In the winter of 1846, an immense ocean storm popped up off the coast of Marblehead. Reports by local fisherman in the aftermath of the storms destruction claimed that it was like nothing they had ever seen. “Unnatural,” said John Hobson, “The clouds were black and spinning violently; the ocean…she was screamin’.”
The strange and sudden appearance of the storm caught Captain Emery Weaver by surprise. While fishing for cod, Weaver and his crew, which included a young Annabelle Wakeworth, were unable to safely make it to shore due to the violent winds and crashing waves. Getting swept dangerously close to the rocky coastline, Captain Weaver decided to drop anchor and try to ride out the storm else his ship be lost.
Theodore Redfield washed up on the shore the next day, near death, and babbling incoherently. When he was found, his eyes were missing and his skin had turned the color of ashen gray. The group of men who tried to help Redfield before he died (which included Jeremiah Coaker, Edmund Babbage, Andrew Abbot, and Isaac Fenneck) later claimed that Redfield had babbled incoherently and that his words were nothing more than gibberish.
However, young Peter Babbage who was fourteen at the time and had been helping his father search for survivors along the coast that morning had a very different story to tell. After his father’s death years later, Peter claimed that Redfield had indeed “made sense”. The following is a passage from the The Marblehead Messenger in 1871 and involves reporter Arthur Bartlett interviewing Peter Babbage:
Bartlett: So you are saying that Redfield did indeed make statements before he died?
Bartlett: What did he say?
Babbage: Well, as you know, when his body was found, his eyes were missing…
Bartlett: Yes. Did he mention how that happened?
Babbage: Sort of. He was talking about seeing something in the water…
Bartlett: Did he say what he saw?
Babbage: He was very erratic with what he was saying, as you’d expect of someone in that condition. But it was very clear that he was telling us what happened. He said that Captain Weaver ordered everyone inside the ship but when they did the head count, one person was missing.
Babbage: Annabelle Wakeworth.
Bartlett: Annabelle Wakeworth?
Babbage: Yes. Weaver then told his men to search the ship for her. Redfield was ordered to search on the deck.
Bartlett: With the storm raging like that?
Bartlett: Then what?
Babbage: According to Redfield he found Annabelle Wakeworth standing at the bow of the boat…looking over the edge into the water
Bartlett: With the storm? For what reason?
Babbage: Redfield went to fetch her and when he got to her he looked into the water…
Bartlett: go on…
Babbage: He said he only got the briefest of glimpses before he felt his eyes leave him…
Bartlett: Did he say what he saw?
Bartlett: Mr. Babbage, did he say what he saw?
Babbage: ….an abyss…within which was a smiling man with too many eyes and an unearthly bellow…the next thing he remembered was my father and his friends pulling him out of the water.
Bartlett: That’s quite the tale, even for a fisherman.
Babbage: I’m just telling you the truth of what he said. I never said it made sense or that I believed it.
Bartlett: And you are alleging that your father Edmund Babbage, Andrew Abbot, Jeremiah Coaker, and Isaac Fenneck all agreed into a conspiracy to keep this story secret…. why?
Babbage: I’m not sure. You should ask the Abbot’s.
Bartlett: Do you believe the story?
Babbage: …let me just say that Redfield didn’t appear to be a man out of his mind or delirious. So, yes. Yes I do think he saw something. What it was, I’m not sure.
Bartlett: Interesting. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Babbage: Yes. You should talk to Annabelle Wakeworth and find out what really happened. She is the only person who survived the tragedy, after all.
Bartlett: I’m afraid that won’t be possible.
Bartlett: Because the Wakeworth Estate has repeatedly refused inquiries and interviews. It’s just their policy.
Babbage: Don’t you find that strange?
Bartlett: Show me any reporter who has gotten any quote from the Wakeworth family about anything that has happened in this town and I’ll show you a reporter with the scoop of the century.
Babbage: Yeah, well, Annabelle Wakeworth knows what happened.
Bartlett: Probably, but I can’t force her to talk to me. Anyways, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you Mr. Babbage. I thank you for putting your story on the record. I promise I’ll try once again to get the Wakeworth’s on the record.
Babbage: Thank you, Mr. Bartlett.
Annabelle Wakeworth went to her grave never commenting on Peter Babbage’s accusations. In 1870, the Abbot family dedicated a small lighthouse monument to Captain Weaver and his crew, which fires a single solitary beam of white light straight into the ocean, and which sits atop a cliff that overlooks the spot where Weaver’s ship supposedly sank. No wreckage has ever been found and to this day Marblehead shipping vessels are superstitious and refuse to sail across that particular stretch of water.