"Jérôme" - The Mystery Continues

The mysterious "Jérôme" (ca. 1840 - 1912) as seen in his later years

During the early morning of 8th October 1863 two fisherman walking along the shore at Sandy Cove on the Bay of Fundy noticed what appeared to be a human figure. As they approached they recognized this form as that of a young man...who they judged to be in his twenties. He sat there against a large rock...huddled and trembling from the cold. Both legs had been freshly amputated just above the knees by what appeared to have been someone with skill and knowledge of surgery. Besides him was a jug of water and biscuits.

A ship had been seen the day before in the area. It was not local and several people including some Acadians from the area of Baie Sainte-Marie had made mention of this ship...believing it may be pirates searching the bays for an easy prey. The following morning...the ship had disappeared.

The young man’s clothing seemed to indicate he may have been an officer...or of some noble origin. His complexion indicated a European origin...possibly French or Italian. Either unable to speak...or unwilling...the fishermen were not able to establish who he was or under what circumstances he ended up abandoned on the shores of the Bay of Fundy.

He was taken initially to the home of a Mr. Gidney in Mink Cove. From there he was eventually placed in the care of Jean Nicholas...a Corsican...and his wife Julitte..residents of Meteghan. This was an excellent opportunity to attempt to solve the mystery of this young man since Jean Nicholas was fluent in five languages... however Jean was never able to communicate with this soul.

Somewhere along the way...as tradition has it...in attempts to communicate with the young man...he spoke...or muttered something which sounded like “Jérôme”...and from that day on he became known simple as...Jérôme.

Jérôme was gentle...easy to care for and was fond of children and would spend hours watching them play...almost as if he was reliving his own innocent childhood. His mannerism was that of a gentleman...however...he was wary..even possibly untrusting of strangers from what I was told growing up in Clare. As time passed he regained his strength and would manoeuver about on his stumps...nevertheless...spent most of his time sitting.

In 1870 Jérôme was placed in the care of Didier Comeau and his wife Elizabeth of St. Alphones de Clare. For the next 42 years this would be his home.

Again people of various nationalities attempted to unlock the secret of Jérôme but without success. However...many believe that based on his reaction and expression when spoken to in European languages...that he understood. I have often heard it said by many elders in Clare....that he would react with anger at words that related to pirates.

There are many stories about Jérôme...and theories about who he was...what had happened to him...and whether he could understand what people were saying to him. We know that Jérôme never spoke openly to anyone...however...growing up in Clare and as a teen having spoken to many older people who actually remembered Jérôme as an old man and who’s parents knew Didier and Elizabeth Comeau quite well...the secret of Jérôme may have gone to his grave with him...but it may well have gone to the grave with Elizabeth also. If Jérôme communicated with anyone...it would probably have been with her. I was told many times that there were occasions where the two seemed to be talking when it appeared no one was looking. I hope he did share his secret with someone he trusted...

Jérôme died 19 April 1912 and his final resting place can be found in the cemetery in Meteghan, Digby Co., Nova Scotia, identified by a simple large stone with the name “Jérôme” on it.

It is said that this was the location at Sandy Cove where Jérôme was found on that early October morning. He had been placed against the large rock you see on the right...

A photo of the simple stone in the cemetery at Meteghan, Digby Co., Nova Scotia which indicates the final resting place of the man known only as "Jérôme".

Click on above image for a larger...more detail view.