Massachusetts Storm, Oct 1849

The Storm of October, 1849.

At about six o'clock on the afternoon of Saturday, October 7, 1849, rain began to fall along the New England coast, the wind blowing freshly from the east. At twelve o'clock, a violent gale was blowing from the northeast, and the rain fell in torrents. It continued all day Sunday, and did great damage along the shore, a considerable number of vessels being driven upon the land or bilged. Telegraph wires were prostrated, and communication was interrupted. In Chelsea, Mass., one of the walls of the brick church, belonging to the Universalist society, which was being built on Chestnut street, was blown down with a terrific crash.

This gale is most noted for the wreck of the brig St. John on Minot's ledge, off Cohasset, Mass. The vessel was commanded by Captain Oliver and had sailed from Galway, Ireland, with emigrants for Boston, September 5. At about five o'clock on the afternoon of Saturday, October 6, they passed Cape Cod with a light southeast wind. The weather being very thick, they hove to, heading northeast. At four o'clock the next morning they wore ship and stood south. At half-past six, they made Minot's ledge, and, seeing the British brig Kathleen there, they ran inside the ledge and anchored. But the violence of the wind and the heavy sea caused the vessel to drag the anchors even there. Fearful that they would all be driven on the rocks, and dashed to pieces, they cut away their masts. But the gale continued to increase, the anchors again failed to hold, and the vessel was cast upon the ledges. The terrible scene was witnessed from the Glade house, but the people found in impossible to do anything. The sea ran mountain high, and as soon as the brig struck, the waves swept over her, washing the unfortunate men, women, and children into the raging ocean. The deck was crowded with the emigrants and a dozen at a time they were carried into the surges.

Shortly after the brig struck, the ringbolt that supported the stern of the jolly-boat in its accustomed place alongside, broke, letting it fall into the water. The captain, second mate, and two boys had but just jumped into it to clear it from the vessel, when about twenty-five passengers also followed them, and it was immediately swamped by their weight. All of the twenty-nine perished, except one boy and the captain, the former swimming back to the wreck, and the latter being saved, by catching hold of a rope that was suspended over the quarter, being pulled on board by the first mate.

The long-boat was them detached, but hardly had this been done when a heavy sea swept over the vessel and carried it away. A number of passengers jumped into the angry waters to swim to it, and they all perished. Afterward, the captain, first mate, eight of the crew and two passengers swam to it in safety, and in it reached the shore, landing at the Glades.

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