MEMORIALS OF FORT ERIE AND EARLY NAVIGATION ON LAKE ERIE.
By Brig-General E.A. Cruckshank.
The articles of capitulation signed at Montreal provided for the surrender of all the military and trading posts still occupied by the French to the westward of Niagara. The dlfficulty of maintaining garrisons in these distant posts at once became evident. Since the loss of the GRIFFON the French had contented themselves with the navigation of
the upper lakes in canoes and large flat-bottomed bateaux, capable only of transporting a few tons of cargo. This method of transport was slow, dangerous, and required the employment of many skilled boatmen. Writing from Fort Pitt to General Monckton on 30th June, 1761, Colonel Henry Bouquet, who had lately taken possession of Presqu'Isle on Lake Erie, said that "a Vessel upon Lake Erie would be of great service to support the advanced Posts." iAs a result of this recommendation and others, before the end of that year, a party of workmen with necessary tools and materials came from New York and established a small shipyard on what became known as Navy Island in the Niagara river above the Falls, Sir William Johnson gave some personal supervision to the work which was carried on under the direction of John Dease, his nephew. A considerable quantity of sawn timber and plank, prepared by the French was opportunely discovered in Chippawa creek, and a sloop or a schooner, named the HURON, was launched and rigged, and sailed for Detroit in October. During the next two years, the sloops BEAVER and CHARLOTTE, and the schooners BOSTON, GLADWIN, and VICTORY were built and equipped at Navy Island. All the stores for these ships and supplies for the western posts were laboriously brought over the portage on the east side of the river to the storehouse at the upper landing, which had received the name of Fort Schlosser, in honour of a Swiss officer of the Royal Americans, of that name, who was temporarily in command.
The HURON, commanded by Captain Thomas Robison, and the BEAVER were usefully employed in the exploration of Lake Erie and the river channels, and the transportation of provisions and troops but the BEAVER was wrecked on the 28th August, 1763, and the HURON was lost later in the same year. The hostilities begun by the western confederacy of Indians, usually called "the conspiracy of Pontiac," were at first amazingly successful. All the smaller military stations were either taken or abandoned by their garrisons, and Detroit and Fort Pitt were closely besieged.
The remaining ships on Lake Erie were employed in carrying supplies and a small reinforcement to the beleaguered garrison at Detroit, which had, been reduced to the greatest straits. Without that seasonable aid, it would seem that successful resistance would scarcely have been possible.
from page 1.
" Despite this advice at the close of navigation that year both the BOSTON and the VICTORY were taken down the river and laid up for the winter at the wharf at Navy island, where the last named ship was accidentally destroyed by fire. This loss was reported by Sir William Johnson in a letter to General Gage on the 2nd January 1767."
" I have received letters from Niagara informing me of the burning of one of the vessels at Navy island on the 30 November last, which was at first ascribed to the Indians. "
Memorials of Fort Erie and Early Navigation of Lake Erie
by Colonel Cruckshank p. 9.
The Commerce of the Lakes now and One Hundred Years Ago.
From the Buffalo Express.
There were during the season of 1766, four vessels upon Lake Erie, viz: The GLADWIN, LADY CHARLOTTE, VICTORY, and BOSTON. The two latter laid up in the fall near Navy Island, and one of them was burned accidentally Nov. 30th.
During the year 1767, the BRUNSWICK, Capt. Alexander Grant, made her appearance on the lakes. John Brown, Captain of the 2nd Battalion of Royal Americans, was in command at Niagara; Capt. Soyer, Engineer; Neil McLean, Commissary of Stores and Provisions; and Edward Pollard, Sutler.
1768 -The Hudson River opened March 7th. April 26th, Sir William Johnson visits New England for his health. In June, Major Rogers, becoming embarrassed financially, endeavored to settle his accounts by cutting off the garrison at Mackinac, and carry the guns of that fort against Detroit, and then join Hopkins in the Mississippi, but was arrested and sent in irons to be tried at Ontario.
In October, Mr. Ellice returned from Detroit to Schenectady with 150 packs of furs. Dec. 5th, the harbors on Lake Ontario were closed by ice, and the stores destined for Fort Niagara were detained at Ontario.
1769 - Henry White, of New York, who had control of the King's vessels on Lake Erie, writes to Captain Grant, who was then the commodore on the lake, requesting him to give Mr. Campbell's freight preference. Thereupon, Phyn & Ellice, of Schenectady, and Sterling & Porteous, of Detroit, commence building a vessel at Detroit. This vessel was built by contract with Mr. Tyms, of New York. Richard Cornwall, of New York, was the carpenter, Gregg, Cunningham & Co. furnished the rigging. Col. Stevenson, in command at Niagara, helps forward the stores of this new vessel, which was named the ENTERPRISE.
The boatmen that went with the rigging and stores from Schenectady to Detroit were to have each £20 and ten gallons of rum. They were seventy days on Lake Erie, and two of the number perished from hunger, and their bodies kept for days exposed to decoy eagles and ravens. They returned to New York, February 12th, 1770, by the way of Fort Pitt, now Pittsburg.
In May, 1770, the Charity was launched at Niagara. Upon Lake Erie were the GLADWIN, LADY CHARLOTTE, BRUNSWICK, and MUSKANUNGEE.
This year, the Duke of Gloucester, Secretary Townsend, Samuel Tutchet, Henry Baxter, -?- Cruickshank, Sir Wm. Johnson, -?- Bostwick, and Alexander Henry, formed a Company for mining copper ore on Lake Superior. In December, they built, near Sault de Sainte Marie, a barge, and laid the keel of a sloop of forty tons. The Shipyard was at Point aux Pins, three leagues from the Sault
Goderich Signal, Semi Weekly
Friday, January 1, 1864