Famous Baby Rescue at Hendricks Head Lighthouse Near Boothbay Harbor in Maine
Keeper Jaruel Marr, was Keeper at Hendricks Head lighthouse near Boothbay Harbor in Maine from 1866-1895. During a fierce March blizzard in 1875, blinding snow and gale-force winds came up the Maine coastline. The captain of a small sailing vessel got caught in the rough seas as he was trying to make it ashore and could not see the lighthouse in the driving snow. The ship ran aground on a rocky ledge about a half-mile from the lighthouse point.
Keeper Jaruel Marr watched from the station during the storm and noticed the vessel lodged on the rocks. He could see the figures of the survivors clinging to the rigging and watched helplessly as the icy waves continued to wash over them in a deathly grip. He anxiously debated whether to launch his dory to help the doomed victims. Still, the ferocious high seas and gale-force winds bashing against the rocky shoreline would have meant an inevitable disaster for him.
As darkness started to fall, the wind began to subside, allowing Keeper Marr and his wife to build and light a large bonfire for the wreck’s victims as a signal that help was waiting if they miraculously could find a way to the shore. About an hour later, while feeding the fire, he noticed a strange large bundle floating in the waves. He ran to the boathouse for a boat hook and line and asked his wife to assist him in holding the line as he waded into the freezing waters to retrieve it. He resisted the breaking waves and safely secured the bundle and himself on shore. Upon inspecting the package, he found two small feather beds tied together, which seemed to contain something inside. He ripped them apart and found a box with a crying baby girl. He grabbed the cold infant and, with the line still tied around his waist, ran to the house and placed the infant near the fire to warm her. His wife quickly followed in and wrapped the baby in warm blankets to calm her down after the ordeal.
With the baby being cared for, Keeper Marr rushed back to the shore to signal to the wreck’s victims, but it was too late. The seas had smashed the vessel to pieces with no survivors. The wreckage was starting to collect along the shore. The keeper looked for the box the infant was lying in and found some blankets, a locket, and a message from the mother in the hopes that God would help her child. The infant survived the ordeal, but all aboard the vessel had perished.
The baby girl, later named Seaborn, was believed to have been later adopted by a doctor and his wife, who were summer residents living nearby, as Keeper Marr and his wife had plenty of their own children at the time. This story has been disputed and believed to have originated from a book published around 1900 called “Uncle Terry,” but ancestors of Keeper Marr believe and have written that it is true.
Exploring Around Hendricks Head Lighthouse
The lighthouse is a private residence past Boothbay Harbor in Southport, Maine. A small public beach is nearby to relax and enjoy the views. A little hiking trail through the woods is on the right side, just before you come to the small beach. It’s one of the many tourist attractions in Maine’s Boothbay Harbor region and provides a fantastic backdrop for visitors patient enough to wait for dramatic sunsets.
If you ever get up to Maine, this area is full of tiny coffee shops and restaurants, specialty shops, and plenty of boat tours to view Hendricks Head Light and other lighthouses in the area.
The Rise and Demise of the Largest Sailing Ships: Stories of the Six and Seven-Masted Coal Schooners of New England. In the early 1900s, New England shipbuilders constructed the world’s largest sailing ships amid social and political reforms. These giants were the ten original six-masted coal schooners and one colossal seven-masted vessel, built to carry massive quantities of coal and building supplies and measured longer than a football field! This book, balanced with plenty of color and vintage images, showcases the historical accounts that followed these mighty ships. Stories involve competitions, accidents, battling destructive storms, acts of heroism, and their final voyages.
My 300-page book, Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Southern New England: Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, provides memorable human interest stories from each of the 92 lighthouses. You can explore plenty of indoor and outdoor coastal attractions, including whale watching excursions, lighthouse tours, windjammer sailing tours and adventures, unique parks and museums, and even lighthouses you can stay overnight. You’ll also find plenty of stories of hauntings around lighthouses.
My 300-page book, Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Northern New England: New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont, provides memorable human interest stories from each of the 76 lighthouses, like the story of the special baby rescue above. Plenty of indoor and outdoor coastal attractions and tours with contact info are available. Lighthouses and their nearby attractions are divided into regions for weekly and weekend explorers. Attractions and tours include whale watching, lighthouse tours, unique parks and museums, and lighthouses you can stay overnight. There are also stories of haunted lighthouses in these regions, which includes an account of the “Lady of the Dusk,” also at Hendricks Head Light.
Included is a more detailed story of the miracle baby rescue at Hendricks Head Light, along with over 50 other stories in my book New England Lighthouses: Famous Shipwrecks, Rescues & Other Tales. This image-rich book also contains vintage images provided by the Coast Guard and various organizations and paintings by six famous artists of the Coast Guard.
Copyright © Allan Wood Photography, do not reproduce without permission. All rights reserved.
Join, Learn, and Support The American Lighthouse Foundation