Monthly Archives: February 2020

A Treasure Rediscovered

Restauration med res

This past Fall I was sorting through some old documents from the Slooper Society and found a wonderful letter addressed to Lou Wise (then Secretary of the Slooper Society) from a John Peterson Lund of Winston-Salem, NC. dated September 25th, 1996. In his letter to Lou Wise, John explained that his father, Dr. Herbert Zacharias Lund Jr. had passed away the previous February. John went on to explain how meaningful Herbert’s Norwegian ancestry had been to his father. Herbert had visited Norway in 1967 and was also present for the Sesquicentennial celebrations and Royal visit in 1975 which he attended with his brothers.

But what really caught my attention was John’s mention that his father had commissioned an oil painting of the Restauration. In his letter to Lou he explained the painting depicted the Restauration as it approached the famous cask off the coast of Madeira. I had no previous knowledge of the existence of this painting and my curiosity was peaked. A quick Google search revealed that a John Lund still resided in Winston Salem and so I jotted off a quick letter to John explaining how I had found his letter to Lou written 23 years ago and that I was very interested to learn more of his father’s oil painting depicting the Restauration.

Imagine my excitement when several weeks later I received a reply from John dated November 4, 2019. In his letter, John explained that he had inherited the painting after his father’s passing and that it now proudly hangs in his own home. John included a snapshot of the painting. Although the quality of the snapshot was poor, I could immediately tell that this was indeed a hidden treasure. I asked John if he would consider having the painting professionally digitized so that it could be preserved and shared. John readily agreed and with the help of a local Winston-Salem photographer, Shaun StocktonĀ of Shaun Stockton Photography, I am happy to report that a very high-quality digital copy of the painting has been obtained.

Upon first viewing the high-resolution image, I found the painting to be quite dynamic and the colors vibrant but I will let John’s own words tell the story as he described the painting to me in his letter… “The crude wooden boat is coming toward you swiftly in full sail. The cask is bobbing in the foreground. The sun is setting at the left and the waves and heavy clouds in the background suggest an advancing storm.”-John P. Lund

If you are unfamiliar with the inspiration behind the scene depicted in the painting, having departed Norway on July 4th, 1825, the Sloopers had anchored in a harbor near Lizard Head in Cornwall in order to fully provision for their remaining voyage to America. Several of the more enterprising Sloopers (who shall remain nameless) began bartering with the locals… some of the brandy which was carried aboard the sloop in exchange for provisions of food and water. Unfortunately for our enterprising Sloopers, this was in violation of the English liquor laws. As the local authorities prepared to arrest the Captain and crew, the Restauration hurriedly slipped out of the harbor and set sail for America. They had escaped immediate danger of arrest in Cornwall, they were however unable to have fully provisioned during their brief stay and were unprepared for the long voyage to America.

1,280 miles later the Restauration was 300 miles off the coast of Africa with her occupants having exhausted their supplies of food and water when an object was spotted floating in the sea. Lars Larson was lowered in the ship’s tender to retrieve what turned out to be a cask. Lars nearly lost his hand to a shark but eventually managed to secure a rope to the cask which was eagerly brought aboard. The cask was reportedly covered in barnacles and had obviously been at sea even longer than the Sloopers themselves.

The cask was quickly opened and found to contain Madeira wine. I realize it may seem rather incongruous that this ship of mostly Quakers would do so, but apparently at least the senior members of the crew became enough under the influence that the ship drifted aimlessly into the harbor of Funchal, apparently without command and without a flag to indicate her origin. Therefore it was assumed the ship was a plague ship and her crew and passengers dead or dying. With the cannons of the harbor fortress preparing to blow the Restauration and her 52 occupants out of the water, a German ship from Bremen anchored nearby attempted to alert anyone aboard Restauration of their impending demise, shouting, “Raise your colors!”.

While the Sloopers unsuccessfully attempted to locate their Norwegian flag, Bertha Nelson ran to the prow of Restauration and, “disregarding the immodest display of her legs, waved her bright calico skirt to prevent the cannon from being fired.” Thus the Sloopers arrived in Funchal on August 1st, 1825.

What a wonderful and storied history we share as descendants of those brave Sloopers! I would like to thank Shaun Stockton of Shaun Stockton Photography for her efforts to create a high-quality digital image of this precious painting. And I would especially like to thank Mr. John P. Lund (descendant of Cornelius Nilsen Hersdal and Kari Pedersdatter Hesthammer who sailed aboard Restaurationen) for his generosity in sharing this wonderful painting. It is truly a treasure that will help to perpetuate the history of those brave Norwegian immigrants who sailed upon Restaurationen.

John Lund Low res
John P. Lund proudly displays his father’s oil painting of Restaurationen at his home in Winston-Salem, NC.