Peter Wademan, Grace L. Fears Under Tow, 24" x 36", O/C

Peter Wademan, Grace L. Fears Under Tow, 24″ x 36″, O/C

Peter Wademan, Grace L. Fears Under Tow, 24″ x 36″, O/C

Paul Gran's Model of the Grace L. Fears Under Construction for the Cape Ann Museum

Paul Gran’s Model of the Grace L. Fears Under Construction for the Cape Ann Museum

The Grace L. Fears

The Grace L. Fears was built by David Alfred Story at Pearce Street, Gloucester, and launched in 1874. She was a fair-sized vessel, with a heavy clipper bow, with trailboards and flying jib boom. She carried a large rig. She was named after the sister of Albert Fears of Gloucester. The Grace L. Fears during her career was used in most all branches of the fishery, including halibuting, haddocking, Georges handlining, mackerel seining, and Newfoundland herring voyages.

The Grace L. Fears had her share of hard luck. While under command of Capt. Greenleaf, Charles Nelson and Lafayette Greenleaf, two of her crew, went astray in the fog on Grand Bank, August 10, 1881. They were picked up five days later by a French bark and landed at Savannah, Georgia. When they were rescued they had only one quart of water left. Thomas Walsh, one of the crew, was lost off Burgeo, Newfoundland, on January 25, 1883. On February 24, 1885, the Fears arrived at Gloucester from a Bank halibut trip. She reported very severe weather. Her cable was parted twice, losing two anchors and 140 fathoms of cable. She was obliged to lay to for nearly a week. In August 1893 the Fears was struck by a gale on Brown’s Bank. She ran for Liverpool, Nova Scotia, after springing a leak, with 2 feet of water over cabin and forecastle floor. On entering the harbor she ran ashore and filled with water. She was floated later and repaired.

On January 25, 1883, the Grace L. Fears was fishing on Burgeo Bank off the coast of Newfoundland when dorymates Howard Blackburn and Thomas Welch went astray in a blizzard. Welch froze to death while Blackburn, with fingers frozen around the handles of his oars, rowed his dory 65 miles to shore and help in five days without food or water, as related in Gloucester author Joseph E. Garland’s biography, Lone Voyager. Howard lost all his fingers but went on in middle age to sail alone across the Atlantic twice in small boats. Never in the annals of the sea has a man shown the courage, endurance, and strength of this Gloucester fisherman.

The Grace L. Fears sailed on her last voyage on December 9, 1897. She was bound to Newfoundland for a herring cargo. She was sighted on the morning of December 17 by schooner Columbia, about 30 miles from St. Pierre, Miquelon. She was never seen again. She was supposed to have gone down in the gale that arose the following day. She carried a crew of seven. Capt. John Aiken, 56 years old, was a native of Barrington, Nova Scotia. He left a widow and five children.