SEA CAPTAINS OF WHIDBY ISLAND -- ISLAND COUNTY HISTORY
Whidby Island became the permanent home of many famous sea captains.
"Master Mariners" they were called. Captain Thomas Coupe, Captain Howard
Bently Lovejoy, Captain Robert C. Fay, and probably others were pilots....
Captain Robert C. Fay, pilot, was born in Cuttingsville, Vermont, in
1820. In 1845 he sailed as Mate on the ship "Harvest" with Captain Coffin,
master. They sailed out of Tarpaulin Cove, February 18, 1845, bound on a
whaling voyage to the Pacific Ocean for a full cargo of sperm oil. This
proved to be a voyage of three and one-half years. (The original log books
as kept by Captain Fay are still preserved.) January 1st, 1846, found them
still in quest of whale in the neightborhood of the French Rock. They
registered at Pitcairn Island. In April 1848, they were homeward bound. On
Wednesday, July 5th, 1848, at 11 a.m. they came to anchor back in Nantucket
The next record says that Captain Fay was in San Francisco in 1849,
and sailed from there with Captain Isaiah Folger as Master on the schooner
"Exact" which landed the first settlers at Alki Point, November 13, 1851.
From that time on Captain Fay remained on Puget Sound taking an active
interest in the arrival of all newcomers. We find his name mentioned many
times in old records where he helped different families in building their
homes and did much to avert serious trouble among the Indians during the
uprising of various tribes in 1855-1856.
There are papers preserved recording his experiences with the
Indians. He issued them rations daily. He was successful in combating the
problem of those few white men who dealt in the liquor traffic, fatal to the
keeping of peace among the Redmen and the Whites. He was appointed
Government Indian Agent for the Puget Sound Country.
Colonel Simmons, in charge of Treaty Affairs, designated Captain Fay
as agent to assemble the chiefs of the tribes to hold a conference. (The
original records of these meetings with reports made by Captain Fay and
speeches made by the Chiefs are still preserved). On September 12, 1860,
Captain Fay married the widow of John Alexander and spent the remainder of
his life in Coupeville. He died February 25, 1872.
Letters written to Captain Fay by his sister at the beginning of war
talk between the North and South are still preserved in the possession of
Ida Alexander Sill. "Robert, we do wish you would come home. We can forsee
much trouble and need your gracious presence. It is so hard for us all to
understand why a man of your education, ability and family pride should
insist on still remaining out in a country inhabited only by savages and
those people who are content to give up everything they had here to reside
in huts, without schools, churches, or the social life a member of the Fay
family should enjoy.
"Have you no explanation to offer? Your conduct in this matter is
indeed a problem which we do not discuss other that between muself and our
brother Winslow." This verifies the general idea that people in the East
had of our great western country and of the pioneers who came and remained
to make it famous. Captain Fay was County Superintendent of Schools in
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Text of the book "Sea Captains of Whidby Island". Submitted by Gail Bender February 14, 1998.