Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Storm of November 1842

On Wednesday afternoon, November 30, 1842, a snow storm began, which turned to rain about nine o'clock in the evening. The wind had blown moderately through the day, but when night came on it increased until it blew with great violence from the east-southeast, shifting to the east-northeast at two o'clock in the morning, when it quickly subsided.

In some parts, a great deal of snow fell, and travel on the railroads was greatly obstructed, fifteen inches of snow being on the ground the next day at Dover, NH. The storm began early in the morning as far south as Washington and Baltimore, and much snow fell there. The temperature was also low, being at Belfast, Maine, on the day before only six degrees above zero, the coldest November day that had been known there for several years.

At Boston, the storm was much more severe than at any other port in that vicinity. Many vessels were anchored in the harbor when the storm came on, and they were driven from their moorings, being either jammed against each other or the wharves. They were badly chafed and broken, and several of them were sunk. In the very heart of the city the sound of falling masts and of vessels crashing together was heard from time to time above the noise of the storm. It was deemed dangerous to go to the end of the wharves lest some large craft might dash against them, carrying them away. In the night, several sailors were drowned.

Among the many wrecks caused by the storm in the few short hours it continued were two or three that made it memorable. One of them was that of the bark Isadore, a new and beautiful vessel of four hundred tons burden, commanded and owned by Capt. Leander Foss. This was its first trip, and it sailed on the morning of the storm from Kennebunk, Maine, for New Orleans. In the blinding snow and the tempest of that night the craft was driven on a point of rocks near Cape Neddock, ME, called Bald head, and wrecked. The entire crew of fifteen belonged in Kennebunkport, and all perished. Five were fathers of families, and left in all twenty children. Two were young men, the only sons of widows.

The schooner Napoleon, commanded by Capt. James York, sailed from Calais, ME for New York, with a cargo of lumber, on the twenty-eighth of the month. The gale struck the vessel out in the ocean on the night of the storm and carried away both masts. She capsized and righted, but was filled with water. The cook, a Scotch lad, was probably lost when the vessel went over, as he was not seen again. The others of the crew remained on deck, in the cold and darkness and tempest, and one after another they lay down and died.

The craft was driven about by the mighty wind, but where no one knew or cared. The next day and another night passed away. Death was what they desired, and all but one of them found it. When the wreck had reached a point about forty miles south of Monhegan, it fell in with the schooner Echo of Thomaston, ME. Captain York had survived until within and hour or two of their meeting with the Echo, and when the captain of that vessel came on board the wreck only the mate was found alive, he being badly frozen. The other six had all died, and their bodies had been washed away except that of one man, which was jammed in among the lumber in such a manner that it could not be extricated without great danger.

The saddest wreck caused by the storm was that of the schooner James Clark, of sixty tons burden, belonging in St. John, N. B., commanded and owned by Captain Beck. It was on a trip from St. John to Boston, and there were twenty persons on board. They left Portland on the morning of the storm, and late that afternoon were driven ashore at Rye beach, the vessel becoming a total wreck. At six o'clock in the evening, which was soon after the vessel struck, the cabin was stove in, and the people were compelled to remain on deck. The heavy sea dashed over them, and they were washed from one side of the vessel to the other, their clothing being torn off from them. They suffered intensely from the exposure to cold and water, and some died, the first being Mrs. Margaret Stewart's six month's old baby boy, named Willie, who expired in her arms. She had wrapped him so closely for protection from exposure that his death was probably hastened thereby. The mother became insensible and when rescued was found among some lumber almost covered with water. Her arms were stiffened in the position in which she had held her child, and remained so for some time after arriving at the land. She was saved, however, to mourn the loss of her boy.

Mrs. Mary Hebersen, a widow of about fifty, accompanied by her daughter Hannah, who was twelve years old, was on her way to an aunt's in Holden, Mass. For hours they kept together in their hopeless condition as well as the waves would permit. At length the daughter, becoming benumbed with cold, lay down upon the deck at her mother's feet and died. While she lay there, her life fast ebbing away, her mother watched over her, and raising her eyes to heaven commended her daughter's spirit to her Maker. This excellent mother was no sooner apprehensive of the death of her daughter than she forgot the tempest and laid herself down by the side of her child. In fifteen minutes her spirit also had fled.

As soon as it was possible, one of the sailors took a long rope, fastened one end of it on the deck, and jumped into the raging surf with the other end tied to him. He fought his way to the shore, and by means of the rope the captain and crew and ten of the passengers, five women, two men, a girl and a boy, and a child sixteen months old, were saved. Only one person, Dennis Mahaney, perished while attempting to reach the shore on the rope. Mrs. Hebersen and Mr. Mahaney were the only adults lost, the rest being children. Five bodies were recovered.

Those most instrumental in saving these people were a Mr. Yeaton and his son, who unweariedly, and at imminent peril of their lives, assisted in getting them on shore. But for their efforts many more would have perished. Mr. Yeaton's family generously placed everything they had at the disposal of the sufferers. They gave them the use of the whole house and freely distributed their extra clothing among them, both mariners and passengers having lost theirs, except what they wore when rescued, some of them being nearly naked.

The Crew

The crew serving on the Isadore under Captain Leander Foss consisted of the following men:
  • Clement P. Stone (First Mate)
  • John Crowder (Second Mate)
  • Paul M. Grant (Passenger)
  • George Davis (Cabin Boy)
  • John Tendell (Cook)
  • George Lewis (Seaman)
  • James C. Murphy (Seaman)
  • George F. Hutchins (Seaman)
  • Alvin Huff (Seaman)
  • William Thompson (Seaman)
  • Daniel H. Perkins (Seaman) was born in 1820 to Luther Perkins (1793-1863) and Keziah Huff (1792-1885).
  • James Young (Seaman)
  • Charles Lord (Seaman)
  • Thomas King (Carpenter … did not sail)
Only seven bodies were ever recovered for burial. In the Bass Cove Cemetery (at one time known as the Kennebunkport Cemetery or Village Cemetery, and often referred to as the Tomb Cemetery) is a monument for Captain Leander Foss, whose body was never recovered. Stones for 15 year old seaman George Lewis and cabin boy George Davis are also buried at Bass Cove.

The rest of the Isadore’s recovered crew are buried locally: Daniel Perkins at the Merrill Family Cemetery, Charles Lord in Cape Porpoise, Joseph Murphy at the Nonantum Cemetery, Clement Stone at the Perkins Cemetery in Goose Rocks and Benjamin Thompson at the Thompson Cemetery in Arundel.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Ghost Ship Isadore

Found at New England Lighthouses: Maine to Long Island Sound by Ray Jones & Bruce Roberts

In a graveyard at Kinnebunkport is a stone bearing the name of Captain Leander Foss. The body of Captain Foss, however, does not rest anywhere near the stone. It is assumed that Foss went to Davy Jones's locker along with his handsome bark, which disappeared under strange circumstances off Cape Neddick in 1842. But some say that Foss still sails the seas as captain of the ghost ship Isadore.

A seaman named Thomas King was supposed to ship out with the Isadore when it set sail from Kennebunkport on the last day of November 1842. But two days before the scheduled departure, King woke up in a cold sweat from a terrible dream: a vision of a wrecked ship and drowning sailors. King had no doubt that the vessel in his nightmare was the bark Isadore and that the dying men were his fellow crewmen.

King told Foss about his ominous dream, but the old sea captain laughed at him. When Foss refused to delay the Isadore's sailing, King begged to be let out of his contract and left behind. At this point, Captain Foss put on a stern face, reminded King that he had already received a month's salary in advance, and told the frightened seaman, in the plainest of language, to be aboard the Isadore when it pulled away from the dock.

The following night another member of the Isadore crew had a disturbing dream. The sailor saw seven coffins and saw himself in one of them. Foss heard about this second nightmare, but having both little respect for superstition and a schedule to keep, he made up his mind to sail first thing the next morning.

As November 30 dawned the families and friends of the Isadore's crew gathered at the Kennebuckport wharves to wish their loved ones well. But a cloud of dread and gloom hung heavy over the farewell, and there was little of the usual cheering and hat waving as the bark glided slowly out of the harbor. By this time the sky had added a few dark clouds of its own to the scene, and they quickly increased in size and number. It began to snow, and a bitterly cold wind came up out of the north to hurry the Isadore rapidly down toward the sea and into the realm of legend.

Among those who watched the Isadore's masts disappear in the snowy distance was Thomas King. He hid in the woods until he was certain that the bark was under way. King expected his acquaintances in town to scorch his ears for having jumped ship, and they did. But his disgrace lasted only about one day.

On the following morning word came to Kennebunkport that pieces of a large ship were scattered all along the shore in the vicinity of Cape Neddick. It was the Isadore. There were no survivors of the wreck, and only seven bodies washed ashore -- one of them the sailor who had dreamed about the seven coffins. The body of Captain Foss was never found.

Imaginative residents and visitors to Maine's scenic coast have reported many sightings of the Isadore during the more than a century and a half since the wreck. They describe a close-reefed bark and shadowy figures who stand motionless on the deck and stare straight ahead. Maybe Thomas King later saw the phantom ship himself -- in his dreams if not with his eyes. But if he ever again encountered the ghostly Isadore, he never said so.

Ancestry of Captain Leander Foss

Leander Foss was born 1806 in Scarborough, Cumberland, ME and died Dec 1842 in Kennebunkport, York, ME. He was the son of John Foss and Lavinia Clark. In 1833, Leander married Maria (Unknown) in Kennebunkport, York, ME. She was born 1815 in Ireland.

Found on U.S. Federal Census:

1840 ~ Kennebunk Port, York, ME
Name: Leander Foss
Free White Persons - Males - Under 5: 1
Free White Persons - Males - 5 thru 9: 1
Free White Persons - Males - 20 thru 29: 1
Free White Persons - Females - 5 thru 9: 1
Free White Persons - Females - 20 thru 29: 1
Free White Persons - Females - 70 thru 79: 1
Total - All Persons (Free White, Free Colored, Slaves): 6
Persons Employed in Navigation of the Ocean: 1
No. White Persons over 20 Who Cannot Read and Write: 1
Free White Persons - Under 20: 3
Free White Persons - 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 6
Total All Persons - Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 6

The children of Leander Foss & Maria (Unknown) were all born in Kennebunkport, York, ME. They are:

Henry B. Foss was born in 1834. He died 30 Jan 1872 in Kennebunkport, York, ME. He married (1) Eliza A. Gooch 28 Apr 1860 in Kennebunkport, York, ME. Eliza was born there in 1835 and died there 27 Nov 1865. He married (2) Sarah A. L. Morse 7 Oct 1868 in Biddeford, York, ME. She was born there bet. 1834-1850. Their children: Ida L., Harry L. and Clara J.

Maria A. Foss was born bet. 1835-1838. She died 6 Jul 1900 in Biddeford, York, ME.

Leander A. Foss was born in 1836. He died 10 Oct 1842 in Buxton, York, ME. He married Phebe C. Higgins, daughter of Timothy Higgins and Jane Came, 26 Mar 1859 in Portland, Cumberland, ME. Phebe was born there on 28 Oct 1833.

Lavinia Margareta Foss was born 15 Apr 1842. She died 25 Nov 1904 in Biddeford, York, ME. Lavinia married Simon Smith Andrews, son of Stephen Andrews and Eliza Ann Smith, 23 May 1867 in Kennebunkport, York, ME. He was born 13 Nov 1840 in Lyman, York, ME and died 21 Jan 1927 in Arlington, Middlesex, MA. Their children: Gertie V., Albert G., Lillian M., Nellie Inna, Elbert L. and Theo Ashton.

John Foss was born 1767 in Scarborough, Cumberland, ME and died there 10 Jun 1843. He was the son of Joseph Foss and Elizabeth Parcher. On 25 Jan 1798, he married Lavina Clark in Scarborough, Cumberland, ME. She born 1777.

Joseph Foss was born 29 Jun 1735 in Scarborough, Cumberland, ME and died 15 Feb 1773 in Saco, York, ME. He was the son of Walter Foss of Sarah Babb. On 23 Oct 1750 he married (1) Abigail Tibbetts. She was born 1735 in Scarborough, Cumberland, ME and died 1754 in Saco, York, ME. On 22 Dec 1757 he married (2) Elizabeth Parcher in Scarborough, Cumberland, ME. She was born there 1736.

Walter Foss was born 10 Jan 1708 in Hampton Falls, Rockingham, NH and died 9 Dec 1791 in Saco, York, ME. He was the son of William Foss and Sarah Buswell. On 15 Sep 1726 he married Sarah Babb in Greenland, Rockingham, NH. She was born 18 Sep 1711 in Hampton Falls, Rockingham, NH and died 1755 in Scarborough, Cumberland, ME.

William Foss was born 11 Mar 1673 in Portsmouth, Rockingham, NH and died 12 Dec 1718 in Greenland, Rockingham, NH. He was the son of Johan Davidsen Foss and Mary Chadbourn. In 1691 he married (1) Margery Lord. She was born 1674 in Dover, Stratford, NH. On 29 Nov 1700 he married (2) Sarah Buswell in Hampton Falls, Rockingham, NH. She was born there 22 Nov 1676.

Johan "John" Davidsen Foss was baptized 3 Jan 1639 in Ribe, Denmark and died Dec 1699 in Newcastle, Rockingham, NH. He was the son of David Lauritsen Foss and Anna Jensdatter Hundevad.

About 1666 he married (1) Mary Chadbourne, daughter of William and Jane, who came in the employ of Capt. John Mason to build a mill at South Berwick, ME. She was born 1644 in Portsmouth, Rockingham, NH and died in Rye, Rockingham, NH between 1681-1686. On 25 Jan 1686 he married (2) Mary or Sarah (Fernicide) Goss, widow of James Goss, in Kittery, York, ME. Wife (3) Elizabeth Berry, daughter of William and Jane, was the widow of John Lock who was killed on Dover Plains 26 Jun 1696. She was born 1635 in Hampton, NH and died 12 Nov 1734 in Rye, Rockingham, NH.

It's been said that John Foss entered the British Navy as a ship caulker. He deserted in Boston harbor and swam ashore. (There is some question as to the validity of the "desertion" story.) He settled in Dover, NH and he bought a house in Exeter on 29 Sep 1666 which he sold to Richard Morgan in April 1671. He was a juror in Dover in 1667, 1669,and 1688.  He also lived in Rye, NH.

David Lauritsen Foss was born 1 Jan 1604 and died 8 Aug 1659 in Ribe, Denmark. He was the son of Lauritz Anderson Foss and Agath Bruun. On 10 Sep 1636 he married Anna Jansdatter Hundevard , daughter of Jan Lorenson Hundevard and Catherine, in Kolding, Vejle, Denmark. She was born 15 Feb 1620 in Kolding and died 16 Sep 1684 in Ribe.

Laurits Andersen Foss was born 1581 in Steppinge, Haderslev, Denmark and died 15 Jul 1640 in Ribe, Denmark. He was the son of Anders Markelson Foss and Marina Rubbertsdatter Geistaust. On 14 Feb 1602 he married Agathe Bruun. She was born about 1580 in Steppinge.

Anders Mikkelsen Foss was born 1543 in Steppinge, Haderslev, Denmark and died 25 Jan 1607 in Bergen, Hordaland, Norway. He married Marina Rubbertsdatter Geistaust, daughter of Rubberts Geistaust, between 1562-1591. She was born 1542 in Steppinge, Haderslev, Denmark and died between 1582-1644.

Mikkel Andersen Foss was born about 1520 in Steppinge, Haderslev, Denmark and died there 8 Jan 1559. He married Karine Hansdatter. She was born in 1515.

Anders Foss was born in Danmark, Uppsala, Sweden.

Extracted from Biography and Genealogy of Western Massachusetts, 1639-1925: The Foss family in America belonged to the nobility of Norway, bearing a coat-of-arms, the chief figure in both arms and crest being that of a fox. The name was originally Vos, which signifies fox, and was pronounced foss. The line comes through Denmark and England to America, and the first of whom any knowledge has been traced was a man named Lauritz. According to the custom of the age in that country, the name of the son was adopted from the baptismal name of the father.

David Lauritzen Foss, born in Norway in 1604, removed to Denmark when a young man, and died at Ribe, in that country, August 31, 1659. He was a minister of the gospel and was pastor of St. Catherine's Church at Ribe, in 1648; he was also a magistrate and afterwards provost at Ribe. He married there, September 10, 1636, Jansdatter Hundevard, born February 15, 1620 died September 16, 1684, daughter of Jens Lorenson and Catherine (Hasdatter) Hundevard. These records have been obtained from Denmark, and are a feature of the Foss genealogy in manuscript, now in the possession of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Children born at Ribe: John, of whom further; Karine, Lauritz, Agatha, Magdalen, Lauritz Davidson, Jene, Antonius, Peter and Inger.

John Foss, American immigrant ancestor, son of David Lauritzen and Jansdatter (Hundevard) Foss, was baptized January 3, 1639, in Denmark and became a seafaring man. Going to England with his brother Peter, he entered the British Navy as a ship caulker. On the arrival of the vessel in which he sailed in the port of Boston, he decided to remain in this country and tradition states that he went overboard in the evening and swam ashore. To avoid a forcible return to the service he immediately proceeded to the interior, and shortly settled in Dover, New Hampshire. He purchased a house in Exeter, New Hampshire, September 29, 1666, and sold it in April, 1671. In 1667, 1669, 1672 and 1688 he was a juror in Dover and for some time lived in Rye, New Hampshire. His will was dated at Dover, December 17, 1699, and he died before January of the following year. He married (first) Mary Chadbourne, born in 1644, daughter of William and Jane Chadbourne. Her father came to America in the employ of Captain John Mason, to build a mill at South Berwick, Maine, and in 1657 was at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. With him, John Foss removed to Old Kittery, Maine, soon after settling in Dover. He was a prominent man in town affairs in Dover, and was married there (second) by John Wincool, a justice of the peace, January 25, 1686, to Mary (Fernicide) Goss, widow of James Goss. He married (third) Elizabeth (Berry) Lock, daughter of William and Jane Berry, and widow of John Lock, who was killed on Dover Plains, June 26, 1696. His children were: John, Samuel, Joshua, Elizabeth, Mary, William, Walter, Hannah, Thomas, Hinkson, killed June 26, 1696; Humphrey, Jemima and Samuel.  These children are descendents of many lines of this old family, scattered now in many States of the Union.

Note: There is a bit of argument about Foss's wives, whether Mary Chadbourne is his wife or that of a John Foss from England. Children reported by a Joshua Foss ancestor.