Tag Archives: Dixon

Lighters Blown Ashore, 23 Men in Peril.

Lighters and Manomet LSS Crew

Lighters Blown Ashore, 23 Men in Peril.

Life-Savers Summoned When Gale Attacks Fleet Engaged in Construction of Entrance to Cape Cod Canal at Sandwich.

SANDWICH, Nov 9–Relying upon the weather report yesterday afternoon, according to Capt Gilbert, came near costing the lives of 23 men employed in building the big breakwater at the entrance to the Cape Cod canal today. Two big lighters were driven ashore and piled high on the beach. They will be a total loss.

The tug Sarah J. Weed, after a fearful experience in the bay, managed to work her way into Provincetown harbor, and the four schooners of the Gilbert company rode out the gale in safety.

One of the schooners, the Elizabeth Gilbert, dragged her anchor for more than a mile, and tonight is riding out the gale near the breakwater, with the revenue cutter Gresham standing by to render assistance should it be necessary.

Two life-saving crews, the Manomet and Wood End, came to the assistance of the men of the lighters, while hundreds of citizens and boatmen stood helpless on the shore watching the riotous seas tear the lighters to pieces.

Twenty-Three Men in Peril.

The two lighters, the Ben Franklin and the Potomac, came into the bay yesterday morning from Plymouth to unload granite from the schooners, and all day yesterday they worked taking stone out of the Elizabeth Gilbert.

Late yesterday afternoon Capt Gilbert, not liking the weather conditions, although the wind was blowing off shore, called up the weather bureau office in Boston and asked for today’s forecast. He received word that light westerly winds would prevail along the coast today and accordingly he kept the lighters at anchor alongside the breakwater with the tug Weed standing close by.

All hands turned in at an early hour, but before midnight the wind suddenly came in from the northeast. The men were called on deck before daylight and preparations were made to transfer the 18 men on the lighter Franklin to the Potomac, the stronger of the two.

Soon after 7 o’clock it was seen that the lives of the men were in great peril and distress signals were run up in the rigging. The seas at this time were breaking over the lighters and sweeping them from stem to stern, while the men could be plainly seen from the shore holding on for their lives.

The repeated distress signals sounded by the siren whistle on one of the lighters soon brought hundreds to the beach, but all were powerless to render help.

Life-Savers Respond.

Word was at once sent to the Manomet life-saving station, nearly 16 miles distant, and the veteran surf fighter, Capt Rogers, and his crew started overland with their surf boat and beach cart. Two hours were consumed getting horses to cart the heavy apparatus, and it was nearly five hours from the time that the crew started before their boat reached here.

Fearing that the lighters would at once break up, automobiles were dispatched to bring the coast guards with their gun and breeches buoy apparatus. Capt Rogers, with Lyle gun and breeches buoy, reached the scene at noon.

Meantime Capt Bowley and Lieut Ridgely had been informed of the situation by the Globe correspondent, and they ordered Capt Bickers and his crew of the Wood End station at Provincetown, nearly 30 miles distant, to the scene The Gresham was also reached by wireless.

Lighters Drive Ashore.

Before the Manomet life savers reached here the big lighter Franklin parted her moorings and was driven ashore, but they arrived in time to help the men on the lighter Potomac that was piled up alongside the Franklin.

The Gresham arrived in the bay at 3 o’clock, soon after Capt Bickers and his crew made a record-breaking run across the bay. Capt Bickers ran his power life-saving boat alongside Elizabeth Gilbert that was dangerously near the shore and offered to take the crew off, but they said that the anchors were holding and that they would stand by their vessel.

Capt Bickers then went alongside the Gresham, reported the facts and started in the teeth of the gale back across the bay to his station. The Manomet life saver were on the beach when the Gresham steamed in close to the breakwater and surfman Joyce signaled for her to stand by the inshore vessel. The Gresham at once put a boat out and sent a crew alongside the Elizabeth Gilbert and later came to an anchor close by the schooner.

Capt George A. Dean of Boston, who has charge of the work of unloading the granite from the schooners, told the Globe correspondent that the men on the lighters had a fearful experience this forenoon.

They thought that help would never come and that every moment the lighters would swamp. While transferring the men from the Franklin she broke adrift and raced ashore and later when it was feared that the Potomac would go down she was cut adrift and was driven ashore along the Franklin.

Schooners Probably Safe.

Both lighters are being battered by the seas and will probably break up.

The schooner Elizabeth Gilbert has three anchors out, including a 12,000-point fisherman’s anchor that it is believed will hold her until the Gresham can tow her out into the bay tomorrow.

The small boats on the lighters were swamped while being launched. The lighters are valued at $12,000, with no insurance.

The crews are quartered in the village tonight and tomorrow they will trip the wrecked craft. All the men aboard the lighters excepting four belong in Boston.

The cook of the Franklin suffered minor injuries, as did the cook of the Potomac, as they were being pulled out of the surf. Capt Dean says he will have other lighters here in a few days and that the work will go on at once.

The pontoons used in the canal construction were cast ashore today, and the beach for a half mile is strewn with wreckage of all kinds.

Boston Daily Globe
Nov 10, 1909
pg. 3

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.

Biography of Wilbur Fletcher Lewis

This biography originally appeared in “Middlesex County and Its People”:

Wilbur-Fletcher-LewisWILBUR FLETCHER LEWIS–For more than eighteen years, Wilbur Fletcher Lewis has been identified with the building, real estate, and insurance business at Somerville, first in association with his father, and since 1918, for himself. He is well known in fraternal and club circles, and has always been interested in athletics, especially in baseball. The business is operated under the name of S. H. Lewis and Son, and the office is located at 253 Elm Street.

Wilbur Fletcher Lewis, son of Stephen Henry and Laura Blanche (Wright) Lewis (see preceding biography), was born in Somerville, Massachusetts, February 28, 1889. He received his earliest education at the Edgerly School, and then continued his studies in the Highland School, from which he was graduated in 1904. The following fall he became a student in the English High School, from which he was graduated in 1908, after which he entered Berkley Preparatory School, where he continued his studies for one year.

Continue reading Biography of Wilbur Fletcher Lewis

A Pension Record Goldmine

As I have continued further and deeper into my research, I have had to leave the cozy world of censuses, vital records and Sons of American Revolution Society applications. The most recent goldmine were the pension applications and records found at Fold3.com. Though I am sure there are very pedestrian applications, the one I found for Emeline (Hunt) Dixon, the widow of Timothy Dixon, contained some priceless testimonies about my 4th great-grandparents.

Lack of Marriage Certificate

State of Vermont, County of Windham, Town of Whitingham … I, H. B. Ballon Town Clerk of said town of Whitingham hereby certify that I have searched the records of said town and that the marriage of Timothy Dixon is not recorded or if it is, I have failed to find it. (8 January 1883)

Though this was quite the problem for Emeline as she attempted to collect her late husband’s pension, it is quite lucky for us as it brought about a reason for people to attest to her marriage and life with Timothy. Her attorney wrote to the Pension Office:

Dear Sir, This is a peculiar case as to the proof of marriage we shall be obliged to furnish. The parties living near the line went over into Vermont in 1827 to be married and were married in Whitingham as she said. No record of it exists in Whitingham. I then tried other adjacent towns in Vermont to see if perchance she was mistaken in the town but am certain she was right. The persons who were present at the marriage I find are dead.

So I send the claim that it may be entered and the rolls examined and soon I shall send proofs of death and as proof of marriage, copies of records of births of children from as many towns where they have lived as I can find they had children born in, also affidavits to show them living together and reports that they were husband and wife. Hope this case so unfortunately delayed will receive attention and be granted as soon as proof is {illegible}.

Following this was some of the evidence he sought out:

  • Death: February 28, 1858, Timothy Dixon aged 65 years, 8 months (Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts)
  • Birth: A Record of Timothy Dixon’s children; Timothy son of Timothy and Emeline Dixon born March 4 AD 1829. (Heath, Franklin, Massachusetts)

Emeline’s own sworn testimony (20 Feb 1883):

I, Emeline Dixon, widow of Timothy Dixon and an applicant for pension depose and say that my said husband at the time of his marriage was a hatter and worked at that trade the early part of his life and the last part of his life he worked at farming, gardening and doing odd jobs … as he got opportunity at no regular trade.

The justice of the peace said of her: “…well known as a very reputable person and of the highest reputation for veracity…”

Charles H. Howland testified:

That he well knew Timothy Dixon and Emeline Dixon of said Plymouth and lived in the same neighborhood with them and was well acquainted with them from the time of their moving to said Plymouth until his death.

That they moved to Plymouth with quite a large family of children about the year AD 1851 and the said Timothy Dixon and Emeline Dixon lived together as husband and wife and were so reputed from the time of their arrival in Plymouth in 1851 to the time of his death and were esteemed as very worthy and reputable people in all respects.

The words of my 3rd great grandfather Comfort Dixon (50) and his brother Edwin (47) of their own father and mother (13 Feb 1883):

That they are the children of Timothy Dixon and Emeline Dixon. That from the time of their earliest recollection of anything their said father and mother lived together as husband and wife. That they remember their thus living together at Belchertown, a short time at Sturbridge, Southbridge, also at Brimfield and Oxford from which place they and we removed to Plymouth where we now reside and where our said father Timothy Dixon died Feb 28th 1858.

That our said father and mother moved to Plymouth in September 1851 and they lived together at Plymouth till his death and our said mother Emeline Dixon has remained a widow since his death.

We remember the birth of our youngest sister Elizabeth.

We have often heard our said father Timothy Dixon speak of having served in the war of 1812 against Great Britain. We have heard him talking the matter over with his brother John Dixon also.

The final included testimony was that of Dr. Alexander Jackson, the family’s doctor:

That he has been a physician in practice is said Plymouth from 1843 to the present time. That he knew Timothy Dixon and his wife Emeline Dixon and was their family physician from the time they moved into Plymouth in the year 1851 till the time of his death in 1858 and know that they lived together as husband and wife and were so reputed in the community and had in their family several children among them Comfort H. Dixon and Edwin Dixon still living in said Plymouth. Said Timothy Dixon and Emeline Dixon were much respected in the community and were very good people. Said Emeline is still living and well known to me. Have heard said Timothy Dixon on several occasions speak of having served in the War of 1812.

Treasury Department, Third Auditor’s Office, April 3rd, 1883. Respectfully returned to the Commissioner of Pensions with the information that Timothy Dixon, Private, who served in Captain L. Ripley’s Company of the 37th U.S. Infantry, from April 5th, 1814, to May 10th, 1815: Did not sign. No tracing of the signature can be furnished from the rolls on file in this Office.

The original application:

State of Massachusetts

County of Plymouth

On this third day of January, A.D. one thousand eight hundred and eighty-two, personally appeared before me the same being a Court of Record within and for County and State aforesaid, (1) Emeline Dixon aged 72 years, a resident of Plymouth, in the State of Massachusetts, who, being duly sworn according to law, declares that she is a widow of (2) Timothy Dixon deceased, who was the identical (3) Timothy Dixon, who served under the name of (4) Timothy Dixon as a (5) private in the company commanded by Caption Larry (Terry?) Ripley, in the 37th regiment of U.S. Infantry, commanded by ___ in the war of 1812; that her said husband (6) enlisted at Danbury Conn. on or about the fifth day of April, A.D. 1814, for the term of the war, and continued in actual service in said war for the term of (7) one year, whose services terminated, by reason of (8) an honorable discharge at New London Conn, on the 10th day of May, A.D. 1815. She further states that the following is a full description of her said husband at the time of his enlistment, viz: (9) height about 5 feet 8 inches, complexion light, hair light brown, eyes grayish blue, age then about 22. She further states that she was married to the said Timothy Dixon, at the town of Whitingham, in the county of ___, and in the State of Vermont, on the ___ day of July A.D. 1827, by one (10) ___, who was a (11) Justice of the Peace and that her name before her said marriage was Emeline Hunt; and she further states that (12) neither she nor her said husband had been previously married and that her said husband (13) Timothy Dixon, died at Plymouth, in the State of Massachusetts, on the ___ day of February, A.D. 1858; and she further declares that the following have been the places of residence of herself and her said husband since the date of his discharge from the Army, viz: (14) at Heath, Belchertown, Sturbridge, North Oxford, and at Plymouth, all in the state of Massachusetts.

Photo: Four Generations

Dixon Four Generations

Four Generations (circa October 1915): My grandfather, Wilbur Lewis, is the baby in his mother’s arms. Etta (Dixon) Lewis, her father Charlie Dixon, and her grandfather Comfort Dixon. The Dixons lived in Manomet (Plymouth), and both Charlie and his father Comfort were lobstermen and fishermen for the most part. Charlie was also a sailor at the Mamomet Life Saving Station.

Where did Emeline Hunt come from?

A woman named Emeline Hunt is my 4th great grandmother on my maternal side. She was the husband of Timothy Grim Dixon (b. 4 Jul 1792 in Danbury, CT; d. 28 Feb 1858 in Plymouth, MA). Here is what I know about her:

  • She was apparently born in Williamsburg, Massachusetts around 1809.
  • She married Timothy Grim Dixon on 2 July 1827 in Whittingham, Vermont.
  • In 1850 she was living in Thompson, Connecticut.
  • From 1860 to her death she lived in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
  • She died 6 May 1893 and is buried in the Chiltonville Congregational Church Cemetery in Plymouth. (Find-a-Grave)

Timothy and Emeline had the following children:

  • Alanson Dixon (1831 – )
  • Comfort H Dixon (1832 – ) My 3rd great grandfather
  • Graham Dixon (1833 – )
  • Edwin Dixon (1836 – )
  • Walter S Dixon (1838 – )
  • Mary Jane Dixon (1839 – 1922)
  • Lyman F Dixon (1842 – )
  • Adeline Dixon (1844 – )
  • Dixon (1845 – )
  • Elizabeth Dixon (1846 – )

Who were her parents? Why did they get married in Vermont? What is her actual birthdate?

Was she born in May 1809 in Westhampton, Massachusetts to Elihu C Hunt and Sinai Hunt? (Source: Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988)

Updates (10/15/2014): According to the 1860 United States Census, Emeline was a seamstress and was born in New Hampshire! The census lists here age at 51, confirming her birth around 1809.

According to her son Alanson Dixon’s death record, his mother was indeed Emeline Hunt, and that the “Birthplace of Mother” was Stow Mass. HOWEVER, I just searched “The Vital Records of Stow, Massachusetts through 1850” and found no Emeline Hunt, and almost no Hunts at all. ::sigh::