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Witherle, William Howe

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William Howe Witherle (1821–1906) accompanied Lane and his close friend Joseph Stevens on painting expeditions on the New England boat "General Gates," sailing around Penobscot Bay and Mount Desert Island. Witherle recorded notes about one of these trips in his diary. 

Witherle was a merchant and shipbuilder of Castine. He married Sarah F. Adams (1822–56), daughter of Deacon Samuel and Lucy Adams. George H. Witherle (1831–1906), his younger brother, was in partnership with him in the family enterprise started by their father, William Witherle, Sr., who died at seventy-eight in 1860, and who came from Boston to Castine. Witherle, Sr. was married to "Sarah" Sally Bryant, a native of Marshfield, Massachusetts. In terms of both capital and influence, the two families enjoyed great prosperity, and their economic influence embraced Penobscot Bay and the greater world beyond. The Witherles were also invested in the cod fisheries and the cotton trade, and they financed the building of some of Castine's greatest ships.

– Mark Honey

Related tables: Adams, Samuel, Jr. »  //  Castine – Witherle & Co.'s Store »

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A Diary of a Visit to Castine
Noah Brooks
Personal diary
Castine Historical Society

From July 25-August 16,1848, Castine native Noah Brooks made a return visit to his hometown. He was eighteen at the time, and had been living in Boston. In his diary, there is no mention of Lane, but he recounts Castine gossip, and writes about visits with the Stevens and Witherle familes, accounts of swimming in Back Cove, and reading Wuthering Heights. The daily arrival of "the boat" (the "T.F.S." or the "Secor")—the way it was anticipated and observed by Castine residents—is notable.

Chart showing route of Lane's 1852 cruise from Castine to Bar Harbor
Erik Ronnberg/US Coast Survey chart
c. 1875
U.S. Coast Survey

Chart with key showing the route of an excursion on the sloop "Superior" out of Castine made by William H. Witherle, Lane, Stevens and friends during which Lane made several sketches of Mt. Desert scenery. The trip was chronicled by Witherle in his diary of 1852.

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Complete Subscription List and Mailing for "Castine, From Hospital Island," 1855
Handwritten list
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine (A00787-1a-1d)
Joseph L. Stevens to Joseph L. Stevens, Jr., 1856
Joseph L. Stevens
Castine Historical Society, Maine

"[John] says Charles proposes to come down on Saturday—to return on Monday—so that may be so—I think of defering sending the pictures till then—it has been my intention to have sent them tomorrow. [??] went away on Monday last before I had time to have them boxed. Mr. Noyes will see to that. The have been, for a day or two, in Witherle & Co.'s store, where they were much admired—& a little remarkable, among the visitors there yesterday was Mr. King—the son of the Keeper of the Light—who was engaged in catching herring while you was at the Rock. He was very much pleased—thought it as natural as life—as it was to his recollection—having only left there a week since. He observed that he would not have believed Mr. Lane had so much in him. In case Charles does not come on Saturday how shall I direct the box—for I shall send it by express to Boston—I don't remember any thing was said about that. I hope you will come over to Owl's Head, as proposed—if so, you & Lane must come & spend one night at least. Our two teacher boarders came in the boat that took you away—but we can continue to accommodate some way or other. Mary is to leave on Monday next."

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William Witherle Diary August 16–21, 1852
William Witherle
Personal diary
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine (A00060-1a-1h)

Description of an excursion taken by Joseph Stevens, Jr., Lane, Witherle, Samuel Adams, Jr., and George Tilden around the islands of Maine near Mt. Desert. The group hired the Sloop "Superior" which was owned by Pilot Getchell. In his diary, Witherle mentions multiple times that "Lane took a sketch" especially when the water was calm. Lane often stayed on board the boat, while the others went ashore.


Excerpts of the diary include:

August 16: "Lane has a knack for frying fish."

August 17: "leaving Lane to take a sketch, we took a climb."

August 19: "went to ascend one of the highest mountains. 3/4 the way up we had to wait – once in a while for Lane who with his crutches could not keep up with us – but got along faster than we thought possible . . .Lane got up about an hour after the rest of us."

The entire text is transcribed in an account published by the Wilson Museum.

View related Fitz Henry Lane catalog entries (6) »

Also filed under: "Superior" (Sloop) »   //  Adams, Samuel, Jr. »   //  Biographical information »   //  Blue Hill »   //  Castine »   //  Chronology »   //  Diaries / Ledgers / Etc. »   //  Mount Desert Island & Rock »   //  Somes Sound »   //  Stevens, Joseph, Jr. »   //  Tilden, George »

photo (historical)
Witherle's store
c. 1850
Wilson Museum, Castine, Maine
Accession number a02600a
Citation: "People." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum.§ion=Witherle%2C+William+Howe&ref=catalog:184 (accessed July 24, 2024).
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