Female Navigator of the World’s Fastest Clipper Ship
Eleanor Creesy was the navigator of Flying Cloud, a clipper ship that set the world’s sailing record for the fastest passage between New York and San Francisco in 1851. She and her husband – Josiah Perkins Creesy, skipper – beat their own record two years later, and it was not broken until 1989.
Image: Clipper ship Flying Cloud by Currier and Ives
Flying Cloud, a Gold Rush era clipper ship, was commanded by Captain Josiah Creesy from 1851-1855. Eleanor Creesy sailed with her husband and served as his navigator throughout his career.
Eleanor Prentiss was born on September 21, 1814, in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Her father was a master mariner, and he taught Eleanor the mathematics of navigation when she was a girl. Neighbors thought it was peculiar that her father educated Eleanor at a time when women rarely learned a trade, especially one dominated by men. Her dream was to marry a sea captain and sail with him around the world, and she rejected many suitors until she found the right man. In 1841 Eleanor married her sailor, Captain Josiah Creesy.
First Woman Clipper Ship Commander
Mary Ann Brown Patten was the first woman commander of an American Merchant Vessel at the age of nineteen. Her husband, the ship’s captain, was severely ill with fever, and the first mate was attempting to incite a mutiny among the crewmen. Her clipper ship Neptune’s Car was ten thousand miles away from its starting point at New York when she faced the unforgiving winds of Cape Horn on the southern tip of South America. And then on to San Francisco, where clients were waiting for her cargo.
Image: Mary Ann Brown Patten
Mary Ann Brown married sea captain Joshua Patten in 1853 when she was 16. He was 25, and was ferrying cargo and passengers from New York to Boston. In 1854, Joshua Patten was offered the chance to sail the merchant ship Neptune’s Car from New York to San Francisco, through Cape Horn, one of the most dangerous straits in the Western Hemisphere. Reluctant to abandon his young wife, Joshua received permission to bring Mary along on the voyage. With just a matter of hours to prepare, the couple departed on their first trip together.
Women Educating Women in the New Nation
Image: Mills College
Women as far away as the Pacific Coast also had access to higher education by 1852, when the Young Ladies Seminary was established at Benicia, California – the first women’s college west of the Rockies. Susan Tolman Mills served as its president for 19 years.
Women’s Education in Colonial America
In the 18th century, most wealthy parents were willing to invest in education for their sons because it increased his chances of establing a profitable career. In general, the purpose of women’s education in colonial America was to become skilled at household duties in order to find a suitable husband. A woman who was well educated in academic subjects was thought to be unusual and not good marriage material.
American Women Newspaper Publishers
In the eighteenth century, women often worked alongside their husbands and brothers to publish a newspaper as a family business. In some cases, the wife became the publisher after her husband took ill or died, usually until a son could take over the paper. The influence of these women in publishing as active participants in the business is an enduring feature of newspaper history to the present day.
Image: Elizabeth Timothy, America’s first female newspaper publisher, 1738
The South Carolina Gazette, Charleston, South Carolina
18th Century Women Publishers
In the 1700s, women edited approximately 16 of the 78 small, family-owned weekly newspapers circulating throughout the American colonies. Even if they did not run the printing operations, wives, mothers and sisters probably contributed significantly to many of the other publications. Because of their overwhelming duties as wives and mothers, women typically assumed control of a publication only after the death of a male relative.
Quaker Feminist and Social Activist
Lucretia Mott (1793-1880) was a Quaker minister, abolitionist and social reformer who dedicated her life to the goal of human equality. Mott was a major figure in the reform movements of the nineteenth-century: abolition, women’s rights, school and prison reform, temperance, peace and religious tolerance.
Childhood and Early Years
Lucretia Coffin was born on January 3, 1793 on the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts, the second of eight children born to Thomas and Anna Folger Coffin. At the age of thirteen, Lucretia was sent to the Nine Partners Quaker Boarding School in Millbrook, New York. There she learned of the horrors of slavery from visiting lecturers such as Elias Hicks, a well-known Quaker abolitionist.
Inspired by the Boston Tea Party, Barker organized a protest of her own in Edenton, North Carolina. Tired of taxation without representation by the British, she went door to door, inciting women of the town to support a boycott of English tea and other products. At the Edenton Tea Party on October 25, 1774, Barker and fifty other women signed a protest statement.
Penelope Pagett was born on June 17, 1728, in Edenton, North Carolina, to Elizabeth Blount and Dr. Samuel Pagett. Her father’s death, quickly followed by her sister’s death, thrust adult responsibilities on the girl. While still a teen, Penelope became a mother to Elizabeth’s two children and took over management of the family plantation.