Jared Jernegan (also called Jared Jernegan II), was the son of Nathan Jernegan and Prudence Norton. He was born August 14, 1825, in Edgartown, Massachussetts. His town was a prominent seaport; its soil was light and sandy, not the best for successful farming. Like many young men from Edgartown, Jared adopted the sea as his profession.
In 1839 at age 13, Jared left his father's farm to be a cabin boy on the Alexander Barkley, with Captain Clement Norton, his mother's brother. They sailed through the rich whaling grounds of the South Pacific to New Zealand. Uncle Clement promised that he would be promoted to be a foremast hand if he was "smart." Jared was five feet tall and weighed 92 pounds when they left. When they returned almost 3 years later, he was 16, stood five foot seven and weighed 135 pounds. It appeared he was destined to be a whaler.
Even though Jared's father was a farmer, his family was typical of the close-knit hierarchy of East Coast whaling families in the 1800s. Like Uncle Clement, his brother Nathan and cousin Nathaniel from Edgartown became whaling masters as well.
Martha's Vineyard Museum