Margaret's mother was the wife of a whaling ship captain. Back then it was perfectly acceptable to hunt whales. Nowadays, not so much.
Whaling wasn't for the meek. Imagine trying to harpoon one of these massive creatures. I don't read German, but I think this whale is saying, "Don't mess with me. I'll smash your ship to smithereens." Sadly, the whalers often won the battle.
This whale looks scary until you notice the pom-pom sticking out of its blow hole. I think the artist meant for this to look like a water spout, but all I can picture are whales waving their pom-poms around and yelling out cheers. "Give me a W! Give me a H! Give me an A! Give me an L! Give me an E! What does it spell? WHALE!! Go WHALES!"
When the whaling ships left New Bedford, Massachusetts, they would be gone for years. I guess Margaret's mother had a choice - stay behind and wait or join her husband on the whaling ship. She, like many other whaling captains' wives at the time, chose the crazy option - she went with him. Can you imagine being the only woman on a boat full of whalers, giving birth to your children on board and praying you would survive storms at sea?
Was she crazy or adventurous? Maybe a little of both.
My mom assigned me a task to track down Margaret's birth certificate. I'm not sure why I got this particular task. Maybe because I can read a little bit of French. Although my French is pretty limited to saying things like pain au chocolat and haricots verts. Useful words if you want to eat lots of gooey chocolate pastries and then feel better about your gluttony by polishing off a plate of green beans, but perhaps not as useful for reading historical records.
I headed down to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Palm City on Saturday to visit their Family History Center. Mormons are really into genealogy and have done a phenomenal job compiling all sorts of historical documents.
I had a look at some of the Tahitian records on microfilm which have been digitized online. Isn't the handwriting amazing? I wonder if they even teach cursive and penmanship in school anymore.
The microfilm that I need hasn't been digitized yet, so they're sending it from Salt Lake City. Then I'll get to spend a few hours huddled over a microfilm reader trying to find Margaret and her sister's birth certificates and imagining what life must have been for two small girls and their mother living on a whaling ship.
Are you into genealogy? Would you have wanted to live on a whaling ship back in the 1800s?
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