The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), Nov. 19, 1879

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A matter of great importance to Lake commerce was discussed and decided in the U.S. Cabinet meeting recently. It appears that the towinginterests of Canada, headed by a member of Parliament, who owns tugs, have induced the Canadian Commissioner of Customs to issue regulations prohibiting United States tugs from doing any wrecking in Canadian waters, prohibiting them from hauling off United States vessels which are ashore in Dominion waters, and making other equally unjust prohibitions. Not long ago a tug in the Detroit river had five barges in tow, one of which went ashore on the Windsor side and the tug hauled off its own barge, whereupon the Canadian authorities fined the owner of the tug $400. Another instance was when a vessel went ashore in Canadian waters and her owner sent a tug owned by him to haul her off, but was prohibited from doing so by the Canadian authorities and made to employ a Canadian tug, which was not able to do the work, and he was compelled to send for miles for another Canadian tug to do the work his own tug could have done readily. Several other cases similar to these have been reported to the Washington authorities recently and have been officially investigated. A couple of weeks ago Capt. Sheer of the revenue cutter Fessenden at Detroit, inquired of the Canadian authorities as to the purpose of these regulations and was notified that they quite as severe as represented. Sheer was also warned that no United States revenue cutters would be allowed to assist wrecks in Canadian waters. He at once reported the matter to the Treasury Department, whereupon Mr. Clarke, Chief of the Bureau of Revenue Marine, investigated the treaties on the subject and found that the action of the Canadian Commissioner of Customs was unwarranted and in violation of the Treaty of Ghent and the Treaty of 1849. The subject was referred to the State Department and came up in the Cabinet meeting held recently being discussed at length by Secretaries Sherman and Ewarts. It was finally decided that the President should issue a formal proclamation notifying masters of vessels and others engaged in commerce that under the treaty obligations Canadian waters were free to vessels of the United States for legitimate purposes of commerce, and the United States tugs could lawfully give relief to any vessels in necessity, whether in Canadian waters or not. The officers of the revenue marine service will also be instructed accordingly. This matter is not concluded, as the Canadian Commissioner of Customs will fight hard to justify himself and will be sustained by the entire towing interest of Canada. [Chicago Inter-Ocean]



The schooner Ontario reports having left Oswego on Wednesday last for Belleville, and on her passage across the lake experienced very heavy weather. Such was the force of the gale that she lay over to within a foot of her rail. At Cobourg she remained three days owing to adverse winds.

The schooner Edward Blake, of Port Burwell, is loading salt for Chicago. It is not expected that she will reach her destination before winter sets in. The Florida, of Quebec, intends loading salt also.

A private despatch from Henderson, N.Y. reports the steamer Chieftain and her tow in that harbor all right.

Grand Haven, Mich., Nov. 19th - The worst gale of the season is blowing from the southwest since midnight. The prop. Gen. Payne, from Chicago, struck on the bar and went to pieces in inside of half an hour. The schooners Holme and Margaret Dall, light; Maple Leaf, loaded with lumber, schr. Rose and barge C.O.D. went on the beach. The Maple Leaf is going to pieces. The schr. Hawlat anchored a mile outside. Her foresail is gone.

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Not So Unfortunate As At First Reported.

The Number of Lost Reduced.

How The Tow Was Broken Up.

The Names of the Survivors - The Horror Lessened.

The first accounts of the wreck of a tow on the lake and the loss of several lives produced a genuine sensation upon the public mind, and when we went to press last evening there was scarcely a gleam of comfort to be obtained from available information by those who were concerned about the terrible mishap - and who was not? This morning, however, the gloom was somewhat cleared away by the announced safety of a number of persons who were found on the tug Heckler at Sodus Point. It was this craft that was sighted late yesterday afternoon and a tug despatched to her. There were on her: Capt. Thompson, Fred. Straus, Judson Morrison, Charles England and wife, Charles Corrigan, J.B. Young, Henry Heckler, Jerome Morrison and wife, Patrick Fennell, and three others not named in the first despatch.

When the gale struck the late fleet all the tugs were cut loose from the tow except the Seymour and sought to save themselves. The scows soon parted from the rest of the fleet. The tug Thayer sunk and it is supposed that all her hands were lost. The tug Becker was abandoned in a sinking condition, but in getting her alongside of the dredge Gordon she stove a hole in the latter, which quickly filled her with water, and both the crews were lost except Thos. Smith and two Swedes. These clung to the cabin of the dredge and were picked up at daylight by the Seymour.

An Ogdensburg despatch says: Additional particulars make it almost certain that five persons are lost. From the best information received here up to eleven o'clock last night by Seymour & Co., the only ones lost on board the tow of the tug Seymour are Sam Logan and brother, Mr. Arnold, part owner, and the cook and her husband of dredge No. 3. They would have been saved but for the tug Becker running into the dredge and staving a hole in her, which caused her to founder. Nearly all of the Seymour's tow has been found, and it is thought, with the assistance that has been sent, all will be picked up except dredge No. 3, which was sunk by the collision, and the tugs Becker and O. Thayer, which foundered without any one on board. One of the dredges is in Sodus all right. One is off Sodus Point at anchor. Exaggerated reports of the disaster have undoubtedly been circulated, which the latest information does not justify. The Logan brothers, of Morrisburg, were formerly proprietors of the railroad steamer Transit, running between the Ogdensburg & Lake Champlain & Ottawa Railway.

The Captain's Statement.

Capt. Flemming, of the tug Seymour, which had the fleet in tow, makes the following statement:

"Left Cape about 1 p.m.; wind was light and when we got outside Grenadier Island the wind was very light. No signs of snow. Looked first rate and barometer was clear up. Before I got to Galloup light I got Mr. Arnold, Sup't., aboard and asked him what he thought of the weather. He said we had better go on. After we had got eight or nine miles past Galloup the wind freshened up and the small tugs let go. A little while after that I made Oswego light and I told the small tugs they had better make for that. Then the Ritter ran into us and the men jumped on us and let the tug go. The Captain of the Ritter told me that I had but one dredge. The bridle gave away twice. They fixed it and sung out to me, "all right, go ahead." Then, after the tug Becker went to drop aboard the dredge and sunk her (the dredge). The dredge did not wholly sink, but one end was out of water. The tug about six o'clock this a.m. picked three men off the end of the dredge. I left the dredge and made my way here. I had hard work to keep the Seymour clear. Heckler was on the small tug. Mr. Arnold was on the dredge that I had hold of. He probably got carried off by the seas. The Becker sunk when she run into the dredge. I took all of the dredges this morning that were left. The Becker's crew got on the dredge and were drowned. They must have been swept off. The Fantail was floating when we came away. Everything went, we could not see the length of the tug, could not see five feet. Arnold was lost. Tom Smith, assistant engineer on the dredge, states that the tug Becker came alongside. One said, "For God's sake give us a line, we are sinking;" and Arnold says, "Jump aboard the dredge and let the tug go." They came alongside to jump aboard the dredge, and in coming up they struck the dredge and put a hole in her. Just as the men got on the deck of the dredge the Becker went down. They were blowing their syphons. Four men were bailing with pails and one hand pump working and water was gaining on them. Arnold, working in his waist in the water, and the dredge lying over on her side, said, "Tom, we are lost." That was the last Smith heard Arnold say. Arnold had his big coat on, and the last Smith saw of him he was trying to get it off. That was the last I saw of Arnold. Two Logans, the cook and her husband got on to the Fantail, and the dredge swamped. The cook and her husband were lost. It was 4:15 a.m. when she went down. Logan, engineer, was carried away with the sea and drowned. A few minutes after that Capt. Sam Logan was carried away by the sea and drowned. Smith and the two Swedes clung to the wreck til we got them off on board of the tug at 7 a.m. Smith thinks the tug O. Thayer went down first, but thinks the crew left her and took to one of the dredges. Wood's son was on one of the scows, and was the first to break loose.

The Ritter Found.

The tug Morey, of Oswego, at daylight yesterday noticed a craft of some kind about a mile and a half out, apparently a tug, knocking about in the sea without steam. The Morey immediately put out and found it to be the tug Charles M. Ritter, of Buffalo, abandoned and drifting in towards port. The pilot house doors, the cabin slide, engine room doors and forecastle scuttle were open and the seas were washing over and into the boat. It was evident that she was almost full of water and about to sink.

The Latest Particulars.

As we go to press a telegram from Oswego says two tugs of the fleet were seen to go down. The tug Becker came alongside the dredge Gordon about 1:30 a.m. half full of water. Geo. Palmer, Samuel Logan and Wm. Logan jumped aboard the dredge. Immediately thereafter the tug careened over and disappeared. The tug O. Thayer went down about 9 p.m. Capt. H. Hicklar was saved. The engineers supposed to be lost on board the dredge Gordon were Richard Arnold, Patrick Logan, Billy Logan and George Palmer and wife. The water in the engine room was waist deep at 4:40 a.m. The Gordon sank. All on board were drowned excepting Freeman Smith, and two brothers named Heather, who were picked up by the tug Seymour. It is expected that the tug Seymour will arrive here this evening.

The Body Found - of woman supposed to be cook from Henry Rooney lost off Charlotte.

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Nov. 19, 1879
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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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Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), Nov. 19, 1879