The Loss Of The Ella M Rudolph (Hughie Sexton)

See also: The Loss Of The Ella M Rudolph (Sexton)

Attention all ye fishermen
and toilers of the sea,
While I relate these lines to you
of an awful tragedy,
Which leaves so many families
in sorrow to bewail,
For the loss of sons and husbands
caused by that dreadful gale.

The Ella M Rudolph a vessel staunch
and a clever sea boat, too,
Her skipper's name was Blackwood,
and eight composed her crew;
A female also was on board,
then so gayly and bright,
She with the rest did meet her doom
on that sad fatal night.

On the sixth day of December
the Rudolph left the town,
Full load of general cargo,
for Port Nelson she was bound;
With a gentle breeze of southwest wind,
the schooner sailed along,
But the sky was thick and heavy,
and night was coming on.

At five o' clock that evening,
through the Tickle she did pass,
When threatenings of a violent storm
was showing by the glass;
When from southeast the wind did veer,
with storms all through the night,
The skipper's intention was to try
and make Catalina light.

Not very far out in the bay
the schooner she did reach,
When the skipper changed his course again
from north unto northeast,
Thinking the ship would round the cape
and reach Bonavista Bay,
But under her foresail and jumbo,
unfortunately made lee way.

Eight fine strong men that very night
upon her deck did stand,
With eager minds and piercing eyes
all on the lookout for land,
When the wind blew strong,
and the seas ran high,
oh, what a terrible plight,
When the Ella M Rudolph ended her days
on Catalina shore that night.

The vessel scarcely struck the rocks
before covered with the waves,
All her crew except one man
did meet a watery grave;
This poor young chap jumped overboard
'mid blinding snow and drift,
And by the guiding hand of providence
was hurled in the cliff.

He wend his way all up the cliff,
through blinding sleet and snow,
O'er marshes, fields and valleys,
not knowing where to go,
To look for hospitalities
and comfort for the night,
When to his surprise, before his eyes,
saw Little Catalina lights.

It was early the next morning,
about the hour of four,
After eight long hours of traveling,
he reached Levi Dalton's door,
Who kindly answered to his knock
and a saddening sight did see,
A lad standing there with oilskins on,
a miracle from the sea.

Come in my lad, come in,
this man did kindly say,
And tell me what has happened
and how you came this way;
The boy was so exhausted
and all that he did say,
A schooner lost, and all her crew,
not very far away.

Now with this kindly woman
the poor lad did reside,
And with hot drinks and clothing warm,
she soon did him revive;
Which after rest and medical aid,
the tale he told anew,
The sorrowful fate of the Rudolph
and the loss of all her crew.

This man soon told his neighbors,
and soon the news were spread,
And men before so very long
were rising from their bed;
With ropes and gaffs and lanterns, too,
on a night so dark and drear,
The path was thronged with men,
for Brook Cove they did steer.

At last they arrived upon the scene,
but sadly heard no sound,
They searched with vain endeavours,
but no creature could be found;
But when the dawning broke again,
such an awful sight to see,
A schooner's wreckage washed ashore,
while her crew were in the sea.

These willing men did try their might
some bodies for to get,
But the sea was raging furiously
and dashing by the cliff;
But an awful sight came before their eyes
as they stood there next day,
To see a body wash ashore
upon a heaving wave.

This chanced to be the female,
once so gay with fame,
An Abbot girl from Hare Bay,
her name was Mary Jane;
And soon with kind and willing hands,
her body did prepare,
And sent along for Burial Rites
to her mother's home so dear.

Not one day had passed away
but these men were on the spot,
And after days of toiling,
five bodies more they got;
And now they are resting in their graves
beneath the church yard sod,
But their souls have fled to its place of rest,
in the Paradise of God.

So now, my friends and comrades,
there's one thing more to do,
Let us not forget the widows,
and the little orphans, too,
Whom through this great disaster
are left fatherless in their homes,
But the Lord knows what is best,
and His will must be done.

Now in conclusion,
let us not forget our friends,
The people of Catalina
who worked with willing hands;
For to recover those bodies,
their labor did not spare,
May a blessing rest on Catalina
and all its citizens there.

But two more bodies still
are lying beneath the ocean waves,
Waiting for their Saviour's call
on the last Great Judgement Day,
When the sea it will give up her dead,
as told by Scripture true,
May the Lord have mercy on the souls
of the Ella M Rudolph's crew.

####.... Hughie Sexton, Trinity, 1926. Printed by P J Brady, Printer, Trinity, NL, 1927 ....####

¹ The schooner Ella M Rudolph was wrecked in a gale and blizzard off North Head, Catalina, on December 6, 1906. Only the captain's son was saved. Nine others on board the doomed vessel drowned.

² This orginal version of this historic ballad was researched in depth by Herman Porter of Port De Grave, Conception Bay, NL, where he enjoys old songs and plays the button accordian. The lyrics were found in archives in Wesleyville, NL.

³ "Now then, I'm going to tell you another story. This man who I'm referring to, he was a Christian man. He was a lay reader in the church. That was Uncle Elias Burry. The night that the Ella M Rudolph was lost, he was lying down. The man told me that himself, a Christian man, lying down on that couch. He told me time and time again, that night the door came open and in came Poor Sam Carter, oil clothes and all on, with a lantern in his hand. He stood right in the middle of the room with water dripping down. Now, Sam Carter was lost that very night on the Ella M Rudolph. By geez, that was able to make you shiver. Elias Burry told me that time and time again."
...... As told by Art Wicks in Our Lives, published by The Seniors Resource Centre, St John's, NL.

A variant was collected in 1976 from Moses (Uncle Mose) Harris [1911-?] of Lethbridge, Bonavista Bay, NL, by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best and published as #32, The Ella M Rudolph in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook, pp.55-56, edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press ©1985/2003).

Genevieve Lehr noted that according to Mr G J Casey, who collected a version of the Ella M Rudolph in Cape Broyle, NL, this song was written by Hugh Sexton and Dukey Blackwood, and appeared in the Trinitarian, Trinity, NL, on 21 December 1926. Mr Gordon S A Cox also collected a version of the song in Trinity Bay and notes that several of his informants knew Dukey Blackwood, the lone survivor of the Rudolph and co-author of the song. Lehr further noted that Uncle Mose Harris said this song was printed on broadsheets and sold around Bonavista Bay to raise money for the families of those lost aboard the vessel.

See more Lehr and Best songs.

See more NL shipwrecks songs.


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