Shipping has been in our family for generations.
A historian describing our first ship wrote;
“During the summer of 1789, a small, independent for trading company based in Montreal paid for the construction of their first schooner at the little town of Detroit.
The Nancy was built in 1789 at Detroit which was at that time British soil. The construction of the schooner was under the supervision of John Richardson of Forsyth, Richardson and Company of Montreal. There were probably no plans, but it has been determined that her length was approximately 80 feet, her width, or beam, 22 feet, and her depth of hold, eight feet. John Richardson wrote to his partner from Detroit in 1789: “The schooner will be a perfect masterpiece of workmanship and beauty. The expense to us will be great, but there will be the satisfaction of her being strong and very durable. Her floor-timbers, keel, keel-son, stem and lower futtocks are oak. The transom, sternpost, upper futtocks, top-timbers, beams and knees are all red cedar. She will carry 350 barrels.”
Her figurehead, carved by Skelling of New York, was “a lady dressed In the present fashion with a hat and feather.” The Nancy was named for either the wife or daughter of John Richardson.The schooner was built for the fur trade which she served by carrying goods including food, clothing, rum, meat, powder, blankets, tools, trinkets, weapons and ammunition up the lakes and then returning with furs. At this time, there were two main ports in the West. Sault Ste. Marie governed access to Lake Superior and the North. Further west, in the Straits of Mackinaw, Fort Michilimackinac was a trading post, which commanded lake Huron, Lake Michigan and the West. This was the center of activity in the northerly Great Lakes and the Northwest. It had been maintained by the French as early as 1687, but the British, in 1761, had been the first to build proper fortifications. The launching of the Nancy took place at Detroit on November 24, 1789 and in the following spring, under the command of Captain William Mills, her maiden voyage took her to Fort Erie.
After the launching, John Richardson wrote: “She is spoken of here in such high strain of encomium as to beauty, stowage and sailing that she almost exceeds my expectations.”
The rest of the story is history…