The Schooner Atlanta
All Hope Abandoned - Probably Lost Crossing Saginaw Bay - the Vessel, Cargo and Crew - Other Oswego Vessels which were Lost with All Hands
The words of Shakespeare, "Ships are but boards, sailors but men," have been more cruelly impressed upon the people of Oswego than upon the people of any other lake city. In the memory of the writer of this, many staunch vessels, manned by stalwart seamen, have left port with promising winds never to be heard from until the sea shall give up its dead. The schooners Albion, Roman, Opeeche, Hastings, Persian and Gilbert Mollison, Oswego vessels and manned by Oswego men, were blotted out leaving no one to tell the tale of the disaster and, save in the case of the Opeeche, without leaving a mark to tell where they went down.
We had hoped that the insatiate waves were glutted, that our city would be called upon for no more offerings, but now that twenty seven days have elapsed since the schooner Atlanta left Chicago and there are no tidings from her, we are compelled to abandon the hope that she was disabled and under some distant island, and forced to the belief that she, with her crew, had gone where so many have gone before - to the bottom. Of the many stories told about the disaster to the Atlanta the one told by Captain Wm. Coleman of the bark Favorite, and a party of Lake Huron fishermen seems the most plausible and is probably the true one.
Captain Coleman, who was en route from Chicago to Buffalo, says he was in company with the Atlanta in the Straits and until they parted company off Thunder Bay, Lake Huron, on the 11th of November, the vessels a greater portion of the time being so close together that he could easily read the Atlanta's name painted on her quarter. After passing Thunder Bay, the vessels separated, the Favorite steering in a direct course for the river and the Atlanta hugging the land. During the same afternoon, a squall of more than usual violence from the westward, swept over Lake Huron, and although the Favorite encountered but little of it, the captain says vessels in his rear must have suffered.
Two or three days after the squall a party of Lake Huron fishermen arrived in Detroit, and one of them, in conversation with a marine reporter, said he saw a three masted white schooner off Point au Sauble, north side of Saginaw Bay, when the squall struck on the 11th, and that after the squall had passed he could not see the vessel and he concluded that she must have heeled over, shifted her cargo, filled with water and gone to the bottom. The point where he saw the schooner was about where the Atlanta was due at the time of the squall, and the vessel he saw disappear was doubtless the Atlanta. Captain Coleman says there can be no mistake about his being in company with the Atlanta, for he knew the vessel well and he had two sailors on board his bark who, the trip before, went from Oswego to Chicago on her.
The Atlanta was built by Goble & Macfarlane, of this city, launched in June, 1873, rated A 1 for five years, cost about $26,000, insured for $17,000, and was owned by Mr. T.S. Mott, of this city. She left Chicago Friday, Nov. 6th, with 18,000 bushels of No. 2 Chicago wheat, also owned by Mr. Mott, on which there was an insurance for $18,000.
Of the crew of the Atlanta the only names we have been able to get are these: Samuel Morrin, Oswego, captain; James Griffin, Youngstown, mate; Charles Wilson, son of Captain Gordon Wilson, late of Chicago, second mate; Michael Connors, Oswego, seaman; Mrs. O'Neil, Vermilion, Ohio, cook. It is reported, but with what truth we cannot state, that a young man named Kennedy, son of James Kennedy who formerly kept an intelligence office in this city, was on board the ill fated vessel.
We are in receipt of a letter from H.C. Finney, of the firm of Finney Brothers, Chicago, which says:
"The crew were probably from Oswego, or some where east, as there were a great many Oswego men here at the time she left, and Captain Morrin would most likely ship them." James Griffin, the mate, was unmarried, a brother of Captain John Griffin, of the schooner Corsican, a cousin of policeman Griffin, of this city, and lived as stated above at Youngstown. Michael Connors was single and lived with his father, a tailor, in the Seventh ward. Mrs. O'Neil was a woman past the prime of life, and had for many years sailed with Captain Morrin in the capacity of cook.
The death of Captain Samuel Morrin will leave a void in the circle of mariners, for few men on the lakes was better or more favorably known. Here in Oswego where he has lived as a boy and man, his ruddy face and hearty good cheer will be missed by more than his immediate family. He was an honest, upright man, a thorough seaman, under whose rough exterior beat a true warm heart. We know whereof we speak when we say that Sam Morrin was true, for no man would stand longer by a friend or go farther to serve one. He leaves a wife, two children, father and sister to mourn the loss of a kind husband, father, son and brother.