Edward D. Whitten's Model Ships

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: After 1870 to before 1930
Location: Fitchburg, Massachusettsmap
Profile manager: Chris Whitten private message [send private message]
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Categories: Family Heirlooms | Maritime.

Edward D. Whitten carved model ships as a hobby.

He carved about a half-dozen three-masted square riggers. It is said that they represented the ship on which he immigrated to America from Scotland. This is highly unlikely since his parents were from New England.

His obituary includes a more likely explanation: "Edward D. Whitten, sailor, carpenter, millwright, and lover of the sea, died late yesterday ... Mr. Whitten was born in Unity, Me. When only eight years old he shipped aboard a three-master as a cabin boy. He sailed around the world, literally, in the next 10 years in that era, when the Yankee schooners were probing to the most distant points of the globe."

His son Maurice Whitten donated one to the Fitchburg Historical Society.

Another one was passed down through his son Edward D. Whitten, Jr. to his grandson Edward B. Whitten to his great-grandson Theodore Whittenkraus. This was kept in the attic at the family home on White Street in Lunenburg and used as a toy by generations of young Whittens until it was recognized as a family heirloom.

Perhaps most interesting is the story of the model he donated to his church, the Christ Church on Main Street in Fitchburg. Apparently they called it the "Christian Ship" and a hymn was written for it! A picture of the ship and the lyrics of the hymn were said to have hung in many parishoners' homes. This model has since been lost.

Memories: 2

On 19 Nov 2016 William Phillips wrote:

"This is highly unlikely since his parents were from New England. " (LOL) Btw, these photo's are of regular square rigged ships, not a schooner among them.

On 17 Sep 2009 Ted (Whitten) Whittenkraus wrote:

This ship, and many others like it, represents a historical confluence of events. During the 1920s there were a great number of retired sailors crafting similar models of the ships they once sailed. The days of mighty sailing vessels were rapidly coming to an end and these men could see that fact right before their own eyes. I imagine that their goal was to leave a trace of the romantic life they once lived which was soon to disappear.

At the same time they were enjoying something they had probably never imagined possible. Leisure time! Edward shipped out as a cabin boy at age 8. Life must have been pretty tough. To live long enough to actually retire in the relative affluence of the 20s must have seemed a dream come true. And to have a few extra hours of productive time courtesy of electric lighting made it all the more incredible.

My Thanks to Captain Neal Parker ( for part of this history.


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Images: 4
Tag on Museum Ship
Tag on Museum Ship

Model Ship at Museum
Model Ship at Museum

Action on Board
Action on Board



On 29 Jul 2016 at 00:25 GMT J (Vickery) V IV wrote:

Pic of Schooner = appears as if She is buoyant enough to float in a live situation, at full sail.

(My above statement comes from many years of hands on: Model building, Carpentry, Drafting, R & D, Mechanical / Electrical, Drafting, Quartermaster, US Navy Submarriner, Painting: Industrial Commercial Residential Residential Automotive experience.

On 9 Dec 2008 at 23:36 GMT Holly (Whitten) Davis wrote:

I remember the some what wrecked ship that was in the attic on White Street for many years. It was fascinating to me with all the details. At some point my brother Ted did a lot of repair to the ship but I know not what happened to it. Perhaps Ted knows much more about it.