The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Upper Canada Herald (Kingston, ON), Oct. 30, 1838

Full Text

p.1 Shipwreck - The lives but of few persons furnish accidents as appalling as that given below. The account may be in some of its particulars incorrect, as it was penned in a hurried manner, from the lips of one of the sufferers.

The new schooner Wm. L. Marcy, Captain Miner, belonging to Messrs. S. & H. Cook, of Ellisburg, on her trip from Ellis' village to Oswego, was on the evening of the 10th instant capsized in a gale of wind off Mexico Bay. The gale was proceeded by a dead calm. Upon the first appearance of the storm every precaution was made use of to prepare the vessel for its encounter. It is here proper to state that she was without ballast. The progress of the storm could be distinctly traced upon the smooth surface of the water as it came with apparently slow but terrific violence. The schr. instantly capsized. With masts perpendicular in the water and keel in the air, the vessel now dashed to and fro, among the billows. Samuel Cook, owner; Capt. Miner, and two hands were on deck; Wm. C. Wells, Esq. merchant, of Mansville, John Tift, of Ellisburg, Miss Eliza Van Allstine, of Scriba, Oswego County, and a son of Mr. Cook, about 12 years of age, were in the cabin. Those on deck were swept from it as quick as thought; but by such exertions as can only be put forth at such a crisis as this they all succeeded in gaining the keel, to which they hung from sunset till near midnight with every sea dashing over them with tremendous violence.

The cabin filled with water as far as the confined air would permit; the scene which was there enacted beggars description. Within this narrow 8 X 10 room were four human beings, rolling and tumbling among the loose furniture and baggage, alternately under and out of the water, as the vessel rose and sunk with each succeeding sea. They however sustained themselves somewhat by holding on to the inverted berths. After remaining in this situation about two hours with the water gradually increasing upon them, so that but about a foot of space remaining between the surface of the water and the top of the cabin, they found to their horror that the vital principle of the air was well nigh exhausted. Death now seemed inevitable.

But with a desperation attendant only upon the last effort of the dying, Mr. Wells, after three or four attempts, by diving down, broke out the sky light window, and tore with his hands the iron rods which were placed outside to protect it, through which they thrust as much loose rubbish as possible, thereby allowing them more room and air, as the water had now a free ingress from below. But they still experienced a great difficulty in breathing, and must have perished were it not for two feather beds that were inflated with air. - Ever and anon they thrust these into the water, from which globules of air would rise, and thus furnishing a scanty supply of the sustaining element. Mr. Tift fainted and sunk, but was again bro't to the surface of the water by Mr. Wells; who with his pocket knife, with no other light than an occasional gleam of lightning reflected by the water, commenced cutting for the purpose of getting a hole through the ship; and had cut through the inner part of the cabin, and far into the hard timber when his knife came in contact with a spike, which so dulled it as to render it useless. About this time voices were heard from the outside of the vessel this being the first sound that had come to their ears save the howling of the storm, and the peltings of the hail upon the bottom of the vessel. The schooner Pulaski, Capt. Mathewson, having discovered the wreck, after four hours beating came alongside and took from the wreck the well nigh exhausted sufferers. But in what way to proceed to rescue those in the cabin they knew not. While calculating upon the uncertainty of success, Capt. Mathewson formed the quick resolve, and carried into execution the plan which resulted in saving them, and which entitles him not only to their lasting gratitude, but ranks him high on the list of the humanely brave. - With a rope round his body, the waves running fearfully high at the time, he drove under the vessel, with his feet felt for the sky-light, into which he thrust them, to which they one by one dove down and were drawn out, with the exception of the boy, who was unable to dive as low as the Captain's feet. - A hole was immediately cut through the bottom of the vessel through which he was taken out. - When the hole was cut the discharge of confined air resembled the letting off of steam from an engine. No blame is attached to Captain Miner, he having used every precaution necessary, save a supply of ballast previous to sailing. [Watertown Jeffersonian]

p.2 Some loss has been sustained on the Lake by the gales that have prevailed for the last ten days. The schooner Harriet, laden with salt, (resin ?), and various goods for Kingston from Oswego, was driven ashore in the gales of the 19th and 20th, and part of the cargo washed away. The schooner Margaret with a full cargo up the Lake, had to throw overboard upwards of one hundred qr. casks wine... Other two or three vessels have been ashore.

p.3 The hermaphrodite schooner Brock, lost two of her guns during a little squall on Lake Huron, a short time ago, which, it appears, were not secured against such an emergency, doubtless, owing to the supposition by the salt water gentleman who commands the vessel, that fresh water is not subject to such severe agitations as the "briny deep." He is now, however, convinced of the contrary, and has made for some port on Lake Ontario where he will refit. [Sandwich Herald]

Media Type:
Item Type:
Date of Original:
Oct. 30, 1838
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Rick Neilson
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
WWW address
Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.

Upper Canada Herald (Kingston, ON), Oct. 30, 1838