It was Friday, the 17th of March, 1882, and my Irish-born 3rd Great-Grandfather Dennis Hessian was on board the Schooner Victor, anchored out on Georges Bank in the Atlantic. They were part of the Gloucester, Massachusetts fishing fleet, a community whose losses since January of that year were 9 vessels and 102 men. By night's end, two more ships and 24 names would be added to the tally of dead and lost.
I have no available numbers on how many fishing vessels were out on the Bank when the gale arrived, or the time that the storm began, though it did last until Saturday, as later reports would indicate. The majority of ships would have their decks swept of everything, lose their anchors when the lines snapped, and have their dories smashed and damaged, or have the rigging torn or ripped away. For the crews of the FV Northerner and Victor, all would be lost to them.
"The cries of drowning men were heartrending"
Captain Naels of the schooner Pioneer entered Halifax, Nova Scotia on the 21st, and gave reports of the gale that had stricken the fleet. His vessel had lost two men overboard, but another wave had come along and washed them back onto the deck. He was witness to "two other fishing vessels lying near go down with all hands". With his own crew attempting to save their ship, they were unable to give assistance to the drowning men of the sinking boats.
Given Up as Lost
Though there were witnesses to the two ships going down, their names would not be known until all the other vessels were accounted for. Even then, they would not be given up as lost until April, when four weeks had passed since the gale (the usual round trip fishing time to the Bank being three weeks). The 14 April 1882 edition of the Cape Ann Weekly Advertiser announced the losses of the ships, as well as the names of the twenty-four men who perished during the storm.
The following is a list of those men lost on that day, with notes or corrections in [ ].
Patrick Fanning (aka Charles Whaley), master, of Gloucester, left a widow and 6 children
John Welch, of Gloucester, left a widow and two children
Martin Simmons, of Gloucester, left a widow
Dennis Hessian, of Gloucester left a widow and three children [he also had 2 adult dau's from 1st wife]
John Ryan, left a family at the Strait of Canso
Michael Tohey, left a family back at Strait of Canso
John Murphy, of Newburyport
Frank Dixon, of Nova Scotia
George Powers, of Nova Scotia
John Callinan [Callihan], of Nova Scotia
William Perrill, of Nova Scotia
Thomas Eylward, of Nova Scotia
Isaac H. Goodwin, master, of Pubnico, Nova Scotia, left a widow and three children
Israel Goodwin, of Pubnico, left a widow and four children
Amos Goodwin, of Argyle, Nova Scotia, left a widow and family
Robert Lennox, of Pubnico, N.S.
Foster Gaylon [Gayton], of Pubnico, N.S.
George Larkin, of Nova Scotia
Daniel McComiskey, of Nova Scotia
Thomas J Morris, of Nova Scotia
Addison M Larkin, of Nova Scotia
James Malone, of Nova Scotia
Thomas Wilson, of Nova Scotia
Edward A. Gilson, steward, of Belfast, Maine, left a widow and seven children (4 of them adults)
my blog page on: Hessian - Gloucester, Massachusetts
Town of Gloucester's Lost at Sea page on their website
Boston Herald (3/21/1882; 3/23/82), Boston Journal (4/8/82)