William Beetle (AM0425)

William was born in 1799 in Edgartown MA, son of William Beetle (1756-1836) and Jane Coffin Beetle (1760-1822). He married Keziah Osborn Holley in Edgartown in May 1825. They had one child, William H. Beetle (1826-1896), also a mariner. Keziah died in 1850. William had a second wife, Mary who was about eight years younger. He died on November 5, 1872 in Tisbury MA. The 1850  Federal census shows William(occupation “cooper”), Keziah and young William living in Milwaukee WI. The 1860 census shows William (occupation “master mariner”) and Mary living in Tisbury MAwhere he died twelve years later.

William was (or perhaps was not) master for one or possibly two voyages on one ship with a home port of New London:

CHELSEA (AS1097): (ship, 396 tons, 106 in length, built Norwich CT in 1827, lost Chatham Islands in 1845). Departed November 5, 1834 for the Pacific, returned on March 25, 1838. The handwritten name of the master in Wood Abstracts (1-125)) could be “Beetle” or “Butler” (more likely Beetle to the author).Starbuck, Decker ,and Colby show Butler was master. Further confusing this history, AOWV records this voyage as two voyages: 1834-1836 (AV02794) and 1836-1838 (AV02795). Colby does not list William as a New London whaling master. Havens & Smith were agents.

Researcher Ray Weiss, using several primary sources, including U S Consul records, found persuasive information confirming that William Beebe, not Butler, was the master of the 1834-8 voyage and that the name Butler was confused with Beetle by Starbuck, Colby, Decker, AOWV and others.

​​William was master of FRANKLIN (AS0157), home port New Bedford, for her 1839-1843 voyage.

Sources: see sidebar and sources cited in text.

George Shaw (Mystic Seaport Museum) July 2023