For Whaling Captains, Diversity Flourished

Men of color were full participants in the whaling industry, a business so difficult and dangerous that most people only went out once.

Vineyard Bookshelf: Whaling on Martha's Vineyard

It’s a testament to Tom Dresser’s storytelling gifts that a subject as big as whaling on the Vineyard can be told so well in only 150 pages.

Black Whaling Captains Found Liberty at Sea

Of the 2,500 masters who captained whaling ships during three centuries of whaling, at least 63 were men of color, five with Martha’s Vineyard ties, Skip Finley told a rapt audience Wednesday night.

Connecting the Vineyard to the Arctic, Whaling Family Tree Is Familiar

Next week Alaskans and New Englanders will gather for a conference about whaling in the Arctic, with events in New Bedford, Nantucket, and on the Vineyard.

Thar She Costs; Whaling History Preservation Is on Town Agenda

When Edgartown voters gather next week for their annual town meeting, preserving town history will be among the items on the agenda.

Gone Whaling: A Child’s Eye View of Life on a Whale Ship

“It is Sunday, and a very pleasant day. I have read two story books. This is my journal. Goodbye for today.”

So opened six-year-old Laura Jernegan’s journal, in an entry dated Dec. 1, 1868, as she set sail on a three-year sea expedition with her family aboard the whaling vessel Roman.

Riches of Whaling Industry Came to Frigid End As Vineyard Captains Lost Ships Off Alaska

You can name the place, date, and even the hour that whaling died as an industry on Martha’s Vineyard -- 1:30 in the afternoon of Sept. 14, 1871, in a strip of icy water only 18 feet deep and barely wide enough for a whaling ship to swing in a full circle around her anchor.

Death of Whaling Ended an Island Way of Life

No single event finished off whaling, of course. It was doomed from the moment in 1859 when geologists discovered oil in the crust of Pennsylvania. Then came the piracy and scuttling of whaling ships during the Civil War (including the Edgartown whaler Ocmulgee, sunk by the Confederate raider Alabama), the loss of most of the New England fleet to Arctic ice in 1871, and the transfer of investment by the richest Vineyarders from whaling to the resorts at Oak Bluffs and Katama during the post-war building boom.

Followed The Whale Slick All Over The World

Capt. Ellsworth Luce West, last of the Vineyard whaling captains, died at his home on the Middle Road, Chilmark, on Sunday nigh, following some months of failing health. He was in his 85th year and although feeble physically for some time, his faculties had remained active until his death. As an authority on the Arctic, his last days had been spent in the dictation of a volume on Arctic phenomena and his Alaskan experiences. He was also collaborating with Vilhjalmur Stefansson the explorer, in recreating in print various phrases of the whaling era.

Famous Whaleboat is Presented to the Historical Society

The whaleboat in which Vineyarders out-pulled all others who met them here and elsewhere, has been presented to the Dukes County Historical Society by Captain Isaac Norton of Vineyard Haven, commander of the craft, George Smith of Oak Bluffs, the only surviving member of the crew, and Captain Norton’s nephews, Benjamin, Frank, Orrin and James Norton. The historic craft has been stored in the barn of Cyrus Norton, brother of Captain Isaac, for more than thirty years. It was last used in an historical pageant at Lake Tashmoo.