Captains' Wives

  • Harbor
  • Ship

Captains’ Wives

Portland Harbor

View from Eastern Promenade

About one-fifth of the trading ships sailing out of Portland Harbor in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries included the captain’s wife and young family. One example is Hannah Haskell Poor, wife of Captain David Poor, and their children, Melissa Aurora and Frances Ellen, who sailed the route between Portland and Havana, Cuba, in the 1840s. They kept busy on shipboard by producing handcrafts. The Maine Historical Society owns and often exhibits the Star and Compass quilt made by Hannah and David and the cedar ditty box made by David with the same design. Eastern Promenade was a place for wives of seamen to look out for returning ships.