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that time there were near three thousand Indians on Nantucket. I cannot find that the English had any material quarrel or difficulty with them. They were willing to sell their lands; and the English went on purchasing, beginning at the west end of the island, till in fine they have obtained the whole, except some small rights, which are still retained by the natives.
Of the Whale Fishery.
The whale fishery began at Nantucket in the year 1690. One Ichabod Paddock came from Cape Cod to instruct the people in the art of killing whales, in boats from the shore. This business flourished til about the year, 1760, when the whales appeared generally to have deserted the coast. It is remarkable, that during all that time, not a single man was killed by a whale, or drowned, whilst engaged in this hażardous employment. But it happened once, when there were about thirty boats about six miles from the shore, that the wind came round to the northward, and blew with geat violence, attended with snow. The men all rowed hard, but made but little head way. In one of the boats there were four Indians and two white men. An old Indian in the head of the boat, perceiving that the crew began to be disheartened, spake out loud in his own tongue and said, Momadichchator auqua sarshkee sarnkee pinchee eyoo sememoochkee chaquanks wihchee pinchee eyoo: which in English is, “ Pull a head with courage: do not be disheartened: we shall not be lost now: there are too many Englishmen to be lost now." His speaking in this manner gave the crew new courage. They soon perceived that they made head way; and after long rowing, they all got safe on shore.
In the year 1718, the inhabitants began to pursue whales on the ocean, in small sloops and schooners, from thirty to forty five tons. The blubber was brought home in large square pieces, and tried or boiled in try-houses. In a few years, vessels from sixty to eighty tons were employed, and the oil boiled out in try works at sca. When the late war began with Great Britain, we had a fleet of about one hundred and forty sail, consisting of large sloops, schooners, and brigs. But when the war ended, we were reduced to about thirty old hulks. Our voyages are now long and distant. We are obliged therefore to have vessels so large, that few persons are able to fit them out. For a great many of our most substantial men, allured by the hope of large bounties, have removed from the island; some to England, some to France, and others to Halifax, where they carry on the whale fishery. This is a great damage to us, and perhaps to our country in general. If these persons had carried away with them their part of the poor, it would have lightened our burthens; for we have now left two hundred and fifteen widows, of whom not thirty are able to support themselves without the assistance of their friends and neighbours, and some are mainained by the town. We have besides a great number of poor, and
some who are wretchedly poor. But then, on the other hand, we have a considerable number of able industrious men, who carry on the whale fishery, which is great help to the whole town at this day.
Description of the Island.
Nantucket is about fourteen miles long, east and west, and about three miles and an half wide.* The south side is very clear of stones. I never saw a stone along the shore bigger than a man's head. The soil is thin, but will bear Indian corn, rye, oats, and feed for our cattle. The north side is in several places, somewhat stoney, and produces pretty good English hay. The wood being entirely gone, and few shrubs left to shelter the ground against the cold winds and hard winters, the profits of our farming business are much reduced. Since my time, we called it only a middling crop, when we got from eighteen to twenty bushels of Indian corn from an acre. But now, when we get from twelve to fourteen bushels, we esteem it a tolerable crop. The profit on our sheep is also much reduced. The rule of our old men was, when they had a hundred lambs, they would kill fifty sheep that year, and leave fifty lambs to keep their stock good, and it would generally do it. But for ten or twelve years past, when we have a hundred lambs if we kill thirty sheep, and leave seventy lambs, it will not leave our stock good.
The town stands near the middle of the island, on the north side, having the harbour on the east, at a place called in the Indian language Wesko, which signifies the white stone. This white stone lies by the side of the harbour, and is now covered by the wharf.
Of the Indians.
The natives of Nantucket were a kind people, and very friendly to each other. There were no poor persons among them. For when any of them grew old and helpless, and went to a neighbour's house, they were made welcome to stay as long as they pleased. If the English entered their houses, whilst they were eating, they would offer them such as they had, which sometimes would be very good. At their feasts they had several sorts of good food, and very good strong beer. By drinking rum their numbers were so much reduced that in the year 1763, there were but three hundred and fifty-eight left on the island. In that year an uncommon mortal distemper attacked them. It began the 16th of the eighth month, 1763, and lasted till the 16th of the second month, 1764. During that period two hundred and twenty-two died. Thirty-four were sick and recovered. Thirty-six who
This account differs from that of Mr. Folger. (See page 153) As Nantucket is of an irregular shape, it is not easy to determine its length and breadth. Including Sandy Point, the breadth in one part is eleven miles; but the general breadth is not more than three miles and a half.
lived among them, escaped the disorder. Eight lived at the west end of the island, and did not go among them: none of them caught the disease. Eighteen were at sea. With the English lived forty, of whom none died. The Indians are now reduced to four males and sixteen females. Before this period, and from the first coming of the English to Nantucket, a large fat fish, called the blue fish, thirty of which would fill a barrel, was caught in great plenty all round the island, from the 1st of the sixth month till the middle of the ninth month. But it is remarkable, that in the year 1764, the very year in which the sickness ended, they all disappeared, and that none have ever been taken since. This has been a great loss to us.
In the year 1665, King Philip came to the island to kill an Indian, whose name was John Gibbs. He landed at the west end, intending to travel along the shore, under the bank, undiscovered, to the east part of the island, where John lived. But an Indian, happening to discover his plan, ran and gave John word; in consequence of which John made his escape to town, and got Thomas Macy to conceal him. John's crime was speaking the name of the dead, who was supposed to be one of King Philip's near connexions. For the Indians had a custom or law, that no one should speak or name the name of the dead. The English held a parley with Philip, and all the money, which they were able to collect at that time, was barely sufficient to satisfy him for John's life. This story has been handed down to us by our fathers, and we do not doubt the truth of it.
The Indians had a singular way of punishing their children and servants, which was as follows. They took some bayberry root, and scraping off the bark, put it into a bottle; they let it stand awhile, steeping it in water. They would then take the boys, and lay them on their backs, putting a knee on each of the boy's arms; and turning back their heads, by laying hold of the hair, they took some of the water into their mouths, and squirted it into the noses of the boys. This was repeated twice or thrice, till the boys were nearly strangled. After a while, however, they would recover. This mode of punishment, called by the Indians medomhumar, or great punishment, has prevailed among them since my time.
Of Peter Folger.
When the English first came to Nantucket, they appointed five men to divide and lay out twenty acres of house lot land, to every share ; and Peter Folger was one of the five. But I have remarked, that it is said in the records, that any three out of the five might do the business, provided the said Peter Folger was one of them. From which it is plain, that the people saw something in him superiour to others. I have observed also, that some of our old deeds from the Indian sachems were examined by Peter Folger, and he would write something at the bottom of the deed and sign it, in addition to the signature of the justice; for he understood and could speak the Indian tongue. So that
it is clear to me, that both the English and Indians had a great esteem for Peter Folger; who was grandfather to the famous Benjamin Franklin of Philadelphia, lately deceased. His mother was the daughter of Peter Folger, who lived within forty rods of the spot where I was born. And from what I have heard, the whole of North America prided itself as much in Benjamin Franklin, as the people of Nantucket did, in his grandfather. I conclude therefore, that he inherited a part of his noble publick spirit from his grandfather, Peter Folger.
I hope the errours of the above will be excused, as I am now in my seventy-ninth year, and according to the course of nature, am not so capable of setting matters in a clear light as in my younger days. ZACCHEUS MACY.
Nantucket, 15th of 5th month, 1792.
BIRTHS, MARRIAGES, and DEATHS, in the island of NANTUCKET, Communicated by the Rev. Mr. SHAW.
N. B. Of the deaths, 11 were caused by pulmonary consumption, and 10 by hectical decay. 10 were males, and 11 females.
Males 91 Marriages 68
N. B. Of the deaths, 13 were caused by pulmonary consumption, s by hectical decay.
N. B. Of the deaths, 12 were by pulmonary consumption. 11 by hectical decay. 9 by convulsions.
N. B. Of the deaths, 6 were by pulmonary consumption. 14 by hec-.
tical decay. 12 by convulsions.
PROGRESS OF THE WHALE FISHERY AT NANTUCKET.
HALE FISHERY originated at Nantucket in the year 1690, in
6 sloops, 33 tons burden, obtained about 600 barrels
25 sail, from 38 to 50 tons, obtained annually about
60 sail, from 50 to 75 tons, obtained 11,250 barrels
80 sail, 75 tons, obtained 12,000 barrels at £18
120 sail, from 75 to 110 tons, obtained 18,000 bar-
100,000 L. M.
From 1772 to 1775.
150 sail, from 90 to 180 tons, upon the coast of
N B. 2,200 seamen employed in the fishery, and 220 Sterling. in the London trade.
Peace of 7 sail to Brazil from 100 to 150 tons obtained 2,100
N. B. The price fell by the exaction of a duty in Lon
don of £18 38. sterling, per ton.
1785. Now at sea.
8 sail to Brazil.
2 to the coast of Guinea.
5 to the West Indies.
Before the war there were annually manufactured in Nantucket 380
tons of spermaceti candles.*
This state of the whale fishery in Nantucket, was written in the year 1785.