The Wreck of the Franklin
On the first day of March, 1849, the full-rigged ship Franklin struck and foundered near Newcomb’s Hollow, on the ocean side of Wellfleet. The Franklin was en route from Deal, England, to Boston, with passengers and cargo.
Of the passengers ten were drowned, including two women. Many of the officers and crew also lost their lives, including the master, Captain Charles Smith.
The morning the Franklin went down Captain Isaiah Hatch of Wellfleet was out roaming the beach. As wreckage came drifting ashore he fished out a valise, which proved to be Capt. Smith’s.
The valise contained correspondence between the owners, James W. Wilson and John W. Crafts of Boston, and Capt. Smith unmistakeably revealing that they had all conspired to sink the ship, which had been insured for twice her real value.
When the owners were indicted in a Federal court Wilson pleaded guilty, but Crafts fought and won his case. Wilson was then allowed to go free, and never actually served time.
Meanwhile a good part of the Franklin’s cargo had been salvaged by the people of Welifleet and other Cape Cod towns. Among the items saved from the sea was a choice selection of nursery stock, bought in England and Scotland by a South Boston man named Bell, with the idea of setting up a horticultural business in this country.
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