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The schooner Fame is moored in Salem, Massachusetts at Pickering Wharf.  She was built in Essex, Massachusetts by Harold Burnham, and launched in 2003.  The Burnhams have been building boats in Essex since the 1640s.  The original schooner Fame was an Essex fishing schooner used as a privateer in the War of 1812.  

The interesting connection is that Abner Poland III served on board the Fame in the War of 1812 by Abner Poland III of Essex, Massachusetts.  I’m descended of his sister, Sally Poland, and also twice descended from his great grandfather John Poland of Hamilton, Massachusetts.   The current schooner Fame has a captain, Michael Rutstein, who contacted me in 2009 for more information about Captain Abner Poland.  He found the connections between the Polands and the Burnham family interesting.  Captain Rutstein also found it interesting that all three generations of Abner Polands served in the military in the first years of American History.   Abner Poland was also the owner of the schooner Dart, built in Newburyport in 1792, and captain of the Cossack.

The first captain for the original Fame was William Webb, and his lieutenant was John Becket, Jr.   John Becket was grandson of my 7x great grandfather, John Becket, and he was also a shipwright.  The older John Becket a great grandson of Bridget (Playfer) Oliver Bishop, who was hung as a witch in Salem on 10 June 1692.   She was my 9x great grandmother.   John Becket, Jr., captain of the Fame, died at sea in 1816 and left a wife and three orphaned children. 

The Fame and the Jefferson were the first two privateers.  It was a very lucrative business, and many more Salem ships entered privateering.   A privateer was authorized by the government to attack foreign shipping, and allowed to rob.  These raiders interrupted the British trade routes during the War of 1812, at great risk of being captured as prisoners of war.  However, the seized cargo was allowed to be auctioned and the proceeds distributed amongst the crew.   

The Poland Family Tree:

Generation 1: Thomas Poland, immigrant from England, died 22 February 1666 in Wenham, Massachusetts; married to Hannah Unknown, three sons including:

Generation 2: John Poland, born about 1631 in England, died 3 August 1713 in Hamilton, Massachusetts; married first in 1657 to Bethiah Friend, daughter of John Friend; married second to Margery Unknown about 1680, widow of Anthony Dike.  Seven children with Bethiah, including: 

Generation 3: James Poland, born about 1665 in Wenham, died in 1722; married first in 12 April 19 in Wenham to Rebecca Kimball, daughter of Richard Kimball and Rebecca Abbye; married second to Elizabeth Unknown.  Seven children with Rebecca, including:

Generation 4:  John Poland, born about 1693 in Hamilton or Wenham, died 21 April 1777; married on 11 April 1718 in Hamilton to Abigail Davis, daughter of James Davis and Abigail Mettcalfe.  Nine children, including:

Generation 5: Abner Poland, born about 1736 in Essex, died 9 Feb 1824 in Essex; married first on 3 April 1761 to Dorothy Burnham, daughter of John Burnham and Rachel Smith.  My 7x great grandfather.  He served in the American Revolution at the taking of Burgoyne at the Battles of Long Island, White Plains and Harlem Heights.    This Abner, his son Abner, and his grandson Abner all served in the American Revolution.

Also, his brother Daniel Poland, born about 1724, died 19 August 1768 in Salem; married on 18 October 1747 in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire to Sarah Bishop, daughter of James Bishop and Sarah Holmes.  Also my 6x great grandfather.

Generation 6: Abner Poland, jr. born 17 May 1761, died 14 January 1835 in Enfield, New Hampshire; married on 20 March 1783 in Essex to Sarah Burnham, daughter of Westley Burnham and Deborah Story of Essex.  Abner, Jr. served in the American Revolution in the battles at Hubbardston, Stillwater, Monmouth, and Yorktown.  He received the Badge of Merit, the highest decoration, from General George Washington.  Eight children, Including:

Generation 7: Abner Poland III, born about 1781 in Essex, Massachusetts; married on 28 October 1819 at the Second Baptist Church of Boston to Lucinda Baker, married second to Mercy Kidder born 22 Mar 1792 in Enfield, New Hampshire, daughter of Joseph Kidder and Mercy Fox.  One daughter.  Abner III was a sailor during the American Revolution, and was captured aboard the Hawk and imprisoned at Forten Prison in England.  He was master of the privateers the Dart and the Fame in the War of 1812.


For more information:

My blog post on 4 October 2010 about Abner Poland’s Badge of Merit from George Washington   The website for the new schooner Fame, with sailing schedules and historical information.


My blog post on 19 November 2010 about Harold Burnham’s Shipbuilding in Essex, Massachusetts


Boatbuilding with Burnham ,  the blog for Harold Burnham in Essex


Copyright 2011, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


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