St. John Telegraph
5 April 1909

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The Philadelphia Enquirer
24 April 1912

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Idaho Statesman
9 December 1909

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received him cordially and, though not a man of means, he and his family cared for the
castaway till the case having been brought to the notice of the Nova Scotia government,
he was thenceforth paid two dollars a week for the Mystery Man’s keep.

John Nicolas tried all his languages on his guest but in vain. He would not speak; that he
did understand both French and Italian was certain and that he lived in deadly fear of
someone or something that was made equally certain.

Only three or four times in all his forty-seven years on “the French Shore” was any
information obtained from him. Each occasion was when he was off guard and left him
in a pitiful panic of fear for weeks afterward.

On one occasion suddenly asked where he came from he answered immediately
“Trieste.” On another, “What ship brought him to the shore of Fundy?” his answer was

Jerome’s legs took a long time to heal. Then he learned to walk quite well on his
stumps, but he never went anywhere, shunning companionship, he sat on the kitchen
floor, his head always bowed, his hands folded.

Jerome remained seven years at Meteghan, then John Nicolas, having lost his wife, the
castaway was taken to St. Alphonse (Cheticamp) to board with Mrs. Didier Comeau.

The common belief in the neighborhood was that Jerome was both deaf and dumb, but
the children of the household told a different story. He watched their play with evident
interest and occasionally spoke to them. When absolutely certain that no grown-up
person was within hearing distance, pressed by the children as to why he would not
speak to the “grown-ups” his reply was always a sad shake of the head and “No, No!”
In answer to their questions as to why his legs had been cut off, he answered, “Chains”
and then “sawed off on a table.”

That Jerome could speak English was proved conclusively on one occasion. Visitors
called to see the castaway, but Jerome refused to leave his room. Francois Comeau
coaxed. Jerome was obdurate. When Francois placed his hands on his shoulder,

Jerome's Death Certificate
April 15, 1912

Extract from Burial Register
Meteghan Church
with his right hand. The lady of the house says that he sometimes sang during the night
in what she believed was a foreign language. The Nova Scotia government paid for his
support annually. He was kindly cared for and gave very little trouble.

Lived Life Of Idleness

Among his peculiarities he led an entirely idle life. He was never known to do one bit of
work not even to whittle with a jack-knife.

This mysterious human being never was seen to mark with a pen or pencil and never
made an attempt to look at a book or any reading matter. He also refused to look at

A few years ago one of the gunners who same him landed was cruising along the Coast
of Maine in a vessel and fell in with a man, whose name he has unfortunately forgotten,
who said he was a member of the boat’s crew who landed this man at Mink Cove and
further pointed out the hull of the vessel which carried him there, and now falling to
pieces in a Maine sea port.

The True Story

The story of Jerome has frequently appeared in various periodicals and has often been
very much exaggerated. The above is a correct synopsis of the affair.

Three years ago a story went the rounds of the press claiming that the great mystery
had been solved. It was said that Jerome was a run-away sailor from a ship in St. John,
N.B., that he wandered up the St. John river, where he was employed as a stream
driver, that he fell off the logs into the icy waters of the St. John river, where he froze
both feet, making amputation necessary. That the authorities there, who did not wish to
pay for his support, hired a captain of a small vessel to land him on the Nova Scotia
coast, and that the great shock caused by the icy waters and the amputation, took away
his speech and affected his brain.
Who was he? What was the secret which
held him silent through forty-seven long
monotonous years on the shore of St. Mary’s
Bay, Nova Scotia?

The mystery will probably never be solved
now, yet for sixty seven years these questions
have at frequent intervals engrossed the
attention, not only of the inhabitants of Digby
Neck—on the shore of which he was found—
but also of those living on the mainland
amongst whom the mystery man spent almost
five decades.

It was in the summer of 1861 that a large ship
piece of news, but there is a great mystery of international importance surrounding this
man, who was believed by many to be a son of a nobleman of some foreign nation.

About the year 1854 [sic], a small schooner sailed across the Bay of Fundy and after
maneuvering for a time off Mink Cove, Digby neck, was seen to send a boast ashore
and after a few minutes returned to the strange vessel. In the meantime a half-witted
family living in the camp at the head of the tide noticed that the boat had left a man on
the shore.

Left On The Beach

In this portion of the Bay of Fundy the tide rises and falls 28 feet perpendicularly and in
coves where the beach is quite level the tide runs off a long distance. The incident
occurred at low water. Half way down the beach the strange people had left a man
sitting on a rock. His legs had been recently amputated at the knees. Beside him were a
box of ships' hard biscuit and a small keg of water. He would, however, have perished
with the incoming tide if he had not been carried to this camp on the shore. This
landing was also witnessed by two gunners who were out shooting at the time, one of
which was Mr. Samuel Gidney, proprietor of the Westport and Digby Telephone Co.,
who still lives at Mink Cove.

He Refused To Talk

The strange man appeared to be about nineteen or twenty years of age, was dark
complexioned, well-bred Italian of noble birth. He refused however to talk and as the
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Quiz #354 Results
Bookmark and Share
Answer to Quiz #354
June 3, 2012
1. What mystery does this depict?
2.  What was supposedly the man's name?
3.  When did he die and where?
Suggested by Marcelle Comeau.
Comments from Our Readers
I am surprised how many mystery people whho died on beaches there are on the
internet. Lots of wrong answers available. Now I have nothing to keep me occupied for
the rest of the week. But I also am not frustrated for lack of getting the quiz answers.
Arthur Hartwell
Lots of interesting stories around this one.                                          
Fiona Brooker

I couldn't find it until I searched for a "legless man on a beach".  Then I found several
links to the story.                                                                          
Margaret Paxton

What a crazy story. Crazy not just because of the fate of this poor man, or the
speculation about his origin, but because of all the conflicting information surrounding
him. Was he discovered on September 8, 1863, or the summer of 1866? Did fisherman
gathering rockweed find him, or an eight year old boy who went for help and came
back with two farmers?  Did he die in 1908 or 1912? Was the date April 15 or April 19?
Just goes to show how important it is to have multiple sources when you're trying to
get to the truth of something.

I just checked some contemporary newspaper articles, and I can't find any
announcements of his death that predate April 23, 1912. Based on this, it seems likely
that Jerome died some time around that date.                                 
Robert W. Austin

I thought it looked as though the man in the drawing had no feet, though I wasn't sure,
so I searched for "man on beach, three men, jug, sailing ship". Sufficient to locate the
story. A strange tale, indeed.                                                               
Peter Norton
Congratulations to Our Winners

Collier Smith                Arthur Hartwell
Jon Edens                Judy Bradley
Fiona Brooker                Angel Esparza                Christine Walker
Margaret Paxton                Nelsen Spickard
Gus Marsh                Robert W. Austin
Don Draper                Peter Norton

Quiz Poets Laureate
Robert and Donald McKenna

Saint John Daily Sun
16 September 1905

Click on thumbnail to read full article.

1. The mystery of the man found on the beach at Sandy Cove, Nova Scotia in
1863.  (Some accounts say 1866.)  His legs had been recently amputated above
the knees.  Although he was heard to mumble from time to time, he never
spoke for the next 40 years.

2.  Jerome.

3.  April 15, 1912.  (Some accounts say April 19, 1912).
Meteghen, Nova Scotia.
Digby County’s Man of Mystery Who Was Found on
the Shore 58 Years Ago and Has Never Spoken a Word
Since, Died Near Meteghan, Yesterday.

Digby, April 19—“Jerome” died this morning, his secret
dying with him. The sentence seems but an unimportant
The Daily Echo, April 20, 1912
people who rescued him were too poor financially to
keep him, he was transferred to the home of a man
named Morton at Centreville (then known as Trout
Cove) Digby Neck, about seven miles from where he
was discovered. A few years afterwards he was
conveyed across St. Mary’s Bay in a small boat and
landed at Meteghan, a French settlement where an Italian
and a number of other foreigners resided.

All these, however, he refused to converse with, and
never spoke a word during the remained of his life.

Taken To Cheticamp

Nearly fifty years ago he was transferred to Cheticamp,
also a French-Acadian settlement, about three miles west of Meteghan, since which
time he has remained with the family. In the days of the old stage-coach between Digby
and Yarmouth, he would crawl out of the house during hot days in the summer times
and wait for the stage to go by, perhaps thinking he would see someone he knew.
Twenty-nine years ago the people with whom he resided until his death built a new
house and moved across the street.

He Was Named “Jerome”

The strange man, who had been named “Jerome,” taken from peculiar sounds which he
uttered, was taken to the new house, evidently much against his will. When once
forced to enter the house, he refused again to go out doors and never did. He had a
room off the kitchen. He wore leather protectors over the stumps of his legs and
walked without a cane or crutches. When in the kitchen he sat on the floor beside the
cook stove and no amount of heat could drive him from his favorite place. On several
occasions when he knew there was a very hot fire in the sitting room, he had been
known to walk in the room and sit beside that stove as long as there was an intense

A few years ago the men of the house died. Their large family have scattered in various
parts of the country, one of them being a well educated Catholic priest.

During the latter part of his life the woman of the house lived alone with Jerome except
occasionally when some her grandchildren were with her.

Of course hundreds of people have called to see him, especially during the summer
"A Mystery of the Nova Scotian Shore"
Family Herald and Weekly Star, February 26, 1930
by J.C. MacKay,
tourist season. He always looked up once at al of
them but most of the time he looked toward the

Was About 75 Years Old

At the time of his death, which evidently occurred
from old age, he was partially bald and completely
grey. He was a well built man and appeared to be
between 75 and 80 years of age, having an
intelligent look, and a well-shaped head. He
positively refused to speak, but when annoyed by
visitors’ questions, etc. he made peculiar noises,
somewhat resembling a dumb animal and at the
same time continually scratched the top of his head

This is a mystery of a man,
Of whom very little is known,
He would not or could not help the search,
Perhaps it is best just to leave him alone.

Who you really were is known only to you,
to remain anonymous to all,
As this is a personal wish,
There fore we will salute your call.


Robert and Donald McKenna
Quiz Poets Laureate


A young man froze and nearly dead
Found on the Scotia shore
Ne'er a single word he said
For 40 years or more.

Although around him people cared
Passed he his life alone
While others on some distant shore
Longed to see him home.

Colleen Fitzpatrick PhD
Understudy to Quiz Poets Laureate
Robert and Donald McKenna

It Is Not Believed

The may be so, but it is very
much doubted by the older
inhabitants who first saw him
here, as they say his hands
showed he had never done a day’
s work. The people in this
vicinity have given up the solving
of the great mystery that closed
today in death, thus sending one
of the greatest secrets that has
ever occurred on the continent.
Jerome's Grave, Meteghan Cemetery
was seen skirting the long strip of land called Digby Neck, which lies between the Bay
of Fundy and St. Mary’s Bay.

The fishermen were attracted by her appearance for she looked unlike any vessel to
which they were accustomed. Some thought her a man-of-war, others a pirate ship.
Perhaps the ship might have been forgotten had not a startling discovery been made
early the next morning.

A man by the name of Albright, coming down to the shore to collect rock weed found
not very far above the tide mark, the huddled up form of a man. Both legs had been
amputated just above the knees. Beside him on the sand was a jug of water, and a loaf
of coarse black bread.

For a long distance along Digby Neck, particularly on the Fundy side, the shore is
precipitous and rocky, but at Sandy Cove where the stranger was found there is a
beautiful sandy beach, semicircular in shape, shut in on either side by towering cliffs.

The man was evidently suffering intensely from cold and exposure. His legs gave
evidence of having been very recently amputated for they were still sore and bleeding
though rather skillfully bandaged.

Carried by kindly hands to Mr. Gidney’s home he was wrapped in blankets and given
warm drinks. When conscious, in answer to the questions as to his name, and the
cause of his abandonment, no answer could be obtained but one word which sounded
like “Jerome.” It was therefore by the name of Jerome he came to be known. As he
made no further attempt to speak and nothing could be learned of his nationality, it was
decided to send him to Meteghan, where, amongst the Acadians on the French shore—
mainland—someone might be found who could speak his language and the mystery of
his strange casting away could be solved.

As his complexion was dark, it was thought he might be an Italian, and as John
Nicholas, a Corsican by birth but by nicknamed “The Russian,” spoke not only Italian
but several other European languages quite
fluently, it was decided to send him there.

John Nicolas himself had had thrilling
adventures having fought in the Crimean
war. Escaping from a war prison, he had
found a haven of rest among the dispersed
Acadians “on the French shore.” Perhaps
it was because “a kindred feeling makes
us wondrous kind” that John Nicolas
John Nicholas's House
Jerome cried out angrily in perfect
English, “I’ll bite you.”

Although Jerome was a man of
extraordinary strength, he never offered to
do work of any kind whatever. He had a
violent temper, and when angry would
pitch dishes or anything else that came
handy about the room. His anger was
generally short-lived, however, except
when the word “foran” (pirate) was
mentioned; then it was days before his
anger and excitement would cool.

He would stand for hours on his poor
stumps of legs gazing through the window
towards St. Mary’s Bay at the ships
passing and repassing, when he thought
himself alone.

As to his status in society, there was a
wide difference of opinion. Some of his
Top:  The Comeau house in Meteghan;
Bottom:  Dedier and Elizabeth Comeau
visitors thought him intelligent and refined looking, others the reverse. As to appetence,
his head was large and well formed, eyes large and dark. He worse a pointed beard and
moustache and his fingers were long and slender.

The Government occasionally published a short account of the castaway, hoping to
elicit information for some quarter. On one occasion a letter was received from two
sisters in New York by the name of Mahoney, who thought Jerome might prove to be
their long lost brother.

As Mr. Comeau and his brother Francois, purposed going to New York to work, they
decided to call on the sisters. From Miss Mahoney they learned that they had had a
brother Jerome who had run away three times from his home before he was eleven
years of age. The fourth time he disappeared completely, and though the father had
searched all his life and spent money lavishly, his son had never been found. The
younger brother was left in total ignorance of his elder brother’s unceremonious leave-
taking and was filled with surprise to learn of his existence.

The Mahoney sisters were of the opinion that the castaway was their brother, as the
age when he left home and his apparent age--twenty-five—when found, would tally
satisfactorily. But the mystery of his life, which was evidently spent in foreign lands or
on the high seas, the amputation of his limbs, and his abandonment on the Nova Scotia
coast are puzzles which have never been solved.

It may appear strange that enquiries were not instituted sooner particularly as to the
strange vessel, which Jerome acknowledged as the Colombo, but in the early sixties
Digby Neck was far from the madding crowd, though today there are several
comfortable boarding houses near where the castaway was found.

The last twenty-five years of Jerome’s life were spent at the home of Mrs. Didier
Comeau. Here he relapsed into absolute silence, not one word having been uttered by
him as far as in known.

Not long before his death, which occurred in 1908, Mrs. Doucet, daughter of John
Nicholas, called to see him. She had plated about him as a little child. She was one of
the few children to whom he had spoken and she had very kindly memories of him. As
she entered the room he raised his eyes to look at her, then dropped them again. To her
repeated appeals for him to speak to her, he leaned forward as though anxious to
comply, making several supreme efforts to articulate, but evidently the vocal chords,
long is disuse, refused to function, and the murmur she construed into “Je ne peux
pas,” and she turned sadly away.
The idea was held by those who knew him best that
he held in his possession a secret which it was
feared he might divulge, hence his casting away. His
admittance that his legs had been injured by chains
in some way confirms this theory. That some
terrible secret was in his keeping seems reasonable
to suppose, how otherwise can the silence of almost
half a century be accounted for. That conscience
troubled him and that he was doing penance for past
sins was construed from the fact that he held his
hands on a red-hot stove on one or two occasions,
and he seldom was known to smile. Whatever the
sins of his youth were, he had ample time to review
and repent of them in that pathetic silence of forty-
seven years, spent with the kindly Acadians on “the
French shore,” Nova Scotia.
The Daily Kennebec Journal
24 April 1912

Note article about sinking of the Titanic
in right hand column of page.

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