The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Omar (Schooner), struck pier, 3 Dec 1854

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OMAR Schooner, totally lost on Cleveland Pier, with loss of 4 lives. Property loss $8,000
      Buffalo Democracy
      Feb. 28, 1855 (casualty list)

      . . . . .

The schooner OMAR, with a cargo of salt, went on the west pier, at Cleveland, early yesterday morning, and it was feared would prove a total loss. A Government life boat had been sent out to take off the crew, and had been wrecked alongside. One man, named Jas. Burr, was drowned. He fell from a rope, in attempting to pass from the mast head to the west pier. Milton Keech was saved, by getting a line to the mast head. There were on board at that time, Captain Alpheus Keech, and James Keech, of French Creek; James McCurdy, cook; David Draper and Henry Langon, seamen.
The propeller PAUGASSET was sent out to take off the crew, but was unable to reach them, and returned. Two of the men, while trying to get on to the propeller were drowned, and one man from the propeller, said to be Captain Watts, formerly of the steamer OHIO, jumped on board the OMAR, and was left.
Some little time afterwards, the PAUGASSET again went out, and succeeded in rescuing the four men who remained on board. The latest from the OMAR, states that she was fast breaking up.
      The Democracy, Buffalo
      Tuesday, December 5, 1854

      . . . . .

Nothing will be saved from the schooner OMAR, except rigging, chains, and anchors.
      The Democracy, Buffalo
      Tuesday, December 19, 1854

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NOTE : - The Cleveland Morning Leader's report consistantly calls the vessel OMAH, this name is also used in Mansfield's Hist. of the Great Lakes. However the OMAR is the name of the vessel and is so called in daily shipping Arrivals and Departures for 1854 .
      * * * * * *
There is considerable dispute as to the number of persons lost off the schooner OMAH. We can settle the matter. The first man lost was James Burk, who slipped and fell from a line started from the foremast to the shore. Two more were lost in the first trip of the propeller to her relief. Capt. Keetch ventured to swing aboard with his hands, by a line, without taking the precaution of fastening it around him; but he was too benumbed to suspend his weight, and dropped off and perished in the raging surge. The first line thrown from the propeller was caught by Jas. W. Landon, several other lines were thrown over which Landon made fast and supposing the other ends in the hands of the propeller men, made a spring and down he went, and was drowned; it seems that no one had hold of the other end. Tbese three men were all the schooner lost; four were saved. The fourth man drowned was knocked off the pier into the river by the propeller's cable; we can not ascertain his name. He was not the son of Capt. Barrow of the TEI.EGRAPII, as reported currently on the dock.
Thousands will remember the man who stood nearest the bow of the schooner, motionless, the whole forenoon; wrapped up in a piece of sail; that was Landon. He was out of hope when the schooner struck, and kept telling his mess mates that he never would come ashore alive.
Among those not named yesterday who were conspicuous in their efforts to save the wrecked mariners, it gives us pleasure to name John O'Neil Jr., of the boat store, Capt. W. Miles and C. Gales, and Mr. Nicoli of the saloon on the Public Square, Thomas Ellwood, and Jerry Gilmore.
Capt. R. Booth and Mate Rankin first discovered the wreck, a few minutes after the schooner went on the pier. They gave the alarm and hastened for the Government lifeboat, which was found in the ship channel full of water. Capt. John Miner and his mate, McKay, helped to man her. These men put everything in their efforts to reach the vessel, till the boat was staved in and swamped ! They escaped a watery grave with difficulty, wet to the skin and nearly frozen.
It was the Capt, of the schooner EMPRESS who exhibited so much bravery and daring when the line was got ashore from the foremast. He ran several narrow risks of losing his life by venturing too far into the breakers.
On the land side, Capt. Chancey Stillman, William Cowan, Marshalls Fitch, Gallagher, and McKinstry, W.R. Potts, and W.C Wadsworth exerted every power to send relief to the
Schooner, and all united in urging the Mayor to send the propeller to the wreck. After he got so fairly started, he worked hard and zealously to promote the rescue.
      Cleveland Morning Leader
      Wednesday, December 6, 1854

      . . . . .

      The survivors of the wreck of the schooner OMAR, -- D.E. Drake, Mate; Jesse & James Keech, Seamen; and James McCarty, Cook, were yesterday at the Johnson House, and this morning leave for their homes. McCarty lives in Oswego, the rest at French Creek, N. Y.
      We are proud to say that the citizens of Cleveland made, yesterday, a generous donation for the relief of these brave unfortunates. Clothing, boots, gloves and money have been freely supplied to relieve their immediate wants. Milton Keech is badly crippled in his hands, owing to the icy friction of the rope by which he was rescued. Young McCarty is noe "all right." The feet of Jesse Keech are considerably swollen. The hands of Mr. Draper are frost bitten, yet he freely expresses his belief that he could have stood it another night.
      May they reach their homes, and never again experience so sad a voyage.
      Cleveland Morning Leader
      Friday, december 8, 1854

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: struck pier
Lives: 4
Freight: salt
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ohio, United States
    Latitude: 41.4995 Longitude: -81.69541
William R. McNeil
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Omar (Schooner), struck pier, 3 Dec 1854