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Feb. 21, 2023

The Call of the Open Sea

The Call of the Open Sea

Captain Charles Herbert Wolfe was a man born to the sea, his father having instilled in him a love for the ocean from a young age. He was born in Mystic, Connecticut, March 19, 1857 to Captain Thomas and Frances Wolfe. He was one of six children, three of his brothers dying in their infancy. His Father Captain Thomas Wolfe was an adventurous sea man and was even captured by the Confederate army during the civil war. But that is a story for another day.

As a boy, Charles, who I believe went by his middle name Herbert, attended school in Mystic, Connecticut, but it wasn't long before the allure of the sea became too strong to resist. At the age of twelve, he left school to become a crew member on a fishing boat, the "Gold Hunter."

Two years later, Herbert became a ship's boy on the "Bridgewater," captained by Charles Sisson. It was on this ship that he made his first voyage around Cape Horn, sailing to California. The journey took six months in those days, but it was just the beginning of a long and illustrious career on the seas.

In 1877, while serving as third mate on the "Jeremiah Thompson," Captain Wolfe experienced a terrifying event. While the ship was anchored off the coast of Peru, South America, a tidal wave caused by an earthquake struck the vessel. Despite the danger, Captain Wolfe managed to survive the ordeal.

The following year, he became first mate on the "George Moon," the last square-rigged ship to be built in Mystic. Captain Wolfe spent a decade on this vessel, eventually becoming its captain for the last three years. In 1888, he joined the Mallory Steamship Line of New York as first mate, where he served until 1893.

Throughout his life, Captain Wolfe remained dedicated to his family and his faith. He married Bessie Heath in Mystic on April 30, 1883. Mrs. Wolfe was an active member of the Baptist church, where she served as superintendent of the Primary Sunday school.

Captain Wolfe himself was a member of the Baptist church and a supporter of the organization. He was also a member of the Charity and Relief Lodge No. 72 of Mystic, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons. 

I imagine Captain Wolfe as one of those old time seafarers who had many stories to share once his days aboard ship were done. He saw the world, he loved a woman, and he kept the sea in his heart until the end of his days. He and his beloved wife Bessie rest peacefully together in Elm Grove Cemetery in Mystic, Connecticut.

Photo: Elm Grove Cemetery - Mystic, Connecticut

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