Monday, November 13, 2017


In June, 1837, the schooner Aurora wrecked on Ocracoke Bar. Unlike so many other shipwrecks, the Aurora struck the bar in fair weather. The captain and crew were able to make it to shore under their own efforts. In January, 1838, the true nature of the shipwreck emerged.

David Stick, in his book Graveyard of the Atlantic, quotes this article that the New York Courier ran about the Aurora:

“On Thursday last, Mr. Waddell, the United States Marshal, arrested Richard Sheridan, late master of the schooner Aurora of New York, John Crocker, mate, and James Norton, seaman, on the charge of the most serious nature, and which, if proved, will place the lives of the offenders in jeopardy. The prisoners are charged with willfully wrecking and losing on Ocracoke Bar, the schooner Aurora, bound from Havana to New York, in June last, and they are also charged with stealing from the vessel after she was wrecked $4000 in doubloons, which had been sent on board in Havana, consigned to Don Francis Stoughton, Spanish Consul in New York.”

Stick goes on to explain that, "The Marshal specifically charged that Captain Sheridan had enlisted the aid of the two crewmen, and together they had carefully planned the shipwreck and stolen the 264 doubloons, which had then been entrusted to the Captain by his henchmen for transfer to the north where they could be converted into American money. About the time this charge was made public it may have become obvious to Crocker and Norton that they joined forces with the wrong man, as on meeting him in New York they were told that he had been robbed of the doubloons and there was no loot to divide.

When the Captain was brought to trial in New York in February he was found guilty—the doubloons had been discovered in the hands of yet another accomplice—and he was ordered to pay costs and to repay the Spanish Consul, $4,919 in all. Captain Sheridan was kept in jail for an undetermined period as further punishment."

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a transcription of a letter describing the September, 1944, hurricane, its aftermath and cleanup. You can read the letter, with vintage photographs added, here:   

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