Saturday, April 4, 2015

Saturday Spotting - Marie Celeste Crew Mystery

Published in August of 1909 in the Idaho Statesman out of Boise, ID 

HISTORICAL MYSTERIES
MYSTERY OF THE “MARIE  CELESTE.”
By ALBERT PAYSON TERHUNE
     The case of the Marie Celeste is perhaps the strangest of all deep sea mysteries. Sailors, novelists, even psychologists, have sought for years to solve it. The affair has passed into nautical history. Fanctcul writers have added melodramatic or weird touched to the original account, until, at this late day, it is impossible to be certain of each detail’s truth.
     The brig Marie Celeste sailed from New York harbor on November 7, 1873, bound for Genoa, and carrying a cargo of petroleum and alcohol. She had a crew of 10 men and officers (mostly Germans) and was captained by B. S. Briggs, who took on the voyage his young wife and their 2 – year – old child. The Marie Celeste passed the island of St. Mary’s in the Azores on November 24. So much is known form the entries in her log. The rest is mystery.
     On December 4 the Del Gratia, which had left New York for Gibraltar several days later than the Marie Celeste, sighted a vessel moving along in a rather eccentric fashion, under partial all. She was the Marie Celeste. To the hall of the Del Gratia no reply was given. A boat was lowered form the Del Gratia and her mate was rowed across to the Marie Celeste.
     The mate, scrambling aboard, found himself the only living creature upon the vessel. He made a hasty search. The cargo of alcohol and oil was in perfect condition. In the forecastle the sailor’s chests were found undisturbed, their clothing and money untouched. In the cabin there was sheet music on the open melodloin and on the table were scissors, needle, thread and cloth, as though a woman had hastily tossed there the sewing on which she was engaged. A clock ticked on the wall. Toys were strewn carelessly about the floor. In the captain’s stateroom a gold watch hung beside the head of Briggs berth. The impress of a baby head was still to be seen on the pillow of the crib. In the cook’s galley food was set out ready for cooking. It is even said, in one report, that a fire was burning in the stove.
     Nowhere was there the slightest sign of haste, of disorder, of mutinous struggle. Yet every one had deserted the brig. Food and water were plenty, everything was in good condition. There had been no storm. A little bottle of medicine on the captain’s table was standing upright. The least rough weather would have upset it. Why, then if there were no gale, no mutiny, no famine, no pestilence, should the brig’s occupants have vanished? Or, if they deserted the ship why did they leave their clothes, money, jewelry, etc. behind them? If, on the other hand, the ship had been overhauld by latter-day pirates who slaughtered passengers and crew, why were not the valuables stolen?
     In the mate’s cabin was found the log slate. The slate was full of the usual routine entries. At the bottom of the last scrawled: “Fanny, my dear wife -.” Some accounts say that one of the ship’s boats was gone. Others declare the boats were all in place, making the problem of the wholesale disappearance more perplexing.