I live near the cliffs of Lake Michigan, one of the Great Lakes in the midwestern United States. The lake covers over 22,000 square miles and its shoreline view mimics the ocean. (No wonder my stories are nestled within a seaside community.) Lake Michigan may seem placid but dive down to the bottom and you’ll find a graveyard of over 2,000 shipwrecks. The water is twisted with trauma. In a nearby pocket-sized littoral cemetery, I found a broken, unadorned marker for three unidentified seamen who washed ashore in the 1800s when their ship sank. No one should die unsung, so I paused to honor them in my first book:
Smuggling was a dangerous business both on water and on land. “There’s a few of them from the Isle of Man buried here beside St. Elwick’s, their bodies washed ashore with none to claim them. It’s a sad thing to be buried with not a soul to mourn your passing.” Addie’s sad gaze rested on the churning sea.
-- Excerpt from The Stars Prevail
For some inexplicable reason, I am drawn to that tiny cemetery every fall to visit those lost souls. Last year, I found someone had kindly memorialized those unmourned men by erecting a fine headstone in their memory. The names were still unknown, but the loss wasn’t forgotten.
When I returned this year, I discovered that someone had doggedly researched historical records and finally identified the seamen. Their names appeared on a fresh headstone along with the names of two women who perished in a ship fire a year later:
Shipwreck of Sebastopol
(September 18, 1855)
Names of those lost:
James Clark, Wheelsman
Frank Forbs, 2nd Engineer
Morris Berry, 2nd Mate
Ship fire on the Niagara
(September 24, 1856)
Names of those lost:
Kate Haring – Age 11
Unknown Female –
Est. Age 35-40
I am so grateful for the determined researchers who discovered these lost souls after one hundred and sixty-eight years and also the generous investors who sponsored their group headstone.
For a stunning view of Lake Michigan’s sunken ships and insight on underwater archeology, try boarding this website: http://wisconsinshipwrecks.org
This blog is where I post my inspirations for each book in the Remy Lane Mystery series as well as behind-the-scenes tips, pics, and other tidbits. Feel free to click 'Read More' for in-depth posts.