New England Lighthouse Storm, Apr 1851
The crew could plainly see them on the beach, and communicated with them by signs, as the brig gradually beat on to the sands. The mariners endeavored to throw a line on shore, but it failed to come near enough to be secured until after the young men had stood in the surf for three hours. In the meantime, they had been joined by two men, a Mr. Lufkin, who lived on the island, about two miles below the wreck, and his hired man, who was a little before one o'clock in the afternoon. After another hour's toil, the rope was secured by the four men, and the captain and crew with a single passenger, nine persons in all, were thus rescued from their perilous situation. Great credit is due to the men who preserved so long in their exposure to wet and cold and their exhausting endeavors to save the shipwrecked mariners. The brig lay embedded in the sand till the ensuing July, when she was towed off, her cargo having been taken out by the steamer C. B. Stevens, which then piled on the Merrimac between Newburyport and Haverhill.
At Rockport, several vessels were damaged. In Salem harbor, there was a large number of vessels, most of which outside the gale in safety, several schooners being driven ashore and others grounded. The scene on North river near the sea was wild and fearfully grand. At Marblehead, seven vessels were cast on shore, and several mariners lost their lives on Marshfield beach.
This great storm and tide are known in history as the "Lighthouse" storm and tide, from the fact that in it the Minot's ledge lighthouse was carried away. Minot's ledge is one of the rocks off Cohasset, Mass., which before the light was established had sent to destruction many a vessel that had been driven upon them by northeastern gales. The loss of property and life became so great that it would not do to permit darkness to shroud them longer in its dangerous obscurity, and the government constructed a lighthouse on Minot's ledge, which though only twenty feet across had destroyed more vessels than any other rock on the coast. It was a celebrated structure, great interest being taken in it by the merchants and humane societies of that time.
When this storm came on, Mr. Bennett was absent, having been ordered to Boston by Collector Greely to purchase a new boat. He returned on Tuesday afternoon, but found the sea so wild and dangerous that the boat could not be put out to the lighthouse. He had two assistants, Joseph Wilson and Antoine Joseph, who had been left in charge of the light. Wilson was an English sailor, modest and unassuming, about twenty-three years old and unmarried. He was an agreeable companion and always faithful. In March, some one had asked him about the danger of staying there, and he bravely replied, "Yes, sir, I shall stay as long as Mr. Bennett does, and when we leave the light it will dangerous for any others to take it." Antoine Joseph was a Portuguese and belonged in Corvo, one of the western islands. being about twenty-five years of age, and having some relatives in Cohasset. He had a mild disposition and good habits, and was faithful to his trust.
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