14532,a Whaling journal of the Bark Russell of New Bedford (August 30, 1845 – January 17, 1849) kept by the master, John O. Morse. This is a very good, complete account of a sperm-whaling voyage from New Bedford to the Pacific Ocean and elsewhere. It commences the day before departure and terminates two days before the date of return as listed in Starbuck, History of the American Whale Fishery. With few exceptions, entries are made daily, describing much whaling activity. The voyage was at the peak of the whaling industry and numerous encounters with other whalers seen and spoken as well as a few merchantmen are cited. The author relates taking on provisions including large numbers of “Turpin” (terrapin or tortoises), meeting with a pirate ship, receiving a few letters, learning of the death of his youngest son, hearing of the war with Mexico, desertions, etc. When setting anchor in a port on a few occasions he forgoes writing until setting sail once again. In some instances, when there was little activity for a stretch of several days, latitude and longitude are noted with few comments. There is a listing of what appears to be an accounting, by date, of quantities of oil stowed.
Starbuck shows this to have been a successful voyage resulting in 2300 barrels of sperm oil.
The book, apparently rebound some years ago, is in good condition with the exception of cracking at the front edge of the spine, which is readily restorable. Entries are legible, once the reader recognizes the writer’s consistently bad spelling. Approx. 144 pages, 13 3/8 in. x 8 3/8 in. with label of William C. Taber & Son of New Bedford pasted on the inside front cover.
The bark Russell , 302 tons, was built in Scituate, Mass. in 1804. She whaled on 10 voyages from New Bedford from 1805 to 1831 as a ship rig and 5 as a bark from 1831-1849. She then transferred to San Francisco where she finished her career with 2 voyages in 1851 and 1852.
John Osborn Morse (1800–1851)was born into a maritime family in Edgartown, Mass. but sailed out of New Bedford as master of the Hector, 1829 and 1832 and the Eliza Adams in 1835. Prior to his voyage in the Russell he built a large home in Edgartown which still stands overlooking the harbor on the corner of North Water Street and Morse Street. Hearing of the discovery of gold, in 1849 he left for California from whence he again went whaling. He died on that trip in May, 1851.