Rockland’s Sea Captains,  Hiram and Albert F. PillsburyGuest Blog: Austin Pillsbury Nagel with Sandra Sylvester

By Sandra Sylvester | Jan 27, 2014
Courtesy of: Austin Nagel the John Standhope

Knox County — (Dear Readers: Again one of you gave me inspiration for a new blog through an email to me. I have decided to make this a guest blog from Austin Pillsbury Nagel, who comes from a long line of sea captains who shipped out of our very own South End. I have included his own research into his family history and the long history of sailing vessels in Rockland. If you have comments for Austin, please email me at and I will forward them to him. I will also add some comments of my own.)

The original email I received from Austin included the following information:

“I am the great, great, great grandson of Hiram Pillsbury. I stumbled into his name on your blog which was an answer to one of your questions ‘So you think you know the Southend,’ April 26 (2012). (The question was: ‘Name three sea captains who settled in the South End’; my answer was Alfred Stahl, Andrew Gray, and Hiram Pillsbury).

“Hiram was the father of Albert F. Pillsbury. Albert was the father of my grandfather, Edwin S. Pillsbury and my mother was Susan Pillsbury.

“I know for a fact that my mother had a notion of naming Hiram after Captain Hiram Pillsbury, but my father prevailed in selecting my name. Austin Pillsbury Nagel.”

Austin found much of his family’s history on

The following information which Austin sent to me also comes from

From the June 20, 1882 issue of the Rockland Courier-Gazette: “Albert F. Pillsbury, son of Capt. H.G. Pillsbury of this city, has purchased a captain’s interest in the sch. Jennie Greenbank, and will command her. Capt. Albert is but 18 years of age and this is his first command, thus adding one more to the list of Rockland’s smart young captains.”

The ship the John Standhope, pictured here, was probably also captained by Alfred F. Pillsbury.

Austin believes that Hiram lived his entire life in Rockland, but that Alfred Pillsbury branched out a bit as per the information he found at:

The Robert E. Blake collection of LASH (lighter aboard ships) documents (HDC 1584), has plans, manuals, and documents of West Coast innovations in development and construction of these ships. The "LASH" system made it possible to load barges (or "lighters") aboard larger vessels for transport through open seas. The Albert Freeman Pillsbury papers (HDC 1584) consists of documents, photographs, logbooks, correspondence, framed prints and photocopies about the life and career of this founding partner in the marine salvage businesses Pillsbury & Curtis, Inc. and Pillsbury & Martignoni, Inc.

Could this be the beginning of the big container ships we see today or the piggy-back system of putting semi trailers onto trains?

The following information links Captain Pillsbury to the famous Snow family who owned Snow’s Shipyard in the Southend. Note the last sentence. “From this link, I got a little data regarding my great grandfather Captain Alfred F. Pillsbury:”

Captain Israel D. (Dade) Snow, son of Captain Israel Larken Snow (1829-1899) and Luella Austin Keating (1838-1920), was born on March 4, 1863 in Rockland, Maine.  Capt. I. D. Snow came from a long line of seafaring men. His great-great grandfather, Capt. Elisha Snow (b. 1739) of Wessaweskeag in South Thomaston, Maine, launched some of the first ships in that area. His great grandfather, Capt. Robert Snow, commanded the schooner Barbados. Sadly, Capt. Robert Snow died of yellow fever while aboard the schooner Barbados in 1803. His grandfather, Capt. Israel Snow I, began the Snow shipyard business back in 1862. For clarity of lineage, below is list of the Snow men:

Capt. Elisha Snow, (1745-1826) great-great grandfather Capt. Robert Snow, (?-1803) great grandfather, commanded schooner Barbados Capt. Israel Snow I, (1801-1875), grandfather, began Snow shipyard in 1862 Capt. Israel Larken Snow, (1829-1899), father Capt. Israel Larken “Dade” Snow, (1863-1928), son

Capt. Snow started his seafaring life at a very early age.  When he was 15 years old, he was aboard the 13-ton schooner "Willie" owned by his family. He was often in the company of Albert F. Pillsbury who would later purchase Capt. Snow's interest in the schooner Jennie Greenbank in June of 1882.

Additional Research—Sandra Sylvester

A Google search gave me Hiram’s name listed in the 1877 edition of Greenough’s Directory of Rockland, Belfast and Camden: Also a Business Directory of Thomaston. It placed him definitely as a resident of the South End. The line on page 68 reads: “Pillsbury, Hiram, master mariner, house 7, Mechanic Street.”

I went to Eleanor Motley Richardson’s book, Mechanic Street: Uncovering the History of a Maine Neighborhood and found that house 7 is now number 18 Mechanic Street. According to Richardson’s story, pages 70-73, Captain Hiram Pillsbury and his wife, Sarah bought the house in 1873. They raised eight children there. For the complete story of his life including pictures of the Pillsburys and the house itself, please go to that book which can be found at outlets in the Rockland area. Ask for it at your local bookstore.

For more information on shipbuilding; the history of sailing vessels and their captains see The Shore Village Story, published by the Shore Village Historical Society, 1989, which can be found at the Rockland Historical Society’s office under the Rockland Public Library on Union Street. Our South End sea captains led the way for the generations to come as they went “Beyond the Southend” to explore the world and to bring back its treasures and knowledge.

I will continue this blog if Austin sends me more information to share with you. Until then, thanks for listening.


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