Thursday, October 17, 2013

New England Phelps Captain, Doctor, Postmaster & More


Henry Phelps, of London, England, was a passenger in the ship "Hercules," which arrived in this country in 1634. John Phelps, son of Henry and Anna Phelps, was born in Salem, but settled in Reading, Massachusetts, where he died in 1685. Henry Phelps, son of John Phelps, was born in 1673, and passed away in Reading in 1722. Henry Phelps, son of Henry Phelps, was born in 1720. Capt Henry Phelps (1745-1785) married Betsy Herrick of Beverly, MA October 1786 Betsy received word of Henry's death at sea via a message he cast out during a treacherous storm. The bottle was picked up by a Boston vessel



Dr Henry Phelps born in Salem 1766. Attended Harvard College graduated in 1788. Dr. Henry Phelps was appointed the first postmaster in Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1790. In 1795 Henry married Mary Forbes Coffin, daughter of Mary Parkman Forbes and Peter Coffin. The couple had 10 children:

David Oct. 14, 1799  Printer in New York City
Eli Forbes, Mar. 16, 1811.m Susan Burnham
Emily Coffin Sept. 15, 1818.m. Dr Pollard

Hannah Dane Jan. 11, 1809.m. William Phelps
Hannah Symonds Sept. 2, 1797.died 1805
Henry Sept. 24, 1806.
Henry Augustus, s. Eli F., carpenter, and Susan B., Aug. 30,
1846. 
Lucy Coffin [after 1811? bp. Oct. 22, 1815. c. R. 1.]  m. John Phelps
Mary Forbes Oct. 1, 1795.  m. John Davis
Sarah Coffin Apr. 23, 1804.m. Henry Haskell
William Dane Feb. 14, 1802.  m.

(1821) Henry married Mrs Mary Elliot and Third wife married (1826) Mrs Mary Foster. Dr. Phelps early in life chose the profession of medicine, and after studying with Dr. Plummer, of Salem, was established by him as a physician and apothecary in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1790. He acquired some practice as a doctor, but soon abandoned that branch of the business. Before the establishment of a post office in the town of Gloucester, the people received their letters by a messenger, who was sent twice a week to Beverly to secure them. A post office was established soon after the adoption of the Constitution, and was at first, and for several years, kept in the shop of the postmaster, Henry Phelps, who was postmaster for many years, and principal acting magistrate in the town, being often employed as a scrivener. Dr. Phelps continued to keep this shop until he reached the age of eighty years, when, becoming dependent upon filial support, he resided with a daughter.  From American Historical Magazine Volume 13
Phelps store building was on Front Street, opposite the head of Central Wharf. The post office location was afterwards changed from time to time till its permanent establishment in the building erected by the government for a custom-house and post office.


On October 15, 1862, Charles Clinton Goodwin was united in marriage with Alice Dodge Phelps, who was born October 18, 1838, a daughter of Captain William Dane Phelps and Lusanna Tucker Bryant, of Lexington, Massachusetts. Her father, Captain William Dane Phelps, was a native of Gloucester, Massachusetts, and was a noted sea captain. He had sailed the coast of California for several years before the discovery of gold in that country, and he was the first man to carry the American Flag up the Sacramento river. The ship "Alert," famous in song and story, immortalized in the book written by Richard H. Dana, Jr., entitled, "Two Years Before the Mast," was commanded on its return voyage to California by Captain William Dane Phelps.



Richard H. Dana, Jr., (read more at Dana Publication ) returned from the coast aboard the "Alert" and his adventures are recorded in his most interesting sea tale.



The "Alert" subsequently became a prize of the Confederate steamer, "Alabama." Captain Phelps also brought to Boston the first California gold, after its discovery in 1849, and was the author of a book, which related his many exciting and dangerous experiences, entitled, "Fore and Aft," which he wrote under the nom de plume of "Webfoot." When a boy, on a voyage in the South Seas, he and seven others were left by their captain on Prince Edward Island, in one of the South Sea groups, to collect oil. The captain promised to return for them in nine months. The captain, however, did not return, and for twenty-eight months young Phelps and the small party lived a Robinson Crusoe life on the desert island, until they were finally rescued. In 1835, Captain Phelps was shipwrecked in Plymouth Harbor, Massachusetts, and he was one of only three or four of the crew who were saved. After he retired, he decided to take one more voyage, and this time took a trip around the world. He passed the remainder of his life in his pleasant Lexington home, among his old friends and neighbors. He was well known for his wit and dry humor, and his family and closest friends spent many happy hours listening as he related his many strange experiences in all the corners of the world. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Clinton Goodwin were the parents of three children, as follows: 1. George Clinton, born November 24, 1863; unmarried; he is connected with the Northern Pacific Railroad, at Tacoma, Washington. 2. Grace Elise, born September 21, 1870, who became the wife of Edward Porter Merriam, the son of Matthew Henry Merriam and Jane Merriam, of Lexington; they are the parents of two children, Robert Clinton and Gordon Phelps


3. Alice Phelps, born October 20, 1875; she is a graduate of Smith College, and studied at the University of Berlin, Germany; she is a graduate nurse of the Boston Homeopathic Hospital, and took an allopathic course at the Boston Floating Hospital, where she served as superintendent of Nurses for two seasons; she also served as superintendent of Nurses at the Medical Mission on Clinton 13 Hull Street, Boston; on September 24, 1908, she became the wife of Dr. J. Walter Schirmer, of Needham, Massachusetts, and they are the parents of two children, Louise and John. Mr. Goodwin was made a Mason in 1871, in the Simon W. Robinson Lodge, of Lexington, Massachusetts, and was afterward a member of Hiram Lodge. He was exalted in Menotomy Chapter, Royal Arch Masons, at Arlington, Massachusetts, March 30, 1876. He enjoyed to intermingle with his fellow-men, and was a member of De Molay Commandery, Knights Templar, of Boston. He joined the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Boston in 1869, and was a member of the Lexington Historical Society.



Captain William Dane Phelps, son of Dr. Henry and Mary Forbes (Coffin) Phelps, was born February 14, 1802, at Gloucester, Massachusetts. He inherited a love for the sea from several of his ancestors, who had been mariners, and ran away from a boarding school, where he had been sent by his parents to prepare for college, embarking as a cabin boy on board a vessel sailing from Boston, and working his way through the different grades to that of master. He made many voyages to Europe and the Levant, around Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope, in command of some of the finest ships of the times. He was wrecked when a boy at the Cape of Good Hope, and also when captain at the entrance of Plymouth Harbor, in the winter of 1836, which was one of the most distressing shipwrecks known for many years on our coast. In one of his early voyages, when a boy, he was left with seven others on a desertisland, in the Indian ocean, to procure a cargo of sea elephant oil and fur seal skins. The captain promised to return for them in nine months, but did not appear for twenty-eight months, when he hoped to collect his oil and furs without any men to pay off. But although they had lived Robinson Crusoe lives, replete with dangers and hardships, they were all alive, with a full cargo ready for him. He made several trading voyages, generally of three years' duration, to California, in the days when San Francisco was called Yerba Buena, and consisted of only three houses where the famous city now stands. With two of his boats and a part of his crew he explored the river Sacramento, displaying the Star and Stripes for the first time upon its waters. He commanded the ship "Alert," (which has been made famous in connection with the book entitled "Two Years Before the Mast," by Bichard H. Dana, Jr.), the following year after Mr. Dana returned in it from California as a passenger.
In 1849 he was in California, at the time when gold was discovered, and on his return soon after he brought some of the first gold specimens to Boston, with reliable information about the mines. For his last voyage he went on a trip around the world, after which he retired in 1857, passing the remainder of his life in his pleasant Lexington home. He was well known for his dry wit and humor, and his family and friends spent many happy hours as he related to them his entertaining and strange experiences in many parts of the world. He was a ready writer and was the author of a book entitled "Fore and Aft, or Leaves from the Life of an Old Sailor," under the nom de plume of "Webfoot." He died August 15, 1875, at Magnolia, the summer home of Charles C. Goodwin, within a few miles of Gloucester, the place of his birth.


The Ipswich Female Seminary was an early school for the secondary and college-level education of young women,founded in 1828 by two women, Zilpah Grant and Mary Lyon.Grant strongly believed in “the delicacy of the female constitution, and the greater delicacy of her reputation”. Students were kept isolated from the community, forbidden from stopping in the street or standing near the front windows of their lodgings.

Lusanna Tucker Bryant Phelps, wife of William Dane Phelps, was born in East Lexington, July 11,1804. She attended the Young Ladies' Seminary at Ipswich, under the instruction of Mary Grant and Mary Lyon, afterwards becoming a very successful teacher. She married Captain Phelps in 1834. She accompanied him on one voyage up the Mediterranean sea, but the most of her life was spent in Lexington. Her memory of places and people was remarkably clear and exact, and she often entertained her friends with narrating her experiences. Both she and her husband were members of the Baptist church, and were actively engaged in promoting benevolent work at home and abroad. She died August 23, 1885. Children: 1. Lusanna Tucker, born November 18, 1836, died April 30, 1872. 2. Alice Dodge, born October 18, 1838; married Charles C. Goodwin, October 15, 1862. 3. Edwin Buckingham, born April 14, 1845, died September 4, 1849.

1 comment:

  1. What a very interesting life he led! And wow, he saw much of the world! Thank you for sharing a part of family history.

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