William Lincoln Bakewell
The American on the Endurance
Ice, Sea, and Terra Firma: Adventures
of William Lincoln Bakewell by Elizabeth Anna Bakewell
Rajala - William Bakewell's daughter
The Endurance Expedition
William Bakewell joined the Endurance at Buenos Aires.
He was the only American aboard ship, though he posed as a Canadian
thinking that the British ship would be more inclined to take on a subject
of the British Empire. He was taken on as an able seaman at £8 per month.
The Endurance had become three crew members short
after they had been sacked due to misconduct on the passage from England
and in port, Bakewell was taken on for this reason. Unknown to Shackleton
at the time, Bakewell helped his friend Perce Blackborow to also join
the ship unofficially as a stowaway. Bakewell along with Ernie How another
able seaman were concerned that the Endurance was undermanned which
encouraged them to smuggle Blackborow on board.
Bakewell was well liked and Shackleton regarded him
"... a cut
above the rest of the seamen".
William Bakewell lived an adventurous and romantic
maverick lifestyle. His adventures started at the age of 11 when he
ran away from his home town of Joliet, Illinois heading down to Missouri,
where he found work as a farm hand near Sikeston. By the time he was
15, he started to ride boxcars on the railways which took him as far
as Seney, Michigan when he was found and kicked off. Here he worked
on lumber camp jobs, moving up into Canada eventually heading West and
ending up as a ranch hand in Montana.
By 1914 he had reached San Francisco and joined a
British ship as an able seaman, this took him to Newport in South Wales
when he joined the "Golden Gate". This ship foundered off the coast
of Montevideo (Uruguay) and so Bakewell made his way a little further
South to the Argentinean port of Buenos Aires. Here he met and befriended
Perce Blackborow who was also stuck in that port without a ship when
the Endurance arrived.
After the expedition, Bakewell spent some time in
Argentina managing sheep ranches before joining the British Merchant
Navy in the First World War. He was twice on ships that were sunk by
enemy torpedoes, on one occasion floating on a raft for several days
before being rescued.
1921 found him back in his hometown of Joliet, Illinois.
Here he built a boat he named the "Shamrock" which he sailed on the
Des Plaines river and Illinois canal between Joliet to Chicago. This
didn't last long however and by the end of the year, he had left again
informing his family by letter that he intended to join Shackleton again
on the Quest expedition. On advice from his family, he never joined
this expedition, instead heading to the southern states of the USA and
the Caribbean working as a merchant seaman.
A lack of a consistency of purpose seemed to have
become the only stable factor in Bakewell's life and sure enough by
1923, he was back in Joliet again, this time working for the E.J. &
E. Railroad, eventually becoming a towerman for the Rock Island Railroad.
By 1925 he had married Merle, and a daughter Elizabeth was born. In
1945, they bought a farm in Michigan where William lived out the rest
of his life. He died in 1969 at the age of 80 and is buried in the Lutheran
Cemetery in Skandia, Michigan.
For many years after the expedition Bakewell could
not be traced and in 1918 when Polar Medals were awarded to the expedition
members, he did not collect his. Many years later, someone realised
this when contact had once more been made and a special medal was cast
just for him, he finally received it in 1964 shortly after he had attended
the 50th reunion of the sailing of the Endurance which was held in London
with his daughter Elizabeth.
Bakewell became a member of the Antarctic Club of
British Expeditions and the Antarctican Society of the United States.
He kept in touch with the Blackborow family and Ernie How's family.
Some of the crew of
the Endurance photographed in Buenos Aries 1917
Robin Mackenzie -
Stornoway Historical Society
References to William
Lincoln Bakewell in Shackleton's book "South!"
Although the galley was under water,
Bakewell managed to
secure three or four saucepans, which later proved invaluable
acquisitions. Quite a number of boxes of flour, etc., had
been stowed in a cabin in the hold, and these we had been
unable to get out before we left the ship. Having, therefore,
determined as nearly as possible that portion of the deck
immediately above these cases, we proceeded to cut a hole
with large ice-chisels through the 3-in. planking of which
it was formed.
Landmarks named after William Bakewell
Description: Small ice-covered island near Princess Martha
Coast and E of Lyddan Island in the S part of Riiser-Larsen Ice Shelf.
roadside plaque was put up recently at the Lutheran Church where
William Bakewell is buried in Skandia, Michigan.
The Mining Journal
Upper Michigans Source
Lat/Long of church: 46 21
08.96N 87 13 14.02W
Reference/Documents & Maps Librarian
Lydia M. Olson Library
Northern Michigan University
Clark, Robert S.
Green, Charles J.
Hudson, Hubert T.
Hurley, James F. (Frank)
Hussey, Leonard D. A.
James, Reginald W.
Kerr, A. J.
Macklin, Dr. Alexander H.
Marston, George E.
McIlroy, Dr. James A.
Motor Expert and Storekeeper
Shackleton, Ernest H.
Second in Command
Wordie, James M.