Monday, April 12, 2010

Search for Secrets of A Sunken Cannon - 59

So if the Cannonsburg cannon wasn't a 6-pound cannon what might an "odd" looking cannon sitting on an ornate carriage resemble as opposed to a "standard" cannon?

A six-pound cannon mounted would be 11-14 feet in length, but the piece no longer than 72 inches to be a "military" cannon. Bob's 9-foot long cannon didn't exist, but Bob insisted that's the size he was dowsing. Such a cannon might weigh 4000 pounds maximum and his backhoe could not lift that much weight unless he snared the cannon with chains and even then he couldn't lift a suction cannon out of its watery grave.

My biggest concern and one that didn't make sense was how could five men and unknown horses haul such a large cannon through Cannonsburg, then overland a quarter mile on a sandy trail into the bush, hide the cannon and return 45 minutes later? How Bob thought they buried it so fast was beyond belief. Burying it upland was too easy. Still not enough time so why not dismember or destroy the cannon and throw the pieces in a spring and piling stones on the pieces and sink in a wetland location. It would be impossible to place stones on it and sink the entire unit the size of a mini-van in less than one hour. Sounds similar to the tale of the Twin Sisters. Out of sight and mind within too short-a-time. These were Bob's most nagging mystery questions.

At Bob's first big dig we were getting skeptical when we found no large stones for weight to sink the Cannonsburg cannon. No stones larger than golf ball size and mining flecks of real gold in black sand wasn't going to deter us. That's when Maggie McCarthy asked me to research and investigate what Bob had missed. She felt those doing such hard work needed clarification to go forward with Bob's wildest dream.

The original accident story posted in the Rockford Register 1885 reported the men "were firing the cannon" and it never mentioned the word "military." Second and third postings were rumors that changed it to old "military" cannon." The smallest caliber in the US Army was 6-pounds so Bob never entertained the thought the cannon was smaller. What Bob didn't know was that a private citizen like Mr. Cannon couldn't purchase or receive military weapons and he couldn't buy or receive outdated or old military weapons. Surely the cannon he gave as a gift wasn't made within five months and moved from Troy, New York to Cannonsburg. Bob just knew the date given, but not the size so how could he envision the cannon when dowsing?

Yes, it was pre-Civil War, but what made Bob believe it was 9-feet long. Cannon's this size are 42-pounders weighing in excess of 5000 pounds. Two or three horses couldn't pull such a cannon through deep trail sand.

How could it be dismounted once before, then recovered from its demise and remounted within a few hours?

Bob based the cannon's size from his deductions he got from hardcopy evidences and oral history from several local residents who described it as a small military cannon. They never gave him clues to its dimentsions, size, shape, physical features or engravements, the country of origin or military.

The unique description of "relic" "odd" and "ornate" was told by shipping dockworkers in Grand Rapids. Three dockworkers could not themselves move a 9-foot long cannon on carriage from the HUMMINBIRD steamer up a steep bank , around the rapids without many horses. Wouldn't you think that such a heavy weapon on a shallow draft steamer would have sunk it if mounted on the bow going into a stiff low running current? It'd take 14 men, six horses and a caisson to move that big relic.

Still Bob believed in his rods accuracy to discern size. Alan Janose, Harold and Matt McCarthy used his rods, too, the dowsing rods acted just as favorably in their hands. The dockworkers in Grand Rapids one hundred years earlier were pitting their description of the cannon against Bob. The dockworkers couldn't recall seeing anything like the cannon and carriage and said the assemblage relic was worth the gawking. Big differences between small military ordnance and ancient relic ordnance.

Most ordnance carriages are standard issue and dated with the times of manufacture or models. Mechanisms change. Because the carriage was called "ornate" must have meant it was hand crafted, but could that have meant it was engraved wood with plaque. Since Bob didn't know if the cannon or carriage was engraved with or without a plaque I assumed it was. Finding cannon without plaque wasn't authentication. So too all carriages require maximum weight to minimize recoiling when fired. All cannons above 3-pounders needed recoil mechanisms. It surely wouldn't have arrived on a naval carriage. They don't roll in sand, but mire down and flip sideways.

Carriage description "ornate" indicated it must be foreign made. We can all picture a standard cannon on carriage, but try to imagine an strange cannon mounted on an ornate carriage and its difficult to imagine something so uniquely different. After Le Grand Cannon presented the cannon he left in haste. His ill health necessitated he return home. He yearned for his family. The long journey to get to Cannonsburg had taken additional toll on his health. He apologized to Ball and packed his bags, but before boarding a steamboat for Grand Haven and beyond he inquired whether he had found his missing land agent E. B. Bostwick.

Cannon had not been receiving the mortgage payments or tax receipts from Cannonsburg residents. Bostwick was seriously ill, his lungs collapsing with the littlest exhertion and could no longer travel his appointed circuit. Bostwick's doctor advised him to leave Michigan for California. He couldn 't take the heat and humid conditions. As a result of this Cannon advised Ball to start foreclosurers on all of Bostwick's land in Michigan. Bostwick obtained land for payment of his services, but he wasn't paying his property taxes and under agreement with Mr. Cannon he forfeited the property. Bostwick was bankrupt again. Shortly after Cannon returned home he wrote a letter to John Ball saying that Capt. Gillispie would arrive shortly to guard his timber property.

E. B. Bostwick left Michigan bound for California, but the altitude plus his breathing problems spelled his doom in Colorado's Rocky Mountains. He wouldn't have a chance to mine for gold and recoup his losses. Lots of folks were rushing to the California gold fields. Lots of dreamers were headed west.

On May 7, 1850, the aged Mr. Cannon died. Age 64. He had seen it and done it all. His son Le Grand B. Cannon took over his father's many businesses and disposed of Michigan acreages. In 1855, young Mr. Cannon still was trying to sell off the last 600 acres of Cannon Township land and hundreds of acres in Ottawa County. Both men onced owned the hilltop parcel now known as Cannonsburg cemetery, the final resting plots of Walter Tompsett, Bob Alcumbrack, Mathew A. Patrick, etc.

Well, a new day is dawning and like many folks I do pull a job. It's spring, the birds are singing sweet tunes, the air is fresh "cough, cough" and hack - too much pollen, but its going to be a nice day - warm sunshine for physical labor. See ya!

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