The Kittyhawk Mystery

They took the body out of the water and reported to the station.

Baltimore Sun – January 8, 1880

The Kittyhawk Mystery—Commissioner Rogers yesterday held and examination in the case of the three Manilla seamen of the wrecked schooner M & E Henderson, with a cargo of phosphate from Bull river, bound to Baltimore. The men have been held in jail in Baltimore some weeks pending the clearing up of the mystery of the wreck. The authorities at Washington, through the officer of the station at Kittyhawk Point, on the coast of North Carolina, where the wreck occurred on December 1, have made a searching investigation, with a view to discover whether there was any foul play. The three men now under arrest were washed ashore on parts of the wreck in an exhausted state at the time of the disaster. Since then the body of the captain, Silas Swain, has been thrown ashore by the waves. Letters from L.B. Midgett, Jr., keeper of the life-saving station, and General Superintendent Kimball, are in possession of Commissioner Rogers and District Attorney Stirling describing the finder of the body of the captain by four huntsmen in the water inside of New Inlet or Body Island, about 35 miles north of Hatteras lighthouse. They took the body out of the water and reported to the station. They found no marks of violence upon it, except from being in the water, by which the face was disfigured and the hands partly so. The body was 5 feet 10 inches in height. On the right arm were the letters S. A. V. S. and on the left arm S. A. S. The dress on the body was an overcoat, feet, two shirts, two pairs pants, drawers, and boots on feet. In the pockets were a $10 bill on the National Bank of Cortland, N.Y., a pistol, pocket-knife, key, and a telegram, as follows:

“Baltimore, Md. 10-19, 1879—Received at 4 P.M., D’s and D. To Silas Swain, Gloucester, New Jersey. Come Monday afternoon. E. H. Cranmer. Paid.”

Commissioner Rogers has received a number of letters from relatives of Capt. Swain and the first mate, Prentiss, at Boston, Massachussets, inquiring if any discoveries have been made in the case. The captain and mate are represented as men of high character and good seamen. The witnesses examined yesterday were Walter Sooy, Capt. Thomas C. Scull, mate, and M. Williams, cook, of the schooner, Kately, Robinson, and Capt. Theolph Vanguilder, of the Garside. The witnesses while on board these vessels saw the Henderson schooner at 4 P.M., November 30, off Hatteras, bound up northerly. Capt. Vanguilder testified, like the others, that he had seen the M. & E. Henderson before, and knew her. She was party off and partly on the wind, ten miles off Hatteras. There was a stiff breeze, cloudy, but not bad at all. He did not think she forged ahead more than twelve knots an hour up the beach from 4 P.M. to 5 A.M. on December 1. If the wind held all night she could have got to Body Island at 5 A.M. and it may be that the wreck there found was the wreck of the Henderson. The vessel witness saw was “yawing” about as if she was not properly managed, but as if someone was in charge who did not know anything about what he was doing. He did not think a vessel would have been in any unusual danger at that time if properly managed. If she missed stays she could have recovered in five minutes.

At the close of the testimony the commissioner said an officer of the government was making a complete investigation of the affair, and he would remand the men until his report could be made. This was due to the government and to the prisoners. The named of the men are Anetta, Pilloria and Lopez. Mr. J. K. Shott was their counsel.


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