|Birth: ||Apr. 15, 1814|
New London County
|Death: ||May 15, 1892|
New London County
Son of Zebediah Gates & Eunice Packer Gates
Capt. Gurdon Gates (1814-1892), c. 1854. Capt. Gurdon Gates, born on a Groton farm, soon discovered farming was not for him. At age 15, he went before the mast and, at age 43, was master of the clipper ship Twilight. He commanded many other vessels, including the steampship Victor during the Civil War. Retiring from the sea in 1872, he became active in Mystic's political and business affairs. He died in 1892.
Source: Images of America, Mystic River Historical Society, 2004, p. 35
Carol W. Kimball article in The Day Newspaper, Thursday, May 5, 1994: The four Gates brothers all distinguished themselves at sea:
"Remarkable even in a village where seamen were no novelty, farmer Zebadiah Gates' four sons all followed the sea and all progressed to the command of Mystic-built clippers, sleek vessels designed for speed and notable for their graceful beauty, the aristocracy of wind-driven ocean-going sailing ships.
Gurdon, the oldest son, was born in 1814 to Zebadiah and his first wife, Eunice Packer. At age 15 he left the family farm on Fort Hill in Groton, shipping with Deacon Abel Lewis aboard the Noank smack Pinkie, fishing in southern waters.
He perfected his trade in stints under a series of distinguished sea captains - Ambrose Burrows, Simeon Ashbey, Jeremiah and Joshua Sawyer. They trained him well. In 1837, when he was 23, Gurdon was master of the schooner Emeline with New Orleans as his destination.
Vessels under Gurdon's command were larger and more impressive with the passing of time, including the Mystic Clipper ships, Electric and Twilight.
And he kept up with the times. When steam replaced sail this versatile man commanded steamships and was active until the 1339-ton steamer Victor of the Mallory Line was wrecked in 1872 off the coast of Florida.
A good businessman, Gurdon held a financial interest in all the vessels he commanded. A public-spirited citizen, he represented Groton in the state legislature after his retirement from sea and was prominent in local politics."
WRECK OF THE VICTOR.; Report of the Captain of the Steamer The Passengers and Crew Get off with Difficulty.
The following is the Captain's report of the loss of the steamship Victor:
The steamship Victor, G. Gates, master, left New York on Wednesday, Oct. 16, for New Orleans. On Friday, at 3 A.M., passed Cape Hatteras. Sunday, strong breezes from east-northeast; at 12M. passed Cape Canaveral; at 6 P.M. made Jupiter Light; at 8:10, the light bearing west, broke the shaft even with the stuffing box; the ship commenced to fill rapidly; ship heading off south-east under fore and aft sails; deepened the water from thirteen to fourteen fathoms; at this time the ship had three feet of water in her, with every available pump at work. About this time (9 o'clock) succeeded in stopping most of the leak that was in sight; let go the port anchor in eight fathoms of water and payed out to seventy fathoms without bringing her up, and when she struck the bottom unshackled the chain to seventy-five fathoms and set the head sails, and she continued to pound until she was full of water. The sea making a clean breach over her, the balance of the night was spent in making every preparation for getting on shore. A daylight she was broken in two amidships; got a boat down under he lee, and succeeded in getting a line on shore, there being two men on the beach from the lighthouse. We first got the women and children on shore, and then the men. At 2 P.M. all hands were safe on shore, after swamping three boats in the breakers. At 5 o'clock, the water being somewhat smoother, the mate and chief engineer, with a boat's crew, succeeded, after swamping in the first attempt, in getting off the wreck, and threw overboard some provisions and got back in safety, the ship breaking up fast. After night the gale increased, and at midnight she broke up. At daylight, on Tuesday, the wreck was piled on the rocks, with nothing off shore but the steam chimneys and cylinders in sight.
The cargo was nearly all destroyed with the debris of the ship. The gale continued, with increased violence, until Wednesday morning. At 3 P.M. the steamship General Meade, Capt. Simpson, came along, and very kindly took us off. As there was nothing to save, we concluded to leave. The sea was quite smooth at the time. Friday at 6 1/2. twelve miles east of Key West, fell in with steamship City of Austin, Capt. Thomas Eldridge, who very kindly took myself, officers, and crew on board, and brought us to this port. The passengers proceeded to New Orleans in the General Meade.
And now, in behalf of myself, officers, and crew, I wish to return my most sincere thanks to Capt. Eldridge and officers of the steamship City of Austin, and Capt. Sampson and officers of the steamship General Meade, who did everything in their power to make us as comfortable as possible.
(Signed) Capt. Gurdon Gates, Steamship Victor
The New York Times Published: November 2, 1872
Esther Denison Miner Gates (1821 - 1852)*
Martha Phelps Gates (1828 - 1884)*
William Henry Gates (1840 - 1859)*
Mary Gates (1854 - 1855)*
Gurdon Gates (1857 - 1944)*
Joseph Phelps Gates (1858 - 1863)*
Kariska Sloman Gates (1862 - 1941)*
Louise Phelps Gates Austevens (1867 - 1902)*
Lower Mystic Cemetery
New London County
Created by: Mary Cook
Record added: Jun 01, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 37798225