BARTLETT, John




Author Tags: 1700-1800

American sailor John Bartlett’s journal description of a 45-ft. high Haida totem pole on Langara Island in 1791 has been cited as the earliest literary evidence of a totem pole “known to science.” According to Robin K. Wright, John Bartlett also made the first drawing of a carved house frontal pole on the Northwest Coast in the Haida village of Dadens on Langara or North Island in 1791. The following year Etienne Marchand provided the first detailed description of of Haida heraldic pole erected in front of houses as an entranceway.

In July of 1791, Malaspina’s artist José Cardero sketched a Tlingit mortuary crest suspended between two poles at Mulgrave, Alaska, now known as Yakutat Bay, and discovered it was the grave of a woman. He also sketched several pyres and a grave overseen by a “colossal monster” carving made of pine (Sitka spruce).

John Webber’s earlier sketches of carved interior house pillars at Nootka Sound in 1778 were published in Cook’s journal in 1784.

Bartlett was a common sailor aboard the British ship Mercury, owned and commanded by John Henry Cox, when it sailed from England. Once the ship reached the Pacific its name was changed to Gustavus III, and the crew sailed under a Swedish flag. Bartlett visited Unalaska in October and November of 1789. Bartlett Cove and Gustavus are two tiny outposts ten miles apart within Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska.

According to F.W. Howay, Gustavus III also lay at anchor at Clayoquot for about ten days in March of 1791. The crew traded on the coast from March until July, with Thomas Barnett serving as master.

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Now It's Called Princeton: Songs and Poems of BC's Upper Similkameen

BOOKS:

John Bartlett's journal of the Gustavus, 1791, appears within A Narrative of Events in the Life of John Bartlett of Boston, Massachusetts, in the Years 1790-1793, During Voyages to Canton, the Northwest Coast of North America, and Elsewhere, pp. 287-343 in The Sea, the Ship, and the Sailor: Tales of Adventure from Log Books and Original Narratives. By Charles H Barnard; John Nicol; John B. Knights; William Mariner; John Bartlett. Elliot Snow, editor. (Salem, Massachusetts: Marine Research Society, 1925)

[BCBW 2004] "1700-1800" "American"