The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Oswego Palladium (Oswego, NY), Wed., April 3, 1903

Full Text
Message Picked Up by Orvis Luff off Stony Point.
Purports to have Been Written by One of the Crew on the Ill-Fated Steamer That Foundered Off Main Ducks Last December.

Captain Charles Ferris, of the tug Ferris, received a letter today from M.E. Luff, keeper of the hotel on Stony island, inclosing probably the last message that will ever be received from the ill-fated steamer John E. Hall, that foundered last December, with all hands, somewhere off the Main Ducks. Last Monday morning, as Orvis Luff was making his daily tour of the beach, he found a bottle lying on the sand, and picking it up, found that it contained a message purporting to come from the steamer Hall. On a small piece of heavy manila paper, that had the appearance of being torn hastily from a larger sheet, was written, with lead pencil, the following:

"Str. Hall, off Ducks:
"---come quickly; no time to lose."

Where the dash is given in the printed matter above is a word that can not be made out, even with the most powerful microscope. The message bears every evidence that it was written hurriedly and the writing may have been faded by the sun's action on the glass bottle in which it was cast adrift. It is not known just when the bottle came ashore on Stony Island, but presumably not more than a day or two before it was found.

It was picked up near the spot where the raft, with trees upon it for sails, was found with a message from the little colony who wintered on the Main Ducks, telling of the wreckage that came ashore there from the steamer Hall after the tug Ferris had returned to this city from a search in the lake for tidings of steamer or crew. The raft was twenty-one days making the trip, and it is not surprising, all things considered, that the bottle was in the neighborhood of four months reaching the same destination.

The islanders on the Ducks recognize the fact that building a raft and attaching two or three small trees to it; place the message in a bottle and in due time it reaches Stony Island, where it is opened and forwarded as speedily as possible to its destination. From Stony Island to Henderson Harbor, which is the nearest Post Office, the distance is between ten and twelve miles. In the Wintertime the distance to the mainland is mostly traveled over the fields of frozen hump ice. Sometimes it is impossible to make a trip for weeks at a time, and frequently it is made in sail or row boats.

But whenever the opportunity comes messages are faithfully delivered, no matter what the inconvenience and with no hope of reward. It is for these messages that Orris Luff patrols the coast of Stony Island every day. They were usually found on the West side of the island, where the drift of the lake sets strongly towards the entrance to the St. Lawrence river.

Life on these islands during four months of the year is solitude itself. This is particularly true of the single family which occupies the Main Ducks. At Stony it is not quite so bad. During the Summer months, however, all the hardships of the Winter seem nothing compared with the pleasures of the season. Summer visitors are there in numbers enjoying the fishing, sailing, bathing and tramping over the islands. Then it is that life is worth living and fully appreciated by those who, for months at a time, have not seen a single person excepting members of their family and household.

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Wed., April 3, 1903
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Richard Palmer
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Oswego Palladium (Oswego, NY), Wed., April 3, 1903