Showing posts with label Early Settlers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Early Settlers. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Party on the Polly or Old Amesbury Days Golgotha 1904

All Sources from Local Papers, History of Amesbury, & DOR records
In 1904 Old Home Week Celebration for Amesbury was quite an event. The memorial for the first settlers was dedicated at Golgotha and the DOR Josiah Bartlett Chapter of the Macy Colby House, along with the Alliance Boat Club hosted a grand reception on board the schooner "Polly." Dinner, dancing, fireworks and a posse of decorated water craft illuminated the Merrimack. Thomas Macy of Pembrook just a tiny fellow of 6 years old was presented as 10th generation of Thomas Macy the original settler. He received three big cheers and a purse of money. The DOR ladies served refreshments on the lawn while speakers told tales of the early pioneers, especially remembering the first Thomas Macy's run in with magistrates for harboring Quakers. Later in the evening DOR dames held a feast upon the "Polly."

The electrotype plate is a cut of a Bowlder erected to the memory of the first eighteen settlers of Amesbury, Mass., by the Amesbury Improvement Association, at "Golgotha" August 3, 1904. To which Organization the Historical Society is indebted for the loan of the electrotype from which this plate was struck. It is also indebted to Mr. Edward A. Brown of Amesbury, who has kindly type-written the following account from the local press, of the Installation of the Memorial. It will be seen that Richard Currier, the builder of the schooner 'Pollly" is the first name in the list. It was also voted to secure the ancient burying-ground locally known as "Golgotha," situated on a terrace, overlooking the Powow River, have the monument placed in position, and to hold the commemorative exercises, during "Old Home Week" 1904.

The spot was the first to be selected as a burial-place, by those who had removed from the town of Salisbury, to the west bank of the Powow, and it has been estimated that about 40 persons had been buried there previous to 1663.. Mr. Frank F. Morrill of Newburyport, a descendent of one of the old Salisbury settlers generously offered to donate the land and a deed of trust was passed to the Town Improvement Association, to have and to hold, forever. A fine large bowlder of gneiss was secured from one of the many local moraines, and placed in position in the center of this hallowed spot, with a tablet bearing the names of Amesbury's original Eighteen, and on the afternoon of August 3, during "Old Home Week" it was debuted. Among those present, directly descended from the first settlers, were Master Franklin Huntington Sargent, eleventh in descent from Wm. Sargent and Wm. Huntington; Master Thomas Macy of Pembroke, N. H., 6 years of age, loth from Thomas Macy; Pres. of the Day, Cyrus W. Rowell, 8th from Valentine Rowell, and dozens of Bagleys, Baileys, Hoyts, Colbys, Curriers, Barnards and Blaisdells. During the exercises, Masters Sargent and Macy were perched on the top of the stone, and attracted much attention. The addresses of Hon. Alden P. White of Salem and Mr. Frederick W. Merrill of Amesbury were listened to with great attention, and the day will be long remembered by those who were privileged to be present.

 The National Society of the United States Daughters of 1812 has been active in collecting material relative to its contemporary, the Polly, and is always ready to do her honor, and of late years she has attained much notoriety, and has been often in the public eye through the columns of the daily press matter of a descriptive and historical nature, two original poems of ten stanzas each, the first by Samuel Hoyt, a local historian, and called, "To Polly"; the second written for the Amesbury "Daily News," by J. T. Clarkson, and bearing the heading, "polly or The Po." The following is a copy of a letter, written after the celebration, by Horace G. Leslie, M.D., president of the Amesbury Old Home Association, to Mr. Fred G. White, of the Belfast Hay and Fuel Company, then part owners of the schooner: "

                                     Horace G Leslie at the Macy Colby House

The 'Polly' has come and gone. The old Home Week festivities are ended, and I write to thank you for the interest taken in the event. The coming of this venerable craft was the crowning glory of the week, and awakened poetic as well as historic associations. Every one who visited her will unite with me in saving that Captain Ryan is just the right man in the right place. Gentle and forbearing under very trying circumstances, he made many friends in Amesbury. Did I believe in the transmigration of souls, I could well fancy that beneath his bronzed and weather-beaten exterior was the spirit of Nichols, Paul Jones, and Decatur. Certainly, he is the reproduction of the ideal privateersman. The links of that chain which unites your eastern city with the banks of the Merrimack, will we trust only grow stronger with time." The Polly. A detailed account of the famous old schooner Polly, with a large picture of her under sail, appeared in the "Republican Journal" for March 3,1904.

She was, at the time, lying in winter quarters at the Swan & Sibley Company's dock, after a busy season spent partly in bay-coasting, and partly as a Boston packet, under command of Captain George Flowers Ryan, of Belfast. The oldest vessel of the American merchant marine now in commission, she has had a life of usefulness and adventure, such as few craft experience. Her history to date is an interesting one, and in view of her great age, which exceeds by several times the span of life usually allotted to ships, and because of her having been identified with Belfast, it is given here in part, as follows: —The Polly was launched in Amesbury, Massachusetts, in 1805, being constructed of the best white oak, "firm and stout," in the shipyard of Richard Currier. She is 48 tons burden, gross; 61 feet water-line length; 19 feet, 6 inches, extreme beam, and draws S feet forward and 7 feet aft, unloaded. In the early years of the last century she ran as a packet from Boston and Portland to point s on Penobscot Bay and River, being owned in what is now Prospect. She carried wood and passengers to Boston, returning with passengers and a general cargo, consisting largely of supplies for the inhabitants of the lower Penobscot Valley. Originally a sloop, as attested by the records, by witnesses who knew her at the time, and by the step of the mast, discovered some years ago, in her keelson, the Polly was changed to a schooner, some time between 1847 and 1851, probably in 1850, when she was extensively repaired and rebuilt by Jonathan Tinker in his shipyard on Tinker's Island, west of Mount Desert. She was again repaired about1867, by Captain Ephraim Pray, at Mount Desert. On April 26, 1874, she went ashore in a heavy gale of wind and snow at Owl's Head, Maine, and was bought as she lay on the beach by Captain Lewis A. Arey, who used her in the lumbercarrying trade until 1885, when she was once more thoroughly repaired, being given a new top and ceiling and partially replanked, and became a lime-freighter.
David Currier built the schooner, Polly, and named it after his wife Polly Rowell (born 1775.) The Polly served in the War of 1812 and survived 113 years. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

George "Jonah" Granville Short of Newburyport and Boat Builder Billy Bowen

Short Family of Newburyport by Laurie Short Jarvis and Facebook Group Short Descendants of Newbury MA Laurie Short Jarvis has been researching her ancestors and uncovered some great stories and information to help preserve the Port's history and the great families that made it so special.
George “Jonah” Granville Short, son of Samuel Short, JR and Lydia Maria Tenney Atwood on his boat The Joppiate, 23 tons, built in 1901 by Bowen Shipyard in Newburyport. He is on the Merrimack River setting his nets. He was born on New Year’s Eve 1867 in the south end of Newburyport, MA known as Joppa Flats or AKA Flat Iron Point meets Plum Island Turnpike. Many from the Short family line were fishermen, clammers and shoe factory workers

Samuel Short, JR. (1842-1929) son of Captain Samuel Short and Mary Jane Dana HarrisPhoto courtesy of Priscilla Noyes Price.

Captain Samuel Short (1822-1908) born to Henry Short and Mary True Morrill, D. of Jacob Morrill and Elizabeth Stickney Hunt.

The Short Family were among the first settlers of Newbury, Massachusetts. Jonah descended from a long line of Short seamen and learned to sail at an early age. Jonah’s father Captain Samuel Short Sr owned a fishing schooner named, Queen of the Bay. In John J. Currier's History of Newburyport the schooner Queen is listed as one of the first recorded fishing vessels to have run aground on the shifting sandbars in the mouth of the Merrimac River.

In 1636 the first Short to land in Newbury, Massachusetts was Henry Short from England. He was one of the seven men to be selected as a "townsmen" and held many important civil offices.

Judge Samuel Sewall was a resident of Newbury, MA. He was involved with the Salem Witch Trials. He later regretted his decisions. The Short Family is related to him via first settler Henry Short who married his daughter Ann Sewall. My great great grandfather and great great great grandfather were named Samuel Sewall Short. See More on Henry Short New England Mills 

Henry Short's role in the colony: The officials 'were chosen,' according to Rev Richard Brown, as noted in his diary, "from quarter to quarter by papers to discharge the business of the town, in taking in, or refusing any to come, into town, as also to dispose of lands and lots, to make lawful orders, to impose fines on the breakers of orders, and also to levy and distrain them, and were fully empowered of themselves to do what the town had power for to do. The reason whereof was, the town judged it inconvenient and burdensome to be all called together on every occasion."

From Daughters of the Revolution Magazine snippet from Longfellow article Ann Longfellow and Henry Short marriage. 


Jonah was the youngest of 10 children born to Captain Samuel Sewall Short Sr.and his wife Mary Jane Dana Harris. He was born just one week after his own nephew Charlie Short was born. Charlie was the son of his is eldest brother Sam, who was 26 years old when “Jonah” was born. 
Jonah grew up next door to his Uncle Hiram Short and there were several other Short family members on Union Street as well. It is documented that the two homes shared a well. Both were built in the late 1600’s. I have been told that 6 Union Street, which is still standing was built with wooden pegs as was 8 Union which was torn down in 1950 in disrepair. 

'Joppy" clam shacks along Water Street, Newburyport, MA Courtesy of Newbury Museum. The Union Street Shorts were fishermen and clammers. Hiram Short and Jonah’s older brother Moses Short each owned one of the now infamous clam shacks that once lined Water Street. Jonah and his nephew Charlie grew up along the water front with many of their siblings and cousins My great grandfather Charles Lewis Short and Jonah was very close. They were raised like brothers and were always about the town together. Charlie told his grandson (my father), that Jonah earned his nickname from the locals because he could swim like a fish. In the1800’s several swim races and contest were hosted the Basin of the Merrimac River and “Jonah” usually won whatever race he entered. 

Jonah and Charlie were known to get into a little mischief now and then along the water front too. When they were boys, the sailing ships and 3 masted schooners still came into Newburyport. They would often run down toward the Custom House to see what was going on. They spotted a beautiful big brass ball on the top of a mast one day while poking around the docks. One dared the other to try to hit it with a rock. It was pretty high up, but after a few tries, one of them hit it and dented it. The captain of the ship heard the noise and came out hollering at the boys to pay for the damage. Their school master was walking by and saw the incident unfold. He approached the angry sea captain and offered to pay for the damage if he would release the boys to his care. He let them know that they could pay him back by doing errands and chores for him until it was paid up. Their grades improved too. 

Jonah and Charlie joined their father, brothers and cousins as volunteers at the Plum Island Life Saving Stations. At one time there were 2-3 locations. They often fished with their cousins and brothers Jacob Emery Short and George “Tailor” Warren Short on Jonah’s steamer The Three Brothers, The Joppiate, and later The Billy Bowen well known fishing boats in Newburyport at that time. His first boat The Three Brothers was purchased from the Portsmouth Naval Yard, and was so named because it had 3 steam engines to power her. 

I have found several Newburyport News newspaper articles that report George G Short as part of the Plum Island Life Saving teams that rescued people on sinking ships in the mouth of the river and just off of Plum Island. 

One late afternoon June 28, 1892, while off duty and fishing with his cousin George ‘Tailor’ Short, the weather changed and the seas go rough. They and several other men spotted a bait boat that was navigating through the mouth of the river. It had swamped and was sinking fast. There were six men on board. There were among twelve men who attempted to save them. Two were drowned. These twelve men were later awarded Humane Society Life saving awards by the city of Newburyport and by the state of Massachusetts. The ceremony was held at the People’s United Methodist Church on Purchase Street.

The Joppiate was his longest running vessel, which he took as far as Cuba to fish in the winters. He often kept it in Gloucester, and eventually sold it to a Gloucester fisherman. He then had a new boat built by his close friend William Bowen, or "Billy," a well known Newburyport ship builder.

Below is an article from the Boston Herald, May 23, 1897 "Merrimac's Sailing Season: The American Yacht at Newburyport Making Great Preparations." Bowen is building a boat for Captain James Knapp:

Jonah and Billy were immersed in an industry that was thriving and put Newburyport on the map for shipbuilding. Below is an article from August 27, 1864 published in the Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph that describes the prosperous trade.
Among the builders mentioned, Billy apprenticed with William B Coffin & Co. at the end of Jefferson Street. However, the first Coffin to tap into this booming industry was Benjamin Coffin. He bought of Moses Coffin, June 6, 1763, about eight acres of land "on ye Lane commonly called Coffins Lane," now Jefferson street, Newburyport, and built several vessels there.

The boat that Billy built for Jonah was named the Billy Bowen. The launching day of the Billy Bowen was a big day, and my father told me that one of the ladies on board that day was his grandmother Bessie Perkins Hilliard, Charles’ wife. 

Charles Lewis Short (1868-1954) and Bessie Perkins Hilliard (1874-1938)

Down along the seawall, and Perkins slip was an old Shoe and Supply store owned by Lorenzo Phinney and his wife Mary Jane Short, George’s older sister. This was a popular gathering spot for local fisherman. There was a potbelly stove supplies could be bought and fish could be sold there. The house stands today facing the Seawall park. Most of the Short men were Mason’s and went regularly to meetings. Sometimes informal meeting were held at the store. There was also another secret society that may have been meeting there for even longer than that. It is told that Jonah would often show up at the Mason’s meeting wearing scaly fishing boots, right off the docks. He was not always a popular member because he refused to put change his clothes and ‘put on airs.’

Jonah lived with his brother Sam Short Jr and family at 8 Union Street when he got older. Eventually, his sister Mary Jane and husband Lorenzo Phinney moved in to 8 Union and Jonah moved to 200 Water Street to live with Charlie and his wife Bessie. They often shucked clams at the shanties and in the winter months would sometimes work in the Shoe factory nearby. The Newburyport Custom House curator located a letter for me written by George "Jonah" Short to protest the regulations and fees of the fishing industry. It was an articulate and well written. Jonah became sick in 1927 and died at the age of 59 and passed away at the Water Street home where he lived with Charlie’s wife and children. 

George “Jonah” Granville Short is buried in the First Parish Burying Ground on High Road in Newbury, Massachusetts. Below his father Samuel S Short.


  • "Merrimac's Sailing Season" Sunday, May 23, 1897 Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts)
  • Maritime history of the Merrimac : shipbuilding Robert K Cheney; Roland H Woodwell Newburyport Press 1964.
  • A sketch of the History of Newbury, Newburyport, and West Newbury, from 1635 to 1845 John J Currier
  • Mary Adams Rolfe Papers 
  • Diary of Samuel Sewall 1674-1729  
  • "The Longfellow Garrison" John Longfellow Scales 1911 Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine Volumes 38-39
  • Annual Report of the Commissioners on Fisheries and Game Massachusetts. Commissioners on Fisheries and Game 1905
  • Vital Records of Newbury, Massachusetts, to the End of the Year 1849: Births 
  • Ancestry.Com Short Family Tree 
  • Some New England Mills  
  • Custom House Maritime Museum & Newbury Museum located in Newburyport, Massachusetts