The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Oswego Commercial Times (Oswego, NY), Sat., Oct. 9, 1858

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Loss of the Osprey
Melancholy Disaster - Terrific Gale - Total Wreck of the Schooner Osprey - Loss of the Captain's Wife and Child and Mate

We were visited by one of the most powerful gales of wind from the West, on Thursday that has been experienced during the season. The wind suddenly shifted round soon after noon from the south-east to the west, and blowed (sic) with tremendous fury during the latter part of the afternoon and all night. Between eleven and twelve o'clock P.M., an immense black cloud came up from the north-west, and the gale rose almost to a whirlwind, and hail and rain fell to a considerable depth. The power of the warring angry elements were felt in every dwelling, and occasionally a squall would come that would cause every house to tremble to its foundations.

There were quite a number of vessels bound for this port from the Upper Lake ports, on Lake Ontario when the gale arose. All of them, however, rode it out gallantly, so far as we have heard, and twelve or fifteen sail entered this harbor during the afternoon and night, without any material injury, except the schooner Osprey.

Between 11 and 12 o'clock, and after the hail storm had set in, the Osprey, Capt. John Parsons, reached our port. The gale was then at its highest fury. He succeeded in passing the jaws of the piers, and was just congratulating himself that all was safe, when a squall struck him, and carried his vessel broadside with tremendous violence against the East Pier, shattering her hull from stem to stern, and carrying away her masts and rigging.

She was then at the mercy of the waves. The Captain and his wife and child on board. he found the vessel was sinking, and hastened to the cabin and called his wife to follow him, in hopes of making their escape upon the Pier. He took his child in his arms, and his wife followed near him. They had proceeded but a little ways towards the forward part of the vessel, when a tremendous sea swept over the decks, throwing him forward under the fore boom, and disengaging his child from him.

He recovered his feet again and got hold of his child, which he was obliged to hold in his teeth by its clothing. His wife was missing. He called immediately for her, but she had been swept overboard and lost. Soon another sea swept over the decks, throwing the Captain clear forward and sweeping his child from him into the sea, and that was lost also.

George Crine, the mate, and brother-in-law of Captain Parsons, was also swept overboard and lost. The vessel then swung around with her bowsprit over the Pier, and the Captain and his crew made a sudden spring onto the bowsprit and from that to the Pier. One of the crew, however, was precipitated into the water and succeeded, after a desperate struggle, in getting inside the Pier, and was taken on board a canal boat. The steam tug Bloore afterwards took the captain and crew from the Pier, where they would otherwise have perished.

The vessel soon sunk and pounded until she was pretty much destroyed. She was gradually driven up the channel by the sea, and in the morning lay directly across it at the head of the island. In the afternoon yesterday the Page got hold of the hull, and swung it round, and hauled out the rigging.

It is a sad disaster, indeed, and spreads a gloom over our city, and rends the hearts of near relatives of the deceased. Three persons are thus, after passing the trials and dangers of a long voyage, and when within sight and almost speaking distance of home, family and friends, are hurried to a premature and sad death. Captain Parsons is left without wife or child; a sister of Mrs. Parsons, and wife of the mate, is deprived of her husband; and Mrs. Navagh, the mother of Mrs. Parsons and Mrs. Crine, whose husband was lost on the lakes, for the second time is overwhelmed with affliction and grief. Three families are made desolate by the sudden and fearful disaster.

The Osprey's Crew

We could call attention of our citizens to the destitute condition of the crew of the schooner Osprey. They have lost all their clothing and everything they had, and one of the had to borrow clothing to put on. Our citizens can hardily do less than afford them proper relief.

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Sat., Oct. 9, 1858
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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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Oswego Commercial Times (Oswego, NY), Sat., Oct. 9, 1858