Mystery Solved!

lantern holder

We featured a story Shipwreck on a Lake Erie Beach by Carrie Sowden, detailing the Bradstreet’s Disaster on the shore of Lake Erie in October 1764. The National Museum of the Great Lakes had received a number of donated finds from the area where the wreck occurred, including one find (right) they labeled a “mystery object.” At a loss as to what this piece could be, the National Museum of the Great Lakes asked readers of its newsletter to help with identification of the mysterious find. According to Carrie Sowden, reader L. Richard Phelps notified the museum and sent images of the mystery item: part of a wall mount for an oil lamp.

Now what does this mean within the context of Bradstreet’s Disaster? It seems, from limited research, that oil lamps like this were not invented until 1780 by Ami Argand, a Genevan physicist. In the 1850s, these developed into kerosene lamps, like that shown in Mr. Phelps photograph. Based on those dates, the “mystery piece” seems to be not a part of Bradstreet’s Disaster, but a piece of history that happened to be found in the same area. Mystery solved!

Photos courtesy of Carrie Sowden and L. Richard Phelps.

This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine September/October 2022 issue.

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