Henderson, Mexico Bay
November 15, 1832
Samuel Denison, Esq. - Sir - I left Oswego in the Martha Ogden, belonging to you, on the 12th instant, about half-past 1 P. M. , with every prospect of a pleasant and short passage to Sacket's Harbour. - Shortly after leaving the harbour of Oswego, the weather appeared threatening, and a heavy sea began to make; but it being impossible to go back - the wind having veered to the west and a very heavy sea on - i was obliged to do the best I could. I shaped by course North . N. by E. and N. by W. as the sea would allow me; the sea breaking so much over me, rendering my Engine perfectly useless, as no fire could be kept in the furnaces; I made all sail on her that would stand, for about an hour - but was compelled to take in the foresail in consequence of the wind being so fresh. - Before this, I found the pumps choked, and all hands, including the passengers, commenced bailing with buckets, but could not keep her free.
The wheel-rope parted about half past 6 P. M. , and she drifted considerably to the leeward during the time were employed in repairing it. I made the Galoe light about 7 o'clock in the evening, bearing North, expecting to make the passage between Stony island and Stony Point, but the wind hauling to the northward and west and blowing very hard, with a tremendous sea, which swept the main deck fore and aft, and carried away the promenade deck and ladies cabin - on finding I could not clear Stony Point, and believing, with all on board, that the boat would founder if kept on the lake - she being so water logged, and that all on board would perish, I ran into 8 ½ fathoms of water and let go both anchors about 9 o'clock. She rode about an hour and a half -- all hands bailing -- when both chains parted within 5 minutes of each other.
I ordered the job [jib] loosed, to clear the point under our lee - veered her round, got the fore-sail on her and cleared the point, taking in about 10 hogs heads of water, the sea making a fair breach over her. She then became perfectly unmanageable, and I gave orders that the passengers should be called on deck. She continued to drift until she struck the rocks in the second bay South of Stony Point. After she struck, the sea made a fair breach over her, which was about 11 o'clock P. M. Shortly after she struck, she filled, and every one being on deck, the screams of the women and children made the scene truly distressing.
My passengers, however, rendered all the assistance in their power, and to their exertions, with my own and crew, and the help of a Divine Providence, we were all saved. One of the passengers, Mr. Wm. Miller, of Canada, succeeded in getting on shore at the greatest hazard of his life, and informed the inhabitants of our distress: they soon collected on shore, and rendered us all the assistance in their power. With their assistance, we got a rope from the boat to a tree on shore, and by that means landed the passengers and crew - first the children in a basket, the others in a sling.
If the harbours of Salmon River and Sandy Creek, under our lee in Mexico Bay had been approve agreeable to an act of our last Congress, that was vetoed by the President, we should undoubtedly have escaped this misfortune, and saved you the heavy loss you must sustain by the disaster. *
I cannot say too much in favor of the inhabitants near us: they have rendered us all the assistance and comfort in their power; for which I feel truly grateful.
Being on board the Steam-boat Martha Ogden, as passengers, when the misfortune as described above happened, and being considerable losers by it, we hereby certify that the above account of the disaster is strictly true in our belief, and that no blame whatever can be attached to Capt. Vaughan.
"We understand, that in the above wreck, our fellow citizen, Captain George Archer, was a loser to the amount of some hundreds, which, added to his numerous other misfortunes, is very severely felt. We hope it will be made up to him. " - Oswego Free Press.
* We question very much whether this sentence was not added for the purpose of prejudicing the public against Gen. Jackson. We cannot see what other motive could have induced the remark, which is clearly unjust and destitute of foundation. If the President had sanctioned the bill which contained the appropriations to improve the harbors at the mouths of Salmon River and Sandy Creek, which was not passed until July last, no progress could yet have been made in those improvements, so that the condition of the navigation could not, in any event, have been changed at this time; and the attempt to cast the blame of the loss of the Martha Ogden upon the President, betrays no ingeniousness or generosity. The reasons for the rejection of the bill alluded to, have been so fully discussed during the late canvass, that comment at this time is unnecessary. They were duly appreciated and passed on by the people.
(Notes: The steamboats "Martha Ogden" and "Ontario" comprised the fleet of the Lake Ontario Steamboat Co. , incorporated Jan. 28, 1831. Directors were Joseph and Samuel Denison, Edward Bronson, Gerrit Smith, Elias Trowbridge, Theophilus S. Morgan, Richard L. DeZeng, Frederick Bushnell, Elisha Camp, Jacob Arnold, William Baron, John C. Bush and Thomas L. Ogden. The "Martha Ogden" was rigged fore and aft and registered at 150 tons. She was 104'x23' z 9' Built by Albert Crane of Sackets Harbor. First voyage April 1, 1825. machinery from the Allaire Works in New York City. Had a cross-head engine with 20-foot wheels. Named for the wife of Thomas L. Ogden of New York, one of the directors.