December 17, 2020

This Week in Herreshoff History: December 17

BALLYMENA returns, two unfortunate accidents, a puzzling arrest, and the Phoenix publishes a holiday souvenir

December 14, 1889

Two men are arrested for stealing seaweed from HMCo.! Head over to our "From the Vault" post to read more than you ever wanted to know on seaweed, and a few guesses as to what actually may have been going on here in this puzzling piece of news.

December 17, 1901

Lots of HMCo. news in this week's Bristol Phoenix: J.B.H. has his pocket picked while boarding an electric car in Providence and an HMCo. worker is injured in a fall but is "getting along as well as can be expected." Also the yacht BELLEMERE (formerly BALLYMENA, HMCo. #151) has made it through a storm unscathed, and workmen at the HMCo. shops are happily employed enough not to be tempted to enlist in the Navy. You can read more about BELLEMERE / BALLYMENA's surprising end in a previous "This Week in Herreshoff History" post.

BALLYMENA (HMCo. #151) as photographed by Nathaniel Stebbins on August 17, 1891; image courtesy Historic New England

December 19, 1902

The Bristol Phoenix highlights the local manufacturing companies (including HMCo.!) for a special "Christmas Souvenir" insert commemorating the town's industrial accomplishments and highlighting J.B.H.'s hotel.

December 18, 1906

The "Luther" engine photographed in the playroom of Love Rocks by N.G.H.'s daughter Agnes Herreshoff in 1902; HMM photo archive

The Bristol Phoenix reports that N.G.H. and three of his sons (Sidney, Nat Jr. and Francis) were badly burned while experimenting with an automobile engine in the machine shop. Luckily, all were expected to recover according to the Phoenix. While it is an unfortunate report in the paper, it is another illuminating anecdote relating to Captain Nat's relationship to his children, and their activities together. It is in keeping with the story surrounding the "Luther" engine (so-called after it's donor to HMM) in the museum's engine collection today. The Luther engine is a neat and informative example of an HMCo. steam power plant because the boiler, stack, firebox and engine are all integrated in one compact assembly. According to oral histories recorded by HMM curatorial staff and Herreshoff family scrapbooks, Captain Nat kept the HMCo.-built "Luther" engine in the playroom at the family home of Love Rocks so that the children might better understand the mechanics of a steam engine and boiler. You can see it on display in the HMM Steam Exhibit when you visit the museum today.

The Luther engine is pictured at right. Note how compact all the elements are in this little launch engine; HMM image