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Kelly Boyer Sagert

Aaron Anthony was the seventh and youngest child of James and Ester Anthony. Neither parent could read or write, and the family eked out a living farming a plot of marshy land on the two-hundred-acre Hackton plantation, owned by relatives. The land was east of Tuckahoe Creek in the town known as Tuckahoe Neck, in Talbot County, Maryland.

Anthony's father died in 1769, leaving Ester and her seven offspring—five of whom were still children—to fend for themselves. Unlike his parents, Anthony learned to read, write, and calculate simple sums. As a young man working on cargo boats on the Choptank River and in Chesapeake Bay, he earned enough money to invest in property. In 1795 he gained employment as a captain at a salary of two hundred dollars per year, hauling and transporting both goods and people for the wealthy colonel Edward Lloyd IV who owned hundreds ...

Article

Barbara A. White

prosperous businessman, whaling captain, and community leader, whose court case against Nantucket led to the integration of the public schools, was a member of one of the largest and most influential black families on the island. His father was Seneca Boston, a manumitted slave, who was a self‐employed weaver. His mother was a Wampanoag Indian named Thankful Micah. They had four sons and one daughter. Absalom Boston, the third‐born, went to sea, as did many of Nantucket's young men, signing onto the whale ship Thomas in 1809 when he was twenty‐four. Little is known about his early education. Anna Gardner, in her memoir Harvest Gleanings, mentions him visiting her family and hints that it may have been her mother, Hannah Macy Gardner, who taught the young man to read.

Shortly before he went to sea, Boston married his first wife, Mary Spywood about whom little is ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

U.S. naval officer and submarine commander, was born in Monticello, Florida, one of nine children of John and Mary Isom. The farm the Isoms lived on consisted of sixty-eight acres, a portion of which was once sharecropped by Roger's grandfather. His father was an army veteran, as were six of his siblings. Ironically, when his mother asked Roger early on to consider attending the U.S. Naval Academy, he flatly refused. However, Isom later noted that “when my turn came to join the Army, I looked at the Navy instead, partly to compete with my older brother, and just to be different. I went to the Navy recruiter and said what can you do for me, I want to be an astronaut” (author's interview, 4 Mar. 2007). He subsequently enlisted in the navy in June 1983.

From his earliest navy days Isom both aspired to and was ...

Article

John Herschel Barnhill

sailor, was born on Union Island, St. Vincent, British West Indies, the son of a shipbuilder. As a child he attended St. Vincent Grammar School because his father wanted him to be an engineer. Mulzac himself wanted to be a sailor, a desire that became a passion when his father took him to visit HMS Good Hope in Kingston, Jamaica.

On completing grammar school Mulzac sailed as a seaman on the schooner Sunbeam, captained by his brother John. He subsequently sailed on a Norwegian ship from Barbados through the Caribbean and the Atlantic, again as a seaman. When the ship's captain invited Mulzac to church with him in Wilmington, North Carolina, Mulzac encountered his first taste of segregation when the sexton directed him to the black church some blocks away.

Mulzac received his training at Swansea Nautical College in South Wales and in New York City He ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

whaling master, was born in Barbados, the eldest of eight children of a Scottish sugar planter named Shorey, and an African Caribbean woman, Rosa Frazier, whom the younger Shorey's biographers have invariably described as a “beautiful creole lady” (Tompkins, 75). Some biographical sources incorrectly suggest that William was born either in Provincetown, Massachusetts, or in India. Although he was born free twenty-five years after slavery was abolished in the British West Indies, Shorey's prospects as a black man in Barbados were limited. He apprenticed for a while as a plumber on the island, but sometime in the mid-1870s, when he was still a teenager, Shorey found work as a cabin boy on a ship headed to Boston, Massachusetts. The English captain of the vessel quickly took to the eager, quick-witted, and adventurous lad and began to teach him navigation.

Upon arriving in New England Shorey ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

U.S. naval officer and submarine commander, was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Johnny Watson, who worked at a printing plant, and Virginia Watson, a community liaison and teacher's aide. One of six children, Anthony John Watson was raised in the Cabrini-Green public housing community and attended Chicago's Lane Technical High School, where he was a starter on the football team. Upon graduating in 1966 he entered the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle, and in June of that year he was recruited to the U.S. Naval Academy, where he became a “plebe” (first-year) midshipman.

Watson was one of only six African Americans to graduate in the class of 1970 at Annapolis. Indeed, at all of the nation's service academies by 1969 only 116 cadets were nonwhite Foner 211 Watson remained engaged in spite of the distractions and challenges faced by African American midshipmen at Annapolis in the late ...