A shipwreck, but not just any shipwreck
As I picked up the phone that was ringing off the hook, the identification read Freeport. I haven’t ordered any Bean boots. Oh. It was Freeport, New York. An excited voice on the other end of the line said: ”Barbara, I just found a vessel built in Camden, Maine. So I Googled and it came up with your name and telephone number for marine information.”
Nothing is sacred anymore because of the Internet; however, I was pleased to get this call.
The shipwreck was the five-masted schooner, T Charlton Henry, built in the H. M. Bean Yard in 1904.
He said that he hoped to find gold with it, but I told him that it would be black gold (coal), because it was built for the Coastwise Transportation Company, managed by Capt. John G. Crowley to carry coal for Washburn & Moen’s great manufacturing plant in Worcester, Mass., from Norfolk to Province for transshipment by rail to Worcester.
It was only 30 years before that a three-masted schooner was considered big. Then came some fours and finally Waldoboro built the first five-master, Governor Ames, followed by Camden with the John B. Prescott in 1899.
The article in the Camden Herald dated Nov. 28, 1904 tells it well, I quote verbatim:
“Beautiful Launch of the T. Charlton Henry, A Handsome Schooner, One of the Largest and Best Ever Built By Mr. Bean.
“Thursday’s weather was ideal for launching. The air was clear and mild and almost summer-like. The vessel went into the water at just 1:48, making one of the prettiest and most majestic launchings ever seen in this section. Some two or three thousand people viewed the spectacle, a small crowd compared with some of the Bean launchings. The great schooner seemed eager to make her leap for the water for several minutes before all the blocks were split out, in fact, when some of the men were working a third of the way down her keel, the vessel settled and began to move. The men, warned by Mr. Bean, hastily crawled out, and down the ways she went piling up a monster wave under her stern and making a most graceful bow. The usual salute of cheers and whistles were given with a will.
“The christening of this schooner was a departure from the custom of flowers and doves, which has long been in vogue here and the T. Charlton Henry was christened by the wish of some larger owners in the way popular in many places, by breaking a bottle of champagne over her bow. The christening was done by Myrtle Bean, the little daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R. L. Bean. The champagne bottle was tied with red, white and blue ribbons on which were printed in gold letters the name of the schooner, the place and date and the name of the young lady. These ribbons make a pretty souvenir of the event for the little christener.
“Everyone who has examined thoroughly the T. Charlton Henry says she is the staunchest and strongest vessel ever built and undoubtedly there is not a finer five-master afloat. The schooner is named for T. Charlton Henry, the son of Charles W. Henry of Philadelphia, one of our prominent summer residents, who is a large owner. She will be commanded by Capt. Elmer E. Crowley, brother of Capt. John G. Crowley, who is managing owner. Thus this schooner is an important addition to the Crowley fleet which is noted all along the Atlantic coast as one of the best managed fleets on the coast.
“The official measurements of the vessel are as follows: Gross tonnage, 2421; net tonnage 2149; length over all, about 400 feet; depth of hold, 23 feet. In net tonnage she measures about 100 tons less than the five-masted schooner, John B Prescott, although her spars are two feet longer than those which were placed in the six-master.
“She is built for the coal carrying trade and it is expected that she will have great carrying power on account of her unusual depth and width. The frame is constructed of oak, and the planking and ceiling of Georgia pine, the ceiling being 14 inches thick and the planking all six inches to the rail. There are three full decks. The main keelson consists of seven tiers, or strings, and there are four tiers of sister keelsons on each side. All of the keelsons measure 14 inches, making a frame much stronger and heavier than is to be found in the modern vessels. The keelsons are fastened with 1 3/8 inch iron and the ceiling with 1 ¼ inch iron. The outside fastening consists of 1 3/8 inch treenails, all square fastened.
“In the construction of this schooner was a rank departure from the common way of building vessels which marks her as perhaps the strongest built schooner on the coast. This was the very heavy work around the top. Her upper deck grub being 14 inches square. There are two lock steaks 12x13. She is celled up above with 10 inch stuff all edge bolted with ¼ inch iron, one bolt between each frame. Also her planking is 6 inches thick running full to the rail with tiers of rails 6x13. This is something that was never done before on any vessel and will certainly add very much to the strength.
“The ground tackle comprises 210 fathoms of 2 3/8 inch chain, one anchor weighing 8000 pounds, one anchor weighing 7500 pounds, and two kedge anchors, one weighing 1000 pounds and the other 800 pounds. The big anchors are stockless and were furnished by the Bald Anchor Co., of Chester, Pa. The five Oregon masts are each of 120 feet in length and 30 inches in diameter. The topmasts are 58 feet in length. The other spars are of Oregon pine. The jibboom is 21 inches in the cap. The spanker boom is 75 feet long and 21 inches in the sling. The spread of the canvas will be about 5000 yards. The sails were made by John B. Gifford of Fall River. All wire rigging is used, the lower rigging measuring 4 ½ inches.
“The vessel has three houses, all of which are heated by steam and have electric bell connection. The forward house is 26 x 24 feet, finished in North Carolina pine and contains the engine room, forecastle and engineers’s stateroom. The midship house is 18 x 22 feet, finished in North Carolina [pine] and contains the galley and storage room for sails. The after house 36 x 28 feet, and contains the forward and after cabins. These are finished in ash, cypress, sycamore and oak.
“The steam outfit and steering gear were furnished by the Hyde Windlass Co. of Bath and include all the conveniences that nautical and mechanical skill have yet conceived. The vessel has a 60 inch wheel and has a 21 inch rudder post. Thee wheel house, which is 12 x 10 feet, has a curved glass front. The tanks also furnished by the Hyde Windlass Co., all of iron and have a united capacity of about 4500 gallons. The equipment also includes a large wrecking pump.
“The men who had charge of the various departments of the work were as follows: Master mechanic, J. H. Cameron; boss joiner, H. C. Small; boss caulker, Harry Buchanan; rigger, R. E. Dunn of Thomaston; adz work, W. N. Doughty; iron works, G. D. Sides; spar maker, William Mank of Waldoboro; carved work, H. M. Prince; boss painter, J. H. McKay; fastener, William Wentworth.
“The larger part of the furnishing for the schooner was done by Camden parties. J. W. Bowers had charge of the plumbing, Carleton, Pascal & Co. furnished the supplies. F. L. Curtis supplied the furniture, carpets, etc., Knowlton Bros. furnished the blocks and all the castings, etc. The blocks were fitted with the patent shieves of the Duplex Roller Bushing Co.
“The model of this schooner was made by Joseph S. Eells of Rockport, and he certainly must have felt proud of his work if he heard the multitude of compliments made regarding the schooner on launching day. The frame was cut in Virginia by E. A. Wentworth of Rockport, who has gotten out so many frames for the Bean schooners.
“This is the 69th vessel built by Mr. Bean, although now Mr. Bean has associated with him his son, Robert L. Bean, who has personal oversight of the construction of this vessel. The firm name is H. M. and R. L. Bean. Both father and son are hustlers, and no doubt many more big ones will be turned out by them in the near future. This vessel cost about $105,000, almost $25,000 more than the John B. Prescott.
“On the evening of the launching a supper was served in the Masonic banquet hall by Mr. Bean and Capt. Crowley to the workmen, the owners, furnishers and their ladies with a few other invited guests. Over 100 sat down to a most appetizing and splendidly served macaroni supper, gotten up by the ladies of the Congregational society. It was an occasion thoroughly enjoyed by all. During the supper Capt. John G. Crowley was presented with a mammoth cake, upon which was an outline miniature of the five-master in fancy frosting. The cake was presented in behalf of the ladies by Judge Robinson in a happy speech. Capt. Crowley responded with his heartfelt thanks. The cake was made by the popular baker, S. Hansen, who also supplied delicious ice cream that accompanied the supper. The usual speeches were omitted, the guests instead enjoying themselves in a social way.”
The above was the birth of the T. Charlton Henry. The following is its demise.
The vessel was carrying 4,100 tons of coal for the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad. It collided in a dense fog with the British steamship Chelston on June 22, 1907. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia: “Neither vessel was seen by the lookout on the other until the steamship and the schooner were no more than a few yards apart. The Chelston rammed a hole in the schooner so big that an automobile might have been driven through it. The schooner settled rapidly, and disappeared from view in about 10 minutes.”
According to Applebee’s unpublished manuscript, it had a crew of 10 aboard. Its letters were KSDH and numbers 145952 and it sank off Fire Island. The crew all were rescued by the Chelston and taken to Norfolk, Virginia.
Capt. John Gorman, who called me, is owner of the Freeport dive boat Lockness, and he got the coodinates for the wreck in 2007 from a fisherman, Richie Kissenger. That same year Gorman made the trip and found what he called “a rubbish pile.” Recently they went to see what was on it. Two divers, Doug Buck of Port Jefferson Station and Andy Favata of Bethpage went searching around the bottom and caught a glimpse of something green in the sand with only about three inches showing. They had found the brass cover to the capstan (a large winch). It was engraved with the name of the vessel, and that it was built in Camden, Maine in 1902.
They were very excited to immediately identify the wreck and we, in Camden, are happy to hear the end of the story.
Barbara F. Dyer has lived all her life, so far, in Camden and is referred to as the unofficial official town historian.