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By Roger Chartier


Local New Bedford, Ma. History
1800 - 1819 In Chronological Order

Customs House Corner  - new Bedford - www.WhalingCity.netCustom House Corner
New Bedford Village - 1815

note in 1787 it had become New Bedford - previously Bedford

1800, May 1
The New Bedford Academy for the education of both sexes was opened under the care of Galen Hicks and Miss Sally Cady.

Rickettson's history tells us that the number of dwelling houses was 626 and there were 4,361 inhabitants. This included Fairhaven. Fairhaven did not split off from New Bedford until 1812.
There were one hundred and eighty-five dwelling houses in New Bedford.

There was one Friends meeting house and one for Congregationalists.

There were two large school houses one for each of those societies. There was also an alms house on Spring street and a small market house.

During the months of September and October a fatal fever spread through the town and people mostly stayed in their homes.

There were eleven deaths in the three weeks ending October 1 most from the fever.

The village of New Bedford had 20 ships.

The Griffin Street Cemetery is first begun to be used. Some of the earliest people to live in New Bedford are interred here.

The land was bought in1802 for use as a common burying ground for the village of New Bedford. The money was raised by voluntary contributions.

At this time, there are nearly twenty sails of ships.


The Bedford Bank is founded with $60.000.00 capital. A few years later the capital was increased to $160,000.00 but in 1812 despite the charter being renewed the bank ceased it's business due to the 1812 war with England. Businesses took a heavy toll from British seizures and attacks on shipping.

 Marine insurance companies were founded to protect whaling investments and maritime commerce.

A Social Library is organized in this year and in 1828 were located a the Lyceum on 67 William Street.
By 1836, it held 3,000 volumes.
There were yearly meetings on the first Saturday in September with three directors, a librarian and a clerk.
The first meeting of the Bedford Aqueduct Association was on March 17.

On September 26, Joseph Willard DD, president of Harvard University died at the house of Edward Pope, esq.

Belleville Road was opened in this year.
The Bedford Marine Insurance was established with a capital of $150.000, but due to losses during the war it closed in 1818. On March 1, 1805, the Morning mercury ceases and there is no newspaper in New Bedford until 1807.
By this time, there were 300 homes in New Bedford village.

The US government issued a proclamation placing an embargo on shipping from US ports, forbidding exports to other countries.

This was in response to the flagrant disrespect shown to American vessels by the British and French who were often capturing men and cargos..

At one point in 1811, there were 14,000 Americans forced to serve in the British Navy.
This was opposed by the New England ports whose economy relied on export.

On August 7, 1807 began the newspaper the "New Bedford Mercury". Benjamin Lindsey Sr. was the owner, publisher, and editor. He was born in Marblehead, Ma. and came to New Bedford to start this newspaper.

After many years, a newspaper was published by his son. Benjamin Lindsey Sr. died on November 10, 1831, aged 54 Yrs.
A writer on Nantucket says of New Bedford Quakers "The numbers of the Quakers [there] is probably diminishing, for many are driven from their society by the strictness of their discipline".
1807 The Bedford Fire Society was formed on March 4, with Joseph Rickettson as moderator and Abraham Shearman Jr. as clerk.

This group was formed to establish rules and regulations for issues dealing with assisting each other and the citizenry in general pertinently to emergencies involving conflagrations.
The Highway from New Bedford to Weymouth is in use as a north south corridor.. (now known as Rt 18)
There are 7 wharves, between 90 and 100 ships and brigs and between 20 and 30 small vessels, and 12 of the ships are whale men.
A quarter acre of land sells for between $500.00 and $2,000.00 in the city.
The village of Bedford has a little short of 300 dwelling houses.

Fairhaven had about 100. There are 3 ropewalks in the village of Bedford and 1 in Fairhaven. The depth of the water in the harbor is between 3 and 4 fathoms. (18 - 24 feet)
Rodman Candleworks on the corner of Elm and Johnny Cake Hill was built by Samuel Rodman and was one of the first spermaceti candle making operations in New Bedford.

New Bedford, which at the time still included Fairhaven had a total population of 5.651 people.
Fairhaven spilt from New Bedford in 1812.
Friends Academy is established as a classic al school by wealthy Quakers. It later became the Swain school of design.
1810 April 27
The crew of the New Bedford Ship Fanny were docked in Liverpool and a group of military seized them and forced them to join the British navy.

They were forcibly put aboard a ship, the "Princess"and locked in the prison room on the lower deck with about sixty other Americans who were in a similar situation.

The Americans broke the bars of the window and attempted to swim ashore, but were caught and severely punished with lashes of a whip.

When war was declared, the Americans in that group refused to fight against America, and were made prisoners of war at Dartmoor.
A fire broke out on Benjamin Lindsey's printing office on the east side of Water Street near Commercial Street.

At this event, a ladder had been placed against the building and mounted by Mr. William Meader with an axe to break the window.

Right behind him was Mr. Timothy Delano with the fire hose from fire engine"Citizen Number 2".

By accident, the hose was shoved up and under the trouser leg of the unfortunate Mr. Meader.

When the order to "play" was given the water filled his clothes and spilled out at the top like a waterfall causing him to appear as a "Bloated Aristocrat".
February 22, Fairhaven breaks away from New Bedford, adding Acushnet to the corporate limits

There was a lot of strong disagreement over the war of 1812 between Fairhaven - pro war and New Bedford- against it..

Several meetings that were meant for discussion and voting on relevant matters turned rancorous.

The War of 1812 officially began on June 18th of that year.

On August 6, a brig "Wasp" on a voyage to Liverpool was captured by the British and kept as a prize of war.

The crew were held in Plymouth as prisoners.

The first whaler to be captured was the New Bedford schooner, "Mount Hope."

During the first 3 months of the war, eight New Bedford vessels were captured by the British.

Residents of New Bedford were overwhelmingly against the war, but Congress voted 98 to 62 in favor and war was declared against Britain.

The reality was that we were at war and preparations were made for defense.
Fort Phoenix had new cannon put in place and a regular garrison stationed there.

Recruitment had begun in earnest with bonuses offered and bounty of $16.00 after five years service, and a further bounty of three months pay and 160 acres of land.

A mud fort was built at smoking rocks near the sight of Patomska Mills.
The British ship "Nimrod " had come into port despite the fact that the harbor had two large US warships in port.

The Nimrod got stuck on rocks off the shore of Sconticut neck, and the American ships did nothing to destroy the ship infuriating many people who saw the lost opportunity. The stuck vessel got off the rocks at high tide, and the chance to do damage to her was lost.

The Dialectic Society was formed as the first literary society in New Bedford.

For the next three years, not a single whaling ship left this port due to the war.
The war of 1812 was raging on, and Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut refused to give up command of their militias to the US government

The closing of the port to all traffic in 1813 let to a new mode of transportation, "The Wagon Brigade".
The new mode of transport for goods became constant processions of loaded wagons ranging as far as Albany, New York.

1813 September 25
The Russian ship Hoffming Harms" flying a flag with the Russian Bear arrived with 402 Americans who had been victims of cruelty and neglect.

They had been released from the British Dartmoor prison which was located 17 miles from Plymouth England in the middle of a black moor.

There are many stories of local men who were captured and placed in the terrible Dartmoor prison during the Revolutionary war and the War of 1812.


Privateering was and ongoing pursuit during all of the War of 1812.

The British gun ship "Nimrod was constantly patrolling the local waters and was a constant threat having captured ships coming and going from this port

There were 251 regularly commissioned privateers who captured 1,500 vessels during the war. Many privateers and their prizes came and went from New Bedford's port, and their prized ships and cargos were auctioned on the wharves of New Bedford and Fairhaven.

On February 25, 1814, the British Brig "Britannia" was taken into the port.
She was one of 9 prizes captured by the privateer "Mars" by Captain Ingersoll of New York.

One ship, the "Governor Gerry" sailed from Fairhaven, with captain Joshua Hitch. She was a fast schooner and well equipped for the business.

On July 19, 1813 she was leaving a French port after landing a cargo of silks, etc. and she ran into a fleet of British men-of-war. After being severely damaged, she was captured by the British.

A Fairhaven privateer, The" Camelion" nick-named the "Handsaw" was about 40 feet long and had a swivel gun on the bow with a well armed crew.

She kept close to shore in her exploits. One day off the coast of Maine she was closely pursued and run ashore where the crew were stranded in a cornfield.

She got the nick-name "Handsaw" probably because, in Fairhaven at a public gathering, one of it's owners toasted her and proclaimed "Our Enemies-- May they be lathered with aquafortis and shaved with a handsaw."


1814 June 13
The guns at Fort Phoenix sounded the alarm that the British were coming into port by sea.
There were eight barges from the British ship Nimrod. The hazy weather had made it difficult to see the vessels until they were close to Fort Phoenix.

After the alarm people in New Bedford and Fairhaven evacuated many of the homes and fled to the farms houses in the countryside for safety.

The militias were preparing for a fight but realizing this the enemy withdrew and headed off toward Mattapoisett presumably to land there.
A party of militia marched to Mattapoisett, but the barges passed that place.

June 14
Two Hundred and twenty-five British militia landed at Wareham Narrows and destroyed and burned several buildings.

Twelve vessels were set on fire.

They had taken several men and boys as hostage. The cotton factory was caught on fire, but the fire was put out shortly after the British left. They seized the public buildings and the town was not able to defend itself and so acceded to the British demands.

1814 June 20 Two young men were arrested for treason for assisting the British in the attempt to enter the harbor and the attack on Wareham. They were committed for trial in the Circuit Court, in Boston.

1814 July 21
There was a town meeting in New Bedford, and a vote expressing the views against the Privateers coming into port and their business as it was a dangerous and unscrupulous affair.

They then voted that private armed vessels while in various climes and visiting other ships are liable to contract infectious diseases.

They stated "There is reason to suspect that such vessels and the persons, baggage, clothing and goods on board may be infected with some contagious distemper."

They then voted that such vessels coming into port shall be quarantined at a location chosen by the Selectmen and health Committee for not less than forty days.

On Friday night August 12

Charles Gilbert was shot dead by a sentry on duty near the gun-house at the corner of South Sixth and Spring Street.

Gilbert was returning from a visit to stationed sentries and was with another fellow on horseback.

When confronted by Nathan Buck of Easton, the sentry, Gilbert was apparently too slow to give a counter sign and was shot dead.

The sentry was later let go as he had been doing his duty.

Gilbert in another encounter with a sentry on a previous occasion had been disrespectful to a sentry. Another Sergeant refused to give the counter-sign and Gilbert just ordered the sentry, Durfee, to let the Sergeant pass.

Apparently Gilbert had a sour attitude towards sentries and in the end paid for it with his life.
1814 December 24
The Treaty of Ghent ending the war was signed in Europe in December 1814.

News did not travel here until a good time later, and actions had continued for quite a while.

On March 29 of 1815, an American frigate the "Russell" had been chased for 12 hours. It finally threw off the pursuers by losing the weight of their guns and improving the speed of the vessel.

Shortly thereafter near Gayhead they were met with a ship who told them that the war had ended and came into port with a $100,000.00 shipment from China.

It was February 21, 1815, when Alexander Townsend of Boston rode into Bedford Village and told of the end of the war.

Soon Bells were clanging. People rushed out of their houses in terror expecting to see a fire.

The news spread quickly, and the town was alive with demonstrations of joy.

The previous years of the war had taken a severe toll on business as trade and shipping and whaling had all but ceased and most business in town was at a standstill.
New Bedford had 506 houses.

South of Walnut street was dense woods broken only by County Road (County Street) that led to Clark's Cove.

West of County was forest with the exception of Gilbert Russell's residence at the top of Walnut Street.

Abraham Russell's at the head of Union Street and the Friends Academy (later replaced by the County Street Methodist Episcopal Church) as well as the Kempton house at the head of North Street.

A Great Storm.
On Saturday, September 29, a massive storm hit New Bedford, and brought very unusual tides that were 10 to 11 feet higher than any recorded even in the highest spring tide.

It flooded many cellars and buildings in shore areas of the city and destroyed the Bedford - Fairhaven Bridge as well as forcing many boats ashore.

The tide rose above and destroyed the bridge in Acushnet village and flooded into the mill pond above that..

In the south end, the tides rose up to County Road and the Capt. Cornelius Grinnell house and filled the well behind there.
At the south part of Third Street boats could float.
Salt spray was carried on the wind and landed as far north as Taunton and Bridgewater.

At McPherson's wharf in Belleville some 2 miles up river, the ship Lagoda was torn from her fastenings and driven above upon the shore.

Many warehouses and buildings were damaged or totally lost. Several lives were lost in this storm.
At the salt works the buildings were destroyed, and 100 bushels of salt carried away.

In two locations 700 and in the other 800 bushels of corn were lost as well as most of the stores and their goods. Many homes were also lost.

An entire ship load of goods from Holland was lost as well as the building in which it was stored.

The various rope works sustained damage, and 14 tons of hemp were lost in one building.
Boat builders shops, wharves, store houses, chandeleries and homes were destroyed, and the contents washed away.
Many ships were damaged, destroyed or stove in.

Many had to flee immediately as the tide came so quickly that they lost much of their account books and important papers besides all of the goods and tools there.

The tide rose 10 to 11 feet above high tide and 4 feet higher than ever known. Anything at this level was ruined or washed away or severely damaged. Many warves and storehouses were destroyed and the contents swept away.
The bridge at the head of the river in Acushnet was destroyed.
A large range of stores owned by William Rotch that were on his warf were moved 12 - 14 feet off of their foundation.

This is but a small sample of the damage reported at the time, that was the result of this storm.

Note: Many of the records of the town of Fairhaven were destroyed in this gale.

Previous lists of Fairhaven town officers were lost, as well.

After 4 years without a bank, the village had a new bank, the Bedford Commercial Bank.
It was established with $100,000.00 and later increased to $150,000.00 and as of 1858 had capital of $600,000.00
1816 - 1825.
During these years, a dramatic climatic shift occurred in New England causing crop damage and severe problems for farmers and the raising of food crops.

There was sometimes snow in summer.

This was later found to be caused by the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia the largest volcanic eruption in 1,600 years. the year 1816 was known world wide as the year without a summer.

May 15 1818
The Eagle makes the first steamboat crossing of Nantucket Sound with 600 passengers aboard traveling from New Bedford to Nantucket Island.

A Catholic Mission was established to minister to the mainly Irish congregation..

Marked a new era of prosperity.
The devastating results of the American Revolution and the war of 1812 were beginning to fade and prosperity was unhindered.

At that time, the village of New Bedford had 3,500 inhabitants. Fairhaven had split off in 1812.
Jethro Wood who had been tinkering with plow blade designs for many years since his youth left the area and moved to New York where he was granted a patent for an iron plow blade.

Wood had been encouraged by Thomas Jefferson in several correspondences about the concept.
New Bedford ( Bedford Village 1807 -
New Bedford Village 1807
The Old Four Corners on the junction of Union and Water Streets.
This is a William Wall painting depicting the way it appeared in 1807


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Samuel Rodman - New Bedford, Ma. -
Samuel Rodman
(1753-1835) married Elizabeth Rotch (1757-1856) in 1780.
He was a successful
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