Monday, April 25, 2011

Died at Sea? Amanuensis Monday

The Gloucester
Fisherman's Memorial
My 3x Great Grandfather Thomas Russell Lewis is listed as a twin in the Salem Vital Records, born to a mother named only as Amelia Lewis on 26 June 1825. No father is listed. In searching for more information I decided to concentrate on researching the twin brother. Sure enough, Frederick Augustus Lewis’s marriage and death records lists his parents as Captain Thomas and Amelia Lewis. No maiden name for Amelia, who remains one of my brick walls. I suspect that Captain Thomas died at sea before the twins were born, making Amelia a widow. She married twice after this.

The twin, Frederick Augustus, also died at sea. His death was listed among eight mariners drowned and reported by John Tucker in Gloucester on 22 February 1850. His death lists him as being born in Danvers.

from the website:

“April 13, 1850 Missing Vessel-
For two months past the fishing vessels which have been on Georges' Bank report having experienced very severe weather. They have caught but few fish, and consequently as far have done a very poor business. Were this all the result, however, we should be glad; but where there are from ninety to one hundred vessels in business, having on board seven or eight hundred men, it would be extremely fortunate, during such rough weather, if all escaped harmless. We have not thought it proper when reports have been in circulation respecting any of our vessels, to give publicity to the facts of the case until a reasonable time had elapsed, and until all hopes of their safety are given up. A different course would, in any cases, create unnecessary alarm and distress in the families of those particularly interested. By many the announcement of a case of this kind in the public prints is considered as the extinguishment of all hopes, and to thus suddenly crush all hopes in a sensitive mind is a cruelty which we shall endeavor always to avoid.

        From time to time, during the past two months, some anxiety has been felt regarding the safety of several of our fleet of vessels, but most generally these fears have been groundless. They are most frequently based on the fact that the particular vessel has not arrived in port or been seen by others after an absence of two or three weeks. The vessels are generally provisioned for four or five weeks, but do not often remain out more than three, and hence, when one has been out the usual time, the slightest story respecting her is often greatly magnified, but most generally proves false. At the present time, however, the fears respecting the fate of one of our vessels are too deeply founded and of too long standing to be disregarded. We refer to the schooner William Wallace, Stephen D. Griffin, master. This vessel sailed from this port on Friday, Feb. 22d, and was seen on the Tuesday and Wednesday following, by three different vessels, one of which ran across the southern part of the Bank in company with her. Since that time nothing has been seen or heard from her. There is a possibility that she may have been run down by an outward bound vessel, and her crew taken off, but all hopes of this kind are extremely faint. There were on board at the time she sailed the following named eight persons:
Stephen Decatur Griffin, of Annisquam, master
Daniel Adams, of Gloucester
George Brown, 3d, of Gloucester
Frederick A. Lewis, of Gloucester, formerly of Danvers
William Grant, of Maine
John Linedall, of Townsend, Me.
William Mansfield, of Halifax, N. S.
Thomas Ingalls, of Orleans, Mass.
 Mr. Griffin was married last fall, and Adams and Lewis leave families.

The William Wallace was a first class vessel of sixty-seven tons, five years old, and valued at $2600, for which amount she is insured at the Gloucester Mutual Fishing Insurance Office.”

I also found this entry in the book The Fisherman's Memorial and Record Book by George H. Proctor and Joseph Garland, Published by The History Press, 2005, page 14

"1850 This proved a most disastrous year to the Georges fishery, resulting in the loss of four vessels and thirty-nine lives, as follows:  Schooner WILLAM WALLACE, lost in February, with eight men, Stephen Decatur Griffin, of Annisquam, Master; Daniel Adams, George Brown, 3rd, Frederick A. Lewis, William Grant, John Linedall, William Mansfield, Thomas Ingalls. Owned by Fitz E. Riggs & Bro. Valued at $3,000; insured for $2,600...."

Not only did Fredric Augustus die at sea, and perhaps his father, Captain Thomas Lewis, but I suspect my own ancestor, Thomas Russell Lewis died at sea, too. He bought a large burial plot at Salem’s Harmony Grove Cemetery, but he is not one of the thirteen people buried in the plot. I have not found a death record, nor a newspaper account of how he died. He disappears from all records after about 1854. I am going to the Phillips Library in Salem to continue this investigation. Solving this mystery would add a new branch to my family tree!

Lewis Lineage:

Captain Thomas Lewis, died about 1825; married before 1825 to Amelia Unknown, born about 1790 in perhaps Stoughton, Massachusetts, died 22 April 1860 in Wayland, Massachusetts. Amelia married second to Thomas Johnson on 16 October 1827 in Salem, Massachusetts and she married third to John Adams on 11 June 1843 in Topsfield, Massachusetts.

Two Children:
1. Thomas Russell Lewis (twin), 26 June 1825 in Salem, Massachusetts, died before 1854; married first to Hannah Phillips on 4 March 1841 in Salem, Massachusetts. She was the daughter of James Phillips and Sarah Cree, born about 1821 in Topsfield, Massachusetts, died 17 October 1851 in Salem, Massachusetts. He married second on 22 June 1852 in Salem to Lydia S. Pickering, daughter of Benjamin Pickering and Lydia Stanley, born 1834 in Salem, died 9 August 1866 in Lynn, Massachusetts.
  1. Hannah Eliza Lewis, born about 1844 in Salem, died 15 February 1921 in Danvers, Massachusetts; married on 22 September 1864 in Salem to Abijah Franklin Hitchings, son of Abijah Hitchings and Eliza Ann Treadwell, born 28 October 1841 in Salem, died 19 May 1910 in Salem. Hannah and Abijah are my Great Great Grandparents.  
  2. Lydia Ann Lewis, born about 1845 in Topsfield, died 23 December 1882 in Salem; married on 13 May 1872 in Salem to James Henry McCartney, son of James McCartney and Lucy H. Andrews, born 12 May 1846 in Manchester, Massachusetts, died 20 June 1928 in Beverly, Massachusetts 
  3. Thomas Lewis, born about 1847
2. Frederick Augustus Lewis (twin), born 26 June 1825 in Salem, died 22 February 1850 at sea, recorded at Gloucester, Massachusetts; married on 15 August 1847 in Gloucester to Catherine Stanwood, daughter of Nehemiah Stanwood and Catherine Miller Smith, born 1828 in Gloucester, died 15 June 1888. She remarried second to Elias Daggett on 14 August 1853 in Gloucester.
  1.  Frederick Augustus Lewis, born 9 October 1849 in Gloucester; married on 25 December 1876 in Gloucester to Iola Lowell, daughter of Alfred Johnson Lowell and Eliza Mary Crockett, born about 1857 in Bath, Maine. One child: Eva B. Lewis, born 28 July 1877 in Gloucester
Copyright 2011, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

1 comment:

  1. Such a New England post, Heather. I remember the memorials to the lost fishermen all along the coast. In Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio it's the miners who died at work. In the south it was frequently malaria or other disease. I love the regional details. They seem to be vanishing in our homogenized world.