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The MARY CELESTE - Digby County Connections.

(By John Thurber)


               Probably the greatest mystery of the North Atlantic is the story of the MARY CELESTE. The story has been told and re-told in newspapers, magazines, books and novels, with countless theories of what happened to the Captain, his family, and crew.

              On December 5,1872, the brigantine, DEI GRATIA, on a voyage from New York to Gibraltar, came upon another brigantine that "appeared to be steering a peculiar course. They bore down on her and found the strange acting vessel to be the brigt. Mary Celeste, of New York, abandoned " (Digby Courier, Oct. 1912). After a thorough search of the vessel,  Oliver E. Deveau ,later a Captain himself, then First Mate of the Dei Gratia, and two other men, were put aboard the Mary Celeste. This small crew sailed the Mary Celeste to Gibraltar, accompanied by the Dei Gratia --- two Nova Scotia - built brigantines, thus beginning the great mystery.

            On board the Mary Celeste, had been Captain B.S. Briggs,of Marian, Massachusetts, his wife and child, and a crew of eight, bound for Genoa, Italy, with a cargo of alcohol, valued at $80,000. At Gibraltar an official survey of the vessel was ordered and carried out. The survey found that nothing appeared to have been disturbed by rough weather    

" Spare panes of glass were also found stowed away and unbroken, All articles of furniture in the Captain=s cabin, including a harmonium, were in their proper places and uninjured by water, the music and other books being also dry" The cargo of alcohol " well stowed and in good order and condition, except one which had been started".

          But the most telling evidence found was a sword " which on its being drawn out of its scabbard, exhibited signs of having been smeared with blood and afterwards wiped; further, the top-gallant rail had marks on it apparently of blood, and both bows of the vessel had been cut, to all appearances intentionally, with some sharp instrument".

        A mutiny ? Pirates ? - the mystery will live on forever. The Dei Gratia had (at least) two Digby County men aboard.  Oliver E. Deveau, the mate who sailed the Mary Celeste into port, was born at Cape St. Mary's, lived at Brighton, and is buried at Plympton, Digby County. The Captain of the Dei Gratia was D.R. Morehouse, of Digby Neck, who was, incidentally, a friend of Capt. B.S. Briggs, of the Mary Celeste.


  By John Thurber

  Sources: Digby Courier, 1912 - obit. of Oliver E. Deveau.

 Quotes and information from an (1987) article by Russ Lownds in the Halifax Herald.

 Webpage by CathyLee Rudolph 08 / 2003




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