Monday, July 26, 2010

The Crew

The seven-man crew serving under Captain Benjamin Spooner Briggs consisted of the following men:

First Mate ~ Albert G. Richardson of Stockton Springs, ME. According to the crew list, signed up at New York, 4 Nov 1872 by H. E. Jenks, Deputy U.S. Shipping Commissioner. Richardson was 28 years of age, 5'8" tall, with light complexion, brown hair and blue eyes; wages $50. He was born in Charleston, MA to Theodore & Elizabeth Richardson and had a brother, Lyman, who was a sea captain. It appears he was married.

Second Mate ~ Andrew Gilling, age 25, was born in New York and was 5'8"; wages $35. It appears he was not married.

Steward & Cook ~ Edward Wm. Head, age 23, was born in New York and was described as 5'8" tall, with light complexion and hair; wages $40. Captain Winchester said of him that, "The steward was a white man who belonged to Williamsburg, where he was respected by all who knew him, and he had just married when the brig sailed." In the engagement book of the United States Sipping Company, under date 5 Nov 1872, his address is given as 45 Newell Street, Greenpoint (a section of Brooklyn). Wife's name was Emma J.

Four Germans serving as seamen. The address for all in the engagement book appears as 19 Thames St., New York:

Gottlieb Goodschaad (23) ~ 5'8" tall; light hair & complexion; $30 (also listed as Goodschall) 

Arian Martens (35) ~ 5'8" tall, light hair & complexion; $30
Boz Lorenzen (23) ~ 5'9" tall, light hair & complexion; $30Volkert Lorenzen (29) ~ 5'9" tall, light hair & complexion; $30

Reference to the character of the three members of the crew is made in a communication No. 142 dated 4 Apr 1873 from the United States Consul Sprague at Gibraltar to to the Department of State at Washington.

"I beg to enclose a copy of a communication which I have this day received from Prussia, asking for information regarding some of the missing crew of the derelict Mary Celeste. It is somewhat gratifying to learn three out of the five men composing the crew of the Mary Celeste were known to the writer of that communication as being peaceable and first-class sailors, as it further diminishes the possibility that any violence was committed on board of this vessel by her crew."

Following is a copy of the letter mentioned by Consul Sprague:

Dear Sir:

Please excuse me of writing these few lines of information regarding two sailors (brothers) belonging to the American Brig Mary Celeste, their mothers and their wives which to know in which condition he ship has been found, whether the boats were gone or not, whether the log book has been found on board or not, so as to find out on what day they left the ship, and further do they like to know whether any signs of disturbance have been found on board. I know three of the sailors personally and know them to be peaceable and first-class sailors. Please favor us with an answer and let us know your opinion why they left said Brig.

I remain, yours, truly T.A. Nickelsen,
direct Utersum, auf Fohr, Prussia via Hamburg

Note this letter does not refer to any of the sailors by name. In any case, the reference to "two sailors, brothers" likely applies to the Lorenzens, Volkert and Boz. During the testimony given at Gibraltar, mention is made that, "There were four berths in the four-castle with bedding, but only three sea-chests" with the explanation by Mate Deveau that, "often two sailors chum for one chest." It would be natural for the Lorenzen brothers to do this.

Further evidence as to the character of the crews comes from a letter written by Captain Briggs, just two days before his vessel left its East River pier, wherein he states, "We seem to have a very good Mate and Steward," and four days later (7 November) Mrs. Briggs writes to her husband's mother, "Benjamin thinks we have got a pretty peaceable set this time all around, if they continue as they have begun," adding, with characteristic Yankee caution, "Can't tell yet how smart they are."

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