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Lost to the Bay dredging from the bugeye M. A. Somers off the western shore. Some ugly weather suddenly blew up, and Capt. Duncan asked Thomas to go forward to free a line so they could get underway. The bugeye took a sudden lurch in the rough seas, however, causing Thomas to lose his balance and fall overboard. By the time Duncan was able to tack back to the spot, Thomas was gone. He was an experienced black waterman and a regular member of his crew. It is said that Capt. Duncan was much affected by the accident and refused to take that dredgeboat out ever again. He sold the Somers to his son-in-law, Capt. Lindale Collins. About the second name, William W. Richardson (1892), the

List says only that he was “Sharp’s Island Light Keeper.” U.S. Lighthouse Service records confirm that he was Assistant Keeper in 1889-90 and Keeper 1890-1892, though it appears he did not complete his full term. Whether he fell from the lighthouse or drowned in some boating mishap, we do not know. Oddly, another Richardson is the third name: Thomas E. Richardson (1895). Whether they were related, I have not discovered. The List quotes from the Januar y 5, 1895 edition of the Easton Gazette: “On Thursday of last week [January 3], Thomas E. Richardson was knocked overboard from the bugeye Virginia Belle, Capt. Joseph Willis, and drowned.” We presume he was knocked overboard by a boom, a common mishap in the days of sail. Two deaths are listed in the first year of the new century. The List notes that George Wilson (1900) drowned “while trying to board the dredge boat in Dogwood Harbor, the waves swamped the small boat.” Wilson is the only man on Covington’s List who does not appear on the Plaque. That same year another man, James Dolley (1900), “fell from Jim Duncan’s dredge boat.” Stanley Covington says he never heard of a second man going overboard from the M. A. Somers, though it may have been an accident aboard another of Capt. Jim’s several vessels. Number 6 is Andrew Dudrow

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April 2016 ttimes web magazine  

Tidewater Times April 2016

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