A Maine woman sailed all over the world, even though her family died at sea

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Eunice Pratt Webster
Died 1896 at age 82

Greetings from Portland. Sweater weather is here. Every day this month I’m telling a story that bridges the gap between this world, and the next. I’m resurrecting the memory of Portlanders who’ve crossed over to the other side by posting one video each day, relating the tale of one, interesting “permanent Portlander.”

Eunice Webster was born in North Yarmouth in 1814. She was the daughter of a sea captain. Her mother, father and brother all were lost at sea in 1854.

She married Captain Benjamin Webster in New York City in 1845. A few days later, she accompanied him to New Orleans aboard his ship, a brig named Levant.

She was very seasick the whole way.

But that also didn’t stop her from sticking with him for the next 51 years, sailing with him all over the Western Hemisphere.

Eunice Pratt Webster, buried in Portland's Evergreen Cemetery, was the daughter of a sea captain and married one, too. She sailed all over the Western Hemisphere with him. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Eunice Pratt Webster, buried in Portland’s Evergreen Cemetery, was the daughter of a sea captain and married one, too. She sailed all over the Western Hemisphere with him. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Once, on a voyage to Sligo, Ireland, during the famine, she brought a starving and half-frozen man on board, feeding him and sending him away with pockets full of food. She would sometimes help her husband diffuse drunken, mutinous crew members by making them embarrassed by their behavior in front of a lady.

When Benjamin retired from the sea, they lived in a house on Spring Street in Portland and had a summer home on Cushing Island in Casco Bay.

After Eunice died, her husband, Benjamin, wrote an autobiography. He included long, eloquent passages from a diary she kept while sailing the globe with him.

He wrote, “She was a lovely and Christian woman. In this 51-years-and-two-months, she never spoke an angry word to me.”

He died just a few years later.

When Capt. Benjamin Webster retired from the sea, he and his wife Eunice lived in this house on Spring Street in Portland. The photo appears in his autobiography, published in 1900.

When Capt. Benjamin Webster retired from the sea, he and his wife Eunice lived in this house on Spring Street in Portland. The photo appears in his autobiography, published in 1900.

On their gravestone, her hand, reaches for his across the divide, welcoming him from this world to the next, as thy embark on their final, eternal voyage, together.

Today’s story is brought to you, in part, by the Friends of Evergreen Cemetery and Capt. Webster’s own book. The friends are dedicated to the preservation and protection of the cemetery’s natural beauty and its historic/cultural significance — and they lead fabulous walking tours.

Disclaimer: I’m not a historian. I owe everything I know to the dedicated research of those who have come before me. These character sketches are assembled from multiple (often antique) sources and sprinkled with my own conjecture. I’m happy to be set straight or to learn more.

Eunice Pratt Webster, buried in Portland's Evergreen Cemetery, was the daughter of a sea captain and married one, too. She sailed all over the Western Hemisphere with him. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Eunice Pratt Webster, buried in Portland’s Evergreen Cemetery, was the daughter of a sea captain and married one, too. She sailed all over the Western Hemisphere with him. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

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Troy R. Bennett

About Troy R. Bennett

Troy R. Bennett is a Buxton native and longtime Portland resident whose photojournalism has appeared in media outlets all over the world.