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Thomaston: The Town that Went to Sea

Henry Knox: Shipping

Shipping the goods that he was producing was an important part of Knox’s business dealings. According to Eaton, Knox dabbled in ship building as early as 1796, and that several coasters were launched and kept running in his employ in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In his papers, there is evidence of three major ships that he had built in Thomaston: the schooner Montpelier (named for his mansion), built in 1803 by H. Rogers and weighing 110 tons; the brig Quantibacook (named for a lake in Searsmont, Maine), built in 1804 by Howland and Asa Rogers and weighing 140 tons; and the sloop Quick Lime (named so because of his lime-burning interests), built in 1805 by H. Rogers and weighing 93 tons. Also, on July 18, 1804 Jas. Spaulding, Elisha Snow and Isreal Snow sold the 40-ton schooner Three Brothers to Knox. In addition, Knox made frequent use of ships owned by others to transport goods, most notably the Betsy, Edward Kelleran, master, and the schooner Fairtrader, William Parsons, master.

Knox notes the launching of the Quick Lime in his wastebook
Knox notes the launching of the Quick Lime in his wastebook

Item Contributed by
Montpelier, The General Henry Knox Museum

According to Eaton, the Quick Lime’s master was Edward Kelleran, who turned the Betsy over to his son Benjamin when he took over the Quick Lime. The wastebook records many of the details of the construction of the sloop. On August 9, 1804, Knox noted “60 spruce knees bought of Mark Davis at 4/6 each for the sloop now building.” When Knox settled accounts with Edward Brown in July 29, 1805 he paid him for caulking the sloop Quick Lime, as well as a gundalow and barge. On May 11, 1805 the wastebook contains the following memorandum, “Saturday 11th of May, this day launched the sloop Quick Lime about [blank] tons, built principally last year under the direction of Asa Rogers and finished recently.” By May 15, Knox had pressed the Quick Lime into service by shipping lime to Wales & Beale in Boston.