The Moravian was the second Allen line steamer to be wrecked on this coast. Bound from Portland, Maine, to Liverpool, England, under command of Captain Archer R.N.R., she piled up on Flat Mud Island on the morning of December 31, 1881. The crew and all 35 passengers were saved and taken to Yarmouth by the tug Freddie V. A ship of 3300 tons gross, built in Greenock seventeen years be-fore, she was valued at $400,000 and her cargo at $250,000. (Eighteen months later her hull sold to Matheson of Halifax for $4000.)
The Moravian was known locally as “the great cheese wrack”, and she might well be so known for she carried 701,241 pounds of that dairy product along with quantities of lard, fresh quarters of beef, sacks of peas and flour, barrelled pork, apples, canned meat, mutton, hops and wheat, with smaller quantities of leather and machinery. Timothy Smith of Cape Island remembers a huge cheese from the Moravian which was kept for a long time in the unfinished upstairs “Chamber” of his boyhood home. Whenever any member of the family felt the desire for cheese they stepped upstairs and helped themselves.
Three vessels went from Shag Harbor to this wreck. My grandfather, Ephraim Larkin, was captain and part owner of one. Grandfather saved a special cheese for himself and hid it in his berth, but when he went for it someone had stolen it and substituted the Ship’s Bible of the Moravian! Afterwards he always took this Bible to sea with him and kept it beside his bed during his last illness.
Times had been hard and the wreck of the Moravian must have seemed like a dispensation of Providence, especially since no one was lost. The clustering boats reaped a rich harvest from the helpless steamer and the waters about her.
The Wreckwood Chair by Evelyn Richardson
May be purchased at the Cape Sable Historical Society