Friday, May 06, 2011

The Mercer Logs

The Mercer Logs were written by some of Ned's ancestors who settled Mustang Island back in the 1850's. The Mercer men where pilots who brought ships out in the Gulf of Mexico in and out of ports like Corpus Christi and Rockport. The water wasn't deep and the channels were constantly shifting. A pilot who knew the waterways was needed.

Each day's entry starts and ends with the weather, "The day begins with wind N.N.E. . . . So ends this day with wind E.N.E." But in between the beginning and ending of each day, there were notations of which ships came in and out and the recording of life on Mustang Island.

Friday, February 3, 1871
This day begins with the wind N.E. good breeze, pleasant. Tom and Ned went to farming. Harnessed Lion and Lep and went to harrowing. Clubb and Roberts arrived from Rockport. All hands followed Clubb's whisky jug home. Had several drinks., took dinner at Clubb's. So played hell with our plowing business. Had to turn the oxen out. . . . So ends the day. Winds E. light.

These logs have been held in the family until recently when they were turned over to the Port Aransas Preservation and Historical Association (PAPHA.) The logs that have survived cover a period from 1866 to 1877. The PAPHA has had the logs treated for archival preservation and stored in a secure vault. They are now in the process of transcribing copies of the logs.

Back in 1990's I looked at microfiche copies of some of the logs in the Corpus Christi Library. Both sides of paper had been written on and the ink had bled through pages. They were very difficult to read. I was fortunate enough to find in the Library a carbon paper transcription  of a period of about 18 months in the 1871-1872 time frame. I retyped the transcription because the carbon paper was difficult to read as well and I gave copies to our sons.

I love reading the logs and thinking about the lives they lived. So before we went to Port Aransas last month, I went through the logs and made notes about places and things that I wanted to look for. We had wonderful visits with some members of the PAPHA who shared more information with us as did some of the families of other early settlers. So if you haven't already figured it out, I am starting a long term project that ties in with the Mercer logs.

The image above was made in a garden in Port Aransas.


Marc Olson said...

I look forward to reading more posts about the Mercer logs and especially your observations about the places and things you will be looking for. It sounds interesting.

Coincidently I just started on my blog a series of posts in which I will use the writings from 1841 of explorers here in Yucatan to retrace their steps and see what the places are like today. The fascinating thing is that many places have hardly changed at all.

Billie said...

Marc, I've used the books on Travels in the Yucatan to cross reference some of my visits but putting it together in writing and I'm sure you will also be photographing it is the greatest idea.

pitchertaker said...

"This begins with..." the Mercer logs.

Billie said...

Yes it has, Frank.