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Captain I.N. Hibbard (Hibberd?) – Part 1
May 11, 2010

This article is being divided into several parts due to the length and amount of the information. Here is part 1:

I received an email recently from a wonderful lady in Stillwater, Oklahoma who expressed that she had in her possession a Hibbard Family artifact. She said that it was charming and of considerable historical value. She had collected a considerable amount of factual information about it, but was seeking more and asked if we could help.

The email was forwarded to a colleague, Ulysses, who enjoys this type of research as one would enjoy a sport, and so when she offered to compensate him for his time, he suggested that she instead make a donation the Hibbard Family website to assist in paying for the costs of hosting and server bandwidth, which she most graciously did. Excited about this discovery, he contacted her and asked how he could help.

She replied:

My interest lies in the actions of Captain I.N. Hibbard after a steamship wreck that took place in 1904. I have collected material on the event, but have been able to learn very little about Captain I.N. Hibbard himself.

For example:

- What do the initials I. and N. stand for?

- He is quoted as saying that he had experienced 22 years on the seas. It certainly sounds like a naval captain, but I can’t verify that.

- Did he ever work for The Pacific Coast Steamship Company, that major company that ran ships up and down the west coast for a number of years?

- I can verify that he and a partner ran a whaling Company from 1907-1910. It was The Tyee Company of San Francisco, operating out of Alaska.

I have no idea what he looked like, where his permanent home was, whether he had any descendents, or a anything else about him. I know nothing of his connection to Dr. Lloyd Hibbard, the well-known musicologist, a professor in the Music Department of North Texas State University, Denton, Texas until his death sometime in the 1970’s or 1980’s.

Mainly I want to know as much as possible about Captain I.N. Hibbard and I thank you most gratefully for whatever information or information leads you are able to send to me.

I want to tell you at this stage, because I believe it is proper to do so, that I believe that the artifact I own is historically important. It was left to his long-time friends, my parents, who in turn left it to me. I believe strongly that it belongs in a museum or even better in the home of some Hibbard family, who would treasure it, tell its story over and over to family and friends, and pass it on, with pride, to future generations of Hibbards. For that reason, instead of passing it on to members of my family or selling it to some west coast museum, I want to honor it with as much background as I can so that it can take its suitable place in the history of a particular, fascinating time in Pacific coastal history.

I will then put it and the accompanying facts regarding it — about the event and the man — up for direct sale or auction to members of the Hibbard family only. I have no way of knowing how you would feel about this plan, but whatever amount of assistance you feel like giving me or helping me to uncover under these circumstances will be deeply appreciated.

Ulysses replied:

Do you have an actual name spelling anywhere associated with the artifact, either on the item or any associated notes with the name, Captain I.N. Hibbard?

The reason I’m asking before I continue my research, is that I already have reasons to believe that the actual spelling of the person’s name you are seeking information about may have spelled his name ‘HIBBERD’ instead of ‘HIBBARD’. This is a common occurrence in the study of the Hibbard family genealogy.

The HIBBARD surname appears to be both patronymic and characteristic in origin, and is believed to be associated with the English meaning, “descendant of Herbert” (army, bright). Different spelling variations of HIBBARD include Hebbard, Hebard, Hibard, Hibbert, Hibberts, Hibberd, Hibberds, Hibert, Hiberts, Herbert, Herberts and Hibbards. I’ve come across records, for instance, of a person who has up to three different spellings of his or her name, while still being associated with the exact date of birth, death date, having 2 twins with the same names and ages, a boy with the same name and age, a girl with the same name and age and wife with the same name, age and with the same marriage date.

Many records, especially those generated during the 1700’s and 1800’s contained varied spellings, due in part to high illiteracy rates and ‘word of mouth’ spellings. The same spelling is then carried on the next generation. If you say, “HIBBARD”, someone recording this name on a document could hear it as, “HIBBERD”, which to me actually looks more like the pronunciation of the word HIBBARD. This is only one of the reasons the names HIBBARD and HIBBERD have become synonymous and in most instances are indeed the same person. Wills will contain one spelling, but signed checks and even census records contain another spelling while still being confirmed as the same individual.

I have found Isaac (could be Norris) Hibberd, who is listed as “Captain” and has several passports to various places around the world. The date of birth is abt 1833 which would put him at an age to still be working in 1904. He lived in San Francisco and worked as a Captain for the Alaska Ex. Co. (as listed in the Federal Census). If you too believe this may be the person, then I will continue the research and send the documents for clarity that I have available (passports, census, etc.).

Her reply was:

Very exciting! I seem to remember the name Isaac somewhere in my searching, but the spelling of his last name, as I’ll illustrate below, is indeed Hibbard. I really enjoyed your discussion of variations on the name, and can add one I ran across — Hubbard, as in old Mother…) I cannot locate off hand the newspaper articles and book notations which cite, I believe, the Hibbard spelling, but will find them tomorrow.

The important verification, as you suggested, is the dedication engraved on the trophy tankard itself:

     PRESENTED TO
     CAPTAIN I.N. HIBBARD
     BY PACIFIC COAST STEAMSHIP COMPANY
     FOR EFFICIENT AND COURAGEOUS ASSISTANCE
     TO CREW AND PASSENGERS ON STEAMSHIP QUEEN AT SEA
     FEB’Y 27 1904

The steamship, QUEEN, burned at sea on the above date. I have a copy of a photograph of the ship, details of the trip it was making up the coast, names if passengers, information on the company which owned it as well as numerous accounts of the shipping trade at that time on the coast, etc. I am so encouraged by the possibilities in your findings that, although it appears that the Captain would have been around 71 at the time of the steamship accident, not to mention 81 when his whaling venture in Alaska ended, we just might be on the right track.

I’m going to start tomorrow on my next task — to borrow newspaper microfilm, if any, from the town to which the ship was towed after the fire and from other locations which may give forth additional details.

Continued in Captain I.N. Hibbard (Hibberd?) Part 2

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