The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily Palladium (Oswego, NY), Dec. 16, 1902

Full Text
Crew of Noyes Rescued, Barge Adrift in Lake

Captain George Donovan Tells of the Parting With Hall Saturday Morning - Believes Steamer is Disabled in Ice on North Shore - Andrews at Hamilton.

Captain George Donovan, of the ill-fated barge John R. Noyes, reached Charlotte last night at 8:40 o'clock accompanied by all other members of the crew. They were taken from the barge twenty miles in the lake by Captain Gray and the men of the Charlotte live saving station.

Almost the very first question asked by Captain Donovan was if any word had been heard from the barge John E. Hall, aboard of which was his father, brother and two uncles. When told that no word had been received he gave the information that the machinery of the Hall became disabled about eight o'clock Saturday morning and that the two boats drifted along together. Fearful of a collision the towline as cut and the Noyes drifted away and soon lost sight of the steamer.

The Barge John R. Noyes.

The news of the rescue of the crew of the Noyes reached here about eight o'clock last night and brought joy to a number of anxious hearts. "All are safe," was the message flashed over the wire by Agent David Fitzgerald, who has charge of the New York Central station at Lake Side. All day yesterday friends of Captain Donovan were anxious, despite their brave efforts and cheerfulness, and today they are despairing for his safety. Without power in such a sea as was running in the lake Saturday, the Hall had little chance to live. Still, she was a staunch boat and the best is hoped for.

Never has there been a more thrilling story told of the battle for life made in the lake by the crews of the Hall and Noyes than that told by Captain George Donovan in the Life Saving station at Charlotte last night.

From Thursday morning last at eight o'clock they had been fighting wind and waves, snow and ice, to say nothing of the bitter cold of the lake. After leaving Charlotte for Deseronto all went well until about thirty miles in the lake, when a severe snowstorm was encountered. For hours, while the Hall towed, the men of the Noyes could not see the steamer through the snow. Thee was a heavy sea running and finding that it would be impossible to enter the harbor at Deseronto, Captain Donovan headed the Hall and tow for the foot of the lake, hoping to find shelter at Kingston and reach Deseronto in fairer weather. Friday an occasional glimpse was had of the Hall by the crew of the Noyes and the Resolute and and Andrews were seen. Saturday morning at an early hour both were within twenty miles of Kingston, but could get no nearer.

At three o'clock Saturday morning Captain Gowan put the Resolute up the lake, but Captain Donovan held on until eight o'clock under the False Ducks. At eight o'clock the Hall signaled the Noyes that her engines had broken down. The progress of the steamer stopped, the towline slackened and a collision was imminent, when the towline was cut from the Hall and the boats drifted apart. making a small piece of sailcloth on the Noyes, she was put before the gale, and at five o'clock Sunday afternoon she was seen riding at anchor three miles off shore at Lake Side. A farmer walked five miles with the news to Station Agent Fitzgerald, and the latter at once communicated with Captain Gray, of the Life Saving Station at Charlotte. At seven o'clock the news had reached this city, and the tug Ferris was prepared to go to the rescue. Had it not been for the ice at the mouth of the harbor the tug would have gotten away and towed the Noyes either into Charlotte or Oswego.

Early Monday morning the Charlotte life crew chartered a special train and got their lifeboat to Lake Side and from the latter place into the lake, but the Noyes had disappeared; farmers said she had been blown into the lake. From the top of a windmill by the aid of a marine glass she was seen drifting and the crew put after her. The chase was a long one and it was not until after a row of twenty miles that the vessel was overtaken and the crew taken into the lifeboat. Then the vessel was left to drift in the lake, because there was no way to work her into harbor. The crew was thoroughly exhausted. The windows in the deckhouse were shattered and there had been no meals cooked aboard the boat from Thursday until Monday. the anchors that had been dropped did not hold well in the sand bottom with the South wind blowing and the barge chafed so that Captain Donovan was afraid she would punch a hole in the hull and he slipped the cables and drifted into the lake yesterday.

Mate James Ryan's Story.

"We left Charlotte at 8 A.M. Thursday. Friday morning we brought in at Long Point with the weather thick. In the afternoon we ran for the Ducks for shelter, but were not able to make it in the heavy Northeast gale that was blowing. We hung on until Saturday morning and then we drifted about and I couldn't tell you where we didn't go. We heard the Hall blowing signals of distress and I knew that something has happened. God pity them!"

Mrs. Ryan, who was cook with her husband on the Noyes, said: "We had nothing to eat from Friday until ten o'clock Sunday morning and nothing to drink Saturday night but water. Every attempt to build a fire in the galley stove met with defeat. Wave after wave hit us and I thought more than once that our time had come. Our small boat was carried away and the bulwarks stove in.

"The boom broke from its lashings and slashing around smashed things badly. The barge was a mass of ice. We almost made the Bay of Quinte, but when within a few miles from there we were blown broadside across the lake to where we anchored." George Premo, one of the crew, was nearly frozen from exposure to biting winds and heavy seas, and finally gave up hope of being rescued. he went almost crazy. he laughed and cried by times, and, as the day passed and the hope of rescue grew dimmer, he became worse and had to be constantly watched by Mate Ryan to prevent him from falling asleep and freezing to death.

Saturday night when the northeaster lashed the boat Premo gave up and bade the crew good-by, shaking hands with each. Mrs. Ryan thought the boat was doomed, but kept up the spirits of the crew by expressing confidence of her ultimate rescue.

Crew of Noyes Reached Home.

The crew of the Noyes reached here at 12:40 P.M. today. To a Palladium reporter Captain Donovan said:

"I have no fears for the Hall.She is on the North shore, probably fast in ice and there is no way to get word to Oswego. I propose to send the Ferris up the lake looking for the Noyes. She was not loaded deep, was not leaking much and I believe she is floating. Three weeks ago today we left Cleveland for Deseronto with coal for Rathbuns, crossing Lake Erie we encountered some rough weather but reached the canal all right. A week ago last Saturday morning we left Port Dalhousie for Deseronto, but it came on thick and we went into Charlotte for shelter on Sunday, December 7th. There we remained until Thursday morning at eight o'clock, when we started for Deseronto. The Hall had 511 tons of coal on board and was drawing a little over twelve feet of water. It began to blow and snow when we wee about thirty miles from Charlotte, and we kept on and spent Thursday night, Friday and Friday night on the North shore. The Hall held on as long as possible; at 8 o'clock Saturday morning signaled to us and let go the line and we were adrift. I am not certain that thee was anything wrong with the machinery of the Hall. She was to the windward of us when the line was let go and her engines were working. We drifted across the lake and at daylight Sunday we made land. I thought we were off Oswego, but it proved otherwise. We let go anchor and remained thee all Sunday and until yesterday morning.

"The anchor chains had cut through the hawser pipe and we were obliged to slip the chain so that the hull would not be cut and the vessel allowed to founder. We can not express our gratitude to Captain Gray's men for all they did for us. We were twenty-five miles in the lake when they took us off the barge. We didn't have a thing but what we had on our backs and two dogs, one belonging to Mrs. Ryan and the other belonging to myself. I will make a search for the Noyes as quickly as possible. It would not be surprising if Captain Gowan picked her up if the steamer Resolute was on the North shore today."

"Nie" Chambeau, who was on the Noyes, says that he never had such an experience in his life and doesn't want such another trip. he said he will hereafter do his sailing on land.

Boats Uninsured.

The schooner John R. Noyes was owned by T. and D. Donovan of this city, and was built at Algonac in 1872, and two years ago was rebuilt at a cost of $4,000 by Goble, of this city. She was rated A1 1/2 and valued at $7,000.

The steamer John E. Hall was owned by T. and D. Donovan, of this city, and was built at Manitowoc in 1889, and her bottom was caulked in 1899. She was rated A 1/12 and valued at $18,000. Her cargo was valued at about $2,000. Neither boat was insured.

Captain Donovan, master of the Hall, was a thorough sailorman. All his life he had been a harder worker, and the savings of a lifetime were invested in his boats. In the loss of the Noyes alone he has sustained a severe financial calamity.

Believes in the Hall.

W.D. Allen of the South Shore Wrecking Company, has not given up hope of the Hall. "As long as she could work her pumps and siphons she would keep afloat," he said. The Hall's crew was as follows: Captain, Timothy Donovan; First Mate, Jeremiah Donovan; First Engineer, James Donovan; Wheelmen, Daniel Bigelow, Thomas Corcoran; Firemen, John Dixon and Thomas Tyler; Steward, Mrs. Brown.

Wheelman Bigelow is an old sailorman. He was with Captain Pease in the early seventies when the schooner Augustus Ford went ashore at Grand River, Lake Erie. Bigelow and a sailor named Mack were the only ones saved. Captain Pease was frozen to death on the cabin and the two sailors saved themselves by climbing into the topsails and furling themselves up.

The Schooner Andrews

Hamilton, Ont., Dec. 16. - The schooner Abbie L. Andrews, which left Charlotte last Thursday, coal laden, in tow of the steam barge Resolute, bound for Deseronto, arrived here yesterday in a badly disabled condition, after terrible suffering of the crew. Near Kingston the Andrews broke away from the Resolute and since then the crew have had a terrible fight for their lives, and when she arrived here she had a coating of ice six inches thick and was almost destitute of anything in the shape of a sail. It will be impossible for her to proceed to Deseronto and local dealers will take her coal.

Hamilton, 15: The steamer Lake Michigan, which arrived in port on Friday from Oswego with coal for the Messrs. Mackay, had a hard time on the trip and Captain R. Corson experienced the most hazardous journey of his career before he reached port. He was forced to go to Niagara river for temporary refuge from the storm.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Date of Original:
Dec. 16, 1902
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
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.

Daily Palladium (Oswego, NY), Dec. 16, 1902