Marquesas, FL Schooner SPEEDWELL Capsized, Mar 1898
STRUCK BY A SQUALL.
SCHOONER CAPSIZED AND NINE PERSONS DROWNED.
UNLUCKY THIRTEEN ON BOARD.
VICTIMS CAUGHT IN THE CABIN LIKE RATS IN A TRAP.
THREE SMALL CHILDREN OF THE CAPTAIN AMONG THE DEAD -- SQUALL CAME UP VERY SUDDENLY, BEFORE SAILS COULD BE TAKEN IN.
Key West, Fla., March 2. -- The schooner Speedwell, Captain COLLIER, from Marco, Fla., for Key West, was struck by a squall today while off Marquesas, eighteen miles from here, and capsized. Nine persons were drowned out of thirteen on board.
Among the victims were three children of Captain COLLIER, GEORGE, TOM and WILBUR, aged respectively, 4, 6 and 8, and the entire NICHOLS family, BRADLEY NICHOLS and his wife, their son and the latter's wife, and two grandchildren. The family was from Bridgeport, Conn.
Those saved are: Captain COLLIER, SAMUEL CATES, deckhand; JESSE GREEN, deckhand; R. W. BATES, of Myers, Fla., a passenger.
The NICHOLS family is said to have been well-to-do. All had been staying for a month or two at a small hotel kept by Captain COLLIER, at Marco, and they were on their way home.
The survivors say the Speedwell was making slow headway this morning against a head wind. About 7 o'clock Captain COLLIER was at the wheel and the NICHOLS family and the COLLIER children were in the cabin asleep. Suddenly a squall came howling up abeam. CATES and GREEN rushed to take in sail.
As the jib flapped loose, the squall caught the schooner and blew her over on the port side. COLLIER, the deckhands and MR. BATE were swept into the sea, but caught the rigging just in time to save themselves. The wind, rain and waves drowned the dying cries of the imprisoned NICHOLS family and the COLLIER children.
The men lashed themselves to the rigging. After being there for two hours, the sea subsided. Then they got the dingy loose, baled her out with a hat, broke a thwart into two pieces, and, with these for oars, rowed toward Marquesas. After going three miles they were picked up, exhausted, by a fishing sloop and brought here about 4 o'clock this evening.
SAMUEL CATES, one of the survivors, who was seen at his home tonight, said:
"Captain Collier has been sailing in these waters for twenty-five years. He is not to blame for this awful thing. The squall came up like nothing I have ever seen around Key West. Before we knew it, we were lifted off our feet and were in the water, and as for those poor fellows below, they were penned in like rats. The wife of the younger Nichols rose to the skylight. I was clinging to the rigging. She waved her hand to me, and that is the last I saw of her. When we got off, two hours later, they were all dead."
"The elder Mr. Nichols was the only one to get out of the cabin. I guess he was washed out, for, after young Mrs. Nichols waved her hand at me, I saw what I thought was the coat of Mr. Nichols floating by. Then I saw his hand and I knew it was not only a coat."
"We did not see a thing of the children or hear a cry. We had trouble with the boat all the time we were in the dingy, and often came near being swamped."
Soon after being brought into port, Captain Collier and Jesse Green went out on the Yacht Buchaneer, accompanied by a diver, to try to recover the bodies.
The Kansas City Journal Missouri 1898-03-04