An online project under the direction of the CAPE ANN MUSEUM
Babson, Amanda Stanwood
Amanda Stanwood Babson was the wife of Capt. Edward Babson, who sailed merchant ships to the East Indies, South America, and the Mediterranean. Captain Babson was one of Gloucester’s most successful Surinam traders, commanding the brigs Cadet and Amazon. During her husband’s long absences, Amanda kept a diary recording various events at home while her husband was on voyages, some of them notable, such as the Blizzard of 1839.
The small world of New England shipping is shown by the 1829 account book of Amanda's older brother, Capt. Richard G. Stanwood, Jr. In it, he recorded that he was bringing tortoise shell from Manila to Boston for Russell & Sturgis Co. of Manila.
Robert Bennet Forbes, who gave Lane several commissions, was working for another Russell company in 1830.
– Stephanie Buck
Cape Ann Museum Library and Archive
Accounts about the Blizzard of 1839:
15. Storm commenced last night—extremely pleasant all day till evening it increased and so continued thro’ this day with violence. never did I pass a more gloomy Sabbath. Fuller came in after tea wet through. he had been down to the wharfs and other places three four hours. he says it is dreadful storm and what makes it the worse people are drowning and no assistance can be rendered them the storm is raging so violent -
16. storm has abated some, and men are flocking by to assist the sufferers. many vessels ashore at the cove, steep rock and many of the men drowned. one woman found—and two women they dragged on shore alive and not much hurt—oh heavens what a storm this has been and how much distress it has brought. I hope Capt. Nickerson is safe if he came out of the Vineyard Saturday I fear he may not have reached the city before the storm came on. Father has been down to cove all day. he says it is a most dreadful sight.
17. pleasanter. had a meeting of the inhabitants last night and subscribed 4 or 5 hundred dollars for the poor shipwrecked mariners. poor souls how much they have suffered. many bodies have been found .
20. Mr Whaite is to preach the funeral sermon Sunday as the men will be buried from his church and Mr Smith delivers the prayers. there are 11 bodies.
27. oh what a night I past. the wind blew a hurricane worse than before—was up some time before light for it was impossible to sleep or feel easy
28. Miss Wharf came to help me try out my larder. a brig went all to pieces this morning about 4 o’clock in about the same place the others did. all on board was saved except the Captains Wife—three other vessels ashore at half moon beach—it has been a gloomy month . . .
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
Accounts of voyages, lyceums, meetings, etc:
8. Prepared for company Nancy Elwell, Amelia Annette here to tea Low girls, Eliza Stacy, Maria Rogers in evening with Eben etc. Brother William.
9. Children past the afternoon at Grandma Babsons with a party of little folks - call from C Shaw, Mrs Redding, Nancy, Amelia, Mrs Mary Collins
10. Children went with Mary to see little Amanda - attended Bible Class in eve at Mrs Dales - David quite an ill turn
11. A summer day - Children gone in to show Grandma new books that Father gave them - went back in afternoon with me took tea with Mrs Nancy Davis
12. Delightful weather we have - went up to Mrs Centers found her quite unwell - called into G Saville’s with Esther, Hannah - went into store purchased a piece of beautiful cheese
13. Attended meeting in forenoon heard Mathew H Smith did not go out again - call from Nancy, AK Johnson, Father B
14. Grandma sent down for the children to go out with her - they went and called at Abby Rogers, Mrs Whittemores, Mrs Smiths, Betsey Stevens etc - came home with new books delighted with their walk. E Saville came in with a letter from George S, she stop to tea. MI Lane went with her in eve to call upon Mrs Smith went to Mrs Lowes to communicate news.
15. Went over to Dexters for Mother - into Mrs Rogers - heard of Capt Rowes arrival at Vineyard
16. Attended Society at Mrs Houghs, Lyceum in evening a lecture from Mr. Putnam of Portsmouth not much liked.
17. Perfect day - took the children out over to Cousin Nat’s - into Lucy David - Grandma Bs Mrs F Low - Bible Class at ME Lows
18. Went with mother to Mrs Smith, Mrs Jones, Mrs Pearce - Mother B into stores - Lucy told me she should leave next week.
19. Went over in street with Mother in eve, quit unpleasant - found letter on my return that Capt Rowe carried to Surinam
20. Went to meeting all day and eve. Esther in, hope Capt Fitz will get in soon.
21. Pleasant morn, but bad snow storm afternoon and eve - Lucy left me felt relieved - Dr. Chapman came to see David - still quite sick
22. Lydia Ann Davis here to tea call from Nancy Amelia
Transcription by Stephanie Buck.
Cape Ann Museum Library and Archive
Cape Ann Museum Library and Archive
Accounts of parties, etc.:
4. Passed one of the gloomiest days possible entirely alone with my little girls all day - Mother and the children - David and his family having gone to Essex to pass the day and Richard, Hannah at a party on the water, thought much of my dear E - had several crying spells hoped that E passed it more pleasantly in Surinam if he had arrived and I hope sincerely he had.
5. Invited at Emmeline’s to tea went at 1⁄2 past 5 found quite a party assembled - Capt. Elwell arrived home just as I got there - quite a joyful meeting he seemed very well and happy at returning once again to his family - seemed to feel a good deal at the loss of his mate Mr. Allen who was washed overboard. He had not been married long to Miss Leach, D & L sister - she has not had her senses since she heard of it till the last week. Very many shower thunder and lightning. I left the party and came home for I shld not be content away from my children in such a shower.
9. Expected Aunt Stacy to pass the day with me did not come till afternoon accompanied by Mary and babe - Capt. Elwell left - Solomon to sail in a few days - walked round town with Aunt S and left her at Mother B’s gave her 5 dollars thinking that Edward would do so if at home - she seemed very grateful for it - shed tears.
7. Delightful morn and my birthday - expect dear E will think of me today - look back with gratitude and thankfulness to the past year, for the health of my children and husband and the great happiness I have enjoyed I cannot be too thankful and trust the ensuing year will be attended with as much happiness - Cousin David Harraden came to pass a few days in town was happy to see him and invited him to spend his time here.
8. Attended meeting all day heard Mr Faye - found him quite tedious - went to walk in evening - several called in as they returned.
9. Invited to a party at Bass Rocks - declined going as the heat was excessive thermometer at 96 in the shade. Richard and Cousin D went around the Cape - stopped at Ann Norwood- tuned her piano. R was delighted with her. Went up to mother B’s in evening heard some fine singing and playing from David, Mrs Shipley, Clem Low - returned found people singing in Mrs Lows yard- joined them - was delighted at the performance W Dale, C Presson, Cousin D and Mrs Shipley sang many beautiful pieces.
10. Richard, Brother D and Cousin D went fishing - invitation to visit Aunt Haraden and C. Dolliver went down to Aunts to tea and Clem in the eve - had pleasant visit