Captain Vincent, of Clayton, Was Well Known Here - Sailed For Several Years As Master Of The Schooners BELLE MITCHELL, MARY COPLEY, O.M. BOND And Others - With Mrs. Vincent he Celebrates His Sixtieth Wedding Anniversary Tomorrow
Clayton, Aug. 14. - Captain and Mrs. Wilber J. Vincent of this place celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of their marriage tomorrow. The ceremony was performed in Depauville. Mrs. Vincent was 17 and her husband was 20 at the time. For the first ten years of their married life they lived here. For twenty-one years Captain Vincent sailed the lakes, part of the time as commander of schooners. Speaking of his old life on the lakes he said:
"My first days of sailing were on wind propelled boats, but gradually they gave way to steam. The steamboats ran the sailing ones out because they could make better time. I have had 33 cents to carry a bushel of wheat from Chicago to Oswego. That was about the year 1876. Now they get about three cents a bushel to carry it. Then if we carried 18,000 bushels of wheat we considered it a big load going through the Welland Canal. Today they carry 100,000 bushels on a boat. In 1875, I think iron ore was carried for $3.50 a ton from Marquette on Lake Superior to Cleveland. Today it is carried for 25 or 30 cents, but in 3,000 ton cargoes, while in those days we carried only about 500 tons to a cargo. That was because of the low draught of the Sault river.
"You take it on the Detroit River we had only 10 or 11 feet of water at the lime kiln crossings and also at the Lake St. Clair canal, now we have twenty feet. More science is required in handling a sailing vessel than there is in a steamer. But sailing was a much harder life. The danger on the water today is fully as great as in the old days. Today if they would give me a good schooner like the Belle Mitchell of Oswego drawing 10 feet I would rather take her out in any gale at any time of the year than the most modern equipped craft."
In his log, kept during his years on the lake, Captain Vincent makes the following entries:
May 28, 1854, at age of 14, went with Captain Leander Holt in the barque NORTHERN LIGHT. The following month she went on to the shore at Salmon Point. A deck load of oak timber was thrown overboard and the vessel released. In 1855 went with Captain Tom Collins in the schooner AMELIA. Sailed in the NORTHERN BELLE and the Brig NEW YORK, Captain Oscar Haines.
1857 - In brig MANCHESTER, Captain William Marshall. In July, went in schooner STAR OF HOPE, Captain William Rees. August the 10th while laying at the government pier at Oswego, loading railroad iron, sailors scraping spars, triangle on foremast broke and W.J. Vincent fell 65 feet, striking on the deck, breaking left leg twice and injuring spine. Was badly broken up and sent to his home at Clayton on steamer CORINTHIAN.
Captain Vincent was mate of the schooner OLIVER MITCHELL; Captain Ed. Chateau of Oswego and from 1875 to 1880 he sailed the schooner BELLE MITCHELL and in 1881, 1882 and 1883 sailed the schooner MARY COPLEY, and in 1884 the schooner O.M. BOND that carried an Oswego pennant. Later he commanded the schooners OWASKA, A.G. MOVEY, TYPO, WILLIAM HOME, UNADILLA, MONTCALM, GEORGE, COLUMBIA, SELKIRK, SIGEL, barge ALTA, the latter in 1896, wound up his career as a sailor. For many years he was caretaker of Castle Rest, the home of George Pullman on the St. Lawrence. Regarding his experiences in the BELLE MITCHELL his logs say:
1879 - Commanded schooner BELLE MITCHELL. In November, 1879, left Ogdensburg with the schooner BELLE MITCHELL, in tow of the steamer HENRY PLUMB . At about midnight the PLUMB run out of her course, and the MITCHELL brought up all standing on the shaleback shoals at Jones' narrows, just above Brockville. The MITCHELL was loaded with bloom iron, and fortunately, she slipped off the shoals. next morning (Thanksgiving Day) we dropped anchor in Clayton Bay, and as soundings gave no indication that the boat was leaking, I immediately proceeded toward my destination, arriving at Cleveland, December 10, where we laid up for the winter, and all went home.
Finds Floating Wreck
1880 - Commanded schooner BELLE MITCHELL. In the winter of 1880-1881 the BELLE MITCHELL, lying at Port Huron loaded with flaxseed was sold to A.F. Barker, R.O. Grant and Captain Truman Rusho, of Clayton. Earl in April, 1880, i fitted out the schooner BELLE MITCHELL in Cleveland and loaded coal for Chicago. On about the 23d of April, while near the center of Lake Michigan in a gale of wind and big sea, I sighted a wreck drifting helplessly with a man lashed to the mast head. The vessel had a load of lumber, the deck load of which had been washed away, the hold was full of water but the boat was kept from foundering by the lumber.
The only spar remaining standing was the one which the sailor was lashed, the other masts and gear being a mass of tangled wreckage. After three hours of hard work we succeeded in getting the almost frozen man from the rigging and on board the MITCHELL. Then we turned our attention to saving the ship, which turned out to be the GARABALDI, of Chicago. With our own bulwarks gone and the heavy seas completely submerging the Mitchell at times, we succeeded in getting a line to the ill-fated craft, towing her to Chicago where we turned her over to the widow of the captain who lost his life by being washed overboard before our arrival on the scene, and who was the sole owner of the craft. The rescued sailor gave his name as Peter Neilson, a Norwegian, who recovered rapidly. November 21, 1880, while coming across Saginaw Bay, struck a gale of wind with snow and sleet. The MITCHELL was loaded with flaxseed from Milwaukee to Buffalo, at a freight rate of 17 cents per bushel. On account of the extreme cold the rigging of the boat rapidly became bars of ice, and any attempt to manage the sails was fruitless. utterly unmanageable from the accumulation of ice on the rigging the MITCHELL was picked up by the tug SWEEPSTAKES and towed to Port Huron where she quickly froze in solid.
Oswego Daily Times
Thurs., August 14, 1919
Schooner BELL MITCHELL. U. S. No. 2892. Of 320.32 tons gross; 304.31 tons net. Built Algonac, Mich., 1874, Home port, Clayton, N.Y. 136.0 x 25.0 x 11.0
Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1885