Haunted History: The Lost Crew of the Enoch Turley
Photo: Pilot Boat William Starbuck, which closely resembles the Enoch Turley
One of the most cited haunted locations in Sussex County, Delaware, is the Cannonball House, maintained by the Lewes Historical Society. As a maritime museum, the Cannonball House contains a number of displays and artifacts from the area, including one dedicated to the pilot vessel, Enoch Turley.
The Enoch Turley was built in Baltimore and launched on the Delaware in 1842. The Philadelphia Public Ledger (Nov. 25, 1842) reported, “The new pilot boat ‘Enoch Turley,’ Capt. William Baker was tried yesterday afternoon for the first time. She is a beautiful craft; was full dress with every rag she could carry, and skimmed the water like a bird. A large party were on board of her, who were elegantly entertained by the captain.” This vessel was well known for its life-saving efforts which occurred over several decades. She was also rebuilt in Wilmington in 1862.
However, it was in 1889 that disaster struck. On April 6th, a powerful gale engulfed the coast, leaving nearby Rehoboth looking like “the ruins of some ancient city.” It was during this two-day storm, that the Enoch Turley disappeared. The vessel and crew had gone out in the storm to aid in rescue, as was the norm for a pilot boat. The last sighting of the Enoch Turley was by the bark Wyho, which spotted it heading south toward Hampton Roads, Virginia. A search was launched for the missing vessel but no definitive wreckage was found. There were several reports of wreckage that may have been the Enoch Turley on April 13th and 19th, however, on April 26, the Turley’s co-owner Capt. Harry Long was quoted in the Inquirer as stating: “I think it may be assumed that the Turley has gone down, and the chance of any one of the crew being picked up is a very remote one. It is true that a sailing vessel bound south may have them on board, but it is cruel to raise false hopes. My opinion is that the Turley has gone down with all hands.”
Lost in the storm of 1889 were Captain Charles D. Schellenger, pilots John S. Kelly, Morgan Saunders, Henry M. Parker, and James A. Orto, crew members E.W. Donaldson (or Danielson), Fred Greenwood, Juber Havilon (the cook), Alfred Allen (a Black man), and an English boy, Charles Young.
I have had the pleasure of investigating the Cannonball House many times over the past few years. During my first visit, I entered the Pilot's Room and asked if anyone was present. I heard telepathically the words, "Lost at Sea." Not helpful. When I asked who might be present, I heard the initials C.S. Little did I know that I was standing just in front of a display about Captain Charles Schellenger and the Enoch Turley.
On subsequent visits, armed with some basic investigation equipment (recording device, K-II meter, etc.), I recorded several EVPs, including Morgan Saunders stating his name, someone asking, "Are we gone?" and others. On a recent investigation, I finally hit "gold" with the elusive Captain Schellenger, who responded to the question of if he had anything more he wanted to tell us with, "I'm here." During that session, we also recorded Morgan's profession as, "Handle boats." My understanding from all of these investigations to date is that 5 souls from the Enoch Turley are present, as are Henry McCracken and possibly Susan Rowland King, although Mrs. King doesn't seem to respond often, especially to female investigators!
It's important to be mindful and respectful when dealing with such a tragedy. The investigations I have done allowed the pilots to speak with us without using negative words or focusing on their demise. In closing, I hope you have enjoyed this series and gained an understanding of and appreciation for our local haunted history!
If you're not Susan, can you tell us your name? "Morgan."
Do you have anything you want to tell us (Capt. Schellenger)? "I'm here."
Lost on the Pilot Boat Enoch Turley. Available online: https://southwarkhistory.org/lost-on-the-pilot-boat-enoch-turley-78f4a4a7133f
Enoch Turley. Available online: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enoch_Turley