February 10, 1926
Three Perished When Local Fisherman Piled on
Sch. Ralph Brown Loses Course in Blinding Storm
Craft Strikes Reef at Brier Neck -
Eighteen of Crew Reach Land in Half Frozen and Exhausted Condition
Three Survivors Walk to Eastern Avenue and Seek Aid for Shipmates
Crack Craft Reduced to Kindling
The local fishing schooner Ralph Brown,
carrying a crew of 21 men went ashore at the extreme easterly end of Brier Neck in from of
the former Edgecliff hotel shortly before daylight this morning, and the latest reports
indicate that she will be a total loss. Three of her crew are known to have perished.
The Brown, commanded by Capt. Alvaro
Quadros, arrived at Boston yesterday with a small fare of fish and left yesterday
noon for the fishing grounds. Running down as far as Highland light, , the skipper, seeing
that the weather was thickening, set his course for home, but evidently misjudged his
position, and in the teeth of a blinding north-east snow storm, the craft piled upon the
shore at Brier Neck. Just before the schooner struck the ledge, the foresail had been
lowered, but before this could be made up and lashed, the craft hit the rocks.
As she did so, the fore gaff swung over the shore and there
was a scramble among the crew to reach land. Several of them succeeded, but the craft gave
a lurch and slid back into the seas, leaving others of the crew of board. Another wave
sent her back to the shore again, and again there was a scramble, and others made their
way to safety by the aid of the gaff.
Four of the men who came ashore made their way up through
heavy snow drifts and against a biting cold wind, to the store of C. A. Thomas at
194 Eastern Avenue. Wet to the skin and half frozen they were practically exhausted. A
telephone call was immediately sent into the police station, and Sergeant Cronin
on duty ordered the ambulance rushed to the store and the three men were taken to their
Meanwhile, Clarence Parsons and Carl
Rassmussen, both local men, upon hearing of the disaster, started down Witham
street to render assistance. Inch by inch driven back at times and again staggering
blindly ahead in the teeth of the storm, they fought their way to the scene of the wreck.
They found a man named Nunes bewildered
and lost in the snow, talking incoherently and trying to get shelter. The pair immediately
took him to the cottage of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Spates where he was taken
in. Then the pair started back for a second man they saw floundering around. They got him
to the Cardy cottage where others of the wrecked vessel had taken safety.
The life boats from Dollivers Neck and from Rockport
were rushed to the scene, but the heavy seas made it impossible for them to get very close
to the boat. The craft struck on a coming tide of about three hours, and each wave sent
the schooner staggering against the rocky shore.
Joseph Lopes, one of the crew who was
drowned, managed to get a hold on the main boom of the vessel, and while his shipmates
were safe in the cottage of Mr. Cardy, made a desperate struggle for his
life. Through all those three hours he maintained his hold on the swinging, swaying boom,
as it submerged and tossed around like a piece of drift wood, helpless in the surf, while
just off shore, but just beyond his reach lay the tossing life boat from Dollivers
Neck station, unable to render aid. Before aid could be rendered, Lopes,
exhausted by his long and futile attempts to save himself, let go his hold and sank
beneath the angry water.
Mitchell, one of the lost men, was nearly
over the fore boom to land, waiting for a chance to jump, when a wave washed him form his
foot hold and he perished before the eyes of the crew.
John Fragata, the third drowned, was
almost ashore and his brother, also named John, had him by the hand
trying to drag him on to the rocks. A heavy wave broke on the ledge, the brothers grip was
broken, and the man slid into the churning surf.
Joseph Lopes, 35, native of Lisbon,
Portugal, wife and four children in Portugal
Manuel Mitchell, (also known as Manuel Janeiros), 49,
native of Pico, Azores, wife and four children in Portugal
John Fragata, 33, a native of Figuira, Portugal, wife and two children in
The survivors were Capt. Alvaro Quadros,
single; John Braga, engineer, of Rockport; Manuel Patta,
cook, married; Manuel Nunes, single; John Qualiaho; Antonio
Contrino; Frank Santos, single, William Hubbard, of Lynn; Frank
Brown, married; Frank Braga,; John M. Fragata,
married, brother to one of the lost men, also named John; Raymond Perry,
married; Joseph Ova; Frank Angelo; Domingoes Raymond; Joseph Oliver; Frank
Baptiste, marred; and Joseph Cruz.