The Supposed Murder at Sea

Philadelphia Inquirer – December 15, 1879

As will be seen on telegraphic columns, another of the crew of the schooner M. and E. Henderson, which was wrecked on Kitty Hawk Beach, has been arrested in Baltimore. The captain, Silas Swain, of this city, and the two mates and the steward lost their lives. A brother of the captain is of the opinion that he was murdered by his crew, who were colored. The vessel was bound from Bull river, S.C., for Baltimore, with a cargo of phosphate rock. The motive for the murder is supposed to have been robbery, as the captain had collected $400 at Savanna.

With regard to this affair Commissioner Gibbons, of this city, has sent the following letter to the United States authorities in Baltimore:

“Captain E. A. Cranmer reports to me that he saw some of the Kitty Hawk people, the place where the vessel came ashore, and they report to him that no officer was washed up on the beach. Three men escaped to shore from the vessel, and they are now in Baltimore. Telegraph from life-saving station says that no officers have appeared yet. The vessel was wrecked on the 30th <illegible>. I am informed that Kelsey & Co. of Gay and Pratt streets, Baltimore, can give some information in relation to these men. Two of the men are from Manilla, and speak no English. One man is from the West Indies. All three, however, are colored. Captain Eba Cranmer will be with us all winter. Captain Hare thinks the captain of the schooner was murdered by the crew, as he was a fine seaman, and the vessel at the time of night was handled in a very unskillful manner. The schooner should not have gone ashore, as the gale was blowing over the beach. One of the men, the West Indiaman, told Captain Cranmer a contradictory story when relating the facts of the wreck. We understand the man will sail from your port in a short time. I communicate this fact for what it is worth.

“Very truly yours, Charles Gibbons, Jr.”

The schooner is owned in this city by Captain E. A. Cranmer, Captain Price, Cain, and Winsmore, ship chandlers, and others. She was built at Great Egg Harbor in 1864, was registered 386 tons burden and was worth about $7000.

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