The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), Dec. 8, 1847

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[Buffalo Express, Dec. 1st]

The Propeller Delaware arrived yesterday, bringing a few additional particulars to what we had published before. The number of lives lost by the last advices are somewhat increased. The Clerk of the Phoenix - Mr. Donihue - states the number of steerage and cabin passengers on board at the time of the disaster, to have been 275 - and a crew of 25. The number saved was 45. This makes the number lost 255. The two boats of the Phoenix reached the shore with 42 persons, and the three others were picked up in the vicinity of the wreck. The Delaware sent her boats in search of bodies and proceeded with the wreck back to Sheboygan. The boats recovered 5 bodies and a quantity of baggage and furniture. After rendering all the assistance in her power, the Delaware left for this port. In passing the scene of the disaster they discovered a large number of floating bodies, supposed to be about 50, in the various conditions as to clothing in which they betook themselves to the water. Some half clad - some fully dressed, and others entirely naked. As boats were about picking them up, the Propeller passed by the sickening sight. We learn from J.D. Gros, Esq., of this city, that among the passengers lost on the Phoenix were Mr. Jonah Fink and wife, late of Syracuse, in this State, and formerly of the town of Palestine, Montgomery Co. They took passage for Racine. We copy the following particulars from the Cleveland Herald: -

"Mr. House, the Engineer, was the first to discern the lights of the Propeller Delaware as she was bearing down to the relief of those unfortunate beings, and announced the fact to those around, at the same time exhorting them to hold out a little longer and they would be rescued from their perilous situation. At that same time he is sure there were many alive within the sound of his voice, and he is confident that in a few minutes afterwards not a single one remained except the three who were saved. A lady cabin passenger was drowned within reach of him, and she was among the last to yield to the king of terrors. The description which he gives of the burning wreck is awfully terrific. The hull was a complete bed of flame, which bursting from her sides at times, streamed far out upon the waters, and curled aloft till flame meeting flame, the combined current rushed madly upward till it seemed lost in the clouds. The shrouds and rigging were covered with living beings, who sought safety there rather than in the water. Their terror-marked features were lighted by the ghastly glare of the flames, and as the fire reached them in their retreat, one after another fell and was either burned to death or drowned. One man reached the cross-trees, where he lashed himself. There he remained after all his companions had fallen, and there he died; and when finally the mast went by the board he went with it. Mr. West, of Racine, succeeded in throwing overboard materials enough to float himself, wife and child. He requested his wife to leap into the water with the child, and place herself upon a door. This with true-hearted devotedness she refused to do, unless her husband accompanied her. They joined arms and plunging into the yielding flood, sank together to rise no more in life. Mr. Long of Milwaukie saw his wife and child drown almost within his reach, without the power to save. He afterwards got hold of the wheel under the stern, and was one of the three who was saved alive from the water.

The body of young Tisdale, the cabin boy, was found floating upon a ladder. He was lying on his side with his head resting upon his hand. He was evidently not drowned, but died from cold. When the passengers became aware of the imminent danger which surrounded them, and that almost certain death awaited them, a scene was presented which beggars description. Some betook themselves to quiet prayer, others howled for help, whilst others still bowed in meek submission to the hand of an overruling power. As the fire progressed, one after another of the voices was hushed in death, and a stillness awful and profound succeeded. The small boats with their freights made for the shore, with a view of returning to rescue others. One of them did return before the Delaware left the scene of the disaster. On her way down on Sunday afternoon the Delaware passed through a field of dead bodies, some thirty in number, but they were left to be taken up by boats to Sheboygan for burial."


On Wednesday, the 1st inst., we launched from the Starch Factory Wharf, Palace Street, a large vessel of upwards of 400 tons burthen, called the Western Miller, constructed for a propeller. Her dimensions are as follows.

Length of keel - 132 feet

Breadth of Beam - 25 feet 8 inches

Depth of Hold - 10 feet 6 inches in the clear.

Entire length over all - 136 feet

This vessel is intended for the direct trade between Toronto and Montreal, and, although built of very heavy timbers, and great strength, her displacement when light, and on an even keel, is only 2 feet 9 inches of water. Her draught of water when the engines, boilers, and machinery, masts, equipments and wood are on board, will not exceed 3 feet 4 inches, including the keel, which is 5 inches in depth. - she is, therefore, admirably adapted for carrying a heavy load in shallow water, and has been constructed for that purpose, so as to carry a full cargo to Montreal, down the St. Lawrence Canal without breaking bulk. Her load, when drawing 8 feet 6 inches of water, will exceed 4000 barrels of flour. - Although so very burthensome she has an excellent entrance and good run, and is an extremely handsome vessel on the water. - Her engines are in a state of forwardness by the Niagara Harbor Dock Company, where she will receive them on board so as to be ready for the earliest spring business. [Toronto Colonist]

The Steamer Magnet - It is with much pleasure we announce, that the splendid new Iron Steamer Magnet, Capt. Sutherland, has been raised and brought up to Kingston, where she now lies on the Marine Railway to repair damages. Should the lake remain open, she may yet go up to Toronto.

The Weather - The Navigation has totally ceased for the year 1847. The River Steamers no longer run down to Dickinson's Landing, and the Bay Boats are laid up.....

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Dec. 8, 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.
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), Dec. 8, 1847