AT about nine o'clock in the morning of Tuesday, October 9, 1804, the temperature fell very suddenly, and a storm of rain and snow, accompanied by thunder and lightning, began. In the southern part of New England it rained, and in the northern portion the storm began with snow. The wind blew from the southeast until one o'clock in the afternoon, when it changed to the north-northeast, and before sunset became so powerful that it blew down houses, barns, chimneys and trees. The wind reached its height in the evening, and at midnight began to blow less violently, abating considerably before morning, though the storm of rain and snow continued until Thursday morning. People sat up all that night, fearing to retire lest their houses would blow down. Wednesday morning revealed the streets in towns encumbered with sections of fence, whole or parts of trees, and many other things that the wind could carry away; and the country roads were everywhere obstructed with fallen trees.

In the southern portion of New England the rain fell in extraordinary quantities until the wind grew less violent, when snow began to fall, continuing all day Wednesday, that night and until the storm ended the next morning. In Vermont, the snow fell till Wednesday morning only, covering the earth to the depth of four or five inches, though along the higher lands the wind blew it into such large drifts that the roads were blocked, thus giving it the effect of a much greater storm. At Concord, N. H., the snow was nearly two feet deep, and in Massachusetts from five to fourteen inches. In the southern portion of New England it melted in a few days, but in the northern states it remained in places until the next spring.

It was the earliest snow storm that the people of eastern Massachusetts had experienced for fifty years; and "the oldest inhabitant" did not remember so violent a storm occurring there before. It did not reach far either north or south, but was felt inland beyond the limits of New England.

The effect of the storm on apples and potatoes was very disastrous. The fruit was blown from the trees, and in the northern sections large quantities of potatoes that remained undug were frozen into the ground, where they were left until the next spring, being harvested after the frost was out. The storm also caused the death of large numbers of cattle and sheep, and fowls of all kinds, especially around Walpole, and at Newbury and Topsfield, Mass. At Newbury nearly a hundred cattle were killed, thirty being found dead in one section of the town. The snow also greatly damaged the fruit, shade, and ornamental trees, being so damp that it clung to the boughs and broke them down by its weight. The noise of breaking limbs of trees was continually heard in the woods. 

The gale was very injurious to the pine and oak timber trees of the forests, destroying the larger portion of the best oaks that were useful in ship-building. It has been said that so many of the great oaks were destroyed that the building of vessels declined in Massachusetts, and that the great gale of 1815 brought about its entire abandonment in several places. At Thomaston, Me., a sixty-acre timber lot was almost entirely blown down. Such great sections of the woods were levelled that new landscapes and prospects were brought into view to the surprise of many people. Houses and other buildings and hills that could not be seen before from certain places were now plainly visible. The change was so great in some localities that the surroundings seemed to have become entirely different, and people felt as if they were in a strange place.

Buildings and chimneys were blown down or greatly damaged by the wind. At Danvers, Mass., the South church (now included in that part of the town which was afterward incorporated as Peabody), and also the Baptist church at the port were unroofed, the latter having one of its sides blown in and the pews torn to pieces. At the brick-yard in that town belonging to Jeremiah Page, thirty or forty thousand unburned bricks were ruined by the rain, the wind blowing so violently that no covering could be kept over them. At Beverly, the spire of the lower meeting house, as it was then called, was broken off. At Salem, the dome and belfry on the Tabernacle church were torn to pieces; and a barn belonging to a Mr. French was blown down, killing one of his truck horses. Several sheds were also blown down. Many chimneys could not withstand the blasts, and fell. The three chimneys on the ancient court house that stood in front of the Tabernacle church in the middle of Washington street, being observed to be broken near the roof and tottering as if about to fall, were pushed over before they had caused injury to any one. Among the other chimneys blown down were three on William Gray's house in Essex street, and two on Captain Mason's house in Vine street, one of the latter falling upon the roof of Asa Pierce's house, which it broke through. No one in Salem suffered personal injury, fortunately. At Charlestown, the roof of the Baptist church was blown off, the spire on Rev. Dr. Morse's church was much bent, and two large dwelling houses were demolished. A brick building in the navy yard that had  recently been erected was very much injured and had to be taken down. The brick-yards there were also much damaged, many bricks being destroyed. The wharves in Boston were somewhat injured, particularly May's, and the damage to buildings was considerable. Several new buildings were badly shaken and twisted, being so much injured that they had to be taken down and built anew. At the western part of the city, the wind blew the battlements from a new building upon the roof of an adjoining house, which was occupied by Ebenezer Eaton. Shortly before, a neighbor noticed that the battlements were giving away, and directed the attention of Mr. Eaton to it. He accordingly took his wife and children, and went to a safer place. A few minutes later the battlements fell and demolished the house, burying in its ruins the four persons who remained in it. These were a servant woman, named Bennett, who was killed, and another woman, a man and a boy, who were seriously injured. The roof was torn from the tower of King's Chapel, and conveyed two hundred feet. The beautiful steeple on the North church fell, and demolished a house, the family that lived in it fortunately being away on a visit. While the wind was blowing very violently, a stage was upset at the bridge at the west-end, some of the passengers being considerably hurt. Houses were also damaged at Newport and Providence, R. I.

The shipping was also very much injured by the wind all along the coast from Rye, N. H., to Newport, R. I. Many vessels in the harbors dragged their anchors or broke their cables, and dashed against each other or the wharves, or were driven upon lee-shores and wrecked. The lives of many seamen were lost. In Vineyard sound a sloop was upset, and all hands perished, and on the back of Cape Cod the schooner John Harris of Salem was lost with all on board. Five miles south of Cape Cod lighthouse, the ship Protector, of about five hundred tons burden, while on a trip from Boston to Lima, ran on the outer bar, about two hundred yards from the beach. This was a large vessel for those times, and was quite attractive, having yellow sides and a white figure-head. She went ashore stern first. Her bowsprit remained for some time, but the quarter deck, a part of the stern and the anchor on the larboard bow, with the boat, sails and rigging were soon washed away, some of the wreckage coming ashore. Of her cargo, which was worth a hundred thousand dollars, a considerable part was saved. One man was lost. Several vessels were driven ashore at Plymouth, and the dead body of a mariner was found on the beach and those of two others in a wreck. Vessels were driven out to sea from Marblehead, Manchester and other places and lost. 

The brig Thomas of Portland was returning from a voyage to the West Indies, when she went ashore on Scituate beach. The cargo of sugar and molasses was safely landed, and the vessel was gotten off without much damage being done to it. 

The sloops Hannah of North Yarmouth, Capt. Joshua Gardner, master, and Mary of New Bedford, which was commanded by Captain Sanson, drifted together out of the harbor at Cape Ann, and were driven on shore at Cohasset at about the same time. The Hannah struck on a ledge some distance from the shore on Wednesday noon at twelve o'clock, and the first sea that swept the deck carried off the master, who was drowned. Two of the men lashed themselves to the boom, and remained on deck about two hours, until the vessel went to pieces, when the boom with the men still lashed to it washed ashore. Several of the citizens of Cohasset saw the men plunging in the surf, and came to their assistance, saving them when they were nearly exhausted. The people on board the Mary were all saved, and the vessel was afterward gotten off. Three other vessels came ashore at Cohasset, and were wrecked.

At Boston, many vessels in the harbor were damaged by being forced by the wind violently against the wharves. The Laura, belonging in Gloucester and commanded by Captain Griffin, was nearly beaten to pieces at Long wharf, and her cargo was very much damaged. Many of the small craft were so blown about and strained that they bilged and sank, several of them being staved to pieces. Some of the larger vessels also bilged, and several had bowsprits, sterns and other sections broken. Cargoes were also damaged. Several men were drowned there during the gale, two being cast into the water from a boat that upset at May's wharf, and drowned before they could be rescued. A lad was endeavoring to keep a sloop free of water near Four Point channel, but his efforts proved unsuccessful. When the vessel was sinking he clasped a plank, but was soon washed off and drowned. 

The vessels in the harbor at Salem also drifted about, their anchors failing to hold them. Very few were injured, however, except two schooners, one of which drifted in from Gloucester, and the other, the Success, commanded by Captain Robbins and laden with fish, oil and lumber, put in here while on a trip from Passamaquoddy to Boston. They were both cast ashore, and damaged more than any of the others. The Success lost her anchors and her main and jib booms, and finally bilged. 

Near Fresh Water cove in Gloucester, a sloop belonging in Kennebunk, laden with rum, was lost. The master and crew were saved, but a lady passenger perished. A schooner, belonging in Connecticut, with a cargo of corn, also went to pieces there, the people on board being rescued. Several other vessels were wrecked on different parts of the cape; and six large crafts there had to cut away their masts, among them being an English ship from Newfoundland. Four or five vessels were driven out of the harbor, some of them being lost, with their crews. A fleet of fishing vessels were off the northern part of the cape, and for a while the people were much concerned for their safety.

The schooner Dove, of Kittery, was wrecked on Ipswich bar, and all of the seven persons on board perished. An eastern vessel was lost on Rye beach, in New Hampshire, and a woman, who was a passenger in it, was found dead on the sand, with an infant clasped in her arms. Near Rye was also wrecked the schooner Amity, from Philadelphia, commanded by Captain Trefethern. All the people on board were saved, except a passenger named Charles Schroeder, of Philadelphia, who was drowned.

Source: Historic Storms of New England by Sidney Perley, 1891

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