The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Oswego Palladium (Oswego, NY), Thurs., Feb. 17, 1890

Full Text

Announcement is made to-day of the death of Captain William Schuyler Malcolm, one of Oswego's oldest and best known citizens. For the past two or three years Captain Malcolm has not enjoyed the best of health, and most of that time he had been confined to the house. His death, therefore, was not unexpected, but rather looked for.

For sixty-five years Captain Malcolm was a resident of Oswego and his career has been closely connected with the city's growth and prosperity. He has been an honored member of society and his death removes another of the fast-disappearing land-marks.

William Schuyler Malcolm was born in Utica, N.Y., February 22, 1810, and removed to Oswego with his mother and step-father in 1825, since which time he has been a resident of this city. Captain Malcolm was the son of Samuel Bayard Malcolm and Catherine Van Rensselaer Schuyler. His father was descended from a powerful Scotch family, one of whom - Malcolm of Balbeadle - was created a knight baronet by King Charles the Second. General Malcolm, grand-father of the deceased, served through the Revolutionary Warwith distinguished courage, commanding a regiment at the battle of White Plains and taking part as a general officer in the many subsequent engagements.

After the war he was a member of the State Legislature from the city of New York for three terms. On his mother's side Captain Malcolm was descended from a family that for more than one hundred and fifty years exercised an immense influence over the colony and State of New York. She was the daughter of General Philip Schuyler, whose father, Philip Petersen Schuyler, an enterprising young man from Amsterdam, who in 1659 made his home at Beverwyck (now Albany).

The last named was a man of mark under the last Dutch Governor of New Netherland and the first English Governors of New York. His second son, Colonel Peter Schuyler, was mayor of Albany for twelve successive years and in 1691, after the destruction of Schenectady, he led a body of Mohawks and Dutch colonists through the wilderness of Northern New York and into Canada inflicting a heavy loss on the French in retaliation for that terrible massacre.

The history of the Schuyler family and the early history of New York State are so closely interwoven that justice cannot be done in a brief newspaper sketch. The Schuylers were among the foremost leaders in the long civil opposition to British tyranny, and when war was declared, they placed life and fortune at the service of the colonies. In civil and military life they held important positions and it was Colonel Peter Schuyler who defended Oswego against De Montcalm. Philip Schuyler, the distinguished American General and Statesmen, one of the most active and useful officers engaged in the old French war, and his important services in Oswego county are known to every school boy.

Captain Malcolm's father was bred to the law, became the Private Secretary to President John Adams and was honored with the especial friendship of that eminent patriot. About 1801 he married Catherine Van Rensselaer Schuyler and removed to Utica, where they remained until 1812, when they moved to Stillwater, Saratoga county, where Captain Malcolm's father died in 1814 and in 1822 his mother married her cousin, Major James Cochran, who was surgeon general of the Union army during the Revolution. By her first husband Mrs. Cochran had four children, two of whom died in infancy. Captain Malcolm was educated for a civil engineer but preferring a nautical life studied navigation and at the age of 10 went to sea. At the end of two years, having made voyages to Smyrna, Leghorn and the West Indies, he returned home and immediately went to commanding vessels on the lakes. For twenty-five years he was closely identified with the shipping interests of this port and commanded numerous vessels both sail and steam among the latter being the steamers Oswego and United States and the propeller Chicago, in their day considered the finest vessels on fresh water.

For a short time during the "Patriot war," of 1838-39, Captain Malcolm acted as Deputy United States marshal, being especially selected on account of his knowledge of the frontier, to prevent violations of the neutrality laws. Secret lodges were formed all along the frontier and supplies furnished the patriots. In November 1838 the steamer United States then considered the pride of the inland lakes lay in the harbor at Oswego under the command of Captain James Van Cleve. A large number of Patriots were on board and the Captain was unwilling to set forth down the St. Lawrence. Both of the owners decided she must go, however, and so she did.

Two schooners were met at the entrance to the St. Lawrence which the owners said should be taken to Ogdensburg. The United States got one on either side of her and started with the tow. In a few minutes the hatches were raised and a large number of armed men swarmed out of the hold and boarded the steamer. Captain Van Cleve wanted to put the steamer and schooners ashore in Alexandria Bay, but the owners would not consent. Captain Malcolm in his official capacity, was keeping an eye on the Patriots when the United States arrived.

The town swarmed with Patriots and it was noised around that they would use the United States for the purpose of making an incursion into Canada. The captain and engineer left the vessel. A crowd of Patriots took possession of it and began seeking for a pilot. Captain Malcolm was espied, seized and forced aboard the vessel to pilot the steamer. The latter was soon on its voyage of invasion but Captain Malcolm's services were not at first required. Most of the force on board were landed at "Windmill Point" three miles below Prescott. As the steamer neared Ogdensburg she was fired into by the armed British steamer Experiment, the ball striking the head of the wheelsman and instantly killing him. "Take the wheel, Captain Malcolm," exclaimed a patriot Colonel, "the man is killed."

Seeing that the vessel would be destroyed unless he did so, Captain Malcolm stepped into the wheel house, and, standing over the prostrate form of the dead man, guided the steamer amid a storm of bullets into the mouth of the Oswegatchie and ran her on a bar. He immediately took away parts of her engine so as to prevent her being used by the raiders again.

In 1843 Captain Malcolm was married to Eliza Lawrence, daughter of Richard Lawrence, Esq., who died in 1865. Captain Malcolm was elected one of the first Aldermen of the city in 1848, but aside from this had taken little active part in politics. In 1854 he was appointed an assistant engineer in the United States Civil Service, being stationed in this city. This position he held until 1869 since which time he has had a less active life than before.

Captain Malcolm was the father of seven children: Catharine Schuyler Malcolm, wife of E.G. Baxter; Mary Lawrence, wife of Douglas Benson, of Erie, Pa.; Philip Schuyler Malcolm, Mrs. Emma Metcalf, Richard Lawrence Malcolm, William S. Malcolm Jr. and Anna Van Rensselaer Malcolm. For many years Captain Malcolm was warden of Christ church and has always manifested a deep interest in its welfare. Few men have lived a more active life, few men had a larger number of friends and acquaintances, and until three or four years ago few men indeed displayed more vigor.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Date of Original:
Thurs., Feb. 17, 1890
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Richard Palmer
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
WWW address
Comment on this item
Groups of Related Records
Palmer Collection
Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.

Oswego Palladium (Oswego, NY), Thurs., Feb. 17, 1890