Dreadful Shipwreck Loss of the "Brig Florence" of New York with her second officer and forty nine passengers - ByCaptain McCurdy of"Brig Attention" arrived yesterday from St. John's, Newfoundland.
Mr. Hopliff received the melancholy recital of the loss of a brig and fifty lives.The particulars were furnished to Captain McCurdy by some person on board the lost brig and therefore entirely correct.
The following disaster is one of those awful occurrences with which the South Eastern coast of Newfoundland is often the scene of.The "Brig Florence", and from New York, Samuel Rose, Master, sailed from Rotterdam June 30, 1840 with a crew of eight persons and 70 passengers, cargo, ballast and a few casks of wine.
They were with pleasant weather until nearly up with the eastern part of the Banks of Newfoundland when they were assailed with a procession of gales attended with fog and rain up to the time of their shipwreck.
On Sunday morning, August 9 the man on lookout cried "hard down the helm, breakers ahead."The helm was immediately put-a-lee, but before the sails were taken aback the brig struck the rocks on her starboard side.She instantly filled and fell over on her side, when a scene of confusion and terror presented itself, the horror of which can better be imagined than described.Here were the wife and husband biding each other a last farewell, the frantic mother clasping her infant to her bosom as if death itself should not separate them; while some few who had relatives on board were endeavoring to secure what money they had, by fastening it to their bodies, but which alas proved the means of their destruction; for that which they vainly thought would secure them a comfortable home in the fertile lands of the far "West" had changed their destination to an eternal home in death.On attempting to swim to the land, the weight of the money sunk them to the bottom.
Captain Rose, with commendable coolness, commanded all to remain by the wreck until some means were devised for escaping with safety.For this purpose Mr. William Robbs of Springfield, Massachusetts took the end of the line and sprang from the vessel to a ledge which lay between her and the shore.An overwhelming wave however, overtook the devoted sailor and dashed him against the rocks - a mangled corpse.Captain Rose next attempted this, the only means of saving the land in safety.
The crew were all saved except the second mate. But only thirty of the seventy nine passengers were saved and of these many were saved by Captain Rose and Mr. Scofield, Chief Mate, at the imminent peril of their own lives and by the time these were saved, about three hours after the brig struck, there were scarcely two of her planks together, all were literally in splinters.
Thus thirty-seven persons were thrown ashore on a barren and to them an unknown part of the coast.Many of them were but half clad and most of them were without shoes.Not a solitary biscuit was saved.In this pitiable condition they commenced their journey through thick woods and swamps and over bleak and rugged hills in hopes of finding some human habitation.For four days they continued their course, governed chiefly by the wind; the sun, moon and stars being obscured nearly all the time by fog and rain, and squalls which later were very frequent - sometimes eating berries they could find.Early on the morning of the 13th Captain Rose and Mr. Scofield ascended a hill in hopes the fog might clear off and afford them a view of the surrounding country.At nine o'clock the weather cleared a little and they were enabled to see the harbor and village of Renowes.The happy intelligence was soon communicated to the rest and they resumed their march with brighter hearts.
When they entered the village its hospitable inhabitants welcomed them with everything which their present needs demanded.Mr. Goodrich of whose benevolence the crew and passengers speak in the warmest terms of gratitude gave money and clothes to them, furnished a vessel to convey them to St. Johns, the residence of the U.S. Consular Agent.
At 7:00 pm on Saturday the 15th they were landed in St. Johns.The news of their arrival soon brought to the shore rich and poor, old and young, some thrusting bread into the hands of the shipwreck strangers and others taking the poor wretches home with them.
Nothing was spared which pity could suggest to alleviate their wants and sufferings. The next day being Sunday nothing was publicly done for them; a meeting was posted on billboards requesting a meeting to take place at the Chamber of Commerce of the U.S. to devise means to relieve the necessities of those whom fate had thrown upon their shores.Some 70 or 80 pounds were collected in a short time, and resolution were passed to raise a sufficient sum whereby the emigrants might be enabled to reach the place of their destination.A committee was appointed to receive clothing and money from all who felt disposed to give.
Captain McCurdy did not hear the result as he sailed on the following day in the morning, but thinks from the philanthropic spirit manifested by the people of St. Johns that these unfortunate people were amply provided for. The Chief Mate of the "Florence" has arrived her in the "Attention".
We believe the "Florence" was nearly a new vessel.She sailed from this port last spring for Rotterdam and was on her return voyage to New York.
From: "The New Era" New York, New York Thursday Morning September 3, 1840
[it is said the survivors were sent on to New York at the expense of the U.S.]
my connection to this story....... My great great great grandparents and two sons were on this ship. John Peter Adrian, his wife Gertrude Scholz Adrian and sons Stephen and Michael J. survived the shipwreck.It is said an aunt who was travelling with them could not face the ordeal and pulling her skirts over her head went overboard.They were from Klingenberg, Bavaria.
Michael J. Adrian and family settle in NYC, he started a cigar shop at age15, and later started the German Exchange Bank.
If interested in a follow up .... contact me off list. email@example.com