Earlier this month we shared an article published on Sept 5, 1862 in the Daily Herald that stated that the body of Lt David Shackford who had drowned on August 22 had been found. We wanted to see if we could learn how he died so we went back to the wonderful Newburyport Public Library Newspaper newpaper archives and searched for Shackford. We then narrowed the 210 articles to those that appeared in August and September 1862 and found 2 in August, and 4 in September.
The two articles in August pertain to David being voted as a 2 LT and the four articles in September described his body being found and his burial but no articles describing the incident leading to his death. By reviewing the articles, we were pretty sure there had been an article on the day that he had drowned. We also learned that two papers were published at this time – the Daily Herald which appeared daily and the Newburyport Herald which was published twice a week.
We know that OCR search engines don’t always find all the articles containing a specific word so we started looking through each newspaper starting on August 22nd and discovered an article in the Daily Herald on August 23, page 2, column 3! Unfortunately the article was washed out and can’t be read. So we looked for the next issue of the Newburyport Herald and found this article published on the 26th of August.
DROWNED. On Friday afternoon about 3 o’clock, Mr. David Shackford was drowned near the mouth of
the Merrimac river, at Plum Island Point. Being down on a pleasure excursion, he took a boat to sail, and by some accident lost the runder [sic]. He then anchored, took down the sail, divested himself of his clothes, and
jumped into the water to recover the rudder; that he accomplished and had nearly reached the boat again,
in the strong tide of the channel, when he suddenly sunk and drowned. He was some 35 years old and leaves a family. It was only the night before that he was elected second lieutenant of the Cushing Guard, and was expecting shortly to leave for the seat of war, under the nine months call.
The article published on September 5th inferred that he may have been a victim of a shark.
“DROWNED,” The Newburyport Herald (Newburyport, Massachusetts), 26 August 1862, page 2, col 2; digital images, Newburyport Public Library (http://newburyport.advantage-preservation.com/ : accessed 30 August 2016).
Copyright 2017 Joanne Shackford Parkes (sharing a link to this post is appreciated but please do not copy this material and paste it elsewhere)