Skip navigation.

Ernestina's Birthday

mate's picture

Ernestina's birthday was on February 1st. She was 113. Sometimes a few of us meet for cake, or send cards, or even make something for her. We may have even sung Happy Birthday a few times.

On February 5, 1894, a single line of print in a corner of the Gloucester Daily Times recorded an addition to the Gloucester, Massachusetts fishing fleet: "The new schooner for J.F. Wonson and Co. has been named Effie M. Morrissey." This marked the commonplace birth of a schooner that would become famous not only as a banks fisherman, but also as one of the great expedition vessels of arctic exploration, a venerable transAtlantic immigration packet, a symbol of Cape Verdean-American history and heritage, and as an active educational and cultural resource serving the New England region. However, the white oak and yellow pine hull of the Effie M. Morrissey slid down the ways of the John F. James & Washington Tarr shipyard not as remarkable individual ship, but as a fine example of thousands of similar, Essex-built schooners. It was the heyday of the Gloucester fisherman.

The contract price was $6,700 for hull and spars, ready for rigging. The Effie M. Morrissey was the last fishing schooner built for the Wonson Fish Company. She took four months to build and was launched February 1, than towed by the tug Startle to Gloucester, the Morrissey was fitted out for the season to go for salt cod.