The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Weekly British Whig (Kingston, ON), Kingston, May 23, 1867

Full Text
Terrible Disaster near Cape Vincent.
The Propeller "Wisconsin" Burnt at Grenadier Island
30 Lives Lost - 50 Persons Saved
A Complete Wreck

On Tuesday night a frightful disaster occurred near Cape Vincent to the Northern Transportation Company's propeller "Wisconsin," by which between 20 and 30 valuable live were lost. The news reached Kingston yesterday by the steamer "Watertown," from Cape Vincent, which had come almost direct from the scene of the disaster. From the many reports being heard and repeated, we gather the following particulars of the accident, awaiting until tomorrow to give more positive information:-

The "Wisconsin," which was commanded by Capt. S. Townsend, left Cape Vincent on her regular upward trip for Oswego about 10 p.m., with about 80 souls on board, including the crew. About half an hour afterwards, when the ill-fated boat had reached a point two miles below Grenadier island, which itself is about seven miles and a half from the Cape, the cry of fire alarmed the passengers, and but a moment of excitement sufficed to convince all on board that the boat really was in flames. The captain, with remarkable coolness, ascertained the point of danger, and sought to extinguish the fire, but it having broke out in an awkward place - under the boiler - the efforts of the crew to conquer it were useless, and they were reluctantly compelled to retire and abandon the boat to the mercy of the fiery element. The after part of the vessel was almost instantly enveloped in flames, and the passengers crowded in one mass to the forward portion of the boat.

No time was taken for saving property, the excited passengers rushing eagerly towards the boats to escape from the already doomed vessel. The officers of the boat were unable to control their actions, and the scene -the night being dark and overcast added to the confusion - was for a few minutes one of unparalleled terror and excitement. The boat had been headed for Grenadier island, and soon was grounded at the nearest point. Three of the small boats were successfully launched, and with their living freight reached the shore in safety. The fate of the fourth boat was heartrending to relate.

The passengers and some of the crew rushed into it until it was very much overcrowded. Before it could be successfully launched it was swamped, and its occupants, about 25 in number, met a watery grave. No good effort could be made to save them, the night was so suited to the work of death, and the elements seem to have combined to add to the terror on the occasion. One excited passenger was seen to leap from the burning vessel into one of the boats, as it was pushing off, but missing his balance he fell into the lake and was drowned. One of the firemen refused to leave his post in the hold, and died, as it were, at the stake, meeting the flames, and with heroic boldness incurring a horrible death.

Yesterday morning the steamer "Watertown," on her arrival at Cape Vincent from Kingston, started for Grenadier island, and found the propeller a perfect wreck, having been burned to the water's edge. The passengers were conveyed to the Cape along with seven of the dead bodies which had been picked up. The sorrow of the passengers was great, and many mourned for their dearest friends. Mr. Robert Chisholm, whose name is included among the save, lost his wife, a son and three daughters, and Mr. Ira Creed mourns the loss of a wife, a daughter, and a son. Such a calamity has never before befallen that locality.

The flames of the burning vessel were seen very plainly in Kingston and for miles around. Several of the passengers from this vicinity returned to Kingston in the "Watertown" yesterday morning.

The following is a list of the passengers saved:-

George Ashworth, Lawrence, Mass.; Ezra Cook, Westmeath, C.W.; Alvin Joiner, Forrestville, Mich; Jas. R. Dean, Lawrence, Mass.; C.W. Joiner, Royalville, Vermont; Robert Chisholm, Chateauguay, C.E.; James Cuscaden, Centreville; Ira Creed, Potsdam; D.C. Forrest, Carthage; M. Carrol, Kingston, C.W.; Samuel Beattie, Kingston, C.W.; Wm. Chisholm, Chateauguay, C.E.; John Chisholm, Chateauguay, C.E.; Jas. Delahough, Smith's Falls, C.W.; C.T. Perry, Russell, C.E.; E. Spolsby and two children, Alexandria; SC.C. Hillier, Odessa, C.W.; Mrs. Dunce and one girl, Brockville; Mr. Taiman and one boy, Oswego; T.F. Fraser, Prescott; Louis Contulm, wife and six children; William Cousin, Granville, C.E.; John MacNeil, Greenville, C.E.; Rev. Mr. Armour, wife and four children, Craftsburg, Vermont; Alvis Richards, Manchester, N.J.; George A. Richards, ditto; Mrs. Mary Richards, ditto; Emily Richards, ditto; W. Creed, ditto; C.W. Creed, ditto; Mrs. A. Creed, ditto; Mrs. C.W. Clough, ditto; Mrs. Gallagher, Pembroke, C.E.; Mrs. Dirg, Oswego; Samuel Fullerton, North Gore; Lucinda Feiterlie, Finch, Stormont. Crew saved: Capt. S. Townsend; James Shaver, 2nd mate; Charles Saver, wheelsman; O.D. Shaver, ditto; D. Fisher, deckhand; Charles Dodge, steward; Warren Tracy, cabin boy; Edward Masterson, porter; Joseph Strong, fireman; - Johnston, ditto; three deckhands, names unknown; Mary McEibaney, cabin maid; Jane Mayatt, cook; S. Wright, second cook; A. Weldon, deck-hand.

The following persons are known lost:-

Passegers: Mrs. C., Miss Eliza, Miss Mary, Miss Catherine and Thomas Chisholm, Chateauguay, C.W.; Mrs. Nancy Creed, Miss C., ditto; Thomas, ditto, Potsdam, N.Y. Crew: G.T. Morrison, 1st engineer, Clayton; G.W. Morrison, 2nd ditto, Clayton; John Powers, 1st mate, Ogdensburg; Edward McCormick, watchman, ditto; David Horan, deckhand, Prescott.

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Date of Original:
Kingston, May 23, 1867
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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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Weekly British Whig (Kingston, ON), Kingston, May 23, 1867