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Aged 92, Still Active Lobster Fisherman

Capt Comfort Dixon

Aged 92, Still Active Lobster Fisherman

Capt Comfort Dixon of Manomet Point Tends 150 Traps Every Day, Rain or Shine

MANOMET–Capt Raymond 78-year-old lobsterman, of White Horse Beach, Plymouth, near here, is a mere child; that is to say compared with Capt Comfort Dixon of Manomet Point. Capt Raymond seems like a real boy rather than a veteran lobsterman. The story of Capt Raymond was told a few weeks ago in the Sunday Globe. This is the story of Comfort Dixon, a real veteran lobsterman, aged 92.

Despite his age, Capt Dixon, day after day, in storm or good weather, tends 150 lobster traps, work that takes the strength of a young and hard man, as well as one who can endure and take no account of numerous plunges into the raging sea after a heavy-laden trap has pulled him overboard.

Who is there in New England that beat the record of Capt Comfort Dixon, 92 years old, and still an active and alert lobsterman?

“I have been a lobsterman for over 30 years,” say Capt Dixon, as he removed his century-old pipe and spat on the greensward in front of his trim little house just back from the Point. “I have 150 traps that are worked by my boy and myself. The boy, who is at home, I mean. My other boy, for I have two of them, is in the Regular Army; has been for 25 years, and is about to retire. He will live in Plymouth, so I will have him practically home again.

“The boy at home now is a member of the life-saving crew at the Point and during his spare time he helps me pull the traps. He comes out in the Fall on a pension, as he has worked his allotted time as a lifesaver in a most hazardous position.

“When I was a boy I worked in a cotton mill in the Western part of the State and knew nothing at all about the sea. I took up a sea-faring life because I loved it and do now. I was on coasters for 15 or 20 years before and after the Civil War.

“I took up lobster catching about 30 years ago and have had many exciting times capturing these pets. I have been thrown overboard by huge lobster catches many times, but these small things don’t count for much in a seafaring life. The lobster catch has fallen off much since I went into the business. At that time they were plenty and the traps were most always full when we pulled them, which was liable to be every day.

“The prices, too, have increased very much. Why, in olden days we used to get six cents apiece for each lobster, large or small. Now they sell for 30 to 35 cents a pound. There used to be no limit by law as to the size, and a little lobster, which we are now obliged to throw back, was worth as much then as a big one.

“The biggest lobster I ever caught weighed 13 pounds. It measured about three feet long with claws outstretched and was nearly 10 inches in width. You don’t see such monsters now. They run much smaller on an average and are not nearly as plenty. On this coast the lobster fishing is running out and many thousands will have to be put here to bring the fishing up to what it was years ago.

Loves the Sea

“How did I come to take up a seafaring life? I don’t know. I often thought of that myself and I guess I was the first of the family to follow that life. My father was a hatter by trade and I guess never was in a row boat in his life. My only happiness is to be near the water. It is life and health to me. If I lived in the city I would surely miss the sea and sand, and wind and the smell of the salt water. It is not pleasant weather all the time, of course, but I love the squalls and gales and the lashing of the waves as much as I do a smooth sea.

“When I was at sea on coasters, I would come home from a voyage and make up my mind never to go to sea again. That feeling would last a few weeks and then I would be off to sea again. I never could keep away from it. I guess I should have to give up my work soon, however, as my legs are getting a little weak and I guess I have earned a rest, after so long a time.

“You know there is one thing I have noticed for several years. Our Summers are getting shorter and our Winter longer. Sometime, I expect, this climate of New England will resolve itself into about a month of Summer and the rest of snow and storms and cold weather. Then I guess our New England people will have to move further South. This will not come in my day, of course, but some of our young people will surely see that time.”

Capt Dixon is the youngest old man in the world. He has a ruddy face, perfect hearing, is a good talker and simply loves now to rover over the sand dunes and gaze for hours on the sea, which he loves. His strength is shown by the fact that when the Globe man’s motor car got stuck in the sand, Capt Dixon was the first to suggest that he get out and push. He did, too, and half the reason for this story being printed in the Globe instead of in China, as it seems the car must go at one time, is the great strength still possessed by 92-year-old Capt Comfort Dixon, the oldest lobsterman in New England.

Boston Daily Globe
June 24, 1923
pg. 48

Cape Cod Lobsterman, Aged 91, Still Lays His Traps Daily

Comfort Hunt Dixon - Boston Globe

Cape Cod Lobsterman, Aged 91, Still Lays His Traps Daily
Boston Daily Globe
September 10, 1922

“In the downhill of life, when I find I’m declining
May my fate no less fortunate be
Than a snug elbow chair can afford for reclining,
And a cot that o’erlooks the wide sea.
John Collins.

The poet who thus anticipated the crowning of “a youth of labor with an age of ease” sang of his three score years and ten. Older by more than a score of years is Comfort Hunt Dixon of Manomet, Cape Cod, but he steadfastly refuses to acknowledge the existence of a downhill of life. No snug elbow chair is sought by this vigorous youth of 91; as for the cot overlooking the sea, the mere idea he would laugh to scorn. No less than the sea itself contents his adventurous spirit, and daily he sets forth in his dory to his lobster pots. He is probably the oldest lobsterman on Cape Cod.

Mr. Dixon was born in Belchertown, Mass, in February, 1831, one of a family of 12 children. He went to sea at the age of 20 and had many thrilling adventures in those colorful years when sailormen were “made of iron.” He was shipwrecked off the Louisiana coast and subsisted for many days with his fellows on the wild hogs and other animals shot by the marooned seamen. Later he witnessed the chase of a runaway slave in fever-infected swamps. The slave was pursued by bloodhounds, which sniffed of Mr Dixon and his companions before they were convinced that they were not the desired prey. When the negro was sighted the infuriated master aimed his shotgun at Him. Like Mr. Winkle, the immortal Pickwickian, he erred in his sense of direction, and a fellow seaman of Mr. Dixon was the recipient of a copious charge of buckshot.

Mr Dixon’s life story is a veritable romance of the sea. He has retired from the active career of the mariner, though he still tends his lobster-pots as told above, and is usually rewarded by a good catch. He is remarkably robust, and reads without glasses. He goes frequently to Plymouth to enjoy the moving pictures, and is a familiar and welcome figure on this daily walks about Manomet.

Mr. Dixon has two sons, One, Edward Dixon, served for many years in the regular army, and is a veteran of the Spanish War and of the recent Mexican expedition. The other, Charles A. Dixon, is a member of the coast guard and has been stationed at Manomet Point for 29 years. With the latter and his wife, Mr. Dixon makes his home.

Clustering for more on PEI’s William G. Wright

When William George Wright married Sarah Dennis on 28 December 1848, there were two witnesses to the marriage listed on the marriage record: Isaac Smith, Jr. and James Douglas.

William G Wright Sarah Dennis

As I have written before (and here and here), William Wright was a carpenter or builder in Charlottetown, and there are several historic houses that can be tied directly to him. Proving that the house builder and the ancestor are the same person isn’t at a 100% “fact” yet, but using some cluster research on one of the names of the marriage witnesses moves it that much closer.

Isaac SmithIsaac Smith, Jr. was born in Charlottetown in 1822 to Isaac Smith and Jane Smith. Isaac, the senior, was one of the most prominent builders, contractors and architects for the capitol region of PEI:

Wherever the future Fathers of Confederation looked in the Charlottetown of 1864, they would have been confronted with the work of builder/architect Isaac Smith. They conferred in a legislative building designed by Isaac Smith. On the same square, coming and going from the sessions which conceived the Dominion of Canada, they could observe an Episcopal church designed and built by Isaac Smith, and a round market house constructed by him. They were feted in a Lieutenant Governor’s residence designed and built by Isaac Smith. The very ship carrying the Canadian delegates had been guided into Charlottetown harbour by a lighthouse designed by—Isaac Smith. (Source)

It would only be appropriate to think that Isaac the son would follow in his father’s footsteps, and the fact that William Wright was is the same business also lends itself to the same conclusion that the witness to my ancestor’s wedding was in fact the son of the famous Isaac Smith. Taking it another step, the same magazine article the above quotation was taken from notes that Isaac Smith worked on several of his projects with one Nathan Wright. Finally, both William Wright and Isaac Smith were lay pastors in the Methodist Church. Could this Nathan Wright be my ancestor William’s father? Did the business (and religious and potentially personal) relationship between Isaac and Nathan directly resulted in the friendship of William and Isaac, Jr.? I, for one, would have to answer yes to both questions.

And now that I am thinking about it, how would have my ancestor Stephen H. Lewis–a much accomplished homebuilder in Somerville, Massachusetts, after emigrating from Nova Scotia–have met William’s daughter Laura when he was born and schooled in Five Islands, N.S.? Well, look at this line from his biography:

Mr. Lewis was employed for two years by an uncle at Prince Edward Island


Though proving Nathan and William to be father and son is still on the docket, there is little doubt in my mind that the Wrights who built many of the great structures of 19th century Charlottetown with the more accomplished Smiths are in fact relatives, if not my direct ancestors.

William S Hammersley – Obituary

Found in The Stevens Point Journal (Stevens Point, Wisconsin) on 3 March 1888 (Page 4):


HAMMERSLEY–In Stevens Point, February 28th, 1888. William S. Hammersley, in the 83rd years of his age.

Deceased was born at Staffordshire Potteries, England, August 23, 1805, and when a young man, succeeded his father in the manufacture of crockery at that place. In 1843, together with his wife and four children, he came to New York, where he was engaged in the importation of crockery until 1856. In the latter year he closed out his business and removed to Flint, Michigan, in which city he owned a homestead at the time of his death. His wife died at Flint in 1870. Four children survive him, the oldest, Mrs. H. C. Walker, residing at Ann Arbor, Mich., the second, Mr. Wm H. Hammersley, at Lake Geneva, Wis., the third, Mrs. E. M. Mason, at Girard, Kansas, and the youngest, Mrs. W. B. Buckingham, in this city. Late last summer Mr. H. was reduced very low by an attack of inflammation of the bowels, and Mrs. Mason was called from her home to be with him. He rallied from this sickness and as soon as able to travel was prevailed upon to come to Stevens Point to spend the winter. Before the severe weather came on he walked down town nearly every day, but after the cold weather set in was not outside the yard. He had been gradually failing all winter, until the vital forces refused to do their work, and he calmly sunk into the last sleep last Tuesday at about noon. He was about the house the day before, and retired about the usual hour, but did not get up Tuesday morning. He had been a member of the Congregational or Presbyterian church since boyhood.

The remains were taken to Flint, Mich., Wednesday evening, accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Buckingham.

Samuel Dwight Alfred – Obituary

The obituary for my 3rd great grandfather–Samuel Dwight Alfred–in the St. Albans Messenger, May 15, 1889 (page 3):

Samuel D. Alfred was born in Springfield, Mass., June 14, 1804. When he was quite young his parents removed to Westfield. At the age of eleven years he lost his father, who was engaged in trading between New York and the West Indies. At 10 he went to Hartford, Conn., where he served an apprenticeship as a cabinet maker, at which trade he worked in Connecticut and New York till 1832, when he returned to Berkshire Centre, where he engaged in the mercantile business and remained for several years. From there he went to West Haven, where he remained only two years. He moved to Fairfax in June, 1842. He remained active is business until the spring of 1865, when he sold out to his son, John B., since which time he has given his time in looking after his farming interest and visiting his children settled in different parts of the West.

Mr. A. was a man very positive in his convictions, whether in regard  to his own or public interests. In business transactions he dealt with the rich and poor alike. A child sent to his store was treated with the same consideration as the most honored citizen. He was interested in education , not only in the common school, but in higher education, as was shown in his efforts combined with so many others to establish and maintain the new Hampton Institute. He always manifested great interest in the welfare of his children, giving them every opportunity for improvement and aiding them in every way by his counsel and advice so long as he lived, and by them will be greatly missed. He was twice married; in 1825 to Miss Sally Willard of Lansingburg, N. Y., who died 1828; in 1932 he married Miss Polly Smith, who, with 7 of their children, still survives him, and with the exception of one all were present at his funeral, which was attended from his late home (which he had occupied for 46 years) Thursday, May 9th, Rev. Henry Crocker officiating, assisted by Rev. J. G. Lorimer, an old friend of the family.

Continue reading Samuel Dwight Alfred – Obituary

Boehm-Stickney Marriage Announcement

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle on Sunday, November 29, 1891:

The marriage of Miss Gussie Stickney, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Wallace Stickney of 291 Fifth Avenue, to Mr. Daniel P. Boehm, took place at the Park Congregational church, Seventh street and Sixth avenue, last Wednesday evening. The Rev. John Malcolm, pastor of the church, performed the ceremony. The bridge was becomingly attired in light lavender with orange blossoms and diamond ornaments, the gift of the groom. The bridesmaids were Miss Julie Reordon and Miss Jennie Moore, and the best man Mr. M. J. Tennant. The ushers were Messrs. G. J. Osborn, L. H. Perry, W. L. Kilborne and L. H. Washburn. After the ceremony there was a reception at the residence of the groom’s parents, 1109 Bushwick avenue. The following day the happy pair started for Washington, where they will spend several weeks, when they will return to reside in Brooklyn. Among those present were John G. Stickney, Mr. and Mrs. Byron A. Stickney, Horatio Stickney, Nyack, N. Y.; Major D. C. Meschutt, Mr. and Mrs. P. F. Meschutt, Jersey City; Mr. and Mrs. W. Towe, Bridgeport, Conn.; Mr. and Mrs. F. W. Otis, Orange, Conn.; Mr and Mrs. J. RIchards, Mr. and Mrs. S. Davey, Ausonia, onn.; Mr and Mrs. J. F. Campbell, John H. Boehm, Mr. and Mrs. Hatten, Mr. and Mrs. Van Blareau, Mr. and Mrs. Hathaway, Mr. and Mrs. Griffith A. Turner, J. Machemer, C. R. Thomas, Miss A. Ryerson, G. Pflung, C. Berger, L. Berger, E. G. Stevenson, and Mr. and Mrs. J. Tennant, Mr. and Mrs. S. W. S. Tennaut, Mr. and Mrs T. J. Moore and George Tennant.

Boehm-Stickney Marriage Announcement

Mrs. Laura B. Lewis (obituary)

Mrs. Laura B. Lewis, wife of Stephen H. Lewis, who had been ill since January, died Sunday at her home, 44 Kidder av, West Somerville, where the funeral service will be held at 2 tomorrow afternoon. Mrs. Lewis was born in Charlottetown, P E I, 65 years ago, and was the daughter of Rev William G. Wright, a Methodist minister. She has been a highly-respected resident of this city since her marriage about 40 years ago, and was also well known in South Duxbury, Mass, where she spent Summers at Standish Shore. She was a member of the College Avenue Methodist Church. In addition to her husband, she is survived by four children, Ex-Representative Wilbur F. Lewis and Dr Minot W. Lewis of the city, Mrs. Laura W. Elliott, wife of Roscoe O. Elliott of Arlington, and Mrs Grace M MacKenzie, wife of William MacKenzie of El Paso, Tex.

Boston Daily Globe
September 14, 1926
Page A12


My Dad Inducted into Army Aviation’s Order of Saint Michael


My dad, CW4 Geoff Boehm (U.S. Army – retired) was inducted into the Order of Saint Michael (OSM) at the Silver Award level. Those who receive this honor “have contributed significantly to the promotion of Army Aviation in ways that stand out in the eyes of the recipient’s seniors, subordinates, and peers” and demonstrated “the highest standards of integrity and moral character, display an outstanding degree of professional competence, and serve the United States Army Aviation.” So very proud of him.

More information on this recognition.

Mr. Hammersley on the Ship Thomas P. Cope

William S.  Hammersley “was a manufacturer of chinaware in England, which business he followed until 1843, in which year he emigrated to America, locating in New York City, where he became an importer of china and earthenware.” When he made that transatlantic crossing on 20 May 1843, he seems to have come alone, with his family to follow sometime later.

The ship he came on was the Thomas P. Cope:

The Thomas P. Cope was a packet ship that sailed between Philadelphia and Liverpool, making 21 round-trip voyages between 1839 and 1846. In December 1846 the ship was struck by lightning and burned for six days before sinking. (source)

Independence Seaport Museum 014


Cover Photo Source.

The S.S. Baltic: Bringing the Gaudiosis to America

The people were newlyweds Leopoldo and Artemesia Gaudiosi.
The S.S. Baltic was that ship.
The date November 22, 1879.*

"Whitestarline" by Whistlerpro - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
“Whitestarline” by Whistlerpro – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The ship was constructed of iron and had three full decks. It could be rigged as a four masted barque and during it’s career the sails were indeed used. The hull was launched on 8 March 1871 under the name Pacific. However on delivery on 18 September she was renamed in Baltic for the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company. This company was better known as the White Star Line. (Upon delivery she measured 3,707 Brt. and could carry 166 First and 1000 Third Class passengers)

She commenced her maiden voyage on 14 September 1871 sailing from Liverpool to New York. The ship was a very fast one and on 19 January 1873 she won the Blue Riband after a record crossing over the North Atlantic (Eastbound) in a time of 7 Days 15 Hours and 9 Minutes. (Making 15.09 Knots on average). (Source)

For me, seeing the ship and knowing the date they sailed makes their voyage to America all the more real. Next tasks:

  1. Find out how they would have gotten from Colliano, Italy to Liverpool or Queenstown, England to catch the S.S. Baltic
  2. Find some firsthand accounts of what a cross-Atlantic voyage aboard the S.S. Baltic or similar vessel would have been like to add that storyline to my family history.


The “List or Manifest” was “sworn to on 22 Nov 1879.

Photo Source: Captain Albert’s Blog: Stories from the Sea, Past and Present, Holland America Blog, Veendam (I) of 1889.