July 9, 2020

This Week in Herreshoff History: July 9

A letter from Dexter Stone, a float in the Fourth of July parade, a gathering of three of the fastest sloop yachts in the world, and a Rudder article

July 11, 1865

Advertising card of Herreshoff and Stone; HMM arhives

Below is a transcription of one of two letters written by Dexter Stone,  partner with John Brown Herreshoff in Herreshoff & Stone.  The letters are written to E. Stanton Chesebrough (1841-1875) who married J.B.’s sister Caroline.  The Chesebrough family lived next door to the Herreshoff family homestead at 142 Hope St. The letters, written in July of 1865, give insight into the business (and personalities!) of Herreshoff & Stone. The letters were part of the bequest of Louise De Wolf, granddaughter of J.B.H. They are housed in the Museum Archives/Herreshoff Family Collection

Bristol, R.I. July 11, 1865

Friend Stantonius,

Will you have a cigar? Or have you left off smoking. We have been expecting to see you on here for some time, else should have written you before to acknowledge the numerous favors (& cigars) we received from you when in N.Y. I'm sorry we smoked all the manillas in N.Y., but never mind I’ve bought a new pipe.

We had a gay time on the 4th at the regatta in New London where the “Magic” won a prize of $40. Went on with the M & Kelpie and raced all the way there & back. Sand bags flew about like sand fleas, made us think of East River last year.

We want to build a “big thing” in the yacht line and have concluded to spend say $50 or so on advertising the Kelpie & Magic to see if we cannot sell them and raise funds to put into a larger yacht. Will you therefore do us the great favor to have the enclosed advertisement [ed. Note: no enclosure was found] inserted in one or more of the New York papers. Use your own judgment in the selection. Would suggest however the “N.Y. Clipper” or “Spirit of the Times” for our class of people & the Tribune or Herald for another, but you know better than we, what papers are most read by yachting people. I do not know much about the expense of the luxury aforesaid. Should think however that 4 insertions in the “Clipper” & a fortnight every other day in the Tribune or Herald would not be beyond our estimate. Please have the thing put in in [sic] good shape and as soon as you [ ] an estimate of the cost write us & we will [  ].

Folks all well except Nat, who has not quite got over the 4th yet.

[Thanks] Muchly.

H&S per the S.

Louise de Wolf bequest, HMM archives; 1986.254.001

You can try to decipher the original letter yourself here, and stay tuned for a second Stone letter next week...

July 6, 1878

The Phoenix reports on Bristol's legendary 4th of July celebration. This is HMCo.'s official first year of incorporation, and so the brothers enter a little steam launch on a trailer as a float in the "Trades procession," supposedly with steam up and propeller turning! We still want to know how they kept the condenser cool. Any ideas?

WAIF, HMCo. #37, possibly on her trailer for the parade; image from HMM historic photo collection

July 12, 1895

"Three of the fastest sloop yachts in the world are now at anchor in Bristol harbor" reports the Phoenix in a lengthy column. The three fastest sloops in 1895 were, of course, DEFENDER (HMCo. #452), VIGILANT (HMCo. #437) and COLONIA (HMCo. #435). Sadly, the Phoenix reports after a conversation with Defender's Captain Haff that there will be no racing locally as they are focused on preparing for the Big One (the America's Cup defense) later that summer.

DEFENDER's launch at. HMCo., June 29, 1895; image courtesy Historic New England Stebbins Photographic Collection

July 13, 1900

Much activity and three mentions of Herreshoff on the same page: a local fire engine has been repaired at HMCo. (it's not all about boats!), news of a lengthy Rudder articles of interest to Bristolians, including a piece about the Bristol Yacht Club and the recent New York 70 class for the New York Yacht Club, and news of the launch of the cutter EFFORT, HMCo. #541.

EFFORT (HMCo. #541) photographed by Stebbins under sail during the N.Y.Y.C. Annual Cruise, August 1900; image courtesy Historic New England Stebbins Photographic Collection