ancestryink fisherman

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Who Needs YouTube? Nail-Biting Suspense 1846-Style

Aboard the ship Wyoming, during the gale of Nov. 1846

The storms of late 1846 brought treacherous gales and many newspaper reports of disaster.

The Newburyport Herald is archived on microfilm on the third floor of the Newburyport Public Library,  State Street, Newburyport, MA.  Yesterday, I spent several hours lost in the elaborately descriptive and often suspenseful recounts of 'disasters at sea.'  The author of this article is unknown, but he was clearly on board the "fine packet ship Wyoming" at the time of her watery demise, and gives a first-hand account, creating images more looming, immediate, and illustrative than any movie on the big screen.

As I read through the story, I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat, my stomach in knots.

This is just a small excerpt.  There were many more horrific and also very human details in this long article of the loss of sails, masts, and sailors from the terrifying winds.  There was also a certain matter-of-fact quality that permeated this account, reminding us that life was in peril from the elements much more frequently, and more generally accepted as a fact of life, occupation, and death, than we presently experience.

Aug. 13, 2012:
Note:  A follow-up on this story:   It turns out a young Philadelphian who was a passenger on board the Wyoming is responsible for the lengthy, descriptive journal entry detailing the fate of the Wyoming on the high seas.  The ship had left Philadelphia, with passengers, in September of 1846, en route to Liverpool, England. A month or so into her voyage, she encountered the gale.  His colorful account was published in newspapers all over the United States, and in England, as well.

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