The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), Nov. 18, 1842

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p.2 Severe Weather - in harbor, some damage to shipping.


[Cleveland Herald Extra, Nov. 7th]

The Steamboat Vermilion, Captain Brundage, was burned at the Huron Pier about 1 o'clock Sunday morning. The following statement, touching the melancholy catastrophe has been furnished us for publication.

Huron, 2 o'clock P.M.,

November 6th, 1842.

The undersigned, being a committee appointed by the citizens of Huron to take measures to relieve the distress of the sufferers, and make arrangements for the decent interment of the dead, in the unfortunate burning of the steamboat Vermilion, which took place at our port this morning, report the following facts as having come to our knowledge by the report of others, and from personal observation.

The S.B. Vermilion, Capt. Brundage, arrived here from Detroit this morning about one o'clock, and stopped at the end of the pier, near the Light House. Among the freight they were taking on was a can of turpentine, which by some means was turned out and spread over the deck, and coming in contact with the chimney, took fire, and in a moment the boat was on fire from stem to stern. The passengers, some forty or fifty in number, were all asleep in their berths. They were soon aroused, but before they could get on to the pier the fastenings of the boat were burned off and she drifted into the Lake. Her boats were immediately lowered. One immediately swamped. The other was the means of saving many lives - but others were doomed, some to a watery grave, and others given a prey to the devouring element.

The following are known to be lost: The body of one man has been found, his name supposed to be (from his papers) Alexander Robinson, Captain or mate of the Schooner Ohio. He is supposed to have had a wife on board, who was also drowned. The body of Mrs. Charles Hoskins, of Kingston, Canada, has also been found. Her husband is among the living. He saved himself by swimming to the dock, after being separated from his wife by some one seizing him around the body and dragging him under. The Cabin Maid is known to be lost, probably burned to death. The clothing of a man is found, and from the papers in the pockets supposed to belong to Heman B. Ely, of Rochester, N.Y. The above are all that are known to have perished; it is to be feared that others have perished whose names will not be known until their places shall be found vacant among their friends.

The following are known to be among the living:

William B. Clark, South Lansing, Tompkins Co. N.Y.

Mrs. Edward Clark and two daughters, do.

A. Duff, Malden, Canada.

Mr. Wm. Watkins, Leroy, N.Y.

Mr. Charles Hoskins, Canada.

Miss Hannah Torry, New Hartford, N.Y.

Miss A.T. Smith, New York City.

Mr. R.B. Carhart, Bloomfield, Mich.

Mr. Hampton E. Field, Troy, N.Y.

Mr. Henry Grinnell, Bloomfield, Mich.

Master Ephraim Barrows, do., do.

Dr. A.T. Boardman and Son, White Pigeon, Mich.

Mr. N.S. Godfrey, Batavia, N.Y.

We are not able to give the names of all those known to be living, as some went down on the S.B. Com. Perry, that was in about sunrise; how many is not known.

The officers and crew of the boat are all saved, and it is no more than justice to say, that they conducted themselves with the greatest firmness and presence of mind, and were the last to leave the boat. Capt. Brundage rushed into the hottest of the flames and rescued a female from certain destruction.

The steamboat Chicago rendered timely assistance, and saved several that were drowning, and also towed the sinking boat into the river, where she rests on the bottom, a perfect wreck, except the engine, which will be saved. Her principal cargo consisted of 8 or 900 bbls. of flour, which will be nearly a total loss.

Our citizens have showed a becoming zeal in saving the lives of the passengers and their property, as well as that of the boat, and are now engaged in raking the bottom for the bodies of the other unfortunates, and fitting the dead for interment and relieving the wants of the living. The effects are in the hands of J. Tracy, and will be faithfully kept for the friends of the deceased or the survivors.

J. Tracy,

J. Fleeharty,

J.B. Wilbor,

J.W. Wickham,

Tower Jackson.

The turpentine which caused the fire was in a retail can, and formed part of a lot of oils, etc., the hands were taking on board. The plank from the pier to the gangway was very steep, and by some mischance or carelessness the can of turpentine was upset while being passed down it. The contents ran directly upon the fire below, and instantly the flames burst forth with uncontrollable fury.

The Vermilion was a good boat, and worth about $50,000.

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Nov. 18, 1842
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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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British Whig (Kingston, ON), Nov. 18, 1842