SKETCH OR BIOGRAPHY OF MY LIFE.
FROM 1864 TO 1889.
I was born on the 25th of May, 1848, on the Island of St.
Thomas, Danish West Indies. My parents were of pure Negro
blood, poor, but respectable. My father died when I was about
5 years old, leaving four sons and two daughters. My mother,
with the assistance of my eldest brother, Patrick, (who was then
working as a ship carpenter,) and the rent of half of our house,
was able to keep the wolf from the door.
When about seven years of age, I began to attend the Mor-
avian Mission School, at Nysky, where I continued until I was
about fifteen years of age. During this time, I was also work-
ing at the carpenter's trade. But, at this time, finding myself
and younger brothers and sisters all growing up, and becoming
burdens on my poor mother, I determined to find some employ-
ment, by which I could at least support myself and assist my
mother. What little I was then receiving from the carpentry,
was not sufficient to keep me in books. I therefore made up my
mind to get at something that would be of more immediate help.
For this purpose, I applied to a Mr. Wynne, who was at that
time superintendent provider at St. Thomas for the Royal Mail
Steam Packet Co., and a friend of my father. I was at once
taken into his store. During my stay there, I became acquain-
ted with a number of the pursers and stewards; and with my
great wish to travel and see foreign countries, I asked Mr.
Wynne to get me a berth on board one of the ships. In a short
time, I was appointed captain's servant on board the steam-
ship "Avon," and in November, 1863, I started on my first
voyage from my native home. We made a successful trip to
the Spanish main and back; calling at Greytown, Blue Field
and Colon, in Central America, returning to St Thomas in De-
cember, 1863. In January, 1864, I started on my second voyage,
calling at Colon, Carthegena, Santa Marta and at Spanish Cen-
tral America, and returning to Colon. On the night of our arri-
val at Colon, a terrible storm came on and we were totally
wrecked. The "Avon" was a very large steamer, but by day-
light there was very little of the good ship to be seen above
water. There were a great many of our passengers and crew
lost. Our boat could not stand the waves, so that the only
means of getting on shore that night was by a large rope, from
the ship to the shore, only one person going at a time. This
was accomplished by the person sitting on the boatswain's