooms are carpeted with linoleum. 
Altogether Capt. Bonsey has about as comfortable quarters as can be 
found on any vessel of the "Storm Petrel's" size, and more comfortable 
than on many larger vessels. 

In the early part of 1900, Whitcomb, Haynes, & Co. purchased shares in Storm 

Petrel, and by 1913 the company owned three-quarters of her. Storm Petrel's last quarter 

share may have belonged to Charles Treworgy at this time, as he had one-quarter of 

Storm Petrel upon his death in 1918. From about 1910 to 1914 Capt. Y.P. Moon 

commanded Storm Petrel. \n 1914 Capt. Leroy Flye of Ellsworth took her for several 

years. Under Flye, Storm Petrel came into some trouble in Cutler Harbor, Maine. Here 

is the story from The Ellsworth American on 1 December 1915. 

The Ellsworth Schooner Storm Petrel, Capt. Leroy Flye, while working 
out of Cutler harbor last Thursday morning, misstayed and struck on the 
ledges on the north side of Little River Island. In the heavy swell she 
chafed badly, damaging her rudder, bottom, and keel. She was floated at 
high water and towed to the wharf by motor boats. Part of her cargo will 
be taken out and she will receive necessary repairs to her rudder, and then 
be towed to Rockland for further repairs necessary. 

Flye would command Storm Petrel through early 1916, when Capt. G.W. Potter 

took command for the remainder of the season. Capt. Potter's cruises this year are well 

documented, and we will follow the business of his year shortly. Capt. Albert B. Mazrall, 

well known throughout Ellsworth, took Storm Petrel in 1917 after Capt. Potter and had 

her for at about five years. In these years Storm Petrel carried a wide variety of low 

freight-rate cargoes including coal, laths, shingles, granite, wood pulp, long lumber, and 



36 



fertilizer.^^ A significant incident occurred late in Capt. Mazrall's first year with Storm 
Petrel. Upon being towed into Belfast, Maine on the morning of 15 December 1917, 
Storm Petrel's rigging struck the Belfast Bridge, destroying the forty-two foot topmast 
among other damages. Capt. Mazrall wrote this letter to John Whitney the next day. 

Mr Whitney Dear sir 

the sch Storm Petril will be discharged Tuesday weather permitting 
I got the tug Boat Pogibscot [Pejepscot] to dock us and putting us through 
the Brige he took the Main topmast out and broke the crosstreese Now it 
is up to the towboat or the city to fix it I think if you can spare the time 
you had better come over here and advise me what to due about it there is 
[no] fault of the vessels as the tugboat was along side of us towing through 
the City or the tug out to pay Mr Slug the superintent of the fertiliezer 
plant says the city ought to Pay the damage and if you came over here I 
think we can get Pay for it will cost $1,150 to fix the damage 
yours tmely 
A B Mazralf "* 

It took four months to complete Storm Petrel's repairs. Capt. Mazrall wrote to 
John Whitney on 12 April, 1918 to inform him that "we have just finished up the topmast 
and have presented the Pogsicot [Pejepscot] towing Co. with itimized Bill for all the 
damage."*'^ Storm Petrel then sailed to St. George, Maine, loaded approximately thirty- 
five-thousand granite paving blocks at two dollars per thousand fi"om the St. George 
Granite Co, and sailed for New York. 

After several more cargoes of coal and granite. Storm Petrel developed a serious 
leak. Capt. Mazrall kept John Whitney well informed of Storm Petrel 's condition with 
weekly correspondence. The following is a series of letters to John Whitney from Capt. 
Mazrall. 



'^ Various receipts, bills of lading, etc., Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney Papers, Stephen Phillips 

Memorial Library, Penobscot Marine Museum, Searsport, Maine. 

''^ Letter from A.B. Mazrall to John Whitney, 16 Dec. 1917, Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney Papers, 

Stephen Phillips Memorial Library, Penobscot Marine Museum, Searsport, Maine. B8F1F. 

^' Letter from A.B. Mazrall to John Whitney, 12 Apr. 1918, Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney Papers, 

Stephen Phillips Memorial Library, Penobscot Marine Museum, Searsport, Maine. B12F5J. 



37 



Rockland June 11 1918 
Mr Whitney Dear sir 

the sch Storm Petrel is still lying in Rockland and Capt kid has ordered 
us to lay here until further orders I have lost too crews all ready if they 
would let me get out when 1 get the crew onboard it would be all right for 
me to scim along shore but we have got to due as they say and that is 
nothing but will due the best 1 can 
yours truely 

A B Mazrall^^ 

Boothby June 17 1918 

Mr Whitney 
Dear sir the Storm Petril arrived here yesterday leaking bad We can just 
ceep her free with one pump I tried to get a gasoline pump here but 
couldent but I L Snow is sending one from Rockland so hope we can get it 
so to go when the wind changes I hope the Patrol Boats will let me alone 
Now it looks as if they were fitting the old Coasters instead of Germans 
think she will go all right when I get somethin to pump 
yours truely 
A B Mazrall" 

New york June 28 1918 
Mr Whitney Dear sir 
the sch Storm Petril has arrived save but it looked at times as if she would 
get the best of us it keeps one pump steady to keep her free I will have to 
hall her out before I load again I have too for everything is so high but 
dont see anyway out of it 
yours truely 
A B Mazralf^ 

July 19 1918 
Mr Whitney Dear sir I have taken the Petril on the Dry dock and have got 
to calk her Bottom I hate to due it but I shall have to We had all we could 
due to keep her free the oakum in her Bottom is all rotton I wont do any 
more than is nessary 

yours truely 
A B Mazrair^ 



^^ Letter from A.B. Mazrall to John Whitney, 11 June 1918, Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney Papers, 

Stephen Phillips Memorial Library, Penobscot Marine Museum, Searsport, Maine. B12F5J. 

" Letter from A.B. Mazrall to John Whitney, 17 June 1918, Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney Papers, 

Stephen Phillips Memorial Library, Penobscot Marine Museum, Searsport, Maine. B12F5J. 

'^ Letter from A.B. Mazrall to John Whittiey, 28 June 1918, Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney Papers, 

Stephen Phillips Memorial Library, Penobscot Marine Museum, Searsport, Maine. B12F5J. 

" Letter from A.B. Mazrall to John Whitney, 19 July 1918, Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney Papers, 

Stephen Phillips Memorial Library, Penobscot Marine Museum, Searsport, Maine. B12F5J. 



38 



New York Aug 28 1918 
Mr Whitney 
Dear sir sch Storm Petril has arrived all right I went through the canel this 
time and I had to wate 8 days before we vould get through there was so 
much trafac it was blocked all the time havent chartered yet 
yours truely 
A B Mazrall^*^ 

After this ordeal was through, Storm Petrel loaded coal at the Philadelphia & 

Reading Coal and Iron Co., bound for Seal Harbor, Maine. Capt. Mazrall was a 

responsible, respected captain. Paul Stubing, originally of Ellsworth, remembered stories 

he listened to from retired captains in his youth. Mazrall spent his life among the 

coasters and was "one of the chosen dozen" among coasting captains.^' When he left 

Storm Petrel in the early 1920s, "he retired to bay coasting in the old J. Chester Wood 

and handed the Petrel over to Albert Closson, formerly in the three-master Winchester. ''^^ 



Fig. 10. Freeman Napoleon Closson in about 1952 in front of his 
uncle David Closson's building in Bayside.*' 

Capt. Albert Closson sailed Storm Petrel with his brother Freeman (fig. 10) out of 
Ellsworth until the late 20s. During this time Storm Petrel's box rail rotted and was 



'^ Letter from A.B. Mazrall to John Whitney. 28 Aug. 1918. Whitcomb. Haynes. and Whitney Papers, 
Stephen Phillips Memorial Library, Penobscot Marine Museum. Searsport, Maine. B12F5J. 
^' Paul Stubing, conversation with author, Deer Isle, Maine. 13 Dec. 2002. 
^^ John Leavitt, Wake of the Coasters (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 1970) 25. 
" Paul Stubing Collection 



39 



replaced with an open fly rail. Possibly at this rebuild Storm Petrel received a donkey 

engine to help handle sails and her anchor, as charges for gasoline and engine repairs 

began to appear on Storm Petrel's bills. The Clossons, in their later years by this time, 

had trouble with Storm Petrel during a sour gale off Nantucket Shoals, and soon after 

gave her up to F.H. Gatchell in 1926. Gatchell had her for only a few of years. What 

happened after Gatchell sold her in 1927 is unclear. Ernest Dodge, in an article from The 

American Neptune, remembers Storm Petrel in this way. 

By 1927 the Storm Petrel and the Lavolta were the last two coasters 
sailing out of Ellsworth. The next year the Storm Petrel was sold to new 
owners and entered a business as prosperous as the lumber business was 
moribund. She became a rumrunner. Unfortunately nothing is known of 
this interesting period in her career, but her eventual capture by 
government authorities resulted in her being sold at auction. 

Captain Jose Dial would run Storm Petrel for the Fingerbread Coal Company of 

West New Britain, New York, until her tragic end. On Thanksgiving Eve in 1930, Storm 

Petrel encountered a severe storm in Long Island Sound. Whether from feeling defeated 

by the recent storm or some other reason, the Storm Petrel's crew seemed their own 

worst enemy from this report in The Westerly Sun. 

The crew of the schooner was characterized this morning... as being 
indifferent to their condition. "The crew," said one who aided in their 
rescue, "lacked energy enough to help themselves when we rescued them 
from the reef in Long Island Sound. With their main boom smashed and 
sails in strips, they lacked energy enough to even seize the tow line which 
we threw them. One of our own men had to secure the tow line before we 
could take them to New London. ^ 



Ernest Dodge, "The Last Days of Coasting on Union River Bay," The American Neptune 9:3 (July 1949), 
171-172. 
^^ "Schooner Goes Down Off Watch Hill; 7 Lost," Westerly Sun 7 Dec. 1930. 



40 



If Capt. Dial also fit this description, then he probably exerted little effort to secure the 

credit he needed. Either way, it was Capt. Dial's responsibility to assure the 

seaworthiness of his vessel, and he is responsible for the events which followed. 

The Coast Guard rescued and towed Storm Petrel to New London. Once safely in 

New London, 

[c]oast guard officers prevailed upon Captain Dial to seek credit in New 
London to repair the damage of the storm. He tried unsuccessfully and 
spent more time in a vain endeavor to find a ship that would tow him to 
Nantucket. 

When the Coast Guard offered the service of the Nemaha he 
accepted and Coast Guard Officers inspected the schooner before the start 
to make sure she was not taking on water. They believed she had been 
badly strained by her experience on the [reef] but Captain Dial thought her 
seaworthy. 

While under tow from the coast guard patrol boat Nemaha, Storm Petrel 
foundered without immediate warning at the end of Nemaha 's tow line. She went down 
"so quickly. . . that [the coast guard] could do nothing and their only chance to save their 
own craft was to cut the tow hawser." Nemaha 's tow line was approximately three- 
hundred yards long, "and if any distress signals were given or any outcrys made by 
members of the crew, they were not heard by anyone aboard the "Nemaha" which carried 
a crew of 10 men." Storm Petrel was lost with her entire crew, including Capt. Dial, 
three crewmen, and Capt. Dial's wife and five-year-old son George. Despite several days 
of searching by six coast guard vessels, they found no trace of Storm Petrel or her crew. 



' "No Trace of Schooner Lost Off Watch Hill," Westerly Sun 8 Dec. 1930. 
' "No Trace of Schooner Lost Off Watch Hill," Westerly Sun 8 Dec. 1930. 
"Schooner Goes Down Off Watch Hill; 7 Lost," Westerly Sun 1 Dec. 1930. 



41 



Comments on Storm Petrel 's Document Index 

Contained in the Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney Papers are receipts, letters, 
bills of lading, and other documents concerning Storm Petrel and other Whitcomb, 
Haynes, and Whitney vessels. From those I have tried to piece together a picture of the 
places, cargoes, and overall business that concerned Storm Petrel. The document index 
at the end of this report is very rough and incomplete, but to a learned researcher it should 
feed an understanding o^ Storm Petrel's business in the late 1910s and early 1920s. This 
index contains material on Storm Petrel's business ranging from 1908 through 1927, 
offering the most thorough documentation for her business in the late 1910s. Prior to 
1915 this index offers material on Storm Petrel's crew, port, and provisioning expenses, 
but only four documents recording her cargoes in those years. Following an examination 
of the index is a discussion of Capt. G.W. Potter's account for Storm Petrel's trips in 
1916. 

Storm Petrel, with exception, limited her trips to major ports in New England and 
New York/New Jersey. One of her brokers in the late 1910s was the New- York based 
firm Gilmartin and Trundy. Their cargoes from New Jersey created a minor circuit for 
Storm Petrel, traveling from Eastern Maine to New York with granite or lumber products 
through another broker, and returning with coal from Port Reading, New Jersey for Seal 
Harbor, Maine. An exception to this is Storm Petrel 's trips to St. Georges and St. Johns, 
both in New Brunswick and both in 1919. 

Storm Petrel's cargoes were varied and included coal, laths, staves, shingles, 
wood pulp, cord wood, fish scrap, long lumber, fertilizer, and granite products such as 
paving stones and cut granite curb. Only five cargoes listed in the index originated from 



42 



Whitcomb, Haynes and Whitney's mills. Storm Petrel probably carried more of 
Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney's product than is indicated in the index, since the 
company held a controlling interest in her, and Potter's accounts for 1916 show at least 
one cargo from the Bayside Mill in Ellsworth and there are no accompanying bills of 
lading in the index. Storm Petrel used different brokers for her cargoes. In New York, as 
stated above. Storm Petrel used Gilmartin and Trundy. When Storm Petrel was in the 
Boston area she used the Boston Ship Brokerage Company. One document from 1924 
indicates the W.M. Monroe & Co. as brokers for a load of fish scrap from Gloucester to 
Carvers Harbor, Maine. Many of Storm Petrel's trips documented in the index lack a slip 
from any specific broker, so confident judgments about who directed Storm Petrel and 
when are impossible. What is here are simply observations taken from the index. 

Crews aboard Storm Petrel turned over frequently. This surprised me when I first 
noticed the large changing of crews, but after reading Capt. L. S. Tawes Coasting 
Captain, the turnover rate appears normal. Crews would sign on not for a season, but for 
a set amount of time, which could include only one long trip or several short hops along 
the coast. When Storm Petrel's crews were paid, they averaged a wage between $40- 
$70. Finding an average daily wage is difficult because the receipts documenting a crew's 
wages give only a pay date instead of an account of total employment time. 



43 



Storm Petrel 's Business in 1916 

Storm Petrel carried six cargoes of lumber and one of coal in 1916. Figure 11 
lists Storm Petrel's cargoes, their destinations, and the full stock earned on each. This 
includes one day's demurrage while waiting for cargo in Boston. Figure 1 1 also shows 
the amounts due Storm Petrel's agents; the Baystate Dredging Co., Fred Austin, and John 
Whitney of Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney. Baystate Dredging appears to receive only 
the demurrage they paid to Capt. Potter several weeks before, only 3% of the total agent 
fees. Austin receives $207.35 in agent fees, or about 37% of the total, and Whitcomb, 
Haynes, and Whitney receives $340.92, the bulk of the fees at about 60%. 















tl ts-t 



Fig. 11. From Capt. Potter's 1916 accounts for Storm Petrel. This shows CapL 
Potter ' s various cargoes and the fees paid Storm Petrel 's agents for the 1 9 1 6 season. 



44 



The major costs as outlined by Capt. Potter were Storm Petrel's grub, or food, 
bill, schooner bills, port charges, and crew wages. Capt. Potter's total grub bill from 21 
February to 6 January was $190.53. This included typical purchases of groceries, meals 
on shore, and other small amenities for ship-board life. 

What Capt. Potter lists as schooner bills are those expenses for vessel 
commissioning and in-season maintenance, totaling $45.05. Also included under this 
category is a series of expenses from 1-21 February including food, fare, and lodging; 
probably Capt. Potter's personal expenses before Storm Petrel's first cargo. That total is 
$15.41 of the overall schooner bills. Figure 12 is from Capt. Potter's accounts of his 
expenses for keeping Storm Petrel in service for 1916. Noting significant, outside of a 
new compass in August, marked her career that year. 



^ ^^ a .Si' / 3i t /" ^ _ 

Fig. 12. A section of the "schooner bills" for Storm Pe/re/ 5 1916 season. 

Port charges for Storm Petrel generally concern towing and stevedore labor while 
in port. These charges present an almost complete list of where Storm Petrel went and 



45 



how long she was in each given port. Storm Petrel 's port charges are one of her most 
expensive considerations, with her total expenses for 1916 at $630.1 1. Wages are Storm 
Petrel's only higher concern. According to Capt. Potter's account, sixteen men served 
under him aboard Storm Petrel. Some remained with Storm Petrel for most of the 
season, some served for just one or two of her trips that year, and several of the names 
listed were probably stevedores in port. For 1916, Storm Petrel's crews earned $924.71 
and Capt. Potter earned $462.33. 

All the expenses listed above brought Storm Petrel's total bills to $2,252.73. The 
difference between her bills out and $2872.60 in gross stock is net $619.87. After Capt. 
Potter deducted his agent fees for 1916, Storm Petrel profited $52.85. Capt. Potter added 
$14.80 to this profit for a final 1916 sum total of $67.65.^^ 



Capt. Potter's account shows the $14.80 increase clearly, but his description net to that addition is 
illegible. 



46 



Conclusion 

Ellsworth was one of Maine's most successful lumbering and shipbuilding towns. 
A combination of Maine's rich timber resources, cascades near the mouth of the Union 
River, and navigable water virtually to the foot of Milliken's lower dam allowed 
Ellsworth's impressive growth into both of these industries. As Ellsworth became a 
major lumber port in Downcast Maine, it is no surprise that the town also grew into a 
significant shipbuilding port with such plentiful raw material at hand and such an 
immediate need for schooners to ship Ellsworth's lumber. Ellsworth-built schooners like 
Storm Petrel brought Ellsworth's lumber to the world market until the depression. 

The depression hit Ellsworth as hard as it did any town in the country, and it was 
not until after World War II that Ellsworth began to grow. This time, instead of an 
industrial hub rooted in lumber, Ellsworth grew into a service center for the increasing 
tourism flooding Mount Desert Island. Rotten pilings remain along Water Street marking 
where wharves once stood, and up above Leonard Lake is a long stone wall at the 
location of the now forgotten sixth sawmill dam. This wall once held Whitcomb, 
Haynes, and Whitney's lumber pool, where logs waited after the spring drive as mill 
workers processed the lumber into boards, shingles, staves, or whatever else they were 
producing that year. Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney's store in Ellsworth Falls 
continued operating under different management into the 1960s, but the store burned and 
the lot was sold. 

From Milliken's first mill through John Black's timber empire and on through the 
giant that was Whitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney, Ellsworth's loss of Storm Petrel and 
Lavolta in the late 1 920s marked the end of a long and successful period of lumbering 



47 



and commerce along the Union River. Those vessels were Ellsworth's last active 
symbols of the boom town it had once been. A few other coasters would occasionally 
stop at Ellsworth over the coming decades, but the Union River fleet was gone. "When a 
schooner could no longer be patched up to go one more season she was simply run 
aground at high tide, and there she left her bones." ** Today, even the remainders of the 
old coasters have washed away or are buried along the shore. 



Ernest Dodge, Morning Was Starlight: My Maine Boyhood (Chester, Connecticut: Globe Pequot Press, 
1980) 153. 



48 



Glossary 

Box shook: "Shook" is simply a part of a box, a barrel, or a piece of furniture, ready to be 

assembled into the final product. 

Cedar sleepers: Most commonly used for railroad ties. The term is also used in 

shipbuilding for large horizontal beams beneath a deck suitable to distribute heavy 

deckloads above. 

Clapboards: A long, thin board, thicker along one edge than the other, used in covering 

the outer walls of buildings, being laid horizontally, the thick edge of each board 

overlapping the thin edge of the board below it. 

Excelsior: Fine wood shavings used for packing, animal bedding, etc. 

Hemlock bark: Used in the leather tanning industry. The bark of Hemlock trees was 

stripped and sold to tanneries. 

Laths: Thin strips of softwood or hardwood lumber used for plastering (the backing for 

plastered walls and ceilings). The standard measurement for most softwood laths was 

3/8" thick, 1 1/2" wide, and 32" to 48" long. Laths are commonly used today to fasten 

tarred paper or other insulating material along exterior house foundation walls prior to 

winter. 

Pickets: Long pieces of wood used between fence posts, or 'fence pickets.' 

Registered length of a vessel: Taken from "the fore side of them under the bowsprit (if 

any) and after side of head of the stem-post, or to center of rudder stock in vessels of 

,,oi 

cruiser stem type. 



' W.A. McEwen and A.H. Lewis, Encyclopedia of Nautical Knowledge (Cambridge: Cornell Maritime 
Press, 1953)287. 



49 



Shingles: Thin pieces of wood with parallel sides, thicker at one end than the other. (Not 
to be confused with "shakes", which are rived or split shingles that are as thick at one end 
as the other.) 

Staves and heads: Both are components of barrels, or casks. Individual staves are curved 
and tapered lengths of wood, meant to build a cylinder held together with hoops of wood 
or metal. Heads, or heading, make up the ends of casks. The following description is 
from a conversation between Sandy Ives and Harold Stuart. Stuart worked for 
Whitcomb, Haynes & Co. in the early 1900s. 

And then there's the big crooked pines, which today they'd ignore, and 
leave in the woods... those were cut and brought down and made into 
what we call headings. That was sawed about oh half inch think and uh 
these could b-be knotty and rough, y'know. T'was just s'it came from the 
saw 'n was stuck uh, oh out in the yard and dried, and then it... was 
packed in squares, — and brought in and turned [into] what they called 
rounded heading, made round barrelheads.^^ 

Tonnage: a gauge of a vessel's carrying capacity. One ton equals one-hundred cubic feet 

of available space. Gross tonnage is the "total internal cubic measurement... less such 

space or spaces in which no fuel, cargo, or stores is carried." Net tormage is a part of a 

vessels gross tonnage and is found "by deducting certain spaces, including crew's 

quarters, store-rooms, chart-room, wheel-house," and so forth.^^ 



" Harold Stuart, interview by Sandy Ives, transcript NA 679, July 1971, Maine Folklife Center, Orono, 
Maine, 679.001B-679.002. 
McEwen and Lewis, Encyclopedia, 563. 



50 



Bibliography 

Primary Sources 
Applebee, Robert B. Sailing Vessels built in the Frenchman 's Bay District, Maine. 

Stephen Phillips Memorial Library, Searsport, Maine. 1947, revised 1960. 
Honey, Mark E. "estimated damages for breach." Private Collection. Ellsworth. 
Honey, Mark E., and Edward Stem. The Wliitcomb, Haynes, and Whitney Papers. 

Indexed, 2 vols. Stephen Phillips Memorial Library, Searsport, Maine, 2002. 
Davis, James W. James W. Davis inventory. 3602. Probate Office, Ellsworth. 
Dodge, Ernest. Morning was Starlight: My Maine Boyhood. Chester, Connecticut: Globe 

Pequot Press. 1980. 
. "The Last Days of Coasting on Union River Bay." American Neptune 9, no. 3 

(1949): 169-179. 
Whitcomb, John F. Estate of John F. Whitcomb. 8468. Probate Office, Ellsworth. 

Newspapers 
Ellsworth American, 13 January 1860 - 23 October 1929. 
Ellsworth Freeman, 29 April 1853. 
Westerly (Rhode Island) Sun, 7 December 1930 - 8 December 1930. 

Interviews 
Honey, Mark E. Conversation with author. Ellsworth. 15 January 2003. 

. Conversation with author. Ellsworth. 8 February 2003. 

. Conversation with author. Ellsworth. 15 February 2003. 

. Conversation with author. Ellsworth. 24 February 2003. 

. Telephone conversation with author. 17 February 2003. 



51 



Stuart, Harold. Interview by Sandy Ives. Transcript NA 679. July 1971. Maine Folklife 

Center, Orono, Maine. 
Stubing, Paul. Conversation with author. Deer Isle, Maine. 13 Dec 2002. 

Secondary Sources 
Atwood, Stanley Bearce. The Length and Breadth of Maine. Orono, Maine: University 

of Maine Press, 1974. 
Chadboume, Ava Harriet. Maine Place Names and the Peopling of its Towns. Bangor: 

Furbush-Roberts Printing, 1955. 
Colby, S.F. Atlas of Hancock County, Maine. Ellsworth: S.F. Colby & Co., 1881. 
Coolidge, Phillip T. Histoiy of the Maine Woods. Bangor: Furbush-Roberts Printing, 

1963. 
Davis, Albert H. Histoiy of Ellsworth, Maine. Lewiston: Lewiston Journal Printshop. 

1927. 
Greenleaf, Moses. Siir\>ey of Maine. 1829. Reprint, Augusta: Maine State Museum, n.d. 
Honey, Mark E. Mariaville: A History of William Bingham 's Settlement on the Union 

River. Ellsworth: Ellsworth Public Library, 1986. 
Leavitt, John F. Wake of the Coasters. Middletown: Wesleyan U. 1970. 
Lewis, A.H. and W. A. McEwen. Encyclopedia of Nautical Knowledge. Cambridge: 

Cornell Maritime Press, 1953 
Rowe, William Hutchinson. The Maritime History of Maine: Three Centuries of 

Shipbuilding and Seafaring. New York: W.W. Norton. 1948. 
Smith, David C, A Histoiy of Lumbering in Maine, 1861-1960. Orono, Maine: 

University of Maine Press, 1972. 



52 



Wells, Walter. Water-Power of Maine. Augusta: Sprague, Owen & Nash, 1869. 



53 






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