An Adventure of Edward Dunscomb's early manhood as related by him to his grandsons, Joseph D. and Edward D. Ibbotson, in the summer of 1885:
My father imported and exported between New York and Puerto Rico. His imports were sugar, molasses, and rum. He took me into the business with him and soon sent me to Puerto Rico as super-cargo on a schooner. On our return voyage we were caught ina great storm and one ship capsized.
With the crew, I scrambled up on the vessel's bottom. The heat was intense, and we had saved nothing but the thin cotton clothing we were wearing. Without food or water we were in a desperate state.
Our only hope was to cut through the thick planks of the schooner's bottom and get at some of the rum. We had two or three big jacknives between us and took turns digging through at the place where a rum keg would be. It was slow work and two of the men, overcome by thirst, drank sea water, went mad, and danced into the ocean. We saw them devoured by the great sharks that were all about us.
Of course we had put up distress signals and were delighted when a ship sighted us and drew near. But the ship turned and left us. I could read her name and on my arrival in New York found who was her captain. For years I carried a pistol, ready to shoot that man on sight.
At last we had made a hole in the planking large enough to get a fist through and bruised our fists smashing in the head of the only rum barrel within reach. Alas! the barrel had been leaking and was only half full. The rum was beyond the reach of our finger tips.
What to do? Our clothing had been drenched in salt water and we all feared that we would suffer the fate if those poor sailors who had drunk sea water if we tried to suck liquor from our salty clothing. Then our negro cook came to our rescue. Under all his other clothes he wore a thick flannel shirt. One by one we got some kind of nourishment by dipping his shirt in the rum and sucking it.
And then we sighted a good American ship that rescued us and brought us safely to New York.