John Adamson's Diary
John Adamson was a 19 year old
student living at Shiloh when the Coronet and Kingdom put to sea
on Mr. Sandford's final missionary journey to foreign lands. A hard working,
conscientious student, John had earned the privilege of going aboard the Coronet;
Only the best of the best were deemed ready for the mission field and Coronet's
Our voyage begins with
John Adamson and the Coronet as they are leaving Chesapeake Bay, December 27, 1910.
They have been at sea since the previous June. Scarcely out to sea they encounter a
storm in the North Atlantic. There had been an error in seamanship, and the yacht for a
time was in jeopardy, such that a junior seaman who had temporarily replaced the Captain,
petitioned Mr. Sandford to reverse his decision which had demoted the Captain. It seems
that Sandford and the Captain had a disagreement of sorts and the Captain was "on the
The blue text is the
diary itself, the black from Arnold White, from whose book, The Almighty and Us,
these diary entries are reproduced. Red items are worthy of note. The purple text
has been inserted by this editor. [Ed.]
Diary of John Adamson, Jan. 1, 1911 to Sep. 10, 1911
Crew member on board CORONET on the Northern Trip.
On son John Sandford's
birthday, February 7, all hands that could be spared from manning the ships went ashore.
They had a fire in a cave, sang hymns and listened to stories by Mr. Sandford, gathered
some wood to take back with them. "Had a hard row back to the vessels.
Got back at 11:00 P.M." John, the Sandford's
first child, was now fourteen years of age. They had celebrated his sister Esther's
birthday on January 28. She was just two years younger than John. There were three younger
Jan. 1, Sunday.
Sailed under trysails all night and day. Cleaned up some of the jib boom wreckage.
Mended the staysail. Day of waiting on God. Storm is getting over, sun shining again. Set
forestaysail at 4 P.M. Rigged up the outstay on the end of the bowsprit, coiled up wire
stays, pumped ship.
Jan. 2, Monday. Calm all day. Sewed all day on the jib. Had meeting from 3
oclock until midnight. Things not very pleasant. Somewhat discouraged.
Jan. 3, Tuesday. Up at 6 A.M. Worked on the jib
Jan. 4, Wednesday, Up at 6 A.M. Sewed on the forestaysail.
Jan. 5, Thursday. Meeting all day. Sewed on the mainsail.
Jan. 6, Friday. Calm all day. Sighted a brigantine in the morning. We had our sails
down because of slatting. She sent over a boat to see if we were in trouble. They had a
neat little dory. Asked where from and where bound.---Cleared for the sabbath. Pumped
ship. (Sabbath began at sundown Friday evening.)
Jan. 7, Saturday. About 1000 miles out at sea. Heavy breeze struck up about 1:30
A.M. Pumped ship. Had midday watch.
Jan. 8, Sunday. Had midnight watch. Rained some. Rigged staysail for catching water.
Good meeting all day.
Jan. 9, Monday. Took up the slack in the forestay. Mended the forestaysail, calmed
down. Took in all sail. Steamer sighted us and started for us expecting something was
wrong. We hoisted our foresail and she returned on her course.
Jan. 10, Tuesday. Seas getting rough. Going fast under all sail, 7 or 8 knots.
Plenty of water coming over the bows. Sighted steamer at 7:30 P.M.
Jan. 11, Wednesday. Mr. Sandford with us again. Mended staysail; pumped ship.
Steamer passed 3:30 P.M. Half way across the ocean, just 16 days. (Indicating Dec.
27 as starting date.)
Jan. 12, Thursday. Did some sewing today.
Jan. 13, Friday. Had the day off for waiting on God.
Jan. 14, Saturday. All hands called on deck to take in the mainsail. She is driving
hard into the sea. Got it in safely; took in the jib.--- Diving some so waited for a lull.
Went out and tied it up. The aft stay in the fore rigged parted. Pumped ship. At 12:30
jibed ship and the foresail broke from aft right forward to the mast.
Jan. 15, Sunday. Heavy seas, wind not so heavy, rolling bad, plenty of pumping. Four
men went aloft to fix the back stays. Going ahead about six knots under storm
Jan. 16, Monday. Mending sail. Pumped ship.
Jan. 17, Tuesday. (No entry)
Jan. 18, Wednesday. Pumped ship
Jan. 19, Thursday. A good day, warm, sailing along at a good rate. Had meeting all
day. Prayed for Shiloh, the Kingdom and the yacht, etc. Main topmast is cracked from
strain when she dives into head seas
Jan. 20, Friday. Fine day sailing along fast; 530 miles from Canaries at noon. I
worked with Mr. Anderson (ships Engineer) making oars all day. Cleaned up for
Jan. 21, Saturday. Had a good rest. The first Saturday out of four that has not been
stormy. Had two or three watches on deck while others were at meeting.
Jan. 22, Sunday. Got up at 6:00 A.M. Washed decks, shined brass. Had meeting all day
until midnight. Mr. S. talked to us about The Truth; read all about it in the
first five books of the Bible. Did not eat supper.
Jan. 23, Monday. Washed decks and shined brass. Had a good breeze all day. The 3
oclock meeting lasted until 10:30 P.M. Fine meeting; getting Gods truth into
Jan. 24, Tuesday. The 9 oclock meeting lasted until midnight.
Jan. 25, Wednesday. (No entry)
Jan. 26, Thursday. Up most all night. At daylight we sighted LaPalma, 7000 feet
high, snow on top. Santa Cruz is the capital. Calm in the afternoon. Mended sails for the
next wind. Had a good meeting all day. Mr. S. gave us a fine talk.
Jan. 27, Friday. (No entry)
Jan. 28, Saturday. Esthers (Sandford) birthday. She received a gold watch from
Jan. 29, Sunday. (No entry)
Jan. 30, Monday. Water is scarce.
Jan. 31, Tuesday. New moon. Sailed over to Gomera, the Canary Islands. Gomera is the
place of our meeting with the Kingdom. (The other ship)
Feb. 1, Wednesday. The first thing at daylight we saw the Kingdom just ahead of us.
Their boats came over, exchanged some of the crew. Sailed by Tenerife all night.
The two ships spent eight weeks together cruising
among the Canary Islands, then south to the Cape Verde Islands and along the African
Coast. The diary tells of efforts to keep the two ships together, the lumbering Kingdom
taking dangerous chances to follow the schooner-rigged Coronet into bays and rivers and
hugging rocky shores; of parties ashore for washing salty clothes in the fresh water of
some brook or creek, and to load containers with hundreds of gallons for the yachts
water tanks; of the larger yacht finally ending its career on the sandy marshes
twenty-five miles north of Bathhurst. [A.L.W., The Almighty and Us]
Feb. 2, Thursday. The
Kingdom sailed near by all day. Came within 30 yards and we had meeting together. It
passed by Gran Canaria, population 128,000, a beautiful place; prayers for the people. The
wind died out. Took in the foresail and mainsail. Carried 300 gallons of water to the
Coronet after dark.
Feb. 3, Friday. The Kingdom five or six miles ahead. Put up the awning for a square
sail and caught up to her again. Got wood and some water from her and gave her some of our
provisions. The children went over for a little while. [Ref. to wood indicates use of
wood in the galley stoves in place of coal. A.L.W.]
Feb. 4 & 5 Saturday, Sunday. Sun very hot. Had to keep out of it as much as
possible. Had meeting all day.....I Went over to the Kingdom at night, staying on her for
a few days.
Feb. 6, Monday. Took the yawl on board to caulk and putty her seams. Took the
lifeboat and Mr. Sandfords family and the women and had an outing on the shore.
Ralph and myself walked up a mountain and found two little kids (young goats). We chased
and caught them but let them go. This island, Puertaventura, is about 12,000 inhabitants.
Carried 300 gallons of water to the Coronet after dark.
On the ninth day they set sail for
Africa, sighting the continent early next day. The diary for the next few days tells of
being hove to, trying to catch fish, of Mr. Sandford and the children visiting on the
Kingdom at which time John had as "encouraging little talk" with the leader.
Both ships anchored in the mouth of the "Onis River" where a kindly fishermen
taught them the art of catching the fish peculiar to that area. John wrote. "The fish are the best I ever ate. very fine flavor. There
are many kinds, some taste like chicken."
Feb. 7, Tuesday, Had
a hard row back to the vessels. Got back at 11:00 P.M.
Feb. 8, Wednesday. Had a good nights sleep.
On the ninth day they set sail for Africa, sighting the continent early next day. The
diary for the next few days tells of being hove to, trying to catch fish, of Mr. Sandfor
and the children visiting on the Kingdom at which time John had an encouraging little
talk with the leader. Both ships anchored in the mouth of the
Onis River where kindly fishermen taught them the art of catching the fish
peculiar to that area. [A.L.W., The Almighty and Us.]
Feb. 9, Thursday, The
fish are the best I ever ate, very fine flavor. There are many kinds, some taste like
chicken. Pumped ship.
Feb. 10, Friday. (No entry)
Feb. 11, Saturday. Off west coast of Africa. Had meeting until 12 P.M. Pumped
Feb. 12, Sunday. Coronet away in shore trying to get some fish.
Feb. 13, Monday. Mr. S. and I had an encouraging little talk together.
Feb. 14, Tuesday. I had the day off to wait on the Lord, had a good time.
Feb. 15 & 16, Wed., & Thurs. (No entry)
Feb. 17, Friday. As we were having a meeting a Spanish offficial came over from the
fort and required us to enter seeing we had our anchor down......There are about 500 Moors
camped in tents about the fort, some very wild looking; some children were naked. Got bill
of health from the official.
Feb. 18, Saturday. Read a little book on Africa. Pumped ship after sundown. Had
meeting from 8:00 to 12:00 P.M.
Feb. 19, Sunday. Had a fine meeting on the missionary line for Africa. Miss Dart
spoke on the Sahara Desert. God kindled a fire in my heart for to be a missionary, through
the talk. I was all changed over, prayed for the heathen most all day. Pumped ship.
Feb. 20, Monday. I was up at 4 A.M. and went fishing. We fished all day.
(No entries for Feb. 21, 22, & 23.)
Feb. 24, Friday. Got
under way at 4 P.M. and are sailing down the coast.
Feb. 25, Saturday. Sailed with the Coronet all night.....Had meeting part of the
night. We followed the Coronet and got into a cove and could not get out. Heavy wind
blowing. Dropped anchor, dragged, so let down the other anchor. Furled all sail---very
near shore, about 2 or 3 hundred yards. (John is on board the Kingdom (FEH)
Feb. 26, Sunday. Calmed down in the morning. Lost the small anchor. Got ready to
beat out. Coronet hove in sight. Sent a boat over. Commodore (Perry) and four or five men
came back with us to get underway. Light winds and very changeable ones very near cost the
lives of us all. She would go off a little bit and the wind would change and back us up so
we were only about 12 feet from the rocks when a wind came and God delivered us---beat
(No entries after Feb. 26, until March 3)
March 3, Friday. The
children cried for water.
March 4, Saturday. (No entry)
March 5, Sunday. The yacht is jumping around some. Had meeting on board and at 3
oclock. Went ashore. Got there after sundown. Stayed there all night. Bailed the
boat during the night.
March 6, Monday. Got up at 5 o'clock and loaded the boat and went to the yacht
---had breakfast then a meeting.
After two days of sailing south the
ships turned back to explore the wreck of a "French man-of-war which had run ashore" (not long before). For the next
fifteen days they lay at anchor offshore while the men stripped the wreck of everything
which might be used on either of the two yachts, and much of junk value. They rowed heavy
loads through dangerous breakers using a "lifeboat" which was "leaking badly." It had to be constantly "bailed out." The "royal
family" and some of the men and women stayed aboard the "Castle,"as they
called the wreck, enjoying the more commodious quarters. They caught many fish in the
shallow waters surrounding the wreck, no small reward for their unusual adventure.
13 Thurs. Fine day. Had meeting all day. Had the Lords Supper at midnight. Was
in the launch for a few hours.
They towed the Kingdom's
launch all the way across the Atlantic to the Virginia coast with two men aboard, night
March 7, Tuesday. Had breakfast at 4:30.
March 8, 9, & 10 (No entries)
March 11, Saturday. Enjoyed being with Mr. S. Stayed all night.
March 12, (No entry)
March 13, Monday. Got
up early in the morning. Had a meeting. Felt God wanted us to leave. Got our last load,
which was very heavy, and went to the yacht. Got underway. Lost one of our anchors. Sailed
down the coast. Mr. S. and the boats crew went in close to the shore and enjoyed the
scenery as we sailed by. Some of the coast has high bluffs which are indented with waves
at their base and the sea coming in, when striking the rocks, sends spray twenty-five feet
or more in the air which makes beautiful scenery. Hove to all night.
March 14, Tuesday. Passed Cape Blanc at sundown and then turned west for the Cape
Verde Islands. Water very short.
March 15, Wednesday. Lifeboat leaking badly. Had to keep two men in her to bail.
Took the life boat on board which was a big relief to us all.....
March 16, Thursday. Sighted the islands at 9 A.M. Made for the channel between San
Antao and St. Vincent. Hove to all night, hadnt a chart.
March 17, Friday. Enjoyed another sabbath sunset meeting, had a good rest during the
March 18, Saturday. We are 80 miles from Cape Verde Islands. Pumped ship.
John is again on the Coronet after six weeks as a sailor on the Kingdom [The Almighty and
March 19, Sunday.
Sailed by and saw the Kingdom anchored in harbor of Porte Grande. Hove to and dinghy
came out bringing oranges. Great treat. Water is low
March 20, Monday. (No entry)
March 21, Tuesday. Tried to beat up the channel to drop off dinghy. She would not
tack. wind very strong. Blows in gusts. Lowered mainsail and hove to off lighthouse. The
dinghy left at 5 A.M. Spent the day in prayer for them and Mr. Perry, as he had a lot of
business and a short time to do it in.
March 22, Wednesday. Off the light house in the morning. Sighted the Kingdom coming
out of the harbor about 7 A.M. They brought us some fruit and water. Had two oranges for
March 23, Thursday. Had meeting all day. Headed for Boa Vista on which a wrecked
steamer is aground.
March 24, Friday. Had a fair rest during the night.
March 25, Saturday. Floyds* birthday. Sailed under forestaysail and foresail.
I got dinner in the galley. Mr. S. gave Floyd his room for the evening. He invited Guy
(Campbell) and myself. Had a fine time looking at books, mainly the Spanish American War
and Russo Japanese War. We had an orange also. *Floyd Clark FEH
March 26, Sunday. I worked in the galley again. We are not far from Boa Vista. Water
is low. I am tired, going to bed.
March 27, Monday. (No entry)
March 28, Tuesday. We started along the northern coast looking for the wrecked
steamer.Took lookout aloft at sundown; came around the southern point and saw the steamer.
Hove to all night. Mr. S. and three men went in the dinghy along the shore and to the
wreck. The wreckers were not done with her.
March 29, Wednesday. Up at 4 A.M.
March 30, Thursday. (No entry)
March 31, Friday. Beginning the Jewish New year. Mr. S. got the message for the
year, The golden opportunity. We set sail at 10:30 for Gambia River. New moon
day. Had meeting which lasted till 2:30. Had a fine---or the best meeting during the
3 oclock hour I believe I have ever had. The Kingdom came out and brought us some
fruit, eggs and three turkeys.
April 1, Saturday. (No entry)
April 2, Sunday. Had meeting all day.
April 3, Monday. Good wind. Plenty of work as usual.
April 4, Tuesday. Wind light. Had some difficulty in finding the mouth of the Gambia
River. Found the buoys and sailed down the channel most of the day. Anchored at Bathurst
at 5 P.M. The captain went ashore in the dinghy. Got a little information about the city.
Had meeting until midnight.
April 5, Wednesday. Got everything ready to receive the doctor. Cleaned brass,
washed down decks. He came off at 8 A.M.---a colored man, cheery fellow. Lots of fruit
ashore. [ Last is a wistful entry---they could take on neither food nor water as there was
smallpox ashore. A.L.W.] Captain went ashore after some water and other things. While they
were gone the Kingdom launch, lifeboat and dinghy came to Bathurst. INFORMED US THAT THE
KINGDOM RAN ASHORE----TOTAL LOSS. They left five men on board to clear up most needed
articles. Got our bill of health and got under way. Wind light. Had to anchor. All the
people (from the Kingdom ) came aboard.
April 6, Thursday. Got under way in the morning. Beat down the channel all day. Made
by the outside channel buoy at midnight. Very hot, water scarce, feel very thirsty. Wind
light all night. Had a good meeting. Mr. S. spoke about white oak and it being
planted in our lives to stand the strain. Had the Lords supper.
April 7, Friday. Beat up the coast all day, arrived near the Kingdom at Sunset.
Anchored and sent the two boats over to her. Had supper and had a good rest during the
April 8, Saturday. Lifeboat came with the five men. They were all well. They brought
some water. I went over to the Kingdom. She is in bad condition, many things
April 9, Sunday. Worked all day carrying goods, etc. to the Coronet. Some French
officials came on the Kingdom to see her. We cut away her masts to prevent her going over
as she had started.
April 10, Monday. A good day. Carried all kinds of things to the Coronet. Blowing
hard in the afternoon. With the last load could not make it to the vessel and had to
anchor three miles below her. Danger of filling any moment. She saw us and came down to
April 11, Tuesday. Kingdom is sinking lower and lower in the sand. Carried her big
anchor in the lifeboat to the Coronet. Took down our main topmast. Started for the Kingdom
again, got in the breakers and had to anchor behind them and wait for the tide to change.
Wind blew hard. During the morning a large steamer came around the Coronet and we found
she had lost her way. We got some water from her and gave them some points to their
April 12, Wednesday. Got up at 2 A.M. and got some wire stays off the mizzenmast. I
undressed and went below in the mens cabin (In the water) and got the grindstone and
a few other articles. Loaded the boats with the remaining things and got the spanker boom
and gaff, and started. The lifeboats crew set her (the Kingdom) on fire. Got to the
vessel (the Coronet) and got under way making down the coast for Sierra Leone. (pulling
the )Lifeboat filled with two men in her. Got the men, took the life boat on deck and
broke her up for fire wood. Of the Kingdom Mr. Sandford said "A burnt offering for Africa."
April 14, Friday. Very hot. Sighted an English ocean liner. We made for her and
signaled for some water----very short for a long time. She stopped and we lowered our
boats----got 300 gallons of water from her. They were very obliging, would give us any
thing we wanted. We told them we had shipwrecked crew on board. Her name is the Dover
More given to verbal whiplash than
to praise or even exoneration when failure occurred, Mr. Sandford made a rare exception
when later he made a public statement defending Captain Perry (Commodore) for his part in
sailing the Kingdom onto sandy shallows instead of into the mouth of the Gambia
River. The error in navigation, he said, was due to not having proper charts. Seaman John
Davis has told me they had given their charts to the Coronet's captain, relying
themselves upon hastily penciled duplicates. The Coronet now had sixty-seven people
aboard in accommodations designed for thirty. George MacKay, one of the older sailors,
requested that the Kingdom's crew be turned over to the nearest American Consulate, but he
was overruled and it was not until May 20, six weeks later, that the Coronet was headed
15, Saturday. (No entry)
April 16, Sunday. Sun is very hot. Had meeting all day.
April 17, Monday. Another hot day. Had meetings part of the day.
April 18, Tuesday. Very hot. Had meetings some of the day. Had meeting until 11
April 19, Wednesday. Had meeting until 1 A.M. the next day.
April 20, Thursday. Very thirsty. Had a good meeting.
April 21, Friday. (No entry)
On April 22 all hands had made an effort to properly
celebrate Helen Sandford's birthday. "all hands togged up in white
clothes as much as possible. Had good meeting and ate dinner under the awning about 8:00
P.M. Had small glass of wine after supper" [unfermented grape juice].
Mr. Sandford could make a big thing of his wife's birthday for proper effect and some
diversion from routine, yet behind the scenes he could treat her with a cunning capacity
for unbelievable sadism. For a considerable period of this voyage she was denied the
management of her five children, superseded by a young woman much in her husband's favor
and an unfeeling disciplinarian. Any problems which arose beyond her authority to handle
were referred in private conversation with him, never with their mother who was under
mandate to keep herself aloof from family affairs as much as humanly possible on the
crowded little ship.
This willingness to make others
suffer, so overwhelmingly evident in this man's relations with his associates, was never
revealed as such to the blinded eyes of the faithful. They were under the solid conviction
that suffering was good for the soul and that the
leader's arbitrary rulings and his passionate outbursts were God-inspired.
Sandford's wife, Helen, and his next in command, Charles E. Holland, were throughout the
years his favorite targets for excoriation in the congregation when the mood was upon him,
as well as occasional praise when it could serve the inflated image of this semi-sincere
actor deluxe. Helen took her deep hurt like the veteran soldier that she was, chastising
herself for her supposed spiritual lacks which brought about such a cruel impasse.
The days passed under a withering
sun as they were close to the equator. The diary tells of trips ashore at "Los
Island" for washing clothes, procurement of hundreds of gallons of water from a
spring they discovered, meetings all day and way into the night, a Bible school formed for
the younger members, mending sails, and always, pumping the ship.
23, Sunday. Had a fine meeting. The nights are very hot.
On May 2 there was a
three-hour meeting of prayer for Mr. Alden Day, an elderly man whose profession had been
galley special cook before coming to Shiloh. "Old Man Day." we called him
affectionately. Slow of movement, beetle browed, pleasantly spoken though of few words,
the salt of Casco Bay was in his veins. When fishing on Brown's Banks he mystified us
landlubbers by pulling up his lines, two at a time, each hooking a good-sized cod. We
watched how he baited his hooks, how he handled his line, meanwhile staring at our own
bare hooks as we tried again and again. He was a simple soul, childlike in faith. His
speech crusted with island lore. Watching a boat sailing briskly before the wind he could
be all excitement. Exclaiming in terms which my young mind came to associate with tides
and ocean spray and rocky shores. "She's agoing of it, she's agoing of it."
he would say, his brows raised and his blue eyes snapping.
April 24, Monday. Mr. Perry and the Captain went ashore for water, etc. Anchored off
the isles Do Los
April 25, Tuesday. (No entry)
April 26, Wednesday. Up early. All hands went ashore after water. Some French
officials came over to the yacht, inquired if anything was needed. They were very
Wednesday. We had meeting all day, praying for Mr.Day. He is very sick and weak. His
lower limbs are swollen badly. We did not get supper. Had a fast day.
May 4 to May 6 (No
May 7, Sunday. Had meeting all day. I had a solemn talk with Mr. S.
Monday. Had the day of waiting on God. Mr. Day very weak. He died at 1:00 o'clock. Had his
funeral at sundown."
It was perhaps fitting that this
Downeaster from Barter's Island, [ in the Sheepscot River near Boothbay, Ed.] this man whose life had been devoted to the sea, should
find his last resting place deep under its ever restless billows.
May 9, Tuesday. The 3 oclock service was given in talking the facts and traits
of Mr. Days life, and we asked God to give his spirit to each of us.
May 10, Wednesday. Had meeting part of the day.
May 11, Thursday. Had meeting all day, very hot, calm. Mr. S. has had a sore on his
leg caused by knocking it when on shore. He called all hands down to his room at 3:00. He
brought up the matter about the officers. He put in a new captain, first and second mates.
Mr. Whittom is captain, Mr. Knight first mate, and myself second mate.
May 12, Friday. Everybody was called at 2:00 oclock; had meeting all day until
sunset praying for Mr. Sandfords leg; has bone sore; fasted also.
May 13, Saturday. Had meeting after sundown, prayed for wind and rain, got both.
Praise the Lord, lot of water caught during the night. [for drinking Ed.]
May 14, Sunday. Had meeting all day. Mothers birthday. Prayed for Mr.
Sandfords leg. "Getting
Those last three words indicate to
those in the know that the fur was flying. Somebody must be the goat. Though imbued with
the love of God for his people and the world, attributes which he constantly proclaimed,
he could seem to be entirely devoid of sympathy for another in pain or even dying, if
something about that person offended his sensitivities especially in attitude about
himself. The slightest disloyalty, disobedience or lack of proper respect or attention to
him could arouse a volcano of vituperation all out of proportion.
In my own diary of 1906, at which
time I was Mr. Sandford's valet on the Coronet, I find mention of Mr. F. M.
Wakeman's finger which showed no improvement despite the prayers of the group. He had, in
agony with a felon, gone to his spiritual leader, usual admirer and friend, for prayer and
laying on of hands for healing. He was likely to loose a part of his finger essential to
playing the clarinet, his favorite instrument. Mr. Wakeman was received coldly and told
that God was punishing him for an insulting remark he had made to this man of God's
Now, nearly five years later, with
physical troubles of his own, Mr. Sandford found no fault in himself which could account
for failure of the prayer of faith. It was the shortcomings of the people aboard the Coronet,
especially those of the wrecked yacht Kingdom whom he had always compared unfavorably with
his own chosen group on the holy ship. They were kept in shape by his close ministrations,
"in the White Light of Eternity" ... And anyway, how could God answer prayer for
his leg or for the souls of the heathen if His watchful eye detected
"inexactness" aboard ship? "Getting after things," the diary said.
How well I remember, (ALW)
May 15, Monday. Had meeting most all day, his leg getting better. Fair breeze. Had a
May 16, Tuesday. Good day. Lots of work to do. Prayed for the sick. Mr. S. came on
deck. He had dressed up in silk. Mr. Merrill took his picture by the wheel and binnacle. [How many others back at Shiloh , I wonder, had
silk clothing? Ed.] Vessel
leaks very much. Making a sailmakers bag.
May 17, Wednesday. Wind light, working all day. Wind gave out. Sails slatted and
ripped and tore. Took them in.
May 18, Thursday. Had meeting part of the day. Had to mend the sails and set them.
Wind got light, took them in again. Hot; felt sick with the heat. [Setting those
heavy sails were done by man power only; there were no power winches to help. A.L.W.]
May 19, Friday. Set sail about midnight. Good breeze. Sailed along fine all day. Mr.
Broughams birthday. [Louis Brougham, a court stenographer who could take
dictation without shorthand, typing as fast as people talked. One of his brothers, a
New York lawyer, handled many of the suits arising from the sinking of the Titanic.
May 20, Saturday. The 30 had meeting at 8:00. [30 meant the original Coronet
GOING ACROSS AGAIN. Headed NW by W. good wind.
May 21, Sunday. Meeting all day Testimony service of the people healed from the
fever and other sicknesses. Had supper and another half hour meeting for Gods will
about our trip and His blessing on it.
May 22, Monday. Making fair speed, vessel leaking badly. Sighted a full rigged ship
and a four-masted bark.
May 23, Tuesday. Good wind all day. Sighted a steamer. Signaled her for water and
provisions. She stopped and we bought from 7 to 8 hundred gallons of water and some
provisions. They were very kind to us. Waited three hours with us then saluted each other
as we parted. Set the squaresail, had to mend it about dark.
May 24, Wednesday. Had meeting part of the day praying for Mr. Sandfords leg.
Starting to get worse. Squaresail tore, took it in. Got up in the night and bent the
Kingdoms spanker on for a squaresail. It worked fine. Did not get much rest.
May 25, Thursday. Had meeting all day until 1:30 the next A.M.
May 26, Friday. Hot part of the day. Suffered from heat in my head and had a
toothache. Had a good sunset meeting.
May 27, Saturday. (No entry)
May 28, Sunday. Took in the squaresail and mended it, set it up again. Had meeting
in the afternoon, good time. Mr. S. came on deck. Had prevailing prayer for the healing of
his leg---was remarkably changed from that time.
May 29, Monday. Good wind. Mr. S. read about South America. Having many prayers for
that continent. Also read some of a book on the life of Christ. Having this month for the
seeking of the Holy Spirit and praying for South America. Having one meal a day.
[for 30 days A.L..W.]
May 30, Tuesday. Having meetings as the former days.
May 31 to June 2, (no entries)
June 3, Saturday. Up all night, worked on the square sail all day. Had meeting all
day till midnight.
June 4, Sunday, (No entry)
June 5, Monday, Having good times in our meetings praying for South America and
reading books about it. Plenty of work. Very hot.
June 6, Tuesday (No entry)
June 7, Wednesday. Mended the mainsail. Meeting lasted until 2:00 A.M. A good time.
Very tired. We dont get much sleep.
June 8, Thursday. Had a good meeting Up until 2 A.M. the next morning.
June 9, Friday. Got up at 5 a.m. Had a busy day mending sails, cleaning up the
decks, washing the wasters---enough to make ones head swim.
June 10, Saturday. (No entry)
June 11, Sunday. Had good meetings during the day. Sighted land at 5 P.M. The island
called Tabbago, north east of Trinidad. Sighted a light on Trinidad at midnight.
June 12, Monday. (No entry)
June 13, Tuesday. Sighted Trinidad island in the morning.....Had a good look at the
land---did not stop. Sailed along the coast of Venezuela. Beautiful scenery, high
June 14, Wednesday. Had calm all day. Sighted a little sloop. Hailed her, she was a
pilot boat. Got some fruit from her. Lowered the yawl boat---let the children tow behind
the launch---it is their vacation time.
June 15, Thursday. A good breeze during the day. Sighted Marguerite, an island on
the coast---very beautiful scenery. Saw a few towns, many trees. Had a fine meeting, read
about Christs crucifixion.
June 16, Friday. Came to another island to the westward. Low, with a lot of
vegetation on it. Yawl and launch took the school children for a sail, landed, did not see
any inhabitants. Sailed away to the westward bound for Panama.
June 17, Saturday. (No entry)
June 18, Sunday. Had a good meeting. God anointed us all. Had a fine time.
June 19, Monday. On our way to the West Indies.
June 20, Tuesday. Hove to off an island called Aruba, a Dutch island, after
midnight. Ran in at daylight and sent two boats ashore for provisions. Aruba is north of
Cape Roman.......Picked up the boats in the afternoon. Had a bad toothache. Sailed for
Cape Deleanus, [Pt.
Gallinas?] most northern point of South
June 21, Wednesday. Got exactly north of the Cape then changed our course northward
to the West Indies. Gave up going to Panama. Quite rough---the men in the launch were
thoroughly soaked. [the
one still in tow. Ed.]
June 22, Thursday. About half an hour before daylight the launch went adrift. Found
it out and hove to. Looked for them but could not find them anywhere. Jibed ship and went
back on the course we came....picked them up in a half hour.....were very thankful we had
not lost them. Had meeting all day. Lots of pumping to do. Set mainsail in the afternoon.
Took it in again at 10 P.M. Jib carried away.
June 23, Friday. Took in the jib and bent the jib topsail in its place. Rove a
buntline for the squaresail. Esther Sandford (12 years old) got the fever, very high,
recovered through prayer. Had meeting from 3:00 to sundown. Had a talk on some of the
Central American states and prayed prevailing prayer for them.
June 24, Saturday. Getting near land [meaning Haiti]. Sounded during my watch, but
did more pumping than anything. The vessel is leaking very badly. Sighted land a little
after noon. Had meeting at 3 oclock, talked about the direction that we should
June 25, Sunday. Sailed to the westward going around the western end of
June 26, Monday. Getting ready for an outing. Mr. S. and family with his crew went
in his boat. Mr. Perry and Mr. Whitaker took the launch and nine or the women, went ashore
and were captured and arrested by the natives for landing and not entering. They were kept
in the guardhouse all day. Mr. Perry had the papers with him so they let him go if he
would bring the yacht in. We went hunting for the boats. Used the flare up looking for
June 27, Tuesday. Found out about the trouble and made preparations for entering.
Mended our sails and got underway at 2.00 P.M. AT 10 A.M. we sent the yawl ashore on
business. Anchored at sundown. Very beautiful harbor. The boats came off with fruit. Very
cheap in this place. Mr. S. and family came aboard also.
June 28, Wednesday. Three of the boats went ashore in the morning for fruit and
water. Spent all day getting the yacht in shape for visitors. Got lots of bananas,
pineapples, coconuts, mangoes, breadfruit, yams, etc. A Frenchman by the name of Doubow
was very kind to Mr. S. and helped him to get out of his difficulties and also invited Mr.
S. and family and boats crew to dinner. He also helped get fruit for us. He came out to
see us. Got underway at sundown.
June 29 & 30. (No entries)
July 1, Saturday. Had a fair rest day. Had the middle watch. Have been feeling very
tired for a long time. Calm all day long. Had a fair supper, three or four kinds of fruit,
etc. Prayed for wind and God gave us a wind almost before we got through asking.
July 2 & 3. (No entries)
The following is by A.L. White in his book:
Between July 4 and 26 it is anybodys guess what they could have been doing for
progress north. John did not keep a daily account but summed up the whole three weeks in a
paragraph. They sailed north by the eastern end of Cuba, dropped anchor at Akline Island,
had an outing ashore and got water. They also hailed two different steamers for food and water.
Caught about 800 gallons of rainwater.
(Johns paragraph) Mr.
McKay and Mr. Sellick have been taken very sick, one with the fever, the other with
sunstroke.....sailed to Fortune Island and got some provisons there. From there we sailed
toward San Salvador but officials would not let us land, as we had sickness aboard. Had
lots of pumping to do, mending sails and catching rainwater.
July 26, Wednesday.
Fixed up the launch with a cover. Got very wet while catching the water and did not
get my clothes changed. Took sick.....Very bad bowel trouble and some fever. Had a mean
July 27, Thursday. Felt some better. Able to work some. Had meeting all day.
Planning trip up north and praying about it. Felt quite mean all night. Worked on the
sails some. [Already scurvy was taking its toll of the mens strength. A.L.W.]
July 28, Friday. Set all the sails and had to take them all in again. Mainsail tore
July 29, Saturday. Had a fine sabbath. Sea very calm and not much pumping to do. Had
a good rest. Had dinner on deck. Quite hot. Had meeting after supper until 3:00 A.M. the
next morning. Talked of sending boats to Chesapeake Bay for provisions.
July 30, Sunday. The boats left at 2:00 A.M. Light wind all day. Saw a steamer in
the distance. Had meeting part of the day. Had a chance to have a talk with Mr. S. Felt
much better when through. Fish were caught before dinner.
July 31, Monday. Got up at 4 A.M. and worked on sails all day.
It appears that the launch, minus gasoline for its engine must make its way over nearly
100 miles of ocean via sail and oars. The men told Mr. S. the chances of the launch being
successful in finding the Coronet were rather slim, but he assured them that what men
could not do God could manage very well. Two of the five men sent on the launch would take
the train at Norfolk, Rev. A.K. Perry and Rev. A.A. Whittaker, whose wife was pressing her
suit. The other three would try to return to the yacht which was to meet them between cape
Charle Cape Henry at latitude 37 degrees. Why would the Coronet not put in to Norfolk?
No suggestion of such a move was entered in Adamsons diary. (A.L.W.)
Pumping ship is almost continual work.
Aug. 2, Wednesday. Fair day. Going in slowly along the latitude 37 on which we
expect to meet the boat. Kept lookout aloft this afternoon and night also----showed our
light every half hour for the launchs sake. Current set us down ten miles south of
the line. Had meeting most of the day and continued until midnight.
Aug. 3, Thursday. At the last of the first watch, just a little before midnight, a
steamer came straight for us----showed our light before she turned off. At 7:30 while
eating breakfast under the awning, a passenger ship, Alamo, turned from her course and
steered around our stern and offered to report us. At noon we find we are 14 miles north
of latitude 37---steer south. Had meeting all day. Provisions low.
The courtesy of the sea offered by the Alamo was the
last thing Mr. Sandford wanted. There had been careful instructions to the men on the
launch that if the port authorities showed any interest in the whereabouts of the Coronet
the rendezvous must be abandoned. One report has it that two Coast Guard boats put out to
find the Coronet. Suspecting this, the launch headed north with three men and the
provisions. After all, how far would that comparatively small amount of supplies go among
all those people?
Meanwhile the anxious yacht was hunting, sailing back and forth, or hove to outside the
entrance to Chesapeake Bay. Seaman John Davis has told of his precarious perch one night
at the top of the mainmast on two adjoining metal cross pieces (spreaders for stays)
fighting the coma of exhaustion as he watched for light signals from the launch. His
relief found him asleep with no safety ropes about him ! (A.L.W.)
Aug. 4, Friday During
the night we hove to some of the time off the lights of Chesapeake Bay. Showed our lights.
Sailed up north along the coast. Tacked about 5:P.M. and sailed by the wind down to the
lightship called Cape Charles-----did not see anything of them. Felt the pressure very
much. Had feelings of wanting to be at home. Provisions low. Rather calm.
Aug. 5, Saturday. Did not see them anywhere. We hove to most all night, first
on one tack and then on the other. After breakfast we sailed north along the coast and
continued so all day and night. Had meeting all night finding out Gods will and
voting on what we should do.
Aug. 6, Sunday. Spent the whole day in fasting and prayer and waiting on God. Had a
good time. Beat all day wind ahead, many steamers, sailing vessels and tugs towing barges
passed during the day. Some pumping to do. Had a good rest all night.
Aug. 7, Monday. Had morning watch---tacked once and headed north. Pumped 2700 during
my watch. Breakfast at 11:00 oclock. Sailed by the lightship and sent the longboat
over for provisions. They returned at 10:00 P.M. with quite a few provisions.
Aug. 8, Tuesday. Mr. Cook took very sick. At 2 A.M. gradually sinking away. He died
at 2 P.M. and was buried about 10 P.M.
On the 8th of August the diary reported the death of
Mr. Benjamin Cook, elderly English taxidermist. Beginning with the trip around the world
he had been a part of the ships complement for the purpose of mounting specimens
which fell to the leaders firearms.-----It is difficult to imagine how any elderly
person could survive the regime aboard the Coronet with its irregular meals, lack of
vegetables and fruit and shortage of drinking water, plus the rigid religious taboo
against use of any elimination aids, either mild laxatives or low enema. Bowel
irregularity, whatever its cause, came under the divine healing category and was supposed
to respond to the prayer of faith which shall save the sick. With the release
of death his sufferings for Christs sake were over and they slid his neglected and
abused old frame over the side, northeast by east of Nantucket Lightship.----From this
date on, two weeks, as they were proceeding up the coast the routine was much the same
with the additional news they were once again catching fish. (From The
Almighty and Us, by A.L..W.)
Aug. 9, Wednesday. (No entry)
Aug. 10, Thursday.
Had a squall from the northwest. Had meeting all day until midnight. Mrs. Perry took
sick with a high fever.
Aug. 11, Friday. Sick folks are better. Plenty of pumping to do. Food rather short,
feel quite hungry some of the time.
Aug. 12, Saturday. Got up at 1:30. Took in a mainsail. Had a good dinner at 2:30.
Quite a little sea and had considerable pumping to do. Had meeting after sundown.
Aug. 13, Sunday. Got up at 5 A.M. and began mending sails. Worked off and on between
the meetings. Had a good meeting. Feeling very weak. Had to go aloft to work on the
squaresail. Didnt have much strength. Had the Lords Supper at 10 P.M.
Aug. 14, Monday. Got up at 6 A.M. Pumped ship. Had a good breakfast and dinner
through the Lords provision.
Aug. 15, Tuesday. (No entry)
Aug. 16, Wednesday. Rained heavy in the A.M. All hands got wet and cold. Binnacle
was loosed from the deck by the down haul catching under it. By observation we have run by
the lightship so turned south, drifting to the east as well as sailing south.
Aug. 17, Thursday. (No entry)
Aug. 18, Fridday. Sailing up north. Mainsail ripped, taken in, sewed up and set
Aug. 19, Saturday. A strong wind. Lots of pumping night and day. Steering gear came
apart at 4 A.M. Fixed it.
Aug. 20, Sunday. (No entry)
Aug. 21, Monday. Focastle cleaned out and all hands eating together on the
quarter (deck) except Mr. Sellick.
Mr. Sellick, First Mate from the yacht Kingdom, this man may have been too assertive with
his opinions about how the Coronet should be managed, and was being sharply disciplined,
or he may have openly opposed sailing further north under the crowded conditons and with
the children and women aboard. They had just passed the Portland area where they could
have easily put in to safety. John did not mention the death of the Sellick baby, two
years of age. I am told both parents were then under a cloud of disfavor. They were
informed God was talking to them through the babys death about their
attitude toward divine authority, especially of their spiritual leader. Sellick was not
eating with the group, experience suggests, because he was considered temporarily out of
fellowship. (From The Almighty and Us, by A.L..W.)
Aug. 22, Tuesday.
Made a thorough cleansing of the focastle. Had it all ready for us by night.
Had a meeting in it before retiring. Seemed so good to have a good resting place
Aug. 23, Wednesday. Have been feeling sick for three days----constipated.
Aug. 24, Thursday. (No entry)
Aug. 25, Friday. Mr. S. had meeting and talked on being perfect. A dark,
Aug. 26, Saturday. Off Sable Island. Quite cold. Hot drinks are frequent.
Aug. 27, Sunday. Had fine meeting all day. Hot drinks and pop corn served during the
day. Quite cold, stood watch. Big pump has been out of commission, using small one.
Aug. 28, Monday. Sighted a fisherman at 7, put over the long boat and went to
her---got provisions and fish. Very kind. Repairing the mainsail and mainboom.
Aug. 29, Tuesday. Hove too all night and part of the day. Set trawl. Fog set in,
lost it. At 6 P.M. set sail on our journey again, very rough.
Aug. 30, Wednesday. French fisherman steamer came around, went aboard, purchased 3
barrels of hard biscuit. Appreciated bread very much. Food short. Working on mainsail and
Aug. 31, Thursday. Cold.
Sept. 1, Friday. Cold. Had a good run all night toward Newfoundland. Plenty of
Sept. 2, Saturday. Cool, bracing weather, sun out a little. Dried some of our
clothes. Sighted Newfoundland. Sailing along the coast all day. Making 6 to 7 knots every
hour. Plenty of pumping.
Sept. 3, Sunday. Thick fog during the night. Sailed up the coast. Rained some. Hove
to. Tried for fish, did not catch any. Few steamers passed by us.
Sept. 4, Monday. Emmas birthday. (Johns sister back on land.) She is
fifteen. Sailed NE away from land. Sea quite calm. Took down squaresail, topsail, yard and
topmast. Very cold working aloft, got chilled through. Pumping keeps us fairly warm.
John had mentioned birthdays of both his father and
mother as the dates arrived. There were two other sisters, Ellen and Florence and a much
younger brother, Arthur. John was a home boy who cared about his family. He mentioned
praying all day for his father as he went about his work. His mother, as before mentioned,
had left the fold, taking the children with her. (From The Almighty and Us, by A.L..W.)
Sept. 5, Tuesday.
Still sailing north, probably for Greenland. Cold days and nights now. Pumping more
or less all of the time
Sept. 6, Wednesday. Cold and disagreeable, still we must be glad and unafraid. Calm
part of the day, blowing fresh at night. Took in little boat. Repaired mainsail, bent it
to the boom. A year ago today we left the Gulf of St. Lawrence for the South.
Sept. 7, Thursday. (No entry)
Sept. 8, Friday. (No entry)
Sept. 9, Saturday. Had a day off. Have been very weak and played out. Got a good
rest, had a chance to read my Bible. All the crew are nothing extra. Sailing most of the
time under storm trysail.
Sept. 10, Sunday. A fine day, sunny and bright. Quite cool. Had fine meeting today.
Set the mainsail. Getting near the Grand Banks.
This was John Adamsons last entry in his revealing dairy. There was no other such
record kept so far as I know. If a log was preserved I would not be privileged to see it,
not being in the good graces of present believers. They would rather such facts should not
be aired since the world will not understand. The original of the diary was
loaned to me by a survivor of that voyage, a close friend of the days when we shared a
common faith. There had been brief additions, apparently by Johns father, after his
Oct. 21, Saturday.
Coronet reached Portland in a serious condition.
Oct. 28, Saturday. He was taken from the Coronet by Mrs. Burnham* and removed to the
Marine Hospital against his will. John died at the hospital at 6:00 A.M., November 1,
1911. God gave me St. John 12:24, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and
||The Marine Hospital,
where John Adamson and John Bolster were placed by officers acting in their behalf for the
State of Maine. The image is from an antique postcard postmaked August 9, 1911,
three months before their deaths. The hospital exists today as a part of the
Martin's Point Health Care Center on Route One, in Portland, Maine
* Mrs. Mary Burnham was acting as an officer for the State of Maine with the Children's
to Top of Page