Updated:
Original:
Year
1872

The mystery of the Mary Celeste

The Dei Gratia, a small British brig under Captain David Morehouse, spots the Mary Celeste, an American vessel, sailing erratically but at full sail near the Azores Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. The ship was seaworthy, its stores and supplies were untouched, but not a soul was onboard.

On November 7, the brigantine Mary Celeste sailed from New York harbor for Genoa, Italy, carrying Captain Benjamin S. Briggs, his wife and two-year-old daughter, a crew of eight, and a cargo of some 1,700 barrels of crude alcohol. After the Dei Gratia sighted the vessel on December 4, Captain Morehouse and his men boarded the ship to find it abandoned, with its sails slightly damaged, several feet of water in the hold, and the lifeboat and navigational instruments missing. However, the ship was in good order, the cargo intact, and reserves of food and water remained on board.

The last entry in the captain’s log shows that the Mary Celeste had been nine days and 500 miles away from where the ship was found by the Dei Gratia. Apparently, the Mary Celeste had been drifting toward Genoa on her intended course for 11 days with no one at the wheel to guide her. Captain Briggs, his family, and the crew of the vessel were never found, and the reason for the abandonment of the Mary Celeste has never been determined.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Hostage Terry Anderson freed in Lebanon

On this day in 1991, Islamic militants in Lebanon release kidnapped American journalist Terry Anderson after 2,454 days in captivity. As chief Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press, Anderson covered the long-running civil war in Lebanon (1975-1990). On March 16, ...read more

Amanda Knox convicted of murder in Italy

On this day in 2009, 22-year-old American exchange student Amanda Knox is convicted of murdering her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, in 2007 in Perugia, Italy. Knox received a 26-year prison sentence, while her 25-year-old Italian ex-boyfriend, Raffaelle Sollecito, who also ...read more

Bush orders U.S. troops to Somalia

President George H. Bush orders 28,000 U.S. troops to Somalia, a war-torn East African nation where rival warlords were preventing the distribution of humanitarian aid to thousands of starving Somalis. In a military mission he described as “God’s work,” Bush said that America ...read more

Oliver Kelley organizes the Grange

Former Minnesota farmer Oliver Hudson Kelley founds the Grange, which became a powerful political force among western farmers. Though he grew up in Boston, Kelley decided in his early twenties that he wanted to become a farmer. In 1849, he booked passage on a steamboat for St. ...read more

Smog kills thousands in England

Heavy smog begins to hover over London, England, on this day in 1952. It persists for five days, leading to the deaths of at least 4,000 people. It was a Thursday afternoon when a high-pressure air mass stalled over the Thames River Valley. When cold air arrived suddenly from the ...read more