1828: William Moore Shackford to Jacob Wendell

The Harbor at Havana, Cuba

This letter was written from Havana, Cuba, by Capt. William Moore Shackford (1788-1875), son of John and Amelia Shackford of Kittery, Maine. William married Joanna Chauncy Moore in April 1813.  He wrote this letter in 1828 to Jacob Wendell (1788-1865), a Portsmouth entrepreneur, who joined his brothers Abraham (b. 1785) and Isaac (b. 1786) in establishing cotton mills in Dover. Although they lost money on the early mill attempts, Jacob became a successful merchant and importer in the Russian and West Indies trade. He married Mehitable Rindge Rogers in 1816.

The Salem-based ship “Glide” is mentioned in this letter. It was wrecked on a reef at Tascanova in March, 1832 during a gale that ripped her from her anchorage. See the wreck of the  “Glide” published in Boston in 1846, giving account of life on the ship and at the Fejees.

Stampless Cover


Addressed to Mr. Jacob Wendell, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Havana [Cuba]
3d April 1828

Mr. Jacob Wendell, my very dear Friend,

Page 1

Your esteemed favor per the Glide, I received a few days since, which afforded me great satisfaction. I am happy to learn that both you & yours were in good health. Those, only who are doomed, like myself, to suffer long separation, from kindred & friends, can judge of the very great satisfaction derived from receiving letters from them. Two tedious months had elapsed after my arrival here when your letter & also one from Mrs. Shackford came to hand, which was the first news received from home since I left. It gives me much pleasure to hear of the occurrences & doings in Portsmouth when away. I am much gratified to learn that the old South is underway again & that a new bell is placed there, which I think highly necessary. I hope a pious & judicious pastor may be settled there — one who will have the good of the people, the cause of Christ, more at heart than the establishing of the dogmas of man — mere sectarian principals, which latter pursuit I fear the conduct of too many of the divinity of the present day, appear to make their principle aim.

I feel very much obliged to you for the packet of newspapers. I derived much gratification from the perusal of them.

You observe that Messers. Belfour, Ellah, Barnals & Co, had drawn for ƒ10.8.4 — you will see by referring to my Bill of disbursements made up at Elseneur that I had discovered it & represented it in the account. This error I did not discover until I had left Elsenuer, or I should certainly have corrected it then. I had supposed there was great probability of my going that way again this season & in such case I intended to arrange the thing with them, or when in Europe had I found that I was not going there again this season should have written them on the subject. But as they have drawn, you will of course answer the draft, as it is no doubt correct, but hitherto I have supposed it possible that I had paid the proper & just sum & that they might have made an error in placing the amount of the _____ dues on paper; that is, put down 100 nix dollars more than they intended to.

I have in my former letters requested you to do me the favor to receive of Mrs. Shackford certificate of ten shares in the Rockingham Bank & also a note left with her payable at said bank for five hundred dollars with which to obtain a discount to meet my half of the draft drawn from this in fav. Thomas Marston at 60 days sight for five hundred dollars on yourself & Capt. Parrott — & the balance of the discount may serve to meet any other contingency ___ my half of Belfour &/or draft. The half monthly pay to mate & sailors wives &c. &c.

Page 3

The prospect for large freighting ships this season is very gloomy. I am fearful that those who built last year will find it to be a very unprofitable concern.

Sugars still keep high yet, but are getting more plenty. I am in hopes to get a freight soon by putting in 3 or 400 boxes in our account, & even if should not get any freight on what I purchase, shall make as much freight as could get from any port in the United States on a full cargo at the present rate of freights.

We know not when we go too fast or too slow in this uncertain world. The Glide is as much too late as I was too soon. The market has declined very much of late for Fish. Mr. Langdon has sold his at 3 1/2 dollars! Had she arrived a month sooner, it would have sold for 5 1/2 dollars! There is about as much chance of hitting this market aright as there is of obtaining the highest prize in a lottery by buying a single ticket.

Please give my respects to Mrs. Wendell, to your mother & brother, & accept the best wishes for your health & welfare of your very sincere friend, — William M. Shackford


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