The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
J. W. Brooks (Propeller), sunk, 4 Nov 1856


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Propeller J.W. BROOKS, lost with all hands in gale on Lake Ontario. 22 lives lost..Property loss, Hull, $17,000 cargo, $76,000.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      January 31, 1857 (casualty list)

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      Oswego, Nov. 10. - It is feared here that the propeller J.W. BROOKS, from Lake Erie to Ogdensburgh, was lost on Lake Ontario in the late gale, with all on board. Posts of a hurricane deck supposed to belong to her, came ashore at Henderson, on Friday, and quantities of flour and lard were seen yesterday, floating about between Sackett's Harbor and Kingston.
      The BROOKS had a full load of produce and a crew of twenty men. She probably had some passengers also.
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      Tuesday, November 11, 1856

      . . . . .

Oswego, Nov. 11. - It has been ascertained that the propeller which foundered on Lake Ontario during the late gale, is the J.W. BROOKS, belonging to the Northern Transportation Company. Every soul on board was lost. The propeller was insured for $10,000.
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      Wednesday, November 12, 1856

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      J.W. BROOKS Steamer, sunk off False Duck Lighthouse, 5 miles out in the Lake. Her stern on bottom in 70 feet of water
      Toronto Globe
      November 14, 1856

      . . . . .

      The Fate of Capt. Hammond.
We learn from a gentleman who has just reached this city from the place where the body of Capt. Hammond, of the ill-fated propeller J. W. Brooks was found, the following additional particulars. The body was discovered by a sailor on the shore of one of the Gallou Islands, and when discovered was lashed to a small boat belonging to the propellor. The sailor procured the assistance of the keeper of the light-house, and the body was enclosed in a rough box with all the clothing upon it. A valuable gold watch in the vest pocket was not touched. Intelligence was sent to Ogdensburg and Caper Vincent, at which latter place the wife of Capt. Hammond resides. The agent of the propellor line and the wife of the Capt., came to the place and removed the body to Cape Vincent for internment. Who shall describe the feelings of the unhappy wife as she viewed the remains of a fond husband who but a shore time before had left her full of life and hope and love? A dark and saddening shadow is cast across her pathway for life.
      Oswego Daily Time
      Thursday December 15, 1856

      . . . . .

      MORE OF THE BROOKS DISASTER - THE WRECK DISCOVERED. - By the arrival of the propeller JEFFERSON, Captain Reed, from Ogdensburgh, on Friday, the Oswego Times obtains further additional facts in relation to the loss of the propeller J.W. BROOKS, Capt. Reed says the propeller CLEVELAND, on Wednesday, bound to Ogdensburgh, discovered the hull of the BROOKS about four or five miles south of the False Duck Light, with her stern sunk in some 70 feet water, and her bow out so that the seven feet water mark could be seen. Both anchors were on her bows, in their proper places. Her canvas and signal of distress were wound around her fore-mast. So far as could be seen, all her upper works were gone down to the lower bulwarks. The
CLEVELAND took hold of the wreck and towed it a short distance towards South Bay Point, but having parted a line, and being short of fuel, she abandoned her and proceeded on her voyage down the St. Lawrence. The Canadian steamer WELLINGTON, also had hold of the wreck on the same day, (Wed.) but as her power was insufficient, she let go after moving her a few rods. Another attempt was made to get her ashore on Thursday,
but with what success, the Times was not advise. Portions of the wreck of the propeller, with some forty or fifty barrels of pork and flour, floated ashore on Long Island. A considerable portion of the wreck is also ashore at Henderson.
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      Monday, November 17, 1856

      . . . . .
     
      The propeller J.W. BROOKS, that was sunk in Lake Ontario last fall and all hands lost, is to be raised. Capt. Dorr recently made a contract with H.B. Cowles, an eastern wrecker to recover the copper which formed her cargo. Mr. Cowles set to work to find the propeller, and found her 3 miles N by E of the light on the False Ducks, in 80 ft. of water, hard bottom. She lies on an even keel, all upper works gone except bulwarks in places, deck nearly all on. She will be towed some 2-1/2 miles nearer shore, and then her cargo taken out before she is
raised. The pork on board is reported is reported sweet, and the flour one third wet.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      June 22, 1857 2-6

      . . . . .

      We learn by telegraph to Capt. E.P. Dorr, that the prop. J.W. BROOKS has been towed to Garden Island, opposite Kingston, in the St. Lawrence River, in 28 ft. of water. The cargo that yet remains on board of her can be speedily removed by the divers.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      July 22, 1857 2-6
     
      . . . . .
     
      The "J.W. Brooks"
      The Northern Transportation Company propeller "J. W. BROOKS" was steaming toward the St. Lawrence River
on the night of November 4, 1856 when it was caught in a heavy gale on Lake Ontario. It is not known exactly
how many persons were aboard, but there were at least 20, most of whom were crewmen.
      The steamer, commanded by Capt. Charles Hammond, was enroute from Cleveland, Ohio to Ogdensburgh with a large cargo of flour, pork, lard, bales of wool, copper and packed furniture.
Exactly what happened is not known but the steamer never made it to its destination. It foundered off Main Duck Light and some evidence concluded it may have exploded. DuriNg the next several days debris from the wrecked steamer was strewn all over the eastern end of the lake. Boat captains continually reported spotting life boats, flour barrels and other wreckage.
Finally, on November 8th, Charles Allison, agent for the steamboat company in Oswego, received a telegram
From the Ogdensburgh office asking if the vessel was in Oswego. If not, "where is she!" On November 10th, the master of the steamer "Bay State" reported passing "a lot of flour anD lard floating in the lake between Kingston and Sackets Harbor.
The hurricane deck of the steamer washed ashore near Henderson, a few miles above Sackets Harbor. It took some time to pinpoint the exact location of the wreck as the storm continued for two days before abating. During the afternoon of November 11th portions of the steamer washed up on Stoney Island, including a piece of wood marked "Brooks." The editor of the Oswego Daily Times commented in that afternoon's edition: "This fully confirms the reports we have received that the J.W. BROOKS foundered in the late gale on Lake Ontario, with the loss of every soul on board! Not one is left to tell the sad tale!"
T.C. Haven, insurance agent at Kingston, in a message to the Northwestern Insurance Company in Oswego, said: "We have reported here 40 or 50 barrels of tallow and flour, mostly tallow, picked up on the beach at the head of Long Island, probably washed from the south shore of the lake. If you should know any parties interested, please let them know as it will pay for looking after."
Captain Reed, master of the propeller "Jefferson," said the steamer "Cleveland" on November 12 discovered the hull of the Brooks about four or five miles south of False Duck Light, with her stern sunk and her bow sticking out so that the seven foot water mark could be seen. Both anchors were on her bows, properly fastened. Her canvas and signal of distress were wound around the foremast. Her upper works were gone down to the lower bulwarks.
The "Cleveland" attempted to tow the wreck a short distance towards South Bay Point. However, the line parted
and the "Cleveland," being short of fuel, abandoned the salvage attempt and continued on its downbound voyage.
Later that day, the Canadian steamer "Wellington" attempted to take the wreck in tow, but not having enough
power, abandoned the effort.
Wiley Nichols, lighthouse keeper at Stoney Point, retrieved a box containing a bureau in which was found
quality clothing belonging to Mrs. L.D. Pomeroy. From letters found in the bureau it appears the family had
formerly resided in Ogdensburgh. Other boxes of furniture, beds and linens and carpets were washed ashore. A lifeboat floated ashore at Big Sandy Creek labeled "Crawford & Co., Ogdensburgh." Another boat was picked up a few miles above here.
Shattered pieces of the BROOKS were found along 15 miles of beach. The tug "A.S. Page" went to the scene
and found the wreck on Gull Island Reef, where her stern lay in about four fathoms of water. Finally, on the 24th, the newspaper editor said the steamer "Traveller" attempted to tow the wreck to Kingston "and when it got off to deep water, it sank out of sight. This closes the last scene of the most terrible and meloncholy disaster that ever Occurred on Lake Ontario."
      Among those who lost their lives were Captain Hammond, Master, of Cleveland; S.P. Bryant of Cleveland, clerk; William Blanchard of Avon, Onio, first engineer, and James Williams of Cleveland, the cook.
      Company officials were unable or would not release the names of others aboard. A female passenger, said to have been a Spiritualist medium, was known to have been aboard when the steamer left the Welland Canal at Port Dalhousie. A newspaper editor said this fact was known because "she attracted considerable attention."
The Brooks was built in Detroit in 1851 and was registered at 312 tons. Her dimensions were 135.9" x 25.3" x 9.9."
Early in the morning of July 19, 1857 the BROOKS was towed "in a submerged state" from where it foundered to Garden Island, opposite Kingston. For a time the vessel remained in 25 feet of water. Eventually it was raised and rebuilt into the Calvin tug WILLIAM. During salvage operations divers succeeded in raising a few barrels if
flour from the hull "which were in a good state of preservation, said the Daily British Whig of Kingston on July 22, 1857.
Apparently the divers did not have the appliances at hand during their dives to bring the vessel to the surface.
It was salvaged through the efforts of Calvin & Breck, shipbuilders, of Garden Island.
      ooOO0OOoo
     
* The "William" was built in 1860 at Garden Island as a tug. 140x25x1l 267 tons. It was scrapped in 1876.
      Unknown author and source.
     




     
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Media Type:
Text
Newspaper
Item Type:
Clippings
Notes:
Reason: sunk
Lives: 22
Hull damage: $17,000
Cargo: $76,000
Freight: produce
Remarks: Raised and rebuilt
Date of Original:
1856
Subject(s):
Local identifier:
McN.W.2818
Language of Item:
English
Donor:
William R. McNeil
Copyright Statement:
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
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J. W. Brooks (Propeller), sunk, 4 Nov 1856