Jennie R. Dubois: Her Building

The Dubois (locally pronounced Do-boyz ) was named after the wife of the Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice Edward Church Dubois. Mrs. Jennie Roberts Dubois was a 4/64th owner in the vessel. Unfortunately to date we have not been able to locate a photo of Mrs. Dubois.

Edward Church Dubois
Edward Church Dubois
Supreme Court Justice of Rhode Island
Born London, England January 23, 1848 New York Times
Jennie Roberts Dubois
Jennie Roberts Dubois
Born in West Gardiner, Maine 1853
4/64 Owner in Jennie R Dubois
Launched February 11, 1902

Length: 249 feet
Breadth: 46 feet
Depth: 20.7 feet

Gross Tonnage: 2,227
Net Tonnage: 1,952

Designed to carry
3,000 tons of coal
2 million board feet of lumber

the Dubois under construction
The Dubois under construction
Photo: Mystic Seaport Photography Collection

Here we see a picture of the Dubois under construction with her master builder, Willard Avery Hodgkins, surveying the progress of his vessel (left side of image, foreground). Mr. Hodgkins had been previously employed by Percy & Small of Bath Maine, who were probably the most well know builders of schooners on the east coast.

Palmer fleet captains
Palmer fleet captains
The Great Coal Schooners of New England 1870-1909, Lt. W. J. Lewis Parker, U.S.C.G.

The captain of the Dubois was Edward Henry Smeed, shown here, extreme left, in a 1909 photo of the Palmer fleet captains.  He was at this time the captain of the Baker Palmer.  Captain Smeed’s task as master of the Jennie R. Dubois was to deliver coal along the eastern seaboard.

We’re all familiar with the oil tankers that ply our waters today. Coasting schooners like the Dubois were the oils tankers of the day.  They were used, among other things, to transport bituminous coal along the east coast.

Oil Tanker
Modern Oil Tanker
Elvira Ball
Elvira Ball
Another Mystic Built schooner, authors collection

Coasting schooners moved coal from primary loading ports in the south. To discharge ports in the north. This coal was used to fuel the industrial and home fires of the north.


Primary Discharge Ports

Bangor, ME
Portland, ME
Portsmouth, NH
Boston, MA
Providence, RI

Primary Loading Ports

Philadelphia, PA
Baltimore, MD
Norfolk, VA
Newport News, VA

When the Dubois was launched she was, at the time, the largest vessel to have been built outside the shipyards of Maine, she would be the largest vessel to be built on the Mystic River, and she was seen as  the revival of shipbuilding in the area. And we can see that when she was built in 1902, shipbuilding was indeed seeing a resurgence.

The Day Feb 12
The Day Feb 12
Photo: Mystic Seaport Photography Collection
Photo: Mystic Seaport Photography Collection
Number of Schooners Built
Number of Schooners Built

When the Dubois was launched she was the Grandest triumph in the history of Connecticut shipbuilding and said to be the best vessel ever built in Connecticut.

Photo: Mystic Seaport Photography Collection
Photo: Mystic Seaport Photography Collection