January 26, 1895
Normans Woe Ledge
Sch. Leader of this Port Goes Ashore There This Morning
Four of the Crew Still Missing
The Others Reach Shore in Two Dories After a Hard Struggle
Sch. Leader of this port went
ashore on the ledge to the southward of the Normans Woe bell buoy this morning at
4:30. The crew took to the dories and at the present writing four of them are missing.As
soon as the news of the wreck reached the city, the captain and crew of the schooner Clara
M. Littlefield started for the Magnolia shore near by the stranded vessel to
give all assistance if any were needed.
Capt. John Cooney said,
"We went out Friday evening in hopes of
having a chance to get a set. We went eight miles off and it was clear as a bell and
hardly any wind. The conditions were unfavorable for a set so I decided to put back to
port. We sighted Eastern Point light and run for it under jumbo and foresail. Before we
reached in however, the storm came on us suddenly and shut out everything from view.
However, we made the outside whistling buoy. The wind was
about east southeast and I headed the vessel north west by north one-half north. Was at
the wheel and everything appeared to be going all right, when I heard a bell. I was just
making up my mind that it was the bell on Eastern Point, when the men forward sung out,
"Breakers, luff her!" I started to heed the call, but soon realized that this
was wrong and started to swing her off, but it was too late, the vessel was soon into the
breakers and struck heavily on a ledge.
As soon as the crew shouted "Breakers!" I
realized that the bell I heard was the bell buoy on Normans Woe ledge, and when the
vessel struck I realized that we had struck on the ledge.
We let the foresail run and it came down on the leeward
nest of dories. By this time it was thick on snow and the sea was running high and we
decided to leave the vessel . I shouted to the crew to put over three dories and that I
would go in one and lead them, for I felt positive that I could bring all hands to shore
safely. We put off from the vessel, four men in each of two of the dories and six in the
others. My plan was to row under the lee of Eastern Point and land there where it would be
smooth. We soon found that it was impossible to get up to windward and this plan had to be
We lost sight of the other dories and although we shouted,
it was in vain. If our voices were heard we could hear no answer. We rowed till we were
nearly up to Kettle Island and then standing up in the stern of the dory, I told the men
to row straight in for where I knew the Magnolia shore must be. I kept a sharp lookout for
rocks and breakers and at last we landed safely on the beach at Magnolia."
The men who were in the dory with Capt. Cooney
were Manuel Viator, King Francis and Manuel Baptiste Silva.
The dory with six men in it had a very hard time of it. They lost sight of the
captains dory at the very start. They then rowed for the Magnolia shore and made the
land right under Dr. Hurds summer residence. Here the shore is very
rocky and the great waves were breaking high on it. They decided to try to land however
and soon their frail craft shot swiftly in on the top of a great breaker. The dory was
soon smashed, and almost by a miracle the men succeeded in saving themselves and then
although almost exhausted by their battle for life, walked to their homes in this city.
The men in this dory were Joseph Grace, Antoine Mitchell, Manuel Perry, Antoine
Peters, Manuel Noons and John Alves.
Of the third dory, nothing has yet been heard and it is
hoped that they have landed safely somewhere. One of the crew is reported to have said
that the dory capsized when she left the vessels side, but this report is not
confirmed. The men in the missing dory were Frank Brien, Joseph King Holm, Albert
S. Viator and Joseph Francis. Three of the drowned men were
married, Francis leaving a widow and two children, having married the
sister of Viator. Brien leaves a widow and one child and
Holm a widow.
Monday, January 28, 1895
The last chapter in the sad sea story of the wreck of the Leader
was enacted this forenoon, when with funeral rites and ceremony, the bodies of the four
victims of the disaster were consigned to the tomb.
As soon as the first survivors from the wreck arrived home,
the search for the lost men began. Saturday, the searchers succeeded in recovering three
of the bodies and had daylight lasted an hour longer the fourth body would have been
secured. The remaining body was recovered Sunday about noon.
It was learned that the dory with the four lost men also
contained three others. When the boat with the seven men reached the rocks, Alves
jumped ashore and supposed the others followed him. He was washed off the rocks three
times, but maintained his grip the last time, though he was exhausted that he was unable
to clamber up the bank for some time, and when he at last succeeded, could find none of
this shipmates. But supposed that the others had got ashore and had gone for assistance
and he started to walk home. Alves states that the men were undoubtedly
drowned when the boat struck the rocks and was capsized in the breakers, and his story is
confirmed by the locality in which the bodies were found.