Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The ship Cyrus, 1824

The captain of the ship Cyrus was George Green Gary, who may have earlier owned George Gary's tavern.[1] Captain Gary married Pamela A. Gray on December 17, 1823 and then sailed on the Cyrus together to Liberia.[2] Pamela Gray was born on December 16, 1800, the daughter of Sterling and Nancy Gary, of Prince George County.[3] “Pamelia Gary” was listed as head of household living in center ward, in the 1840 Petersburg's census, amongst two males (10-15), two females (10-15), one female (15-20), and two females (30-40). She was buried in the southeastern section of Blandford Cemetery, behind the church. Her badly broken, damaged and eroded marble table stone which rests on a granite base was made by the Petersburg’s stonecutter James Davidson once read:

In remembrance of
Mrs. Pamela A. Gary
Widow of Capt. Geo. G. Gary
Who accompanied by the deceased
Transported in Ship Cyrus
With the first colonists from
Petersburg, Va. to Liberia in 1824
Her eventful life was closed
The 24th June 1848
In the 47th year of her age

In 2008, American Colonization scholar, Dr. Marie Tyler-McGraw stated, “It is interesting that the Cyrus was captained not by just any ship's captain, but by one who was from Petersburg and whose family thought that was significant enough to put on a tombstone.” The ship Cyrus may have been the ship Cyrus launched in 1800, built by Israel Thorndike and William Leach, in Salem, Massachusetts, a 305 ton vessel.[4] The Essex Institute, Peabody & Essex Museum recorded the, “Cyrus, Beverly, ship, 305 tons, Salem, 1800. Reg.. July 7, 1800. William Leach, Beverly, Isaac Thorndike, Beverly, Thomas Dickerson, Boston, owners; William Leach, master. [Commissioned as a privateer.]”[5] In the 1850s a merchant’s sloop named the George Gary sailed from Petersburg’s harbor.[6] Also shipped on the Cyrus from Petersburg were two hogsheads and a bundle of tobacco and one bundle of books and clothes.

Shortly after arriving the ACS agent in Liberia said the emigrants on the Cyrus “had formed in America a worthy and well-compacted neighborhood” and that they “moved together in everything,” especially in aiding one another.”[7]

Rev. Colston M. Waring, a black minister associated with the Petersburg’s Gillfield Baptist Church,[8] help organize the passenger that went on the ship Cyrus for Liberia, he was to determine its suitability for thwarted ambitions as well as a missionary field.[9] "The passengers on the ship Cyrus represented a cross-section of Virginia free blacks going to Liberia. Among them was John N. Lewis, age 13, traveling with his mother, Hannah Lewis, who was 5 feet 2 inches high, supposed to be about 35 years old, and with a brown complexion... She was emancipated with her seven children in Petersburg by Adam S. Nanstedler, on December 30, 1823.[10] All of these children were children of Adam S. Naustedler, a white man.[11] Mr. Naustedler appears to have been a most interesting individual, on December 7, 1814, he placed an ad along with his business partner Benjamin Moss in the Petersburg Daily Courier announcing their formation of Moss & Naustedler, commission Merchants and tobacco brokers.. The 1820 Petersburg’s census listed him as 45+ living with another male between (16-26), one of which was at this time, an un-naturalized foreigner; along with four male slaves under sixteen and one (14-26).

Naustedler led at times a small local Petersburg Jewish Congregation, and was originally from Augsburg, Germany. In remembrance, he was described as a man “profoundly versed in the Talmud and in the transitions, whose mind was stored with rabbinical lore and who was generally called 'Rabbi' by his friends and acquaintances."[12] In 1840, "A. S. Naustedler," was living alone in Center Ward, Petersburg, age 60-70."[13] His son, John N. Lewis would later become the colonial secretary, Lewis would write his father back in Petersburg from Liberia, without any know reply.

The Columbian Centinel, published as: Columbian Centinel American Federalist reported on August 8, 1824, that on August 3rd, 1824 the ship Cyrus was at Boston harbor and…
Reporting its former captain’s death as June 20, 1824. On August 7, 1824 the Columbian Centinel American Federalist, reported that Capt. George G. Gary of Petersburg, Va., died at sea, aboard the ship Cyrus, of Boston.

The Cyrus would be found stranded on Rainsford Island, which served as a quarantine station for the port of Boston, Massachusetts. She was sold for salvage in September 1824. The Boston Commercial Gazette reported the new captain as “Crafts.”

The Baltimore Patriot gave a more detail accounting on August 7, 1824 of those who died on board the Cyrus on its 68 day voyage from Rio Janeiro since she left the United States: George C(S)igourney, of Boston,[14] Captain Clark, on March 16, 1824; Parker Sperey, passenger, March 17, 1824; John Green, steward, March 18, 1824; William Austin, alis Haskins, March 24, 1824; Capt. Geary died on the passage home, on the June 20, 1824.

[1] R. Bolling Papers, biographical card files, card 14, Library of Virginia, “George Green Gary, b., d., master of the ship Cyrus, m. Dec. 1823, Prince George County, Pamela A. Gary.”
[2] R. Bolling Papers, biographical card files, card 14, Library of Virginia, “Pamela A Gary, b. December 16, 1800, Petersburg; daughter of Sterling Gray (1757-1824) and Nancy, of Prince George County; m. George Green Gary, December 17, 1823, Prince George County; d. June 24, 1848, Petersburg, cancer; burial June 25, 1848, Blandford Cemetery, on W. side of her square, south by E.A. Branch, Blandford Interment Records (1843-1871) page 23.”
[3] Sterling Gary was taxed for the first time in 1797 for 119 acres, in Prince George County. He was commissioned May 7, 1793 Ensign, in Capt. Robert Harrison's Co., Prince George Co. Militia. He died on September 25, 1824, just prior to his daughter’s marriage to Capt. Gray.
[4] Cutter, William Richard. Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts, p. 1607.
[5] Essex Institute Historical Collections By Essex Institute, Peabody & Essex Museum, p. 62.
[6] Daily Democrat (Petersburg, Va.), November 21, 1855, page 2, column 6; Daily Democrat, November 30, 1855, page 3, column 1.
[7] Debra L. Newman, The Emergence of Liberian Women in the Nineteenth Century,” Ph.D. diss., Howard University, 1984, p. 137.
[8] Second oldest Black church in US. Established 1786. Re-built in the Romanesque Revival style between 1874-1879. Gillfield Baptist Church is the second oldest black congregation in Petersburg and one of the oldest in the country. Gillfield originated in the Davenport Church in Prince George County in 1786. In 1797, it was recognized as an autonomous institution with an integrated congregation. In 1800, the Davenport Church moved to Pocahontas and was renamed the Sandy Beach Church. In 1818, the church members purchased the lot on Perry Street in Gillfield where they built the first of four successive churches.
[9] Marie Tyler-McGraw. An African Republic: Black & White Virginians in the Making of Liberia, University of NC Press, 2007, P. 69.
[10] No. 1342, Registry of Free Negroes & Mulattoes, made & entered in the Clerk’s office of the Hustings Court of the Town of Petersburg Posterior to 1st January 1819, Library of Virginia microfilm no. 73
[11] John N. Lewis to Samuel Wilkinson, Monrovia, April 12, 1849, letter enclosed to “Mr. Adam S. Naustedler, my father who lives in Petersburg, Va.,” reel #154, RACS.
[12] Lee Shai Neissbach. Jewish Life in Small Town America, p. 216.
[13] Petersburg’s 1840 Census.
[14] Born September 25, 1805 son of Charles Sigourney & Mary Sarah Greenleaf., died March 18, 1824.