Friday, January 14, 2011

Lost at Sea

There are well over 10,000 people in my genealogy database, and many of them are only distantly related or perhaps not at all – I keep information that may be helpful to someone sometime. So it’s not a complete surprise that on some days, like January 14, none of the names that show up are actual ancestors. Today, then, I’ll remember someone who died in January but not on this day; his family would probably not have learned of his death until some time after it occurred.

William H. Hodgins was born August 18, 1859, in Calais, Maine, to William and Eliza T. (Nason) Hodgins. I don’t know what the “H.” stood for, but it was probably added to his name to distinguish him from the first “Little Willie,” his elder brother, who was born in 1854 when the family still lived in St. Stephen, New Brunswick. Little Willie drowned in a well at the age of 14 months and it is said that this sad event encouraged the family to move to Calais. William's younger brother Allen was my great-grandfather.

William H. went to sea, following in the footsteps of his eldest brother, who had gone to sea at an early age and become a Captain of his own vessel. Poor William never got that far. He was still rated as an able seaman when he was lost at sea off the vessel William Deming on January 10, 1883. At the time, the William Deming was near the islands of Great Inagua and Little Inagua in the Bahamas. This map shows the location of the Inaguas relative to the rest of the Bahamas. (The Inaguas are in green.)


I could find very little information about the William Deming. She was a schooner, about 179 tons, out of Calais; the name is that of a prominent man in Calais’ history. Perhaps when I can get to the Maine Historical Society library there will be more information available.

Whether by letter, telegraph, or perhaps not until the vessel made home port, William and Eliza eventually learned of their son’s death. They placed a stone to his memory in the family plot at Calais Cemetery.

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