Manitowoc was isolated from the news all morning, but late in the afternoon telegrams started coming into the telegraph office at Shepard's jewelry store on York Street. Mr. Shepard served double duty as store operator and telegraph operator. He was a busy man that afternoon. One of the first telegrams was an overly optimistic one. It was quickly taken to the town newspaper to be typeset for the Thursday morning edition. Too late to be corrected after updated news was telegraphed, the newspaper read:
STR. SEA BIRD BURNED!
There could possibly a connection between this telegram and a sinking of another Seabird the same night, April 9. This one was a schooner that sank in 20 feet of water off Kelley's Island in Lake Erie. Unlike the steamboat, though, all aboard were rescued, and the schooner could be raised without much difficulty. The report of this schooner's sinking could have been telegraphed along with the steamboat's report, and the two might have been mixed up.58 A Milwaukee newspaper had put the two reports one after the other in the same column. The schooner report was listed as having come from Sandusky, Ohio.59
Another telegram from Captain Goodrich was delivered to his brother J. M. Goodrich who operated a store down the street from Shepard's jewelry. It, and subsequent telegrams, were less optimistic, and offered little information other than the burned steamer was believed to be the Seabird and possibly many lives were lost. About 6:00 in the evening the telegraph quit working, and despite the waiting and nervous crowd that gathered at the jewelry store, Mr. Sheperd could not put it back into operation until early Friday morning, when the real news of the Seabird was delivered.60
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