Sunday, October 12, 2008
Recently I've been reading sections of Jeannette Edwards Rattray's history book of East Hampton which was printed back in the 1950s. It's a fun thing to pick up and flip through every so often, absorbing little bits and pieces of local history whenever I have a few minutes or more - I tend to get lost in it easily and next thing you know, it's been an hour... Well, today I happened across of passage I thought worth sharing. I found this in the genealogy section and it involves a member of the Hand family, one of the first families to settle here in the 1600's. A whaling captain by the name of David Hand is the hero of the story, which was put on paper by James Adams during the height of the whaling trade in the mid-1800s. Here it is:
"One time he was in some South American port with his ship and a Spanish war ship was also there. The crews of the two vessels met on shore and quarreled over some game or other, Capt Hand taking the part of his men and the Spanish officer of his, with the result that the office challenged the Captain to a duel. He accepted and appeared, with his mate as his second, at the spot selected, early the following morning. As the challenged party, he had his choice of weapons and had chosen whaling irons (harpoons with their lines attached) well sharpened. One was handed to the astonished officer, Capt Hand took the other, walked back a short distance, balanced his weapon carefully and prepared to "strike". The officer knew not what to do with his, and when he saw the Captain balancing the long harpoon and heard him call out to the mate "When I fasten, haul in slack," he turned and fled."
I mean, it really doesn't get any better than that! East Hampton has always had its share of characters and the local legends are full of such wonderful stories - but this was a new one for me.
I think I would have enjoyed knowing Capt. Hand.