The Agawam Ferry Project has set sail for honoring history with a re-creation of a vital Southampton citizen’s dream coming to life again on the 200th anniversary of his birth.”Though born a slave, he possessed virtues without which kings are but slaves” reads the headstone on Pyrrhus Concer’s grave. Concer (born in Southampton, NY in 1814), was a freed slave who went on to become an important figure in US History, and left a memorable legacy in the community. It was he who first conceived of the Agawam Ferry and operated a small sailing vessel transporting passengers from the village to the beach in the mid-1800s. To commemorate his life, and relive that aspect of local maritime culture, the Agawam Ferry Project plans to transport passengers on The Lake Agawam Ferry from Monument Square to Main Beach this Summer 2014.
Saturday, March 22nd, The Agawam Ferry Project is participating in an event at the Southampton Historical Museum that honors Pyrrhus Concer and debuting the new ferry. There will be slide shows celebrating Concer’s life, talks and music and refreshments. Nicholas Palumbo, co-founder of the Agawam Ferry Project, will speak and be on hand to answer questions. Creative Director of the Agawam Ferry Project, Artist Lynn Mara, debuts a 20′ X 20′ Acrylic on Canvas portrait of Pyrrhus Concer, specially commissioned for the occasion.
Pyrrhus Concer’s achievements would have been impressive for any man, but most remarkable for a man born into slavery, was owned by the Pelletreau family of Southampton from whom he received his freedom as a young man. Concer became a whaler and something of a celebrity, at least locally, because he steered the whale ship Manhattan as it made history in 1848. At the time, foreigners were forbidden to enter Japan but Captain Mercator Cooper and Pyrrhus Concer rescued two shipwrecked Japanese vessels, and brought them home. The voyage earned good will for America.
In later years he was a respected landowner, churchgoer (he included the Presbyterian Church in his will) and familiar figure around the village where he operated a ferry service on in summer. Passengers could shuttle between the village and the beach on his catboat for 10 cents a ride.
This summer, to honor what would have been his 200th birthday, a group of Southampton men are re-launching the Ferry in his honor. It will operate as a regular ferry between the park and Main Beach — just like Concer’s did years ago.
The Agawam Ferry Project will be hosting several events leading up to the launch of the Ferry in July.