White Bell grounded by hurricane

In 1928, White Bell grounded by hurricane off Beaver Harbour
Written by P. Dale Wright

    Fall is a common time for hurricanes in the Bay of Fundy.

    In 1928, a four-masted vessel, loaded with lathes, her deck piled high, was sailing down the coast. Her bow went under, her deck and sails were lashed by wind, rain and spray.

    She was making a run for it to seek shelter in Beaver Harbour. She was known as the "White Bell" and her master was Captain Pike.

    Upon reaching Beaver Harbour, the crew dropped two huge anchors, hoping the storm would pass them by. Towards evening, the wind started shifting in a southern direction.

    Oscar Eldridge's home is on the Beach Road. He was looking out the window at the White Bell. His young daughter, Myrtle, heard him say "she will be on the rocks by morning."

    During the night, the storm and her crew were at the mercy of the storm. Before morning, she started dragging her anchors. A short time later, a huge wave hit the White Bell, tossing her on the ledges.

    When morning broke, she had a gash in her side roughly eight feet by 15 feet. The harbour and beaches were covered with lathes.

    Captain Pike had the hole patched and a tug bought down from Saint John in an attempt to get her off before winter set in.

    On a high tide, the tug hooked on, but she tore a bit from the White Bell's deck, leaving another hole. It was then decided to unload her.

    Captain Willard Wadlin, with his two-master called the Dorothy K, was hired to transport the lathes to a larger vessel anchored in the harbour.

    It was also decided to leave the White Bell on the rocks until the spring off 1929, when she would catch the high-running tides to help lift her off.

    They filled her cargo holes full of hogsheads, which were empty and sealed. If the patch broke when they got her off, she would not sink.

    During the winter months, some of the crew went home to visit. Maurice Eldridge and wife, Ida's house was on the Beach Road near the White Bell. Some of the crew enjoyed their hospitality.

    In the spring, the tug came back and was successful in pulling the White Bell off the rocks.

    Captain Pike was a married man. His home was in Cambridge, Mass., but was born in Newfoundland. During the winter, he went back to visit his mother. She did not know him - he had been gone for 21 years.

    A crew member, Thomas Comeau helped entertain the crew. He played the guitar and sang.

    Frederick Fields went home and never came back.

    Other crew members were: Walter Sprague, Percival McKinley and Walter Brewster.

    A short time after this incident, the White Bell was carrying a load of coal down the Maine coast. She went aground below Lubec on the ledges and was lost.

    The Dorothy K was also under sail. When the wind died out, her engine would not start and she was lost down by Moose Island near Beaver Harbour.

    I would sincerely like to thank the ladies and gentlemen who gave me this information. They were only children when this took place but, to them, it seemed like yesterday. They have vivid memories of the White Bell.

SOURCE: "The Saint Croix Courier" - written by permission.

The White Bell on the rocks in front of Ernie & Jennie Cross' residence.

    The White Bell in front of Oscar & Mildred Eldridge's residence on the Beach Road. "The Lane", as it's always been called in Beaver Harbour, is shown starting in the bottom right corner and, following the fence post, it goes down to the Beach Road. It is on "The Lane" where Oscar & Mildred's daughter Myrtle, or "Honey" as most in the Harbour know her as, now lives. Memories of the night the White Bell are forever etched in her memory. As always, I am thankful to Honey for sharing her memories with me over the years. Also, thank-you to Dale Wright for writing down the story of the White Bell for future generations to remember.

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