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The merchant bark “Mary” (268 register tons) was built at Medford, Massachusetts in 1844 by Foster & Taylor for Nathaniel Francis of Boston. The vessel’s construction was overseen by her master, a Captain Hopner, who commanded her for the three years under Francis’s ownership. (1).
Other accounts and records of this vessel differ considerably. Hall Gleason states that she was sold to New York parties, and in 1854 on a run from New Orleans to Stockholm, she was wrecked on Los Colorados Reef, Cuba, in September 1854, and burned (2).
An unidentified surveyor’s tabulation of American vessels, ca. 1860, records “Mary” as surveyed in 1858 at Boston, listing N. Francis as owner and Hopner as captain (see table below)
In Cutler’s history of American packet ships, “Mary” (268 tons) is listed as a “ship” (not a bark) under the management of the Packet Line of Boston in 1847 with Nathaniel Francis as master. The Packet Line was a coastal line with agents in Boston and New Orleans. (3).
In his six-volume treatise, “Merchant Sail”, William Armstrong Fairburn listed 58 vessels with the name “Mary”, none of them having the combination of rig, tonnage, and building date matching the “Mary” depicted by Lane. Have her official records all been lost?
1. Nathaniel Francis, “Sketch of Reminiscences of Former Years Requested by Nathaniel Francis, Son of the Author” (Boston: typescript copy of probable manuscript, April 19, 18670.
2. Hall Gleason, “Old Ships and Ship-building Days of Medford, 1630-1873” (West Medford, MA: published by the author, 1936), p. 66.
3. Carl C. Cutler, “Queens of the Western Ocean” (Annapolis, MD: U.S. Naval Institute Press, 1961), p. 449.
"October 1, 1844 contracted for the building of the bark Mary (named for my wife) with Mr. Foster and Taylor. Was successful in building and completing. She was a good white oak vessel. Was about 300 tons and superintended by Capt. Hopner. She was owned by myself 5/8 Mr. Lovell 1/8 Mr. Torsleff 1/8 Capt. Hopner 1/8 and was commanded by Capt. Hopner who as as I consider one of the best ship masters that sailed out of Boston without exception. . . .We sailed the bark Mary for three years after making three successful voyages, taking each about one year going from Boston to Norfolk and to Rio and St. Petersburg and Boston and then sold her to Wm. H. Boadman for the sum of $16,500 being about what she cost when new and she had about paid for herself."