There is a song or poem, titled The Nantucket Girl’s Song that was written in the 19th century by one or another woman traveling in the south Pacific on a ship. The poem appears in the back of a journal kept by Eliza Brock as she experienced life on the Lexington on a whaling voyage from May 1853 to June 1856. She accompanied her husband Peter Brock who was master of the Lexington, out of Nantucket. It isn’t certain who wrote the poem but it is transcribed into the journal with the name Martha Ford appended to it. Martha Ford was the wife of a physician in New Zealand. I first saw a part of the poem in an exhibit at the Nantucket Historical Society’s museum and it spoke to me. A friend with wonderful creative skills made me a watercolor map of Nantucket with the portion of the poem inscribed over the island.
The portion reads:
“Then I’ll haste to wed a sailor, and send him off to sea,
For a life of independence is the pleasant life for me,
But every now and then I shall like to see his face,
For it always seemes to me to beam with manly grace,
With his brow so nobly open, and his dark and kindly eye,
Oh my heart beats fondly towards him whenever he is nigh,
But when he says Goodbye my love, I’m off across the sea
First I cry for his departure, then laugh because I’m free”
The independent spirit of women on the small spit of land that is Nantucket Island tells me about the some of the women who were my ancestors. Three or maybe four of the women born on Nantucket migrated to the southwestern Ohio area just after Ohio became a state – two of my g-g-g grandmothers and two of my g-g-g-g grandmothers. Two came with husbands and families (or maybe only one: the second one died in 1815 and either on Nantucket or in Ohio), one came as a young girl and the other came as a widow with several children, including her youngest son who was about 8 years old. Although all had been members of the Society of Friends on Nantucket only some transferred that religion to Ohio.
My g-g-g-g grandmother, Sarah (Sally) Folger Coffin (1761-1822) was the wife of Isaiah Coffin (1757-1813). She left Nantucket about a year after her husband’s death and migrated west to Cincinnati where 2 or 3 of her oldest sons and a number of other friends and relatives from Nantucket had already settled. She was issued a certificate from the Nantucket Monthy Meeting of the Society of Friends in April 1814 and received into the Miami Monthly Meeting in August 1814. Sarah and 3 children (Reuben, Eliza, and Christopher Folger) were received. The records show that on the same date, and based on a certificate with the same April date, her son Benjamin along with his wife and 3 children were also received in the Miami Meeting. The records become a little confusing though, since there is also another line showing Sarah Coffin and daughter Elizabeth, and Sarah Barnard Coffin also being received on a certificate with that April 1814 date. Is this my Sarah and a daughter whose name doesn’t match any of the children I know about, or a different one? And who is Sarah Barnard Coffin? These questions are my latest Bright Shiny Object to chase – probably not related to me but intriguing nonetheless. To be continued.