Samuel Makins. Nothing is presently known concerning the parentage or youth of Samuel Makins other than a label on the back of a portrait of a man sold by Lyn Knight Auctions of Lenexa, KS on 18 September 2010 which claims Makins was a native born Englishman. The approximately 25” wide x 30” high oil on canvas painting is one of a pair sold as Lot 60 for $1,900. The note reads, “Died of Yellow Fever in Havana, Cuba (never married), son of Sara Swift (Makins) of Dorchester, Mass. Married to Captain Samuel Makins in Philadelphia, PA on 5/23/1779. Captain Makins was born in England and lost at sea in January 1802.” An auction advertisement identifies the young man as John Makins. The companion piece depicts a woman in old age and carries the note, “Sarah Swift Makins, Bapt. Dec. 12, 1762, Dorcester, Mass. Died 1856 in Philadelphia, PA.” The portrait of Sarah Swift Makins, attributed to American painter Sheldon Peck (1797-1868), was recently resold alone for $3,360 on 24 May 2011 by Jackson’s Auctioneers & Appraisers of Cedar Falls, Iowa. Sold yet again on ebay, the portrait of Samuel Makins’ widow most recently captured $5,999 on 1 March 2012. The painting can be viewed online at:
According to Boston records, the “Intentions of Marriage” of Samuel Makins (spelled Makens) and Sarah Swift were first published on 27 April 1779. The couples intentions were published again in succeeding weeks as required by law prior to the marriage ceremony officiated by the Reverend Samuel Parker, Rector of Trinity Church at Boston on 23 May 1779.
Although no hard documentary evidence yet substantiates his time on the Queen of France prior to John Peck Rathbun’s tenure as captain, is likely that Samuel Makins served as Chief Mate on the vessel under Captain Joseph Olney during her first domestic cruise between 13 March and 20 April 1779. According to the pension testimony of Henry Skinner, Samuel Makins sailed two full cruises with the ship. When Skinner was offered a commission as Lieutenant, the Master’s 1st Mate or Chief Mate, would likely have succeeded him. According to Samuel Johnson’s pension testimony, Johnson was made 2nd Master’s Mate soon after entering on board the Queen of France in early 1777 and eventually promoted to the Chief Mate rate. In any event, Samuel Makins clearly followed Henry Skinner as Sailing Master of the 28-gun Continental frigate Queen of France during her second domestic cruise under Olney’s successor Captain John Peck Rathbun. Sailing from Boston on 18 June 1779 in company with the Providence and Ranger, the American squadron under the command of Abraham Whipple encountered the Jamaican merchant fleet near the Grand Banks in mid-July. Pension records incorrectly identify the fleet commander as Commodore Preble. Sailing in dense fog amongst British warships protecting the fleet, the Americans took eleven prizes in secret before escaping at nightfall, eight making Boston with the three Continental ships in late August. Although the prize ships and cargoes sold for more than a million dollars, the price that the newlywed Makins and his wife paid far exceeded the value of any prize share awarded.
According to pension records, on 9 October 1779 Sailing Master Samuel Makins was “Wounded when taking an anchor from the wharf to carry on board said ship, by means of his leg being caught between the anchor and wharf; which fractured the bone, and was very near depriving him of the use of that leg.” Another testimony sheds light on whose shoulders responsibility for the accident fell, “on their return whilst weighing the anchor of the Frigate- through some mismanagement of the seamen, his legs were broken, and during life afterwards he continued lame; being compelled for a long period to use crutches.” In April 1829, former Queen of France Lieutenant Henry Skinner adds detail concerning the specific location where Makins’ disability occured, “In taking off an Anchor from Hancocks Wharf, Boston for the use of Said Ship, had one of his legs dangerously broken which prevented him from proceeding on the Intended Cruise, & was Unable for Several years to follow his Accustomed Occupation at Sea”. While recuperating from the devastating injury, Samuel Makins resided in the house of his father-in-law, where his wife Sarah had been boarding while her husband served in the Navy. Widow Mary French testified in the pension record that as a twelve year old girl, she “distinctly recollects his long confinement and very serious Sufferings” during the subsequent months of recovery and rehabilitation. Son of Sarah Swift Makins’ sister Sally, twenty-eight year old Boston merchant William Parkman testified in 1839 that after this time of rehabilitation, Samuel Makins “left the Service and Entered the Merchant Service Sailing from Philadelphia and that He Removed his family To Philadelphia”.
After the peace, Samuel Makins sailed from Philadelphia as his homeport, his early post-war shipping career chronicled by newspaper records of his coming and going. In August 1784, he was cleared into Phil from St. Martins in the brig Flora. The following month, Makins was cleared in from New York on the brig Carl. He arrived at home from Bermuda on the brig Jane in August 1785. Makins sailed the following month to Granada in the same vessel. In April 1786, Samuel Makins returned to Philadelphia from a cruise to St. Ubes, Portugal on the brig Charles. The following month, the brig Charles with Makins in command was cleared out of Boston bound to Norfolk. While it is not known on which ship he is sailing, it is assumed Captain Makins is away at sea when his name appears on a list of letters remaining to be picked up at the Post Office in Philadephia on 6 October 1789. We next find Captain Samuel Makins in command of the 277-ton ship Federalist in a 30 November 1790 Federal Gazette marine list from England noting his making port at Falmouth on the previous 7 September and Gravesend on 12 September. Apparently during this voyage from New York to England, the ship Federalist was boarded by a British frigate at the mouth of the English Channel and number of seamen, as well as, one mate were taken off the vessel. Eventually, after Makins protested, all the men were returned save one Irishman. When Captain Makins made London, on 18 September he solicited Gouverneur Morris’ assistance in obtaining the freedom of this man and others who were impressed while sailing up the Thames River. New York City native Gouverneur Morris (1752-1816), sometimes called “Penman of the Constitution”, had represented Pennsylvania at the Constitutional Convention just three years earlier. In 1789 Morris traveled to France on business where he would shortly serve as ambassador between 1792 to 1794.
Gouverneur Morris’ letter to George Washington dated 24 September 1790 offers additional details of Makins’ difficuties, “in the river, so many of his men were taken out, that he was obliged to hire others, for the security of his ship. Some of the men so taken were induced to enter into the British service, as he informed me, by ill usage, threats, and particularly by the assurance, that having nobody here to speak for them, their case was desperate, and therefore they might as well take the bounty as let it alone, for go they must.” Morris also forwarded a letter to Francis Osborne, Duke of York on the same date stating, “My Lord, An application which has been made to me by a Mr Samuel Makins, master of an American ship, and which I have formerly transmitted to Mr Burgess, brings forward some points on which I find myself, most reluctantly, obliged to trouble your Grace. It appears, first, that the American ship was stopped on the high seas, and detained by a British vessel of war, which took away several of the crew, and kept one, who was a British subject. Secondly, it appears that seamen taken in this port from an American ship, who have sworn before a magistrate in America that they are American citizens, are nevertheless detained, unless the master of the ship will swear that they were born in America. And thirdly, it appears that American seamen, who have entered on board of a British ship of war, are detained, notwithstanding the claims made by the master to whom they are bound by the usual articles.” Makins remained in command of the Federalist at least until January 1791 when he joined a number of other ship masters at Charleston, SC- destitute for work- as memorialist of a plea to Congress asking for government contracts to aide Southern states intending trade with Europe but stymied by unfair competition and low payment for goods.
By March 1791, Captain Samuel Makins was in Ireland in command of the ship Hope. Departing from Sligo on the West coast of Ireland on 29 May, the bark Hope arrived at Philadelphia with sixty passengers in mid-July after a seven week trans-Atlantic crossing. A public thank you was offered by some of the passengers in the General Advertiser of 22 July 1791, “they also think it a duty to the public to add, that Captain Makins’ behaviour to all the passengers was attentive, generous and humane.” This voyage foreshadowed a great exodus sixty years later, when between 1847 and 1851, over 30,000 people emigrated to America from Ireland through the port of Sligo to escape the Irish Potato Famine. Makins next sailed the “barque Hope” to St. Andero thence on to Norfolk, VA- arriving in December 1791. According to the Maryland Journal of 13 March 1792, the bark Hope with Makins in command cleared Baltimore for Havre-de-Grace, France. Sailing for home on 1 May, the Philadelphia Gazette reports on Makins arrival in the barque Hope on 21 June 1792.
According to his pension file, Samuel Makins first applied for a pension for his Continental Navy service under the “old Invalid Act for wounds received in service” about this same time. Records state “In 1792, through the influence of the celebrated Dr. Shippen of Philadelphia- accompanied with a certificate of the Doctor, certifying to the foregoing facts, etc. he obtained a Pension which he enjoyed until 1802, the period of his death- The papers- documents etc, which were filed at the time of obtaining said Pension (were it is believed) destroyed by a fire which occurred in Washington.” Makins’ name appears on a list of applicants for invalid pension submitted to the House of Representatives on 25 April 1794. The captain was granted a one fourth pension due to the injuries he sustained as Sailing Master on the Queen of France fifteen years earlier. His twenty two dollar annual allowance, apparently based upon his earlier rate on the ship of Master’s Mate, commenced on 4 March 1794.
Later in 1792 during September, we next find Captain Samuel Makins sailing from Philadelphia on a cruise to Cape Francois with a cargo of molasses, cocoa and cotton. The ship’s manifest for this voyage is in the collection of the Independence Seaport Museum. The 280-ton ship Andrew was owned by James King, David and Henry Pratt, William Bell, George C. Shroeppel, Joesph Harper, and Isaac Snowden- all of Philadelphia. Marine reports in local newspapers indicate the vessel returned to her home port in early November 1792 where she was advertised “For CHARTER” in the Federal Gazette from 5 November through 24 November. That same newspaper on 27 November 1792 details her next intended cruise. “FREIGHT or PASSAGE Very Cheap For CHARLESTON, The Ship Andrew Samuel Makins, Master Will sail about the 1st of December, will take in flour, at 3s per bbl. And other freight proportionately low. The Andrew will leave Charleston for Amsterdam, about the 25th of December. Any person desirous of shipping, either to Charleston or Amsterdam will please to apply as speedily as possible, to the captain, at Perott’s wharf, or to the subscriber, No. 5, north Water street. HENRY PRATT.” Nine days later an advertisement in the Gazette updated the planned departure date to 8 December.
Samuel Makins association with Philadelphia merchant Henry Pratt (1761-1838) would last for at least the next eight years and in all likelihood the balance of his life. According to Cathy Matson in the essay “What We Know About Henry C. Pratt the Merchant” (2005), Pratt began his mercantile career just after the Revolutionary War, trading with the West Indies in the export of flour and timber while importing molasses, coffee, wine and gin which he marketed from his Water Street shop. It is possible that Makins association with Pratt included all or some of the earlier commands Makins held between 1784 and 1791 as well. Beginning about the time Captain Makins took command of the ship Andrew, Pratt’s trading endeavours expanded to include European ports, offering charter space for cargo and passengers and importing increasingly diverse goods. A 6 February 1793 marine report indicates Makins and the ship Andrew arrived at Charleston, SC from whence she departed for Amsterdam with a cargo of rice and pimento. The Pennsylvania Journal reports on 24 July 1793 that on 10 April, the ship Andrew was taken by a French privateer and carried into L’Orient, France. The article continues “The ship and cargo was cleared by the Chamber of Commerce, but the cargo, it was supposed, would be kept for the use of the nation.”
Greg H. Williams in “The French Assault on American Shipping, 1793-1813” (2010) elaborates the Andrew was captured by L’Ambitieux under the command of Captain Jacques Pintedevins with ship and cargo released by the Tribunal of Commerce on 25 April, albeit the cargo was seized by the French government. King, Harper and Snowden apparently were compensated L51,328-9-1 for their interest in the cargo, however, another claim for L8,379-6-9 plus interest was filed for the loss and allowed at Paris under the Louisiana Purchase Treaty of 30 April 1803. Samuel Makins and the ship Andrew arrived home at Philadelphia on 30 August 1793, having left L’Orient on 3 July. The 5 September 1793 edition of the Federal Gazette reports additional excitement on the return voyage. The newspaper reports that after having been taken into L’Orient by the French privateer “Le Ambitia under Capt. Pendevo of St. Malo”, Captain Makins “complains of their unjust proceedings and behaviour to him there”. The article also reveals that during the homeward bound voyage on 7 August, Andrew again “was boarded by a French privateer belonging to Nantz” who on this occasion “behaved very politely.”
In November 1793, the ship Andrew and her master Samuel Makins sailed again from Philadelphia bound for the Turks Islands. In May of the following year Andrew and Makins cleared out of their homeport to Norfolk. The ship Andrew and master Makins appear on a 1 September 1794 List of American Vessels taken by British Cruisers published in the Philadelphia Gazette and also on a List of Vessels at L’Orient dated 13 September 1794 which notes the names of owners and other interested parties as James King, Henry Pratt, Joseph Harper and Isaac Snowden. Still at that port on a 10 November list, The ship Andrew and Samuel Makins finally sailed for home on 17 February 1795, arriving at Philadelphia on 4 May after a forty-three day trans-Atlantic voyage. Later in May 1795 the ship Andrew, Makins, master was cleared for Fredericksburg, VA and the following March we find the pair cleared from Boston to Philadelphia. The 17 August 1796 edition of the Philadelphia Gazette reports “The ship Andrew, Makins, of Philadelphia, was condemned at St. Ubes as unfit for sea.” Known today as St. Elbes Setubal, the Portuguese port city was a center of the salt trade in Makins’ time. The same newspaper on 24 January 1797, reports Samuel Makins as a passenger on the brig Industry under the command of Captain Russell of Philadelphia, “having left his ship at Ubes”. The brig Industry was suffering her own difficulties being, “94 days out from St. Ubes in great distress, having neither water nor provisions on board” having “buried one man and two more likely to die through fatigue and hunger”. The Industry “had one pump continually going” when Captain Nathaniel Coley of the ship Martin supplied cheese and porter to aid the vessel which he observed “bearing away for Bermuda.”
The Philadelphia Gazette of 7 August 1797 reports the schooner Susannah under the command of master Samuel Makins cleared out of Philadelphia bound for Gonavives, a port on the Northwest coast of Haiti. The details of this unhappy voyage are revealed in findings of the U.S. Court of Claims regarding a lawsuit filed by The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania (of which Henry Pratt was an early director) against the United States as reported to the House of Representatives 118 years later in 1915. The findings of fact state, “The schooner Susannah, whereof Samuel Makins was then master, sailed on a commercial voyage from Philadelphia on or about August 10, 1797. bound for Leogane, in the Island of St. Domingo. While peacefully pursuing said voyage she was seized on the high seas by the French privateers La Resource, Capt. Roubeau and Triton, Capt. Cadet, on or about September 3, 1797, and sent to Port de Paix (on the extreme Northern Atlantic coast of Haiti), where she arrived September 5, 1797. Both vessel and cargo were released by the commission delegated to the Windward Islands by decree of September 22, 1797. By reason of the negligence of the French privateers in failing to pump the vessel, which was leaking at the time of the capture, the cargo of the vessel was damaged by sea water.” A document dated 20 January 1798 indicates the Susannah spent almost a week in Hispaniola during early October making repairs before sailing for the Delaware Capes and “Lewis Town” where Makins, the mate and her cook exited the vessel for a stage ride home to Philadelphia.
Court records indicate the firm of Pratt & Kintzing, composed of Henry Pratt and Abraham Kintzing owned both the vessel and cargo. The court further determined “The cargo of the Susannah at the time of the seizure consisted of foodstuffs, wine, flour, hardware, leather, etc., of the value of $11,687.58. Apparently the “costs and expenditures occasioned by detention in Port de Paix” borne by Pratt & Kintzing at the time was $1,090.50 minus $815.12 received from the insurance company paid on 18 February 1798. The Court of Claims decided in the claimant’s favor and awarded The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania the $815.12 sum paid to Pratt & Kintzing over a century earlier, declaring also that “no persons claiming to represent Henry Pratt and Abraham Kintzing, owners of vessel and cargo, have appeared herein.” The schooner Susannah may have been Pratt and Kintzing’s first venture together. Cathy Matson in her essay about Henry Pratt notes Frankfort resident Abraham Kintzing is listed in the Philadelphia Directory of 1798 as a grazier and wagon master. Matson adds both Pratt and Kintzing were active in the American Land Company (1796-1829) which had interests in the District of Columbia, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia. The partnership lasted until 1812 when Kintzing dissolved his relationship with Henry Pratt and initiated a new business venture with Francis S. Coxe.
The following year, Makins sailed again for Pratt & Kintzing on the Polly, a 142-ton brig built at Falmouth, MA five years earlier in 1793. A note in the widow Makins’ pension application written by descendant John William Behm in October 1903 suggests Captain Samuel Makins possessed a half-ownership interest in the vessel which has not yet been confirmed. The Philadelphia Gazette of 5 November 1798 announces his return from a European voyage, “JUST LANDING, The Cargo of the brig POLLY, Samuel Makins, master from Bremen.” The advertisement identifies “bales of linens and cloths” as the cargo “For Sale, on reasonable terms by Pratt & Kintzing, No. 95, North Water-Street”. According to Matson, Pratt and Kintzing’s decision to focus on shipping to Bremen, Hamburg and other European markets arose out of the ongoing threat of trade interruptions due to continuing Anglo/French hostilities. Just three days earlier the same newspaper advertised in French the Polly’s next port of call after her cargo from Bremen was off loaded, “Pour Jeremie & Port au Prince, LE BRIQUE POLLY, Capitaine Makins”. Offering passage to Haiti, this voyage appears to be chartered by merchant B. W. Sarazin of 119 Cedar Street. Afterward, Makins took the brig Polly again to Germany, a 29 July 1799 newspaper announcing the vessel’s arrival home from Hamburg with a cargo of dry goods and German linens to be sold by Pratt & Kintzing. It was about this time, Henry Pratt purchased 43 acres of land from Robert Morris on which he would construct Lemon Hill Mansion in present day Fairmount Park in 1800. Perhaps it was for this reason, the partners attempted to sell Makins’ command. The 17 August 1799 edition of Claypoole’s American Daily Advertiser lists, “For Sale The brig POLLY Samuel Makins, master, Now lying at Henry Pratt’s wharf, burthen 142 32-95 tons, she is a good vessel, well found, and ready to receive a cargo. For terms apply to Pratt & Kintzing.”
Apparently the Polly was not sold prior to sailing again with Captain Samuel Makins in command bound for La Guaira, a Venezuelan port instrumental to the cocoa trade, as reported in the 19 April 1800 edition of the Philadelphia Gazette. The details of this voyage are revealed in findings of the U.S. Court of Claims regarding a French Spoliation Claims lawsuit filed by a number of claimants against the United States as published 114 years later in 1914. A number of these claims had been unsuccessfully exerted earlier in 1831 as detailed in “The French Assault on American Shipping, 1793-1813” (2010) authored by Greg H. Williams. The court determined the following findings of fact in the case, “The brig Polly, whereof Samuel Makins was then master, sailed April 22, 1800 on a commercial voyage from Philadelphia bound to La Guayra. While peaceably pursuing said voyage she was seized on the high seas May 23, 1800 by the French corvette La Bergere and carried into Cayenne (a city in French Guiana, South America). The Polly was condemned by the French civil tribunal Department of Cayenne on July 6, 1800.” The grounds for the brig Polly’s condemnation included; alleged informalities in the role d’equipage (ship’s crew list), some of the goods on board were of English growth or manufacture and the instructions of the master allowed him to touch at Trinity and other English islands. The original claimants, now long dead and represented by administrators, include: Abijah Dawes, underwriter North America Insurance Company, Robert Wain, underwriter Paul Beck, Jr., underwriter Jesse Wain, Robert Smith, Andrew Pettit, Joseph Summerl, underwriter Alexander Murray of Miller & Murray, William Read, John Bohlen, James Vanuxem, Ebenezer Large, Israel Brown and Henry Pratt- represented by surviving executor Henry Pratt McKean. It is not known specifically what interest each of the claimants had in the Polly or her cargo, however it is interesting to note Alexander Murray was an officer in the Continental Navy, serving as 1 st Lieutenant on the frigate Alliance under John Barry. Clearly the largest claim at $29,000 in 1831 was made by the North America Insurance Company as underwriters of Pratt & Kintzing and Francis David, who apparently also held some interest in the Polly’s cargo. The claimants were no more successful in 1914 than in 1831 when their claims were disallowed due to insufficient testimony. About three months after the brig Polly was captured on 23 May 1800 by three French vessels of war, Captain Makins and others similarly unfortunate, left Cayenne for home about 17 August “having lost their property there”.
Poulson’s Daily Advertiser of 13 January 1801 reports Captain Makins and his new command Nimrod returned to Philadelphia from Port Republican, known also as Port-au-Prince, after a passage of eighteen days. The Federal Gazette of Baltimore reports on 23 February 1801, the schooner Nimrod with Makins as her master, cleared out of Philadelphia on 20 February bound again for Port Republican. The American & Commercial Daily Advertiser of 27 April 1801, places Samuel Makins at Cape Francois and bound for Havannah in command of the schooner Nimrod, no doubt named for the famous racehorse of the day. A Daily Advertiser article of 8 May 1801 indicates that prior to her landing at Cape Francois, on 11 April the Nimrod was at Port Republican. The Marine Register of the 9 May 1801 edition of the New York Price Current indicates Makins and the Nimrod were cleared out of Philadelphia two days earlier bound again for Port Republican. The Marine Register published one week later names her destination more generally as the island of Hispaniola. A 3 June 1801 report indicates another vessel “spoke” the Nimrod sixty hours out of Philadelphia on 15 May, her destination now named as Cape Francois. The Alexandria Advertiser of 23 June 1801 reports the schooner Nimrod at Cape Francois, next bound for Havannah.
The 20 July 1801 edition of the Philadelphia Gazette reports the Nimrod and her master Makins at the Lazaretto in the Delaware River, returned home from Jacquemel, a port in Southern Haiti known today as Jacmel, with a cargo of coffee and cotton. On 4 August 1801, the Nimrod is reported “came up from the Lazaretto”. Details concerning Makins homeward bound voyage are revealed in a story published in the 2 September 1801 edition of the Norwich Courier. “Sailed from Jacquemel on Monday, June 29. Left there only one American vessel, the sloop Washington, from Portland, Capt. Freeman. July 1, off Cape Tiberon, distance three miles, saw a barge in shore, which hoisted French colors and fired a shot at us; we continued our course, but the wind dying away she came up with us and fired another shot which still not minding she displayed a Spanish ensign, and being very near fired again, when we rounded to, and after several imprecations from her commander, hoisted out our boat and sent the papers on board by the mate, which they detained for some time- they then came on board the schooner, and immediately began to plunder, by taking all the fowls, two or three dozen of porter, some wine, hams, sugar, limes, coffee, and all the clothes they found on deck. They then left us.” The article continues, “On Friday the 10th of July was bro’t to and boarded by the British ship of war the Carnatic, of 74 guns on a cruise, a number of the hands being down with the scurvy, the Capt. Requested us to spare him some limes, and we let him have three barrels which he paid for, and after overhauling the papers, dismissed us.” According to the Philadelphia Gazette of 4 September 1801, Captain Makins and the schooner Nimrod were cleared out of Philadelphia for yet another cruise to Port Republican.
As mentioned earlier, the label on the back of a portrait of a man identified as Samuel Makins’ son John reads in part, “Captain Makins was born in England and lost at sea in January 1802”, which agrees with an affidavit of his widow’s pension application stating Samuel Makins died in 1802. It also appears that the total sum of $168.81 paid on his pension account represents seven years and eight months from the March 1794 commencement date, indicating pension payments were no longer received by Makins after about November 1801. Shipping records suggest the captain may have been lost in late December 1802 or January 1803. The Mercantile Advertiser of 11 October 1802 notes “schooner Harriott, Makins, 15 days from Fredericksburg, Virg. With wheat”. The Harriott apparently made it back safely to New York where it was advertised for sale in late November 1802. In fact, Makins may have made his last cruise on the Nimrod as revealed by a 30 December 1802 report in the Gazette of the United States noting the Nimrod was “spoke” on 18 December 1802, just two days out of Philadelphia. However, no mention is made of her master’s name and all references to the schooner Nimrod or Captain Samuel Makins end at this time. The circumstances of his death are succinctly recorded in the April 1829 pension testimony of the shipmate who Makins succeeded as Sailing Master on the Queen of France- Captain Henry Skinner- who writes, “He sailed Several years out of this port as Master of a ship, & was finally Lost at Sea & Never heard of.”
After the sea captain’s death, the residence of his widow is listed as 61 North Sixth Street in the 1803 Philadelphia Directory. The directories of the next two years indicate widow Sarah Makins is living at 121 Spruce Street. She moved next door to that address at 119 Spruce Street where is is recorded in the Philadelphia Directory of 1806 and 1807. Sometime before 1813, the widow Makins moved to 10 Gray’s Alley where she resided for at least the next six years. Beginning in 1816, we find James N. Makins also living at the Gray’s Alley address while maintaining a sailmaking business at 3 Spruce Street. Son of Sarah Swift and Samuel Makins, James N. Makins was born about 1788 in Philadelphia. A Seaman’s Protection Certificate dated 21 July 1809 and witnessed by his mother, suggests the twenty-one year old, like his father, intended to “follow the sea.” While there is nothing extant describing his father’s physical characteristics, the young man stood 5′-7” with light brown hair, hazel eyes and fair complexion with a tatoo below each kneecap and the scar of an inoculation embellishing the inside of his left wrist. Among the vessels he may have sailed with, it is likely James N. Makins was on board the ship Lancaster for her voyage to Canton, China. Grotjan’s Philadelphia Public Sale Report of 10 August 1812 indicates Makins imported three boxes of china on the return voyage, perhaps “privilege” which may have been allowed a junior officer.
James N. Makins continued to share the Gray’s Alley address with his mother until 1819 when his residence is noted in the directory as 11 Norris Alley. His sailmaking enterprise continued to operate at the foot of Spruce Street on the wharf at least until 1829. Briefly in 1817, he appears to have done business under the trade name of Stewart and Makins. Probably in 1819, but definitely before the following year, his widowed mother Sarah Swift Makins moved from 10 Gray’s Alley with her son James at his 11 Norris Alley home. The extended family continued to live at this address at least through the publication of the 1824 Directory. This directory notes the widow Sarah Makins as operating a china store at 124 South Front Street, presumably under the direction of her son James with whom she appears to continue residing. In 1828 through 1829, James N. Makins moved next door to 9 Norris Alley before moving to 321 South Front Street and finally 180 South Front Street near Pine in 1830, where the family lived until at least three years after his death in 1837. It is interesting to note that in 1829, for just one year, Sarah Makins’ address is noted as 127 North 2nd Street. Soon after on 4 March 1831, Sarah Swift Makins commenced collecting a widow’s pension of $52.08 annually for the Revolutionary War service of her husband Samuel Makins. When this pension was terminated abruptly, the seventy-seven year old widow again made application on 31 January 1839 describing herself as “in destitute circumstances.” In response to her petition to the U. S. House of Representatives on 7 January 1843, Sarah Makins again was granted a pension six months later on 21 June.
As noted earlier, a label affixed the the rear of an old woman identified as Sarah Swift Makins notes her year and place of death as 1856 in Philadelphia. The Thursday 4 December 1856 edition of the Philadelphia “Public Ledger” includes the mortuary notice, “On Wednesday morning, 3d instant, Mrs SARAH MAKINS, relict of the late Capt. Samuel Makins, in the 94th year of her age. Funeral from the residence of her grandson, George Helmbold, No. 46 N. Washington street, on Friday afternoon, at 1 o’clock.” Grandson George Helmbold is the son of George Helmbold, Jr. and his wife Sarah Makins, daughter of Continental Navy pensioner Samuel Makins and Sarah Swift Makins. It is assumed that the sea captain’s aged widow lived with her grandson George after the deaths of her daughter Sarah in 1836 and son James in the following year. After the funeral, Sarah Swift Makins was buried in the family plot of the son with whom she lived for many years in Section B, Lot 152 at Laurel Hill Cemetery. Also interred there are her son James N. Makins who predeceased her on 7 August 1837 and his wife Rebecca Brooks Makins who died in her 27th year on 28 August 1830 “after a short and severe illness.” Sarah Swift and Samuel Makins’ other daughter Sophia, sister of Mrs. Sarah Makins Helmbold was also laid to rest there ten years before her mother, after her 25 September 1830 death from “a severe and lingering illness”.
Other than unmarried sister Sophia and brothers James and John, whose portrait notation reveals another unhappy fate, Sarah is the only positively identified child of Samuel Makins and the source of many of his progeny. The Thursday 13 May 1802 evening marriage of Mr. George Helmbold, Junr. and Miss Sarah Makins by the Rev. Ashbel Green is recorded at the Second Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia and the following day’s edition of the U.S. Gazette. The couple’s wedding was celebrated just months after the death of the bride’s father Samuel Makins while at sea. The groom would later serve as a Lieutenant in the War of 1812 and publish two satirical Philadelphia newspapers. In addition to their dutiful son unlikely named George the third, the Helmbold’s shared a daughter named Sophia Makins Helmbold. Sophia Makins Helmbold would be married to Thomas Jefferson Weygandt (1800-1874), a well-known maker of musical instruments, in Philadelphia on 12 May 1831 by the Reverend John Chambers. The 24 May 1836 editions of Poulson’s Advertiser, U.S. Gazette and Pennsylvania Inquirer all publish notice of the death of Sarah Makins Helmbold (1785-1836), daughter of the late Continental Navy veteran Samuel Makins. “Died yesterday morning in the 51st year of her age, Mrs. Sarah Helmbold. Her friends are invited to attend her funeral from her late residence, No. 156 Arch Street, this afternoon, at 2 o’clock. Funeral to proceed to Lower Merion.” No doubt her son George assisted in the funeral affairs of his widowed mother as he did with his widowed grandmother twenty years later as he lived just across the street at 153 Arch. Within two years of the death of her mother, Sophia Makins Helbold Weygandt would bear daughter Matilda Louisa Weygandt in Philadelphia, the adoptive home of the infant’s great-grandfather Samuel Makins. Matilda would later marry Samuel C. Behm in 1870, with who she would share among other children, Henry Godley Behm and John William Behm. These two would claim membership to the Pennsylvania Sons of the Revolution based on the naval service of their great-great grandfather. Like her grandmother, Samuel’s wife Sarah Swift Makins, Sophia Makins Helbold Weygandt would live to an old age, passing over the river of death on 21 November 1888.