The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Forest City (Propeller), sunk by collision, 21 Sep 1855

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FOREST CITY Propeller and Schooner ASIA collide on L. M., and both sunk in deep water. Property loss Vessels $36,000; Cargo's $500,000
      Buffalo Morning Express (casualty list)
      Jan. 11, 1856

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      COLLISION. -- Captain H.D. Pheatt, commander of the propeller FOREST CITY, arrived at Cleveland yesterday morning by the steamer PLANET. He gives the Plain Dealer the following particulars of the collision by which this propeller and the schooner ASIA were both lost. On last Friday morning, between one and two o'clock, while about twelve miles from Grand Traverse Point, at the foot of Lake Michigan, and eight miles southwest of Mackinack, the propeller FOREST CITY, bound for Milwaukee and Chicago with 470 tons of merchandise and sixty passengers, met several sail vessels, one or two she avoided, but came upon the schooner ASIA with so little warning as to be unable to avoid a collision. The propeller's stem struck the schooner on the starboard bow and made wide breaches in both hulls. It was evident immediately that nothing could be done to save the propeller, and Capt. Pheatt repaired to the cabin and announced the worst to the passengers, and told them that if they would keep cool, avoid any disorder and obey every order, he could assure them that all could be saved. The passengers were intelligent Yankee families bound for Wisconsin and Illinois, and were sensible enough to place every confidence in Capt. Pheatt's ability to do all that man could. He then divided his crew into three squads, manned the three boats and loaded then one after the other, with passengers, many of whom were families and children. They then pushed off for land, leaving all the baggage, horses and cargo, but securing the ships books and papers. Both vessels sunk in less than three quarters of an hour after the collision. The schooner HAMLET, Capt. Kelly, hove in sight soon after, and took all on board, and landed them at Mackinack the next night. Every praise is due Capt. Kelly for his care and kindness to the crews and passengers, as he did everything possible to aid in making them comfortable. The propeller FINTRY took the passengers at Mackinack for their original destination.
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      Tuesday, September 25, 1855

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      We find in the Milwaukee Sentinel extra of Sept.. 24th. the following particulars of this disaster. The highest praise should be awarded to Capt. Pheatt, his officers and crew, for the promptness, coolness and courage which they displayed, and which unquestionably deprived us of a sadder duty -- the chronicling of the loss of many lives:
About 2 o'clock Friday morning, the weather being thick and rainy, with a seven knot breeze blowing, the FOREST CITY, then 12 miles west at of Grand Traverse Bay, and 25 miles north of the Manitous, discovered a sail vessel on her larboard bow. The propeller's course was immediately changed so as to clear this vessel, but while coming up into her course again, a second sail was seen so close aboard, that though the propellers engines were stopped and backed, a collision became unavoidable, and the two vessels struck with great force. The schooner, which proved to be the ASIA. of Cleveland, was struck nearly amidships and sank in 20 minuter, her crew taking to their boats. The propeller's stem was nearly torn off by the collision, and the water commenced pouring in, in an irresistible volume.
      Capt. Pheatt gave orders to the mate to cut a hole in the forecastle and ascertain the extent of the mischief. It was immediately seen to be fatal, and the mate so reported. While thus lying, disabled and fast sinking, a second vessel, believed to be the schooner MELBURY, struck the FOREST CITY, on the starboard side, doing some slight damage and carrying away some or her own rail and rigging. The captain of the schooner immediately sang out, " G-d D--m you, you shall pay for that. What propeller is it ?" For all answer, the mate went to the upper deck and tolled the propeller's bell; but the schooner took no notice of this signal of distress, and abandoned the FOREST CITY to her fate.
Meanwhile Capt. Pheatt, on ascertaining the extent of the disaster, went to the cabin and informed the passengers, about 20 in number, that the vessel was sinking, but if they would remain quiet and obey his directions, he would save them all. Not a cry or a murmur escaped the passengers, but all prepared to follow implicitly the Captain's counsel. Preparations were immediately made to clear away and lower the boats, of which the propeller had three; two large yawls and one life boat. The boat on the larboard side was first got down, loaded with 24 of the steerage passengers, and put in charge of the wheelsman and two hands, making 27 in all. The starboard boat, which was the largest, was next got into the water, and the cabin passengers and remainder of the steerage put in her, 29 in all. Lastly the life boat, the smallest of the three, was lowered away, and then the captain, having seen to the safety of every soul entrusted to his care, got into her, with the clerk, engineers, officers and crew, 17 in all.
All this occupied about 30 minutes, the propeller filling fast and settling visibly; yet during the whole time, dark as was the night and distant the shore, and full of peril each passing moment, every man of the crew, and each man, woman and child among the passengers, animated by the gallant example of the Captain and his officers, and confident in their skill and resolution, remained quiet, orderly and uncomplaining. At length, all being safely embarked, the Captain gave orders to pull for shore, supposed to be 12 miles distant; but in the course of an hour the lights of a vessel were made out, and the boats headed for them. In a little while they met her, and were taken on board the schooner HAMLET, bound from Chicago to Buffalo. In this vessel the passengers and crew proceeded to Mackinac. From Mackinac the passengers and first mate were brought to this city by the propeller FINTRY, while the captain and crew returned to Buffalo. The captain and crew of the ASIA were also picked up by the HAMLET.
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      Friday, September 28, 1855


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Reason: sunk by collision
Lives: nil
Freight: merchandise
Remarks: Total loss
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William R. McNeil
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Forest City (Propeller), sunk by collision, 21 Sep 1855