LOST AT SEA: Remembering Our Captains, Fishermen, and other Seamen Who Never Came Home...

Waldoboro, Lincoln Co., Maine, USA

The STAHL Family:

On the stone-
"They sailed from Cienfuegos, Cuba on March 24, 1893 on board (the) Bark, "Cheshire", and no tidings ever received from them." (In other words, They were never heard from again.)

NOTE:  A "Bark" is a large cargo type ship, and there would have been a hefty Ship's crew that also lost their lives on that fateful day their ship was lost.

Bark, Barc, or Barque
However it’s spelled, historians believe a bark was originally a barge and, over time, the name has been altered. The earliest barques were noted in Portugal with square sails and oars. In the 1440s, Mediterranean barques carried three masts and lateen rigs. Eventually, there was a difference between a barge and a bark, which began to have sails. The French called a ship, “barque,” and the English, bark. In the 18th century, the British Navy used the term bark to cover ships that did not fall in any other categories. Ships of exploration such as Captain James Cook’s Endeavour were colliers that were converted to ships of exploration. That’s why the Navy referred to Cook’s ship as the HMS Bark Endeavour.
The word bark (which seems to be the American spelling) evolved by the 19th century to mean how a ship was rigged. The ship could have three or more masts and a particular sail configuration. The advantage of the bark-rig was that the ship needed fewer sailors to work the sails.

On the Other Side, the Stone reads:

Capt. Spurdeon K. Stahl

Fannie E. Webb
His Wife

Kelsey W.
Their Son
 Lewiston Evening Journal
June 7th, 1893

"Nothing has been heard from Capt. Spurdeon Stahl of this town who sailed from Cuba the last of March in command of the bark "Cheshire" hailing from Boston, with a cargo of sugar bound for some port inn Delaware Bay or vicinity, and so much time has elapsed since the vessel was due, that his rescue is considered very improbable. It is possible that the crew were picked up by an outward bound vessel, but very little hope is placed in that. Capt. Stahl was accompanied by his wife and child. His wife was the daughter of Mr. A. T. Webb, a well known citizen of this town. It is also reported as a curious coincidence that another vessel left the same Cuban port with a similar cargo on the same day as the "Cheshire", the fate of which is also unknown. It is thought by some that the two vessels may have collided during a gail resulting in a wreck of both." (Unlikely.)

I looked up Cheshire in Google.  Here is what I found:



Bowditch Cemetery: Searsport
of Searsport, Maine, USA

Probably the most tragic Lost At Sea I have seen so far is the disappearance of the Bark, "Abby Carver". She took her captain & crew and all but one son under with her when she went.

"In memory of Captain Benjamin C Pendleton and family Master of Bark, Abbie Carver which sailed from Hong Kong August 8,1886 bound to Callao (Peru, South America) and never heard from."

In Memory of
Captain Benjamin C. Pendleton
41 yrs 8 mos
Mary A.-his wife
40 yrs 9 mos.
Charles E.
19 yrs. 3 mos.
Nathan C.
15 yrs 2 mos.
Felix B.
3 yrs.
Sons of Capt. B.C. & Mary A. Pendleton
All Lost with Bark, "Abbie Carver"

Note: Their one surviving son, Clarence Isaac Pendleton, had stayed home to attend school.
The Penobscot Maritimes Museum in Searsport, Maine has the bark disappear in 1888, but I went by the numbers on the stones.

A painting of the Bark, "Abbie Carver" circa 1875 by Maine
artist, William P. Stubbs.

Captain B. C. Pendleton (Master of Bark "Abbie Carver" from 1882-1886) was the son of Joseph Pendleton and Fanny Coombs, born 18 Dec. 1844.
Capt. Benjamin C. Pendleton

Mary Ann (his wife) was the daughter of James Ridley Park and Nancy Curtis.
Mary Ann Park Pendleton

Hong Kong China area around 1860. The "Abbie Carver" had just left this harbor and was heading towards Peru.
The harbor of Callao, Peru, South America. This is where the "Abby Carver" was supposed to end up, but her Master (and family) and crew, were never heard from again.

Bowditch Cemetery: Searsport
Capt. John G. Pendleton

The marble Ship- Often found on the grave markers of sea captains

In Memory of 
Captain John G. Pendleton, son of Capt. Phineas & Wealthy C. Pendleton born April 23, 1836
Master of the ship, "Solferino" which was Lost at Sea with all on board, bound from Rangoon to London.  Last spoken off the Cape of Good Hope (Africa)
Dec. 22, 1863
We Mourn our Loss.

Captain Pendleton departed on his ship "Solferino" on September 30, 1862 (Stone states the year as 1863) from the East Indies.
Last heard from on December 22, 1862 (again, stone states the year as 1863) off the Cape of Good Hope. This source states they were headed for Queenstown, Ireland.  The stone states London (England).)

(Source 1:) The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 30
Pg. 148, "Why Semmes of the "Alabama" Was Not Tried"
Part II
Close-up of the script on the stone.

Who is Semmes and why do we care?  What does he have to do with Capt. John Pendleton and the Solferino? The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 30, page 148 describes Raphael Semmes as a person who is being accused of "Buccaneering Misdeeds". This included Capturing vessels, burning their cargo, Interrupting their voyages, and treating them like enemies as if at war, and all while the ships were still sailing under "The flag of our Union". During the time period of the "Solferino", the American Civil War was taking place on American soil.

The article states that: the "Solferino" had just passed the Cape of Good Hope in safety, and were spoken on the 22nd of December between that cape and the Island of St. Helena. "All well, and the ship in good condition." and were never heard from again.

Reports of conversations from some old "Alabama" crew men declared (Semmes) on the "Alabama" in the Southeast Trades "Had fallen in with a ship "Solferino" had pursued and overtaken her as she endeavored under heavy press of canvas, to escape, and then, although she hauled down her flag and gave every signal of surrender, had fired into and sunk her with every soul on board, making no effort to rescue her crew."

The article described other incidents of such "piracy" as well.
And Semmes was not tried?

"An intelligent Englishman" who had been a crewman of the "Alabama" during the time "Solferino" disappeared stated that the "Alabama" couldn't have sunk her because they were no where near her at any point during that time period. Inspection of the logs of the "Alabama" during that time period: August 1862-March 1863 (using the articles dates instead of the dates on the stone) shows that the ship was north of the equator the whole time, where as the "Solferino" was south of the equator. The "Alabama" was in the Gulf of Mexico. on the 11th of January, 1863, she was off Galveston, Texas where she fought and sunk the U.S. Steamer "Hatteras".  On 29th January, she was at San Diego.

The other incidents reported were also debunked by witnesses, victims and logs.  THAT is why Raphael Semmes was never tried for any crimes.

In the book: American Merchant Ships: 1850-1900, Vol. 1
Pg. 210, states that Captain John G. Pendleton was a Junior.  His gravestone states otherwise, stating his parents are Phineas Jr. and Wealthy C. Pendleton.

Capt. Phineas Pendleton Jr.
 It says that Capt. Pendleton "was lost with all his crew in the ship "Solferino", supposed to have foundered in a hurricane in the Indian Ocean in 1861 (another discrepancy in dates, the stone states 1863.) while bound to Europe with a rice cargo."

Wealthy Carver
However, another search brings up an article about the "Alabama". It says when Semmes took over the ship, "Over the next two years, the "Alabama" scourged the Western ocean, stopping, pillaging and sinking 68 merchant vessels in all."  Why wasn't he tried for his crimes? The article says: "Despite his piratical methods, Semmes was a merciful man (Whah?) and was later to be acquitted of war crimes on the evidence of Union Sailors."

What really happened to Capt. Pendleton, the "Solferino" and her crew? I suppose it is a toss up, and either way ends in tragedy. 

The "Alabama" 

Source 2: For more information on The "Alabama" The Civil Warship Built in Birkenhead, copy and paste this link:

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