Witnessing History

Last night, via Zoom, twenty members of the 1715 Fleet Society had the unique opportunity to witness the historic reunification of two pieces of a rare and valuable artifact that had been separated as a result of the violent hurricane that consumed the 1715 Fleet.

The artifact, identified by Dr. Eugene Lyon as the “Pelican in its Piety,” was found on the Douglas Beach wreck site (Nieves) on August 20, 2010, by Bonnie Schubert, but it was missing its right wing. The missing wing was found by Henry Jones and Tracy Newman on June 28, 2020. The Pelican and the wing were reunited on July 31, 2022, the 307th anniversary of the hurricane that sunk the fleet. The finding and reunification of the Pelican and its missing wing is reminiscent of the reunification of the gold filigree frame found by Harold Holden in 1989, and the back of the frame by Eric Schmitt in 2014.

1715 Fleet enthusiast and Society member Rick Beleson narrated a PowerPoint program regarding the historic and religious significance of the Pelican in Its Piety, while Bonny Schubert, Henry Jones, and Tracy Newman recounted the special moment when they found their treasures. It turns out the wing was found just ten feet from where the Pelican was found, which highlights the challenges of diving for sunken treasure. Just a few feet can be the difference between “Today’s the day,” and “Ten years from today is the day.” It was a fascinating chronicle, concise and well done. Fleet Society members from nine states and two continents (North America and Australia) donated $25.00 to the Fleet Society to earn a “seat at the table”.

The story of the finding of the original artifact in 2010, and the finding of the missing wing ten years later in 2020, can be found in the July 2021 edition of the Vero Beach Magazine. The author of the magazine article, Patrick Merrell, was also a participant in the event.

On behalf of the Fleet Society, I would like to thank Rick for having the idea for this little fundraiser and thank Bonnie, Dan, Tracy, and Patrick for their participation. Also, a big thank you to all the donors.

Ben Costello, President

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