New England Lighthouse Storm, Apr 1851
The lighthouse was last seen standing at about half-past three o'clock on Wednesday afternoon. Amid the horrors of the storm, the young men were compelled to remain in their fatal rooms. There was no escaping to the shore through the hell of waters. As soon as darkness came on, probably at about five o'clock on that stormy evening, they lighted the lamp as usual, and its warning rays beamed over the raging ocean. But that which saved others was powerless to save itself. The light was last seen burning at ten o'clock that evening by several persons, and at about the same time the lighthouse bell rang with great violence, alarming the dwellers on the shore for the safety of the youthful custodians of the light. The bravery and faithfulness of these young men, who were careful to perform their full duty, even while they knew the certainty of their fate, and felt the pillars snapping asunder beneath them, and while the emotions of anguish that can neither be described nor imagined, were surging like billows through their souls, constitute them heroes of the highest order. The entire structure was undoubtedly carried over at once, and the men went down to death and a tomb beneath the surges, their bodies never being found.
At four o'clock next morning, Mr. Bennett was on the beach. The lighthouse no longer lifted its head above the waves, and no vestige of it remained, but instead fragments of the building were strewn along the shore, among them being parts of the living room and of the lamp. Portions of the bedding, Mr. Bennett's clothing, and other things that had been kept in the lighthouse were also there. One of the life-buoys came ashore, appearing to have been lashed to the back of one of the men, but the waves had probably washed it off from him. Another one had apparently been used. For two miles along the beach were scattered pieces of the woodwork of the structure and of the furniture. On Saturday, after the storm had cleared away, and the waves had quieted, some six or seven of the iron pillars or supports of the lighthouse were seen standing, and they leaned toward the west. They came only three or four feet above the surface of the ledge, and appeared to have been broken off squarely, as though they had been made of cast iron.
A vessel bearing a temporary light, under the charge of Mr. Bennett, was immediately anchored off Minot's ledge to serve as a beacon until a new lighthouse should be constructed. This was done soon afterward, it being erected after the pattern of the famous English Eddystone, and there is stands to-day, its light shining out brilliantly over the dangerous rocks and reefs as soon as night comes on.
Historic Storms of New England, its Gales, Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Showers with Thunder and Lightning, Great Snow Storms, Rains, Freshets, Floods, Droughts, Cold Winters, Hot Summers, Avalanches, Earthquakes, Dark Days, etc..., by Sidney Perley, 1891, pages 302-309