Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Marine Disasters
Milwaukee Sentinel (Milwaukee, WI), 18 Nov 1863, p. 4
Full Text
The propeller Racine Ashore -- Not Lost -- Propeller Water Witch probably gone down with all on board. -- Schooner Gerrit Smith Leaking.--Schooner Wm. H. Stevens Ashore.--Total Loss of the Schooner Syracuse. _____

We learn by dispatches received at this city yesterday, that the propeller Racine, of the People's Line, reported to have been lost on Lake Huron, went ashore at Forty Mile Point, Lake Huron, and at last accounts was there full of water. The Racine passed Detroit on the 11th bound up from Buffalo with a cargo of merchandise. A Tug with steam pumps was sent from Detroit to her assistance.

The propeller Water Witch, of the Grand Trunk and Sarnia line, is supposed to have foundered in Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron, on Wednesday, and gone down with all on board. She was last seen on Wednesday morning, her smoke stack gone, and evidently in distress, a terrific gale blowing at the time, and nothing has since been heard of her. The Water Witch was bound from Chicago to Sarnia, and touched at this port a week ago Monday, the 8th inst., taking on board 400 bbl flour. Her cargo was chiefly made up of rolling freight. She was commanded by Captain RYDER, and had a crew of 22 men.

The schooner G. D. Norris, Capt. Ackerman, was the vessel which saw the Water Witch last. That was, as already stated , on Wednesday morning. The propeller was completely at the mercy of the waves, listed over on her be a ends. Some of the seamen on board the Norris went aloft, and are confident that she went down within half an hour after they first came in sight of her. The schooner was powerless to render any assistance, owing to the severity of the storm.

the Water Witch was a small propellor, having a tonnage of 262 tons, Custom House measurement, and was comparatively new, this being her second season. She was owned by Capt. E. B. Ward, and chartered by the Grand Trunk Railway. Her machinery was different from that of any other propellor on the lakes, with one exception, and this may possibly be the cause of her foundering. She had a walking beam, which, by means of complicated gearing, turned the shaft.

We could not learn whether there were any passengers on board the Water Witch. The freight agent of the Sarnia Line here is not aware of any having taken passage at this port.

The schooner Gerrit Smith, bound down with a cargo of 15,000 bushels wheat, unshipped her rudder off this port Monday night, and was towed into the river in a leaky condition. She yesterday discharged her cargo at DOWE & TIBBITS Marine Elevator. The Captain of the Gerrit Smith reports that he struck the bar coming out of Chicago, and that his was what caused the vessel to leak.

The steamer City of Cleveland arrived at Detroit Sunday morning, from Lake Superior, bringing news of a disaster to the schr. Wm. H. Stevens, on Lake Huron. While laying at Presque Isle, Thursday night, during a heavy gale, she learned from the steamer Parsons, also there, that the schooner Wm. H. Stevens was ashore at Scarecrow Reef. The Stevens had thrown overboard 5,000 bushels of her cargo of wheat. The Parsons endeavoured to get her off but did not succeed. When the City of Cleveland passed the point above alluded to, the vessel was not there, and it is presumed she got off.

In a late issue we stated that the propeller Free State reported having fallen in with the schooner Syracuse in a leaking condition near Presque Isle, Lake Huron, on her last upward trip, and having towed that vessel to within ten miles of the Straits, when the hasser broke and the propeller left her to shift for herself, expecting that she would be able to make a port of safety.

Yesterday the Captain and crew of the Syracuse arrived at this port on board the propeller Iowa, bringing intelligence of the sinking of their vessel within half an hour after the Free State parted with them. They saved themselves by taking to the small boats, and were picked up by the propeller Iowa.

The brig Candia came into port yesterday in a leaking condition and minus nearly all her canvas--lost in the recent gale.

The schooner William Fiske, bound from this port to Buffalo, with a cargo of 17,000 bus. wheat, sprang a leak in Lake Michigan, and was ran ashore in Cheboygan Bay. Captain hart of the tug Leviathan, put a steam pump on board of her, pulled her off, and towed her to Detroit. The tug Kate Williams left Detroit with her in tow Friday night. Her cargo is not much damaged.

Media Type
Item Type
Date of Publication
18 Nov 1863
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Illinois, United States
    Latitude: 41.85003 Longitude: -87.65005
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 45.65418 Longitude: -84.4292
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 44.91168 Longitude: -83.32886
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Marine Disasters