Merrill’s Wharf Historic District encompasses two
wharfs of the waterfront area of New Bedford, MA, which was a whaling center in
its early days during the 1840s. The district is now part of the Whaling
Captain Edward Merrill bought the waterfront property from the Rotch family in 1837 and it remained in the family until 1905. In 1844, Merrill began constructing an earth-filled stone wharf for mooring, safely loading, outfitting, maintaining and repairing vessels. Merrill’s Wharf was the largest of seven new wharves built in New Bedford between 1841 and 1849.
In the mid-1850s, an accident occurred with two vessels colliding. Due to the alleged negligence, Merrill filed suit. Offering a six-page, 7 ¾ x 10, deposition of Henry G. Brightman, composed of the testimony of Brightman and several other individuals.
“I was on board the Dredge boat on 6 Nov. The Dredge was lying on the So. Side of the Wharf…Capt. King can tell better than I can the distance. The Dredge lay parallel with [the] wharf. E[ast] & W[est], she is almost 40 feet long…We had been digging mud to make depth of water and fill up the wharf, Merrill’s Wharf…We moved nearer to the wall for the steamboat to come in. There was room enough…The steamboat came in with a great force, as she generally does until she got to the wharf…She struck the Dredge…about the middle of her…broke off three timbers, drove our scoop overboard, spilt our water down below, scared the horses and made it dangerous for us in deck…I saw no attempt on part of the steamboat to avoid Dredge…Dredge was kept out of work about ten days in consequence of this damage…No damage that was visible to the steamboat. I was on board the Dredge…She struck the Dredge on her way to the wharf…
JAMES MAKIN [24 years old]: “…I was standing on Merrill Wharf at time of collision…I was digging mud as I saw steamboat come up the head of the wharf…I did not go aboard the Dredge. I heard the [?] crak and ran near over board. It was taken upon the wharf. I have seen steamboat coming in when water was lower than it was at that time…”
“Examined: I was at that time and am now in the employ of Mr. Merrill. She was employed to dig mud to fill up the wharf and to deepen the water in the vicinity of the wharf and a channel to the wharf…”
STEPHEN ANDREW, aged 41, Master ship carpenter: “…I have examined the Dredge by request of Capt. Merrill’s son. Found three timbers, broken off…I have worked on that wharf and have done jobs on that boat…Don’t know what work my men did after the collision…I want to estimate the repairs…So far as wood and labor are concerned, [repairs] would cost 40 or 45 dollars. This does not include the iron work…I did not examine the machinery of the boat. I saw no injury except the broken timber…”
Light toning, folds, else excellent.
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