Joseph Toronto woke up in a panic and looked around the ship’s dark cabin. Pulling the scratchy wool blanket up to his chin, he realized that it was just a dream that had awakened him. He’d been dreaming about how the missionaries who had recently baptized him counseled him to go to Nauvoo. But Joseph loved being on the sea in the sunshine and salty air. Even though he couldn’t swim—none of the sailors could—he planned on spending his whole life out on the water.
Joseph went back to sleep, listening to the gentle creaking of his small ship and the other ships in the harbor as they rocked in the ocean.
The next time he awoke it was morning, and Joseph heard his fellow sailors already at work. Joseph felt troubled about the dream. Pushing the feeling away, he got up and prepared for a long day of trading and selling fruits and vegetables.
It was 1845, and Boston Harbor was one of the busiest trading ports in the world. Ships large and small from many countries sailed to this harbor to trade their products for American goods. Joseph was the captain of his ship, and he had sailed from his home country of Italy to do the same.
On deck, Joseph secured the cargo as his men brought up the anchor. They were going to sail across the harbor to meet with other traders, but a flash of lightning on the horizon made Joseph uneasy. Dark storm clouds were gathering in the sky. Still, Joseph and his crew headed out, sure that they could make it before the storm hit. But they were only halfway across the harbor when the wind started churning up the water. All the ships in the harbor were being tossed around like toys.
Rain poured down, and the rumble of thunder mixed with the sound of Joseph yelling orders to his men to secure the sails and get below. They quickly tied the sails to the tall mast so the fabric wouldn’t rip in the wind, then ran to the lower decks for safety.
Joseph glanced around the top deck to make sure all his men were below, then looked up to see another ship being thrown straight at them by the wind. He jumped toward the door to the lower decks, but the two ships collided and everything went overboard, including Joseph.
To be continued …