The Wreck of the Jennie M. Carter

Written by Karen M. Mossey

Copyright: All rights reserved

You can still catch a glimpse of her at extreme low tide during a full moon. Her slowly decaying bones can be seen protruding slightly above the sand very near the shore. Over time her ocean grave has sunk deeper and deeper into the sands of Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts. Eventually, all physical traces of her will vanish. She will become only a memory, whose ill fated voyage will be accounted for in the archives of historical records. Her legacy will live on in a few museum artifacts that are left to provide us with a testament to her demise. Some say, amidst the roaring waves, the voices and wails and a dim shining light can be heard and seen on occasion during the night of April 14th each year. Sadly, this tells us that the tragedy of the Jennie M. Carter may be a residual haunting of emotion and fear that replays year after year on that fateful night.

The Jennie M. Carter was a three mast schooner carrying a heavy cargo of concrete slabs. She was twenty years old. She met her end on April 14th 1894 near the site of the old Frolics which was torn down in January of 2000. When rescue teams arrived everything seemed in place and undisturbed, but there were no signs of any of the crew on board. An empty lifeboat later drifted onto the beach. None of her seven crew members survived. Only two bodies were recovered; the Captain, Wesley T. Ober and Seaman Sven Siegfried Petersson who was only 25 years old. The only survivor was a cat who was found on board the ship when she ran aground.

The last ones to see anyone alive on the Jennie Carter were the crew members of the schooner Smuggler, who observed the damage she had sustained and approached her. Captain Ober related that they had been hit by a spring northeaster. He insisted, however, that the Jennie was still solid and he could make it to land. Abiding with Captain Obers request, the Smuggler agreed and sailed away leaving the Jennie Carter to her fate.

What exactly happened after this is not totally known. Some historians believe that the crew tried to get into the life boat once they realized the ship began to come apart and a huge wave overtook them all and sent them to a watery grave. The only thing that is known for sure is that, other then the two bodies recovered, none of the crew was ever seen again.

But the ocean around Salisbury Beach was not through claiming its victims. A little over a year later in Feb. of 1896 the schooner Florida went to pieces off Salisbury Beach near the exact same dangerous area where the Jennie Carter met her demise. The similarities between these two disasters are uncanny. Both were three mast schooners. Both had seven crewmen. Two bodies from the Jennie Carter and two bodies from the Florida were all that were recovered. Both attempted to launch life boats to escape. All perished.

Ocean storms and treacherous waters near Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts and the surrounding areas have claimed many ships and their crew. Some say eerie lights and mournful cries of desperation are sometimes witnessed off the shores of the beach. Perhaps these lost souls are the ghosts of the sailors of the Jennie M. Carter and the Florida who long for one more chance to come ashore.

Karen Mossey is the author of “Spooky Creepy New England”

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Copyright 2012. Karen Mossey/Mike Sullivan. All rights reserved.