Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Workday Wednesday - Maritime Careers of the Fullers of Portland, Maine

David and Mary Cary Fuller removed from Nova Scotia and arrived in Portland, Maine between 1840-1849 (they first appear in Portland in the 1850 US Census). It is unclear that they followed their sons to Portland or the sons followed them, but their six sons made Portland their home.  I have several other posts regarding David and Mary Fuller in "Can a Published Genealogy be Wrong?".

David and Mary's six sons were: David Bishop, James Henry, Theodore, Andrew Hanley, Benjamin W, and Collingwood E.

Their move to Maine was probably part of a migration which was taking place in Maritime Canada. In the period that followed the American Revolution, Nova Scotia's economy collapsed and a large number of Nova Scotian's migrated to the US pursuing a better economic future.

Portland, Maine was a bustling city which was a very active seaport and it was a very short sail from Nova Scotia. It must have afforded the Fuller's a chance to seek better work options and be close to relatives who remained in Canada.

David Fuller Sr. is identified in the Portland City Directory(1851) as a "Laborer". This was a common occupation designation. I believe it usually referred to unskilled labor who moved from job to job without a permanent employer. The 1850 US Census have David and Mary living with James, Theodore, Andrew and Collingwood. Interestingly, the 1851 City Directory states David Sr. living with Benjamin W Fullerr at 4 Ingraham Court.

Reviewing the city directories and US Census records seem to indicate that none of the Fuller boys lived at any one location in Portland very long and it seems likely their were renters and never owned real estate in Portland.

The Fuller boys occupations were tied to the sea.

David Bishop Fuller's occupation as a "Rigger". In mid-to-late 1800's most ships were still powered by the wind. Which meant sails and rigging to operate them. A Rigger was responsible for the "rigging" meaning the systems which involved in moving the ship which includes the masts, ropes, sails and pulley system which was critical for the ship to be under sail. While this is not an occupation we can fully appreciate today, this must have been an important occupation in a seaside city. Interestingly, David Bishop Fuller is referred to as "Bishop Fuller" in the 1856-1857 Portland City Directory and his father as David Fuller. In all later editions of the City Directory he is listed as "David Fuller". Presumably, this is because his father has died, but I have never found any death records for David Fuller Sr.  I do know that David Bishop Fuller died on June 11, 1901 in Portland, Maine.

James Henry Fuller's occupation as a "Mariner". James was my 2nd great grandfather and have written about him in other posts including: "The Loves of a Sailor","Tales of Sea Serpents", and "The Death of a Sailor".  James worked on ships as a seaman, mate, first mate and may have even been captain on some excursions.  His mariner career began in 1843 in a sail from Eastport, Maine to Kingston, Jamaica.  His last sail was in 1905 on a commercial vessel sailing from Portland to Boston.  62 years at sea.  Impressive for such an unforgiving and challenging occupation.  At the age of 78 he was accepted to a old sailor's home known as Sailor's Snug Harbor in Staten Island, NY where he lived out the remainder of his life.  He died December 21, 1917.

Andrew Hanley Fuller's occupation as a "Stevedore".  A stevedore is another name for a dockworker or longshoreman.  Their primary job was to load and unload ships.  Since Portland was a bustling port, there must have been a lot of work for a stevedore who had a strong back.  Andrew did spend some time as a seaman, too, but most records indicate him as a stevedore.  Andrew and Collingwood served during the Civil War on the Revenue Cutter, Caleb Cushing.  They were involved in the Civil War naval engagement where a confederate ship snuck into Portland harbor and commandeered the Caleb Cushing.  I have written about the naval engagement in my post name the "Civil War Battle of Porland, Maine?". Andrew Hanley Fuller died in Nahant, Massachusetts on September 15, 1914.

Collingwood Fuller's occupation as a "Stevedore".  Andrew's brother Collingwood, was also a stevedore.   Collingwood Fuller died in Portland on April  16, 1897.

Benjamin W. Fuller's occupation as a "Blacksmith". In the mid-to-late 1800s a blacksmith was the person that people went to for fabrication of nails, screws, metal tools, etc.  He probably did a substantial amount of work building iron parts for the local ships.  The 1860 census indicates that Benjamin's mother, Mary and his brother, James, lived with him and his wife and kids.  Based on the city director and census records it seems likely that he had the most stable occupation of all the Fuller sons.  He outlived his wife and kids and died in the Portland Almshouse on December 11, 1911.

Theodore Fuller died young.  He died at the age of 24 on December 25, 1853.  


I am always looking for more information about the Fuller's of Portland.  If you have any information or if you may be related, please contact me by email.

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