Salem, Nov. 21. Criminal Trials
A notice of his death gives a little insight into why he might have had troubles. Like many black sheep, there was probably a physical cause for his inability to conform: “Sudden Death.–– We learn from the Amesbury Transcript that Mr. Nicholas Colby, of that town, was found dead on Sunday afternoon week, near the house of Mr. Page Ring. He was subject to apoplectic fits, and it is supposed had one on his return from the village, and falling into water by the road side was drowned.” [Haverhill, MA] Date: 1845-04-17; Paper: Sun, genealogybank.com]
On 24 May 1807, in the middle of a terrible nor'easter, a scow capsized and six out the eleven men in it were instantly drowned. After the boat capsized, Nicholas Colby, who was a good swimmer, succeeded in getting the remaining "four upon the bottom of the scow, which barely kept afloat. He tried hard to save Hoyt, who clung to him, while beneath the surface, with a death grasp, but finding his strength rapidly failing he was obliged to exert his whole remaining force in tearing himself from the drowning man; and, having nearly exhausted himself in his efforts, Colby endeavored to persuade Moses Kimball, who could swim, to swim ashore and find help, as it was evident the wreck could not long be kept afloat. But Kimball’s brother positively forbid his making the attempt. Finding all entreaty unavailing, Colby at length resolved to make the attempt himself, though scarce expecting to be able to reach the land, and bidding them good-bye, he struck out for the shore. John Ingersoll, of the Rocks’ Village, a young man lately returned from sea, observing the severity of the storm, and having a curiosity to see its effect upon the river, was that morning walking along the shore, when he suddenly came upon a man feebly clinging to a rock near the water’s edge. It was Colby, too much exhausted to drag himself out of the water, or even to speak aloud. With great difficulty, the brave man explained the perilous situation of his companions. Ingersoll immediately ran to the village below, gave the alarm, and, after trying in vain to induce some one to assist him in the attempt, embarked alone in a small skiff, and after great peril succeeded in finding and saving the four persons on the wreck! Surely the names of Nicholas Colby and John Ingersoll well deserve an honorable place in our history. They have it, and may their noble example never be forgotten by their posterity.”
And may every black sheep have his redeeming qualities!