Mt. Sinai Men Were Sailors

Footnotes to Long Island History

Mt. Sinai Men Were Sailors


Thomas R. Bayles

                Mt.. Sinai now a residential and agricultural community on Brookhaven town's north shore was well known as the home of seafaring men in the last century.

                Captain Joel S. Davis was born on July 31, 1833, a son of Goldsmith and Charity (Hulse) Davis. His father also a  native of Mt. Sinai,  was a seafaring man in the early life but ill health caused him to retire.

                At the age of 11 Joel went to sea as a cook on a market vessel on Long Island sound, his wages being "$2.00 per month" at first. He was shipwrecked on the Atlantis when he was 14 and was picked up by the Schooner Alfred Exall. He became mate at 18 and three years later purchased a part interest in the sloop Alice, of which he was mate.

                Three years were spent as mate of the Alice, after which he was made captain of the schooner General Marion. In 1859 he bought an interest in the fine large schooner R. H. Wilson, and followed the coasting trade in which he made considerable money and laid the foundation for his future success.

                He later bought an interest in the Willow Harp carrying forage for the government during the Civil War period from 1862 to 1864. His next venture was building the B. H. Jones which after sailing three years he sold and built the three masted schooner William H. Jones.

                He sailed this vessel for three years until it wrecked at Tortugas while on a voyage from New Orleans to Havana. He and his crew barely escaped with their lives and the loss was heavy as he carried no insurance.

                On returning home captain Davis at ounce began building the brig John McDermott which was soon completed under the personal supervision of John R. Mather, the shipbuilder of Port Jefferson. During the second year that he operated the John McDermott, while the brig was 500 miles southeast of Halifax a cyclone struck the vessel and dismasted it with the exception of the main mast. One man was drowned and the brig ran into Halifax where it refitted and proceeded on its voyage.

                Captain Davis ran this ship until 1887, when he retired from the sea and entered business in Amityville. there he operated a general merchandise store under the name of Homan and Davis.

                Oliver G. Davis brother of captain Joel was born at Mt. Sinai about 1842. When he was 25 he was mate on a coasting schooner.

                When he was 35 he became captain of the brig Leonard Myers. On his second voyage in this ship bound for Progreso, in the Gulf of Mexico with a load of corn, a hurricane struck  them and broke the rudder so the ship was helpless. Tremendous seas washed over her decks wrecking the cabin and all gave themselves up for lost.

                The next the captain knew he was lying on the forecastle deck of a large three masted schooner.

                It seems he must have been thrown into the sea and rendered unconscious then tossed by a wave onto deck of schooner which passed near by where he was found by hands when they cleared away the wreckage.

                He was the only survivor of those on board his brig. The schooner proceeded to Pensacola to load lumber and the crew took up a collection for Captain Davis, so he was able to get back home.

                In the spring of 1886 he bought the captains interest in the brig Flora Goodale and made one voyage from the West Indies to Philadelphia. He then Charted to go to Cuba for a load of sugar. He reached Matazanas,  took on his load of sugar and started back on august 20th, 1886 but nothing was never heard of him or his ship since. It is supposed he reached Charleston, S.C. at the time of the hurricane that partly destroyed the seaport and was lost in that storm. Another unsolved mystery of the sea of which there were so many in the last century during the days of sailing ships.


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