Who exactly are the ships’ captains for whom each hole at The Captains golf course are named? It was a question that begged to be answered, and we’re so thankful to Michael Pregot for doing just that. We hope you enjoy this summary culled from Michael’s exhaustive research into “The Captains’ Captains.”

Benjamin Berry: 1802-1864

Starboard One

  • Came from a long line of Brewster sea captains
  • Commanded several ships: the Oxenbridge, Valtralia, Rienzi, Cochiciuate and Reliance
  • Noted as an excellent yarn spinner and conversationalist
  • Spent his last 10 years in retirement involved with local politics

Allen S. Bragg: 1874-1956

Starboard Two

  • Frequently called a Cape Cod “wash-ashore”
  • At 18, he was captain of the Mary A. Tyler
  • Originally a North Carolinian
  • Caught in the Great Portland Gale, in which 157 men were lost at sea
  • Brought to the Brewster Flats when his ship was grounded and disabled
  • Sheltered by Captain Jeremiah Wilcox and eventually married his daughter
  • Very successful trader within European markets

Benjamin Fessenden: 1810-1874

Starboard Three

  • First appointed captain to command the ship Brewster
  • Loved to hear stories of exotic travel while in school
  • Family was active in the lumber and building business
  • Retired to a lumber and stagecoach business on Cape Cod

Godfrey Hopkins: 1832-1902

Starboard Four

  • Found initial success on voyages to the Far East with the Carib
  • Known as a “jinxed” sailor, he went through a series of misfortunes:
    • Hurricane claimed the William Brown in the Gulf of Mexico
    • Lost the Australia in a storm off the coast of Burma
    • Became the captain of the Joseph Holmes when Captain Charles Crosby was shot on deck
  • Became disenchanted with the sea and served in town government for Brewster

Bangs Pepper: 1806-1885

Starboard Five

  • Captain of the Senator
  • Engaged in West Indies trade (sugar cane and rum; large importer of rum, Brewster’s most popular spirit)
    • Brought hides, salt and lumber to the South
    • Delivered cotton, tobacco and spirits to the North
  • Served as a selectman in the Town of Brewster

Joseph Snow: 1830-1856

Starboard Six

  • Captain of the Antelope
  • Came from a long line of sea captains
  • In 1863, while captaining the Annette, made the journey from New York to San Francisco in 128 days
  • In 1856, his ship the Stephen Brown was lost without a trace; conclusion on cause never reached

Nathaniel Thatcher: Dates Unknown

Starboard Seven

  • Very active in First Parish Church of Brewster
    • His duty was to note departing ships and safe returns
    • The service included initial prayers of safety and “Godspeed”
    • Each service concluded with gratitude and thanksgiving for safe arrivals

Isaac Weatherbee: 1836-1875

Starboard Eight

  • Command of the Katahdin
  • Known for painting the Katahdin Triumphing over Adversity
  • Avid collector of chinaware
  • Retired to San Francisco; died of the plague

Elkanah Winslow: 1802-1851

Starboard Nine

  • Command of the Carbine, Vinton and Watchman
  • Died at sea of unknown causes off the coast of Mexico
  • Body returned to Brewster for burial

John Fitz: 1856-1882

Starboard Ten

  • Initially served as first mate on the John Smith
  • Specialized in transporting coal from Liverpool to San Francisco
  • Lost at sea without a trace

Heman Griffin: 1788-1841

Starboard Eleven

  • His first ship wrecked off of the rocks in Sandwich
  • The first in Brewster to captain a packet ship
  • According to 1823 log, his ship Fame was updated:
    • Meeting of ship proprietors records, “This packet is in dire need of refurbish, varnish and general restoration.”
  • Winter was often spent with equipment update

Solomon Foster: 1785-1834

Starboard Twelve

  • Boat owners offered him a contract for packet ship travel, which was new in 1823
  • His commission: 5% on gross of stock and a 1/2% on remainder
  • This type of maritime service was challenging because:
    • No official harbor
    • Often worked in very shallow water, and miles of sandy beaches at low tide
    • Passenger safety and comfort suffered

Luther Sears: 1774-1851

Starboard Thirteen

  • Became engaged with steamer travel
  • Known as a “driver,” a sailor who was active and unafraid in all elements
  • In the midst of a storm, his command was typically to stay the course:
    • In one storm, as the mainmast cracked, his first mate remarked, “Thar, hope you are satisfied now.”
  • Records show he completed more than 50 trips in his command

John Myrick: 1798-1845

Starboard Fourteen

  • Commanded the packets Fame and Lafayette
  • Much admired by the women of Brewster for several reasons, including:
    • Often brought new fashions back to town
    • Would arrange for expedited mail delivery to Boston
    • Known for his personal discretion and integrity
  • Married Betsy Bangs, a relative of a strong maritime family

Enos Godfrey: 1824-1868

Starboard Fifteen

  • Captained packet ships
  • A hardworking man on both land and sea:
    • Mattie Godfrey, his daughter, noted in her diary, “When my father was not picking up passengers at Breakwater beach, I would see him at the gristmill grinding corn.”
  • Owned a farm near Point of Rocks

Barnabas Paine: 1777-1859

Starboard Sixteen

  • Considered by J. Henry Sears, who chronicled the industry in his book Brewster Ship Masters, to be one of the most skilled shipmasters
  • His ship, the Patriot, was tossed ferociously during a storm
    • Said to have promised “I’m going home” as he ventured into the dark
    • True to his word, his ship beached near his home at Paine’s Creek
  • Strongly associated with the packet trade and travel

Nathaniel Chase: 1832-1870 (circa)

Starboard Seventeen

  • Negotiated shipping rights for the Rough and Ready, a packet ship, in 1865
  • Modernization negatively impacted his sea enterprise:
    • Demand for salt diminished as production moved to western states
    • In 1854, the railroad came to Barnstable Village, greatly diminishing demand for oceangoing passenger travel
      • Noted by Captain Eldridge in 1870: “Small boats in Brewster harbor may rest safe as packet captains had finished their long and popular run.”

Freeman Bangs: 1809-1866

Starboard Eighteen

  • Acquired the nickname “Poor Lost Freeman”
    • In 1848, while attempting to travel from Boston to Brewster, he was caught in a major storm
    • For safety, he laid anchor on the lee side of George’s Island but was dragged overnight to the north side of Long Island
  • Traveled often to Europe as commander of several ships including: the Roxanna, the Celeste Clarke, and the Faneuil Hall, which was lost off the coast of Calcutta
  • Moved to the packet trade at a time when world was quickly changing

Benjamin Baker: 1841-1885

Port One

  • Captain of the H. Besse
  • Had a string of bad luck in a four-month period on a voyage in 1883 while traveling from Manilla to Boston:
    • Cholera overtook crew
    • Struck and stranded on a coral reef and began taking on water; went to lifeboats
    • Witnessed the eruption of Krakatoa in Indonesia
    • Passed through a major hurricane; rescued by a Dutch steamer
    • Of the original 27 man crew, only five reached port
      • Most unlucky or most fortunate? Debatable.

Benjamin Bangs: 1723-1769

Port Two

  • Built a “welcome home” for Brewster sea captains which provided lodging, respite care and funds in exchange for future revenue shares
  • Established a profitable farm; known to have bragged one year that he harvested 177 bushels of corn from six acres of land
  • Active in politics; said to have referred to the Stamp Act as “ye slavery act”
  • Spoke on social issues; pleaded in the press and at town meetings for inoculations against small pox and influenza
  • Billeted British soldiers under duress

William Burgess: 1819-1855

Port Three

  • Commanded the Herbert at the age of 22
  • His final log entry: “So ends the maiden voyage of the Hebert to Calcutta and back in 10 months to the day.” (112 days –each way)
  • Trained his bride as a first mate in navigation:
    • She is quoted as saying, “To avoid the salty sailor talk, each crew member was fined when heard.”
    • When Burgess fell ill onboard, his wife took command of the ship, but failed to reach a doctor in time (a 22-day sail away)

Isaac Clark: 1761-1819

Port Four

  • First captain to open Russia’s White Sea
  • Took a leap of faith when he brought cargo to Archangelsk before retroactively seeking authority to unload and sell cargo
  • Began a Russian fir timber trade
  • Framed his own Georgian-style home on Stoney Brook Road with dark Russian wood
  • Contracted Africa Black Fever and died aboard ship
  • Buried on Africa’s Prince Island

Elijah Cobb: 1768-1848

Port Five

  • Outsmarted the Barbary pirates while traversing infested waters
  • Saved Brewster’s salt work from being blown up by the British in the War of 1812 by agreeing to a ransom
  • Engaged in “sham” rum and whiskey trading with Irish officials
  • Held court with Robespierre, gaining skill as a negotiator
  • While the Ten Brothers was under his command, it was consumed by malaria, killing seven men and a cabin boy before it was finally fumigated
  • His home is now the Brewster Historical Society house on Lower Road

George Crocker: 1820-1883

Port Six

  • Recruited and received a signing bonus to sail for J. Henry Sears’ fleet
  • Commanded the clipper Edwin Forrest which sailed from Le Havre to New York City
  • Captained the Expounder, a clipper that endured through more than 30 years of commerce, from 1871 until 1883; it would continue to sail for many years after Crocker’s death
  • Died aboard the Electra – cause uncertain – while docked in Manilla in 1883

Tully Crosby: 1809-1891

Port Seven

  • One of 17 registered shipmasters from the Crosby clan sailing to all the corners of the earth
    • Eleven of the 17 Crosby captains died within a 49-year period
  • Known for his exploits in the Chinese trade, transporting the teas, spices and dishware desired by British importers
  • Crosby famously raced Captain McKay, of the Bald Eagle, from New York City to San Francisco aboard his ship, the Kingfisher; he infamously lost by just two hours
  • Retired to Brewster where he was elected to local and state offices

James Dillingham: 1831-1883

Port Eight

  • Lived in one of the oldest homes in Brewster, from which nine generations of sailors would eventually emerge
  • Acquired control of the Blue Jacket; his wife would frequently accompany him on voyages
  • While returning from the China Seas on the Snow Squall during the Civil War, he was overtaken by the Tuscaloosa; he was rewarded financially for avoiding capture
  • Died aboard the SS Finance on a voyage to Brazil while carrying valuable timbers

Albert Dunbar: 1837-1892

Port Nine

  • Commanded several vessels: the Kingfisher, Gardner Colby, Josiah Bradlees, Kentuckian, Thatcher Magoun, and the Grecia
  • Differed from many typical captains in several ways:
    • Planned for retirement after a set cash amount was realized
    • Lived his retirement years in San Diego
    • Had very few severe negative results with the exception of his final trip on the Grecian, which he ran aground and sold for $600
  • Held the record time for sailing from Wales to Hong Kong: 104 days

William Freeman: 1820-1905

Port Ten

  • Long and illustrious career – sailed various types of vessels – yet it was not without mishaps, including:
    • 1874: Trapped by a coal fire aboard the Mogul while two weeks away from Hawaii (rescued)
    • 1859: Feigned death and hid aboard when his crew mutinied on the Undaunted (saved by the U.S. Navy… eventually)
    • 1863: Caught in a monsoon near India while sailing, of all things, the Monsoon
  • Deemed a legendary sailor with profound maritime knowledge, tremendous navigational skill and cunning insight

Nathan Foster: 1833-1874

Port Eleven

  • Commander of several ships: the Expounder, W.B. Dinsmore, Morning Star, and the Centaur
  • Known to be courageous; willingly transported coal, a dangerous cargo due to its tendency to spontaneously combust
    • While sailing the B. Dinsmore, the coal spontaneously combusted; crew abandoned ship and were rescued by an English vessel
    • While on the Centaur, the same thing happened – fire caused by spontaneous combustion – forcing the crew to abandon ship
      • His lifeboat overturned within the view of his first mate; he was never heard from again

John Higgins: 1832-1882

Port Twelve

  • Started off as a “Coaster”
  • First mate of the Morning Star
  • Shipwrecked on the Caroline Islands, an archipelago near New Guinea
    • While there, he married a local woman and started a trading business
  • Visited on random basis by Captain Freeman
  • Christianized the locals and educated them in trading

Judah Baker: 1807-1853

Port Thirteen

  • Captain of the Anita at age of 26
  • Initiated a trade route from New York to Natchez (sugar cane and rum)
  • Loved to wager with fellow captains on his vessel’s speed
  • Enjoyed his reputation as an efficient and speedy navigator
    • Frequently attempted to best the “log record” from port to port
    • In 1853, while attempting to win a wager with the Flying Dragon, his bowsprit broke and disabled the boat
      • He died aboard the ship feeling disgraced and dejected

Joshua Nickerson Knowles: 1830-1896

Port Fourteen

  • While captaining the Wild Wave near Oeno (Holiday) Island on March 5, his log records: “Our lookout reported breakers under the lea. Our rate was such that we were beached within five minutes.”
    • The crew was stranded in uncharted waters; a new boat was constructed from the debris
    • Aboard the ramshackle new John Adams, they ventured to the Pitcairn Islands for safety, where they sold the vessel for $250
    • Crew hitched rides to Tahiti, then Hawaii, then on to San Francisco before finally making it back to Boston
  • Retired to Brewster, where he lived for 10 years before passing

Warren Lincoln: 1810-1900

Port Fifteen

  • As cabin boy, he saw pirates invade and capture the ship of Captain Mayo
    • Mayo was brought to Cuba to seek funds and secured safety from U.S. consul
    • Crew of the Iris was aboard lifeboat, pleased to see Mayo in charge
  • Went on to command the Draco in a fearless manner
  • Retired at age of 35 due to poor health
  • Ran a general store in Brewster for decades at the site of what is now the Brewster Inn

Jeremiah Mayo: 1786-1867

Port Sixteen

  • At 6’ 5” tall, he had an overwhelming physical presence
  • Dealt with the pirates of Tripoli
  • Once offered free rum to staff as they lugged quintals of cod to the main deck for better balance, saving his ship in a storm
  • In 1825, Mayo was contacted by Napoleon with a request to whisk him to the U.S.; Mayo agreed, but local exile seemed a better option
  • His daughter, Sarah Augusta Mayo, and Mary Louise Cobb, daughter of Captain Cobb, founded the Brewster Ladies Library
  • Quote attributed to his daughter: “A true man of the world with rare conversational skill, and a pristine reputation.”

David Nickerson: 1771-1819

Port Seventeen

  • Raised a son named Renee Rousseau who was “given” to him by a French woman who claimed the boy was the rightful heir of Louis XVI
  • Trained Renee for sea life; Renee he went on to die at sea at 26
  • Negotiated a deal for rum trade with the Germans
  • Engaged in slave trade with ship the Ten Brothers
  • Died on ship of African Fever (Malaria)
    • His burial marker – without remains – is at First Parish Church next to Renee

J. Henry Sears: 1829-1912

Port Eighteen

  • Titled The Master Sea Captain
  • Owned J. H. Sears shipping, based in Boston, with a fleet of 37 ships
  • While captain of the Titan, he scuttled the ship at sea
  • Started a golf course on his 32 acres on Lower Road
  • Wrote the Brewster Ship Masters, what is still considered to be the definitive chronicle of Brewster’s shipping history.
  • His Pilgrim Club merged with Cape Cod Memorial Association, raising funds for the Provincetown Monument
  • Became friendly with Teddy Roosevelt when Roosevelt laid the cornerstone of the Provincetown Monument in 1907
  • Philanthropist
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