The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), 12 Oct 1864

Full Text
Four Persons Drowned
Heroic Conduct of Capt. McKay and His Men

From the Clevelend Herald, Oct. 8

Another catastrophe with loss of life must be added to the large number that has occurred on Lake Erie, during the present season of navigation, and within the vicinity of Cleveland. The Revenue Cutter (formerly tug) Winslow, was last night wrecked on the piers east of our harbor, and four lives lost. The particulars of the disaster are as follows.

The Winslow was built in 1862, and was of 260 tons burthen, one of the strongest and most powerful of her class on the lakes. She was owned by the Messrs. Winslow. She has been employed in towing since she was built until last September, when she was chartered by the government, and converted into a revenue cutter.

She was fitted out at Buffalo, and was on her first cruise, under command of Captain Ottinger. The Winslow carried a crew of twenty-seven men, including officers; her armament consisted of one ten-pound rifled gun, and the necessary small arms.

She arrived here a day or two ago, and yesterday afternoon left for a cruise down the lake. The wind was blowing fresh from the northwest, and after reaching a point some twelve miles below this port, the wind increased to a perfect gale, and Capt. Ottinger turned around and put back to this port. In coming into the harbor all right, she struck heavily upon the bar at the mouth of the river, and stuck. She was backed off so that she floated, but it was found that in striking, the shoe on the after part of the keel had become so bent up that it came in contact with the propeller wheel and rendered the machinery perfectly useless. She was at the mercy of the wind, and was driven by the waves between the railroad piers, and went on the spiles of the breakwater that extends from the Pittsburgh coal pier across to Wheeler's Dining Hall. She was driven broadside on the spiles with tremendous force, knocking a hole in her side immediately.

All the officers and men, and Mr. S. B. Grosvenor, of Buffalo, who was on board, succeeded in reaching the spiles. This was between 9 and 10 o'clock.

A portion of the men succeeded in getting from the spiles on to the piers in safety, but in the attempt four of them were washed off and drowned by the waves that were running entirely over the spiles. The names of those drowned were John Kelly, Quartermaster; John Fox, Coxswain; Timothy Lyons, seaman, and Chas. Washington, boy.

The Captain and eleven men remained on the spiles from half past nine to one o'clock, the sea breaking entirely over them every minute, and the weather very cold. Capt. McKay, of the steamer City of Cleveland, hearing of the perilous situation of the wrecked men, determined to reach them if possible. He lowered one of the steamer's boats to the deck, and taking the mate, Mr. George McKay, and the two wheelsmen, dragged the boat across to the railroad piers, and successfully launched into the water. The men then got into it, and at the imminent risk of their lives, succeeded in reaching the clinging men and taking them off, and landing them in safety on the shore. It was a perilous and heroic deed, and reflects the highest honor upon the humanity and bravery of Captain McKay and his associates.

The Winslow is a total loss. She was valued at $20,000, as we are informed by Captain Ottinger.

First Officer Thomas Hayes deserves great credit for his exertions in saving the men and getting them on the piles, . By great exertion he saved the life of Frank Ward, one of the boys on board.

Mr Timothy Lyon, the seaman lost, leaves a wife and three children in Buffalo. We could not learn the residence of any of the others lost.

The officers and men lost all of their clothing and effects, except what they had on their backs. Probably all that can be saved of the Winslow will be her engine and machinery, in a much damaged condition. We could not learn the amount of insurance on her.

Media Type:
Item Type:
The engine and machinery were salvaged and went into the new propeller WINSLOW of about the same size, which was launched in the spring of 1865, and which lasted until 1911.
Date of Original:
12 Oct 1864
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Dave Swayze
Copyright Statement:
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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Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), 12 Oct 1864