Lincoln Ross Colcord was born on August 14, 1883 at sea off Cape Horn in the bark Charlotte A. Littlefield, commanded by his father, Captain Lincoln Alden Colcord of Searsport, Maine. His family had been seafarers for five generations. His mother, Jane French (Sweetser) Colcord, accompanied her husband on his distant voyages as a matter of course. Her two children, Joanna Carver, later a social worker at the Russell Sage Foundation, and Lincoln, were not only born but grew up on voyages to China, during which they were taught by their parents. Lincoln (who never used his middle name) did not come ashore until the age of fourteen.