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The Alice R. Lawson


December 30, 1911

Sch. Alice R. Lawson, owned by the Gorton-Pew Fisheries Company of this port, which left Bonne Bay, N. F., November 13, with a full load of salt herring for home and is now over a month due, will, it is feared never return, this adding another to the long list of casualties, in the destruction of vessels and loss of lives from the local fleet, which each season go the the Newfoundland coast in quest of herring cargoes.
While the chances are extremely remote that the vessel will ever be heard from, some hope is held out by her owners and sea-faring men that the craft may have been swept to the northward along the Labrador shore, and the crew reached shore. Up in that northern country at this season of the year, communication is shut off from the outside world, and should such a happy thing occur, as the men being alive the news would not be known until late next spring when by the arrival of some vessel communication is again established with that section.

The Lawson, in command of Capt. William Larkin, , a smart, careful and capable skipper left here on November 3, after her hard passage against storms and race with the ice on the Labrador coast, from whence she brought home a cargo of purchased green fish, and went to Bonne Bay, N. F., to load salt herring. Capt. Larkin secured his load in less that two weeks and on November 18th he headed her for home.  The day that he left, the glass was down on 29, with quite a stiff southwester that had just sprung up.  Among those who saw the craft leave the bay were Capt. Joseph Bonia and Capt. Oscar Lyons of sch.. John J. Flaherty, who were also there loading.

The storm that evening increased in its fury and it blew and howled for three days. Capt. Larkin must have run right into the teeth of the gale the minute he got out by the headlands. Unable to return to Bonne Bay, he and his crew were left to their fate in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and how they fared perhaps may never be known.

An ordinary run from Bonne Bay would take from seven to ten days. Some crafts have made quicker passages, the distance having been made in as low as five days. When the Lawson failed to return to port after a reasonable time had elapsed, grave fears were expressed about the craft's safety in view of the heavy gale that raged along the Newfoundland coast and gulf about the time Capt. Larkin started for home. Anxiously have her owners and friends of the captains and crew awaited each day since, hopeful of learning some tidings of the craft, but in vain it now being 42 days since she left for home.

It is of the general opinion that the craft did not survive the gale, although some still hope the men reached land. No one wants to give up hope. Once again comes the sad duty of publishing the list of those whom it is feared will never return to port. To those who mourn for the missing men, the public in general will extend its sympathy.

She carried a crew of eight men, as follows:

Capt. William P. Larkin, master, 45, native of Lower Argyle, N. S., left widow and two children
Capt. John A. Amero, mate, 30, native of Lower East Pubnico, left widow and two children
Orlando Goodwin, cook, 39, native of Argyle, N. S., left widow and five children
Charles A. Barr, 20, native of Rockport, single, leaves a father, mother and brother in Rockport
Aaron Lohnes, 22, single, native of LaHave, N. S.
Daniel March, 18, single, native of Newfoundland
Joseph Canning, 33, native of Newfoundland, left widow
John McPherson, 41, single, native of Lauching, P. E. I.

Captain Larkin of the missing craft is one of the best known skippers of the fleet. He has generally engaged in salt banking, but has also been haddocking, shacking and ahs made many voyages to Newfoundland. He was a steady going, dependable skipper, whose years' work generally showed on the right side of the ledger.

His judgment as a fishing captain was recognized by the Gorton-Pew Fisheries Company and on September 5 he commanded the Lawson on a remarkable voyage to the Labrador coast for a cargo of cured fish, it being the first trip of its kind ever undertaken from here. Besides being the first cargo ever landed, it also came from the farthest northern port, and was loaded in a series of snow storms with ice making on the vessel's deck.

When the vessel left here, she went to Trepassey, N. F., but upon arriving there, fish were so scarce that only 30,000 pounds were taken on , and Capt. Larkin proceeded to Indian Harbor, Labrador. Here he soon secured a cargo, but none too soon, for before the last of it was on board the bad weather broke. On September 24 came the first snow storm and it snowed after that about every day, ice made on deck and winter began to set in in earnest. Loading was rushed and finally with the cold so intense that it threatened to freeze the place up, Capt. Larkin was forced to put his craft to sea October 12 in a northeast gale and snowstorm.

To have stayed would have meant freezing in and this meant arriving home here next July and a long hard winter and great privation for all on board during the long, dreary winter. The vessel had a big cargo in and it was no easy task to work off shore.

The gale was one long continued. It brought the vessel down to a double reefed foresail, and under this shortest of canvas, Capt. Larkin run her 550 miles before it abated. It was biting cold, the deck was covered with snow and ice and the craft was iced up like a vessel coming from Bay of Islands in the dead of winter. They ran the gale out without damage and stopped in at Trepassey, then proceeded home.

The appalling disaster to the sch. Orinoco, of which Capt. Larkin was master, on Wednesday evening, August 18, 1909, will be recalled when the vessel was mysteriously hove down, and 11 of the crew drowned, while seven, including the skipper, were saved.

Just how it happened has never been satisfactorily explained. The Orinoco was about 25 miles off Sambro for her second, or "fall" fare of salt cod, and during a still southerly gale, the craft was let up in the wind to clear the jib sheet, when suddenly she came around and the wind caught the sails aback and the craft capsized. Twelve of the crew were below asleep. and only one succeeded in getting to deck. Two of the men on deck cut two dories clear. Capt. Larkin and five men on deck and the one who fought his way clear from the forecastle, got into their dories. Less than three minutes after the craft was hove down, she sunk, taking down with her the 11 poor fellows who were caught below like imprisoned animals. The survivors rowed into the Nova Scotia shore.

Capt. Larkin also commanded the sch. A. E. Whyland several years ago, when the craft, which was bound home from a Newfoundland herring voyage, was abandoned in the ice. The crew took to a dory and finally reached land by pulling their dory over the fields of ice. The craft was later picked up by the sch. Massachusetts, after working clear of the ice and was towed into Nova Scotia.

Capt. Larkin was well liked and respected by all who knew him and had a host of friends. He was of a quiet and unassuming disposition, always tended to business and lost no time in getting underway, and home again after he had secured a fare. He was a member of the Masonic Fraternity.

Capt. John A. Amero, mate of the Lawson was also very well known and has been skipper out of here for a number of years. He commanded the sch. Thalia for the Gorton-Pew Fisheries Company in the Rip fishery during the past season, until the craft hauled up, then shipped with Capt. Larkin for a Newfoundland trip.

Orlando Goodwin, cook, has been cook of a number of crafts out of here for the past eight years. He was a fine fellow, steady and like the skipper and late leaves a family in Nova Scotia.

Charles Allen Barr, known as Charlie Barr, is a native of this city, but has resided a number of years at Rockport. He would be 20 years of age March 8 of next year. His father is also a fisherman, whom he leaves together with a mother and brother, who reside on upper Main street, Rockport.

A sad feature as in many cases before which has been told of the Gloucester mariners who have sacrificed their lives upon the deep is those who are left behind in Nova Scotia, wives and children, mourning for a loved one, for whose safety they have daily prayed and hoped would be reported, during the anxious days that have elapsed.

The Alice R. Lawson was built at Boothbay, Me., in 1891, for the late Capt. Charles Lawson and is named for his daughter. She was 121 tons gross and 85 tons net, owned by the Gorton -Pew Fisheries Company, and insured in the Gloucester Mutual Fishing Insurance Company.


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