Upon the Waves of the World

Dennis’ 400 sea captains earned their living upon the waves of the world. Their journeys took them to faraway lands inhabited by exotic peoples. Years, sometimes a good part of a decade would go by before they returned home to see family and friends. Yet this is the life they chose. Perhaps the spray and smell and salt of the ocean was in their blood, calling them from the rooted land to journey upon the rising and falling waves of the sea.
~ Jack Sheedy
(Dennis Journal)

My grandmother loved telling me stories about her own grandfather and often reminded me that the sea was in my blood. I’m pretty sure it was this sea captain who took his second wife with him on a few of his voyages and bought her a “monkey” in some foreign land. Apparently the creature was a “holy terror” on the ship but she adored him.

My 2nd-great-grandfather, Capt. Martin Edward Thompson, firstborn son of Martin and Ann Isabella (Hughs) Thompson, was born 4 August 1850 in Dennis (Barnstable) Massachusetts, and died in 1928. He married (as his first wife) 5 July 1874 in Harwich (Barnstable) Massachusetts, Elisabeth Emma “Lizzie” Freeman, who was born 4 September 1851 in Harwich, and died there 4 October 1876, daughter of Warren and Elisabeth (Weekes) Freeman.

Martin was named after his father, a Norwegian immigrant, and followed in his footsteps, becoming a Master Mariner and captain of the schooner Nellie Lamphear. He also served on coasting vessels, tug boats, and was licensed to enter any port in the world. In 1910 he was elected port warden of Boston by the Boston Marine Society, the oldest association of sea captains in the world.

Elisabeth died of a “stoppage” when she was 25 years old and her baby son was only 18 months old. Her gravestone is inscribed:

Fled O forever from our view
A dear daughter, wife and mother, too:
She was a treasure lent, not given:
To be called away from Earth to Heaven.
Life to her looked bright and joyous
And her home was very dear:
To the summons of her Savior,
She gently yielded without fear.

1880 Captain Martin E. Thompson House, Dennis Port

The 1880 census indicates that, now a widower, Martin was living with his parents and his young son. Five years after Lizzie’s death, Martin married (as his second wife) her younger sister, Rosilla Ida “Rosie” Freeman, 23 February 1882 in Dennis. Rosie was born 6 March 1856 in Harwich, and died 18 March 1923, without children. In 1900, Martin and Rosilla were living as lodgers in the house of Nancy H. Merrill in Lynn, Massachusetts.

Beverly, Barbara and our cousin Matthew with Nellie’s carriage

Martin owned a beloved horse named Nellie (named after his schooner or vice versa?) who lived in the barn at 114 Depot St. in Dennis. He gave his granddaughter, my grandmother, her first three cars. According to my grandfather, Martin and his granddaughter Thommie worshiped each other. The first car was a Model T that had to have the carbon scraped every week. The next was a 2-door sedan Model T. Martin lies buried with his second wife, Rosilla, in Swan Lake Cemetery in Dennis, and Emma, his first wife, is buried in the same cemetery but in another lot with his parents and other members of his family.

Elisabeth & Martin were the parents of one son:

1. Capt. Martin Freeman Thompson (my great-grandfather), born 29 March 1875 in Harwich, died 13 July 1965 in Dennis. He married 1 February 1900 in Dennis, Amanda Eliza Hamblin, who was born there 2 August 1879 and died 6 July 1966 in Taunton (Bristol) Massachusetts, daughter of Capt. William Nelson and Anna Eliza (Baker) Hamblin. Martin & Amanda were the parents of one daughter.

In 1964 my grandparents inherited and moved into Martin’s house at 114 Depot Street, along with my great-grandparents, who they were caring for. Some of our happiest family memories were made there. My dear cousin Matthew bought the house in 2001 after our grandfather died. He renovated the place, keeping its historical integrity and was awarded a certificate of appreciation from the Dennis Historical Commission in 2005. Sadly, the house had to be sold in 2009.

my ancestors’ souls

“A Lady Reading” by Gwen John

Moreover, my ancestors’ souls are sustained by the atmosphere of the house, since I answer for them the questions that their lives once left behind. I carve out rough answers as best I can. I have even drawn them on the walls. It is as if a silent, greater family, stretching down the centuries, were peopling the house.
~ Carl Jung
(The Earth Has a Soul: The Nature Writings of C.G. Jung)

different kinds of good weather

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“Sandviken, Norway” by Claude Monet

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.
~ John Ruskin
(Words of Wisdom: John Ruskin)

muffled steps outside

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“In the Christmas Night” by John Bauer

The snow is lying very deep.
My house is sheltered from the blast.
I hear each muffled step outside,
I hear each voice go past.

But I’ll not venture in the drift
Out of this bright security,
Till enough footsteps come and go
To make a path for me.

~ Agnes Lee
(The Second Book of Modern Verse:
A Selection from the Work of Contemporaneous American Poets
)

Aurlandsfjord & Sognefjord

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Late in the afternoon we left Flåm, boarding a high-speed ferry which transported us to Bergen in 5½ hours via Aurlandsfjord and Sognefjord. When we left the rain clouds seemed to be surrounding the mountains in misty ribbons. Enchanting…

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Again, I’m not sure exactly where we entered Sognefjord, but it is the longest and deepest fjord in Norway. It was certainly very wide. We didn’t get many good pictures because of the rain and because the shores were so far away. Some of these pictures were taken from behind the ferry window and with the long lens.

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Rain always comes from the clouds,
clouds from mist
and mist from moisture in the ground.
~ Carl von Linné
(The Magic of Fjords)

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No matter where I turn my eyes,
great mountains over each other rise,
flank to shoulder on they soar;
to heaven’s rim and all between.
We wail to hear the tumultuous roar:
silence adds grandeur to the scene.
~ Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson
(The Magic of Fjords)

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As we got closer to Bergen we saw more small houses tucked away on the banks of the fjord.

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…turf roofs provided insulation and protection against winds and frost…

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We arrived in Bergen very late, although it was still light out, and found our hotel, a short walk from the ferry. The next morning we picked up a rental car and began our exploration of Hardangerfjord. Having a car allowed us to park on the sides of the roads and hop out of the car to enjoy the scenery and hear the waterfalls!

one morning

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“Fjord in Norway” by Lev Lagorio

It is that dream we carry
that something miraculous will happen
that it must happen –
that time will open
that the heart will open
that doors will open
and that the rock face will open
that springs will gush forth –
that the dream will open
and that one morning we’ll glide in
to a harbour we didn’t know was there.
~ Olav H. Hauge
(The Dream We Carry: Selected & Last Poems of Olav Hauge)