25 YEARS AGO -Schooner Mercantile's Seventy-Fifth Birthday

25 YEARS AGO -Schooner Mercantile's Seventy-Fifth Birthday


The Schooner Mercantile launched in 1916 was built over a period of three years near the town of Little Deer Isle on Eggemoggin Reach.  The Mercantile was built by  Pearl Billings, his father John Jackson Billings, and two brothers, Walter D. and Arthur.

     Schooner Mercantile being built

Twenty-five years ago the Billings family  planned a major celebration of their family's maritime heritage at the time of the Mercantile's 75th Birthday.   The following account of the celebration is taken from our website's history section.


"The Mercantile's Heritage is Celebrated  in a Special Way -Article by Evelyn Billings

The schooner Mercantile relived a slice of its history August 3 through 7 [1991]. With members and friends of the Billings family aboard, it set sail for a look at its past. Leaving its port of Camden, the Mercer cruised to Eggemoggin Reach and anchored off the shore of Little Deer Isle where, in 1916, it was built by Pearl, Arthur, and Walter Billings. Walter Billings Jr., the present owner of the building site on Little Deer Isle, pointed out where the Mercantile was constructed and identified the remnants of the house, work shed, well, and windmill that belonged to his grandfather, John Jackson Billings. He told of where the Mercer picked up its cargo of fish, wood, or bricks and where it sailed to make deliveries. Robert E. Billings of Stonington added memories of when he worked aboard the vessel as mate and as captain, and how the ship often sailed with only two people as crew, handling the various duties of captain, navigator, stevedore, repairman, lookout, and cook. The high point of this heritage cruise came as the Mercantile sailed from its place of origin toward the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge. A group of family, friends and neighbors, gathered together by Norma Tewksbury Ooghe of Stonington, Jack Billings of Little Deer Isle, and Gary Hammel of New Hampshire, stood on the bridge to greet the Mercantile as she sailed through. A large banner prepared by Stonington's Lloyd Brimigion hung from the bridge declaring, "Welcome Captain Bob and the Billings crew. She's still beautiful." With ex-Capt. Robert E. Billings, now 86 years old, once more at the helm, the Mercer sailed under the bridge amid cheers, horns, and balloons. Ray Williamson, owner of the Mercantile, captained the Mercer during the cruise. He also shared pictures and information about the extensive restoration and renovation work that he did to transform the Mercantile from a worn work vessel into a comfortable passenger ship. He has created a "working museum.""


The Mercantile, a credit to the shipbuilding skills of the Billings family, is looking forward to welcoming Billings family members aboard again as she marks her 100th year.

    Schooner Mercantile bow view with name