On Wednesday, Oct. 13 at 6:30 p.m. the Waldoborough Historical Society will be hosting a talk by Bill Bunting at the Waldoboro Public Library, author of “Live Yankees: The Sewalls and Their Ships.”

What may be unknown to many, is that for nearly a century, members of the Sewall family built and managed a fleet of more than 100 merchant vessels, mostly deepwater square-riggers. Despite the appearance of old-fashioned civility, international shipping in the late 1800s and early 1900s was a highly competitive, and often cut-throat business. While the Sewalls’ smart responses to market changes make a fascinating story, the surviving correspondence from their captains showed adventures of another kind. Sewall captains were required to make regular reports to the Sewall office, and this correspondence is filled with stories about the voyages of Sewall ships-including surly crews, mutinies, plagues, shipwrecks, poverty stricken widows, and more. Also recounted are details of ship performances, weather encountered, troubles in port, and even lawsuits.

The Sewalls also invested in railroads and other non-maritime securities and speculations, and became involved in politics. It is in the maritime world that they are best remembered as the owners of the last surviving important fleet of American square-riggers involved in worldwide trade. No family worked harder, more stubbornly, or with more enterprise to delay the arrival of that day.

This talk is the final program of our 2010 season, and is free and open to the public. Come early to get a seat. This book will be available for purchase after the talk.

W. H. Bunting is also the author of “Portrait of a Port: Boston 1852-1914,” “Steamers,Schooners, Cutters, and Sloops,” “A Day’s Work: A Sampler of Historic Maine Photographs, 1860-1920” in two volumes; “Sea Struck” and “The Camera’s Coast.” He lives in Whitefield.