Captain Ellsworth

Captain Ellsworth West was born in 1864 on Martha’s Vineyard to a family who were no strangers to whaling and the sea. It was not surprising then that he should ship out of New Bedford on a whaling vessel as a boy, the first of many such voyages that saw him gain his captain’s papers.

Seeing whaling decline, between 1900 and 1910 Captain West carried passengers, mail and freight to the Yukon Klondike gold digs on the CORWIN, with his wife Gertrude as the purser. Ellsworth and Gertrude ultimately returned to the Vineyard, living in Edgartown across from the Congregational (now Federated) Church.

The seafaring adventures of Captain West are recounted in his memoir, Captain’s Papers. He told the story of his life to Eleanor Ransom Mayhew, and the book was published posthumously in 1965.


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