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Buckingham, Daniel

Autobiography
Written in 1909


The following is an autobiographical story by Daniel H. Buckingham. Thomas Bayles, a local historian, recorded the information in a pamphlet of 16 pages, which was owned by Lewis Ritch of Middle Island in 1956 and microfilmed in 1972. It tells the story of whaling expeditions by one of Middle Island's early residents.


"I, Daniel H. Buckingham now living at 151 East 66th Street, New York City, born at Middle Island, town of Brookhaven, county of Suffolk, state of New York on the 27th day of December 1823, a son of John and Abigail Buckingham and a grandson of Jonas and Deborah Buckingham who all lived in the town of Brookhaven, but Jonas Buckingham my grandfather came from Milford, Conn. whose Ancestor Thomas Buckingham came from England in 1637, and settled for a while in New Haven, Conn. but a little later with a little colony went to Milford, Conn. and settled where my grandfather was born. My grandmother Abigail Buckingham was the only child of Daniel Howell after whom I was named. He was born , lived and died at the old Homestead, at Middle Island where I was born, and his parents had lived and a large family of Howells were born. In the fall of 1857, my mother and I leased the old Homestead to lawyer Wm. O. Bartlett, a famous lawyer of New York City, the father of three sons, Willard, Franklin, and Clifford. the former Willard is a judge of the Court of Appeals of this New York State and who at the present date, December 1909 owns the property, and has since his father's death. I will just say here, that the lease ran for three years ending April, 1861, at which time, W.O. Bartlett paid the price agreed upon at the first, and took the deed from my mother and myself. I will say by way of introduction, that by request of a few of my friends, I am writing this little scrap of history of myself and others, beginning on this 17th day of December 1909, and on this coming 27th inst. if I live, I shall be 86 years old, and through the mercy and goodness of god to me, I am in fair health for one on my age. When a boy, I lived at my home at Middle Island, until near 17 years of age, I went to Port Jefferson as an apprentice with John W. Mather, a shipbuilder and staid about one year an a half more or less and as the times were dull and not much doing I left, and after working with my father for a while, who was a Millwright who built and repaired some of the first Mills on L.I. which ran by water. The whaling business was brisk in those days, in many Ports in the M.A.S. [Middle Atlantic States] so I went to Sag Harbor and shipped for a voyage in the ship Henry Esquire. L. Hommedieu, agent, George B. Brown, Captain, Henry D. Conklin, 1st Mate, Wm. M. Hunting, 2nd Mate. while in Sag harbor I saw the Masons, laying the foundation of the first Presbyterian Church, when built it was one of the largest churches in the country. It's semi-centennial was celebrated in 1893. We sailed from Sag Harbor July 5th, 1843. The Henry was a 3 boat ship, carrying about 27 men. We sailed around Montauk Point and out into the Atlantic Ocean across the Gulf and on to the Azores or Western islands where we stopped at two of those islands, viz. Flores and Fayal and recruited, with vegetables and fruit, potatoes, onions etx. We went there to get them because the season at home was not right for them at that time of the year. We left a Portuguese sailor there that had been 2 or 3 voyages a whaling and had saved a little money that in that country would go a long way."

Buckingham then describes the Azore Islands and his whaling voyage from there around the Cape of Good Hope and across the Indian Ocean into the Pacific and his experiences unitl his arrival back to Sag Harbor 9 May 1845. he then proceeds to give an account of his 2nd voyage in the ship Nile out of Greenport, Ireland, Wells and Carpenter, Agents, with isasc Case, Capt., Henry D. Conklin, 1st Mate, Frank Ackerly, 2nd mate, Elisah Beebe, 3rd mate. This whaling voyage was down the Atlantic to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where the rudder was repaired and the Nile and crew left there 1 Jan. 1846 bound for the Pacific Ocean via Cape Horn. When 5 days out of Rio, Frank Ackerly was knocked overboard in an accident and went down before help could reach him. he and his brother, Henry, also on the voyage, were the sons of Rev. Mr. Ackerly of Greenport, a Baptsist minister. The voyage was in many sections of the Pacific and North Pacific in search of whales and then returned back around Cape Horn with another call at Rio de Janeiro, ending after 22 months at Greenport 6 June 1848, when Capt. Case learned that his wife had died during his absence.
Buckingham states that while he was away on this whaling trip, the war with Mexico had been fought and the United States had gained control of California. The following year, 1849, saw the '49ners rush to California and Australia, too. Among them where Mordecai Homan and Ed. Terry, both of Middle Island. They went together to the California mines and also to the Australian mines and returned home about 6 or 7 years later not very much richer than when they left home.

Continuing, Buckingham states: "in a year or two after coming home, the last time i married, and a little later on I went to Port Jefferson to live and worked in the ship yard many years, and was elected Justice of the Peace twice in the town of Brookhaven for a 4 year term twice, making 8 years. Having jurisdiction over the county of Suffolk, but living in Port Jefferson. My last wife died in 1899. After that I boarded in private houses for a while and then later on in the Hotel Townsend House, Port Jefferson, until I came here at the Chapin Home to live which was on the 18th November, 1902."


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