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Capt William T. Shorey

Capt William T. Shorey

Birth
Barbados
Death 15 Apr 1919 (aged 59)
Oakland, Alameda County, California, USA
Burial Oakland, Alameda County, California, USA
Memorial ID 5980 · View Source
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African-American Whaling Captain and Entrepreneur. Known affectionately as the "Black Ahab," William Thomas Shorey was born on the island of Barbados in the British West Indies, and was attracted to the sea early in his life. He was the son of a Scottish sugar planter and a West Indian woman of mixed African and European ancestry. A sea man's life was not easy, but for Shorey it offered opportunity and a freedom unattainable in other occupations that were restricted to blacks. In 1875, as a crew member aboard a British vessel bound for Boston, Shorey gained the attention of the ship's captain, who took time to teach him the basics of navigation. Learning navigation and moving up rapidly through the ranks, Shorey came to San Francisco on the whaler Emma F. Herriman in 1878. After only ten years at sea he became the only African American ship captain on the west coast. In 1886 Shorey married Julia Ann Shelton, daughter of one of the leading black families in San Francisco. Together they had five children and Captain Shorey occasionally took his family to sea with him. Shorey was a skilled captain, known for his ability to bring both ship and crew back safely from long voyages to dangerous Pacific and Arctic whaling grounds. His crews included men from the United States, Europe, Australia, Asia and the Pacific Islands, and vessels under his command were known to be "happy ships." Gradually petroleum and other products replaced those made from wh! ales an d Captain Shorey retired from the sea in 1908 at the age of 49. On shore he lived in Oakland and worked on the docks as a special policeman for Pacific Coast Steamship Company from 1912 to 1919, the year he died of pneumonia.

Bio by: Curtis Jackson


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 26 Jul 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 5980
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Capt William T. Shorey (13 Jul 1859–15 Apr 1919), Find A Grave Memorial no. 5980, citing Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland, Alameda County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave (contributor 8) .