The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Commercial Press (Pultneyville, NY), November, 1869

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On Sunday morning, Oct. 10th, Mr. Charles Lepper, of Sodus, and mate of the Schooner Sylph, Capt. Charles Doville of Sodus, while off Port Stanley, Canada, was swept overboard by the foreboom. We append the letter of Capt. Doville, to the father of the unfortunate young man, announcing the sad accident:

Lake Erie, Oct. 10, 1869

My Dear Friend: - I write to give you the particulars about your lost boy. Just after eating breakfast this morning I told Charlie we would wing the vessel out. We were then going with the canvas all on the starboard side. They were hauling aft the sheet, and had it nearly in. The sail was going from one side to the other. i saw Charlie in the way of it on the deck-load, and I told him to get down or he would be swept overboard; but no, he said, he was all right. There being a big sea on, the sail came over, and he was in the way of it, and it pushed him overboard.

I had cautioned him that morning about standing where there was danger, but he said he would not get overboard, so I said no more. As soon as he went over there was a plank thrown out for him to get on, but he had a flannel smock on and could not not swim for more than two or three minutes, and in that time he could not reach the plank. I put the wheel down and jibed her all standing. I was afraid I would dismast the vessel, but little did I care for that if I could save him from drowning. As soon as the vessel was in such shape that we could get the small boat down, she was immediately lowered, and three of us got into her and started.

We were not over two minutes getting started with the boat, but there was such a sea on that it took us some time before we could reach the place where we last saw him. We were going about nine or ten miles an hour, so it did not take a great while for to us to leave him some distance astern. We came very near losing our lives while in the boat. The boat shipped a sea which filled her about one-fourth full. I thought it was all day with us too. This all happened at about 8 o'clock A. M. , about off Port Stanley, as nearly as I could judge. You cannot imagine what my feelings were when I saw that he was gone. I could not have felt worse if it had been a brother, but feeling bad will not bring him back. You may lay this to the vessel and you may lay it to me; but when you hear all, you will not lay it to either.

From your most sincere friend,


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November, 1869
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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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Commercial Press (Pultneyville, NY), November, 1869