Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily Intelligencer (Belleville, ON), Tues., March 8, 1927
Full Text
Identification of Capt. Smith Is Not Certain
Apparently Dead Man Lived in Oklahoma town Since 1915
Son Still Thinks The Remains Are Those of His Father

Harrah, Okla. March 8. - Death's seal today continued to prevent the positive identification of a man known here as John Wesley Smith, whose friends believe left his family at Belleville, Ontario, to secretly start life anew as a produce dealer in this inland town after the vessel he commanded foundered ten years ago.

Captain Smith and eleven others, including his wife and five children, were listed as victims of the sea when his coal schooner, George E. Marsh, sank off Pigeon Island, near Kingston, Ontario, August 8, 1917. This report was accepted until yesterday when relatives at Belleville made public a letter from Ben Wilson, master of the local Masonic Lodge, telling of Smith's death here February 22nd last. Smith died, Wilson said, without revealing his experiences at sea and without reference to any relatives at Belleville, except to say two years ago that he had learned his wife was dead.

Smith, however, told Wilson the name of the Masonic Lodge at Belleville with instructions to communicate with that Chapter only after his death. He sore Wilson to secrecy regarding the meager details he gave of his life.

Heard From Belleville

Wilson said he recently received a letter from Horace Smith, son of the sea captain, telling of his father's disappearance. He assured Wilson he believed the dead man was his father and offered to come here if necessary. Friends of the aged man question the identity when Wilson declared he had known him for more than two years before the schooner was wrecked. He said the man came here from Newalla, Oklahoma, in 1915. Previously he had lived in Oklahoma City. He was about sixty years old and had built up a small produce business here. His estate was estimated at upwards of $3,000. The funeral will be held tomorrow night unless instructions are received from Belleville.

Thinks It Is His Father

Despite the statements made by Ben Spencer, Master of the Masonic Lodge in Harrah to the effect that he knew the dead man in 1915, two years previous to the sinking of the ship, Horace Smith is still firmly convinced that the man is his father. He has taken no definite steps to notify the authorities there as to the disposal of the body and is still waiting for the photos which were promised him to which he hopes to clear the mystery.

Item Type
Date of Original
Tues., March 8, 1927
Local identifier
Language of Item
Richard Palmer
Copyright Statement
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Daily Intelligencer (Belleville, ON), Tues., March 8, 1927