Forgotten Wreck: Franklin (1825)

The New York Spectator published this relatively innocuous article on May 3, 1825.

Shipwreck.–We mentioned on Saturday, that a large ship was seen ashore near Barnegat. This vessel proves to be the packet ship Franklin, Capt. Munro, which left here on Wednesday, for Charleston. She went ashore on Thursday morning, in the fog, eight miles north of Barnegat, and went to pieces. The passengers and crew were all saved. The cargo principally drifted to sea, and some strewed on the beach.

That same day, the Franklin‘s captain, J.S. Munroe, wrote the letter below. It travelled far. This version appeared in Charleston, South Carolina’s City Gazette and Commercial Daily Advertiser on May 11th. It’s the first serious allegation of “land piracy” on the Jersey Shore I’ve come across (not counting occasional charges of locals taking a few capfuls of coffee and such from a wreck).

Capt. Munro, of the packet ship Franklin, which was cast away last Thursday morning on Barnegat, has addressed the following letter to the editors of the Mercantile Advertiser:

Permit me through the medium of your paper, to express my indignation at the treatment I received when unfortunately cast ashore in the ship Franklin, on Island Beach, six miles north of Barnegat Inlet. I fondly hoped that the unpleasant situation in which my crew and self were placed, would elicit feelings from the inhabitants entirely different from what we received–I thought we were cast upon an hospitable shore, where we should find civilized beings; but I regret to say that not more than 20 out of 200 or more, who assembled on the beach, but what plundered as of every thing they could get hold of, although every precaution in our power was used to guard against it. It is impossible for me to say what amount of property they embezzled–I have no doubt that valuable goods were frequently buried in the sand, in order to be removed at night. A new maintopsail, which with much difficulty we got on the beach, was taken from us. In time is is impossible to enumerate the many instances of a similiar nature. In the offing, there were several vessels picking up valuable goods, names of which I have in my possession, but presuming they will deliver the goods to the agents of the ship, I forbear at present to name them. I feel under great obligations to Mr. Wm. Platt, for his attention while there.–I conceive if 10,000 are required to protect our commerce in the W. Indies, an equal number are necessary on Island Beach.

~J. S. Munro.

New York, May 3, 1825

Despite Munro’s favorable opinion of William Platt, the Platt family was bad news. William Platt (possibly the same mentioned by Munro) and his son would later be hunted down in the New Jersey Pinelands by federal agents for their illegal plundering of shipwrecks in the 1830s. But more on that in another post…

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Filed under Dissertation Digest, Forgotten Wrecks, Notes from the Field

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