Captain Nat

Captain Nathaniel B. Palmer by Samuel Waldo

Nathaniel Palmer, born in 1799, and his brother Alexander, born seven years later, went to sea at an early age. Nathaniel became a ship's master before his 19th birthday as did Alexander by the time he was 21. They were young men who ventured into the most desolate regions of the world in search of profits from sealing and whaling.

During a voyage to the South Atlantic in 1820-21, Nathaniel, captain of the 47-foot sloop Hero, pressed southward in search of new seal rookeries. On November 17, 1820 he sighted "land not yet laid down on my chart." He had discovered a place which would later become known as Palmer Land on the continent of Antarctica.

The Samuel Russell

For the next twenty years the two brothers distinguished themselves as career captains sailing packet and clipper ships to Europe and the Orient. In 1840 Alexander was presented with a gold medal by Queen Victoria for rescuing the crew of the shipwrecked Eugenie. After his retirement from the sea, Alexander served as a representative and senator in the Connecticut Legislature. He died in 1894.

Nathaniel, known around the globe as "Captain Nat," turned his talents to ship design and building, and during the 1840s and 50s owned shares in some of the fastest and largest clipper ships. Nathaniel died June 21, 1877 in San Francisco and was brought home for burial in the family plot.

Captain Nat Palmer's desk

The Captain Palmer House is located adjacent to the Woolworth Library and Research Center.

40 Palmer Street    Stonington, CT  06378

Open May - October
1 to 5 pm Thursday - Sunday

Admission to the Old Lighthouse Museum is included in your ticket price:
$9 adults, $6 children
$25 Family Rate
Free to Members  
Group rates are available. 


Phone: (860) 535-8445 ext 10
E-mail: director@stoningtonhistory.org