Monday, September 19, 2011

On board the barque Emily

The stone for Paul Stark (d. 1852) in Stark Cemetery is probably a cenotaph. Although it is possible that his body rests here, I suspect he is buried in Mexico or at sea off the coast of Mexico.

In memory of
Son of
Paul & Catharine
June 22, 1852
at Sanblas Mexico
on board the Barque
Emily bound from
Panama to Sanfrancisco
In the 36 Year
of his age.

Not having done much sailing ship research, at first I thought the name of the ship was Barque Emily. No. The ship was the Emily and barque describes the type of vessel:

By the end of the eighteenth century, however, the term barque (sometimes, particularly in the USA, spelled bark) came to refer to any vessel with a particular type of sail-plan. This comprises three (or more) masts, fore-and-aft sails on the aftermost mast and square sails on all other masts. Barques were the workhorse of the Golden Age of Sail in the mid 19th century as they attained passages that nearly matched full rigged ships but could operate with smaller crews. (Wikipedia.)

A bit of research on the ship’s 1852 voyage from Panama reveals a likely cause of death for Paul Stark: starvation.

According to The Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, Volume 23, published in 1853, “many sad tales of suffering may be told of ships leaving Panama without a proper knowledge of the best route to be pursued. As a case in point may be mentioned that of ‘the barque Emily, of London, which sailed from Panama for San Francisco, March 7th, 1852, and after being out ninety-five days, put into San Bias [sic] with 19 of the passengers dead from starvation. The remaining passengers were then transferred to the Archibald Gracie, and were sixty-five days more on their passage to San Francisco, during which 18 more of these unfortunate people died.’”

Stark Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio


  1. My gg-grandfather, his brother, and as many as 18 others from their community in Indiana were aboard the Emily. This claim in the RGS article that the passengers died of starvation is suspect. There are numerous reports published at the time of the Emily's journey in the Daily Alta California about the fate of the ship and her passengers. Paul Stark's cause of death was given as inflammation of the lungs. It's possible that some deaths (but certainly not the ones occurring in March and April)were exacerbated by malnutrition. There are other errors in this RGS article (the source being some vague reference to a "Journal"). The name of the captain is incorrect and the number of deaths is incorrect. But the author is clearly referring to the same ship and journey.

  2. Also, Stark most likely died May 22, not June 22.


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