Featured image: the Edward S. Eveleth from Bill Varrell’s book, “Ipswich.”
The Schooner Edward S. Eveleth was built in Essex in 1883, and its home port was Boston. Dr Edward S Eveleth was a graduate of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New York in 1866, and settled in Gloucester after graduating. He died in his home in East Gloucester in 1916 at the age of seventy. He was undoubtedly a descendant of the early Gloucester settler Sylvester Eveleth.
In October 1922, the aging and outdated Edward S. Eveleth was being used as a sand schooner, and rolled over when a wave rushed over her deck and pushed her onto the edge of Steep Hill Beach. Filled with sand, each tide buried her deeper. Her remains were visible for several years.
Sand being hauled to a schooner at Crane Beach. Photo by Townsend, Charles Wendell, 1859
From Beach Grass by Charles Wendell Townsend, written in 1923:
Schooner photo by Dr. Charles Townsend
“On a pleasant summer day when the wind and tide are fair, one may be so fortunate as to see an old high-floating schooner sailing up the mouth of the Ipswich River between the long bar and the beach, or a similar craft negotiating the more dangerous passage into the Essex River. The destination in the former case is the southern end of Plum Island facing the sound, in the latter the southern end of Ipswich beach and dunes on the inner side.
A week or so later the same schooners, taking advantage of the ebb tide, are departing, but now sunk almost to the level of their decks. With a fresh northwest wind they push a great wave before their broad bows and disappear from sight around the end of Cape Ann, south-bound for Boston. They are sand schooners and their captains and crew are spoken of as Sanders.
Captain Charley commands the schooner Edward S. Eveleth, “built with copper fastenings,” for the Gloucester fisheries forty years ago. The captain has been a sander for over fifty years — he began the year Lincoln was shot — and his father for fifty years had followed the same profession. His father said before he died that, in spite of all his labors, there was more sand at Ipswich beach than there was when he began, which confirms my own studies and observations that the beach is extending southward. The remains of an iron spindle on a rock now exposed on the beach at low tide, was, when Captain Charley began, separated from the beach by a good channel.
The sand schooner selects a steep part of a protected beach, comes up to it broadside at high tide and makes fast by means of hawsers and kedges both bow and stern. A long gangplank is run out and extended to the slot from which the sand is dug. Men fill broad and capacious wheelbarrows and run them up to the deck of the vessel, where they dump the loose sand into the hold. ”It is the heaviest cargo there is,” said Captain Charley, “and very dead; bricks are live in comparison.”
Sanders ply their vocation in winter as well as summer. With a fair wind they can make Boston in seven hours. Captain Charley left Boston on Christmas in 1917 and did not get back until the middle of March. For most of the time he was frozen up. ”Why anybody wants to visit the beach and sand hills I can’t see,” said the Captain. “If I didn’t have to, I wouldn’t stay there longer than one minute.”
Alas ! The Edward S. Eveleth has found a grave in the sand and the flowing sea. On an October day in 1922, after she had been filled with sand, a heavy sea, rolling around the point of the dunes, rushed over her decks, and she turned on her beam ends at the edge of the beach. Each tide sucked her deeper into the sand. But it is far better that she ended her days thus than that she sank at sea with loss of life.”
A section of the ship, apparently the broken-off bow stem lies on Steep Hill Beach at the water’s edge. The remainder of the ship is just offshore and its skeleton is occasionally visible underwater at very low tides.
Bow stem of the Evelyth at low tide, March 18, 2020
Anatomy of a schooner bow showing the stem
Read: Annual List of Merchant Vessels of the United States
Wrecks of the schooners - These are photos of two and three-masted schooners, several of which wrecked at Steep Hill Beach, Crane Beach and Plum Island. Wreck of the Watch and Wait, August 24, 1635 - Many ships and lives were lost in the Great Colonial Hurricane, including 21 passengers who had set out from Ipswich on August 21, 1635 on a small bark named "Watch and Wait." As they rounded Cape Ann they were suddenly met by the force of the winds. Wreck of the Lucy M. Collins, August 19, 1891 - When you’re walking on Crane Beach near Steep Hill Coal, you might be surprised to see lumps of coal lying on the sand. This would be quite a mystery were it not for the tragic history of brigs and schooners transporting coal in the 19th century. Wreck of the Lucy […] Wreck of the Falconer, December 17, 1847 - On December 17, 1847 the brig Falconer, loaded with bituminous coal, wrecked at Crane Beach during a fierce winter storm. A dozen of the crew and passengers are buried in a common grave at the Old North Burying Ground. Wreck of the Edward S. Eveleth, October 1922 - In October 1922, the sand schooner Edward S. Eveleth rolled over when a wave rushed over her deck and pushed her onto the edge of Steep Hill Beach. Filled with sand, each tide buried her deeper. Her remains were visible for several years. The skeleton of the hull is just off-shore a short distance from the wreck of the Ada K. Damon. Wreck of the Deposit, December 23, 1839 - Dec. 23, 1839 two days before Christmas a storm caught the schooner "Deposit" on her passage out of Belfast, Maine. Capt. Cotterall was lost, and several of the crew were buried at the Old South Cemetery. Wreck of the Ada K. Damon - Christmas, 1909 witnessed the heaviest storm in many years. The ship was wrecked during the captain's first trip for a load of sand from the plentiful supply on Plum Island. The Spectre Ship of Salem - On the fourth day after the ship left port, the sun came out and in the distance could be seen the same ship sailing effortlessly back into port directly into the wind. As the Noah’s Dove approached, its passengers including the young couple were visible but ghost-like. The shipwrecks at Ipswich Bar - The Ipswich Bar has a long history of tragic shipwrecks. Its swift currents and shallow waters are especially dangerous during storms, and many ships have gone aground. The hull of the Ada K. Damon sits on Steep Hill Beach. The Ipswich lighthouse - In 1881, a 45-foot cast iron lighthouse was erected at Crane Beach, replacing an earlier structure. By 1913, the sand had shifted so much that the lighthouse was 1,090 feet from the high water mark. Use of the light was discontinued in 1932 and in 1939 the Coast Guard floated the entire lighthouse to Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard. The Great Colonial Hurricane and the wreck of the Angel Gabriel - In August 1635, the 240-ton Angel Gabriel sank in Pemaquid Bay after sailing into the most intense hurricane in New England history. Among the survivors were members of the Cogswell, Burnham and Andrews families, who settled in an area of Ipswich known as Chebacco. The ”October Gale” of 1841 - In the latter part of September, 1841, was a long, unbroken spell of uncomfortable weather, which culminated in a violent and cold storm of wind, snow and rain on the night of October 2, continuing four days. Hurricanes and winter storms - Featured image: Union Street in Ipswich after Hurricane Carol. Our friend Bill Sargent reminded me that Massachusetts has the highest probability of all of the states to be hit by an ocean storm, when you include hurricanes and nor’easters. Here are a few stories…