• Salem Maritime National Historic Site

    Salem Maritime

    National Historic Site Massachusetts

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  • Central Wharf Restrooms Closed

    The Central Wharf public restrooms will be closed on Thursday and Friday, September 18th and 19th for exterior door replacement. They are scheduled to reopen on Saturday at 9am.

  • Fishing Prohibition on Hold

    On 8/20/14 the park issued a rule change prohibiting fishing throughout the park due to concerns over water quality and visitor safety. The fishing prohibition is now on hold, pending further review - click for more information. More »

Capt. Israel Williams

miniature portrait of Captain Israel Williams

Miniature portrait of Capt. Israel Williams, circa 1796. Artist unknown.

Courtesy of Phillip Chadwick Foster Smith

Israel Williams (1771-1831) was the first captain of Friendship, the flagship of the merchant partnership of Jerathmiel Peirce and Aaron Waite.

Born in Salem, Williams went to sea at a young age, and quickly became a respected captain. In 1797, the 26-year-old Williams took command of the newly built Friendship on her first voyage. The year before, he had married Lydia Waite, the daughter of Aaron Waite, and by 1805 he had made enough money to purchase a house on Chestnut Street, the most expensive and fashionable street in Salem.

But Capt. Israel Williams was not only a sea captain. He was also Captain of the Salem Independent Cadets, also known as the Second Corps of Cadets. He was one of the most popular commanders of the cadets in the early 19th century. According to one of the men who knew him, "Capt. Williams was a very courteous gentleman, and always maintained a high character in every relation of life."

Israel and Lydia Williams raised their five sons and one daughter in their house on Chestnut Street. Capt. Williams died in 1831.

Did You Know?

Three soldiers wearing uniforms of the Second Corps of Cadets from the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Regional Visitor Center in Salem was once the drill shed of the Salem Armory. The Armory was built by the Second Corps of Cadets, a unit of the Massachusetts National Guard. More...