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The Fame

 

1908

Steamer Boston Cut Sch. Fame Like Keen-Edged Knife
Three Men on Deck At Time
Men Asleep in Cabin Unable to Get Out and Drowned in Their Bunks

The steamer Boston was moving along at a low rate of speed about 9 o'clock, owing to the dense fog which prevailed during the evening, and the little schooner was not discovered until the steamer towered about her, and then crashed into her, and the crunching of timbers and shriek of the doomed men told its own terrible story.  The Boston had been sounding her fog whistle at regular intervals.

The big steamer struck the fishing craft abaft the main rigging, cutting through her like a knife, and those on board reckoned that it was about three minutes from the time of the crash of the collision, to the time that the vessel disappeared beneath the waves.

The steamer was immediately stopped, and two boats lowered, which rowed around the spot, but they only discovered two men in the water, Edward Pitts, or Pettipas, the cook, and John Clark, the former clinging to a life boat while Clark was swimming in the water.  Both men were pretty well exhausted when they were finally taken aboard the steamer.

The Boston lay by and the boats worked around for a long period in the expectation of picking up some more of the crew, and it was not until all hope of rescuing any others was gone that the captain of the Boston reluctantly sent her on her course.

According to the two survivors, the vessel left Boston four weeks ago Monday with 23 men on board, and had been out but a short time when it was necessary to put into Boothbay, Me., to land one of the men who was sick.  On Monday night, two men in one of the dories were lost and it was the intention of the captain to start for home today, as the vessel had a fine fare of 100,000 pounds of fish in her hold.

At the time the schooner was ruff down there were only three men on deck, the others being asleep in the forecastle and cabin.  All of the men in the forecastle were able to reach the deck before the vessel sunk, but none of the men in the cabin were seen, and it is supposed that they were penned in their bunks by the stanchions and timbers, and being unable to extricate themselves were carried to the bottom with the vessel.

The three men on the deck did not make out the steamer until she crashed into their vessel.  Pitts became entangled in the rigging as the vessel heeled over to the crash and was carried down, down, and down, until he thought he would suffocate and never be able to get up, but he struggled with the energy of despair and by some unexplainable reason felt the strain of the entanglement give way, and with all the remaining strength he possessed and assisted by the life bout arose to the surface, but on reaching the top of the water was unable to move a muscle to help himself, and floated helplessly about until the timely arrival of the steamers boat.

Clark was in the forecastle at the time of the accident, but was able to get on deck, and being a strong swimmer and realizing the situation at a glance, boldly jumped into the sea, as the only means of saving his life.

Three of the lost men, Thomas Powers, Thomas Nickerson, and Peter Doucette, hail from this city.  As far as known they are young men and single.  A complete list of lost men has not yet been secured, but 16 of the 18 unfortunates are known.  The rest of the crew boarded or lived in Boston and vicinity.  The larger part of them were natives of Newfoundland.

Thomas Oliver, of this city, formerly of Canso, N. S., is the man who was landed at Boothbay, Me., last Friday night, and to this fact he probably owes his life.  Oliver got a hook caught in his right hand, which caused blood poisoning and the vessel was put into Boothbay, where he was taken to the hospital for treatment.

The cries of the men as they were buffeted around by the disturbed waters where the schooner went down were heart rending.  The passengers, though willing, were unable to lend any assistance.  The unfortunate victims could be plainly seen struggling in the sea and some of them might have been pulled on board, had a long boat hook been available.  The survivors told the passengers that the Fame was cruising in the vicinity at the time of the collision in the hopes of finding two men who had gone astray in their dory in the dense fog that prevailed.  It is thought that six, and probably eight of the Fame's crew, were instantly killed in the cabin as the Boston ploughed her way through the sailing vessel.

The list of lost men, as near as can be obtained is as follows:

Capt. Thomas Fahey, 30, native of Newfoundland, leaves widow and three children in South Boston
Thomas Murphy
Michael Carney, 20, native of Newfoundland, boarded in Boston (He planned on leaving fishing after this trip.)
William Bailey
Bernard Cashin, native of Newfoundland, boarded in Boston
Benjamin or Bernard Daley, native of Salmonier, N. F., boarded in Boston
Thomas Stapleton, native of Newfoundland, boarded in Boston
Michael Melvin, native of Fermuese, N. F., resided in South Boston
James Powers, native of Newfoundland, boarded in Boston
Thomas Powers, of Gloucester, native of Bell island, Conception Bay, N. F., cousin to James
William B. Fisher, native of Nova Scotia
Valentine Ray, native of Salmon River, Guysboro County, N. S., leaves widow and one child in Dorchester
Henry Yetman, native of St. Mary's Bay, N. F.
A Frenchman, name unknown, belonging to Yarmouth county, N. S.
Thomas Nickerson, of Gloucester, native of Nova Scotia
Peter Doucette, of Gloucester, native of Tusket Wedge, N. S.
Two others, at present unknown

Thomas Powers, one of the lost men, has had quite a varied career and in his journeying by land and sea had been around the world,  He belonged at Bell Island, Conception Bay, N. F., but on coming here about four years ago, made this city his home.  After going fishing a while he finally went out south in a mackerel netter, left her at New York and shipped in a four-masted ship and went to a port in the Argentine Republic from whence he went in the four-master to Antwerp.  Later he came back to New York in another craft and came on this was again and once more took up fishing.  Last winter he was in sch. Mary A. Whalen of Boston.
Previous to coming here to go fishing, he had been a long time in western Canada and United States, and owned a piece or ranch land on the San Junuin river, where he was intending to go next fall.  He also owned some valuable coal and iron lands on Bell island, where a big syndicate is now in active operation mining and shipping.
He leaves an uncle in Boston and a brother and sister on Bell Island, at home.  He is the third brother to be lost in the New England fisheries inside of 15 years.  His brother Patrick was lost on the Grand Bank from sch. Senator Frye of this port, June 19, 1893, by the overloading of his dory, and his brother Matthew was one of the crew of sch. Iolanthe of this port, which was lost at sea with all on board in November 1901.

The two men whose dory strayed in the fog from the Fame, Joseph Walsh and Daniel McEachern, landed at Race Point, Cape Cod, after being picked up the sch. Grace Davis after more than 24 hours in their little boat in the thick fog.  When the Grace Davis, on her way to New York out of Bangor, was about 15 miles off, and the captain wanted the men to stay with him until he made port, they were anxious to get home, so they threw their dory out and jumped into it, and after a good row, landed at Race Point, and walked up to the life saving station, where they stayed that night, getting a needed rest.   At the station they first heard of the awful accident and the sad fate that had befallen 18 of their mates and the vessel

 

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