In The Fall of '75
A Furious Gale and the Scene Enacted off Oswego harbor - Interesting Recollections
The work of transforming the wrecked schooner, Sam Cook, into a coal barge is about completed. She was launched Friday and will leave for Oswego in a week or ten days. - Ogdensburg Advance.
The resurrection of the schooner Sam Cook, which, for three or four years has been on the bottom of the St. Lawrence with a cargo of iron ore, recalls to mind the part she played in a scene enacted off Oswego harbor on the 29th day of November, 1875 - almost nine years ago - which will never be forgotten by those who witnessed it.
The day previous several Oswego vessels, among the the I.G. Jenkins, Nevada and Sam Cook, left the Welland canal together bound for their home port on the last trip of the season. With the coming on of night a terrible gale arose and the lake was lashed into fury by a wind that blew over fifty miles an hour. It was known in this city that the vessels had left the Welland canal, and when the howling storm struck the city there were anxious hearts in many homes, and grave fears were felt for the safety of those out on the lake.
Those who survived the storm described the night as one of terror. The schooner Jenkins, Capt. John Brown, with a crew of seven men, was overwhelmed by the saves, it is supposed, only a short distance from the harbor. Save a few splinters of wreckage and a Newfoundland dog known to have belong to Captain Brown, that were found on the beach, nothing has since been heard of the unfortunate vessel or her crew.
The tragic event has since been made memorable in song. The dawning of the morning of the 29th found many people on the shore of the lake, watching in the storm for the vessels. About nine o'clock the Sam Cook and the Nevada hove in sight. They were coming under bare poles, their canvas having been blown to ribbons. The lake seemed to be in a terrible rage and the waves ran as high as the house tops. The vessels were rolled and tossed about like cockle shells and, it was not thought that they would gain the harbor in safety.
The news soon spread that the vessels were in sight and a large crowd collected along the west banks. The Cook was commanded by Captain James Scott, of this city, and her crew was made up of his brother, and the captain's four stalwart sons. The rest of the family were on the shore and watched with anxiety longing every movement of the vessels.
The two schooners were nearly side by side and as they neared the harbor the huge waves would roll completely over them. They were both covered thickly with ice. As they came nearer the sailors could be seen clinging to the rigging. As the vessels were so near together it was thought impossible that they could enter the harbor safely, and as they approached the then dangerous entrance, all the watchers held their breath. By a kind act of Providence at just the right moment both vessels were lifted high on the crest of a breaker and with a side-long lurch both were rolled inside the piers.
A prolonged shout went up from those on shore, but the fury of storm drowned its echo before it reached the wet and half drowned sailors. Almost immediately on gaining the entrance, the Cook was again lifted high in the air and when she came down struck heavily on the bottom of the river . But for this fact she would have collided with the Nevada, Both schooners were so heavily coated with ice as to be almost unmanageable. After the Cook struck she began to fill and was run on the river bottom, further up.
It was then ascertained that her crew were nearly perished with fatigue and cold, and almost helpless, and the wonder is that they succeeded in guiding the craft to the harbor at all. They were taken ashore and kindly cared for, and with one exception are all alive and sailing today.
The other vessels that were out in that memorable storm, with the exception of the Jenkins, all reached some harbor of refuge, more or less damaged. The Sam Cook was built in this city and was owned at the time by A.G. Cook.