Letter Found

Table of Contents



Title Page
Introduction
The Ward Empire
The Birth of the Seabird
The Sam Ward
A Background on Lake Superior Shipping
The Seabird's First Service
A Change of Route
A First Mishap
Early Superior Routes
One Employee's Account
The Beginnings of Albert E. Goodrich
The Beginnings of the Goodrich Steamboat Line
Goodrich Purchases the Seabird
More Mishaps
The Beginnings of the 1868 Season
The Seabird's Departure
The Journey to Milwaukee
Heading To Chicago
Indications of Disaster
The Search
The Wait and the Suspense
The Seabird Sinks
More Waiting
The Bad News Arrives
The Statement of Captain Yates
The Statement of George Jacobson
The Statement of Edmund Hennebury
The Statement of Albert C. Chamberlain
The Origin of the Fire
Aftermath
A Third Survivor
The Statements of James H. Leonard
Another Fire Panic
Placing the Blame
Only One Body Recovered
Salvage
Financial Blow
Letter Found
The Present Day
Footnotes

Another footnote to the Seabird disaster in an April 26 newspaper of a letter purporting to have been written by a passenger:

"Day before yesterday afternoon, while a couple of gentlemen who are engaged as teachers in the Academy of L. M. Johnson, Esq., at Lake Forest, were walking on the shore near that place, they saw something in the water which looked like clothing. They procured a pole and succeeded in getting it out. It turned out to be a common cloth coat tied up in a knot with the sleeves. They opened it and found tied up in the coat itself a letter written in lead pencil on a coarse sheet of wrapping paper and done up in a piece of yellow paper, on which was written: "To owners boat." The writing on the paper is much worn and blurred, but all can be made out with the exception of a few words. It is as follows:
'On Board the Sea Bird.
'Whoever picks this up, will pleas have it publisht in some paper, or carry it to the owner of the boat. The fire caught in the engine room and then spred to some pails being on the deck. The captain give orders to stop the boat, but the flames would not permit any bode to go into the room. Everything was done by the captain that he could and the mate to. They are brave men, lots jumped into the water and are drowning and some are burning to death. The captain gave orders to stop the boat by throwing anker, but it still moves. I shall try to swim on a board to shore. I can't write much more the fire burns so fast. The captain has put all the money and some watches with a cask and thrown it over. Everything is marked. Carl Bostwick
'West_____
'I think forty or 50 are burning in the cabin and no one can reach them. An attempt was made by Mr. ____ to pry off a piece of the cabin, but was driven back by the flames.
Can't write any more.'
"In the breast pocket of the coat were found the following letters in ink, one of which obscurely hints at disreputable practices on the part of the writer.
'Ann Arbor, March 19, '68
'Dear C.: I received your last letter, and will do as you said in regard to all those old cloths. Most all of the men in town are supplied, and I cannot sell them, so that you must see that they are in time for the slow market. Your wife was over here last night, and she will be down to see Emma in a month or so. Tell Sam that we must have a new lamp and some flour. We have used almost all of it up, and cannot see where the next is coming from. I paid the bill that you wanted me to, and have all of the receipt in my darw(?). Come home as soon as you can, for we must have ___ new things, as well as that which I told you about. All of the children arr well, and the baby is in good health.
'Your sister, Kelly
'Send me some of those horse bite, for I am in great need of them. The girl is ____, and we can keep them away from her they will do well. Four of the _____ were on my track but I gave them the slip. We must keep her until they offer a huge reward and we will give her up.
'D____ brought __ two nice watches and a coat. Good for one night. All men on watch for * * * * * * and we will soon be rich men. Must stop. * _ *"
'$300
'On demand I promise to pay to the order of C. N. Storks ___. Value received.
T. Bingon
$100
"Received of H. Kicken, $.60 for payment for wagon. March 10 T. Bingon
One water................................$3.00
1 hat...........................................1.00
1 knife......................................... .60
1 book..........................................___
____'
"On the back of the last document to the following endorsement watch is in the same handwriting as that of the latter in lead pencil.
' Come to my bones(?), and I will see that those men were in. The most are in the jail the W. O. discovered. They have stole more than ___ of Tom.'
"The character of the gentlemen who found these letters is so high as to preclude any idea of deception on their part. The appearances of the letters, too, shows that they have been exposed to the water, and it is very possible that___ actually belonged to, and one was written by a person on the Sea Bird.
"No such name, however, as that of Carl Bostwick appears on the list of passengers on the boat, and the other name mentioned by him, is undecipherable."93

 


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