A young Mitchell Hedges

Mitchell Hedges

    Frederick Albert Mitchell-Hedges was born on 22nd October  1882. He grew up to be one of the most extraordinary and  unconventional characters England has ever produced.

    An adventurer with a rare and true spirit, who cared passionately  about the world and who could articulate his experiences, thoughts and dreams to those sufficiently open-minded to watch or listen, coupled with sufficient imaginations to realize that "reading between the lines" was mandatory, since he had to pretend a lot in some of what he wrote. since, as an agent for ‘His Majesties Secret Service", his lips had been sealed..therefore he had to talk through the side of his mouth a lot.

    His occupations over his life span ranged from a stockbroker, antique dealer, explorer, archaeologist, big-game fisherman, lecturer, writer  and poet – (while at the same time working in that perilous parallel universe o "Top" Secret" and "Above Top Secret" assignments , sometimes simultaneously, in his quest for adventure,  to live life to the full and inspire others to follow in  his footsteps.  His motto was "Life lived without adventure is not life at all" and "Life lived without adventure is living half dead".

    Let's get mundane for a few minutes here..  His mother's maiden name was Julia Alice Mitchell and, as a tribute to his mother and out of his great love for  her, he added 'Mitchell' to his Father’s  surname of Hedges whereupon he became known to his many friends  as 'MH', by some and Mike to others but today he is most commonly known as F.A. Mitchell Hedges the man that revealed the fantastic, enigmatic, and inscrutable Crystal Skull.

   Hedges' independent spirit surfaced at boarding school when he was 12. The Headmaster intended flogging him in front of  the whole school but Mitchell-Hedges, defied him and refused  to submit to being thrashed. Instead, he threw an inkwell  at the Headmaster and ran away from school.
In February 1900, Mitchell-Hedges aged 18 emigrated to Canada.  It was whilst on board the Canadian Pacific Steamship Lake  Manitoba that Mitchell-Hedges found he had a gamblers instinct  for playing poker – a skill that was to come in useful many times in the future.

    Ironically, on arrival, fate steered him to New York where  he got a job as a stockbroker working with Jules Bache – one  of the richest men in America. Mitchell-Hedges describes  this time as 'Life was thrilling, exciting, dangerous.  There were handsome profits to be made and handsome losses too.

    It was during this time he also met J.P. 'Mighty' Morgan – the  richest man in America who inspired Mitchell-Hedges to be determined and to turn his dreams into reality.

    Lifting a few lines from the excellent bio of Hedges written by Jonathan Ostrowsky the most in  depth picture of Hedges as writer, adventurer, ace fisherman and Bon Vivant that I have been able to find who says...

"Whenever Hedges needed R & R he would head for the Caribbean ocean and the paradisiacal islands for his favorite past-time, big game fishing.  Mitchell-Hedges then spent time fishing in Jamaica where he  caught a record red snapper weighing 102.25 lbs.  and a shovel nosed shark weighing in at 237.5 lbs – the largest fish  he had caught on rod and line at that time. He also caught  hammerhead shark five foot three inches in length and a  sting ray weighing 260 pounds. These catches are all the more  remarkable when you consider Mitchell-Hedges was fishing  from a relatively small and easily cap sizable dinghy!"

    Perhaps the most notable event was to catch and kill a man or girl-eating  shark in Kingston Harbour, Jamaica. It was caught on the less than conventional tackle of five empty fifty gallon  oil drums and a hook baited with two dead dogs. The shark  was only eleven feet long but its girth was eight feet six  inches. It weighed 700 pounds.

The shark was mounted and is now in the Kingston museum.
Continuing with the "fish tales" of his life by getting hooked on one of his  fishing expeditions in the region of the Panama Canal where the warm waters in out of the way places, away from the constant hum of ships we can find him casting long lines in search for the largest and most fierce of the sea monsters he could find..just for a fight.

“In battling great fish one must go far from the paths of ships.  It is among the atoll, coral, reef, and sand bar-amidst the great places where eternal silence broods- that one learns the savagery of the sea and its monsters, where one may watch a marine battle fought to the death in a maelstrom of bloody foam”.

“Ambitiously I was determined to hunt the seas, battle great fish, and explore the marine wonders over a vast sea much of which I knew was virgin to hook line, fish- spear and harpoon, down the coast of Central America, south to Panama.”    In the remote and out of the way spot on the mariners map Hedges patrolled the waters in his twenty ton yacht, the Cara, making his home harbor the island Water Cay a few miles off the coast of British Honduras.
  It was in British Honduras that he made his claim that he found the notorious and now famous Crystal Skull, the inspiration  for the movie "Indiana Jones and the Adventures of the Crystal Skull"

    He is accompanied by Robbie and Levi, two locals.  In addition, since MH rarely goes forth without a woman by his side-sometimes his adopted daughter Anna, sometimes Lady Richmond Brown, - he brings along secretary extrordinaire Jane Harvey Houlson. “She is thin and wiry, a hundred pounds of bone and muscle, and endurance; caring nothing for luxery..."He calls Jane young feller, or young- feller- me -lad.

    Then Hedges describes his motley crew ..”I doubt is such another in these days ever sailed the seas.  Boynton the captain, muscled like an ox and one legged.  Charlie, the engineer, minus an eye which he lost in a Mexican brawl, Jim, the mate,  with three fingers shot off, Gilly the cook, his teeth bashed out by the butt of a riffle, after some bickering during a revolution, and Joe,  known as the deadliest killer in Central America, who could hit a humming bird on the wing with a single shot from his six shooter.  All deadly in a fight but loyal to the backbone”.
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