From Abandonment to Rescue, continued

Left behind were the remains of the fleet including its catch of 13,665 barrels of whale oil, 965 barrels of sperm oil, 10,000 pounds of bone. It was a loss of about $1.5 million. The Roman, the most northerly vessel was valued later at $60,000. All liquor had been destroyed, but medicine chests were forgotten. When the natives later raided the ships, many of them sampled the medicines. Some were made very sick, some died. In retaliation, they burned several of the forsaken fleet.

The family of Thomas Williams was among those rescued off of Icy Cape after abandoning the Monticello. His son, William F. Williams, later recounted: "To my father and mother it must have been a sad parting. I think what made it still more so was the fact that only a short distance from our bark lay the ship Florida," the ship his father captained when he and his siblings were born.

The captains of the seven possible rescue ships had their own difficult decision to make. With full consent from their crews, the masters decided without hesitation to give up hope of profit from whaling in order to get the refugees to a place of safety. One of them was Captain Thomas Mellen of the Europa out of Edgartown. His wife and daughter had shared a cottage in Honolulu with Captain Jernegan's wife Helen, and their children Laura and Prescott in 1869.

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Martha's Vineyard Museum