Genealogy Research of Mariners and Vessels

Genealogy Tips by Jeannette Holland Austini

Pictured is a marker at the disappeared sie of Sunbury, Georgia.

Once we pose the question "why" we are on the right track. Imagine a dangerous and tumultous voyage across the Atlantic. Do you have fear of getting lost? Or. being sunk in a storm? When one considers the vast number of lost vessels discovered at the bottom of the sea dating back several hundred years, it is easy to understand that our ancestors indeed took a risk. Yet, although vessels were required to keep a manisfests of its passengers and cargo, they were not turned over to the port master in a timely manner. Months could have passed after the actual voyage. Although the National Archives has a collection of ship manifests, it is incomplete for many reasons.

Another point of interest is that when mariners set out to deliver supplies, he signed a contract concerning possible loss. I found several contracts for cargo to be delivered to Sunbury, Georgia during colonial days. They were in the deed records. Oftentimes, the cargo was spoiled. This is because of delays in passage. Had I not read the colonial deeds, I would have never known that Sunbury was an active port city and resort town for New Englanders before the American Revolutionary War. This popular resort town was destroyed, however, in the hurricane of 1800. Liberty County Georgia Records

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