Then There Were Five: Capt. David Hand and the Women he Married and Buried | The Sag Harbor Express | By Annette Hinkle
If you didn’t know any better, you’d think it was a story line from a mystery novel.
A legendary man in a small seaside community marries a young woman. That young woman soon dies, leaving the man a widower. So he finds and marries another young woman. But this bride, too, soon meets her demise, so the man takes a third wife, and …
Well, you can probably guess where this is all going.
In the end, Sag Harbor’s Capt. David Hand VI had five wives and outlived them all, marrying and then burying the first four in a span of less than 10 years. All four were under the age of 30. His fifth and final wife died in 1835 at the comparatively ripe old age of 69, and Capt. Hand was purportedly on the lookout for wife number six when he, himself died in 1840 at the age of 81.
The many brides and the man they married will come to life this weekend when the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum opens “The Five Wives of Captain Hand: A Maritime Melodrama by Artist Sabina Streeter.” The exhibition will feature pastel and charcoal portraits on sandpaper and linen of Capt. Hand, his wives, and other individuals central to his story, as envisioned by Ms. Streeter.
And when it comes to this story, there is much to envision.
Born in Sag Harbor in 1759, the travails and exploits of Capt. David Hand VI are well documented — in history and in fiction. A Revolutionary War hero, before he turned 20, he escaped British custody five times and became known as “Slippery Dave.” Apparently, he was so charismatic that in the “Leatherstocking Tales,” writer James Fennimore Cooper based his Natty Bumpo character on him.