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The Benjamin A. Smith


December 22, 1919

Two Went Astray in Heavy Weather
Sch. Benj. A. Smith Makes Halifax With Sad Tidings

Word was received here Saturday afternoon from Boston, via Halifax, telling of the loss of Howard Penney and John Ernst, two of the best known fishermen out of this port, who got separated from their craft last week while fishing off Liscomb, N. S.  The men are members of the crew of sch. Benj. A. Smith, Capt. Jeffery Thomas.  Skipper and crew on this trip shifted over from sch. Marechal Foche and were haddocking on the Cape Shore at the time.

It is supposed the men got astray either Thursday or Friday night, for the Smith did not arrive at Halifax until Saturday, when the skipper reported them as missing.  The craft was double dory fishing and were out hauling their trawls in the afternoon, when a snow storm set in, accompanied by a heavy and increasing wind and sea.  All the dories returned aboard, except the one containing Penney and Ernst.

It was breezing up all the time and the weather becoming thicker, so Capt. Thomas started to search for the men in the direction in which they had gone until after dark, the vessel blowing her horn and torches were lighted.   Reluctantly the skipper and crew at length gave it up and headed for Halifax where the loss of the men was reported.

Although it was a hard night, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the men are alive and may have been picked up.  This has frequently happened, and their comrades and friends cling to this hope and assert their belief the men will be heard from.

Penney and Ernst are among the best known fishermen sailing out of here and Boston.  Penney has fished from this port for 33 years.  He is married and has three grown up children.  He is about 52 years of age, a splendid fellow and well liked everywhere.  Ernst is about 55 years old and well and popularly known.  He is also married and has a large family of several daughters and sons, all grown up, several of whom are married.  He resided at East Gloucester with his family.

A singular instance is that the crew of the craft is practically a family of relatives.  There are three of the Thomas family including the skipper, two of the Ernst family, brothers, including one of the lost men.  There are three men all from one place who are cousins and also related to Charles Frost, who is also in the same vessel; besides two French fellows who are brothers. 


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