We purchased a lovely Greek Revival house in Mystic a few years ago that belonged to George Washington Gates,a Sea Captain,. The house , located on 218 High Street, is on land that was originally part of Daniel Burrows estate. The cast iron fence was probably added between 1860-1880.
I researched G. W. Gates and learned that he was a relative of mine. His nephew Stanton Gates married Ann Denison and left her enough money that Ann Gates was able to form the Denison Homestead (Society) and leave the 1717 house museum and 160 acres of land for all of us to enjoy.
The Mystic Seaport has many family papers of the Gates family and this short autobiography is included in the Gates Collection. George was born April 13, 1825, son of Zebadiah and Mercy (Denison) Gates, and was reared on a farm in Groton until he was 20 years old. He then decided on a sea-faring life. What follows is Capt. Gates’ personal description of his career from that day forward from the Gates Collection.
“Left the old homestead September 20th, 1845, proceeded to New York by way of the Stonington Steam-boat. There I joined the brig MATAMORA as common sailor, under command of my brother Capt. Gurdon Gates, ( house on Gravel Street) The first voyage was from New York to Key West and St. Marks and return to New York – the second voyage was from New York to Apalachicola and return to New York, where we arrived in the month of March, 1846.
Here I left the brig and came home and worked on the farm for my father until the following September, 1846, when I again joined the brig MATAMORA, this time under command of Capt. Isiah D. Bunce, (brother Gurdon being sick and unable to go.) Sailed on a voyage from New York to Key West and St. Marks. We reached Key West safely, but was there overtaken by the famous hurricane of October 6, 1846. The brig was dismantled (dismasted?) and driven ashore after parting one chain. The cargo was taken out of the brig in Lighters, but the brig was not floating again until the following February 1847, when my brother Gurdon came from New York with new spars and sails and resumed command of the brig, loading cargo for New Orleans.
From here made a voyage to Galveston and return to New Orleans, (this was my first time in Galveston.) In New Orleans we took in a load of corn at a rate of freight of thirty pence or sixty cents per bushel for Bantry Bay on the South-west coast of Ireland, which was an unusual large freight. This was the year of the great Irish Famine in 1847. Capt. Thomas Eldredge was in command on this voyage, (my brother Gurdon being sick) Joshua Cameron was first mate, Geo. W. Gates second mate. After discharging cargo here, took in ballast and sailed direct for Mystic, where we arrived in the month of August.
The next vessel I sailed in was the bark MONTAUK as second mate, Gurdon Gates Captain. This vessel was built in Mystic by Irons and Grinnell – sailed in this vessel three years, the last year as 1st mate until the summer of 1850, when I joined the ship Wm. H. WHARTON as 1st Officer, Gurdon Gates Captain. This ship was built by S. Gildersleeve & Son on the Connecticut River; was in this ship two years as mate and five years as Master – altogether seven years. The last four years continually between Galvestonand Liverpooland other European ports. I left this ship in 1857 to take charge of the new ship NATIONAL GUARD, 1084 tons, built by S. Gildersleeve. Sailed in this ship three years between Galveston and European ports, when this vessel was sold to the United States Government in 1860, at the breaking out of the war of the Rebellion.(Civil War)
In March, 1862, I took charge of the ship TWILLIGHT NO. 1 made one voyage to San Francisco and return to New Yorkin February 1863.
In September, 1864 took charge of the NEVADA, built in Mystic, by Maxson Fish & Co, was in the transport service of the U.S. Government until the close of the war in April, 1865.
Was in command of the steamer GEORGIA from August, 1865 until March, 1866. Made two voyages, one to Galveston and one toMobile. This steamer GEORGIA was a Confederate Privateer, captured by the U.S. Government in the last year of the war and put under theU.S.flag, she was built at Dunbarten, on the River Clyde, Scotland.
Was in command of bark GALVESTON, Charles Mallory owner, from October 1866 to August 1867. Was in command of steamer GENERAL SEDGWICK and steamer EUTERPE from December, 1867 to Jul 1870, and ran the “Mallory Line” between New York and Galveston and New Orleans.
In August 1870 took command of ship TWILIGHT No. 2 owned by Charles Mallory & Sons, was in this ship seven years, until 1877, and sailed from New York to San Francisco and Liverpool. I left this ship in August, 1877, which ended my sea-faring life.”
George W. Gates died in Mystic in 1898. He and his 3 other brothers are buried in the Lower Mystic Cemetery. He married Julia Fish. Carol Kimball wrote a story about the 4 Gates brothers.
See Previous Blog about Clipper Ship Captain
Thanks to Mystic Seaport for pictures of Twilight and autobiography.