South Side Savannah

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

S. S. Hungarian Shipwreck - Deloris Anderson 2005

Let`s go back to February 8th 1860 when the S.S . Hungarian left Liverpool England,for a voyage across the Atlantic, carrying over 200 passengers and crew, also the Royal Mail bound for Portland, Maine, U S A .

On Feb. 19th, she struck the Cape Ledges, about half mile west of Cape Sable in a rainstorm and heavy seas that were breaking mast high over the ship.

Barry Nickerson , my gggrandfather reported seeing lights in the vicinity of the Horse Race, (shallow area runs outside of the Cape for this size ship especially if tide is running low.)

Henry Nickerson my other gggrandfather who lived on Fish Island, along with his son and neighbour took a small boat from there to the Cape, with a lantern hoping someone may see the light or they may be of some asistance.The storm was so bad they could not launch their boat, imagine how helpless they must of felt to see the waves breaking up on the ship.Within a few hours the masts and pipes were gone, and later could only be seen at low water.

Disasters like this happened often ,with all the shipping across the Atlantic and ports around the world.Only this time it happened here near Cape Sable Island, with such great loss of life, with raging waves one can understand how they were unable to get into lifeboats, one lifeboat was located at Port La Tour another at Shag Harbour,a distance of about ten miles.There were reports of wreckage found that was scattered along the shore,i have been told there were some items of clothing and personal belongings of the passengers, it was mostly mail bags.The strong wind and tide must have carried those on board out to sea.

Taken from Yarmouth Tribune-The ill fated steamship is reported to have been seen by a coasting vessell off Liverpool N S, about 6 p m on Sunday.She was apparently steering N N West, twenty five miles from the coast, must of been nearly four points off her true coarse.

The high winds may have pushed the ship furthur inshore,even a fraction off coarse,it could have put her in danger, with our rocky and rugged coastline, many ships have met their fate in this same area.

This ship was built in 1858 in Dumberton, and had made good time on previous voyages, one that took nine days.It was felt by some that she may have been hugging the coastline too closely to make better time, but the agents of the company had only praise for Captain Jones and his ability to do his job well, considering there was no lighthouse on Cape Sable in 1860. Local citizens has been trying to have one built, this shipwreck sparked interest and one was built in 1861.There was also much praise for the people of the area who so willingly gave up the wreckage they found.
I first heard about this shipwreck over forty years ago from my father in law Captain Ernest Anderson, he often told me of his experiences at sea and about the Hungarian disaster.

He told me there was a diary found among the wreckage, in which a young lady passenger had written "Lizzie Dies Tonight", supposedly to her mother .
Naturally i had accepted what i had been told until a couple months ago, when Mr. Bruce Nunn of Canadian Broadcasting Corp. began his research and putting a story together, to have on his radio show,along with a song written in 1861 by the late Steven Foster of U S ,sang by Susan Crowe. A mystery of the diary and a lady passenger named Lizzie Louden.

A short while after the Hungarian Shipwreck, a Baptist group in Pennsylvania wrote a book, for Sunday Schools, titled , " The Golden Ringlet" or "Lizzie Dies Tonight ".
In some exchange with Mr. Nunn, and after reading the book, especially chapter on Hungarian Shipwreck, i expected it to be true.i think it is mostly fictional, probably based on the shipwreck story circulating in the U S and newspapers at the time By now i was a little disappointed, my thoughts were to find the passenger list, and lady known as Lizzie.

I sent many inquiries to different museums in Canada , U S and U K.After months of waiting i received a reply from the Guildhall in London.They had the passenger list taken from a book written by agents of the Company.I can check for a passenger named Lizzie Lowden.

In the meantime a great researcher and very good friend in U S directed me to a site where i was able to find more imformation on the S S Hungarian tragedy and what a surprise the passenger list.I hurried to check, i am looking over the passenger list, where is the young girl named Lizzie Louden ?

I went over the list a few times and could not find her, another unanswered question.
Was it possible the story of Lizzie`s diary could have found it`s way back here through the book written in the States , titled "Lizzie Dies Tonight"? Or was there really a diary found here? Maybe it found it`s way to U S where the song and book were written.

By having the list , i wondered if i had perhaps solved the mystery about Lizzie and the disasaster that took place near here 145 years ago.
I believe i have the most accurate list available, but it is a mystery that may never be know with certaintly.

This area of Nova Scotia has always had very close ties in trade with Eastern United States, most of our ancestors were first settlers that came from Chatham and Cape Cod area .Many of our residents also moved there to work.

It may have come from families and imformation they shared after the tragic event.
This was one of the worse tragedies of that time with such loss of life , there was oral reports that some were seen clinging to the spars and rigging , until they washed away,there were 205 people (according to the ships passenger list) who perished when the ship hit the Cape Ledges on that February night.

As soon as possible there were many men in their boats involved in the search of bodies and wreckage , but so few were recovered, they were given proper burial and are buried in Old Town Cemetery near entrance to Swim`s Point at Clark`s Harbour.
As for the people of this area who lived to be a part of it , what they saw or heard and passed it on to their families a belated thank you .It was part of our history,it is my wish that you will continue to pass it on to the next generations.

Since i have been collecting imformation about this, i have heard there are items at our local museum. If anyone has any knowledge of a diary found, i would like to hear about it .

This is written from stories told to me and imformation i have gathered on S S Hungarian and hope you find it interesting.


  • Great job on this..

    By Blogger Deloris, at 6:35 PM  

  • Ys there were numerous things washed up here on the island. I have read numerous supposed diarys from on that ship. The museum here has a lot of that stuff, and i am a huge history buff when it comes to cape sable. I even have apeice of the cargo, other people here do too. You can email me at for more info. Thanks.

    By Anonymous robert stewart, at 8:06 AM  

  • i just made a website devoted to the Hungarian, check it out if you want

    my main site is


    By Anonymous Chris Swim, at 9:20 PM  

  • Hi.... I did the radio documentary on Lizzie, discovering the link to the father of American songwriting, Stephen Foster. The audio should be available via It ran in 2005.
    I had the song he wrote about Lizzie recorded and visited the island to talk to people who knew about the wreck. Research is not clear how Foster came to know about the story, or if he heard of it in the news, or if Lizzie was an artistic fiction or piece of lost history.
    Feel free to contact me if you wish.
    Bruce Nunn

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:53 AM  

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