This Saturday, the Agawam Ferry Company will celebrate the inaugural season of trips across Lake Agawam aboard the Pyrrhus Concer, a boat named for the local historical figure who operated a ferry there.
The Agawam Ferry Company relaunched the mid-19th century ferry this summer as a way to venerate Pyrrhus Concer.
“We wanted to do something that would serve the community as well as honor a great man,” said Nicholas Palumbo, who, along with several others, is heading up the project. “The Agawam Ferry Project promotes history, community and preservation–cornerstones of what Southampton stands for.”
Born as a slave to the Pelletreau family, Concer was freed when he turned 18 years old. He soon realized his love for the sea and became a whaler based out of Sag Harbor. Concer was aboard the first American ship to sail into Tokyo. Travelling the world in search of sperm whales, the ship, the Manhattan, headed into Tokyo Harbor after rescuing shipwrecked Japanese sailors. The Manhattan was one of the first American vessels to sail into the Japanese port, making Concer one of the first Americans—and black men—to see Japan, as the nation was restricted to foreigners at the time.
In the mid 1850s, Concer returned to Southampton, taking up residence in a home across from Lake Agawam, where he ferried passengers from the village to the beach.
“Though born a slave, he possessed virtues without which kings are but slaves,” reads the headstone on Concer’s grave.
The Agawam Ferry is an Electracraft 18LS, which seats eight passengers and is fully electric. A trip across the scenic lake takes 15 minutes.
A ribbon-cutting and dedication will be at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 27, at Agawam Park, also celebrating the 200th anniversary of Concer’s birth. Guests will then be able to take a ride on the ferry.
For more information, visit agawamferry.org