The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Oswego Commercial Times (Oswego, NY), Sat., May 8, 1858

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Captain John T. Trowbridge.

We regret to announce to our readers the death of Capt. John T. Trowbridge, an old and respected citizen, for many years identified with the commercial interests of Oswego and Rochester, which took place in Racine County, Wisconsin, to which place he removed with his family in 1840. Capt. Trowbridge, when but twenty years of age, had the command of the ship Thomas, in which he sailed in 1811 from New Haven for Madagascar. When off the Cape of Good Hope, his vessel was captured by the British ship Leopard, into which his crew was at once drafted, and the Thomas, in which himself, his first mate and steward alone were left, was placed under charge of a prize crew consisting of a Lieutenant, Midshipman, four English sailors and twenty-four Lascars, to be taken to the Cape.

Three days after their capture, the Captain, Mate and Steward contrived to master the prize crew, and regain possession of their vessel. In the course of the struggle the Lieutenant, in charge of the prize, was killed. Capt. Trowbridge then steered for Madagascar, and got in safety to Batavia, which was immediately after attacked and taken by the British, by whom his vessel was again seized.

There he remained for some time, under a feigned name, and became intimate with the officers of the Navy, who were very much ashore- without creating the least suspicion. During this period he employed himself in recovering treasure out of vessels sunk on those shores, and in this pursuit realized $350,000. One day at this time, a midshipman happened to be in his room standing behind the door, when an old friend came in who knew Capt. Trowbridge's real name, and thinking he was alone, unguardedly addressed him by it.

The midshipman, immediately coming forward, expressed his deep regret at being unintentionally put in possession of a secret which his duty as an officer compelled him to divulge, even at the expense of every tie of friendship, but managed to give Capt. Trowbridge time to get his treasure on board and make his escape, in which he was so closely pursued by the British cruisers that to secure his treasure, he landed and buried it on the Island of Java, and was a very short time afterwards taken prisoner by an English man of war, and taken back to Batavia, where, after being closely confined for some months, he was sent to Calcutta and confined in the celebrated Black Hole thee, for eleven months, after which time he was sent in irons to England, and kept there till after the general peace in 1816, when he returned to Oswego, after a vain search for the treasure he had buried at Java.

From the year 1816 till 1840, he was identified with the marine and commercial interests of Oswego and Rochester, until he removed to Wisconsin, where he resided until his death, enjoying the unlimited confidence of his fellow citizens, by whom he was elected for many years a member of the Assembly of that State, and held the office of Post Master till his death. Capt. John T. Trowbridge was a brother of our respected fellow citizens, Capt. Elias Trowbridge, in whose bereavement a large number of our oldest merchants, the compeers of his late lamented brother, sincerely sympathize. The deceased at the time of his death was about 78 years of age, and resided at a place near Racine, called Trowbridge.

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Sat., May 8, 1858
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Richard Palmer
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
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Oswego Commercial Times (Oswego, NY), Sat., May 8, 1858