William Baker (AM0269)

William was born about 1811. His father Daniel (4/23/1783 – 3/27/1875) married Margaret Martin (born 1782) in 1807. Daniel’s father Joshua (1752-1836) was a member of Wadsworth’s Brigade and was wounded at Fort Griswold. Daniel was issued a Seamen’s Protection Certificate on May 2, 1807, was a Civil War veteran and is buried in Colonel Ledyard Cemetery in Groton.

William married Almira Chipman, born about 1811, on May 30, 1830. They had four children: Almira, Anne, William Jr. and Charles. The census for 1850 for New London shows William and Almira and four children; he is described as “mariner.”

Almira sailed with him on his last voyage during which he died at sea, on August 15, 1853. She died on August 3, 1869. They are memorialized at Cedar Grove Cemetery in New London. Their stone can be found at Find a Grave.

Before becoming a master, William served on the crew of at least three ships for five voyages: NEPTUNE (AS2032) 1829-1830 and 1830-1831, JONES (AS1723) 1831-1832, and CONNECTICUT (AS1144) 1832-1833 and 1833-1834.

William was master for several voyages on four vessels with New London as home port.

GEORGE (AS1462): (ship, 290 tons, built in Brooklyn, NY in 1806, lost off Amsterdam Island in August 1839). She was bought from Dartmouth in 1834. Departed April 23, 1836 for the South Atlantic, returned June 2, 1837. AV05580. Departed again July 20, 1837 for the South Atlantic, returned March 3, 1839. AV05582. Lyman Allyn was agent for both voyages.

MENTOR (AS1923): (ship, 460 tons, built in New York, NY, 1810, withdrawn for California trade). Departed August 17,1839 for the Indian Ocean, returned March 28,1841 The agent was Benjamin F. Brown. AV09547.

MONTEZUMA (AS1970): (ship, 424 tons, ended her days as part of Stone Fleet #2). Departed September 22, 1841 for the South Atlantic, returned April 5, 1844. AV09997). Departed again June 4, 1844 for the Indian Ocean, returned May 24, 1847. AV09998. Williams & Barnes was agent for both voyages.

HARMONY (AS1541): (bark, 316 tons, built in New York, New York, 1849, condemned and broken up in Honolulu 1862). Departed in 1852 for Honolulu, returned 1856. New London Crew Lists shows her departure April 30, 1853. This voyage is not recorded in Starbuck. His wife sailed on this voyage. Druett mentions “Baker, Mrs. Harmony, 1853” in a list of women who went whaling. During this voyage William died at sea  on August 15, 1853 under circumstances not discovered. From The Friend, November 1853 p. 80: “At Sea, August 15, 1853, on board Ship Harmony, Captain Baker, belonging to New London, Ct. His remains were conveyed to Talcauhano, Chile, and burried [sic] on shore.”  AOVW has what reports to be the logbook of HARMONY for this voyage. The book is mostly of BENGAL, but a few pages mention HARMONY but with no meaningful information for this purpose. AV06204.

Note: AOWV records an earlier voyage of GEORGE (6/1834 – 5/1836, AV05580) listing George as master but showing on the attached crew list Robert Tate as master and George and his brother Lorenzo as members of the crew. Starbuck, Colby and Decker confirm that Tate was the master of this voyage, not William. AOWV records will be changed to confirm Tate as master.

His brother Lorenzo Dow Baker (AM0258) was a master of several ships with New London home port.

Sources: see sidebar and sources cited in text: Druett (ed.), She Was a Sister Sailor.

George Shaw (Mystic Seaport Museum) March 2023