A true tale of the Llewellyn J. Morse

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llewellyn-j-morseA true story about my greatgrandfather’s ship, the Llewellyn J. Morse. Reproduced verbatim from The New York Times, published May 10, 1882.

CAPT. FRANK B. AMES SHOOTS HIS WIFE AND THEN KILLS HIMSELF

Capt. Frank B. Ames shot his wife, Mary, in a front room on the second floor of Mrs. Eilen Haight’s boarding-house, No. 807 West Fourteenth Street, some time on Monday night, and afterward killed himself. Their bodies were found last night and there is every reason to believe that the murderer and suicide was insane. Both belonged to families well known and respected in Maine. Capt. Ames was born at Lincolnville, of that State, half a century ago. His father was a German. The son followed the sea from his boyhood, and was a typical self-made man. By untiring industry he become master of a vessel, and when he died was worth a snug fortune, including one-quarter of the ship Llewellyn J., Morse, now disebarging a cargo of sugar and hemP near the Fulton ferry, Brooklyn.

Mrs. Ames was one of the loveliest women in Main when Capt. Ames married her, 25 years ago. She was then 20 years old. Her father was a lumber merchant of Kennebunk and Bangor. She was the mother of two girls, one of who recently returned to New York from Europe where she had been on a wedding trip. Her husband is a well known physician.

Early in 1881 Capt. Ames bade farewell to his wife at San Francisco, and he sailed the Llellewyn J. Morse for Havre, France. Mrs. Ames returned East by rail. At Havre, Capt. Ames, who had sailed much in the East Indies, was taken sick. He had for some time suffered from liver complaint, and a French physician told him that if he did not abandon the sea he would not live another year. Capt. Ames decided on making a last voyage, and loaded with coal at Cardiff and discharged his cargo at Nagasaki, Japan. He then went in ballast to Cebu, in the Philippine Islands, and took in the cargo which is now discharging.

Just as he headed for home his malady became aggravated with alarming symptoms of mental aberration. Quitting his vessel at Angier, in the straits of Sunda, and leaving her in the charge of the mate, Peter Erricson, of Bath , Me., Capt. Ames went to Singapore via Batavia, took a steamer, and arrived Antwerp via the Suez Canal. He reached New York three weeks ago, a week later than his ship, in a Red Star steamer, and met his wife at the Stevens House. On the 26th of April they went to Mrs. Haight’s.

They appeared to be utterly devoted to each other, and it is stated that at no time during their married life did they have a serious disagreement. Monday evening they dined in public at Mrs. Haight’s. After dinner Capt. Ames appeared to be nervous and complained of the weather. At 9 o’clock Frederick Francis, a negro [sic] waiter, lit a fire in their apartment and took Capt. Ames a glass of lemonade. When Francis was leaving the room Capt. Ames said good-humoredly, “Here’s a shilling for you,” and gave him 12 cents. This is the last time that Capt. Ames and his wife were seen alive.

At dinner-time last evening, it was remarked that the Ameses were not a table and neighbors of their said that during the night and day they had heard no one move in their apartment. It was suggested that Capt.Ames was sick and that his wife was nursing him. Hardly had the suggestion been made when Mrs. Ames’s brother, the Hon. Llewellyn J. Morse, a lumber-dealer of the firm of Oliver, Haight & Morse, Bangor, Me., and an ex-member of the Maine Legislature, called at the house. Told of the seclusion of his relatives, he attempted to arouse them by violent knocking at their door. Then William Price, a waiter, burst the door in and their fate was discovered. The bed’s head was to the East. Capt. Ames lay between it and the door. In the right side of his head was a pistol-shot wound and near him was a revolver of heavy caliber. Mrs. Ames lay on the south side of the bed. She was attired for the night. A pistol-shot wound just over her right ear must have killed her instantly. Her posture was one of ease and her features were composed. It is believed that while she slept Capt. Ames leaned over the bed and shot her. Then he laid down on the north side of the bed, shot himself, and in his death agony rolled on to the floor.

Capt. McElwain of the Sixteenth Precinct, and Coroner Knox were notified, and Mr. Morse afforded all necessary information. He took possession of his relatives’ effects, which comprised a valuable wardrobe and costly diamond and other jewelry and about $80 in money. The bodies were sent to an undertaker to be prepared for burial at Bangor.

It is my belief that my greatgrandfather, Capt. Samuel Veazie, then became the Captain of the Llewellyn J. Morse. What a tragic start to his lifetime on the high seas.

 

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