DETAIL OF “THE WRECK OF THE HANOVER,” painted 1851 by John C. Tallman.

DETAIL OF “THE WRECK OF THE HANOVER,” painted 1851 by John C. Tallman.


One of Bath’s worst maritime tragedies occurred on Nov. 9, 1849: the ship Hanover, trying to enter the mouth of the Kennebec during a southeast gale, struck the sand bar between Pond Island and Wood Island about noon and was lost with all hands within view of Pond Island Light and Popham Beach. The Bath Historical Society fall program will commemorate this event 165 years later almost to the day. On Saturday, Nov. 8, at 10:30 a.m. in the Community Room at the Patten Free Library, Dr. Susan F. Beegel will present an illustrated lecture on “The Wreck of the Hanover and Harriet Beecher Stowe.” Mrs. Stowe used the story of the wreck of the Hanover to begin her novel, The Pearl of Orr’s Island.

The 577-ton Hanover was a threemasted, square-rigged ship, launched in 1838 from the Houghton shipyard in Bath, which was located near the foot of South Street. Her principal owner was Levi Houghton, and she sailed in the cotton trade for many years with Capt. James Drummond as master. On this passage, she carried a cargo of salt from Cadiz, Spain, and was commanded by Capt. George A. Rogers. Born and raised in Phippsburg, Capt. Rogers had moved with his family to Bath, where he previously had worked as a Kennebec River pilot. In the snowstorm and mountainous seas, however, he misjudged his approach to the river and hit the bar. The ship was knocked down, broken in half and was pounded to bits. It was said that 24 men lost their lives in the wreck, one of the worst on the Maine coast. Of the bodies that washed ashore, only those of Capt. Rogers and his first mate and cousin, Ballard Bartlett, were identifiable. A few pieces of the ship and some items aboard her came ashore and have been preserved. Many stories have been told about the wreck, but most famously by Mrs. Stowe.

Susan Beegel has a Ph.D. in English from Yale University and served as editor of The Hemingway Review for 22 years. She also was a professor in the Williams College- Mystic Seaport Maritime Studies Program, where she taught “Literature of the Sea.” She included The Pearl of Orr’s Island in her course curriculum. Since moving to Phippsburg, she has been able to do more extensive research on the wreck of the Hanover and on how it has been depicted in literature and art. Dr. Beegel served as a trustee of the Patten Free Library for nine years and is currently a corporator.

The Library opens at 10 a.m. and refreshments will be available in the second-floor Community Room before the program at 10:30. For more information, call the PFL History Room at 443-5141, ext. 8.

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