My entry for Bill West's Sixth Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge was found by accident while researching John Taylor, my 9th great-grandfather.
I was using one of my favorite sources, which I simply call Dawes-Gates. This is a series of two huge volumes, one for the Dawes line, the other for the Gates. Within my first weeks of researching my many New England lines, somebody at the DAR pointed me to the books. They are completely sourced and are available several places online. (See below for specific information.*)
In Vol. 2 : 786, I read the following about John Taylor of Windsor, Connecticut:
"This will was not probated until September 6, 1694, when it was presented by John who was made administrator.Nothing is found of record about John subsequent to the signing of his will subsequent to the signing of his will. The statement is made that he was lost at sea and the amazing delay in the probate of his will suggests that uncertainty existed in the minds of his family as to whether he was really dead or only cast away or imprisoned. The belief exists, and it is often stated as a fact, that he was one of about seventy who embarked in the vessel made famous by Longfellow's poem, 'The Phantom Ship,' which sailed from New Haven, Connecticut, the middle of January, 1645-6, a few weeks after the date of the above will. This tradition seems more likely to be true than most such tales, though no complete list of the passengers is known."
Because Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a poem about the Phantom Ship, I decided to make it my entry for the 2014 Genealogy Challenge. The poem was located on the Maine Historical Society Website.
"In Mather's Magnalia Christi,
Of the old colonial time,
May be found in prose the legend
That is here set down in rhyme.
A ship sailed from New Haven,
And the keen and frosty airs,
That filled her sails at parting,
Were heavy with good men's prayers.
"O Lord! if it be thy pleasure"--
Thus prayed the old divine--
"To bury our friends in the ocean,
Take them, for they are thine!"
But Master Lamberton muttered,
And under his breath said he,
"This ship is so crank and walty
I fear our grave she will be!"
And the ships that came from England,
When the winter months were gone,
Brought no tidings of this vessel
Nor of Master Lamberton.
This put the people to praying
That the Lord would let them hear
What in his greater wisdom
He had done with friends so dear.
And at last their prayers were answered:--
It was in the month of June,
An hour before the sunset
Of a windy afternoon,
When, steadily steering landward,
A ship was seen below,
And they knew it was Lamberton, Master,
Who sailed so long ago.
On she came, with a cloud of canvas,
Right against the wind that blew,
Until the eye could distinguish
The faces of the crew.
Then fell her straining topmasts,
Hanging tangled in the shrouds,
And her sails were loosened and lifted,
And blown away like clouds.
And the masts, with all their rigging,
Fell slowly, one by one,
And the hulk dilated and vanished,
As a sea-mist in the sun!
And the people who saw this marvel
Each said unto his friend,
That this was the mould of their vessel,
And thus her tragic end.
And the pastor of the village
Gave thanks to God in prayer,
That, to quiet their troubled spirits,
He had sent this Ship of Air."
* Dawes-Gates ancestral lines. A memorial volume ... compiled by Mary Walton Ferris.