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Letters from the Sea

Joanna and Lincoln Colcord's seafaring childhood

Letters from the Sea

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  • Letters from the Sea 1

Letters from the Sea

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In LETTERS FROM THE SEA, by Parker Bishop Albee, Jr., in June of 1881, on the very night of their wedding in Searsport, Maine, Captain Lincoln Alden Colcord and his new wife, Jane Sweetser Colcord, departed for sea to begin a two-year voyage on the bark Charlotte A. Littlefield. The voyage would take them around the world and witness the birth of their daughter Joanna amid the South Sea Islands and young Lincoln’s arrival during a treacherous winter storm off Cape Horn. Fifth-generation seafarers, Joanna and Lincoln Colcord spent their youth at sea aboard their father’s ships. The Colcord’s richly detailed journal-letters to family members ashore, their logbooks, photographs, and later correspondence give us a splendid window into the life of a seafaring family.

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ISBN: 978-0-88448-214-7 Categories: , , ,
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In LETTERS FROM THE SEA, by Parker Bishop Albee, Jr., in June of 1881, on the very night of their wedding in Searsport, Maine, Captain Lincoln Alden Colcord and his new wife, Jane Sweetser Colcord, departed for sea to begin a two-year voyage on the bark Charlotte A. Littlefield. The voyage would take them around the world and witness the birth of their daughter Joanna amid the South Sea Islands and young Lincoln’s arrival during a treacherous winter storm off Cape Horn. Fifth-generation seafarers, Joanna and Lincoln Colcord spent their youth at sea aboard their father’s ships. The Colcord’s richly detailed journal-letters to family members ashore, their logbooks, photographs, and later correspondence give us a splendid window into the life of a seafaring family. The book’s foreword by maritime historian Andrew J. Nesdall, puts their story in perspective, explaining the trade and customs during those waning days of working sail at the turn of the century, yet the letters themselves are surprisingly contemporary as the family shares its joys and concerns, curiosity about new places, adventures, and growing pains. From New York to Yokohama to Valparaiso to Singapore to Durban to Hong Kong, we share their exhilaration when things go well yet are ever conscious of the uncertainties of sea life: illness, the threat of typhoons and dismastings, wrecks, and financial disaster. Family photographs, including a wonderful collection of glass plate negatives taken by Joanna Colcord aboard the State of Maine in her late teens, have been augmented by photographs from other sources to provide a fascinating glimpse of seaboard life, from passing ships at sea to details in the captain’s quarters, a favorite Chinese cook, harbor scenes, and more.

Reviews:

“…gives life to our maritime heritage and tells much about the love between parents and children.”           -William David Barry, Maine Sunday Telegram, 02-06-00

“It was an almost uniquely Victorian trait for genteel Maine wives to accompany their ship-master husbands on long commercial voyages. In the relative comfort of their plush cabins, they ate, slept, read and gave tea parties upon meeting other traveling families. They often gave birth to children who returned home with exotic names or points of nativity. Parker Bishop Albee Jr.’s new book, ‘Letters From Sea,’ neatly captures this vanished lifestyle by focusing on the adventures of a family from Searsport…. It was a golden childhood. The only real sadness in the story was not storm or bad return on the cargo but separation. At times, one or another could not go because of school or other considerations. It is here that wonderful letters from the parents to each other, to their children or from the children to the parents offer insight. Through the efforts of Albee…the letters have been put in exciting context. Portraits of the family and various vessels are augmented by snapshots taken by Joanna and others. Albee has prefaced the letters with solid introductory information and selections from the Colcord’s printed recollections. It is a job well done, for it gives life to our maritime heritage and tells much about love between parents and children…. ‘Letters from Sea’ is a small but rich Maine Classic.” -William David Barry, Maine Sunday Telegram

“Thanks to places like the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, we can relive the charms and challenges of Maine’s century under sail. And, thanks to people like Parker Bishop Albee, Jr., we have a front-row seat to an authentic sea adventure with the Colcords, a late-19th century seafaring family from Searsport…. The result of Albee’s 10-year research is the highly readable “Letters From Sea…” Besides the couples’ letters, the book includes two articles written many years later by both Joanna and Lincoln Colcord as they reflected on their unique childhood. The text, enhanced by rare family photos and lyrical poems by Lincoln Colcord, is put into historical context by Albee’s commentaries. The result is an intimate glimpse of a seafaring Maine family living during the transition from sail to steam.” -Central Maine Newspapers

“This collection is a praise song for family devotion, and an ode to the sea.” -Karen Fisk, Maine Times, 02-03-00

“Richer than any treasure of gold brought up from the ocean bottom, these recently discovered letters are priceless additions to our maritime history. Extraordinarily well written, they are great readingdandy tales of the sea, more exciting than fiction for their total authenticity.” -Walter Cronkite

About the Author:

Parker Albee is a professor of history at the University of Southern Maine. He is the coauthor of Shadow of Suribachi, a book about the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima in 1945. Brooks Colcord, the son of Lincoln Colcord and grandson of Captain Colcord, has been of inestimable help with Letters from Sea.

Additional Information

Weight 1.9 lbs
Dimensions 8.5 x 10.38 x 1.778 in
Author

Parker Bishop Albee, Jr.

Format

Hardcover

ISBN

978-0-88448-214-7

Pages

192

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