Home after reunion

     Fog greeted us as we left our overnight accommodations to head for Fort William Henry and the gathering of descendants of the survivors of the wreck of the Angel Gabriel, just one day after the 373rd anniversary of the hurricane that sunk the ship.  Forty-one people gathered for the day, including seventeen Blaisdells, twelve Furbers (three of who were also Burnham descendants) ad seven Cogswells.  (That leaves five who were friends or spouses who did not indicate their family connection.)  We gathered and got acquainted in the parking lot of the Fort’s Museum.
     At ten o’clock, we went inside to hear an illustrated presentation by Professor Warren Riess, which included some information new at least to your editor.  We heard that research into the activities of the Angel Gabriel before its last voyage to Pemaquid Point is difficult, because at one point the British Archives were running short of space and burned a lot of old records that nobody was reading.  We know, however, that it joined a Spanish fleet (armada) going to Brazil, where it was listed as a “hulk” – which to the Spanish simply meant an old northern European vessel.
     Prof. Riess told us that the owner of the Angel Gabriel was also the owner of the Pemaquid settlement, so the trip was basically taking cargo and a few passengers.  Richard Mather describes the ship as being slow, which is not how Sir Walter Raleigh would have had it built, and Prof. Riess suggested it may have had a hull fowled with barnacles and/or seaweed, or that its masts may have been old and weakened enough not to be able to take full sail. 
     There are two more or less contemporary mentions of the sinking, both of which have only one sentence on the subject, which says the Angel Gabriel burst in pieces while at anchor.  (Most of us had assumed it was driven on the rocks.)  Judging by the possessions that were saved, Prof. Riess believes that the passengers had gone ashore to camp for a few days while the cargo was unloaded – getting out of the way of the unloading and from the cramped quarters of the ship at the same time – which would also explain why there was so little loss of life. 
     An hour of socializing (and questions for Prof. Riess) followed, before the start of a boat tour of the harbor in small groups.  The tours were slightly delayed because there was a wedding on the dock – a young man who may take up the hunt for the remains of the Angel Gabriel.  The major unsearched area is now a place where many boats anchor, and was not previously searched because the anchor (and other) chains would have damaged the expensive borrowed equipment used to seek possible sites. 
     Before or after our boat tour we had the opportunity to visit Fort William Henry, see a musket demonstration and talk with an Indian about trade and other interactions between Native Americans and European settlers.
     The main difficulty with the reunion was that it did not last long enough.  The following day your editor and his wife visited the Boothbay Railway Village and met a man who was assisting at the musket demonstration – who recognized us and remembered out names.  Monday morning we visited the Maine Maritime Museum, which includes many of the buildings of the Percy and Small Shipyard – which, before they bought it, was the Blaisdell shipyard.

About mcogswell2

I am a retired minister of the United Church of Canada. I am currently Editor of the Cogswell Courier, the newsletter of the Cogswell Family Association.
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