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
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: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news102117.htm.
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