Nathan Mayhew Jernegan (1821-1887)

Laura's Uncle Nathan was born in 1821 to Nathan Jernegan and Prudence Norton in Edgartown, Mass. Like his younger brother Jared and his cousin Nathaniel, he was attracted to the life of a whaleman early on. Having gone to sea at the age of eleven, he spent very little time ashore. In 1841 he sailed out of New Bedford as a boatsteerer on the first voyage of the > Charles W. Morgan, the last surviving wooden whaleship of its type today.

On one of his rare visits home to Martha’s Vineyard, Nathan met a young school teacher, Charlotte Corday Dunham. He was 30 and she was 23 when they married June 17, 1852. They had five children. The first was Thomas Dunham Jernegan born April 17, 1853 who died four months later on August 18, 1853.

Their next son, Nathan Mayhew Jernegan, was born Jan. 9, 1858 Talcahuano, Chile. Charlotte had been along on the whaleship Niger with her husband Nathan. This port in the central section of Chile, was familiar to New England whalers in the Pacific. Although she encountered other whaling wives and families from Martha’s Vineyard there, Charlotte still longed to be on the Niger with her husband. After the ship returned to get Mrs. Jernegan and baby Nathan, the hunt for whales continued.

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Martha's Vineyard Museum