Solomon Ward

Solomon Ward was of real flesh and blood, born sometime in the first half of the 19th century, although we don’t know exactly when. Birth certificates for native people were not routinely kept in the 19th century. In fact Solomon Ward’s name appears only twice in the historical records. On the first occasion he is listed as the steward aboard the Konohasset, a whaling ship that sailed out of Sag Harbor and was captained by T.B. Worth. Two other men from the Unkechaug nation are listed among the crew: the cook, Jesse Smith, and a seaman, Philip Smith. For Solomon to have been the steward, his voyage on the Konohasset could not have been his first. He surely began his whaling career as a cabin boy or seamen. Also, as steward, he must have been able to read and do math.

The Konohasset had its own adventures. It was shipwrecked on an island north of Hawaii. From the remains of the ship, the crew built a boat. A small group of men then sailed back to Hawaii and returned with help. We don’t know what Solomon’s role was in the rescue operation, but we do know that he survived and did indeed return to Poospatuck. Thus the promise of our fictional Solomon was kept.

The second appearance of his name in the records was in 1870. He signed a petition to have a school built at Poospatuck. Our fictional Solomon, like the real Solomon, would surely have thrown his full support behind this venture. After all, he had learned the value of an education.

For more details on the life of the real Solomon and the voyage of the Konohasset see ""Notes from Unkechaug History ..."

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