Unsolved Mysteries: The Shipwreck Thomas Hume: The Anatomy of an Archeological Investigation

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On May 21, 1891, the lumber schooner Thomas Hume and its crew of seven sailed out of Chicago, into a spring storm, never to be seen again. The vessel’s owners, Charles Hackley and Thomas Hume of Muskegon, Michigan, could not believe the sturdy lumber hooker could be overcome by rough water. Perhaps a freighter hit it, sank it, then steamed north. Or maybe the crew stole the Hume, repainted it, and sailed away under a different name. The disappearance of the Thomas Hume lingered as one of the great unsolved mysteries of the Great Lakes. In recent years, it even became fodder for UFO stories on the internet.
More than a century after its disappearance, the discovery of the wreck of the Thomas Hume solved the mystery of its disappearance. However, the collection of shoes, clothing, jewelry, coins, and tools found inside generated even more questions. An archaeological investigation by Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates and the Lakeshore Museum Center has attempted to solve the riddles posed by the shipwreck. After survey dives, historical research, and detective-like reasoning, the team pieced together not only the Thomas Hume’s career, but how its crew lived, worked, and died on the lake.

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