Sunday, January 23, 2011

Grandpa was a Whaler

This is the name of a book about Samuel Chadwick & family of Carteret County North Carolina written in 1961 by Amy Muse. It is a small paperback that I found on EBay a couple years ago.

My niece is about to have a baby boy and asked me about unusual family names as ideas for the new great nephew. I gave her a list of all her direct ancestors going back 12 generations. It was over 45 pages long and only listed their names, dates of birth and death!

She was intrigued at the name Chadwick. Our last known ancestor from the Chadwick line was Ephraim Chadwick, who was the brother of Samuel Chadwick.

They both moved to what is now Carteret County North Carolina in the early 1700s from Falmouth, Massachusetts. In 1725 Samuel Chadwick was issued a license to take whales off the coast of North Carolina. Ephraim was also a whaler and owned a whaling boat.

The business of whaling in the 1700s was a lot different than the Greenpeace videos you see today. Men took off from shore on a small boat after they saw whales off the coast and would row or sail the boat close enough to the whale to hit it with a harpoon.

Since the boat was smaller than the whale and their implements powered only by their muscle the whale won most of the encounters.

The men of Massachusetts came to North Carolina probably on the prospect of a larger whale population and less competition for it. They eventually moved on to other occupations, although many were still on the water.

Several Chadwick families moved to Cortez, Florida around 1910 and fished there for a while. They eventually moved back to North Carolina or moved to other parts of Florida. I came across another Carteret County Chadwick descendant several years ago who had settled in St. Petersburg, Florida and successfully developed waterfront property over the last couple decades.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting post. Funny, my husband met a cousin of his tonight who told him about the book Grandpa was a Whaler. Apparently, his great grandfather by the last name of McCartney is in that book.

Mark Green said...

There is no index so I can't look it up. Many of the pages are just family trees from the 1700s up to the mid 20th century.

jessie said...

This book is actually about my direct family history. However, I have yet to read it. I've been looking for a copy but with little luck.

Sara Williams said...

So I don't know if anyone will see this, since the post is a few years old. I am also a descendant of the Chadwicks, My grandfather's aunt wrote "Grandpa was a Whaler," and Samuel Chadwick is my 8th(I think) great grandfather. I moved from VA to MA this past year and my grandmother just came up to visit and do some research into the chadwicks at the Falmouth history society. I thought it was neat to do a google search afterwords and find that other people are also researching the chadwicks!

Mark Green said...

Hello Sara

Nice to hear from you. I visited Falmouth about 10 years ago but wasn't able to connect to the NC family. Let me know if you can.

Jennifer Chadwick Watkins said...

Hi Sara! I’m on researching the Chadwick’s as well. I know I’m a direct descendant, but there’s a lot of work to go along with it! Best of luck to you! As Mark said, please let us know if you find anything! I may just head off to NC myself ��

Anonymous said...

Hello, I believe I have traced my mother's ancestry back to Ephraim Chadwick, who was supposedly Samuel Chadwick's brother, also a whaler. Ephraim was supposedly lost at sea when he was older. I have been trying to get a copy of Grandpa was a Whaler to no avail. If anyone knows how to get a copy, please send me an email at In my research, I found that one of Ephraim's descendants (son or grandson) moved from Carteret County, NC to Marysville, TN, got married, then moved to Crittenden Co. KY, where he passed away. The family, including his wife, who was still living, moved to Izard Co, Arkansas, where my mom grew up. Her father was a barber, but when it came time to join for WWII, he joined the Navy, which I had always wondered about, given that Arkansas is landlocked. What's even funnier, is when my mom and dad went deep sea fishing one time, my mom had sea legs, while my dad (who is of Swiss heritage) was sick the whole trip. Might make sense if she goes back to whalers. Donna