T. Charlton Henry

A shipwreck, but not just any shipwreck

By Barbara F. Dyer - Knox Village Soup

As I picked up the phone that was ringing off the hook, the identification read Freeport. I haven’t ordered any Bean boots.

Oh. It was Freeport, New York. An excited voice on the other end of the line said: ”Barbara, I just found a vessel built in Camden, Maine. So I Googled and it came up with your name and telephone number for marine information.”

Nothing is sacred anymore because of the Internet; however, I was pleased to get this call.

The shipwreck was the five-masted schooner, T. Charlton Henry, built in the H. M. Bean Yard in 1904.

He said that he hoped to find gold with it, but I told him that it would be black gold (coal), because it was built for the Coastwise Transportation Company, managed by Capt. John G. Crowley to carry coal for Washburn & Moen’s great manufacturing plant in Worcester, Mass., from Norfolk to Province for transshipment by rail to Worcester.

It was only 30 years before that a three-masted schooner was considered big. Then came some fours and finally Waldoboro built the first five-master, Governor Ames, followed by Camden with the John B. Prescott in 1899.

The article in the Camden Herald dated Nov. 28, 1904 tells it well, I quote verbatim:

“Beautiful Launch of the T. Charlton Henry, A Handsome Schooner, One of the Largest and Best Ever Built By Mr. Bean.

“Thursday’s weather was ideal for launching. The air was clear and mild and almost summer-like. The vessel went into the water at just 1:48, making one of the prettiest and most majestic launchings ever seen in this section. Some two or three thousand people viewed the spectacle, a small crowd compared with some of the Bean launchings.

The great schooner seemed eager to make her leap for the water for several minutes before all the blocks were split out, in fact, when some of the men were working a third of the way down her keel, the vessel settled and began to move.

The men, warned by Mr. Bean, hastily crawled out, and down the ways she went piling up a monster wave under her stern and making a most graceful bow. The usual salute of cheers and whistles were given with a will.

“The christening of this schooner was a departure from the custom of flowers and doves, which has long been in vogue here and the T. Charlton Henry was christened by the wish of some larger owners in the way popular in many places, by breaking a bottle of champagne over her bow.

The christening was done by Myrtle Bean, the little daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R. L. Bean. The champagne bottle was tied with red, white and blue ribbons on which were printed in gold letters the name of the schooner, the place and date and the name of the young lady.

These ribbons make a pretty souvenir of the event for the little christener.

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