The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily Times (Oswego, NY), Wed., April 23, 1851

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The Disaster of the Comet

Our hasty account yesterday of the explosion of the British steamer Comet, was imperfect, and in some respects incorrect. The Comet was not a new boat, but she had been recently re-built. and newly fitted up and painted. It is said her exploded boiler had been in use since 1834, a fact sufficient of itself, perhaps, to account for the disaster. - She was owned by the extensive and well-known Commercial House of McPherson & Crane, and has run mostly in past seasons in the line between Hamilton and Quebec, as a passenger boat.

Since our last paper went to press, three more of the wounded have died. The names of the dead are, Royal Davis, 1st Engineer; James Carroll, 2d Engineer; John O'Conner, waiter, about 17 years of age; James Church, waiter, about 16, and Thomas Quiggins, fireman.

Of the crew of the boat, there are three missing, viz: Coleman Hennessey, deck hand; John Dwier, do, and a colored man, cook, who was last season a cook on the steamer Mayflower, on Lake Erie. These are supposed to have been blown into the river and to be lost, making a total loss of eight persons.

Daniel McGuire, cook, and James Friel, waiter, who were more or less injured, it is thought, will recover.

The wives of the two Engineers, and other friends of the dead arrived by the Cataract, from Kingston, yesterday P. M. The bodies of the dead were deposited in the upper room of the City Hall, and a Coroner's Inquest was held. and in session most of the day, and a large number of people congregated in and about the building. The bodies are to be taken to Kingston by the down steamer this morning.

The following is the finding of the Coroner's Jury - April 22, 1851:

That John Davis, James Carroll, John O'Conner, James Church and Thomas Quiggins, came to their death by scalding from the explosion of the boiler in the Canadian steamer Comet, in the Oswego Harbor, on the 21st day of April, 1851, about 3 o'clock, P. M. , which explosion we believe to have been caused for the want of a sufficient quantity of water in the boiler.

In witness whereof, we subscribe our names:

It was proved before the Jury that the two Engineers, who lost their lives, were men of good habits, the one having charge of the exploded boiler, being a strictly temperance man.

The Jury, we understand reached their conclusion in regard to the boiler from the testimony produced before them, mostly from Mr. Starbuck, a scientific engineer from Troy, who made a thorough examination of the wreck and the exploded boiler. From all the attending circumstances and the opinion of Mr. Starbuck, it seems quite clear that the explosion was caused by the want of a sufficient quantity of water when the boilers were heated up, and that the change of position, while the boat was winging around brought the water in contact with hot iron, the consequence of which are obvious. We learn from the best authority, that the boilers of the Comet were thoroughly overhauled and tested this spring by one of the best and most experienced Engineers in Canada, who pronounced them sound.

It is not believed that any fault can be ascribed to the officers of the boat.

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Wed., April 23, 1851
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Richard Palmer
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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 Times (Oswego, NY), Wed., April 23, 1851