When the sailors announced the rope ready, nearly a hundred hands grasped it and fifty human beings made their way towards that haven of safely. In the meantime, the sea had become angrier and the waves were rolling higher. When the rope was freighted to its utmost capacity, Captain Williams gave orders that no more should attempt to go ashore until those on the rope had been rescued.
|Close up of a section of the Currier and Ives lithograph depicting the rescue in 1873|
They had witnessed the sailor's successful battle with the waves, and those who could swim, divested themselves of what few clothes they had on and plunged into the sea. Only a few of them reached shore and those who did were so exhausted when they reached the beach, they were washed back into the sea and drowned.
On the afternoon of April 1st, Mr. Funk reached the rock by means of the rope, the waters having grown calmer. His clothing was frozen to him. When he reached the rock, he fell in a faint, but soon recovered. There was six inches of snow on the ground and he had to keep continually in motion to prevent freezing. Soon after, some fishing boats were hailed and they took the unfortunates off the rock and landed them on terra firma.
When the shipwrecked people were safe on land, they were a sorry looking crowd, indeed. Many of them had on nothing but a shirt, others were clothed in drawers and shirt, some had only a pair of pants to protect them from the cold, and many of them were nude, having thrown off their garments to enable them to swim should they be forced to.
Of the 900 passengers that boarded the ship at Liverpool, only 326 were put on the bleak, bare fishing coast. 573 perished. The only habitation in sight was a small shanty in which a few fishermen managed to exist.
Funk could not speak a word of English, and there were many of his countrymen to keep him company. The Germans held a consultation and resolved to stay together. One man in the party whose name Mr. Funk did not learn, could speak English. They immediately set out for the fishing shanty, but when the German party arrived, they found it full to overflowing by others of the survivors more fortunate than themselves. Their interpreter was informed that there was another shanty some distance down the coast and thither they repaired walking in six inches of snow barefooted about two miles. On the way three died and many were frozen badly.
On arriving at the shanty, they found a fire, and those fortunate enough to have clothing dried it. The larder of the habitation did not furnish much for supper, but by dividing it up, each received enough to keep away starvation.
The next day a steamer took them to Halifax, where they were provided with food and clothing. Mr. Funk says all the inhabitants of the town were on the street to see them.
April 4th, the shipwrecked people got a steamer, and soon landed at Portland, Maine. From Portland, they went to Boston. There a collection was taken up for them, or rather, they were placed on exhibition, the price of admission being 50 cents. The proceeds were turned over to the unfortunates.
From Boston, they went to Fall River and took a boat for New York, arriving there April 6. As soon as Mr. Funk arrived in New York, he succumbed to his privations and exposure and lay for six weeks in a hospital on Ward's Island with inflammatory rheumatism.
|Ward's Island - located between Queens and Manhattan|
Mr. Funk has never met but one of the survivors of the ill-fated Atlantic since he parted from his companions in New York. This was the mate, Brady, who bravely carried the line to the rock. Mr. Funk met him at the White Star Line exhibit at the World's Fair. Strange to say, Mr. Funk was the only one of the passengers who survived the wreck whom the seaman had met. The meeting was a pathetic one and Mr. Funk says the gallant seaman cried like a child.
As he related this last evening, a suspicion of a tear glistened in his eye. Brady was at the Exposition in the interest of the White Star Line. He is old, infirm, and the company has pensioned him for his gallant service April 1st, 1873."
|Cornelius Brady, Hero of the Atlantic shipwreck, 1873|
By the 1900 census, he was still not married and by this time was boarding with the Henry and Elizabeth Ort family, working as a day laborer.
I could not locate him in the 1910 census, but he appeared again in 1920 in Defiance City, living at 742 Jackson Street with his wife, Margaret. He was 66, and she was 72.
Death records showed that he died on February 6, 1924, but I am not sure where he and his wife were buried.
For some further reading on the wreck of the Atlantic and a look at the memorial site in Nova Scotia, go HERE.