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Shipwreck of the Schooner, D. H. Ingraham
Hereford Inlet Station, New Jersey
by Suzanne Hurley
From the 1887 Annual Report of the United States Life-Saving Service

Edited by the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum
*Minor editorial privileges were taken to clarify the text and writing style of the period.


December 4 (1886) -- At half past 10 o'clock at night, during a northeast gale of wind and thick snowstorm, the patrol of the Hereford Inlet Station, (Fourth District,) coast of New Jersey, was attracted by the gleam of a torch in the direction of the north bar, about two miles east of the station. It being quite evident to his mind that a vessel was ashore and in distress, he hurried back with all speed and alarmed the life-saving crew. The surf boat was launched as quickly as possible, and after a hard pull in the heavy sea lasting more than two hours, with nothing to guide them through the blinding storm and darkness but the glimmer of the torch, they finally arrived alongside the craft at 1 o'clock in the morning, (5th.) She proved to be the schooner D. H. Ingraham, of and from Rockland, Maine, bound to Richmond, Virginia, with a cargo of lime. The latter was on fire, and the sailors, numbering five men, were fearful lest assistance should not reach them in time and they would be obliged to abandon the vessel in their small yawl-boat, a proceeding that would doubtless have been attended with fatal results. They were taken into the surf boat without delay, conveyed safely ashore, and conducted to the station. By sunrise the deck had burned completely off and the schooner began breaking up. She soon became a total wreck. Her crew were sheltered and fed by the surfmen for four days. The following letter appeared in a subsequent issue of the New York Herald:

"To the Editor of the Herald:

"I desire through the columns of the Herald to extend to Capt. Christopher Ludlam and crew, of life-saving station No. 36, my most heartfelt thanks for the assistance rendered my crew and self in taking us off the schooner D. H. Ingraham, which went ashore at half past 10 p.m., on December 4, during the heavy snow storm of that date, and amid an exceedingly heavy sea. As our striking so far off the beach, about a mile and a half, we could scarcely expect the life-saving crew to come to our assistance before daylight; but Captain Ludlam, seeing our pitch and oakum torches burning, and knowing our perilous position, was equal to the occasion, and after a hard row of two hours succeeded in coming alongside and taking us off the vessel, which was on fire. At half past 1 a.m., the morning of December 5, we made our landing on the beach, a very thankful party, as you can readily understand, and were treated in the most humane manner possible and our wants were in every way supplied. Realizing that an hour's delay would have compelled us to take to our own small yawl-boat we can never forget the brave deed of this captain and crew.



Annual Report 1889
By reference to the Annual Report of the Service for 1886-'87, under date of December 4, 1886, there will be found a brief account of the rescue of five men from the stranded schooner D. H. Ingraham, of Rockland, Maine, by the life-savers of the Hereford Inlet Station, (Fourth District,) coast of New Jersey. It will be noted that these lives were saved under exceptional circumstances and by the exercise of consummate skill and bravery. It was between 10 and 11 o'clock at night, during a furious northeast gale and blinding snowstorm, that the beach patrolman descried the glean of a torch in the direction of the north bar, two miles from the station. Notwithstanding the severity of the weather and the impenetrable darkness of the night, the crew unfalteringly launched their boat and set out in the tremendous seas that were sweeping along the shore. There was nothing to guide them save the faint glimmer of light that could be seen on the vessel only at intervals through the thickness of the storm. The mis-stroke of an oar or an error of judgment in approaching the bar would almost to a certainty have proved fatal. After a pull lasting more than two hours, seldom equaled for hardihood, indomitable courage and skillful maneuvering, these men arrived alongside the schooner. Her cargo of lime was found to be on fire and the sailors were in great trepidation lest they should be compelled to abandon the craft in their frail yawl, a course that could only have resulted in disaster. They were taken without delay into the surf-boat and after a hazardous trip back were safely landed on the beach. The life-savers were well nigh exhausted when they got to the station and all the party were covered with ice and snow. At sunrise the schooner was a total wreck. Some of the oldest residents of the neighborhood who were familiar with the particulars of this case, declared that they had never before known a boat to board a vessel in the night in such a storm, and that the rescue was the most daring within their knowledge. Had the captain and his crew been obliged to take to their own boat, an expedient that could not have been much longer deferred, they would have been swept on the south bar and inevitably lost. In testimony of their intrepid services on this occasion, the keeper, Christopher Ludlam, was awarded a gold medal and each of the following members of his crew a silver medal: W. W. Hildreth, S. S. Hand, S. C. Godfrey, Millard Ware, P. S. Ludlam and Jason Buck.

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