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Reuben Pinkham

Reuben R. Pinkham (1800-1839) was naval officer and also served on merchant vessels, often pursuing pirates. After receiving his naval appointment as midshipman in 1818, his first assignment was pursuing pirates in the Gulf of Mexico. Later he served on American frigates in the western Mediterranean and the Aegean, pursuing Greek pirates that preyed on the American merchant ships.

While living on Nantucket, Reuben Pinkham became a strong advocate for free public education and a close ally of Samuel Jenks, who is mentioned frequently in these letters.

Lived in 40 Orange Street, as shown in this map he drew in one of the letters. His house is marked "4" by Gorham Court.

Reuben died in 1839 while serving as third Lieutenant on the USS Constitution off the coast of Patagonia, probably from tuberculosis.

Lydia Grover Pinkham (1806-1876) and Reuben married in 1825; they had three children: Harriet (1826-1900), Charles (1828-1850), and Judith (1830-1850). Lydia died 26 August 1876 of "nervous fever." Unfortunately, we do not have an image of Lydia.

The Children of Reuben & Lydia

Harriet Pinkham Calder

Harriet Pinkham married Timothy W. Calder, merchant, in 1845. Lived at 91 Main Street. Died 17 December 1900.

Timothy W. Calder, son of William Calder and Sally Coffin, was born in 1823, and died of consumption in July 1888. In the 1850 census, the couple lived next door to her mother, and Timothy's occupation was listed as "grocer and provisions."

The couple are buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery.

Charles B. Pinkham died in 1850; D. single, lost at sea about 1850.

Judith Pinkham  was born in 1830 and died in 1850, after a long illness. The town of Nantucket's records records her cause of death as being a "spinal complaint."

The Family in Ohio

Andrew Pinkham

Father of Reuben, Captain Andrew Pinkham (1767-1840), was a prominent Nantucket whaleman. He commanded several whaleships between 1785 and 1809, and had many years experience as a mariner. His experiences included escaping privateers while master of the New Bedford ship President in 1801 by crossing the Atlantic during hurrican season with only two-inch boards covering the holes from cannon shots.

Andrew Pinkham's parents were Jethro Pinkham (1745-1820) and Susannah Coffin (1748-1827), the parents of ten children. Raised a Quaker, Andrew married Deborah Bunker Pinkham (1771-1840), a non-Quaker and in 1800 purchased a house at the corner of New Dollar and Milk Streets. The couple attended the Congregational Church.

The family of Andrew Pinkham emigrated form Nantucket at the outbreak of the War of 1812. They and eleven families from the region moved to the Ohio valley.

Alexander Pinkham

Alexander Bunker Pinkham (1792-1843), brother of Reuben Pinkham, had an active naval career, eventually reaching the rank of commander, and also served on merchant vessels.

In 1828, Alex Pinkham conducted a walking tour of the British Isles.

In 1829-1830 he was the master of America’s first privately owned sailing training vessel, for the Coffin School of Nantucket, established by Sir Isaac Coffin.

Alex married Lydia H. Davis of Portsmouth in 1835 and together they had three children, Charles, Lydia, and Alice; in 1837 he became superintendent of the naval shipyard at Gosport; he died in Portsmouth Virginia in 1843 at the age of 51. The town of Nantucket records his death as being in East Boston of Cerebral Meningitis, with him being interred on Nantucket.

Dr. Thomas Pinkham (1802-1884), brother of Reuben Pinkham, graduated from Cincinnati Medical College in 1828 and later was a prominent physician in Cincinnati, Ohio. He married Cynthia West c. 1836; children include Thomas Adolphus Pinkham (1855-1943) and Elizabeth (called Eva, 1860-1953).

Son Thomas Adolphus Pinkham (1855-1943) married Celia Dillingham Hayford in 1883 and they had one child, Eva Marie Pinkham, who married George Schubert.

Cynthia West Pinkham’s brother was Vincent T. West (1812-1889); he also studied medicine with Thomas and settled in Pike County, Indiana.

William Pinkham (1810-1892), brother of Reuben Pinkham, became a farmer and tradesman in Loveland, Ohio; married Eunice Maria Levitt (1812-1901); children include Oliver Pinkham (1851-1866) and Mary Ann Pinkham (1842-1938), who married James Reeves.

Deborah Pinkham (1816-1874), was the illegitimate daughter of Reuben Pinkham and Elizabeth (Amy) Arey, who offered the child for adoption to Andrew and Deborah Pinkham in 1821. She married George Washington West (1815-1874), a farmer, in about 1835, and settled in Indiana.

The Nantucketers

Lydia's father was Benjamin Glover (1766-1833) and mother was Judith Bunker Glover (1769-1826). He is referred to in the letters as "Father." He dies in 1833.

Benjamin Glover remarried Margaret Hussey Wyer Glover (1772-1861) after his first wife's death, as aluded to in the first letter. Her first husband was William Wyer. She is referred to as "Mother Glover."

Henry Swift, married to Zenas Coffin's daughter. That is Henry Swift (1793-1862), married to Mary Coffin (1799-1827), then sometime later married to Lydia's sister Elizabeth Glover (1797-1872). Referenced in letter of 8 July 1830.

Elisa Gardner Glover (b. 25 February 1797, d. 1 June 1885) married Charles Glover, children: Jane Glover, Charles H. Glover (1825-1885), and George B. Glover (1827-1885).

Nancy Glover Riddell ( b. 18 September 1789, d. 2 September 1835) married to Joshua Riddell.

James T. Eldridge ( b. 17 January 1788, d. 13 April 1866) married Deborah Pinkham Eldridge (b. 7 November 1789, d. 20 December 1851), daughter of Jethro Pinkham and Susan (Susanna) Coffin and sister to Andrew Pinkham.

Isaac Folger (b. 17 August 1773, d. 17 June 1842) married Love Pinkham Folger (b. 5 August 1775, d. 14 January 1861)

James M. Bunker (b. 5 March 1811, d. 19 November 1873) son of Reuben R. Bunker and Rachael Chase. James M. Bunker married Sarah West (b. 12 January 1817, d. 20 November 1858), daughter of Paul West and Phebe Hussey, before 1838. After Sarah died, James M. Bunker married Lucretia F. Macy, daughter of Edward Macy and Eunice Hallett, in 1859. James M. Bunker died on 19 November 1873 at age 62.


George Myrick, Jr.

George Myrick Jun. (b. 5 March 1790, d. 6 May 1863), son of George Myrick and Lydia Ray. Married to Elisa Mitchell, daughter of Christopher Mitchell and Jemima Folger.

In addition to owning several vessels, Myrick was a successful merchant who ran a ship chandlery and warehouse on Nantucket's wharves.


Elisa Myrick

Seth Pinkham

Seth Pinkham ( b. 9 July 1786, d. 1844), wife Mary Brown Pinkham (b. 18 June 1791, d. 14 April 1874).

While master of the ship Henry Astor he died at Pernambuce, "of diseases of the heart". His remains were placed on board the Nile of Baltimore to return home to Nantucket. Captain Seth Pinkham grew up in 42 Fair Street and in 1828 built and moved into a house next door, 40 Fair Street.


Mary Pinkham
Children of Seth and Mary Pinkham: Seth Pinkham Jun., Mary B. Pinkham (b. 11 Mar 1814, d. 27 Feb 1910), Elisabeth C. Pinkham (b. 2 Feb 1816, d. 12 Feb 1897), Rebecca C. Pinkham (b. 7 Feb 1818, d. 3 Nov 1870), Malvina F. Pinkham (b. 1820, d. 21 Jul 1885), Harriett B. Pinkham (b. 1828, d. 3 Dec 1874), Helen Pinkham (b. 6 Jul 1834)

Samuel Haynes Jenks

Samuel Haynes Jenks (1789-1863) was born in Boston, Massachusetts but considered Nantucket his home-away-from-home. He was an energetic, outspoken man who confronted important issues such as the abolition of imprisonment for debts. In 1827, he helped establish Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin’s Lancasterian School, the first free school on Nantucket. By the late 1820s, Jenks had been Editor of the Inquirer for nearly six years and had established its reputation beyond the Island’s shores. During his years as Editor, he actively advocated his Whig party beliefs and never failed to take a stand and publish editorials on current issues. Jenks sold the newspaper when he was appointed Postmaster of Nantucket on March 26, 1841; he held that position until 1843. He died in Boston, Massachusetts in 1863.

William Bigelow of Boston was the editor of the Nantucket Journal, published between September 14, 1826 and June 1, 1827.


Admiral Isaac Coffin

Sir Isaac Coffin

Through the collaboration of Sir Isaac Coffin and Samuel H. Jenks, the first free school on Nantucket opened in 1827. It was called the Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin Lancasterian School and was intended to serve not only as a place of learning but as an enduring monument to the Coffin clan.

Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin's Lancasterian School was founded in 1827, at the height of Nantucket's whaling era, by English Baronet Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin, a descendant of Tristram Coffin, one of the Island's original settlers.

First situated on Fair Street, a new school was built in its present location on Winter Street after the Great Fire of 1846. In addition to "giving a good English education to youth who are descendants of late Tristram Coffin" (which included almost every child on Nantucket), the school emphasized nautical skills. For that purpose, the Admiral purchased the first training ship in America -- the Clio, an 87-foot brig that took Nantucket boys as far as the coast of Brazil.

The Coffin School (as it is called today) closed as an Academy for a brief period, 1898-1903, and reopened as a manual training school.

Around the end of the nineteenth century, the school became a center of manual training and home economics for the Nantucket Public Schools. In recent decades, the school has housed various non-profit organizations and is now the home of the Egan Maritime Foundation


Seth F. Swift
"Parson Swift" is Seth F. Swift, Minister of the Unitarian Church from 1810 to 1833.