The Storm of November 18. -- The wind, which had been blowing from the west, turned to the southeast November 15, from which quarter it blew until November 17. At 7 P. M., November 17, the wind veered again to the west and began to blow with great force. At Buffalo the gale was accompanied by snow, which fell to the depth of 12 inches. The loss of property and life was great. The number of persons killed was estimated at 100, while about 50 wrecks were scattered over the Great Lakes. Eighteen vessels were driven ashore on the Canadian side of Lake Erie, and many more on the shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Ontario. Many of the boats were total losses, with their cargoes, while some sustained only a partial loss or serious injury.
The ship Milwaukee was loading flour at Kalamazoo during the fore- noon of November 17. At 2 o'clock the next morning she went ashore and only six persons out of 15 were saved. She was a total wreck, but her cargo, consisting of 2,000 barrels of flour, was saved.
Up to this point in the history of lake navigation, no storm had swept with greater violence and destruction to the shipping interests, and with a greater sacrifice of human lives. A partial list of the disasters which occurred November 17, is as follows: Steamer Chicago ashore at Cattaraugas. Schooner Buckeye ashore at Conneaut. Schooners B. Franklin and Allegan ashore at Fairport. Steamer Macomb ashore at Point Mouille; passengers rescued by the Brothers, which also went ashore a short time afterwards. Brig Francis Mills and schooner Jenny ashore on north side of Lake Erie. Schooner Bancroft ashore near St. Josephs. Schooner Mariner ashore at Point Pelee; taken in tow by the steamer General Scott. The Indiana wrecked near Gravelly Bay. The Mississippi wrecked near the Indiana. The M. Kingman ashore on the Canadian side near Gravelly Bay. The Florida, of Buffalo, ashore at Point Albino. Severe storm over all the lakes, with heavy losses at all important ports.
Charles Dickens on the Lakes. -- Charles Dickens, the great novelist, took passage on the steamboat Constitution at Sandusky en route eastward. The Constitution called at Cleveland, April 25, and thence proceeded to Buffalo. In his American Notes Dickens thus speaks of the Constitution: "She was a large vessel of 500 tons, and handsomely fitted up, though with high-pressure engines, which always conveyed that kind of feeling to me, which I should be likely to experience, I think, if I had lodgings on the first floor of a powder-mill. She was laden with flour, some casks of which commodity were stored upon the deck. The captain coming up to have a little conversation, and to introduce a friend, seated himself astride one of these barrels, like a Bacchus of private life, and pulling a great claspknife out of his pocket, began to whittle it as he talked, by paring thin slices off the edges, and he whittled with such industry and hearty good-will, that but for his being called away very soon, it must have disappeared bodily, and left nothing in its place but grist and shavings."
Early Propellers -- In the spring of 1842 the Vandalia passed through the Welland canal to Buffalo, where she was visited by large numbers of people who were curious to see this new departure in steam navigation. The firm of Hollister Bros., of Buffalo, seemed to have become satisfied that the new method was an entire success, for in the year 1842 they built two new propellers, the Sampson and the Hercules. The Vandalia was commanded by Capt. Rufus Hawkins, and arrived at Cleveland April 23. On leaving that port she ran into the steamboat Livingston, doing considerable damage. She arrived at Detroit the day following. The propeller Oswego was built at Oswego in 1842, and was the second on the lakes.
Wreck of the Reindeer -- On October 21, 1842, there was a terrible storm on the lake, in which the Canadian steamer Reindeer was wrecked off Point Sauble. Nineteen of her crew found watery graves, and her two passengers. Two of the crew were washed ashore unconscious, and were saved. Next day the steamer was broken to pieces and her cargo strewn along the beach for miles. The Reindeer was owned by Holcomb & Henderson, of Montreal, was a side-wheel steamer, and sailed from Chicago October 16, with 13,000 bushels of wheat, 61 barrels of tallow, and some flour.
Other Events of 1842. -- April 20: Schooner Caledonia, of Cleveland, in command of Capt. John Gardner, ashore at Bass Island; released April 21 by steamer Clinton: 12, Capt. William Thorn, aged 93 years, dies at St. Clair. It is believed that he was the first man to sail a vessel on Lake Superior. He served as pilot to the unfortunate expedition against Michilimackinac, and was the first settler of St. Clair county: 27, Canadian steamer Western burned at the wharf in Detroit. May: Schooner John Richards capsized on Detroit river, one mile below Sandwich, and six of her crew drowned: British steamer Com. Barrie lost in Lake Ontario, bound from Niagara to Kingston with a cargo of flour: crew and passengers rescued by schooner Canada: 6, schooner Lewis Goler, of Oswego, bound to Hamilton, ashore near the mouth of the Genesee river. June: Schooners Thomas Hart, of Oswego, and Detroit, of Cleveland, ashore at Sodus: the captains of both boats thought they were making the harbor at Oswego when they went ashore: both vessels a total loss, estimated at $8,000. July: Schooner Essex, loaded with merchandise, from Oswego to Toledo, sunk near Turtle island, by collision with a sunken vessel: steamer Shamrock sunk by the explosion of her boiler, near Pointe Claire, St. Lawrence river: several lives lost: schooner Starkey stranded while attempting to enter Grand river. August: Steamers Illinois and Great Western collide, near Manitou light, by which the latter was seriously damaged: schooners Emily and Acorn, in command of Captain Chase and Captain Cobb, collide, by which the Acorn was sunk: she was a new boat, owned by William Walker, of Amherst, Ohio. September: Steamers Chicago and Commerce collide on Lake Erie, by which each sustained injuries: during a gale on Lake Erie the schooners Dolphin and Martha Freme, in command of Captain McCloy and Captain McKinty, collide, by which the former is sunk, near Erie. October: Schooner Kinne severely damaged by collision with the steamer Wisconsin, on Lake Huron: steamer Chatauque collides with the schooner Lodi, in command of Captain Hubbs, near Sturgeon Point, by which the latter is sunk. November: Steamer Vermillion burned at Huron, with a loss of five lives: steamer Wisconsin ashore near Chicago: 9, schooner H. Norton ashore at Buffalo: schooner Leander, in command of Captain Whelan, sustains severe injuries during a storm on Lake Erie: 17, steamer Chicago ashore at Cattaraugus during a gale: steamer Milwaukee wrecked near the mouth of the Kalamazoo; of the officers and crew, numbering fifteen persons, only six were saved. Schooner Josephine ashore near Oswego: the Nile, owned by Mr. Hulbert, of Presque Isle, wrecked at Coburg: steamer St. David ashore at Howe island, with five barges which she had in tow heavily laden with flour. The passengers left the boat during a terrific storm of wind and snow, and after wandering in the woods for some time found a log hut, where they remained two days: they were brought back to Kingston by the steamer Prince of Wales: steamer Erie sunk off Port Huron by collision with ice on Lake St. Clair: owned by William T. Pease and others of Detroit. December 5: Steamer Trowbridge ashore near Milwaukee harbor: 12, schooner Flamboro ashore near the mouth of the Genesee river, owned by Gunn & Brown, of Hamilton.
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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.