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  • Virginia M. Wright

Shipwrecked brothers rest side by side

I’ve been fascinated by old cemeteries ever since I visited the Old Burying Ground in Lexington, Massachusetts, as a child. Recently I stopped at lush, green Seaside Cemetery in Tenants Harbor, St. George, Maine. The resting place of ship captains, sailors, and their families, the cemetery is a testament to the flinty spirit and hardships of a 19th-century maritime town. Here lie the Murphy brothers, 18-year old Hiram, who drowned in Vienna, Maryland, on July 2, 1883, and 24-year-old Lermon, who drowned in Boston Bay on January 9, 1886.

July 23, 1883, was a tragic day in Maryland: Sixty-three people drowned when the Tivoli Pier, on the Patapsco River near Baltimore, collapsed. But Vienna, where Hiram died, is on the Nanticoke River. The day was clear and warm, according the Baltimore Sun. Because I can't explain what happened to Hiram, the title of this post is, I admit, making an assumption about a shipwreck.

A ferocious nor'easter took down several ships off the New England coast on the day Lermon died. Among them was the Ellsworth-based schoonerJuliet, which was bound for New York with a load of stone. Convicts at the prison on Deer Island in Boston Harbor saw the Juliet struggling and volunteered an attempted rescue of her crew. They steered the steamer Samuel Little into the storm, and as they drew near the sinking ship, they saw the lifeless body of a young man tied to an icy timber. Two other men, encased in ice, clung to the debris. I believe Lermon was one of those men. The inmates found the Juliet's other three crew members alive. They pulled them onto the Samuel Little and brought them to shore.

Hiram and Lermon Murphy were among the 16 children of Captain William and Hannah Murphy.

Here are a few more images from Seaside Cemetery.

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