Horace Lane

Horace had served aboard the Connecticut as a ship’s boy… Essentially a “go-for” who would do odd jobs daily, and serve as runners for powder for the guns during combat.  Horace is a particularly interesting figure insofar as we have his published autobiography: The Wandering Boy, or Careless Sailor, and Results of Inconsideration.  A True Narrative.  It seems to have been written not only for the possibility of turning his colourful past into some semblence of income, but also a form of introspection, for himself and those who might read it and direct their lives therefor more wisely.  Alas, it sold poorly and brought no real money to the man, who died utterly destitute but for 4.85$ which was presumably utilized towards the cost of his burial and such.

Myra C. Glenn had written an article for JSTOR which encompasses the life of Horace Lane.  The article is available online, although you might have to join JSTOR to obtain a complete digital copy.  It is concise and well presented, and more easily digestable than reading the entire autobiography, including notes and information necessarily not included in said biography.  Also here is a decent synopsis of Horace’s time in jail and observations of same.

He died on 8 June 1866 while a resident at Sailor’s Snug Harbor, and is buried in Sailor’s Snug Harbor, affectionately referred to by the living inhabitants of SSH as “Monkey Hill”.  I placed a memorial page for Horace on Findagrave.com.  Here is the bio I put up for Horace on that page…

Horace was born to Asa Lane and Olive Oles (they married on 17 Aug. 1788) in Lanesborough, MA. early in 1789, their first child of at least two. By 1790, the family of three had moved to Stillwater, Saratoga County, NY, on the west bank of the Hudson River. Horace ran away from home as a rather young child, finding his way to the Connecticut river aboard a small craft. At age 10, and on 2 July 1799, he joined the new US Navy as a “ship’s boy” and sailed upon the USS CONNECTICUT (1799 – 1801) under the command of Capt. Moses Tryon of Wethersfield. He was discharged from the same ship on 10 January 1801 while under the command of Capt. Richard Derby.

He subsequently found himself a berth on a schooner under the command of a Mr. Burnham of Norwich, CT, sailing for St-Vincent in the West Indies. Once there, he decided to leave the ship and get aboard of a local droger, which he stayed with for six weeks. After leaving her he walked to the port of Kelaquaw and there joined a British West-Indiaman named the ECLIPSE. With her he sustained some abuse by other sailors for being an American, and upon the first opportunity he ran away to Kingston, there livinging homeless for about three months, looking for some vessel he might join to take him home. He was soon pressed aboard a British 40-gun man-o-war/transport CORAMANDEL that paid visit to the bay; upon her he was frequently abused, pushed about, blamed for others’ mis-deeds, and occasionally flogged (whipped).

In March of 1812, Horace had rejoined the Navy and was warranted on the spot to be a quarter gunner on the USS John Adams. He was granted some leave and he pursued a woman he had fallen for prior to an earlier excursion. However, upon discovery that she had become engaged to someone else, he wandered in sorrow and self-pity, not returning to the John Adams, and by the start of 1813 found himself in New London, CT whereupon he signed on board the privateer schooner John Barlow, capt. Champlin, as the gunner. This vessel was ineffectual apparently due to the timidity of Champlin and his officers, and was later captured in July of that year.

In 1826, he sailed from New London, CT aboard the brig ALERT, bound for South America. But in May of 1827, he found himself back in NY and on the wrong side of the law, being found guilty of grand larceny and sentenced to three years hard labor at Auburn State Prison. After his release in 1830, he was caught stealing again for this he spent two years at Sing Sing prison. He attempted to redeem himself, putting out a book describing his experience of prison life and conditions – “Five Years in State’s Prisons”. In 1839, he published his autobiography, describing a life lead by ill choices and his attempt at finding redemption, by way of a warning to others who might chose a life of similar choices – “The Wandering Boy, or Careless Sailor, and Results of Inconsideration: A True Narrative.”

Horace was admitted to SSH on 3 Aug. 1840 and was booted on 12 Apr. 1841 for essentially being a troublemaker. He was readmitted on 30 Dec. 1845, moved to another of the residence buildings on 7 Aug. 1857, where he lived until his death.



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