The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Keystone State (Steamboat), sunk, 24 Nov 1861

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      Steamer KEYSTONE STATE, foundered with all hands on Lake Huron, in a gale. (23 lives)
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      January 22, 1862. (Casualty List, 1861)

      . . . . .

      The steamer KEYSTONE STATE, which took her departure from this port for milwaukee on Friday the 8th. of the present month, has not, since that period, been heard, or known anything of, having been seen but once since that time, and then she was off Port Austin experiencing some very heavy weather, and to all appearances was in a disabled condition, rolling heavily in the troughs of a tremendous sea. It has been proved to a certainty that she has not arrived at any of the upper lake ports, not at Mackinac, Saginaw, Tawas, Thunder Bay, nor yet at Goderich on the Canada shore. The only conclusion we can arrive at for the present is that she has gone down with all on board, and that the fragments seen by the steamer CITY OF CLEVELAND on Lake Huron were from the ill-fated steamer. The report that she had passed this port in our last issue we have since
ascertained was incorrect.
      Detroit Free Press
      November 23, 1861

      . . . . .

      We think there no longer remains any doubt as to the fate of the missing steamer KEYSTONE STATE. A person who came down as a passenger on the steamer SEABIRD and a resident of White Rock, on Lake Huron shore, not far from Lexington, states that guard and wheelhouse of some steamer had drifted ashore at that point. This statement, taken in connection with the pieces of floating wreck seen off Point au Barque, as already reported, we think is conclisive evidence that the ill-fated steamer, together with her entire crew have been lost. The KEYSTONE STATE came out in 1849 and was first commanded by Captain Thomas F. Richards, who died with cholera the same season on board at Milwaukee. The past 5 years she has been out of commission.
      Her late Captain was Travers, a resident of Buffalo.
      Detroit Free Press
      November 24, 1861

THE KEYSTONE STATE. -- The following is an extract from a letter received by Capt. Dorr from Detroit:
"I fear the KEYSTONE STATE is gone with all on board. A man was here this morning, (Nov. 23.) who lives at White Rock, ten miles above Forestville, who said a part of a guard rail, part of a wheel and a portion of a paddle box of a large steamer floated ashore at that place a few days since. The propeller CLEVELAND reported having passed through large quantities of what they took to be the upper works of some wrecked steamer near the above named locality."
      The following is a list of persons on board so far as they are known here. --
      Captain --- William Traverse, of Buffalo.
      First Steersman --- Hugh Rankin, Buffalo.
      Second Steersman --- Jay Williams, Buffalo.
      Clerk --- Louis Handel, Buffalo.
      Asst. Clerk --- George Kleitz, Buffalo
      First Engineer --- Alex Kout, Galt, C. W.
      Fireman --- Partick Kane, Buffalo.
      Fireman --- James O'Neill, Buffalo.
      Cook --- James Smith, Buffalo.
      Waiter --- George Parker, Buffalo.
Three Engineers, two stokers, four wheel-men, one watchman, and twelve deck hands and a boy, all of whose names are unknown, make up the crew of thirty-three persons. Mr. Frank Handel, one of the owners of the ill-starred steamer, left last evening for Detroit in order to make all possible inquiry as to its fate.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      Tuesday, November 26, 1861

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: sunk
Lives: 23
Hull damage: $15,000
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 43.75002 Longitude: -83.66664
William R. McNeil
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Keystone State (Steamboat), sunk, 24 Nov 1861