Laura was barely a year old when her father left for the Pacific as master of the bark Oriole in June of 1863. Longing to see his young family, Jared wrote to Laura's mother late in 1864 encouraging her to bring Laura to join him for the trip home from Hawaii. Helen felt the journey might be too difficult for a three year old, so she left Laura with her Aunt Chloe Pierce and Alymer with his mother's family, the Ripleys, in Edgartown. When Laura's parents returned in April 1866, her mother had been away for 7 months and her father for 3 1/2 years.

On December 17, 1866, Laura's younger brother Prescott Ford was born. Since their father's last voyage on the Oriole was a profitable one, he was content to stay on shore for a longer period of time, enjoying getting to know his growing young family.

In October of 1868, six year old Laura boarded the bark Roman in New Bedford along with her parents and her 22 month old brother, Prescott, bound for Hawaii. Laura had never been to school, but looked forward to lessons on board the ship with her mother Helen, a former schoolteacher. It is from the well known journal, which Laura wrote in daily, that we have learned about her life on a whaleship. Her trademark was the way she signed each entry with "Good-bye for today. "

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Martha's Vineyard Museum