- On 25/06/2011
- In Museum News
From Bangor Daily News
A 376-year-old horsehide trunk that survived a shipwreck in Colonial America — caused by one of the most terrific storms to occur along the Maine coast — now is on display at Colonial Pemaquid State Historic Site in New Harbor.
John Cogswell of Buena Vista, Colo., a direct descendant of the same-named American colonist who first owned the trunk, has lent the historic artifact to the Colonial Pemaquid museum for seven years with the possibility of its becoming part of the museum’s permanent collection, according to Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands officials, under the Maine Department of Conservation.
“We have a centuries-old barrel that once lined a well near the waterfront from which colonist John Cogswell may have drunk, and now we have his personal trunk that actually went down with the shipwreck in 1635,” said Tom Desjardin, Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands historian.
“There aren’t a lot of museums where you can see things that fascinating, especially as a part of Maine’s history.”
“Our family has been the guardian of the Cogswell trunk since it floated ashore at Pemaquid Point on August 15, 1635,” the most recent John Cogswell said.
“We are now pleased to pass it along to the State of Maine, which has the perfect place where the public can enjoy this piece of history, including those descendants of families who came to America on the Angel Gabriel which met its fate during the hurricane which sunk it and brought the trunk to shore.
“The small museum at Pemaquid Point where the trunk will now rest safely and securely is a delightful place and a credit to the people of Maine,” he said.
Colonial Pemaquid is a unique Maine historic site originally a colonial fishing settlement established in the 1620s that produced and shipped cod to England.
A reproduction English fort, Fort William, an 18th-century farmhouse and a museum containing rare colonial artifacts and American Indian items going back 7,000 years define the historical significance of the site, located on a sheltered coastal peninsula, to human habitat.
Last year, more than 28,000 visitors explored Colonial Pemaquid, where special events also are offered by the Friends of Colonial Pemaquid.
In 1635, the English galleon Angel Gabriel went to the bottom of Pemaquid Harbor in the Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635, Desjardin said.
John Cogswell, a young merchant hoping to build a new life and business in the New World, had been a passenger on the Gabriel’s voyage from England and, like many of his fellow travelers, disembarked for the night while the ship anchored at the Pemaquid settlement in modern-day Bristol, Maine.
“Just before dawn the following morning, a storm that may have been the strongest ever to hit the Maine coastline blew through the region,” the park historian related.
“When it had passed, all that remained of the Angel Gabriel — a ship very much like the Mayflower, only larger and with more cannons — was debris floating in the harbor.”