The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
John F. Porter (Schooner), sunk by collision, 9 Jun 1847

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PORTER, JOHN F. Schooner and Steamer CHESAPEAKE came in collision near Conneaut, both sunk. Loss over $20,000, 8 lives lost (total)
      Buffalo Courier (casualty list)
      March 17, 1848
      . . . . .

      Steamboat CHESAPEAKE, and Schooner J.F. PORTER.
      [from the Express, of this morning]
      About one o'clock yesterday morning, an unfortunate collision occurred between the Steamer CHESAPEAKE and Schooner J.F. PORTER, off Conneaut - the steamer bound up with passengers and merchandize; schooner bound down with a full cargo of wheat and corn. The latter sunk in eight fathoms water, the crew were saved by getting on board the CHESAPEAKE, which made for Conneaut Harbor. She unfortunately sunk, however, about two miles out. The passengers and crew were picked up by the steamer HARRISON about four hours after the disaster. The number of lives lost is not ascertained. Report says three of the crew are missing. Mr. D. Folsom, of Cleveland, is probably lost. After the HARRISON left, the CLEVELAND came down, visited the wreck, and would have rendered all the assistance she could had any persons been discovered floating upon planks or doors, but none were found.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      Friday, June 11, 1847

      . . . . .

      ( From the Cleveland Herald, Extra, June 10. )
      Further Particulars of the Collision Between the
      Steamboat CHESAPEAKE and Schooner J.F. PORTER.
The steamer CHESAPEAKE and schooner J.F. PORTER came in collision about half past 12 o'clock Thursday morning, when some four or five miles off Conneaut. The moment they struck the officers and hands on the PORTER jumped on board the CHESAPEAKE. The boat and vessel soon separated, the boat backing off. The PORTER was not supposed to be seriously injured, and the boat of the CHESAPEAKE was lowered to put the crew on board the schooner, when the vessel went down.
About this time it was found that the CHESAPEAKE was fast filling, and unsuccessful efforts were made to stop the leak. The boat was headed to the shore and all steam crowded. The pumps were set a going, and effort was made to keep down the water by bailing. Capt. Warner had the jib lowered over the bow, which was drawn into the opening, and partially aided in staying the rush of waters. Notwithstanding every effort, the water gained so rapidly that the fires were soon extinguished, and when about a mile and a half from shore the boat lost her headway. The wind was blowing quite fresh from the south-west, considerable sea was running, and the anchor was let go to prevent drifting into the lake.
      The CHESAPEAKE's boat was immediately manned and filled with as many passengers as it could carry, four of then ladies, and started for Conneaut for assistance. The wind was so heavy that the boat drifted some two miles below the pier. Mr. Shepard, Clerk of the CHESAPEAKE, ran up the beach, and reached the pier just as the steamer HARRISON was entering the port. Capt. Parker promptly went to the rescue of the sufferers with the HARRISON, took off the survivors on the wreck, and picked up all that could be found afloat in the lake on hatches, planks, cabin doors, &c. A small boat from the shore rescued some who were nearly exhausted from long buffeting of the waves, upborne on these forlorn hopes of drowning men.
      After the CHESAPEAKE was brought to anchor she continued to sink gradually notwithstanding every possible effort by pumping and bailing to keep her afloat and at half past 3 o'clock, the hull went down, bow foremost, in 40 feet water. The upper cabin parted from the hull, and the upper deck remained out of water. On this such of the persons on board as had not previously left the boat were gathered and saved. None were lost who followed the advice of Capt. W., and continued with the wreck. But as the boat sank deep in the water, and it became certain that she must go down, a number prepared floats and took their chance for escape on them. Of these, eight are known to have been drowned, and it is
feared that others met with a like melancholy fate.
The passengers numbered between forty and fifty, an unusual proportion ladies, and several children. No ladies or children were lost. The presence of mind, energy and fortitude of the ladies throughout the trying scene, is described as remarkable. Perilous as was their situation, they heeded the advice of the officers, at their request urged their protectors to go below and assist in keeping the vessel afloat, and made no outcry until it was apparent that the HARRISON in passing, had not discovered the wreck - when one of them asked permission of the Captain to also hail, their best hopes of rescue, with the remark that woman's shrill voice could be heard further than man's. Woman's cry of agony, too, was lost in the voice of the louder sounding sea. The lady of Capt. Warner was on board, and before the boat went down she was taken to the mast head, and remained there until the HARRISON came to the rescue.
      As the books of the boat were lost, it is impossible to obtain a full list of the passengers at present. The following persons are known to have been lost: -
      PASSENGERS. - Mr. George Van Doren, of Lower Sandusky, Ohio; Mr. Hock, of Watertown N. Y.; E. Cohn, of Belville, Ohio; S. York, of Tiffin, Ohio.
CREW.- R. Sutherland, 1st. engineer; O. Wait, porter; R. McMann, deck hand
      It is greatly feared that Mr. D.A. Folsom, of Rochester, N. Y., formerly of this city, is also among the lost. When the small boat was leaving the wreck, he urged his wife to enter it with their child. She was unwilling to do so without he accompanied her. With true and noble disinterestedness he refused to embrace the opportunity to save himself so long as ladies and children were left on board the sinking craft, but knowing the mothers yearning heart towards her tender offspring, he placed the child in the boat. The mother clung to it, and he bade her farewell from the gangway. Soon after Mr. Folsom, in company with young man, a hand on board, entrusted himself to the waves on a hatchway and plank fastened together. His companion was rescued after daylight, so nearly exhausted, that life was restored with difficulty. He stated that after floating for some time Mr. Folsom said he thought they could sooner reach shore if their floats were separated, and when last seen Mr. F. and his hatchway were in advance of the plank and its lone voyager. It is hoped that either reached
land, or was picked up by a passing vessel.
      Mr. Van Doren was a Merchant at Lower Sandusky, and leaves a family to mourn their unexpected bereavement. He committed himself to a raft with four others, withstood the buffeting of the waves for some time, but at last sank to sleep in their cold embrace.
      The officers of the CHESAPEAKE did everything men could do to inspire confidence and exertion, and to save life in the terrible exigency. Mr. Andrew Lytle, Steward of the boat, was particularly active in preparing floats for the use of any who chose them, and barely escaped. When the boat sunk he struck out on a state room door, but soon after saw the safer place was on that portion of the wreck still above water. The wind and waves drifted him so rapidly that he could not return, and lying flat on his buoy he continued to struggle and float, the waves frequently dashing over him, until picked up after daylight nearly exhausted.
      Passengers lost their baggage, not a single trunk being saved. The mail to Sandusky City also lost. About 30 tons of freight, mostly dry goods and groceries for Sandusky City on board. The Clerks books, and about $8,000 in his charge, sank with the boat. The CHESAPEAKE belongs to Messrs. D.N. Barney & Co. The PORTER was loaded by Messrs. A. Seymour & Co., with 4,000 bushels of corn 7 barrels of pork. It is a singular circumstance that three vessels should be run down the same night in the same vicinity, the ROUGH & READY, the CHESAPEAKE, and the PORTER. The night was gusty, clear above, but misty on the water, and seamen say approaching lights appeared much further distant than they really were.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      Monday, June 14, 1847

      . . . . .

      We understand the PORTER belongs to Messrs. D.N. Bradbury & Co. and is probably insured. Her cargo, 4600 bushels corn, owned by a gentleman in Connecticut, and 76 bbls. pork, owned by a N. Y. dealer.
      Cleveland Herald
      Wed. June 16, 1847
      . . . . .

Position of the wreck - Commander Champlin of the U. S. Steamer MICHIGAN, has furnished the Buffalo Courier with the following bearings, taken June 11th;
Conneaut Light bore from the JOHN PORTER, S by W; distance about 7 miles; sounded in 7 fathoms water, at 50 yards distance from the wreck.
      Cleveland Herald
      Wed. June 23, 847

      . . . . .

      PORTER, J. Schooner and steamer CHESAPEAKE came in collision near Conneaut and both vessels sunk, PORTER loaded with 4,000 bushels corn; 79 barrels pork. Five passengers and 3 of crew of CHESAPEAKE lost. Schooner loss $2,000; corn 2,400; pork $1,200. Steamer loss $15,000. Total loss $20,600. June 9,1847.
      Casualty list for 1847
      Erik Hyle's private papers

      . . . . .

We are indebted to the politeness of Capt. Champlin commander of the U.S. Stm. MICHIGAN, for the following account of the bearings of the schr. JOHN PORTER and of the stm. CHESAPEAKE, sunk off Conneaut on Wednesday nightof last week, from coming in collision.
      The MICHIGAN with commendable dilegence collected all the furniture, trunks, baggage and freight from the wrecked vessels that could be found, and brough them into port. She also picked up some 130 barrels flour, which is supposed to have floated from the schr. ROUGH AND READY, and which was run into by the stm. CONSTELLATION, on the same night and near the same place where the CHESAPEAKE and PORTER came in collision.
      U. S. Stm. MICHIGAN
      Erie, Pa.m June 11, 1847
The following bearings were this day taken from this ship, of the wreck of the schr. JOHN PORTER, and also of the stm. CHESAPEAKE, off Conneaut.
Conneaut Light bore from the JOHN PORTER, S. by W distant about 7 miles, sounded in 7 fathoms of water, at 50 yards distant from the wreck.
The Light House bore from the CHESAPEAKE, S. 3/4 W. distant 2 miles, the vessel lying in 7 fathoms water.
      Respectfully yours, &c.
      Stephen Champlin,
      Commander U.S.N.
      Erie Gazette
      June 17, 1847

      . . . . .

Schooner JOHN F. PORTER.* Built Buffalo, N.Y. 1841, by Bidwell & Banta. 93.5 x 20.0 x 7.5. Rebuilt at Muskegon 1853
      * Renamed J. T. PORTER - U. S. - 1854
      Herman Runge List

Schooner J.T. PORTER, of 184 tons.
      Vessels Enrolled & Licensed in the
      District of Milwaukee for 1854
Steam paddle CINCINNATI. of 116 tons. Built 1836 at Sandusky, Ohio. First home port, Sandusky, Ohio. DISPOSITION:-- Rig changed to sail and renamed JOHN F. PORTER, 1840.
      Merchant Steam Vessels of the U. S. A.
      The Lytle-Holdcamper List, 1790 to 1868

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: sunk by collision
Lives: nil
Hull damage: $2,000
Cargo: $3,600
Freight: corn & pork
Remarks: Raised
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Ohio, United States
    Latitude: 41.94756 Longitude: -80.55424
William R. McNeil
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John F. Porter (Schooner), sunk by collision, 9 Jun 1847