A Wonderful Escape
A correspondent of the Erie (Pa.) Dispatch gives the following account of a remarkable rescue which was accomplished on Lake Erie forty-five years ago:
"In the autumn of 1833 Captain Gilman Appleby, of Conneaut, Ohio, was captain and part owner of the schooner New Connecticut. A steamboat was then being built at Conneaut (the North America,) of which Captain Appleby had charge, and was for many years her master. An aunt of his then residing at Black Rock, below Buffalo, was at Erie on a visit, staying with a brother, who was then a resident of the town. The lady went to Conneaut in company with a nephew to visit her brother there. After remaining for some time she became exceedingly anxious to got home. Captain Appleby, who was busy with the steamboat, endeavored to dissuade his aunt from taking the home journey until he should bo going out with his vessel, when he would take her home. His efforts in that direction, however, were unavailing, and he had her taken on board the schooner to go to Buffalo in charge of the crew. The vessel being light, and the time of the year August, the captain had entire confidence in the ability of the crew to manage the craft and land his relative safe at her destination. Everything passed off quietly until after the vessel had passed Erie, when a sudden squall struck and rolled her over upon her side, when she nearly filled with water, but continued to float. The crew, loosening the vessel's yawl, jumped in, and pulled for the shore, leaving the woman in the cabin, as they supposed, drowned. The party landed at or near Portland, Chautauqua County, N.Y., and made their way, as best they could back to Conneaut. Three days after the accident, Captain Wilkins, of the steamboat William Peacock, in coming down from Detroit, was besought by Captain Appleby to board the wreck, if he saw it, and if possible get the body of his aunt out of the cabin, and it to Buffalo. Captain Wilkins discovered the disabled vessel drifting down the lake, and after coming alongside, Capt. Wm. Henton, then first mate of the Peacock boarded the wreck and made search. The schooner lay upon her side, and to all appearances full of water. A pole was employed, and it was supposed every part of the cabin was touched, and as no object in the shape of a human body was felt the conclusion was reached that the remains had floated out of the cabin into the lake hence further search was given up. Two days afterward Captain Appleby came down with a vessel with facilities to right the schooner and tow her into the nearest port the drowned woman's son being along to assist in the recovery of the body. The vessel was finally righted, and when the cabin door had nearly reached a level position, the woman walked through the water and came up the stairs upon deck. She was caught by Capt. Appleby and supported while her son wept and the sailors screamed. Five days and nights had she been in the water while a portion of the time she was up to her arm pits. She could not lie down and what sleep she got was in that position and all the food she had was a solitary cracker and a raw onion which floated on the water. She stated that after the vessel capsized and was abandoned by the crew, she found herself alone in water waist deep. The cabin door was open, but the flood was two feet above it, and the sea made constant changes in her position. When Captain Wilkins stopped she could hear the boarding party talk and walk on the vessel, and, although she used her voice to the utmost to attract attention she could not make them hear. She saw the pole thrust into the cabin door by Captain Henton, and asked if she could hold on to it and be pulled out but no answer came, the captain hearing no noise other than the splashing of the water, and having not the remotest idea that the woman was there alive or dead."