Articles relating to the Mary Celeste

Articles relating to the Mary Celeste

The Mystery of the Mary Celeste

(Digby Courier)

Capt. Oliver E. Deveau died at his home in Brighton on Tuesday, the 10th inst,
aged 76 years. The deceased was born at Cape St. Mary’s, moving to Brighton
when he was a young man. He was an old time sailor, a thorough officer and a
man capable of sailing a ship to any part of the world. His last voyage was to
Cuba some four or five years ago when he was obliged to leave his ship owing
to illness and return home. He is survived by a widow, one son, James Deveau,
who holds a responsible position with the telephone company in Springfield,
Mass., and two daughters, Mrs. Jessie Melanson, of Plymouth, Mass., and Miss
Addie A., at home. The funeral was held from his late home on Friday with
interment in the St. Croix cemetery at Plympton. The Courier extends its
deepest sympathy to the bereaved ones.

The death of Capt. Deveau recalls to memory the mystery of the brigt. Mary
Celeste which has called forth during the past 40 years many columns of
newspaper stories, magazine articles and even dime novels. The facts of the
strange affair are as follows:

On Nov. 15th, Capt. Oliver E. Deveau sailed from New York for Gibraltar, chief
officer of the brigt. Del Gratia. After a rough passage of 26 days they
reached the Western Isles after which the weather became very moderate. On
Dec. 4th, in latitude 38 20 N., and longitude 17.15 W., they fell in with
another brigantine which was under moderate sail and appeared to be steering a
very peculiar course. They bore down on her and found the strange acting
vessel to be the brigt. Mary Celeste, of New York, abandoned. She was boarded
and Capt. Deveau was placed in charge. The captain of the Del Gratia furnished
him with two men which he styled as captain and cook. These three, working
night and day, took the strange vessel to port, reaching Gibraltar Dec. 13th,
making the run of 600 miles in nine days in heavy weather, working their 200
ton craft successfully but under great difficulties. She was bound to Genoa,
Italy, with $80,000 worth of alcohol.

While all kinds of stories have been imagined as to what became of her
original captain and crew and why they abandoned their vessel, the whole
affair still remains a mystery.

Capt. Deveau has been interviewed by hundreds of newspaper men during the past
forty years. He related the entire story to the editor of the Courier in the
cabin of the old tern schr. Xebec of Bear River more than thirty years ago,
when Capt. Deveau was chief officer of that vessel and the editor "a small
cabin boy."

It was thought that Capt. Deveau and his men would be well paid for his heroic
work in saving the Mary Celeste and her valuable cargo, but the whole affair
got involved in litigation and the captain’s share became a small one.

The captain of the strange vessel had his wife and child on board besides his
crew of eight men. The sewing machine had been recently used. The captain’s
clothing and watch were hanging up in his state room. The vessel’s boat and
papers were gone. The entire crew appeared to have left in great haste taking
practically nothing with them. Marine men from all parts of the world put
forth different ideas as to why the vessel was abandoned, but Capt. Deveau
could always explain by referring to some circumstance in connection with the
way the vessel was found that they were wrong. Capt. Deveau himself could not
account for their strange disappearance, nor could anyone else from that day
until the present time, and we very much doubt if the mystery will ever be

Berwick Register,
Wednesday Evening, December 15, 1915
A Mystery Ship.

Mr. Clarence Ward, in his Old Times articles in the St. John Globe,
unearthed an 1852 newspaper account of a mystery ship that was found off
Gaspe. He says:

The case of the "Marie Celeste," found abandoned in the Mediterranean
some years ago, with everything on board in order, even to prepared food
on the cabin table, and in pots in the gallery, and every evidence of
peaceable occupation by officers and men, carried on without
interruption of any kind, boats in place, sails and rigging in good
order, but not a sign of officers or crew on board, has ever remained an
ocean mystery. One of our city papers of February 28, 1852, contains an
account of a somewhat similar case, occurring off our own shores, except
that in this case the vessel had suffered some slight damage.

Miramichi February 23: - The courier from Perce to Restigouche, has
informed me that when he left below, there was a large barque in the ice
off Gaspe. The barque had her fore-top-sail and jib set. Two men by
means of a small skiff, got on board the barque, and found her laden
with red pine. There were sixty bags of bread and twenty barrels of
four, also the ship’s papers on board. There appears nothing wrong with
her but the loss of her rudder, and part of bow-sprit. A crew of men are
going on board, with the intention of working her out of the ice, and
taking her to some port in Nova Scotia, or Newfoundland; if they cannot
clear her, to remain on board till the warm weather sets in. There was
not a soul to be found on board, yet strange to say, none of the boats
belonging to the ship were gone, all being in their proper place, so
that what has become of the crew remains a mystery.

Berwick Register,
June 27, 1934
One Of The Greatest Mysteries Of The Sea

Why was the Nova Scotia vessel Marie Celeste deserted by her officers
and crew in December, 1872?

There is not one word in her log-book or elsewhere to give any reason
why the ship should be deserted; and the finding of the vessel some time
later, still intact and under sale, but without a soul on board, has
given rise to one of the greatest sea mysteries within the memory of
living men.

After sailing from New York early in November, 1872, the Marie Celeste
was not sighted by any other vessel until December 5, when the Del
Gratia which had left New York on November 15 for Gibraltar, hailed the
ship but got no answer. Men climbed on board, to find the vessel
deserted. The only living thing was a cat contentedly sleeping on a

The Marie Celeste had sailed about a week earlier than the Del Gratia,
also bound for Gibraltar, but when found, about 600 miles from that
port, was actually sailing in the opposite direction.

The Marie Celeste – built at Advocate Harbor, Nova Scotia – was a
staunch brigantine of 236 tons burden, and seemed to be in excellent
condition when found in mid-Atlantic without a soul on board.

Everything about the deck was in good order. There was not a trace of
trouble. Most of her sails were neatly furled, and the ship was sailing
off the wind though not steering a steady course.

All the captain’s effects – clothing, books, etc. – were found in the
cabin. There was an entry in the log-book dated November 24 and an
entry on the log-slate dated November 25, showing that they had sighted
the Island of St. Mary (Azores).

The boarding party did not find the ship’s register or similar papers
concerning the ship, but only some letters and account books. The
dishes and the remains of a meal were still on the table in the cabin.
A dress which the captain’s wife was making for her small daughter, who
accompanied them, was found unfinished in the captain’s cabin.

The crew’s clothing was all left in the forecastle – their oilskins,
boots and even their pipes, as if they had left in a great hurry. The
ashes in the galley’s range were still warm, yet not a living soul was
found on board and no ship’s boat was visible anywhere on the ocean.
Here, surely, was a mystery if ever there was one.

The Vice-Admiralty Court of Gibraltar investigated the case. Enquiries
were made far and wide, while the authorities waited anxiously for word
of the missing captain, his wife, daughter and crew. But no word ever
came. No word has come to this day. Not one of the missing men was
ever seen again.

Berwick Register,
November 23, 1938
The Story of The Mary Celeste

(By C. W. Moffatt in Maritime Advocate and Busy East)

The Story of the Nova Scotia brigantine “Mary Celeste,” one of the
mystery ships of the Atlantic, has been written and dramatized but to
this day the mystery surrounding her remains unsolved.

The ship was built by Joshua Dewis, of Spencer’s Island, Cumberland
County, and launched in 1860 as the “Amazon.” Seven years later she
went ashore on the rugged coast of Cape Breton Island near Port Morien.
Refloated and repaired she sailed again only to meet a similar fate on
the coast of Maine.

An American syndicate purchased the grounded ship, made her seaworthy
and changed her name to the “Mary Celeste.” Taken to New York she was
loaded with alcohol and set sail for Genoa on November 7th, 1872. Her
departure was well remembered by the people on the dock at New York that
November morning for there stood with them a seventeen-year-old girl who
had recently married First Mate Albert G. Richardson, a native of
Maine. With tears in her eyes she stood there waving a fond goodbye to
her husband of less than a month. On board the “Mary Celeste” Captain
Benjamin Briggs stood on the bridge looking out to sea while his wife
and young daughter joined the First Mate in waving farewell to the
lonely girl on the dock. As the brigantine spread her sails and
disappeared from sight the spectators and the young bride on the dock
turned away little knowing that they had seen the crew of eight and the
Captain’s wife and daughter for the last time.

On December 4th, twenty-eight days later, the Captain of the “Dei
Gratia” sighted the “Mary Celeste” off the Canary Islands. She was
drifting in a light breeze with sails set and apparently no one at the
wheel. The “Dei Gratia” sent out a boat and the Captain and members of
the crew boarded the brigantine. They found everything ship-shape with
the exception of a loose hatch-cover which was stained with blood. Near
by lay a sword smeared with blood. There was a broken rail, but
everything else was in first class condition. In the Captain’s quarters
breakfast was on the table untouched. The sextant and chronometer was
missing. The ship’s log revealed that the last entry had been made on
November 24th at noon, but offered no solution to the enigma.

The Captain of the “Dei Gratia” was not troubled by the mystery, the
seas abound with them, so he took the “Mary Celeste” into Gibraltar
where she was manned by a new crew.

After the ship had docked at Gibraltar many stories were circulated as
to what had happened. Since then many explanations of the mystery have
been offered. The most generally accepted belief is that on some
morning between the 25th of November and the 4th of December, while the
“Mary Celeste” was sailing along quietly and the captain and his family
were at breakfast, there was a terrific explosion. This explosion may
have resulted from an accumulation of alcoholic fumes in the hold. To
account for the blood on the hatch cover and the sword, it is thought
that a sailor must have been near the hatch with a sword in his hand
when the explosion threw the hatch cover up at him causing the sword to
pierce his body. It is further supposed that the suddenness of the
explosion created a panic and in a few moments everyone including the
Captain and his family were crowded into a single boat and lowered into
the sea, the rail having been broken in the rush. As they pulled away
from the “Mary Celeste” with great haste expecting she would instantly
be blown to the winds by further gas explosions, a stiff breeze sprang
up and carried her away. Too late they realized their mistake. They
could see her in the distance sailing fast away. With the boat
overcrowded and a gale rising, they presumably all met death by

After she had been manned by a new crew at Gibraltar and delivered her
cargo of alcohol at Genoa the “Mary Celeste” returned to the United
States. For the succeeding twelve years she was idle for want of
cargo. In 1885 she sailed from Boston, Massachusetts, for Port au
Prince and was wrecked off the coast of Haiti. $30,000 cargo insurance
is said to have been collected by her owners.

There were eight persons beside the captain’s wife and daughter on board
the “Mary Celeste” as she sailed from New York on her ill-fated voyage.
They were: Capt. Benjamin Briggs, his wife and daughter, of Marion,
Massachusetts; Mate Albert G. Richardson, a native of Maine; Andrew
Gilling and Edward William head, of New York City; Volkert Lorenzen,
Arian Harbens, Bos Lorengo and Gottlieb Goodschaad, all of Germany.

Today the only authentic painting of the brigantine “Amazon” or “Mary
Celeste” hangs in the Fort Beausejour Museum, which is located near
Sackville, New Brunswick. The question of what took place on board the
“Mary Celeste” on that fall day, sixty-six years ago remains unanswered,
a dark mystery of the sea.