The Marshall Frank Story (Bud Davidge) video
#1817: YouTube video by oldirishladdie
℗2009 ~ Used with permission ~

There's a story I know you've heard before,
but I must tell again,
'Bout a schooner out of Fortune Bay
and her brave fishermen;
One of the last of a dying breed
to dory-fish the Banks,
I'll tell you the fateful story
of the schooner Marshall Frank.

She was built in 1926 in Lunenburg's fair port,
By Smith and Rhuland where the Bluenose keel
was laid some years before;
She carried eleven dories, was nearly eighty tons,
Owned first by Captain Risser
and named after the Captain's son.

This story that my song will tell
took place in forty-nine,
When owned by Mister James Petite
and Skipper Abraham Miles;
In February, set to sail with twenty-six in crew,
From Fortune Bay to Halifax
to take some fish on route.

She left the Isle of Ramea
and trawled the Burgeo Ledge,
By the time they reached Cape Breton's shore
stowed 20 tons of fish;
'Round three AM, in a gale and snow,
this schooner came to grief,
Near Gabarus off the Framboise shore
on the Mary Joseph reef.

With her starboard side fast on the rocks,
and the raging sea to port,
None of the crew could see how
they could safely reach the shore;
To launch a dory in such strife
which braced their win'ard side,
Would take a miracle to do,
but they had no choice but try.

For us on land to understand
how anyone survived,
How four trusty dories
safely launched with 21 alive;
In the thick of snow and sleet
they thought they heard the fearful cries,
Of the five who were the last to leave
the Marshall Frank behind.

Rowing hard to sea and not to land
seemed very strange to do,
But a lifetime watching nature's whims
can save a seasoned crew;
When daylight came, though stormy yet,
they made a run to reach,
To the safety of the good dry land
along the Framboise beach.

All but the crew in dory five
made it safely to the shore,
And soon to find their comrades dear
awash among the foam;
Garfield Greene and Norman Ball
were lost I'm sad to say,
With three Blagdons: Conrad, Leo and John,
who hailed from Fortune Bay.

I wish I could in these few lines
name every gallant man,
Still the good folk here in Fortune Bay
remembers them today;
But I do have Charlie Skinner
and Leo Pope to thank,
For this sad yet happy story of
the schooner Marshall Frank.

####.... Bud Davidge ....####
Recorded by Bud Davidge (Black And White, trk#9, 2009 CD, SWC Productions, English Harbour West, NL, recorded at Sim's Studio, Belleoram, and distributed by Tidespoint, St John's, NL).

See more Bud Davidge songs

See more NL shipwreck songs

Notes from assorted Internet pages:

The Grand Banks schooner Bluenose, hull #119, was built by Smith and Rhuland, launched in Lunenburg on Mar 26, 1921, and wrecked off Haiti in 1946. The schooner Marshall Frank, hull #137, was launched in 1926, and wrecked off Cape Breton, NS, on Feb 16, 1949.

Five Newfoundlanders were lost and 21 rescued when their 144-ton schooner Marshall Frank went down in the storm-tossed Atlantic after hitting Mary Joseph Shoals, 22 miles south of Sydney, NS. Twenty-one of the fishermen reached shore in dories during the storm.

Captain Abraham Miles reported that 26 men aboard his ship were caught unawares when the vessel hit the shoal about six miles from the Forchu lighthouse. Fog had set in after the fishermen had cruised in close to the rocky Cape Breton shore to escape the rolling sea and winds which sent waves booming over the craft. Captain Miles reported that rocks went through the bottom of the boat. They had 11 dories but could use only six. Miles had leaped into a dory and was joined by James Burton and Harold Keeping. They rowed away from the ledges and shouted to the others to follow. The crew said they spotted five dories and thought all had gotten off.

The Marshall Frank was one of many banking schooners that fished the Grand Banks out of Lunenburg, NS. Even though the vessel fished out of Lunenburg, many of her 26-man crew were from the Fortune Bay area of Newfoundland. A number of these crew members came from Boxey, including: Richard Price, Stephen P Blagdon, Leo Blagdon, Charles J Sheppard, James H Blagdon, Cecil Blagdon, Conrad Blagdon, Charles Skinner, Edwin Miles, James Burke, and Abe Miles, the Captain. The remaining crew members came from Coomb's Cove, Wreck Cove and Rencontre West.

At four in the afternoon on February 16, 1949, the crew saw the skies darken and snows fall. After Captain Abe Miles called the dories back to the ship, he neared the shore of Nova Scotia where land was sighted around midnight, and a bearing taken. At 3:30 AM on February 17, seven foot waves hurled men out of their bunks and the Marshall Frank grounded. The Captain thought the schooner was breaking up so all but five of the crew took to the dories and made their way to nearby Framboise where they were given food and shelter by Dan Norman and his wife. When they returned to the beach of Framboise Cove in the early morning, the wind had died down and the storm had cleared. The Marshall Frank was on the shoals still intact. Dan Norman later stated that, in his opinion, if the last five men had stayed on the wreck they would have been safe. The two men from Boxey that were lost were Conrad Blagdon and Leo Blagdon; one from Coomb's Cove: John Samuel Blagdon; and two from Rencontre West: Norman Ball and Garfield Greene.

Leo Pope: A Life At Sea by Randell Pope includes the Marshall Frank Story.

Captain Frank William Risser [1888-1952] was from Kingsburg, NS.


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