The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), Nov. 25, 1890

Full Text



The str. Khartoum will load wheat today for points down the canal.

Arrivals: schr. B.W. Folger, Fairhaven, coal; sloop Laura D., Cape Vincent, light.

Clearances: sloop Minnie, Gananoque, lumber; schr. Queen of the Lakes, Deseronto, wheat.

Mr. Shangran, 2nd mate of the prop. Munro, had one of his fingers cut off while unloading freight at Montreal.

The following barges have gone into winter quarters at the M.T. Co's dock: Minnedosa, Lancaster, Europa, L'Union, Jennie, Senator, Albina, Cleveland, Wheatbin, Star, McCarthy and Corncrib.

The schr. B.W. Folger, Capt. Bates, arrived this morning from Fairhaven with coal for Swifts. The captain says the lake was very rough until 12 o'clock when the wind died away. He kept his boat at Four Mile Point until daylight this morning.


The Captain of the Walker Encounters It Today.

The Heavy Sea Prevented A Rescue - Coming To Kingston for a Yawl and Apparatus

The Distressed Craft is the Polly M. Rodgers.

As the tug Hiram A. Walker was off Pidgeon (Pigeon ) Light this morning, about a quarter past 6 o'clock, on her way to Oswego, Capt. Mandalay noticed a large 3-masted vessel on the shoal in a bad position, the waves now and then breaking over her deck and almost hiding her from view. It was impossible to do anything at the time, the tug not having a yawl big enough to withstand the heavy sea then running. The men on the standed vessel were hauling up their colors inverted, as a token of distress. The Walker put about and started for Kingston to procure help to save the crew. She arrived here at 8 o'clock and made the news known. A large force of men were engaged to assist in the rescue. The large yawl of the Minnedosa was brought around to the tug, plenty of ropes and tackle secured and at 9:30 o'clock the Walker started out again on her life-saving expedition.

Pidgeon Light is a long shoal about 16 miles west of here. A lighthouse, on a little barren island, marks this place, one of the most dangerous on the lakes.

It is since learned that the disabled craft is the schooner Polly M. Rodgers. She was in tow of the tug Wilson and had coal from Charlotte to Ogdensburg. She broke away last night and drifted ashore. The decks are now only above water and the crew is in a dangerous condition.

The Latest Particulars - The tug Walker on arriving at the wreck the second time found the seas sweeping over the Polly Rodgers in immense waves and the crew left on her had put on life preservers and were preparing to swim for it as they expected the vessel to go to pieces every minute.

The Minnedosa's yawl was quickly manned by Capt. Gaskin, Geogehan, and Fleming, and George and Albert Davey. They took the 4 men off. The captain of the boat had previously taken the yawl and left for Pidgeon Island accompanied by the mate with his wife and child who the life-savers noticed waving their hats on the island to attract their attention. C. Marseau on seeing the yawl going away from the Rodgers became discouraged and jumped overboard with his heavy coat on and with no life-preserver. Strange to say he swam half a mile through the icy water to the island.

The Walker picked up the men who were on the boat and then got the party on the island and left for the city, where the unfortunates arrived at half-past twelve o'clock. They were properly cared for. They were Captain S. Laflamme; mate Joseph Pursey, wife and child; Seamen A. Gilbert, I. Smith, C. Marseau, of Ogdensburg, N.Y.; F. Peterson, Montreal, and I. Steane, Lisbon, N.Y.

It appears that the Polly Rodgers left Charlotte yesterday with the barge Mohawk in tow of a tug with coal for Ogdensburg, and sometime in the early part of the night the Rodgers broke loose from the rest and drifted around until two o'clock this morning when she struck Pidgeon shoal. She was driven there by the southwesterly gale that was raging at the time. Before going ashore she had sprung a leak and had 3 feet of water in her hold. She had been on the shoal with the seas pounding against her for four or five hours before being sighted by the Walker. The crew was just about to swim for it when the life-saving crew arrived.

Another Story Of It - Between 8:30 and 9 o'clock yesterday morning the tug Wilson, Capt. W. Leonard of Ogdensburg, with the barges Mohawk and Polly M. Rodgers ( Rogers ?), left Charlotte, bound for Ogdensburg. In the afternoon, when abreast of Oswego, the breeze began to freshen, and soon to keep increasing in force as the day wore away. It came from the southwest a quarter from which sailors dread a gale. The crews of the boats in question did not become alarmed until about 6 o'clock in the evening when they found themselves rocking recklessly in a roaring sea.

Soon everything moveable floated off the boats and were washed away. Every minute the sailors expected to see one or all the boats sink. The sailors stood bravely to their posts.

Capt. LaFlamme says that when they got inside of the Galoops the Rodgers and Mohawk labored very hard and the creaking of the tow lines could be heard above the storm. The Rodgers fell back into the trough of the sea. She was then abreast of the Main Ducks, with her foresail up, the wind beating against it with tremendous force. The line holding the Rodgers to the Mohawk snapped.

In the midst of a fierce gust of wind the sails and rigging went out. One anchor was dropped in 5 fathoms of water and was dragged as if it were a chip.

The captain did not drop the other anchor because he did not think it would prove of any service. The vessel ran hard on the rocks three quarters of a mile from the shore.

The only course open to the captain when his boat rolled on the rocks was to get to land and telegraph to the owner for assistance. He therefore, lowered a yawl and jumped into it. Mr. Fursey, his wife and child begged so hard to go with the captain that he could not refuse and took them along. The rest of the crew were left on the boat. When they got to Pidgeon Island the captain intended taking a fishing smack and sail to Cape Vincent, but he found the island a very desolate place, and he and those with him sought the hospitality of the lighthouse keeper, Mr. Davis.

They were received by Mr. Davis in a courteous manner. He provided them with hot drinks and they soon became fond of their isolation. Their quarters were more comfortable than they expected to find in such a barren spot.

The shipwrecked crew were found in the Lakeview house drying their soaking wet clothes before a comfortable fire. They state that they made every signal possible from the time they struck the shoal to attract the attention of the light-keeper. They blew their fog-horn and burnt 2 or 3 mattresses soaked with kerosene oil in their endeavours to make their situation known, but it was not till the Walker hove in sight that they found that anyone knew, and when they saw her put about and make for Kingston again they thought the last hope was gone.

Nothing was saved from the wreck; every one of the men lost all the clothes they had.

F. Peterson, of Montreal, has been 7 years in the employ of the owners of the wrecked vessel and during that time has been shipwrecked 3 times.

The crew were glad to reach the city and do not wish to repeat the experience of last evening.

The Rodgers will go to pieces if the wind continues high, but it it falls she will be saved. If the weather is peaceful tomorrow Mr. Hall will direct that efforts be made to release the vessel, which contains 570 tons of coal.

The Rodgers was built at Charlotte 20 years ago. A few years ago it was decided to convert her into a tow barge and the transformation took place. This season she carried 33 cargoes, and the present is the first time she has met with a mishap.

Capt. W. Leonard, commodore of the fleet did what was best last evening in proceeding to the city, when the barge broke away.

The crew left for Ogdensburg this afternoon by way of Cape Vincent.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Date of Original:
Nov. 25, 1890
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Rick Neilson
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
WWW address
Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.

British Whig (Kingston, ON), Nov. 25, 1890