Thursday, February 11, 2016

Tragedy at Sea

Two Lives Lost
Paving Sloop Albert A., of Rockport, Founders off Marblehead
Captain and One Man Saved After Perilous Experience
Gloucester Daily Times, October 18, 1897 

        Philip E. Conley and Merrill Dean of Rockport, two of the crew of the stone sloop Albert A., owned by the Rockport Granite Company, were drowned about four miles off Egg Rock lighthouse, caused by the foundering of the sloop, early Sunday morning. Capt. Albert Pittee and John Allen, another of her crew, were saved, after a miraculous escape from death.
        Saturday afternoon about four o'clock, the sloop, heavily laden with stone, set sail from Rockport, bound to Boston. The weather at the time was clear and moderate, with a good westerly sailing breeze. During the evening the wind began to freshen, and by midnight it was blowing pretty heavy.
        At 12 o'clock the watch of Conley and Bean was changed, and they were relieved by Capt. Pittee and Allen.
        During the last watch the wind steadily increased and was blowing a small-sized hurricane. Capt. Pittee saw at a glance that the weather was going to be nasty, and seeing Conley standing on the floor of the cabin, fixing the fire, he sang out to him, "Come up, we're going to reef the  mainsail."
        When the vessel began to settle forward, both endeavored to reach the small boat which was towing behind. Allen was successful in reaching the craft, but Capt. Pittee, was less fortunate and when the sloop took a final plunge, was carried down with her. The captain had fortunately cast off the boat's painter none too soon, for the derrick boom swept down across the house and striking him a terrible blow.
        Capt. Pittee says that after that he cannot remember anything about the accident until he found himself struggling in the water. Allen and Capt. Pittee were aft together, and without any warning whatever the craft was struck by a terrible gust of wind. The vessel seemed to shiver for a second, and then took a tremendous plunged forward.
        Allen was now alone in the small boat, with but one oar to work with. The brave man knew that Capt. Pittee was on the sloop when she sank, and that he must be in the water nearby. With pluck and courage he made up his mind that if it was possible he would save his comrade. He sculled the boat about and soon discovered not far away Capt. Pittee. He hastened to the place, but before reaching saw the captain rise and go below the surface twice.
        Just as he reached the spot Capt. Pittee again came in sight, and with uplifted arms went down again. Allen, who is noted for his strength, made one herculean effort, reached over the side of the boat and was successful in grasping Capt. Pittee by the tips of the fingers, and after a terrible struggle pulled him on board. Allen then watched the place in search of the other men, but he saw nothing of them, and then made up his mind to reach land.
        Capt. Pittee, besides being nearly drowned, was very severely injured, and was able to render but little assistance, so the work came on Allen, who was suffering from a terrible gash on the leg.
        It was impossible to reach the Lynn and Nahant shores, so the boat was kept to the wind and headed for Marblehead. After being tossed about in the open boat, wet and thoroughly chilled for several hours, the survivors of the terrible accident reached Devereaux beach. They landed just in time, for they had scarcely time to get out of the boat before a terrific squall came and swept it off shore.
        Allen, in his disabled condition, carried Capt. Pittee to the Marble head police station, where everything was done for them.
        Dr. True summoned Dr. Morse of Salem, and together they examined the injured men. Capt. Pittee was found to be in a very serious condition, his injuries being received by the boom of the derrick. Three ribs were found to be broken, his shoulder was dislocated, his nose was terribly bruised, and besides hurt about the head, it is feared that he is injured internally.
        Allen's leg was badly gashed, necessitating the taking of seven stitches.
        Capt. Pittee and Allen, the survivors, were taken to their homes in Rockport over the road by chief of police Atwood of Marblehead.
        Capt Pittee is severely injured and is at his home on High street. Allen was taken to the home of his sister, Mrs. Howard Mitchell.
        When the vessel went down, Long island light bore south west half west. She lays in about 26 fathoms of water.
        The Rockport Granite Company sent their tugboat H. S. Nichols, lighter West End and a diver this forenoon to locate the wreck and if possible recover the bodies of the unfortunate men.
        The men who lost their lives were well known in Rockport, and their families have the deepest sympathy of the whole community.
        Mr. Merrill H. Reed, a native of Boothbay, Me., leaves a wife and son. He was about 55 years of age, and has followed the sea nearly all his life. He was highly respected and possessed a genial disposition and was very companionable.
        Mr. P. Everett Conley was a native of Rockport, and leaves a widowed mother, a brother and sister, his father, Philip Conley, having been drowned at sea when he was a boy. Everett was a popular young man about town, and had a host of friends, who are greatly shocked by this sad ending of his. He was a member of Granite Lodge, I.O.O.F., and Wonasquam Tribe of Red Men. He was about 35 years of age and unmarried.
        Great credit is due J. Roscoe Allen to whose ponderous strength, courage and endurance is probably due the saving of the life of Capt. Pittee as well as his own.
        The rescued men are very grateful for the great kindness an attention shown them by the police of Marblehead.
        The Albert A. was owned by the Rockport Granite Company, and the vessel and cargo were worth about $4000. Both are uninsured.

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