A Tale of the Sea etc.

Amazon link for Lone Voyager
Amazon link for Lone Voyager

In January 1883, a dory was lost at sea off the south coast of Newfoundland.  On it were Howard Blackburn and Tommy Welsh.  They became separated from their schooner in a sudden storm.  The Captain and crew reluctantly had to give them up for dead.

Sixteen-year old Tommy Welsh did die, but Howard Blackburn managed to put in at the tiny village of Little River (now Grey River) near Burgeo on the south coast of Newfoundland.  There, through the skill of Jenny Lushman and Susie Bushney, he was brought back to health, minus his fingers and toes.

An incredible story, made more incredible by Blackburn’s continued adventures sailing Howard Blackburn Great Republic sailboatsolo across the Atlantic and north on the Pacific.  His rowing abilities are commemorated in The Blackburn Challenge, a rowing event in Glouchester Mass.

But the story doesn’t end with him.  Publicity around his survival led to the reunification of a family after fifty years and the discovery of branches of the family totally unknown to each other.

Lushmans of Little River and USA

Blackburn had lived with the Lushman, or Lishman, family of Little River.  The story  of his rescue came across the desk of a Massachusetts newspaper editor named Litchman Howard Blackburn's tavern, now a museum, Glouchester Mass.who showed it to his father.  The senior Mr. Litchman, as a boy, had left Newfoundland with his father in search of work.  The father then left Massachusetts and the son stayed, later changing the spelling of his name from Lishman to Litchman.

Hmm, the Litchmans thought, worth a letter to Little River.   So the Lishmans of Little River found their brother who had left for the United States 50 years earlier.  Siblings were reunited, but what had happened to the father who had left Newfoundland and then Massachusetts?

Publicity about this led to another man making a connection.  A letter he’d found in his late father’s possessions explained the missing father.  He had gone to Louisiana and indeed had tried to find his son in Massachusetts.

The trail went cold until a woman from Minneapolis contacted the Litchmans.  She had been born a Lishman in Louisiana.  Her late father had come from Newfoundland.  She knew nothing more about his family. Yes, she was a half-sister.

Nfld. Quarterly Dec 1912 H Blackburn on Newfoundland south coastHere’s my transcription of the story from the Dec. 1912 Newfoundland Quarterly by Sir Edward Morris, Prime Minister of Newfoundland.  The only point that confuses me is that Francis Lishman says his mother’s name was Susannah née McDonald and in Earl Pilgrim’s book* she is called Jenny.  But that’s a small mystery compared to those with which these people lived.  Family vanished – abandoned or lost, a daughter orphaned.  Loss and grief, betrayal, survival, reconciliation and renewal.  As Morris says, it’s the stuff of novels.  I say movies too.

*Earl Pilgrim’s Drifting Into Doom led me into this incredible tale. I wrote about it here.

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76 thoughts on “A Tale of the Sea etc.”

  1. Regarding the name of “Jenny” in Earl Pilgrim’s book, Susannah McDonald’s middle name as far as I know was “Jane” and this is where the name “Jenny” comes into the picture. Susannah Jane McDonald is my 3rd. Great Grandmother. She was married to a Lushman and he left her and went to the States. Subsequently, she later married James Styles and this is where my line begins.

  2. If anyone finds out where the Fox Island James Young and Elizabeth came from or who their parents were, I would love to know. They are my great-great-great-grandparents. I do know their granddaughter Bridget, child of James Jr, was identified as being French on her death certificate and did speak French according to my family oral history. James Jr was married to Louisa Bowles (Henry Bowles – Bridget Lushman). If the Young family is French, this of course leaves open the question of James Sr being related to the Little Bras d’Or Lejeune family. Thanks!

    1. Hi Annie, I haven’t checked my database yet but thought you might want to look at the LeJeune website darrell gave today on my Genealogy page comments. Also, if it isn’t the same one, check the one on the links on my Nfld Mi’kmaq Family History and Genealogy page.

  3. William Young and Sarah Styles are my great-great grandparents. Sirst mararah’s parents were James and Susannah McDonald (but this was her married name from her first marriage). Apparently she came from Conne River.
    Hope this helps you guys some!

  4. May 19 1864 Little river Ann Styles married Ephrim Young
    Sarah Styles married William young
    Two sisters and Two brothers I can’t find who Elizabeth Married

  5. Elizabeth Styles August 17 1835 Little river ( Grey river) Daughter of James Style and Susanna Macdonald Lushman Styles Sisters Sarah and Ann Styles

    1. Hi Lloyd, just wondering about Elizabeth Styles b 1835 d/o James Styles and Susannah Macdonald. If you’re saying she’s same one as marr to James Young, the birthdates I have for their children are way off for her birthdate. For Elizabeth Styles and James Young, I have a son James b abt 1837 and daughter Rosanna, discussed earlier, as b 23 May 1847, born Fox Island. I have no parents ent’d for that Elizabeth. I have no husband for Elizabeth d/o James and Susannah and did have her born 1825. I’ve got them entered as separate Elizabeth Styles and was happy to merge them until I noticed the dates. Thanks for any help you can give.

  6. dennis groves, there,s a book called ramea,s family tree. written by victor g. kendall and victor kendall. i think will help you out. i haven,t got that far yet sorry. just starting my self.

  7. i’m doing research on sarah hunt married to thomas warren .whose son albert john’s son james william marrid hanna bowles. do you have info on sarah ,her mother and father,brothers and sister’s etc regards dennis

  8. Hi Linda:

    We are both looking for the same person. My wife’s grandmother was Hannah Bowles, the daughter of Frances and Rosanna. Apparently
    Hannah was referred to as the Indian Princess by her older daughters and there is a picture of her that suggests she may have been Mi’kmaq. Unfortunately she died at an early age and there doesn’t appear to be any oral history in the family about native ancestors. The family was reared by the oldest sister, Leah Warren, who was 16 at the time of their mother’s death. Several family members are searching for Elizabeth’s maiden name and the origin of James Young, but no luck so far. Trusting this is helpful.

  9. Thanks Larry, could you help me on this one? frances bowles born oct. 1849 in white bear bay. married rosanna young. rosanna was daughter of james young and elizabeth. trying to get elizabeths maiden name. can anybody help . thanks linda

    1. Hi Linda, what I found on Rosanna Young’s mother was, in one ancestry fam tree (Barter fam), her name is given as Elizabeth Styles. The other fam trees listed had no surname, and the one with Styles gives no other info on her or a source. But something to look into anyway.

  10. In reference to Linda Warren’s entry of Sept. 20, 2012, she indicates that James Young of Fox Island had a father named Jacques Lejeune. This is presumably Jacques Jr. of Bay St. George. It should be noted that this is an assumption and to date there is no link. I’m beginning to think that James Young was likely an English fisherman who took a Mi’kmaq wife however there is nothing to support this other than the fact that approximately fifteen Mi’kmaq resided at Fox Island as per census information referred to in the article ” The History of the Conne River Reserve”. If anyone has additional thoughts on this I’d appreciate hearing from you.

  11. Just wondering if you have any info on James Young who married Hannah Deer from Burnt Island. Trying to find out if James’ father is James Young or french version Jacques Lejeune. James & Hannan had children, Elizabeth, Charles and James. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  12. hy dorothy, all i have is, james young, wife elizabeth .children, twins-hannah young.charles, born 1844. and rosanna born1848, james young father is Jacques Lejeune. trying to find elizabeth maiden name. thanks for your help.

  13. HI Do you know the parents names for Susanna McDonald who married Thomas Lushman? My grandfather adopted a lushman child and his son and myself are trying to see if there was a connection between Susanna and my grandfather Mcdonald.

  14. i need help, trying to find last name of elizabeth. she was married to james young from newfoundland. they married before1837.thanks, linda.

    1. Hi Linda, if you have any more info on where they’re from or his parents’ name or their kids’ names, it would help narrow it down. There are a lot of James and Elizabeth Youngs, as you can imagine. However, I have one b abt 1800 in Fortune marr to Elizabeth Gallop, kids born between 1820 and 1834 so maybe too early to be yours.

  15. Hi, I recently just found out that I am a descendant of Susannah Mcdonald and Thomas Lushman. I am trying to get native status for my parents and family. I have my family tree traced back as far as Susannah and I came to a quick stop. Just wondering if anyone has gotten anywhere further or could find out any information proving who her parents are and if in fact she is native?

  16. I’m am from the line of Thomas styles Little river who may be the son off James .Thomas had a daughter named jenny who married Walter Macdonald of Hunts Island in the late 1800s she had 2 sisters Mary and Ella 1 brother Samual my grand father.My great grand father died at a early age and his wife married Robert Burk or as some spell it Burt and lived in Rose Blanch Until there passing

    1. Hi Lloyd, I have Samuel Styles marr. Sarah Jane Collier as parents of Jenny, Mary, Ella and Samuel. And I have Sarah Jane as also marr to Robert Burk/Burt. I’m guessing that you are right with his name as Thomas since he’s your ancestor. I have no parents for my Samuel and no other Thomas that might match. Could his middle name be Samuel?

  17. Hey Everyone,

    I was recently on ancestry.com when I came across a photo of my great great great great grandmother Susannah McDonald. There are two separate accounts on the web page
    1. Susannah McDonald “married” William Willouby and had two children Hannah and Alfred.
    2. This story is foreign to me and had Susannah McDonald marring Thomas Lushman.

    The thing puzzled me was the fact that the same photo had been used in the two family trees. Is this the same “Susannah McDonald” that you are talking about???
    Also Alfred named one of his daughters Susannah which would be another “Susannah McDonald” born around the 1880

    1. Hi again Corey, somewhere I’ve seen the name Willoughby but I don’t know where and it’s not in my database. I have Susannah McDonald married first to Thomas Lushman and second to James Styles. You say her son Alfred had a daughter Susannah – if her surname was McDonald, Alfred would have gone by his mother’s name, not his father’s? Maybe somebody reading will be able to help with this. You’ve given us another thread about this woman that many are interested in and little is known for sure about. Thanks for writing.

  18. Hi Everyone,,,Just checking in to see whether or not anyones has updated information on susannah McDonald. I live in Ottawa, I have the time to do the research…do anyone know where I can obtain the data in ottawa.

    Thanks..Walt

    1. Hi Walt and thank you. If anyone has more info on Susannah, I hope they will write us, also if anyone knows where in Ottawa to look.

  19. Hello Cousins!! Thomas and Susannah are my Gr. Gr. Gr. Gr Grandparents. It is said within the family that they married native women all around. 🙂 . My grandfather Fred Lushman was very dark skinned and tradtionally “native” looking. We are thinking (maybe the Rose women were also native?). My email is sandra@sandraeaston.com One of our oldest native relatives that still lives in grey river has Alzheimers so we are at a dead end as well….. My email is sandrahats@hotmail.com

    1. Thanks for writing Sandra, very interesting about the family lore. Please let us know if you find out more since everybody seems to be at a dead end with tracing family members back.

  20. Hi all, I am a descendant of Susannah Mcdonald and Thomas Lushman. Trying to get native status for my grandparents and family. I have my family tree traced back as far as Susannah. Just wondering if anyone has gotten anywhere with proving her parents and if in fact she is native?
    Please email me at victoriasimms@live.ca

    1. Hi Victoria, nobody I know of has found Susannah’s parents. But have a look through the ‘older comments’ on this page, Nf Mi’kmaq gen and gen page for discussion about her. If you do find out anything, please let us know! There’s lots of people searching for her parents. Thanks for writing.

  21. I HAVE HEARD MY GRANDMOTHER talk about a Steve Poulett .When they talk about him They would call him Uncle Steve Poulett. A rumor something about a love child concerning him but I can’t rember what it was.He would walk from Bay De Spior to Grey River.

  22. I am a Warren from Fox Island. My grandmother was a Bowles from Coppett, daughter of Francis Bowles and Rosanna Young. I am a decendent of Thomas Lushman and Susannah McDonald. Can someone tell me if in fact Susannah Mcdonald was a Native.. I am very interested in conversing with anyone who may or may not be related….

    1. Hi Calvin, thanks for writing. You’ll see a lot of comments on this page about Susannah McD but, unfortunately, no answers about whether she was Mi’kmaq or who her parents were. That said, here’s what I found on your grandmother Bowles. It’s from 2 databases, and there’s some differences in information. I don’t know which is correct and maybe you already have all this.

      Francis Bowles was son of Henry Bowles, b Coppett, and Bridget Lushman, b 1828 Richard’s Harbour. Bridget was d/o Thomas Lushman and Susannah McDonald, both b Hermitage.

      Francis Bowles, b Oct 1849 White Bear Bay, marr Rosanna Young. Rosanna was d/o James Young and Elizabeth. Francis and Rosanna had children: Samuel, Wilson b 1872, Henry 1875-1952, James b Feb 1877, Mariah 1878-1960, George b Apr 1880 Coppett, Susanna b 28 Jan 1881, Elizabeth b 19 Mar 1884, Bridget b 1886, Hannah b 1888, John b 18 Aug 1890.

      Rosanna’s siblings are Edith Louise, Maria b Fox Is., Elizabeth, Thomas b 1842, Ephraim, John b abt 1855, James b 1837 or 1842, William b 1842 or 1837, Hannah b 1844, Charles b 1846. The other source also has as siblings Susannah b 1860, Francis b Oct 1849 White Bear Bay, George b Nov 1853 Coppetts and Henry b 2 Feb 1848 Lower Burgeo.

  23. HI Dorothy,
    I’m also looking for some information on Susannah McDonald I do know that Ned polluett had a daughter Nancy that married a Thomas McDonald from Conne River who he lived with afther his third wife died.I’m trying to find out if maybe they had a daughter named Susannah and she would be the granddaughter of Ned Poullett.

    1. Hi Nellie, and thanks for what’s a new way to look at Susannah McD – as maybe granddaughter of Poullett. If I can find anything, I’ll post it. I’m sure our readers will too. Thanks for writing.

  24. Hi Dorothy,

    Nice review on the book. I’m still looking for Susanna McDonald. I was told, as Kathy Bowles mentioned, that Susanna’s Parents may be Edward Poulette and Nancy McDonald. In my research Edward is sometimes referred to as “Ned” and Poulette is sometimes referred to as “Pullet”. I also found out that Edward lived until he was 90years old and was married 4 or 5 times. (busy guy). It is possible that Nancy McDonald could have been Ed’s sister and could have possibly lived with Ed or happened to be in the house when the census was conducted. I’ll post any additional information I find.

    1. Hi Jim, and thanks. Yes, recently I saw something that gave Ned and Nancy as parents for Susanna, but when I checked with the author, he said he’d found out that it was wrong. He doesn’t know either. Thanks for your help with this. Quite the mystery, it seems!

  25. Ron i’m told her parents were Ned (Edward Poulette & Nancy McDonald) i’m told there are no records of that in Newfoundland but there is in Ottawa… I dont know where to contact in Ottawa and ask about that. But I question it though because why would Susannah’s name be in McDonald and not Poulette…

    1. Hi Kathy, thanks for this lead. If she went by her mother’s name, that might explain why she’s so hard to trace. But Ned Poulette is pretty well known, so it’s surprising she wouldn’t be known as a daughter of his. Still, it’s another way to look at it.

  26. Hi Roy, thanks for the reply.Have to keep looking for her parents,might get lucky one day, but hope its sooner than later.There is not to many places left for me to look.Will post on this site if i find anything.

  27. Hi Dorothy,
    I was wondering if, in your research, you had found references to any PAUL or PIERCEY families in Fortune Bay that were of Mi’kmaq heritage?
    Thank you,
    Susan

    1. Hi Susan, certainly Paul is a Mi’kmaq surname in Newfoundland. Piercey not as a name itself, so it would depend on the individual case – who married whom. If you have names you’re tracing, let us know. Probably you’re better off posting your info on the Nf Mi’kmaq Family History page (see sidebar menu) since that gets a lot of comments on specific family trees. Thanks for writing.

  28. Roy,just read your post,i take it you have not been able to find the parents of Susanna Mcdonald.Am i correct in this.You say even the researcher, you had from Conne, cant connect Susanna to a MIKMAQ FAMILY. She is one very hard lady, to try and find info on, clear whats posted.Hope someone can ger a break-through on her.

  29. Kathy,
    I have done a considerable amount of searching on Susanna MCDonald and have found very little other than what has been posted on various sites. I have been in contact with a researcher from Conne. He hasn’t found any connection to Susanna .
    Do you have any info on the Bowles . I am a descendant of Francis Bowles and Bridget Lushman.

  30. It is said that Susannah McDonald was mi’kmaq but as of now I cant find it either.. if anyone knows anything plz let me know.

  31. In the book “Drifting Into Doom” Mr. Blackburn does say Mrs. Lushman but it keeps referring to Jenny Lushman also mentions her husband as Harry Lushman . On chapter 11 page 147 it says “Jenny Lushman was 68 at the time of this particular incident.” It also says that Jenny Lushman was the sister of James Styles .

    James Styles was was Susannah McDonald Lushman second husband who married 07 May 1849. Witness at the wedding were John Clarke & Frank Lushman

    Susannah’s death was said to have occured in 1874 in Little River 9 Years before the Howard Blackburns ordeal.

  32. HI DOROTHY,Thank-you for your help. I know Rachel married Andrew Hann, but not George Ingram, but then it may have been a second marriage. Elizabeth ANN as been missing from my family tree a long time. hope someone can find the lady for me. Have to kept watching your site,to see if you or someone, post any info on Susanna MCdonald.Her parents are very hard to find. I know of three familes here in Burgeo NL, that are trying to find her parents, but having no luck. Again thank-you for your help and time.Ron

  33. Dorothy, my great grand mother was Elizabeth Ann Street-Stride.She was born 1837, and died 1930 in Our Harbour, Burgeo. I have been unable to find any info on her, not even where she was born. I do know she married Benjamin Green, at Lower Burgeo,sept. 7, 1858. My dad, says he can remember his grandfather, telling him, that her family were loggers in the Conne River area. Is there any info, that you may have or find when you have the time, that would help me in getting info on her. Thank-you.

    1. Hi Ron, I think I have them, but not much information. I have Benjamin Green b 1836 New Hr, s/o William G and Rachel Northcott. I have his wife as Ann Street (Stride) – no info on her. I have 10 children ent’d for them. One daughter, Rachel, I have entered as married to Andrew Hann and in another place as marr to George Ingram Oct 1866 Burgeo. Do you think the two are the same person? I’ll keep looking for your Elizabeth Ann and let you know if I find anything.

  34. I have read the account of Howard Blackburn as recorded in a Boston newspaper interview and in it Howard refers to the one who cared for him as old Mrs Lushman leaving me to believe it was Susanna. I tried to contact Mr. Pilgrim but unsuccessful.I am a descendant of Thomas and Susanna and am trying to find info on the McDonald side.

    1. Roy, that’s very interesting. In the book he refers to a Susie Bushney, a Mi’kmaq woman who helped Aunt Jenny. If you succeed in contacting Mr. Pilgrim would you please let us know what he says? Thanks for this.

  35. Hi Joe, the susannah, you have in your post, are you refering to the Susannah, that married Thomas Lushman, around 1822 to 1825.

  36. My wife is a descendant of Susannah Lushman and we are interested in the native connection. Her father was a Warren from Fox Island and his grandparents was Frances and Hannah Bowles.

  37. Hi Ron… I have no information on susanna’s parents as well . All i know that in my research that I found she was born 1800-1809 and she was a native of Hermitage Bay who married Thomas Lushman and they married between 1822-1825 in Hermitage Bay.

  38. KATHY, i made a error, when i said Susannahs father may have been Edward Pullet, i should have said James Mcdonald, but i am not sure.sorry Ron.

  39. Hi Kathy, Can you please give me the parents, of Susannah Mcdonald, if you have that info.I am not sure if it was Edward PULLET AND Nancy Mcdonald. I know nothing on Susannahs mother.thanks.

  40. James Styles & Susannah Lushman nee McDonald married in 07 May 1849 both were widowed (she thought Thomas Lushman died dince she never heard from him once he left) the witness in the wedding were John Clarke & Frank Lushman.
    From the reports that William contacted Francis once he heard about Howard Blackburn they were the children of Thomas & Susannah so it seems that Francis in the book would be the same but in the book it says Francis Lushman was Aunt Jenny’s son… so there i’m confused .. also it says that Jenny was marry to Harry Lushman and nowhere in my family tree or reseach do I have Harry Lushman… so I’m also confused about him. Thomas & Susannah had the following children : Bridget, Jane, William, Susannah , Thomas & Francis .

  41. Hi Dorothy , while i’m still reading the book “Drifting into Doom” in chapter 6 page 105 I found some information about Jenny Lushman….

    The first known resident was James Styles who ran the lodge. He had a sister named Jenny who was trained in the midwifery. She left England and came to Newfoundland to join him and it wasnt long before she married one of the “youngsters” a young guide named Harry Lushman.

    chapter 7 page 111 it says…. Francis Lushman was aunt Jenny’s son and one of the principal guides for the local guides for the local fish merchants. Francis had been married twice and was the father of twelve children and into the book farther it does mention that Blanche is Francis wife.

    1. Thank you, Kathy. I forgot about Jenny’s English accent being mentioned. So she was James Styles sister. And her son Francis must have been – what, a cousin of the other Francis whose father and brother went to the States? In Morris’ account, the Francis writing the letter doesn’t mention his wife’s name, so I didn’t know if she was Blanche. Francis and Blanche had several children and they were often sent next door to their uncle’s house. I don’t think the uncle is ever named. So Jenny was James Styles sister and Susannah McDonald would have become her sister-in-law (perhaps for the second time?) when Susannah married James Styles. Do you think that’s correct, and do you know what became of Harry Lushman?

  42. Hi Dorothy

    I am currently reading a book called “drifting into Doom” By Earl Baxter Pilgrim it seems alot like this one. The Sr. Mr. Litchman ur referring too is Thomas Lushman who was born in England around 1800 and he married Susannah McDonald b 1800-1809 fr Hermitage Bay. she died around 1874. Her 6th child was Francis Lushman b 22 Mar 1832. As the generation of kids came many of them renamed their children Francis. The Jenny Lushman name could have came from another generation although I have not came across the name Jenny in my research so this is also something new for me, maybe it was a nickname …

    Susannah McDonald was said to have been native but I am trying to find research in saying this.

    In ur story it said “This entry was posted in Newfoundland Mi’kmaq and tagged Newfoundland, USA. Bookmark the permalink. ” I’m wondering where u found that information??

    Thanks kathy

    1. Hi Kathy, thanks for writing. I was hoping someone from the family would read this and comment. Look back a couple posts on my site and you’ll find one on Drifting into Doom. It’s a great book. I haven’t yet read the one pictured here. One of my lovely readers told me about it. I came across the Nf Quarterly article about Blackburn and the Lishmans/Litchmans when researching Susannah McDonald. I found only a hard to decipher ocr scan. But it was so interesting that I persevered in reading it. That’s what I cleaned up and posted here.

      You’ll see in Pilgrim that it’s Jenny Lushman who fixes Blackburn up. Her son Francis and wife Blanche also figure in the story. So what I wonder is was she also called Susannah. In Morris’ story, it’s Francis Lishman who writes to William Litchman in Mass. and says they’re brothers. He says his mother’s name was Susannah McDonald. Their father, who went to the States with young William, was named Thomas. So everything matches except the Susannah/Jenny thing. People being known by more than one name isn’t uncommon, and it seems to me they must be the same person. We know that Susannah McDonald Lushman/Lishman married again after Thomas disappeared. I don’t know if I have the date of their marriage. Maybe Blackburn was in Little River before that? Or was Jenny/Susannah widowed again by that time?

      I should take another look at the Litchman/Lushman genealogy online. If you find out anything, please let me know. I’ll let you know what I’ve got on Susannah McDonald, if you like. Oh, the stuff at the bottom of the post “This entry was posted…”, that’s just info on where on my site the post is and what key words are attached to it.

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