Table of Contents
Increase of Mortality on the Lakes. -- The mortality during this year (1868) was 331 lives, an increase over 1867 of 120. The greatest loss at any disaster was involved in the burning of the steamer Sea Bird, near Waukegan, Lake Michigan, early in April, and 72 men, women and children went to death. The vessel was a total loss.
The Sea Bird was on the Goodrich line, and had left Milwaukee for Chicago April 8, with about 75 souls on board. When nearly opposite Waukegan fire was discovered in the hold. The steamer was at once headed for the shore, but the wind was blowing from the northeast and sent the flames forward. An explosion followed, destroying or cutting adrift the four lifeboats. In two hours the vessel had burned to the water's edge and soon after took its final plunge. There were only two survivors.
The second most appalling disaster was the loss of 32 lives by the sinking of the steamer Morning Star by collision with the bark Cortland, on Lake Erie; then came the foundering of the propeller Hippocampus in Lake Michigan, carrying down 26 lives; followed by the burning of the propeller Perseverance, on Lake Ontario, with a loss of 14 lives. The loss of the unknown during the season was 150.
While leaving Buffalo for Port Colborne May 1, the propeller Gov. Cushman exploded, instantly killing 11 of her crew. The entire stern of the propeller was blown away. The Cushman was loaded with grain from Milwaukee, and had run for three winters in connection with the Detroit and Milwaukee line. She was built in 1857, re-built in 1865, and the explosion made her a complete wreck.
From Steamer to Barge. - Early in the season of 1868 the side-wheel steamer Illinois, 826 tons burden, and built in 1854, was dismantled of her machinery and converted into a barge, towed through the lakes by the propeller Iron City, in the lumber trade. The engine she had in her was formerly in the Illinois No. 1.
Other Events of 1868. - March: The first marine disaster of the season occurred at Cleveland. The schooner Eliza Caroline was forced out of the harbor by a freshet and badly damaged; 10, Ship Owners Convention in Cleveland; tug Niagara, built in 1849, sank in Cleveland harbor; navigation on Lake Erie opened to Dunkirk; also between Detroit and Port Huron; 20, Lake Erie entirely free from ice; sailors' wages fixed at $1.25 per day in Chicago; steamer Empress burned at Kingston, Ontario; 31, navigation opened on Lake Huron ports. Bark Sunrise passed Detroit, March 15, the first sail vessel of the season, from Chicago, en route to Buffalo. Schooner E.M. Peck, with eight lives, foundered during a fearful storm on Lake Michigan. The outfit of the propeller Genesee Chief, schooners Republic and J.H. Hartzell, burned at Clark's dry dock, Detroit. Straits of Mackinac cleared March 19, the propeller Montgomery, Capt. J. Nicholson, being the first boat through, west bound. Schooner Erie, formerly a revenue cutter, and 35 years in the service, was wrecked at St. Joseph. April: Schooner Arcturus sunk by collision with bark James F. Joy, Schooner Gertrude sunk by collision with a cake of ice. Tug C.Y Richmond lost on Lake Huron. May: Propeller River Queen burned at Marine City. A violent northeast gale throughout the lake region May 7, causing much damage to the shipping. Schooner Free Democrat capsized in Lake Michigan, and four lives lost. Propeller Oneida, laden with merchandise, stranded and sunk at Sandusky. Vessels passed Detroit May 28, having been sixteen days on the passage from Chicago. Sailors' wages fixed at $1.50 per day at Chicago. Schooners Mary Collins and Sweepstakes collide near Bar Point, Lake Erie. Steamer River Queen, sunk after burning at Marine City, raised Schooner Minnie Proctor total wreck at Oakville, Ont. Propeller St. Louis and schooner B. Parsons collide on St. Clair Flats. Bark Newsboy collides with and sinks schooner Illinois near Grand Haven. Bark Bentley damaged by collision with a locomotive at the C.B. & Q.R.R. bridge in Chicago. Tug Relief capsized near Sorel, Canada; two lives lost. June: Schooner King Fisher took on 900 tons of coal at Cleveland, inside of ten hours. Propeller Concord sailed from Lake Superior to Detroit, with a mass of copper weighing 19,556 pounds. Steamer Morning Star and Bark Cortland collided between Cleveland and Point Pelee, both vessels going to the bottom; 32 lives lost with the steamer, and ten with the bark; the steamer was en route to Detroit from Cleveland, in command of Capt. E.R. Viger. Bark Clayton lost on Lake Huron by collision with schooner Corning. Schooner Thornton, sunk in the Sault canal, raised. Bark American Union collides with and sinks the Forest. July: Propeller City of Detroit struck an obstruction, coming into Detroit river, and sunk, damaging cargo of corn. Schooner Dunderburg, laden with 40,000 bushels of corn, was sunk by the propeller Empire State in Lake Huron; one life lost. At Oswego 5,247,000 feet of lumber were received during 48 hours. Propeller New York collides with brig C.P. Williams near Turtle island, Propeller Rapid, sunk at Sarnia, raised. Schooner Africa, sunk in the Sault river, raised by tug Satellite. Wreck of propeller North, which was burned and sunk a year before at Baby's point, River St. Clair, sold for $1,500. Detroit & Cleveland Steamboat Company purchase the side-wheeler Northwest for $115,000. August: Schooner Arcutrus, sunk at Long point, raised and taken to Buffalo. Bark Acorn and schooner Telegraph collide at Buffalo. Severe storm on Lake Erie 18th, Schooner Elbe sunk on Lake Michigan by collision with schooner Frank Perew. Schooners Ketchum and Neshotah collide near Two Rivers. Schooner Little Albert sunk off Little Sodus, Lake Ontario. Scow C.G. Williams sunk at Muskegon. Propeller Empire State seized by the U.S. marshal on a libel in Admiralty procured by the owners of the Dunderburg, sunk by collision on the 15th inst.; damages place at $60,000. September: Propeller Hippocampus, laden with fruit, foundered in Lake Michigan between St. Joseph and Chicago, 26 lives going down with her. A heavy northeast gale prevailed on this date throughout the lake region, with much damage to vessels. The steam barge Illinois, formerly a side-wheeler, and the first of that name of the lakes, was lost on Lake Huron. Bark Clough wrecked above Cleveland; loss of seven lives. Schooner Hyphen, ore laden, raised by wreckers near Point Pelee, went down again, with loss of three lives. Schooner Persian, laden with wheat, was sunk by the schooner E.B. Allen off Forty Mile Point, Lake Huron, and ten lives lost. Bark Etowah sailed from Cleveland for Liverpool with a cargo of petroleum. Schooner Albemarle abandoned at Mackinaw. Schooner J.A. Davis capsized off Grand Haven. Scow Hanson sunk at Monroe. Bark Emma L. Coyne wrecked at Rocky island passage. Schooner Live Oak wrecked at Chicago. Severe storm on Lake Michigan. Schooner Ruby ashore at Sheboygan and total loss. Schooner America capsized near Chicago. Scow J.A. Traves capsized near Grand Haven; two lives lost. October: Schooner Forfar total wreck at Muskegon. Schooner A. Ford sunk in Welland canal. Scow Iona collides with schooner Wm. Grandy off Silver creek. Paragon a total wreck at Sarnia. Schooner R.T. Barney sunk by collision with schooner T.J. Bronson in the Straits. Schooner F.L. Wells wrecked off Port Bruce. Schooners Swallow and Scoville collide at Chicago. Bark Elizabeth Jones and propeller Roanoke collide at Buffalo. Schooner Andes sunk on Lake Erie off Madison, Ohio. Schooner Hattie Johnson sunk at Hammond's bay, Lake Huron. 17, heavy northwest gale on all the lakes. Bark L.H. Colton, laden with petroleum for Liverpool, took fire soon after leaving Cleveland and was a total loss. Propeller Congress, formerly the Detroit, laden with merchandise, was stranded at Thunderbay and became a total loss. Propeller perseverance was burned on Lake Ontario while en route to Oswego, and 14 lives were lost. Heavy southwest gale on all the lakes. Steamship Milwaukee went upon the beach at Grand Haven and became a total loss. Propeller Merchant, grain laden, struck near Malden and sunk. November: Schooner Gazelle wrecked at Centreville. Brig C.P. Williams wrecked near Port Austin. Schooner Maria F. Johnson sunk on Lake Erie. Schooner E.K. Gilbert sunk at Point Pelee. Barge Michigan, formerly a side-wheel steamer, was lost in Lake Erie with a cargo of lumber. Barge City of Cleveland, formerly the steamer of that name, lost at the same time and place. Propeller City of Boston, laden with flour and grain, was sunk by the propeller Milwaukee, near the Straits, a total loss. Erie Railway Steamboat Company sell to Jay Gould, trustee of New York and Erie railway, the following: Propellers Elmira, $27,000; Tioga, $45,000; Canisteo, $50,000; Olean, $38,000; Passaic, $50,000; New York, $30,000; Wabash, $60,000; Schooner Walrus lost on Gray's reef.
|Steamer Milwaukee. Built at Buffalo in 1859. Length 247 feet; tonnage 1,100; wrecked at Grand Haven, Mich., in 1868. From "American Steam Vessels." copyright 1895, by Smith & Stanton.
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Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.