Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Take Your Family To Work Day

"The Williams family sailed the seas in the great days of American whaling. Eliza Azelia Williams set out from New Bedford in 1858 aboard her husband's vessel, the 'Florida', for a three-year voyage. She had two children born at sea, and the boy William grew up to go whaling in his turn, while the girl married Edgar Lewis "the Whalebone King." William was only twelve when the Williams' ship was abandoned with thirty-one others in the pack ice of the Arctic Ocean. He was fifteen when he became a junior office on the whaler 'Florence'.

So much for the old sailor's prejudice against having women onboard a sailing ship. Actually, reading the entries of Eliza's diary, there are more than a few meet-ups with other whaling ships, and their captains, along with their respective wives.

Not only did the good Captain Williams take his wife to sea with him, but she was four months pregnant when they set sail. On January 12, 1859, Eliza delivered a boy and continued filling her journal pages with whales, assorted tropical islands they stopped at, exotic natives and so forth. Not until late January does she mention "we have a fine healthy Boy, born 5 days before we got into Port".

That's it. The woman delivered a boy, by herself, onboard a whaling ship, in the middle of the Indian Ocean, and didn't even blink.

One Whaling Family, Edited by Harold Williams, First Edition, 1964, Offered for sale by Chewybooks, as of 10-6-2009.

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