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Hi! Welcome to Vertigo's Fun House. Here, you'll find write-ups on unsolved mysteries and serial killers. Thanks for stopping by! It means a lot.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Mini Mystery 10: Jerome of Sandy Cove

Brief preface: I dedicate this blog entry to my friend The Bricklayer. Happy birthday, Brick!

Now then: every now and then, there comes a story that reads more like a short story rather than a real mystery. The Man from Taured is a great example of this: a story passed around decades after it happened and no mention of the incident prior to that.


But while that mystery may be more firmly rooted in myth than reality, the world is filled with many unidentified individuals; the United States having as many as 40,000 according to Wikipedia. Some of who are later definitively identified and their stories finally closed. Those that aren't are typically the victims of foul play, their bodies either too badly decomposed for positive identification or nobody coming forward to identify the body as a friend, acquaintance, or loved one.


Then there are stories like Jerome of Sandy Cove. A story that reads more like The Man from Taured, only it's verifiable it happened.




On September 8, 1863, 8-year-old George Colin “Collie” Albright discovered a man who would later be described as being “Mediterranean in appearance”, had hands that were “too soft” for him to have been a manual laborer, was well built, looked to be intelligent, and had a “well shaped head”, on the beach of Sandy Cove in Nova Scotia, Canada. The man’s legs had both been amputated just above the knees and recently at that as they were still bandaged. Most believe that whoever performed the operation was likely highly skilled.


Suffering from exposure due to the frigid weather, Albright brought the man back to his home in the village of Digby Neck. While there, locals questioned the man, but got little out of him, leading most to conclude he either didn’t speak English or had an extremely weak grasp of the language. However, when asked for his name, the man mumbled something along the lines of “Jerome”. As a result, the man garnered the nickname “Jerome of Sandy Cove”.


The enigmatic nature of Jerome and where he came from spread around the village, many of those that lived there wanting to learn more about him. As a result, he was subject to numerous visits from villagers while still in his sick bed. Those that visited him tried to communicate with him in other languages, including French, Latin, Italian, and Spanish. Whether Jerome didn’t understand these languages or did, but simply refused to communicate, is unknown. What is know however is that he wasn’t fond of the attention he was getting and eventually started to growl like an angry dog at those that visited him and ignored the attention others gave him.


As time went on, the Albright family started to struggle with supporting Jerome, so he was sent to live elsewhere; something that became common until the Digby Neck—which was a primarily Baptist community—came to the conclusion that Jerome’s appearance meant that he was a Catholic, so they sent him to live in the Meteghan, which was a French community and prominently Catholic. Around this time, the Nova Scotian government voted to give Jerome two dollars a week to help him live.


Sent to live with Corsican deserter Jean Nicola—who was known around the town as “The Russian” thanks to his time served in Crimea. Nicola was capable of speaking numerous languages, Jerome found that, even though he was living in new town, the locals still had an insatiable thirst to try and get him to speak. And despite Nicola’s ability to speak several languages, neither he nor the community of Meteghan could him to speak. He was, however, very popular with the ladies of Jean’s home: both his wife, Julitte and his stepdaughter, Madeline, loved him.


As time went on, Jerome’s silence slowly started to break. He hesitantly stated that he had arrived by a vessel named the “Columbo” and that he hailed from Trieste, which is the capital city of the northeastern Friuli Venezia Giulia region of Italy. Beyond this vague backstory however, Jerome remained mostly silent.


After the living in the Nicola household for the better half of a decade, Julitte passed away and Jean returned to Europe to live elsewhere. It was then that Jerome went to live with Dedier and Zebeth Comeau in St. Alphonse, which was near Meteghan.


Described as a “burgeoning” family, the Comeau’s decided to take advantage of the enigmatic nature of Jerome and those who were curious to see him, and started to charge an admission fee for visitors, who at this point had come to believe that he was either related to European royalty or royalty himself. And while he may have held a great level of disdain for the attention he got back in Digby Neck, Jerome didn’t seem to mind the attention he received here, being content with playing the Comeau’s children and even enjoying their company.


For the most part of his time in the household, life was normal and pleasant for Jerome. Though one occasion stuck out for the Comeau’s, and many of those who had tried numerous times to get him to speak. Two women, described as being “finely dressed” visited the house and asked to speak to Jerome in private. Agreeing to allow it, the women went into another room with him and closed the door behind them. They were said to have spoken quietly and in a language that none of the Comeau’s knew. Even stranger, they could hear Jerome himself speaking to them. When their conversation was done, one of the ladies said, “He is well here. Let him be.” The women never returned and to this day, nobody knows who they were and Jerome never said what relation he had to them, if any at all.


Sometime after that, Charles Comeau traveled to the United States—Boston, Massachusetts to be exact—for work. It was there that two mysterious women, who claimed to be from the “southern United States” visited him and informed him that they’d read a story in a newspaper about a man whose legs were amputated after he fell into a lake. The women told Charles that the man’s name was “Jeremiah” and that he heralded from Alabama. Charles was then given a letter and told to deliver it to Jeremiah, after which the women departed. Upon his return home, Charles did as he was instructed and gave the letter to Jerome, who examined the letter from every angle before throwing it into the fireplace.


For the rest of Jerome's life, life was more or less quiet. People would come by and see him and he continued to love the company of the Comeau's children, but ultimately he remained largely silent until his death April 15, 1912, which would go down in history as the sinking of the RMS Titanic.


Although Jerome spent 49 years going from household to household, nobody ever came to learn of his true identity, which has lead to numerous peculiar theories as to his origin, though there do exist some less unusual ones. As is the norm for this blog, I'll include both because I'm not one to pass up a good trip down insanity lane.


To start things off: we have the theory that Jerome was an alien.


It’s not a story about a mysterious person found with no identification without the theory that it’s an alien. In this case, Jerome took on the guise of a double amputee for… some reason, but was incapable of speaking due to not understanding human speech. Others may claim that perhaps the guise he took on was one he stole by possessing another human, but he never able to drop it due to the attention he got and his inability to walk.


This theory hinders significantly on how far you can suspend your disbelief when it comes to the idea of aliens living among us. For some, it’s a very difficult pill to swallow as you must buy into the idea that aliens can travel light years to walk among us, but can’t somehow sneak away, drop their guise, and flee somewhere else to perform whatever task they wish to perform. Some could plausibly argue that the two women were aliens themselves and informed this alien that he’d failed and was banished to Earth or that they were agents that came to retrieve whatever information he had.


Whatever the case may be, I couldn’t buy this idea even if you offered to give it to me with a million dollar check to boot. I don’t know anyone else who does either.


The second theory is a theory that tackles a subject I’d love to one day cover in more detail: Jerome was from another dimension. I mentioned this one briefly when I talked about The Man from Taured, but unlike that time however, I’ll elaborate a bit more on how this theory would work here. There exist two very popular explanations and both have been used in works of fiction before.


The first is that the dimension, reality, or universe (whichever you prefer to use, they’re usually interchangeable when it comes to these sorts of theories) is significantly more advanced than our own, and they’re aware of alternate dimensions and can travel between them. Jerome did just this through a piece of technology that he possessed, but may have lost or got destroyed in his trip. Some may also theorize that Jerome was a soldier from his dimension and was the test pilot for a dimension hopping machine, but it malfunctioned and he became stranded here on our Earth. However, the military later managed to detect where Jerome was and sent the two women to check up on him, but didn’t bring him back, perhaps because the trip would have been too dangerous, too risky, or because Jerome simply wished to stay here.


The second way this is claimed to work is that there are an infinite number of universes, dimensions, realities, and so on and so forth. Sometimes, they “overlap” and there’s the chance that, while walking, driving, swimming, skydiving, or any even sitting, you can slip into that dimension. Sometimes, you can also slip out, like the Man from Taured supposedly did; his belongings going with him. Other times, you may end up like Jerome and become stuck here for. As for the two women in this case, they may have been omnipotent beings who can traverse the infinite dimensions and aid those who suffer those unfortunate “dimension slips” and are unlucky enough to become stuck in their new home.


The latter way this works is also similar to the idea behind “time slips” which we’ll cover another day. For now, the idea behind other dimensions, realities, and universes is all speculation at this point. There are those who firmly believe in them and others who scoff at the notion. This theory, as it stands, heavily depends on the whichever side of the argument you fall on. So, pick your poison.


Theory three is that Jerome was a time traveler.


Time travelers and unidentified persons who seemingly appear out of nowhere go hand in hand. This theory houses many of the same elements that the previous one does: that Jerome might have been a volunteer for a time travel experiment and somehow got stranded here. The two women were, in turn volunteers when the project became a success and Jerome opted to stay, just as he may have last time. Pick your poison once more because from here on out, I have no idea who the women may have been and I’m not even going to try to think up an explanation and I want to emphasize that I myself have no explanation, but it’s a well documented event that’s mentioned on nearly every site I read for this mystery. On the bright side, this was the last of the silly theories and the remaining ones are more down to Earth.


The fourth theory is he was royalty, or at the very least wealthy, and killed for financial reasons.


Both of these theories are identical, bar a extremely minor differences. The idea is that Jerome was either the heir to some sort of throne or was to inherit an extremely large sum of money and a jealous family member wanted him out of the picture, so they had him sent to Canada. When the ship he was on was close to arrival, his legs were amputated and he was thrown overboard to die. Some speculate that Jerome’s inability to speak might’ve been due to him being mentally handicapped in some way, so he might’ve been seen as a disgrace to the family and his ascension to the throne or inheriting of large sum of money would’ve tainted the image of the family.


While royal and wealthy families still generally don’t discuss pasts—at least from what I’ve personally read—Jerome’s case seems like one that an “elite” status family would’ve addressed given the prominence his story holds. Nonetheless, this theory remains one of the most popular.


Theory five is that he was a sailor and he was thrown overboard in a mutiny.


One of my favorite theories due to my adoration for stories of sailors, this one goes that Jerome was the captain to a vessel—or at least a high ranking officer—but was thrown overboard for whatever reason. Be it getting lost, accusations of thievery, being a turn coat, or merely suffering the wrath of his crew who themselves overtook the ship, the end result was all the same: they took his legs at punishment, left him to die, and then took the ship to do who knows what.


This theory, in my eyes at least, is pretty likely. However, why his clothing wasn’t wet perplexes me, unless the crew dropped him off on the beach and then left. Unless their goal was to sail to either America or somewhere else where they’d never be found, one would think the crew to his ship would’ve wanted him dead and not alive. Heck, the bleeding from his stumps in the water would’ve been sensible on its own: it might’ve attracted a shark to kill him.


That said, to throw my own hat into the ring, Jerome might have been a sailor, gotten gangrene or suffered two severe leg wounds out at sea, and his crew dropped him off on land in the hopes someone would find him, or because his desire was to die on land and not out at sea.


The sixth and final theory we’ll discuss is the one that most have settled upon as it isn’t terribly outlandish. However, it doesn’t explain much. For starters, a ship called the Columbo did sail from Europe to Halifax. It’s believed that Jerome jumped ship and traveled to Chipman, New Brunswick. It was here that he fell through the ice covering a lake, but was rescued by a pair of men. However, not long after, he contracted gangrene and his legs needing to be amputated. After the surgery, the man garnered the nickname of “Gamby” due to him repeatedly waking up and calling for “gamba”, which is Italian for “legs”.


However, as was the case with Jerome, “Gamby” proved to be too much for the people of Chipman to take care of. So, someone (likely the Mayor) paid a passing schooner captain to bring Gamby somewhere else where he could be taken care of. Accepting the job, the captain dropped Gamby off at Sandy Cove across the Bay of Fundy to likely freeze to death.


As for Jerome’s inability to speak, theories range from him having suffered a stroke or having suffered some sort of other cerebral injury that affected his speech.


Whatever the case, Jerome’s life largely remains shrouded in mystery. Whether he was royalty, a sailor thrown overboard, or just a normal person who suffered a poor fate, we may never know. What we do know is that Jerome’s legacy lives on in Nova Scotia and he remains one of the most enigmatic unidentified persons in the world.

1 comment:

  1. *The sixth and final theory we’ll discuss is the one that most have settled upon as it isn’t terribly outlandish. However, it doesn’t explain much. For starters, a ship called the Columbo did sail from Europe to Halifax. It’s believed that Jerome jumped ship and traveled to Chipman, New Brunswick. It was here that he fell through the ice covering a lake, but was rescued by a pair of men. However, not long after, he contracted gangrene and his legs needing to be amputated. After the surgery, the man garnered the nickname of “Gamby” due to him repeatedly waking up and calling for “gamba”, which is Italian for “legs”.


    However, as was the case with Jerome, “Gamby” proved to be too much for the people of Chipman to take care of. So, someone (likely the Mayor) paid a passing schooner captain to bring Gamby somewhere else where he could be taken care of. Accepting the job, the captain dropped Gamby off at Sandy Cove across the Bay of Fundy to likely freeze to death.


    As for Jerome’s inability to speak, theories range from him having suffered a stroke or having suffered some sort of other cerebral injury that affected his speech.*

    Call me boring, but I think I'll go with the Mundane really.

    ReplyDelete