Annie Holmes Ricketson was a whaling wife who endured much hardship aboard the whaleship A.R. Tucker, but nothing was as bad as what happened on the island of Faial.
Annie Ricketson left New Bedford, Mass., on May 2, 1871, with her husband, Daniel, for a 3-1/2-year voyage aboard the A.R. Tucker. She was six months pregnant.
Born in Fall River, Mass., on July 14, 1841, she married when she was 16. She had lost her first child at birth when she was 26.
In August they landed on Faial Island in the Azores so she could have her baby.
Annie chronicled the entire voyage in her diary.
She wrote that they came ashore on August 26th and stopped at a doctor’s office. She rested for awhile before they checked in to their hotel. The hotel, she wrote, was the gloomiest place she ever saw, with stone floors and walls and heavy locked doors.
On Aug. 28, 1871, she wrote that another whaling captain and his wife were staying at the hotel. She was very tired but pleased to receive a box from home filled with nice things. “I have got such a kind mother and father to think of me when so far away from them,” she wrote. “I felt so bad Daniel dead he would put them back for me and I retired.”
The next day, she had her baby:
August 29th: I had a poor nights rest and to day I cannot get up. Called the doctor about six o’clock and twenty minutes past nine our little one was born which proved to be a little girl which of course we were very proud of. A Lady by the name of Mrs. Graham stoping here at the Hotel came in and dressed the baby and stoped all night with me which was very kind of her for Daniel was very tired.
August 30th: I felt very proud and happy this morning when I awoke and see our baby laying on my arm. When my Husband went down to breakfast they treated and congratulated him. After breakfast Daniel come up to my room and could not stay away from the baby long for he carried it round the room as proud as a father could be. My nurse come this morning a Portugese woman but could not make her understand much of any thing. They all think here at the Hotel that my baby is very pretty. Of course we do. Who ever saw a father and mother that thought their baby a homely one if It was ever so plain looking. We have got along after a fashion to day. one or two has droped in to see the baby. It is such a tinny little thing, only weighed three pounds.
August 31st: This morning I woke as happy as ever, little thinking that before night I should be in sorrow. My little baby was sick all day. It would cry out with pain all day and towards night I noticed that Its cry was weaker. About four o’clock my Husband went and laid down to get a little rest and a nap if he could and the nurse went down stairs for some thing. I lay looking at my little one and all to once It gave a loud cry. I lifted up the little blanket that was over Its and I see its hands looked very white. I tried to make Daniel hear but could not. The nurse came in jest then so I got her to call him and he came in. He looked at our little one and I see what he thought right away. I shall never forget how he looked up at me. Our little darling did not breath but twice after Daniel come in the room. It did seem to me that I could never give It up. They took it away from me and put it in the next room. Daniel came in and wanted some little clothes to put on It as they were going to lay it out, so he got my little trunk out that Its little clothes was in while I was trying to find some of the smallest garments for It. Miss Beaver came in and she helped me look them over and sead she would see that every thing was done right and she halped lay It out. But o how hard it was to give that little thing up! I had some narrow pink ribbon which I told daniel to give them and they tied It around its waist and tied Its sleeves up with It. They brought It in and let me see It. It looked jest as thought it was asleep, looked to nice to lay away in the Ground.
With thanks to Petticoat Whalers: Whaling Wives at Sea, 1820-1920 by Joan Druett and A Day at a Time, The Diary Literature of American Women from 1764 to the Present, edited by Margo Culley. This story updated in 2022.
How hard and heartbreaking
Ultimate sadness to lose a child
Terribly sad, hard life
And we think we have it hard… Poor woman.
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