By Dan Arroyo
Table of Contents June Entries ~ 1 Freedom 8 The Island 22 William Cunningham July Entries ~ 7 Battle For Marblehead 19 Blood & Sweat 26 Men of Stone 30 White Gold August Entries ~ 10 Dark Days 18 Unexplainable 28 Port at Last 4 The Challenge September Entries ~ 9 Night of Tragedy 20 Vanished October 17 26 28
Entries The Letter Disbelievers Truth Be Told
November Entries ~ 2 Revelation 15 Conclusion
1 June 1897:
A light mist hovers above the waters of Erie this morning.
As our double
mast schooner begins to pick up speed, I could feel the waves begin to break harder against the ship’s hull.
Two or three footers from my estimate.
light cross-breeze has been sweeping a fine spray back towards the stern misting everything upon the weathered boat deck.
With a heading of north
by northwest, southerly winds propel the ship away and the island gradually fades from view receding into a white haze.
Freedom is mine - at least for
now. Out on this open water, the lake exhilarates my senses, it’s hard to describe! So many sights and sounds. The waters’ hue transforms from shades of blue to green as the sun pulls from behind the clouds.
Gulls laugh in the near distance, but never seem to
be seen, then suddenly appear, following at the back of the ship.
aloft upon the wind with little effort so contently. Such notions of freedom have eluded me for so long. As the island disappears to the south, another shoreline will slowly begin to emerge along the northern horizon in the weeks to come. this place has not been quick enough.
Gathering only my logbook and few
bare necessities, I have left all my possessions behind with no regards to my loss.
I find myself on this ship today clutching a book and a mind filled
with frightful memories. My time at this place has left me a changed and undoubtedly a marked man.
It is said, that history can be the eyes to the future.
If this is true, if
history can foretell of things to come, then indeed my days are numbered. I have seen too much and in the following passages will divulge too much.
reluctance on this day do I dare to detail and record for
all the occurrences on Island 6.
Events not spoken openly for fear of a
dreaded fate from beyond the grave.
My words written here today, hidden
away for so long in my mind is sworn testimony that what I am about to reveal are not the ratings of a madman, but in fact, a true encounter with a horrid evil.
I feel it is most fitting to elaborate more fully on this place and how it came to be in order for those who may never set foot on these shores to understand thence where I came from… what I came to see while here and what I know of this island’s history.
Keeping to my newly appointed duties
aboard ship, I will try to stay diligent to compile a journal of past events. Over the course of this year, it is my desire to finally complete my tale for I fear my end draws near. At 41º 36 minutes north latitude by 82º 41 minutes west longitude, Island 6 floats upon the waters in Erie’s western basin.
In an earlier time, the
northern Ohio country, which included Island 6, was once owned by the State of Connecticut and was known as their Western Reserve.
To the French it
was Lac du Chat, or "Lake of the Cat,” referencing the Cat Indians who once inhabited the southern shores and possibly this island as well. A one hundred twenty mile swath of unexplored wilderness extending westward from the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, as far south as the city of Akron, and bounded to the north by Lake Erie.
This was indeed the land of
the Indian Savage and was the new frontier of the times. Prior to the onset of the War for Independence in 1775, this federation of land was an attempt by King Charles the II of England to amass a colonial government in Connecticut around the year of 1662.
Through a decree, the
Connecticut expanse laid between the 41st and 42nd parallels.
westward, spanning well beyond The Reserve, crossing the remaining uncharted country to the Pacific.
With the ending to hostilities with England in 1783 and the long struggle for liberty finally attained, Connecticut found itself burdened by immense war debt.
Political factions within the state government were persuaded to give
up land claims in Pennsylvania, New York and all western lands beyond to the newly emerging Federal government, with the exception of the Reserve. After the signing of the Treaty of Greenville in 1795, all Indian claims to land east of the Cayahoga River were dissolved.
Defined boundary lines
were then drafted between Indian Land and land open to new settlement. Remaining tribal lands were later extinguished with the Treaty of Fort Industry in 1805. From what I’ve gathered, Connecticut retained roughly five hundred thousand acres in Ohio.
The counties of Erie and Huron were set a side as
homesteads for those people back in Connecticut that fell victim to British aggression in the earlier war.
This land was compensation for their losses.
With the burning of their homes during the War for Independence, this area was designated as “The Suffers Land.” Lands” and included our island.
To the people of Ohio, “The Fire
Attracting very little to no interest for
quite some time, the island changed hands first from the French, then to the English probably without any representative authority ever setting foot ashore.
From what I can ascertain, the first land surveying efforts of this
area began in the proximity of 1796.
Later maps of the Ohio country
denoted all the Erie islands only with a number.
Our island was labeled as
Just after the turn of the century, our tiny island assumed the title of Cunningham Island, named after a Frenchmen, William Cunningham. trapper and trader by most accounts.
He is believed to had been the first
white-man to occupy the island for any length of time though he acknowledged no legal claim to any island land.
A man taking residence
more or less as a squatter by all definition.
Nevertheless, the uninhabited
islands of Erie up to this time had no formal names.
Now with an established
occupant residing on this isolated place on a more permanent basis, Island 6 started to be referred to as Cunningham Island.
The two names became
interchangeable depending on the company you were keeping, but I will always know this place as Isle 6 and will continue to refer to it as such. Settling upon this secluded rock somewhere in the late 1790's or possibly early 1800â€™s, though this date is speculation at best, the island was his home where he remained until around 1812 at the threshold of war with the Brits. Constructing a small cabin on the southeast side of the island near the water, Cunningham is said to have lived and traded with local Indians that occupied the northern shoreline of the Ohio region at that time.
log dwelling was built on land now owned by James Estes of Connecticut. Not sure why he left though. the years.
All sorts of tales and rumors had spread over
Many were unverified accounts to what actually became of the
man called Cunningham.
I heard one story that tells of a collapse in once
cordial relations with local tribesmen.
Squabbling and hot tempers fueling
bad blood, eventually leading to armed confrontation.
Cunningham had managed to barely escape from the island with his life. Whether killed or dying shortly thereafter from his injuries, it's not for certain what became of him or of his demise.
It's been said, that he recovered from his injuries and became a “Scout” for General William Harrison, yet army muster roles reveal no such rank.
probable that the secretive nature of a scout’s duties during wartime would need to be protected.
Acquiring such information by an enemy undoubtedly
leaves these men vulnerable incase of capture.
Their rank, should it be
discovered, surely would place these men in a perilous way.
several William Cunninghams with the rank of private do appear in Ohio regiment records, there is no confirmation that one of these men was actually he.
It was said that he is buried in the town of Rockporte just west
of Cleveland supposedly somewhere along a road that runs west from Rockporte to the small town of Elyria in the County of Lorain. location of his final resting place is not exactly known.
made by Cunningham’relatives do insist that his grave lies near the road and in close proximity to a home assigned for the convalescent care of Aged Welch People.
I will reveal more at a later time, but his fate has remained
a mystery to this day.
3 July Strong squalls swept through during the night. my ability to pen today.
Rolling waves have prevented
Seasickness has plagued most of the crew, myself
included… the rancid smell of fish doesn’t help in our present condition. We’ve worked long hours today securing the ship’s cargo.
Too tired to write
Battle For Marblehead
Storms have finally subsided for now. sways in all directions. rolling, rickety boat.
The lake is choppy and the ship still
It’s hard to eat and keep food down on this
To walk about is a chore in itself… always lunging or
grasping out at something so as not to fall.
I feel like a drunken sailor,
but haven’t tasted a drop. Enough complaining for now ~ to continue on about Wm. Cunningham. Other stories had surfaced that tell of William Cunningham being killed in a skirmish between a small, local detachment of men and Indians allied with the British on the Marblehead Peninsula several miles south of the island. The engagement involved a militia force from nearby Fort Avery.
more of a garrison outpost rather than a fort and was situated on the east side of the Huron River a few miles down from its mouth.
As the result of
the surrender of Fort Detroit to the English, bands of Indians began making probing raids across northwestern Ohio reaching Marblehead on the 28th of September 1812.
The contingent from Avery was sent to help strengthen the
small Marblehead force to help drive back the invaders moving in from the west.
Battling sporadically for good part of a day, the force retreated back
to the east side of the peninsula where they had first landed to move off their wounded.
Twenty gallant and outnumbered men stayed behind to fend
against roughly one hundred thirty Ottawa braves, keeping them at bay as the remaining force moved off the peninsula to nearby Cedar Point. Of the sixty defenders that fought on the 28th and 29th day of September 1812, some who were merely local citizens, eight were killed.
It was said,
that about one hundred forty Indians were sent to their graves as well. for the deceased, Cunningham’s name was not listed among them.
Marblehead conflict, along with the Battle of Fort Meigs and Fort Stephenson the following year, were the only major military land encounters occurring in this territory for the duration of the war. It's been well over twenty years since Perry expelled the British from these waters.
The guns and cannon fire have long been silent since Ghent.
soldiers have all gone to either their earthly or heavenly homes.
shattering of lives and the struggle for sovereignty in this new land has finally ended for now, or at least until the next great conflict comes along. Surely, it’s only a matter of time!
14 July The alluring nature of this island and the surrounding waters are powerfully hypnotic.
As I gaze from my own vessel across the vast water before me,
other islands are seen to the north and west possessing names like North Bass, Three Sisters, and Hen.
Since ancient times, mans' inherent quest for
exploration and conquest has shown no signs of lessening even to this day. What some try to keep, others wish to take.
Undoubtedly, it was this
unquenchable thirst for discovery that captivated and drew early inhabitants to the shores of this place known for so long only as Island No. 6.
Blood & Sweat
The early island settlers, mainly Germans, Italians, and other Eastern Europeans from what I have seen, began to slowly migrate to the Island.
Trying to carve out an
existence by quarrying the abundant limestone found in the northern part of the island.
The lure of good wages brought
many from the nearby mainland and beyond.
The island was also thick with red
cedar and oak forests, but strewn with mosquito filled swamps.
Men desperate for
work flocked to the island to fill the ranks of laborers needed to cut stone from the earth and harvest timber from the forests.
However, the masses
arriving on the island were not met with accepting joy by all island folk. Islanders saw such a multitude of foreigners as infringing on their quite and simple lives and saw further depletion of limited island commodities. For the few thriving shop owners though, the thought of potentially new customers was exciting news.
Anticipation grew for the sound of clattering
silver striking the cash drawers as more and more people arrived.
exhilaration quickly led to disappointment for many of these immigrants lacked the money to buy their goods and wares.
The virtue of these
strangers who were there with the hope of bettering their lives and that of their families were turned away.
Many were shunned and excluded from
formal island affairs, while some islanders simply turned a blind eye to the newcomerâ€™s plight. desperation.
Opportunists preyed upon these people and exploited their
Work meant money - money meant subsistence, but at what
cost does one exchange their pride and soul for a few dollars? there was no other way. improve in time.
They could only hope that their circumstance would
Sadly, it was not to be for many.
Many newcomers fell victim to sickness and disease adding to the strain and despair of trying to exist on this unexplored island.
The vision of
prosperous, new life was slowly becoming blurred.
22 July: In the early days, spirits were high and men were eager to earn their keep. Getting to the stone meant clearing trails and land. order of business in the quest for stone.
This was the first
A landing dock had already been
constructed on the south shore several years prior.
Up to this time, roughly
six acres had only been cleared in the proximity surrounding the wharf.
first island inhabitants took up their residence near this wharf and over the years this area slowly began to develop into the island’s main business district.
Passage from the southern shoreline northward was now needed in
order to get to the stone that lay just beneath the shallow soils. and west along the shoreline were ongoing. island and beyond was vital.
Getting into the center of the
It was indeed a monumental venture; a
grueling and laborious task that tested the strongest of men.
beneath the dense forests and underbrush hid a danger to all who ventured in.
Rattlers infested the island and with each step, loomed the risk for a
deadly encounter with these coiled serpents.
So caution to every step was
always on the mind of each and every man.
An abrupt drop in topography
two-thirds northward into a shallow valley added to this toilsome undertaking.
But, with determined resolve, man finally prevailed over
nature and conquered the island.
Roads, if that’s what you could really
call them, were merely crude, muddied paths cut across the island.
access now available from shore to shore, simple homesteads and make shift shelters began to spring up northward.
Men and their families with all their
possessions came to the island, risking everything, betting on a new life in what was truly a new land.
Men of Stone
From what I recall, stone excavation first commenced around 1833 with a small operation at the northwestern corner of the island in an area named “Sweet Valley” and in time was referred to as the North Bay Quarry.
a rather unmapped and wild state, it was the vision of a man, John Clemons, who saw the prospects of mining stone from this wilderness.
He erected a
stone dock that projected out from the natural limestone cliffs.
construction of this dock helped with the movement of stone and timber to small barges waiting offshore.
Water depths below were well suited for
vessels to anchor close for loading.
Built out from the protection of the
bay, the dock was exposed and vulnerable to the fury of nor'easters, ravishing storms equaling to those found in the great oceans. built of great strength.
The dock was
On several occasions, I have stood on the Clemon’s
dock overlooking the sheer limestone walls.
The dock had endured the
frigid cold of Ohio winters, battering of autumn storms, and the scorching summertime heat.
It had shown no signs of significant ware that I had
observed in my time.
John had to be pleased at his efforts.
In the years following 1834, several smaller quarries began to emerge near the southern shore.
Small operations began to occupy the south and west
ends of island and had gained the advantage of being closer to the mainland.
Geographically, the North Bay operation was destined for
abandonment after two short years and stood practically vacant for nearly forty more.
Difficult access threw the heavy timber and longer shipping
times from the north side left this operation unable to compete with newly emerging southern quarries.
Yet, there was no doubt that the North Quarry
was the first of its kind on this island leading the way to a flourishing and prosperous enterprise for many years to come. Nevertheless and shortly thereafter, the sound of pounding hammers, chipping rocks, stone crushers, and blasting filled the air.
And so it began -
the Quarrymen had arrived.
The island was indeed rich in brilliant, white limestone and market demand strong for the strength and beauty of this natural wonder.
As cities and
towns began to grow around the Great Lakes, island stone was a sought after commodity adding eloquence to homes, churches and buildings back east in places like Cleveland and Lorain.
Larger boulders, some weighing
up to twelve tons were used to build piers and break walls along the Lake Erie coastline and in places like Michigan, Minnesota, and New York. Business was good and revenues strong for those few that never felt the strain of a hard days work.
From the blood and sweat of others,
businessmen profited handsomely.
Yet, with prosperity came a darker side
that brought with it hard times for those who labored in the midst of the stone dust.
Among the inhabitants of the quarry camps, dreams of a richer,
more prosperous life slowly made way to crazed bouts of deep loneliness. Isolated on a lonely island away from everything that was familiar, broke many spirits.
But still, families tried to endure on only to be plagued by
grief-ridden despair and madness.
In time, death slowly began to enter and stalk many of the early camps. Consumption, fever, depression… death appeared in many disguises and discriminated against no one, young or old, man or woman.
the dire condition of these folks drew little concern from others. wilderness at that time on Island 6 was unforgiving.
The hostile manner in
which they were treated was also unforgiving and the tragic result for these families was immense suffering.
Back in a remote corner of Sweet Valley
Cemetery, near the red cedar treeline, lies six graves marked only with a number.
Six hastily dug pits all in a row… uncared for… unattended… their
occupants unknown and forgotten over time.
A single digit chiseled into each headstone… one number for one soul. Who knows how many more are out there, buried up at the North Quarry. these ages…? Are these dates…? of their suffering?
Are these graves somehow a reminder to all
Their meaning is a mystery, lost and buried for eternity
in those shallow graves, known only to the Quarrymen.
Often isolated from
common, everyday island affairs, the plight of the Quarrymen in the years to follow became known as the “The Dark Days.”
After nearly fifty years of pulling stone from the earth, the quarry industry on the island moved into a state of uncertainty.
Companies were changing
ownership sometimes every few years with some merging with larger firms from as far away as Cleveland.
Competition from mainland quarries began
to hinder the island stone business, thus leading to a gradual decline and finally, a decisive end.
at the North Bay Quarry have long run silent now.
Arriving with vigor
and hope, the Quarrymen departed from this place alone and silent leaving behind their fallen kin. Only remnants remain of the once optimistic and hopeful ones.
lives reduced to a scattering of forgotten relics almost totally hidden now among tall grass and sumac thickets.
Tall, red cedars
that survived the logger's ax have begun to reclaim their birth-lands that have seen the passing of the Cats, Iroquois, Mohawk and now the Quarrymen. Stories of strange happenings up at some of the abandoned quarry camps have trickled down through the years since the final boats departed from the docks; all described in similar and eerie detail.
To many outsiders, such
talk was regarded merely as exaggerated, over-active imaginations. Nonbelievers and skeptics laughingly dismiss claims of such events.
said that, for one to devote so much thought and energy to such things was someone with far too much leisure on their hands.
For them, they have the
luxury to disbelieve from afar not having to endure on an island enveloped in what is believed to be a curse.
Many are not as fortunate, such as I.
You can laugh from the comfort of a soft, warm chair as you read these pages, but spending time on the island and hearing of these haunted encounters will leave you unnerved.
Especially, when they linger so near.
At night, your senses are pulled to every unfamiliar sound you hear, every feint noise.
Your mind races and strains for a logical explanation.
Sometimes, there just isn’t any.
Fear besets you and you long for sleep to
escape, but are held prisoner by eyes reluctant to close. Thought of only as island folklore, there are numerous tales that have withstood the passage of time.
Unspoken of for so long, they had remained
locked within the confines of the island's rocky shore…until now! One thing was for certain, those who strongly spoke ill of these occurrences, denying their existence, all have met with… what some would say - untimely
misfortunes. A coincidence of fate or a curse from beyond the grave?
occurred near the old, stone quarry filling the surrounding thick, dark woods with an unholy evil. Rumors entail, that on certain nights, when the night sky possesses no moon, the
Quarrymen rise from among the stones seeking vengeance against those responsible for their earthly anguish and injustice. It has been told that visions of ghostly silhouettes wander the winding trails along the southern rim of the quarry up near Titus Road.
The feint sound
of the Quarrymen’s bell is said to be heard through the darkened woods. Who tolls the bell from a place that has been forgotten for so long? Surrendering to their fear, no one has dared to remain long enough to say with any certainty what they saw or would speak of what they heard for fear of impending retribution.
26 August Lack of wind has slowed our travel greatly. now.
Our ship is at stand still for
The lake is very placid and eerily silent.
Very peculiar… a bit spooky!
It’s ironic…the lake we sail upon is named Erie…
In the deep recesses of my mind, I can’t keep terrible thoughts from entering into my head. I lie awake thinking and wondering. Why a sudden absence of wind - as if the island will not relinquish its grasp of me… as if it knows of my intentions.
Memories that had somewhat begun
to fade over the past few weeks have reawakened. I fear the days to come. Not until I am far, far away from this place will my mind pull free of these dreadful thoughts. Will be making port for supplies tomorrow taking we get good wind in our sails.
Everyone is looking forward to being on solid ground again.
I eagerly wait to go ashore.
Time appears to pass so slowly when
anticipation is so great.
Port at Last
Once we navigated beyond the chain of islands, our ship began to sail on a north by northeast heading. journey.
We are close to making our first stop on this
All are anxious for the feel of the ground beneath their feet.
Approaching the dock near Cedar Creek, the captain is worried about the shallow waters off to our portside.
As he makes his way toward land, sand
covered shoals are easily seen through the clear water.
I admit, having
limited knowledge of maritime tactics, it’s evident, even to a greenhorn such as myself that running ashore on one of these sandbars would be most unfortunate. Captain will secure provisions for the remainder of our journey. in two days time at first light. walked down the dock.
I still feel the swaying of the ship as I
A soft, warm bunk and some decent food is a
welcome comfort I look forward too.
I’m so tired though…I need rest.
Writing on a still table and in a comfortable chair is a nice change from a lumpy bunk on a rocking ship.
finally write at greater length tonight. Though not many a man possessed a strong enough will to refute the tales of the North Quarry, there were two such islanders, Richard McCuin and Daniel Stewart, whose forefathers promoted some of the earliest and profitable enterprises on the island.
acting on a challenge, decided to see for themselves: to see if the ghosts of the Quarrymen truly walk among the cedar thickets.
One night, at a meeting of the Independent Order of
Islanders, McCuin spoke to his brethren that he would dispel the notion of ghosts and spooks up at the North Bay Quarry once and for all.
packed second floor meeting room above the General Store, he asked, "if anyone was man enough to accompany him on such an venture.” filled the room when he made his request.
Many men looked away or at
each other in disbelief of such an unsettling invitation.
cannot be held prisoner by our own fears!” McCuin said in an almost scolding tone.
“What are you running from?
with no plausible evidence beyond what someone though they heard or saw?” “Come, Come now, let’s be rational about all of this.” Silence filled the room - just the ticking of the clock above the fireplace was heard. sound.
Tick…Tick…Tick… as the pendulum swung.
No one uttered a word.
No one made a
After a few minutes passed, Daniel Stewart
pushed back his chair and slowly stood up, took in a deep breathe and with a defiant look, agreed to go.
Looking staunchly at McCuin for a moment, then turning back to the men before him, Stewart, with a slight, but hesitant grin, responded, “We will indeed settle this… you’ll see.” “The quicker we end this, the quicker we can all get back to the business of being men again.”
Now McCuin's father owned large tracts of vineyard and several wineries all about the island and was a quick-tempered, quarry boss. Stewart's father and uncle built a thriving business harvesting the island's abundant supply of stone and timber. first quarry rails. pits.
They were responsible for laying the
Hot, backbreaking work on the hard, stone floor of the
He was a relentless, unfeeling man driving workers sometimes round
the clock in fourteen-hour shifts.
Getting the rails and elevated piers in
place and keeping them maintained under the strain of heavy loads of stone was pressing work.
This was his obsession and it weighed heavily on his mind daily.
money and if the rails went down, so did production, which to these moneygrubbing men was like stealing from the company's coffers and this they would never allow to happen, no matter the price.
So at the cost of their
souls, money drove them and stripped them of all sense of human decency revealing a compassionless disregard for their fellow man.
All in the name
of money and greed.
30 August: Ship’s rear mast has sustained several small cracks from that last storm, one big one near the base and two smaller ones just above the first yardarm. Cap says they gotta to be fixed before we set sail.
So, I guess we’re staying
in port longer than expected to everyone’s delight.
Night of Tragedy
Over time, a cold, resentment began to grow between the quarry bosses and the workers. into night.
Crews were made to work at all times throughout the day, even On one particular day - 31 of October to be exact, a blasting
crew was ordered to set charges to blow out a section of stone. not an unusual task in most instances.
However, to do it at night was quite
dangerous with potentially dire consequences.
Naturally, the men strongly
objected to the request. The men debated and argued as to why this should be done at night and why it couldn’t wait till morning when they could see what they were doing. Appearing to be concerned with the workers complaints, the acting foremen in a meager attempt to appease the men merely listened and nodded. Bosses knew they would not give in to the workers threatening the loss of their jobs if they didn’t comply with the orders. a conspiracy conjured up by the managers. unbearable.
Some workers claim it was
The aim… to make conditions
An attempt to weed out headstrong, would-be troublemakers
and getting them to leave the island. So reluctantly off they went, stumbling into the darkness, down a steep, jagged limestone cliff to set dynamite charges with only hand-held lanterns to light the way.
After roughly forty minutes or so, what happened next has
been debated for many years.
In the silence of that quiet, fall night, a huge
explosion suddenly shook the island, sending tons of rock down on the men below.
Some people, as far away as the other side of the island had said the
force of the blast knocked plates and jars off their shelves. search efforts began to find the crew.
Workers scurrying down into the
dark frantically calling out to their friends. night.
This went on throughout the
With the onset of morning, the light began to reveal the true horror
of this event.
Moving the large stones to uncover the men was slow.
and body parts one by one finally began to be unearthed.
crushed almost unrecognizable, one gnarled corpse made even the strongest
man turn away sickened.
Some bodies were never found.
When all seemed
lost, by some miraculous act of God, one man was found still alive. able to speak, he kept uttering, …”why us?” “why us?”
As the man was being
stretchered away, several quarry bosses were gathered together on the porch of a nearby supply house looking on.
The man, who by this time was near
death, was carried past these men and other onlookers. He lifted his head and turning toward the porch, raised his arm, his contorted limb quivering uncontrollably, then cursed them over and over pointing his finger and shouting,
“il vostro tempo verra!”
fell limp dangling off the side of the gurney. and he expired.
Then his arm
His head slumped to one side
All that were there and all who heard the taunt silently
looked at each other unnerved at the tone of this dying man’s words.
one knew what the words meant and I’m sure there are those who really didn’t want to know. will come.”
Upon asking, the utterance was Italian for…”your time
From all that I have encountered while here; for all that I have
seen and heard, the old man’s vengeful words should not have been taken lightly.
Unknowingly to everyone there, I truly believe that the unjust act
imposed on these hard, working men that night seared the dying man’s curse into the lives of everyone upon this island.
13 September Set sail late this morning… about half past ten. sense of urgency by the captain. at sea for so long. on deck.
Appeared to be no real
Leaving land is difficult when we’ve been
Already, I am missing the comforts of port.
Duty calls… It seems endless at times.
Torn sails need tending to
- not sure when I can write again.
20 September: Vanished Continuing… Unlike their rigid predecessors, Richard McCuin and Daniel Stewart were active members involved in island affairs.
Revered as educated and astute
community leaders, these men were blessed with the fortitude of strong mind and body.
Despite all confidence and courage, it is said that those two
unfortunate souls made their way to the North Bay Quarry along Titus Road on the 31st day of October, 1896, a year to the day of the tragic quarry blast, walked up onto the quarry rim and descended down toward the abandoned quarry camps, never to be seen again. found.
To this day, no bodies have ever been
From what I can recall, nobody have ever gone looking either.
”Doomed from the start!” many locals have said, who still remember, but would prefer to forget.
Who can blame us.
Had the threats of vengeance
from a dying old, man actually come true?
Were McQuin and Stewart the
first of many sacrificial lambs?
How many more will be chosen??
knows the time nor the day!
Now it was rumored that a few years after the ”disappearance” - what it became known as by islanders - that a short, scribbled letter was discovered revealing the events up at the North Quarry. Written by whom, nobody really knows, but the rumor persisted for some time. As the years passed, the existence of the anonymous letter and its author, how it came to be, was never found and has yet to be seen by anyone living among us to this day. been mentioned.
No name has ever been linked… no name ever has
The alleged document appeared to be just that, alleged.
Yet, even without tangible proof, there are those who want to believe the letter did or does exist somewhere.
The heirs of McCuin and Stewart cling
to the hope that this letter, the closest and lone testament to what became of their loved ones on that ill-faded night, some how is out there.
Even in the
remote possibility that the letter actually exists, for those few, it’s an insatiable yearning that someday will bring the unknown into the truthful light.
Who would be so cruel as to give false hope to such distressed souls?
The story of what happened on that dark night at the North Quarry is still scoffed at by many. campfire at night.
A tale reserved to frighten children circled around a
But, for the sons and daughters of Richard McCuin and
Daniel Stewart, they had inherited not wealth, nor land, but a lasting and haunting memory.
In all the years since the disappearance of these two men
and the disputed claims of the letter, no one openly speaks of what occurs at the North Quarry or of the Quarrymen anymore.
To speak of it was to
risk ones own life in the minds of the “Believers.”
However, for the once
…they will forever remember the discovery of Doc Wellers body up at the North Pond, discovered by workers from a nearby celery field. floating among the cattails and bulrush. been found.
To this day, his head has never
Sailors drifting offshore at night have recalled hearing wails
and whispering voices through the darkness as they passed the shallow channel connecting the pond to the great lake.
It’s said, that the sounds
rising up along the channel are that of Doc Wellers - Doc‘s anguished pleas for help from his tormentors. all.
His cries released out to sea… a reminded to
Even the most hardened ship captains who know of these tales, dare not
stray too close to shore when approaching the North Pond for fear of being boarded by the ghosts of the dead.
…the twisted, hanging body of Thomas Benson swinging in his barn loft out on Woodford Road, discovered by his neighbor, Joseph Herschman. Pausing before entering the barn, he reported hearing a kind of thumping sound Benson’s lifeless corpse bumping against the wall of the barn as it swung in the darkness.
who entered that barn that night and saw the blood dripping from eye sockets with no eyes as the floor below puddled dark, red surely wished they had stayed outside.
Even to this day, a bloodstained blotch is still visible
on the barn floor under where his body hung… it said that it can’t be washed away. …the hacked and dismembered body of Samuel Hobbs – farm hands finding body parts scattered throughout his wheat field along West Lake Shore Drive - his
hand impaled to a fence post with a rail spike.
unexplainable to this day, yet, a ghastly reminder to never forget.
among some of the most horrific accounts… and there are others.
were the most vile recorded, occurring within one years time after the “Vanishing.
It was after this final atrocity that I knew I must rid myself of
the horrors that may await me.
No one seems to be beyond reach.
Truth Be Told
As years pasted, an unspoken reverence towards the Quarrymen came to be. And for the people of Island 6, after the grisly encounters of years past, no one has dared to deny the plight of the men of stone again. late for remorse now.
It is far too
The effects of past transgressions cannot be undone.
The goodness in a man’s heart needs to be shown in the current moment of life when it is needed most, not when it’s only convenient to do so or as an after thought.
Sadly, such was the case here.
The disregard and ill
treatment given to the Quarrymen was surely not just and that of Christian ways.
Now the families of this tiny island community are enduring the
blame for past indifferences.
The Quarrymen are gone, but they reach out
from beyond the thin layers of dirt that cover the shallow graves in the Sweet Valley.
Men fear that their day draws near when they may be chosen.
Retribution in upon us!
30 October: The refuted letter recalling the events leading to the final demise of the two men had never been found.
By shear trepidation, efforts to uncover the
document were short-lived at best and the notion of the mysterious letter fell into obscurity.
Some still deny that such a letter was ever written, while
others claim a clever hoax.
Nevertheless, the search had ended, leaving
behind disturbing memories and unanswered questions.
It is true that the events of 31 October have not been documented in any ledger or diary, archived on some library shelf, or preserved in some historical conservatory vault.
However, let it be said this day, that the origin
of the refuted letter is indeed true, for it was found in the clenched, lifeless hand of Richard McCuin, taken by me - the writer of this diary tale. Since my departure from the island years ago, I have been a drift on these waters attending to my life affairs working these merchant ships.
yearn to be land bound again, I have not mustered the courage to set foot upon land on a more permanent basis.
So for now, I am content to journey
from port to port earning my keep and continuing to complete my story.
5 November: Richard McCuin's testimony to the events of that night, the sights and sounds recorded from that place, once etched in your mind, will render your nights with a unsettling sleep as it has mine for so many years.
I have remained
reclusive and silent for too long in avoiding my own fate.
But, the time has
come for me now to scribe these pages so everyone can know the truth.
conjured images that accompany these events are still so vivid and I pray, that someday, I will be released of them.
I just hope I live long enough to
conclude my writings.
10 November: I reveal this to all who read these words that the unseen letter spoken of from years past does exist. owed to so many.
I can no longer shoulder the burden of what is
With the revealing of the events on that moonless night in
the cedar thickets, itâ€™s for certain that my time in this world will now be measured like grains of sand through an hourglass, destined and with all certainty to run out. So if you ever find yourself up at the old North Bay Quarry on Island 6 near the large stand of red cedar, look and listen, for the trees will be dark and void of light and sound.
And, if nightfall suddenly blankets you in
darkness and you still remain, beware and hasten your departure from that place and be on your way. For if you see approaching lights ignited through
the trees and glimpse shadows among the tall cedars, do not call out, but rather make quickly, for they are not of this world. Run... Run fast - for the Quarrymen are now looking for y
What you are about to read in the following passage set before you today is the actual witnessing of what transpired that night.
Witnessed by one who
managed to retain his sanity long enough to record what he encountered. To reveal the words that will finally unburden my soul and that of others has long been overdue.
Let each man, woman, or child who read these
words, judge for themselves, if the Quarrymen truly roam the dark trails along Titus Road up at the North Quarry on Island No. 6.
Final testament of Richard McCuin
- Transcribed 1901
The woods never seemed so black and empty, so lifeless. It’s as if this was a place that never felt the warmth of the sun. minutes after we entered into the tree line a frigid and numbing cold crept into our bones. like walking through a curtain of air…a passing into a realm of evil. Nearing the old camps, an indescribable sense of suffering and despair consumed us. There were no sounds, no noise…it’s so very silent. My god…! I hear them…! I see them…! Ghostly shadows suddenly all around.
They are coming toward us! Lanterns glowing so very bright.
Feint, tortured moans, cries of the insane, wails of their madness pierce my ears. And their eyes! Oh, do not look into their eyes for they are hollow and empty…the eyes of death. Blindly I ran through the tangled undergrowth, briars ripping and tearing flesh with every step. Separated from Stewart, I came upon this small enclave of rock and roots where I can rest. I am safe, but I know my time is very short…I only have time to write & to pray…to reveal to whoever may find this note that they are real. I am certain this will be my final resting place - there’s no escape - there will be no mercy They’re following, searching, they yearn for our souls.
The cries are becoming louder and louder.
They are close…closing
in…surrounding me Like the screams of the Quarrymen when they were mortal, my screams to go unheard. They are almost upon me now… my heart pounds in my chest.
The light is
blinding… They encircle me…heed this warning…compassion can only
Journal of Daniel Stewart 1901 _________ ~ Final Thoughts
3 September I now feel my time runs shor