An Unusual Ending

The final chapter of the Voyage of the Roman wasn’t typical of most whaling voyages. After the mutiny in the Marquesas Islands, the Jernegan family divided and changed directions. What was left of their crew had to be reinforced and a new phase in everyone’s life began.

In Hawaii, Helen and the children gathered their belongings and headed east to New England, first by sea and then by land. Captain Jernegan soon sailed north for the Roman’s fateful last season of Arctic Whaling unaware that he would escape with very little of worth to bring home with him.

No log books, no charts and few records of the voyage survived the sudden sinking of the Roman. Official papers filed at U.S. Consulates in New Bedford, Honolulu and Lahaina and various clippings from publications like the Seaman’s Friend and the Whaleman’s Shipping List are all that remain to document the Roman between 1868 and 1871. It’s fortunate that personal letters and memoirs, as well as Laura’s journal exist to help tell the rest of the story. The family’s return to their home on South Summer Street in Edgartown surely was an adjustment from their time at sea and in Hawaii.

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Martha's Vineyard Museum