The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Chronicle & News (Kingston, ON), Dec. 4, 1847

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Pittsburgh, Nov. 26th, 9 p.m.

News has just reached here, by way of the lakes, of a sad catastrophe which happened on Lake Michigan, by which nearly two hundred human beings have been hurried into an untimely grave.

On Sunday morning last, the Propeller Phoenix, bound up to the lakes, was discovered to be on fire, when within 19 miles of Sheboygan. The fire broke out under the deck, and a fresh wind prevailing spread with fearful rapidity.

The utmost consternation prevailed among the passengers, and it was impossible amidst the excitement which followed, to make the proper efforts to stay the flames and save the boat.

There were over 200 passengers on board, and the scene was heart-rending in the extreme. Mothers crying in frantic madness for their children, wives clinging to their husbands, and crying aloud for mercy from above. Some, in desperation plunged into the lake; others, in their wild delirium, rushed headlong into the flames.

It was a harrowing spectacle, and humanity shudders at the recital of it. Many of the passengers succeeded in escaping in the boats, and the rest either perished in the flames, or were drowned.

Those who so miraculously escaped in the boats were shortly after picked up by the str. Delaware, which hove in sight just in time to see the dreadful of those on board the ill-starred Phoenix, but too late to render them any earthly assistance.

Every attention was paid to the survivors by the officers and crew of the Delaware. One hundred and fifty of the passengers were German immigrants.

We have many, though by no means all the names of the persons lost, by the burning of the Prop. Phoenix; and among them are J. Murdock and A. Murdock, who are stated to belong to Canada, though what part is not mentioned.

p.3 The Late Accident - No Coroner' s Inquest has been held on the bodies of the three men killed, when the Steamer Wave burst her boiler; because none of the bodies have yet been found. From a bystander, Mr. Robert Kearns, who witnessed the sad accident, and who assisted to save the survivors, we glean the following additional particulars: The explosion took place about ten o'clock on the morning of Monday last, off a place called "Kearn's Point," in the Rideau Canal, between Kingston and Brewer's Mills. The steamer was employed in towing a raft, but at the time of the collapse, was not in motion. She had on board, the Captain, (Mr. Hiram Ives) and a crew of six men and a boy, together with Mr. Rob't Fisher, of Hatter's Bay, and another gentleman connected with the raft. Our informant was looking at the steamer when the accident occurred, and describes the noise not to have been very loud, but more like a heavy crash, than an explosion. He saw the shattered bodies of two men high in the air, and saw them fall into the water. Another body was blown among the dead trees on the far side of the canal. The boat appeared to be a total wreck, and the stem was blown some distance off. Having two men at work with him, Mr. Robert Kearns jumped into a large canoe lying handy, and taking his two men with him, paddled off towards the wreck. They took off the Captain, the Engineer and a deck hand greatly scalded. Those who perished were the pilot, (James Keenan,) John McBride, formerly a keeper in the Penitentiary, and the boy. Mr. Robert Fisher and the other gentleman connected with the raft, fortunately, were uninjured. It is expected that those who escaped with serious injury will recover. Of the cause of the accident, we know nothing, and, if we did, it would not be right to mention it till after the inquest takes place, at which, doubtless, a full and careful enquiry will be made. [Whig]

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Dec. 4, 1847
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Rick Neilson
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Chronicle & News (Kingston, ON), Dec. 4, 1847