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The Leader


January 26, 1895
Norman’s 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 Norman’s 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 Norman’s 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 given up.

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 captain’s dory at the very start. They then rowed for the Magnolia shore and made the land right under Dr. Hurd’s 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 vessel’s 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.


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