#02477
Loss Of The Donald L Silver (Chuck Simms)

Attention all you sailors,
come listen to what I say,
While I relate the dreadful news
that we record today:
The schooner Donald Silver,
Captain Hackett in command,
Today she lies a total wreck
on the shores of Newfoundland.

She had not long been sailing
when the southeast storm did rise,
The rain came down in torrents
and clouds overcast the skies;
They must have run her off the land
for twenty miles or more,
The wind got 'round west-nor'west,
but she drifted toward shore.

It was only a few days later,
the message went around,
The Donald Silver a total loss,
and all her crew were drowned.
It cast a gloom upon the place
when you heard the message read:
Lost in the mouth of Bay St George,
in a place they call Pang Head.

There's Captains John Hackett
and Joseph in command,
Their nephew James Hackett,
who was their second hand,
And William Reid from Summerside,
where his people now do dwell,
And Onz Wheeler from that same place,
the same sad fate befell.

There were two more men from Bay St George
that same sad fate did share,
Drowned on the Donald Silver
was Frank and Harold Swyers;
And now they're gone, God rest them,
their last sea voyage is done,
The wives now grieve for their husbands
and the mothers for their sons.

There's Captains John Hackett
and Joseph in command,
Their nephew James Hackett,
who was their second hand,
And William Reid from Summerside,
where his people now do dwell,
And Onza Wheeler from that same place,
the same sad fate befell,
And Onza Wheeler from that same place,
the same sad fate befell.

####.... Chuck Simms of Grand Bank, Burin Peninsula, NL, and York, Prince Edward Island ....####
Donald L Silver was a 94 ton schooner built at Lunenburg, Nova Scotia in 1911. She was owned by local investors in Bay of Islands, NL.

Lyrics collected by Herman Porter with the following note:

About 15 years ago I heard a song written and sung about this vessel. I don't know who sang the song or who wrote it but the lead instrument seemed to be an accordion. I expect the singer may have been from the west coast of Newfoundland. I managed to write down the lyrics and have never seen them anywhere else. The wording seems to vary a bit from the story and a couple of the names are slightly different. I'm forwarding it to you for any further research and/or corrections, as I think it deserves a place in the GEST archives. More information about the loss can be found at the NLGenWeb site HERE.

Follow-up message from Sean Kenny on 11/18/2011:
I had a tape of Chuck Simms years ago and this song was on it. I was born on St Georges Bay but never heard of this wreck till I heard Chuck sing it. By the way, Chuck is a great Newfoundland entertainer.


See more songs by Chuck Simms.

Other documentation GEST found on-line:

¹ From the Auburn, NY, Citizen: Dateline Curling, NF, Jan 5, 1924 - The names of the lost were given as Captain Joseph Hackett, in command; James Hackett, mate; William Rudth, Lorenzo Wheeler, John Hackett, all of Bay of Islands; Harold Swyers and Bert Swyers of Bay St George's.

² On January 11, 1924, The Bay Roberts Guardian reported: "The bodies recovered from the wreck of the schooner, Donald L Silver, which was lost in last week's storm in Bay St George while en route to Gloucester with a load of herring from Bay of Islands, are as follows: - Capt Hackett, Routh and Wheeler, of Bay of Islands, and H Swyers and F Swyers, of Sandy Point."

³ From the Web site Out Of Gloucester, January 7, 1924:
The British schooner Donald L Silver was lost last Thursday with all of her seven men in St George Bay, off Heatherton, 60 miles southwest of Curling, NF, according to a dispatch from there on Saturday. The Silver was bound from Bay of Islands, NF, to this port with a cargo of herring for the Gorton-Pew Fisheries Company, Limited.
The Donald L Silver, a 94-ton fisherman of British registry, left the Bay of Islands, Monday with a cargo of herring. Thursday morning she encountered a blinding snow storm and a heavy gale, and quickly foundered. The names of the lost were given as: Capt Joseph Hackett, in command, James Hackett, mate, William Rudth, Leonzo Wheeler, and John Hackett, all of Bay of Islands; Harold Swyers and Bert Swyers of Bay St George's. Capt Hackett, John Hackett and Harold Swyers were all married. Five of the bodies have been recovered.

GEST notes that this song is a prime example of historical changes made through oral and written tradition, especially in the spelling of names and locations. Words in the song which could be changed to some of the names in the documents cited by Herman Porter, the Auburn, NY, Citizen, and The Bay Roberts Guardian are underlined. At this time, there is very little information available through public records on-line to confirm the accuracy of all the names and places.


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