Growing up on Cape Cod, Elizabeth Vickery viewed sailing as a way of life. So despite the fact that the French and Indian war was raging, she thought nothing of hopping on a trading sloop, known locally as a “corn cracker,” for a trip to Boston to buy her wedding dress. She had carefully saved her money and was looking for the finest dress she could buy in which to become the bride of Jonathan Collins.
Shortly before they reached Boston, another sail appeared on the horizon. Soon it became apparent that it was a French privateer, and the corn cracker was its prey. Not wanting the French to find her money, Elizabeth hid below decks, thinking that the invaders would loot the boat and then be on their way. Instead, the French herded the passengers and crew of the corn cracker into the lifeboats and took over the boat as a spoil of war. From her hiding place, Elizabeth felt the boat begin to move and came back on deck to a surprise–both for herself and for the Frenchmen now in command of the ship.
But they had little time to worry about what to do with her as they were sailing into the teeth of a nor’easter. The boat was shaken and tossed and as it approached Isle de Sable, the captain lashed Elizabeth, himself and the only remaining mate to the rigging. When they regained consciousness, they were shipwrecked on the small island.
When Elizabeth’s fiancé Jonathan heard the news that she was left on the boat with the Frenchmen, he immediately enlisted on a warship and sailed off to fight the French. About three months after the mishap, his boat was passing Isle de Sable when he saw his sweetheart, thin, drawn and wearing the remains of the tattered sails, on the shore of the island, along with the two Frenchmen.
Elizabeth begged that the Frenchmen be treated well as they had treated her so. History does not record what happened to them, but she and Jonathan were married Jan. 27, 1704/05. Unfortunately, Elizabeth died a short 10 years after her marriage.