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When the We're Here Sailed Into Sedgwick With Horns Blowing

But the "Captain Courageous" was Skipper Byard And She Had More Crew Than Can'n Disko Troop of Gloucester: Old Days on Eggemoggin Reach

by Jacob F. Coombs

Sedgwick, July 30 - I have been asked to write up a bit of history concerning the old schooner We're Here, now that she has acquired some fame by the presentation of the film play, "Captain Courageous" [sic]. Incidentally, your correspondent will add a little on the Grand Bank fishery in the gay nineties.

I left my old home town when a young man and was absent some 40 years, so you can see my recollections must be a bit clouded, especially as I was knocked over the head by the robbers' black jack and my pay roll stolen. I still have quite a dent in my skull in spite of its thickness.

I distinctly recall the return of the bankers after a trip of two or three months on the "Banks." The We're Here especially would ring the bell and blow the horns very lustily as she came up by Terry's Castle and entered the "Reach."

Herrick & Byard, the well-known firm, were the leading merchants in our village and W. G. Sargent & Son at Sargentville, which is part of the town.

Herrick and Byard were owners of the We're Here and also the Amelia Cobb. There were at least two other bankers, the Irving Leslie and the Louise, which hailed from Sedgwick. I think Dr. Hagerthy was owner or part-owner of the latter vessels.

As I recall Capt. Edward Byard was skipper of the We're Here most of the time and perhaps later, was captain of the Cobb. Capt. Byard's widow is still living at an advanced age, and his son, Edward, carries on the large farm formerly owned by his well-known grandfather, "Kiah" Byard.

Herrick and Byard purchased the We're Here about 1880 from Beverly Moss, so it is possible that she may have sailed from Gloucester after being built at Essex. She sailed from Sedgwick for eight or ten years and was finally sold to the Nickersons of Boothbay Harbor.

The We're Here carried 10 dories and used perhaps 60 barrels of clam bait. I recall the many casks of water which were filled from Eagle Brook.

When the Banker finally sailed she was fully as deeply laden as when she returned. The crew were paid by the trip, and sometimes they sailed "on shares." Usually the splitter and salter would receive the best pay.

A fair trip for the We're Here would be about 900 quintals of 122 pounds each.

I recall earning a little money helping the unloading, cleaning and flaking the fare The fish were pitch-forked out of the hold and into a dory partially filled with water, they were cleaned with brushes, then thrown into a cart and taken to the flakes to dry.

Sedgwick was quite a baiting station. Many bankers from Lamoine, Orland and Bucksport, coming here for their bait. I recall we would go to the H & B whard and get an empty barrel and half bushel of salt. We would proceed as the tide served to dig the clams and "shock" them out during the high tide. After perhaps a week of toil, the barrel would be filled, then we would take it to the H & B wharf. The barrel would be unheaded and inspected by "Abram" and if ti passed the test a check for $3 to $4 would be given us, which could be exchanged for goods from the store.

I recall my brother Fred buying a pair of rubber boots, which evidently were not fully "vulcanized," for before he got his barrel dug, the boots developed a few major cracks.

Herrick & Byard was the leading firm here at the village for many years. Many changes have been made since they dissolved.

F. G. Hayward, formerly of Bangor, is the present owner, and he is repairing the old building and making a bid for a share of the general store business.

A few lines about Sargentville, which is about three miles from Sedgwick Village. It is indeed a beautiful ride from the village. As we turn from the Bluehill road, we see the wonderful garden of Mr. and Mrs. Coombs, which at this season of the year is indeed wonderful, with thousands of Dr. Van Fleet and Dorothy Perkins roses coming into bloom. Mr. Coombs also takes much pride in his vegetable garden. The road continues up by the High School and passing many well kept buildings and giving a wonderful view of the "Reach" and various islands. The firm of Wyer Sargent & Son was for many years the leading merchants at Sargentville.

The Sargents were a wonderful family. There were twelve children and no death occurred until the youngest member was past 50 years old. No wonder they were called the "Everlasting Sargents."

I recall the three-master Wyer G. Sargent was built at Sargentville 55 tears ago. Your humble servant worked with his father finishing the booms and topmasts, and had the thrill of being launched aboard the schooner. This vessel, after making various trips, was finallyabandoned at sea, and the Department of Commerce had her drifting charted from time to time.

Believe it or not Ripley claims she was finally reclaimed and again put into commission but I doubt it.

The original article probably appeared
in the Ellsworth American newspaper (Ellsworth, Maine), around 1937.  It
was written by my grandfather's brother, Jacob Flye Coombs.  I am
attaching the html document I've made up as a transcription of the
article. (I can send you a scanned image of it, but it's very dark and
hard to read.)

This article states clearly that the "fictional" We're Here, of the
movie Captains Courageous, (released in 1937) was a real ship, owned and
captained by one Captain Edward Byard of Sargentville/Sedgwick. Jake
says it was built in Essex, Massachusetts before 1880. 
A cousin and I are trying to locate some additional history of the We're
Here, because she is a direct descendant of Captain Edward Byard.
Can you point me to a book or other source of information to confirm
what my grand-uncle has said?  I'd sure appreciate it.
 
Regards,
"Xana A. Hansen" <xana@vederso.com>
Longmont, Colorado
 
 
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03/03/2008