Saturday, March 12, 2005

A Vanishing Off the Carolina Coast

The Patriot was a schooner, at one time used by privateers and later engaged in commerce along the Atlantic coast. It sailed from Georgetown, SC, on 30 December 1812 . . . into the mist of nautical mystery. It made for a particularly good mystery, nurtured by two generations of rumors -- some of which rang tantalizingly true. None of the crew or passengers arrived safely ashore. Among the missing: Theodosia Burr Alston, daughter of American founding father Aaron Burr; she had married South Carolina Gov. Joseph Alston and was northbound for a visit with her father in New York.

A severe gale is known to have troubled the Carolina coast shortly after the Patriot departed. The best conjecture thus is that the schooner, like so many sailing ships of yore, simply succumbed to the ocean’s violence. Except. . . .

Deathbed “confessions” of crusty old pirates many years later told of the capture of a vessel named the Patriot at approximately that place and time. One identified a pretty woman passenger, “Odessa Burr Alston,” who had preferred to be executed with her shipmates rather than accept a proposal to become the pirate captain’s mistress.

Then again, the loss of the Patriot could’ve been the dastardly work of a UFO. . . .


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