George F. Athearn (AM0175)

​George F. Athearn, son of Benjamin and Hepsibah, was born in Tisbury, MA in July 1834. George married Amelia G. Mayhew in Tisbury on June 16,1863. Both George’s and Amelia’s families had long roots on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. George’s and Amelia’sonly child, Carrie, died in 1894 at age 20. Several census reports (1860, 1865, and 1880) for Tisbury show them living there and listing his occupation as “sailor” or “mariner”. The 1890 Federal census for Tacoma, Washington shows George and Amelia living in Tacoma and George as retired. He died in Tacoma on July 8, 1903. His death record shows that he was married at the time of his death, but record of Amelia’s death could not be located.

​​George was master of four vessels for four voyages. Only FLORENCE had a New London home port, the other three were home ported in New Bedford.

FLORENCE (AS1372): (schooner, 56 tons, built Wells, ME 1851). Departed August 15, 1872, for the Tierra del Fuego and surrounding areas in the far south of Chile,returned April 27, 1876. George left the ship and was replaced by Albert Glass, a native of Cape Verde. Colby lists this voyage as for fur seals, Starbuck does not record this voyage. William, Haven & Co. was agent. AV04975

The logbook of George’s voyage on FLORENCE is in the possession of the New London Historical Society. It is handwritten in beautiful flowing scrip, easily readable.  It is much more than a recitation of wind conditions and positions, although they are there as well. The book describes in detail the places the ship visited, the anchorages and sites where crew members were put ashore to find seal rookeries, the interactions with and descriptions of native people who approached the ship in canoe or whom crew members met while ashore. The log book notes the seal skins worth $16,000 and $90,000 were collected during the second and third hunting seasons. The entry for February 5, 1876 records that George “turned over the schooner to Mr. Glass as he was to go to England himself in the next Pacific steamer expected [at Punta Arenas]on the 8th. Albert had been master of another ship that FLORENCE had met in her recent travels.

​Prior to serving as master of FLORENCE, George served as master of three New Bedford home-ported vessels for three voyages: ​​

​​HERCULES (AS0271) (8/31/1857-1861). AV06543.

​​EMILY MORGAN (AS0170) (1863-1868). AV04407.

​​CHARLES W. MORGAN (AS0089), (6/7/1867-8/16/1871) AV02721.

​The log book of CHARLES W. MORGAN records that on April 1, 1870 she came across a boat from the ship SUNBEAM of Boston containing her master and some of her crew who had escaped when the ship caught fire. Six crew members were lost.

​Six months later, on October 2, 1970, about 35 miles off coast of Chile, CHARLES W. MORGAN came across the bark CINCINNATI of Genoa loaded with guano in a sinking condition. George boarded the ship and found no one on board. The master and crew had taken to the boats. He took some of the sails, ships stores and few bales of cotton and remained with her until she sank.

​George’s younger (by three years) brother Cyril was also a mariner.

​Sources used in addition to sources shown in the sidebar include: log of FLORENCE (New London Historical Society); logbook of CHARLES W. MORGAN (MSM#147).

George Shaw (Mystic Seaport Museum) July 26, 2021