The Ghost Ship Palatine

While some regard the Palatine as a legend, there is historical proof that she did exist. Her fiery phantom appears off of the isle. There is evidence that the Princess Augusta, a British ship, went aground on Block Island on December 26 or 27, 1738 or 1752 and broke up. Her crew was deposed and said provisions were scarce, half of the crew died and others were affected by the bitter cold. 150 surviving passengers from the Palatine region of Germany and Switzerland were aboard.A heavy snowstorm and strong winds caused the ship to ground herself on Sandy Point. The acting captain told survivors to salvage what cargo they could before and after she was destroyed.

Palatine Legends
There are two versions of what happened to the survivors. One is that the islanders nursed them back to health. The crew deliberately grounded the ship to hide their mistreatment of the immigrants and to hide their plundering.

The other legend is that the islanders lured the ship to run aground to salvage what they could. In some versions, they set the ship on fire to conceal what they did. A history book records that some of the locals lured ships ashore to plunder them during the new moon.

James Greenleaf Whittier wrote a poem about the ship and called her the Palatine. He stated islanders lured the ship to wreckage, then burned her. Samuel Livermore refuted Whittier’s version when he wrote about the island’s history in the late 1800s. The poet responded and wrote he did not intend to put the islanders in a bad light. He heard the story from a New Englander and said it was possible his source was wrong.

There are two versions of when the phantom ship appears. One is that she is seen around the anniversary of her being wrecked. The other is she is an omen of bad weather, appearing as a warning.

Palatine Phantom Ship
Benjamin Congdon, born in the late 1700s, wrote he saw the Palatine phantom about ten times. Many other New Englanders reported seeing the ghost ship in flames.

A woman, Kathy, reported she saw the ghost ship when she about seven. It was a hot summer day. She was playing with her two brothers and the large family dog. They saw a tall masted ship about a half mile off shore, ablaze and sails billowing. They saw the people and heard their cries for help. The dog reacted by barking with agitation. The children ran to tell their parents. One of the brothers was sent to the closest farmhouse to get help. The farmer was not surprised when told about the ship and gave the boy a history book for his father to read. The man had seen it twice. There is no information as to whether or not bad weather followed this sighting.

A marker on Sandy Point that tells of the Palatine graves and has the year, 1738. No wreckage has been found that positively identifies the ship as the Palatine. Often, legends are based on facts and get embellished as they are handed down. Such is the case here. There is historical documentation that the Princess Augusta was wrecked. There were many reliable eyewitnesses.

Via: Suite101

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