“Our family is being torn apart.

My daughters won’t see their father for two years while he serves his country on board Constitution. With him gone, I’ll be our girls’ only comfort and financial support. I pray for his safe return so our family can be whole again.”

Leaving for two years

Imagine you or your loved one is leaving for two years. How do you feel? What will you miss the most?

William Cooper

“Papa's leaving to join the Navy.

I tried to be brave when he told us the news. My sister Fanny is little so she cried. Papa says we’ll always be his little angels and will miss us. But who is going to kiss us good night when Mama’s working?”

William Cooper, Ordinary Seaman

Name’s William Cooper. I’m a member of the Unkechaug tribe from Brookhaven, New York. My wife, Dolly, and I were married in Poospatuck in 1806. After working a few years on a farm I left Dolly and the children behind to pursue the life and pay of a sailor.

Dorothea Cooper

My name's Dorothea, but people call me Dolly. I work as a servant for the Robert household in Brookhaven, New York. After I married William, the Robert family employed him on their farm. We've got two little girls, Fanny and Charlotte. 

Charlotte and Fanny Cooper

I'm Charlotte and this is my sister Frances, but we call her Fanny. We live in the Robert's house where our Mama works. She says her pay will support us until Papa can send money home.

Pay Allotment

Sailors went to sea to earn a living, but their absence meant a loss of steady income for family back home. Pay allotments were a way for sailors to ease that burden and send a portion of their wages directly to their family.


“Space on board ship is extremely limited.

All my belongings have to fit in just one bag. After packing all the clothes required there’s little space left for reminders of home.

What would you bring to entertain and comfort you while separated from your family and friends for so long?”

Today's Crew: What did your family think when you joined?