Gideon Bailey (AM0230)

Gideon Bailey was born in Montville CT. The date of his birth is uncertain: his gravestone shows him as age 68 at his death in 1884 indicating that he was born in about 1816. He died on October 29,1884 in Haddam, CT. He married Martha on May 13, 1838. She survived him by several years, dying on December 22, 1909 at 89. Gideon and Martha had two daughters, Antoinette who died in September 1843 at age one and Rosina who was born about 1846. She married Charles Merwin. Gideon is buried in the Higganum Cemetery in Higganum. Gravestone can be found at Find a Grave. Interestingly, Martha’s name does not appear on his gravestone. The probate records of his estate show that the value of his estate was $3,663 (about $100,000 in current dollars). Gideon left no will. Martha, Rosina and Charles entered into a “Mutual Distribution” agreement allocating his property between Martha and Rosina.

Gideon was master for one voyage on one vessel with New London as home port.

FLORA (AS1369): (prior to this voyage she was a ship; for this voyage she was rigged as a bark, 338 tons). Departed on April 23, 1845 for the So. Atlantic, returned three years later, on April 25, 1846.. Starbuck reports that the second mate was “taken out of his boat by whale-line” – no indication given of his fate. Agent: N. & W.W. Billings AV04971. Note: The New London Crew List for this voyage shows Gideon’s last name as Baker.

No information could be found about Gideon’s career prior to his year aboardFLORA beginning when he was about 39. One can assume that he had considerable experience at sea in order to be entrusted as a master by the Billings firm. No record of him appears in New London Crew List. Federal census reports provide an interesting glimpse of Gideon’s employment career after his one recorded year as a whaling master: ​​1850:​​ oakum maker, 1860:​​ farmer, ​​1870:​​ stone mason, 1880:​​ laborer.

​ Sources used: see sidebar and sources cited in text.

George Shaw (Mystic Seaport Museum) March 2022