The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily News (Kingston, ON), Dec. 19, 1854

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p.2 The Gale On Lake Erie

The gale at Cleveland, some particulars of which we have received by telegraph, has been most violent and destructive, and the loss of property along the lakes must be quite large. We find in the Cleveland papers some incidents connected with the storm, which are of interest. The barque Trade Wind, whose loss has been recorded in our paper, had on board, among a large quantity of other freight, two Government Lifeboats, which were being forwarded to the upper lakes. The crew were very much annoyed at the encumbrance they made, being stowed on the upper deck, in their way should a storm occur. Capt. Judson hearing their complaints, casually remarked that said boats might be of service to them before they got through the lake. That very day during a thick and blinding snow-storm off Long Point, the barque came in collision with the brig Chas. Napier and sunk so suddenly that the crew had just time enough to get into these same life-boats and were all saved. In noticing the loss of the R.R. Johnson, with all on board, the Cleveland Plain Dealer gives some interesting particulars of this mournful affair. At Chicago, whence the ill-fated vessel last sailed, Capt. Snell, her owner and commander, put her in charge of the mate, who was his brother, and left her to make her way down the lakes, while he took the railroad for the purpose of getting a special insurance upon her in Buffalo. She weathered the storms, passed over the flats, and beat her way down on to this lake, when the big north-wester of Sunday caught her this side the islands. The next seen of her was at daylight Monday morning, about two miles west of Fairport and twenty rods from the shore, beached, and the men hanging in her rigging. She lay broadside to, and every sea careened her over so as to bring her masts under water, and of course immersing the poor fellows clinging there for life. She was first discovered by a family of farmers living opposite on the bluff which overlooked the wreck. They immediately despatched a messenger to the harbor for a life-boat. They watched the sufferers on the wreck until one by one they were washed off, so that when the life-boat started for their relief, there were but three remaining. Intensely excited did they beckon the boat on, which for two miles rowed amid surges and breakers that one-half the time hid the rescuers from view. Two more of the sufferers were washed off by the sea, and yet the boat was some half mile to row. One, probably the most hardy and robust of them all, remains. He seems lashed to the rigging and rises and falls with it as it dives beneath the surge, then rises with it to nearly a perpendicular. The boat is almost to him, when suddenly the mast disappears again and he rises no more! All on board, nine in number, have been lost, and none left to tell the tale of their suffering. Portions of the wreck came ashore revealed the fact that it was the schooner R.R. Johnson. The farmer's house we have described was the very home of the mate, and the family on shore who had sent after the life-boat was the family of the mate. In all probability the man who hung so long in the rigging was the mate himself, as he was a very resolute and robust man. Thus in the sight of his family and home he died a martyr to his mysterious fate, his wife unconsciously a spectator to the terrible scene. There is probably not on record a coincidence so strange, where a wife at her own home should witness the wreck of her husband at sea. Among those lost on board the schooner was Mr. John Gallaher, of this city. [Buffalo paper]

Racine, Dec. 18th - The schooner Whirlwind has arrived in port with part of the crew of the propeller Westmoreland which went down in 25 fathoms water eighteen miles from this side of Sleeping Bear. Seventeen lives were lost.

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Dec. 19, 1854
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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 News (Kingston, ON), Dec. 19, 1854