Forty Years Ago.
The steamer Oswego Ashore - A Snow Storm in May
Yesterday one of the Pall's representatives was hailed by a gentleman who knew Oswego before it was weaned, who remarked: "People complain about the lateness of the season, the snow and wind storms, but this spring is not a comparison with that of 1835. If you have a few minutes' leisure, I will tell you about a storm in 1835, which exceeded in violence anything I have since seen." Upon being told to keep on his course, the man with the good memory shifted his quid, wiped his mouth with his hand, and bowled off the following:
"At three o'clock of the afternoon of May 12, 1835, the new steamer Oswego, which was launched but a short time before at this port, left Charlotte under command of Captain Massey, an experienced navigator from the Hudson river, with considerable light freight and a large number of passengers for Oswego and ports below. As the boat was started before she was fully completed, several caulkers and carpenters were put on board to finish her while under way. The boat was staunch, well officered; with Wm. T. Barnes of this city one of the engineers and Horatio J. Carey clerk and customs officer.
"Among the passengers were several captains ready to lend a helping hand, and Wm. Manchester, a portrait painter of this city, and when the boat left Charlotte both crew and passengers were in high glee, confident that the Oswego would show the small steamers of that day such speed as had not been dreamed of.
"About half an hour after the steamer left Charlotte, a violent storm from the westward, accompanied with snow, sprung up, but as the boat was new and well manned no fears were entertained. For some time after the storm burst upon her she behaved well, and rode the waves as lightly as could be wished for. As the wind increased in violence, it became evident to Captain Massey that unless he could get more ballast into the stern, the boat could not be steered, and accordingly he ordered all hands to commence passing wood from the main deck to the stern cabin. After the wood had been put into the hold and the steamer continued to broach to, blankets were hoisted as sails, to keep her off, but without avail, for she soon rounded into the trough of the sea and then some of the loftiest and grandest tumbling ever seen out side of a sawdust ring was done by boat and passengers.
"The waves dashed with such fury against the boat that the bulwarks were crushed, and the water rushed in and extinguished the fire in the boilers, leaving the boat at the mercy of the wind and waves. The greatest consternation prevailed after the fires were extinguished and strong men and religious women fell on their knees and prayed earnestly for deliverance.
"At about half past two o'clock of the morning of the 13th inst. as hope had nearly fled a greeting sound was heard, the boat ceased to roll and the discovery was made that the boat had struck the beach and was gradually being pushed by the sea nearer and nearer to the land. When the boat stopped Horatio J. Carey and several caulkers were lowered over the bow to the land to ascertain her whereabouts. After an absence of about one hour the party returned and when within hailing distance the voice of Mr. Carey was heard above the storm shouting to Captain Massey: 'Stay where you are; we are on an Island, and the ground is covered with snow.'
"As soon as the day broke in the east another party started to take observations and after a short absence returned with the intelligence that the boat was ashore half a mile above Farnham's Creek, near Ford Shoals, three miles above Oswego. In the darkness the Carey party had walked into Snake Creek, about four feet in width and finding water, concluded the boat was on an island. Soon after Christian J. Burkle, of this city, one of the owners, arrived at the scene of the wreck and after boarding the steamer stripped himself of his clothing and went down into the stern cabin where he found three feet of water. Returning to the deck he ordered the carpenters to bore holes in the side of the steamer and let the water out, and the novel plan was tried but not to the satisfaction of the owner, for more water rushed in. A thorough survey of the boat and surroundings was made and it was found that the boat was in four feet of water aft and that she was uninjured.
"The passengers, crew and freight were safely landed, and one man who was enroute to St. Lawrence county with his family, goods, and two horses, who, during his fright had promised if safely delivered never to go on the water again, bought a farm in Oswego town where he settled for life. Shanties were built on the beach and for three weeks I fed fifty men, while the boat was got on to ways and launched under the supervision of John McNair.
"I cannot recall the names of all the crew, but Elijah Dickson was one of the firemen, and the chambermaid, a fine young woman, is now the wife of a farmer in the town of Oswego and the mother of a large family. You see people forget when they say such weather as we have had this spring was never before seen; it is only necessary to look back a few years to recall worse weather."
Seeing that the "ancient mariner" was about to take a fresh chew, the Pall. man thanked him for the ship wreck story, and withdrew.