Posted by: Karlee A. Turner | November 7, 2012

7th November – FIRE! (Part III)

Mary Brewster (1847), Mary Lawrence (1858), and Eliza A. Williams (1860) did make any journal entries for this date.

Part III of FIRE! Aboard the Eliza F. Mason

The four men responsible for setting the fire on the Eliza F. Mason were: Dorr Houghtilin, Laoma G. Pillsury, William Powers, and George St. Claire. They had contived to set fire among a cask of tar. They expected that in the confusion from the fire near several casks of tar, they would make their escape (desert). But the fire spread more rapidly than they expected. The casks, instead of smouldering first (as they expected) began burning almost at once and to put it out with sea water was nearly impossible.

And so, Captain Nathaniel Jernegan made preparations for the four men to hang. Blocks were rigged, and the men of the crew were ready to carry out the sentences; but as that day’s light died away, the captain withheld his order. Perhaps it was because Christmas was just days away, but the men never did receive their punishment. In mid-February the Eliza F. Mason was off the Cook Islands, taking water and two of the men managed to desert. Dorr Houghtilin leaped overboard as the ship was appraoching Guam; three miles distant – there is no definitive evidence as to whether he survived or not.


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