Mary Celeste Theories
.Down to the Other Mary Celeste Theories By Charles B. Driscoll Sea INTEREST In the mystery of the Mary Celeste continues w mamiest itself among readers of this feature. I have received more solutions of the mystery during the recent hot weather than at any other time since the fate of the famous brig was first mentioned in this series. Since several good letters on the subject are short, I have decided to devote this week's space to four separate solutions. 1 Miss Doris Brodeur, Worcester, Mass., has a short and mappy solution of the mystery. She doesn't attempt to aiswer every question that Ib& arisen about the vessel end her crew since the Mary Celeste was found at sea, all ails set and nobody aboard, tut she disposes of the living people connected with the ship in a gory and thorough going manner. Here is her letter: Another Theory. This is what I think haD- pened on board the "Mary Ce-'este." When the ship left New York, November 7, 1872, unknown to anyone, an escaped convict was stowed away in her hold. The convict, crazed with hunger and thirst, comes one night, maddened. Picking up an iron rod he advances cautiously behind the man on the watch, and kills him in a single blow. Then he flings him into the sea. This fiend then goes into Mrs. Brigg's Cabin and kills her and baby Joan, and picking up their bodies, throws them into the yawl. One by one he kills the crew. Some lie throws into the sea, others he puts in the yawl. The last nan to be murdered is the captain. With a blow he cashes out his brains and throws him in the hold, i The blood from the rod drips upon the deck, thus adding an other item to the mystery, ypon second thought the con-jict decides to put the captain's body in the yawl also. Stumbling over the body, he damages a barrel of alcohol. When the body is in the boat, he picks up an axe, but weak from exertion and hunger, his first blow just cuts a slash into the side of the "Mary Celeste." His second blow does no better, but his third and fourth are successful. Down into the sea the yawl falls with, her ghastly crew. Looking over the side, the convict loses his balance and falls after the yawl. Days later the "Dei Gratia" found this vessel, manned by no one, with only bloodstains, a few slashes, and a missing yawl for clews. From Canada. William Bamber, Winnipeg, Manitoba, has a theory with much less violence and no bloodshed in it. He writes: In solving the mystery of the Mary Celeste there are two facts to build upon. The first that can not be ignored, is the grooves cut along the ship's bows. These were put there for a purpose, being too regular to have been caused by accident. The ventilation theory will not stand, as holes bored by an auger would serve the purpose much better and be an easier job. The second fact is the last entry on the ship's slate. "Six miles off an island of. the Azores." Other facts mentioned are but details, not clues, and are not significant, for they might have happened anywhere at any time. The Captain, in need of something obtainable from this island (or his wife wishing a change of scenery) ran in a little too close, lightly grounded in shallow water and could not get off. Knowing that if his ship keeled over as the tide ebbed, the cargo would be displaced, and other damage occur, the Captain sought some system of props by which she could be kept on an even keel. Hav- HE ADVANCED CAUTIOUSLY. ing only timbers of a given length on board, he ordered shallow grooves cut along each side of her bows, at a height from the bed of the shallows sufficient to accommodate the timber. Speed being necessary, both grooves were cut at the same time. In the tool kit, there would be no two chisels of the same size, so one man used a l1, 4-inch chisel and the other man a 1. The ends of the props were then pushed down to the sea bottom, the top ends biting into the groove, thus insuring an upright position for the ship. This being successfully accomplished, there was nothing to do now but wait until the flow of the tide floated her free. In the meanwhile, the hatch cover was removed and the hold and cargo inspected for any possible damage. The Captain, or mate, having use for a little alcohol, took some with him and left the hatch open for ventilation. The ship's company then rowed ashore to indulge in a little recreation, the Captain taking instruments and papers for safe keeping. Something now happened to distract their attention from the predicament they were in. Seeking fresh water, fowl, -ruit, or vegetables, the time passed quickly, and the flow of the tide, helped by an offshore breeze, floated the Mary Celeste free, before the Captain or crew expected it. The complete disappearance of the ship's company can be explained in several ways. Here are two workable solutions. The alarm being given that the Mary Celeste was free, the ship's company jumped into the boat and rowed out to her, but with the ship slowly drifting out, they could not quite catch up, and in this manner were enticed far out to sea, and with night falling on heavy seas, they were lost. The keg of alcohol might have been opened by the mate or one of the crew of the Dei Gratia, when they were inspecting their prize. Once free, the Mary Celeste drifted away quickly, leaving the ship's company marooned on the island (which for the purpose of this solution, was uninhabited). After thinking things over, (or for some obscure reason) the Captain decided to try and reach one of the larger islands and obtain help. Putting off in the boat, and getting some distance from shore they were swamped or lost, and left the readers of this series of articles to puzzle their brains, and go to bed with a headache. From Oregon. Frank W. Morse of Portland, Oregon, writes in with some information tending to support the theory that pirates murdered or set afloat the crew and passengers of the Mary Celeste. This theory, often advanced, is weakened by some of the undisputed facts in the case. The Mary Celeste carried a cargo of alcohol, which was almost intact when the ship was found by the Dei Gratia, 10 days after the last entry had been made in her log. Pirates would be likely to take the cargo, either by transshipping it, or by putting a prize crew aboard the captured vessel and sailing her to some port at which there was a market for pirated goods. However, no theory of the Mary Celeste is perfect, and we must accept many solutions that have holes in them. I give you Mr. Morse's letter: I have read and re-read all of your articles about the Mary Celeste. The year 1877, 1 was with a freight train composed of 21 wagons drawn by oxen. We were freighting from Bismarck, now North Dakota. One of the drivers was an old sailor. We called him Mark Twain. He told many stories of the sea and had been one of the crew of the Dei Gratia. I will tell you his story as nearly as I can remember it. He claimed the disaster to i be the work of pirates, though at the time the Mary Celeste was picked up by the Dei Gratia, it was a mystery. After he quit the sea and between 1872 and 1877, he read in a New York paper about a party that was exploring or was shipwrecked and landed on an island in that vicinity and found a number of skulls and bones in about the same place. A child's skull was also found. They had perished for the want cf food and water. This led him to believe that it was the work of pirates. About the gash in the sides above the water-line, I do not remember that he ever mentioned that. I worked in Grant Smith's shipyard about one year. During the World war they built wood ships here and I afterwards worked in the steel yards at Vancouver about one year. So, I know something about ship building. One each side of a steel ship there is a bilge keel near the water line. This '-.eel is about 10 inches wide and extends along like a shelf. It starts about 20 feet from the stem and runs back to within 30 feet of the stern. Could it be possible that Captain Briggs contemplated installing a bilge keel or was It the work of pirates? I think it was the latter. The mystery will never be solved but to me the piracy theory Is most acceptable. From Massachusetts. There is Just room to add another chort letter from a Worcester, Mass., reader. He is Anthony Derlsh, and this is hia solution: I follow your articles about the sea and find them most interesting. I am offering to you my conclusions -.of the Mary Celeste mystery. The Mary Celeste left New York, carrying a cargo of alcohol, bound for Genoa. She was manned by a crew of seven, captained by Captain Briggs, whose wife and baby also went along. Unfortunately, the crew was one that could not keep its head during distress or emergency as the finding of the Mary Celeste wholly abandoned proved. The Mary Celeste was favored with perfect weather from the time it left the port of New York until the tragedy occurred. The crew, having little to do and being restless, got at the alcohol and started drinking. Captain Briggs and his wife and daughter were on deck, wholly unaware of the crew's laziness and drinking. Captain Briggs was brought off his guard by the ideal shipshape manner in which the voyage was progressing. And this brings us to the sorrowful climax of an altogether pleasant voyage. Perhaps the man on watch was at the barrel, perhaps he was altogether to drunk to see or care which way th Mary Celeste was heading, but, any- way, the Mary Celeste struck something adrift there on the sea that cut into her bows. . The crew, drunk, perhaps some were inexperienced, lost their heads when the crash occurred. They demanded that Captain Briggs abandon the ship, throwing the chronometer, sextant, and ship's papers into his hands. The Captain, fearing for his wife and baby daughter, was forced to abandon ship, perhaps even on his wife's plea. In their hurry to get away, some member of the crew cut away the yawl whose rope had become snarled, with an axe, explaining the gash on the rail. This gash on the rail proves that excitment prevailed when the Mary Celeste was abandoned. The set sails proved that the weather was perfect. That they did not board the ship again, seeing she was afloat, helps, along with the broken head of the alcohol barrel, to prove that the crew was drunk and the Captain at their mercy. (Copyright, 1932, Charles B. Driscoll).