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
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
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
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,
captained by one Captain Edward Byard of Sargentville/Sedgwick.
says it was built in Essex, Massachusetts before 1880.
A cousin and I are trying to locate some additional history of
Here, because she is a direct descendant of Captain Edward
Can you point me to a book or other source of information to
what my grand-uncle has said? I'd sure appreciate it.