The Cortez Wreck.
Statement of several citizens of Ellisburgh who were present
To the Editor of the Times & Reformer
Seeing in your paper some statements regarding the life-saving crew as connected with the wreck of the Cortez that seem to be somewhat exaggerated, we desire to set the public aright on those points. As friends of the captain and crew, we regard a plain and truthful statement of the case more to their credit than the over-drawn statements so persistently published in the various papers. We desire to express the sentiments of 150 eye witnesses of the wreck of the ill-fated Cortez.
Being present and thoroughly acquainted with the whole history of the case our statements should be more entitled to the credence of your readers that the statements of Mr. North in the Sandy Creek News, apparently written by the Captain or crew to gloss over their inefficiency, neglect or cowardice, and who failed to reach the wreck at all and are now showing their characteristic bravery and skill in the newspapers where their precious lives are so much safer than they would be in actual battle with the angry elements in rescuing the perishing crew.
The Cortez wreck was in easier sight from the lookout at the life-saving station than from any other more distant points where she was seen, when men started at once for the exciting spectacle and were on the ground ready for work when the boat struck. It had been mutually understood that if a wreck took place on the north side of the creek the crew would go to the bridges and thence by teams to the disaster. Accordingly a team was sent to the bridge, and not finding them, proceeded at once to the beach and found them at the wind gap waiting for a part of the crew who had been sent back to the station for a small boat to take the captain over, so he would not get wet, which caused about one hour's delay. Upon their return the crew with some assistance forded the gap which is about 50 feet wide, and the water from two to three feet deep and drew the cart through by hand, where a team drew the cart and apparatus about one mile on the beach, which constituted all the captain and crew did towards the rescue, They did not reach the wreck at all by a distance of about a mile, and this was accomplished at dark, after which it would have been impossible for any one to reach the wreck.
The Captain has been well rewarded for patience and watchfulness, for three long years waiting for an opportunity to prove to the public that he was "master of the situation." And although within three and one-half miles from the wreck with every possible appliance that money could buy at his disposal, yet he most signally failed even to reach the wreck at all. While men traveled longer distances with only a common fish boat and that considered by her owner as unseaworthy, inspired by a continuation of human sympathy, and bravery almost unparalleled- nobly faced the danger and rescued the perishing crew from immediately approaching death, Subscribed only by those personally present and familiar with the whole history of the case.
F. A. Converse
N. Wood Jr.
J. F. Smith.