Monday, May 1, 2017


In October of 1799, the whaling ship Barclay set out from New Bedford, Massachusetts in search of seal skins. Griffin Barney was in command of the ship. After many months of travel and seal catching in various places in the Atlantic, they headed up the Pacific to Hawaii and from there to China.

But on the way to China the Barclay made a stop at Tinian in the fall of 1800. Perhaps the first visit to Tinian, and indeed perhaps the entire Marianas, by an American ship. The American ship the Lydia would not come to Guam until 1802.

The reports of the Barclay about Tinian state that the island was uninhabited, except by "immense droves of white cattle." The men of the ship helped themselves to abundant supplies of lemons and red peppers.

Interestingly, nothing is said about the House of Taga. Perhaps the men didn't find it or, perhaps finding it, didn't know what it was, there being no one on Tinian at the time to tell them. But I tend to think that, had they seen those tall pillars, they would have simply reported seeing them, even without knowing what they were.

The House of Taga did not make it in the story but Tinian cattle did.

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