Loss of the Steamboat Delaware. -- Lake casualties in 1836 were less numerous than during the previous season. The most important loss was that of the steamboat Delaware. The Delaware was owned by Capt. George J. King, who had purchased her a short time previous to the wreck. She was lost on Lake Michigan in June, during a violent storm. The Delaware took her departure from St. Joseph for Chicago, was caught in the storm, sprung a leak, and was driven ashore about 10 o'clock at night, eight miles from where she cleared, and soon became a total wreck. The passengers and crew were all saved. The ship Milwaukee was out in the same storm, but arrived at Chicago with the loss of her foretop-gallant-mast. The Owanungah, a three-masted schooner, and the first on the lakes, in the same gale slipped her cable, about 30 miles from Chicago, went ashore and bilged. She was commanded by Capt. Augustus Todd, and had on board a full cargo of merchandise. She was released, however, and was in service many years afterward. The schooner Agnes Barton lost her foremast, and the schooner Sea Serpent was driven ashore at Michigan City, but subsequently got off. The steamer Colonel Crocket was lost in a gale at St. Joseph, and the steamer Don Quixote in a gale on Lake Huron. The steamboat W. F. P. Taylor took fire near the mouth of Cataraugus creek, Lake Erie, and was partially destroyed, but afterward rebuilt.
Launch of the Manhattan. -- There was launched at Detroit, August 20, the brig Manhattan, the largest square-rigged vessel then on the lakes. A description of this launch, occurring over sixty years ago, may not be uninteresting. A newpaper account is as follows: At 10 o'clock in the morning of August 20, 1836, a large number of people gathered at the shipyard of Oliver Newberry, of Detroit, to witness the launching of the brig Manhattan, the largest square-rigged vessel on the lakes. At the appointed time the steamboat Michigan, on her return trip from Chicago, hove in sight, loaded with passengers and a fine band of music, which gave additional life to the scene. A pause was made to give her time to come in and take her place for the witnessing of the spectacle, after which strains of lively music proceeded from her decks. About half-past 10 o'clock the blocks were knocked away, and the noble brig descended to her destined element amid the shouts of hundreds of citizens. The morning was pleasant, and the large number of people, the playing about of numerous small craft upon the river, the lying at anchor of sister schooners crowded to the mast-heads with spectators, the arrival of the Michigan at the timely moment, all blended, making the appearance one of heartiest cheer. When newly launched the Manhattan was pronounced by all connoiseurs in the art of shipbuilding to be the best in point of model and strength ever committed to the western waters. Her length of keel was 93 feet, depth of hold 12 feet and breadth of beam 28 feet.
A Trip to Chicago. -- A Chicago pioneer, J. M. Hannahs, describing a trip to Chicago in 1836, said: "At Buffalo we went on board the steamboat Oliver Newberry for Detroit. Steamboats in those days only ran through to Chicago about once in three weeks. At Detroit we took passage on the schooner Edward Bancroft, which proceeded to Black River, now Port Huron, and there loaded with lumber for Chicago. On the Canada side of the river above Detroit were many windmills, and above Lake St. Clair, on the same side, for many miles were little log houses of uniform construction, which were built by the British Government for their Indian friends. From Port Huron we ran through stormy Lake Huron and anchored at Mackinaw. On the high bluffs stood the fort, manned by soldiers, and there were various missionary stations, and hundreds of Indians having a fleet of beautiful bark canoes, which, together with the wild scenery on the island beyond the fort, were objects of great interest. Those bark canoes were an important part of navigation in those days on the Great Lakes. From Mackinaw through the straits to the eastern shore of the territory of Wisconsin we coasted along for hundreds of miles in full view of the dark, uninhabited, and forbidding forests of that now great State, until we came within about 100 miles of Chicago, where we found ourselves scudding before a northeast gale with a heavy sea, which pursued us into Chicago; or, rather, to the bar at the end of the piers, which were then under construction, and where we stuck fast. We were nineteen days on the passage to Chicago."
Other Events of 1836. -- April: The pier at Black Rock severely damaged by floating ice: 15, navigation opened at Buffalo: brig Illinois sustains injuries on Lake Erie: steamer Oliver Newberry leaves Cleveland for Detroit April 13, thus opening navigation on Lake Erie: Welland canal opened April 22, and Oswego harbor clear of ice: schooner Chicago launched at Grand Island Company's shipyard, at White Haven, 140 tons burden. May: schooner James G. King launched at Dunkirk. Owned by Col. W. Smith and built by Captain Jones, of Black River, 170 tons burden: intended expressly for trade on the upper lakes, and first commanded by Capt. C. Stillman, schooner Julia Palmer launched at Buffalo: dimensions: 100 ft. x 26-½ ft. x 10 ft., and 300 tons burden. Owned by Col. Alanson Palmer, and first commanded by Capt. Robert Wagstaff. Ship Milwaukee launched at Grand Island: 300 tons burden: built for Chicago and Buffalo trade: first commanded by Captain Dickinson. Steamer United States ashore near Erie. Steamer William Penn ashore below Erie. Sloop Clarissa launched at Chicago: first vessel built at that port. June 17: Schooner John Richards, owned by Sears & Ruden, capsized and sunk in attempting to enter Buffalo during a severe gale. Schooner Hudson launched at Oswego, 125 tons burden. Schooner Toledo launched at Buffalo, 220 tons burden. July: Schooner Young Lion, in command of F. T. Moran, wrecked and sunk near Erie. August: Steamer Sheldon Thompson severely damaged by collison with the steamer Monroe on Lake Erie. Keel of steamboat Buffalo laid by John Carrick, of Buffalo. Schooner Philadelphia, 120 tons burden, launched at Erie. Schooner President, bound from Buffalo to Cleveland, capsized during a gale: four lives lost. Schooner White Pigeon, in command of Captain Newhall, capsized and sunk near St. Clair Flats: no lives lost. September: Steamboat Daniel Webster disabled on Lake Erie, and towed to Cleveland for repairs. Steamboat Commodore Perry, in command of Captain Wilkison, damaged by collison with the steamboat Uncle Sam near Sandusky. Steamboat Gen. Porter sunk at Dunkirk by collision with a rock. October: Schooner Florida wrecked near Black Rock during a storm. Schooner North America capsized on Lake Erie during a severe storm. December: Steam packet James Madison launched at Erie: 700 tons: built by Captain Richards, and owned by Col. C. M. Reed: built for trade between Buffalo and the upper lakes. Ship Milwaukee ashore near the entrance of Sandusky bay. Schooner Texas ashore near Cedar Point.
Return to Home Port
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.