The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Empire (Bark), aground, 4 May 1857


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EMPIRE Barque (C), totally wrecked at Marble Head, Lake Erie. Eleven of the crew perished. Property loss $12,000.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      January 28, 1858 (1857 casualty list)

      . . . . .

DEPLORABLE WRECK. - We learn from the Sandusky Register of yesterday, that the bark EMPIRE, of Port Dover, C. W., was wrecked on Monday, about four miles north of Marblehead Point, and eleven hands lost, and only two, the Captain and one seaman, saved. Further particulars tomorrow.
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      Wednesday, May 6, 1857

      . . . . .

      LOSS OF THE BARK EMPIRE AND ELEVEN LIVES
      -----------
      (From the Sandusky Register, May 5.)

      The bark EMPIRE, 350 tons, was wrecked during the gale yesterday, and eleven lives were lost, about four miles north of this port, on Marblehead Point. The EMPIRE hails from Port Dover, C. W. and was owned by Henry Waters, of Chatham, was commanded by Alexander Milligen, and was bound from Toledo to Tonawanda with a cargo of timber, shipped by J.W. Russell, and consigned to Alexander Kent.
      The particulars of the wreck have been furnished us by Capt. J.B. Keyes, of the Marblehead light house, who was an eye witness, and who commanded the life-boat that went to the rescue of the survivors. They are briefly, as follows:
      The bark was well down the lake, when the storm commenced, but its violence was so great that Capt. Milligen was compelled to change his course with the intention of making the lee of Kelley's Island. The weather, however, was so
thick that he could not keep his bearings, and about ten o'clock yesterday morning, the first intimation of land was the breakers off Peninsula Point. The bark was immediately hauled up, close to the wind, and a course laid to clear
the Point under all the canvass she would bear. A sudden squall carried away the fore-staysail sheet and jib-sheet, and the vessel broached to. This was about 11 o'clock. A. M. As she was rapidly drifting broadside on the shore,
both anchors were let go, as soon as possible, and the vessel was brought head to wind, remaining in that position until 3 o'clock P. M., when, the sea increasing, she commenced dragging - the waves making a clean breach over her
at every surge. At ten minutes before four she filled and capsized in deep water, about one hundred and ten rods from Marblehead Light.
      The men took to the rigging, where they clung as long as life lasted. Capt. Keyes lost no time in getting the life-boat into the water, which was manned by a stalwart crew. Just as the boat emerged from the first breakers, one of the oars broke, and Captain Keyes replaced it with his steering oar; but, before they got clear of white water, two other oars gave way, and they were obliged to put back to the shore, which they reached with great difficulty, the boat and men being landed "end over end" on the beach, by an enormous breaker.
      Meanwhile the vessel had drifted further down shore, and, as soon as fresh oars could be procured, the life-boat was carried over land, and launched from another part of the beach. This time they succeeded in getting a line from the shore to the vessel, which had finally grounded. With great difficulty, they got into the boat the omly two who were left alive in the rigging, and, with them, safely reached shore. One of the rescued - a seaman - was insensible when taken into the boat, but, on reaching shore, was restored. His name was Robert Moore. The other, Capt. Milligen, was in full possession of his faculties and strength, exhibiting wonderful powers of endurance.
      The following is a list of the crew, of whom only two were saved, and eleven were lost:
      Capt. Alexander Milligen, saved.
      1st. Mate, Thomas Marsh, lost.
      2nd. Mate, Alexander McLane, lost.
      Steward, James Adams, (colored,) lost.
      Seamen - John Maloy, John Albert (colored), Geo. Peacock, John Skelton, Edward Macabay, Wm. Irvine, Patrick Fannery, and a young orphan boy, named Thomas -----, of Port Robinson - all lost; Robert Moore, saved.
      We have only time to add, that, from accounts received, great praise is due to Capt. Keyes and his brave boat's crew, who did all in their power to reach the wreck as speedily as possible, even at the imminent peril of their own
lives.
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      Thursday, May 7, 1857

      . . . . .

      Bark EMPIRE, of Port Dover of 350 Tons, wrecked with 11 lives lost on Marble Head Point with a cargo of timber. Commanded by Capt. Alex. Milligen, who was saved. Bound Toledo to Tonawanda.
      Toronto Globe
      May 11, 1857
      . . . . .

The barque EMPIRE, of 350 tons, was wrecked on Marblehead Point, about 4 miles from the port of Sandusky. Eleven lives were lost, all on board except Capt. Milligan and a seaman. The EMPIRE was bound from Toledo to Tonawanda, with a cargo of lumber, shipped by J. W. Russell, and consigned to Alexander Kent. She hailed from Port Dover, C.W., was owned by Henry Waters of Chatham, and commanded by Alexander Milligan.
The Sandusky Register gives the following particulars of the sad disaster, furnished by Capt. Keys, of the Marblehead lighthouse, who was an eye-witness, and who commanded the life boat that went to the rescue of the survivors:
"The barque was well down the lake when the storm commenced, but its violence was so great that Capt. M was compelled to change his course with the intention of making the lee of Kelley's Island. The weather, however, was so thick that he couldn't keep his bearings, and about ten o'clock yesterday morning [May 5] the first information of land was the breakers off Peninsula Point. The barque was immediately hauled up, close to the wind, and a course laid to clear the point under all the canvas she would bear. A sudden squall carried away the fore staysail sheet and jib sheet, and the vessel broached to. This was about 11 o'clock, A.M. As she was rapidly drifting broadside on shore, both anchors were let go, as soon as possible, and the vessel was brought head to the wind, remaining in that position until 3 o'clock P.M., when, the sea increasing, she commenced dragging - the waves making a clean breach over her at every surge. At ten minutes before four, she filled and capsized in deep water, about one hundred and ten rods from Marblehead light.
"The men took to the rigging, where they clung as long as life lasted. Capt. Keys lost no time in getting the lifeboat into the water, which was manned with a stalwart crew. Just as the boat emerged from the first breakers, one of the oars broke, and Capt. K replaced it with his steering oar; but before they got clear of white water, two other oars gave way, and they were obliged to put back to the shore, which they reached with great difficulty, the boat and men being landed 'end over end' on the beach, by an enormous breaker.
"Meanwhile the vessel had drifted further down shore, and as soon as fresh oars could be procured, the lifeboat was carried over land, and launched from another part of the beach. This time they succeeded in getting a line from the shore to the vessel, which had finally grounded. With great difficulty they got into the boat the only two left alive in the rigging, and with them safely reached shore. One of the rescued - a seaman - was insensible when taken into the boat, but on reaching shore was restored. His name was Robert Moore. The other, Capt. Milligan, was in full possession of his faculties and strength, exhibiting wonderful powers of endurance.
"The following is a list of the crew, of whom only two were saved, and eleven were lost: Captain, Alexander Milligan, save; 1st mate, Thomas Marsh, lost; 2nd mate, Alexander McLane, lost; steward, James Adams (colored,) lost; seamen John Maley, John Albert (colored,) Geo. Peacock, John Skelton, Edward Macabay, Wm. Irvine, Patrick Flannery and a young orphan boy named Thomas ___, of Port Robinson, all lost; and Robert Moore, saved.
"We have only time to add, that, from accounts received, great praise is due to Capt. Keys and his brave boat's crew, who did all in their power to reach the wreck as speedily as possible, even at the imminent peril of their own lives."
We are informed by Capt. Nickerson, of the Mary and Lucy, just in from the Island, that the Empire and the Mary and Lucy tried to make this port on Monday, running to within ten miles of this harbor, when they were compelled to put about. The Mary and Lucy sought shelter at Put-in-Bay, but the Empire went ashore near Marblehead. Capt. N, with a glass, could see that the brig [sic] was about to go to pieces. - Cleve. Her., 6th.
      Detroit Free Press
      Friday, May 8, 1857

      . . . . .

The barque Empire, the loss of which we noticed yesterday, has gone to pieces where she went down, and will prove a total wreck. Her cargo is of such a nature, however, that it will probably be saved without having received any material damage. Portions of the wreck and cargo have been picked up along the beach, and, up to Tuesday evening the bodies of five of the unfortunate crew that perished had been recovered. Boats are engaged in the neighborhood of the wreck in searching for the remaining six bodies. There were two horses on board the vessel at the time she was disabled, and when it was discovered that she might go down, they were cut loose, and one of them, which was old in years and service, having been on the lake for several seasons, succeeded in reaching the shore; but the younger one was drowned.
We yesterday overlooked giving the names of the brave crew that manned the life-boat and risked their own lives in rescuing the survivors of the wreck.. They are as follows: Captain Keyes, J. A. Spencer, Richard Tichman, Wm. A. Clemmons, Charles Keyes, John Meacham, Geo. Clark and John Burns.
We cannot omit to reference the heroic, but truly womanly conduct of Mrs. Alexander Clemmons and Mrs. J. D. Keyes, who remained on the beach several hours, with supplies of dry clothing, flannels, and restoratives for such of the shipwrecked crew as should reach the shore alive. Each of them had a son among the gallant eight who manned the life-boat, but even their maternal fears were kept in subjection to the sterner, but nobler promptings of duty. With cheering words they urged their boys to the performance of their perilous task; and when they had succeeded in receiving the survivors of the crew, the kind ministrations and good cheer of those heroic ladies did much to restore the exhausted vitality and strength of the strangers. - Sandusky Register, 6th.
      Detroit Free Press
      Sunday, May 10, 1857




Media Type:
Text
Newspaper
Item Type:
Clippings
Notes:
Reason: aground
Lives: 11
Freight: timber
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
1857
Subject(s):
Local identifier:
McN.W.3023
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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Empire (Bark), aground, 4 May 1857