“Schooner Lexington, off Cape Hatteras, July 15, 1842. This morning at half past two o’clock a.m., it commenced blowing a strong North Wester, which increased to such a degree that it was certain my vessel could not stand it. At 5 I tried the pumps and found that she made eleven inches. She being an old vessel, worked in her joints. At half past eleven, I determined to leave her with my crew (three men and myself) in our launch; but before leaving sounded the pumps, and found she had increased the water in her hold three feet. I write this and enclose it in a bottle, so that if we should not be saved and the bottle be found, it may be known what became of the vessel and us. At 1 p.m. got into the boat with provisions and water sufficient for six days, having beforehand offered up our prayers to God to protect and save us. Signed Wm. H. Morgan, Captain ; John Rider, Mate.”
Newspapers of the day made no more mention of the Lexington or her crew, but the storm Captain Morgan referred to was one of the most destructive ever recorded on the North Carolina coast.
To this day, no authentic information has been found that gives the names of the many vessels totally lost or the number of people drowned during the storm of July 15, 1842, though the following newspaper article fits the time frame and lists several vessels. Captain Etheridge of Chicamacomico said that he saw large numbers of dead horses and cattle drifting down the sound. Two unknown vessels were capsized and beaten to pieces in the breakers on Diamond Shoals, their entire crews lost, and 7 men who went out later to try and salvage some of the wrecked cargo were also drowned.
Fourteen vessels were reported ashore between New Inlet and Ocracoke, including a large English schooner, with the owner and one of his daughters on board—both of whom lost all their personal belongings when the vessel was destroyed. Fourteen more ships were reported aground on the sound side of Ocracoke Inlet and presumed lost.
Hardly had the residents begun clearing up the debris from this hurricane when another storm, hardly less severe, struck the same area. This one blew in from the Atlantic on August 24, and by the time it was over three vessels were known to have been lost, a number of others were reported aground and at least 8 mariners were killed:
Kilgore / Brig / August 24, 1842
Enroute from Trinidad to Baltimore in ballast, the Kilgore went ashore on Currituck Beach, bilged and became a total wreck. Her captain and crew reached shore safely.
Pioneer / Brig / August 24, 1842
Our of the Truk Islands with a load of salt enroute to Norfolk, VA, the Pioneer stranded on Ocracoke Island with the loss of the cargo and one crewman.
Congress / Ship / August 24, 1842