Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fearless Females - Day Eleven - Loss of the SS Arctic

Yes, I'm behind -- and I skipped a few posts. I got behind on posting last week, so elected to skip the posts for which I didn't have some easy answers. I may go back and revisit the post on religion (day ten), but for now, onward.

From The Accidental Genealogist: "Did you have any female ancestors who died young or from tragic or unexpected circumstances? Describe and how did this affect the family?"

I've already told the story of Marion Constance Greenleaf who died young, from Typhoid Fever at age 29. This story is about Marion's great-grandmother, my 4th great-grandmother, Jane McFarlane Stone (1793-1854).

I'm embarrassed to admit that I'd never heard of the SS Arctic until about a year ago.

Jane McFarlane Stone, her husband, merchant Asaph Stone, and their youngest daughter, Mary all died September 27, 1854. Some time ago now, I stumbled across a resource in Ancestry, Simon Stone genealogy : ancestry and descendants of Deacon Simon Stone of Watertown, Mass., 1320-1926, and in looking up my Stone Family ancestors, discovered that Adeline Emma Stone's father's father, Asaph (1786-1854) perished, along with his wife and daughter, on the steamship Arctic.

The passage in the Simon Stone genealogy reads (under the entry for Asaph Stone):
"After a year of European travel, Mr. Stone, his wife and their youngest daughter, all perished while homeward bound from Liverpool in the tragic sinking of the steamer Arctic off the coast of Newfoundland, 27 Sept. 1854. Of the two hundred and thirty-seven passengers in the ill-fated vessel only twenty-one were saved, the crew seizing most of the boats."--pp.306-307.

I read a little about the event and the Arctic after that. The Wikipedia entry for the SS Arctic points to 2 books written -- one in the early 1954, and one in 2002. I've read Women and Children Last (1954), and still hope to move on to The Sea Shall Embrace Them: The Tragic Story of the Steamship Arctic (2002). [Wikipedia can be a decent starting point for research when an entry has citations/bibliography.]

I've also looked at headlines from the New York Times near the incident. I forget, with today's era of instant information, that news did not always travel as quickly as in 2009. The New York Times has a series of small articles reporting no news of the Arctic, and counting its days delayed from arriving in port until news finally arrives of the ship's sinking. One of the earliest articles I noted was Oct. 4, 1854, which states (in part):
"The non-arrival of this vessel creates some interest in business circles ; but no alarm, owing to the heavy weather which she no doubt encountered on her voyage."--"The Steamer Arctic", New York Times, Oct. 4, 1854, p. 4.

By Oct. 9, 1854, the Times speculates that the ship, then 20-days out from Liverpool, might have met with mechanical failure and returned to England, with more time anticipated before hearing anything as to the ship's fate.[1]

It is finally on Oct. 11,1 854, that the Times reports "Loss of the Arctic : Collision Between the Steamer and a Propeller off Cape Race : Apprehensions of the Loss of all but Thirty-two Persons."[2]

In no way can I imagine what this event must have been like for those aboard. I think at the very least what I can do at present is be one more person who knows this happened, who has a personal connection to the event, and will not forget it in her own lifetime -- for what that's worth.

The Stones are listed in the Times as Mrs. Stone & daughter; Mr. A. Stone.

[1] "The Missing Steamer", New York Times, Oct. 9, 1854. Available online. ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Accessed 11 Mar. 2009.

[2] "Loss of the Arctic", New York Times, Oct. 11, 1854. Available online. ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Accessed 11 Mar. 2009.

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