East Hampton Historical Society: ‘The Voyage of the Ship Josephine’ / EH Marine Museum

Folk art painting of shore whaling, collection of the East Hampton Historical Society.

Open House

‘The Voyage of the Ship Josephine’

Saturday September 16, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The East Hampton Historical Society is excited to be unveiling a new exhibit at the Marine Museum that focuses on the voyage of the whaling vessel the Josephine and the story of its East Hampton captain and crew. The exhibit will tell the story of the Josephine through logbooks, maps, charts, artifacts, and personal accounts of the voyage.

Attend the open house to explore where the Josephine sailed, read portions of the logbooks kept on board, and learn about the story of East Hampton whaling through selected artifacts from our collection. The curator will be available to help guide you through the exhibit and answer any questions. Kid friendly activities will also be on hand.

The Josephine, captained by Hiram Baker Hedges of East Hampton, set out from Sag Harbor in October of 1846, and made its way down and around Cape Horn and to Chile. Then it sailed for the Hawaiian Islands, Petropavlovsk, Russia and Hong Kong. They ended the voyage with 2,400 barrels of whale oil, 60 barrels of sperm oil, and over 28,000 pounds of whalebone.

We are lucky to have three separate accounts from onboard the Josephine, each of which offers a unique perspective of this exciting and somewhat unusual voyage. The ship’s carpenter Joseph Redfield kept a daily journal, noting latitude and longitude, describing the whale hunt, and recording goods bought and sold at port. Through Redfield, we learn of the pet monkey that resided on board, of the captain’s near-death experience while in Hong Kong, and of William King’s tragic accident whale hunting. Redfield also includes a list of all the crew members, seven of whom were from East Hampton, and one of whom was from Abemama Island (part of the Gilbert Islands group).

An Englishman, S.S. Hill bought passage on the Josephine in 1848 as it sailed from Russia to Hawaii. He later went on to publish two books on his travels in which his journey on the Josephine is chronicled. Through him we learn of a terrifying storm the Josephine weathered off the coast of Russia and of the “will-o-wisp” or ignis fatuus (foolish fire) phenomenon that the crew witnessed.

Finally, we have the account of H. H. Frary, published in 1937. Frary, who was only eighteen when he sailed with the Josephine, provides detailed and exciting descriptions of “giving chase.” In one instance, Clark King “got fast” (harpooned) to a whale, and the whale retaliated by hitting King with his fluke. King was thrown into the air, and the crew worried that he was dead. Luckily, he survived. Most notably, Frary’s account offers emotional insight into the relationships between crew members, and details how they spent their time when they went ashore in Russia, Hawaii, and Abemama island.

East Hampton Town Marine Museum, 301 Bluff Road, Amagansett




Find more like this: Bulletins, East End, East End Museum Exhibitions, Exhibits, Of Note

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