Upcoming: Our Open House on Sunday, February 25th will feature Recipes and Cookbooks. Our cookbooks date from 1875, with a special replica from 1796. Please bring a family cookbook or recipe with you and share!
IN HONOR OF BLACK HISTORY MONTH, A STORY BEHIND THE SCHOONER OLIVER AMES
Thank you to Duncan Oliver and the Historical Society of Old Yarmouth for sharing their research and their February 2024 newsletter from which much of this information comes.
“When Noah Webster Morgan was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina in 1845, he likely never dreamed he would someday be master of his own ship, plying the coasts of New England.” (February Newsletter, Old Yarmouth Historical Society) That ship would be the schooner Oliver Ames, named after Oliver Ames, the Easton resident and Governor of Massachusetts.
In the late 1850’s Noah Webster Morgan was a half-black teenage boy fearful of being sold into slavery to pay off his dead Scottish father’s debts. His two sisters had already been.sold. Fortunately, Noah, then living in Back Creek, North Carolina, was rescued, along with his brother and a cousin, and taken north to freedom by Quaker Dr. Nathan B. Hill. Along the journey Dr. Hill was offered money if he would sell the boys but he refused the offer. They were taken first to New York, where they got on a steamer to Fall River, eventually landing in Bass River on Cape Cod. During the voyage they had been locked in a stateroom for their own safety and were very nearly discovered. Noah and his brother were taken in by Quaker David B. Akin, of Yarmouth, who had met Dr. Hill in North Carolina, and had from the first, agreed to help. In Yarmouth they were taught to read and write, at some point entering the South Yarmouth Grammar School where they did quite well, especially Noah.
David Akins home in Bass River. (Old Yarmouth Historical Society)
Noah enlisted in the army when the Civil War broke out, then in 1864, he joined the navy out of New Bedford. He learned seamanship skills and returned to Yarmouth in 1866. By 1881 he was named master of the William H. Rowe and living in New Bedford. He became part owner of another schooner in 1889 and in 1895 became the managing owner of the Oliver Ames. He became half owner of the Oliver Ames in 1909 along with his son David. In 1910 he was forced to sell his share due to financial difficulties.
50 Pleasant Street, Bass River. Noah and his family lived here at one time. (Old Yarmouth Historical Society)
In 1888 the schooner, Governor Oliver Ames, was both the first 5 masted schooner and the largest cargo ship in the world. It was built in Waldoboro, Maine, by the Atlantic shipping company from Somerset, MA and named for the then Governor of Massachusetts Oliver Ames. On its first voyage it almost sank due to high winds. It sailed for about a decade, free of incident, carrying lumber and later coal. On December 13, 1909, loaded up with railroad ties and destined for New York (sailing from Georgia), it met its fate off the shores of Cape Hatteras. Thirteen of the fourteen crew succumbed after a great storm hit the vessel. This was reported by Joseph Speering of New York, the sole surviving crewman. Noah Webster Morgan may have been favored by luck in the long run, as he was not present on that last voyage.
Noah died in 1924 and is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in New Bedford. His story is a success story, and what a great connection to Easton!
Picture of the schooner Oliver Ames on display at the Railroad Station, North Easton, MA.
Anne Wooster Drury
Anne Wooster Drury