The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Henry Clay (Propeller), aground, 24 Oct 1851


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October 24, 1851. - Propeller HENRY CLAY, rolled over with a cargo of flour - total loss, with 19 men. Property loss, $25,000 - 19 persons
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      Monday, January 5, 1852
      Casualty List for 1851

      . . . . .

      PROPELLER HENRY CLAY. - We learn from Captain Hubble of the propeller PRINCETON and Captain Dobbins of the Propeller TROY, that that the propeller HENRY CLAY, Captain Callard, with a cargo of flour, bound for Ogdensburgh, was lost off Long Point, Canada, in the gale of Thursday night, and that the crew and passengers are all lost save one man. We have no further particulars.
      Morning Express, Buffalo
      Monday, October 27, 1851

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David Keefe, the only person saved from the CLAY, arrived here yesterday on board the Schooner J.H. LYON. The following is his narrative of the affair, before a Notary:- We left Malden about 2 o'clock A.M. of the 23rd., with a fair whole sail breeze. Nothing material occurred until about 12 o'clock at night of the 23rd., the despondant being on deck at the wheel; the wind being very high with a heavy sea, the propeller suddenly broached to, throwing the despondant against the other man at the wheel. The First Mate and Captain were on deck at the time. The Captain ordered the anchors to go overboard to bring her head to the wind. They did not succeed in doing so ; one man was washed off the deck in attempting to get the anchors off; he caught the fender rope and was hauled on board. The propeller rolled heavily, and in about 20 minutes after she broached to, her cabin and all her upper-works became detached and floated from the hull, and she rolled over, bottom up. Before the cabin was parted from the hull, all hands lashed themself to different parts of the rigging; the Captain and a Lady passenger were lashed to the jib-stay. When I found the vessel rolling over, I unlashed myself and jumped overboard among the floating flour and pieces of the wreck, and caught hold of the pilot-house deck; soon found that there were several others on the same piece of deck, about 10 in number. When it became light enough to see, found only myself and two others hanging to the piece of the deck. Those three then got on to the raft; found a piece of the rail and put it through the stove pipe hole, in the piece of deck, upon which we were; found a piece of carpet and fastened it to a stick, which we used for a sail -- remained with the two others on the raft until about 8 o'clock A.M. of the 24th. when the Brig JNO. --?-- , came along and threw a line, which the despondant caught, and was towed about one-fourth of a mile before he was got on board. Lines were thrown to the other two men, but they did not get hold of them, the wind and sea being very heavy at the time, so much so as to render it unsafe for the Brig to attempt to rescue the other two men. This despondant was landed at Grand River, Canada West, about 2 o'clock P.M.
      David Keefe
The crew consisted of 16 persons, and it is not known that there were more than one passenger, and that a lady whose name is not given.
      The following are the names of the lost, as far as known:- George Callard, Captain, of Buffalo; Crestes Rook, of Black River; Edward Phillips, first engineer, of Cleveland; Henry C. Baldwin, second engineer, of Black River; R.E.Dowd, First Mate, of Euclid; John Ripley, wheelsman, from Canada; Peter Green, deck-hand, residence unknown
      Morning Express, Buffalo
      Tuesday, October 28, 1851

      . . . . .
     
      The propeller HENRY CLAY, Capt. George Callard, left Cleveland on the night of Wednesday the 22nd. instant with a cargo of flour and wool for Ogdensburgh. On the morning of the 23rd. she put into Malden for wood, and proceeded on her trip with a strong wind blowing and a heavy sea on. Towards evening the gale increased and the propeller made but little headway. About twelve o'clock at night on Thursday, the 23rd, while off Long Point, Canada, David Keefe, second wheelsman, with the first wheelsman, was at the wheel. It was the first mate's watch, but Captain Callard, who had been up all night, was on deck, many of the hands having turned in for rest. The gib was up and the helm hard down, when of a sudded the propeller broached to and rolled over on one side in the trough of the sea. David Keefe was thrown, by the suddenness of the lurch, on to the other wheelsman against the side of the wheelhouse. The first thing he felt after the sudden broaching, was the sensation of the vessel going over on to her side, and he heard the Captain's voice, calling loudly on the men to get the anchor out and the vessels head to the wind. He left the wheelhouse to assist in casting over the anchor, and found that no person could stand upon deck in consequence of its slanting position. It was found impossible to cast over the anchor, and in making the attempt a hand was washed overboard off of the forward deck. In going over he caught hold of a fender rope, and hung on until the mate and Keefe, having thrown him a line, dragged him on to deck through the port hole. The vessel lay rolling in the trough of the sea for about twenty minutes all efforts to right her proving unavailing.
      There was one female passenger on board, who got on at Cleveland, but we could not ascertain her name. Capt. Callard, finding all efforts to right the vessel fruitless, lashed the female and himself to the gib stay, which runs to the foot of the upper deck, and gave orders to the crew to lash themselves where they could to the rigging. They did so, and Keefe, the survivor, made himself fast to a piece of rope hanging down at the side. In about ten minutes after they were lashed, the deck and cabins all came out and were washed over.
Immediately the noise of the parting deck was heard, all hands endeavored to free themselves from their fastenings, and two of the firemen lowered the boat and jumped in, but were not seen again. They were doubtless immediately swamped by the waves. Keefe released himself and ran forward. He saw Capt. Callard, himself still fastened to the rigging, endeavoring to release the feamale, but at that moment deck, cabins and everything loose went overboard, and Keefe jumped in among a quantity of floating flour barrels and pieces of the wreck. Immediately she parted, the hull keeled right over towards the shore, bottom up dragging down to a watery grave all who were fastened to the rigging.
      After jumping overboard, Keefe came in contact with a portion of the pilot house deck, about twenty feet long, to which he clung by his hands and arms, with his legs and body in the water. He found ten others holding on in the same manner, among them were the first mate, and first and second engineers. No person spoke but the first engineer, and he counted the heads and said there were ten on the wreck. It was about two o'clock when the deck parted, and in about fifteen minutes the second engineer dropped his head as if in a doze, and soon loosing his hold, rolled off into the water. The first engineer went off in the same manner in ten minutes afterwards. Not a word was spoken, and the poor fellows who were washed off seemed to fall into a doze, and the survivors could see them distinctly as they rolled off into the sea.
      When daylight came, three only were left clinging to the wreck--David Keefe the first mate and the first wheelsman. They were muck exhausted, but managed to get onto the wreck to which they clung, and to hang on to a piece of railing and an iron spike which they found floating by them, and with which they formed a kind of mast by sticking it into the stove pipe hole in the deck. Without this they could not have remained on the wreck, and round it the three survivors clung. After they had somewhat rallied, the mate found a piece of floating carpet, which he secured, and with which they made a temporary sail, fastening it to two mails in the top of the pole, and holding the other end in their hands.
      About 8 o'clock, a vessel came in sight, about ten miles off. She did not see the wreck, however, until she got close by, when she ran close in and cast out two ropes to the men. Keefe caught the rope that fell near him, having previously seen his two campanions make a grad at the other and miss it. He clung to the rope with his hands and was immediately dragged from the raft. In this condition, clinging only by his hands to the rope and after all the exertions he had previously undergone, he was absolutely towed a quarter of a mile through the water, before he could be got safely on deck. When rescued his strength was just failing him.
      At this time the wind was blowing a gale and the sea ran very high, rendering it impossible for the brig, which was old, to put back or attempt to rescue the two men left on the wreck. Keefe did not, therefore, see his companions again, although he believes he could distinguish the raft with the sails still up. They were in good spirits and in possession of their faculties when he left the wreck, and there is a good chance, we believe, of their escape.
The wind was blowing towards the shore, and they could make about a mile an hour. They were about four miles from land, between the point and the cut, and we are informed by the most experienced seamen, that there is no current at that point to divert the course of the raft.
      The brig landed David Keefe at Grand River, Canada. The survivor is a single man about 22 years of age, and had been aboard the propeller since the 22nd. July. Capt. Callard is an old citizen of Buffalo, much respected and beloved, and leaves a wife and two children to mourn his unhappy fate. He has seen much service, having been an officer in the Texan navy, and is widely know as the Inventor of the Signal Lantern for distinguishing vessels at sea, now used by our navy and merchant vessels. He was part owner of the HENRY CLAY.
      The following are the names of those lost as far as ascertained: George Callard, Captain, of Buffalo; Orestes Root, clerk, of Black River; Edward Phillips, first engineer, of Cleveland; Henry C. Baldwin, the second engineer, of Black River; R.E. Dowd, first mate, of Euclid; John Ripley, wheelsman, from Canada; Peter Green, deck hand, residence unknown.
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      Monday, October 27, 1851

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      PROPELLER HENRY CLAY. - We learn from the Detroit Daily Advertiser, that the CLAY was loaded with 2,650 bbls. flour, from Bridge & Lewis; 5,000 lbs. wool, from Parsons & Croul, and insured $4,000 in Detroit Fire & Marine Insurance Co. $3,000 in Merchants' Mutual Insurance Co., Milwaukee; $2,000 in the Nashville Insurance Co., and 500 bbls. flour insured in Boston. She also had a quantity of leather from Moore & Foote, of this city, which was not insured. The wreck drifted ashore near Long Point, and the GREAT WESTERN left last night to get her off, and tow her to this city. We cannot learn that any of the bodies of the unfortunate crew have as yet been discovered. The GREAT WEST will probably bring in some intelligence of the matter.
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      Thursday, October 30, 1851

      . . . . .

      The Gale on Lake Erie - Twenty-nine Lives Lost
The propeller HENRY CLAY, Capt. Geo. Callash, had aboard 30 crew and one female passenger. At 12 o'clock on the night of the 23d broached to when off Long Point, and laid side up in the trough of sea. The captain lashed himself and female to jib stay. Crew all lashed themselves to the rigging. In 20 minutes went to pieces. Deck and cabin went off, and hull turned bottom up. Captain could not unlash himself and jumped off the wreck.
      Got hold of pilot house deck with others; held on till day light; wind and sea high. Brig John Martin home down - threw ropes. Keefe caught one. The two others could not catch them. Keefe was dragged a quarter of a mile through the water before he got on board the brig. Saw no more of the raft or companions. Capt. Callash was formerly an officer in the Texas Navy, and was the inventor of signal lanterns now used in distinguishing vessels at sea.
      Nothing has ben heard of the steamer Empire, which left Dunkirk on Thursday last for Detroit. It is feared that she went down in the gale on Thursday night, and every soul on board perished.
      Syracuse Daily Star
      Thursday, October 30, 1851

      . . . . .
     
      Capt. E.P. Dorr, Marine Inspector, has returned from the scene of the disaster of the Propeller CLAY, and has furnished the following particulars :- The wreck of the Propeller HENRY CLAY was found yesterday, October 31st. on the South side of Long Point, near the Light-house, in 10 feet water, bottom upwards, aground fore and aft. Pieces of the wreck and cargo are strewn along the shore for miles each way. The vessel is a total loss.
      The body of Captain George Callard was found yesterday, lashed to the upper deck rail, close to the stern -- the rail was broken off, and he laid under water lashed to it. Capt. Callard had evidently exerted himself to save the lady passenger who was on board, as she was found lashed to a piece of rail also. She was buried decently, and as well as the circumstances would permit, not far from the light-house, at Long Point, Canada, in a
conspicuous place, with a head board to identify the spot. There was no name or mark wherby to learn her name. The trunks belonging to some of the crew came ashore, broken and much injured. There were but few articles of clothing and few papers, which were handed over to friends of the deceased. The body of Capt.Callard was brought down on the Steamer WAVE. No more bodies were found
      Morning Express, Buffalo
      Monday, November 3, 1851

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      Capt. Dorr, with Capts. Keating and Root, visited the wreck of the ill-fated CLAY last week. It was aground, south side of Long Pt., bottom upwards, aground fore and aft, vessel total loss.
      The body of Capt. Callard was found lashed to the upper deck rail, close to the stern; the rail was broken off, and he was underwater, bound to it by the rope. By his side was a female. He had evidently struggled to save her, as well as himself. No other bodies were found.
      The female, name unknown, aged about 23 years, was buried near the lighthouse, Long Pt., Canada, and a head board put over her grave. The body of Capt. Callard was taken to Buffalo on the WAVE.
      The funeral of Capt. C. was numerously attended in Buffalo. The Masons and Odd Fellows were out.
      Some articles of clothing, trunks very much broken, books &c., were found on the shore. A bible belonging to a colored man, was picked up and had written in it, "Atmor T. Carter, of Boston, Mass., a gift of Miss W____ of Baltimore." Whatever clothing, articles, &c., were found, and some papers belonging to the 2d engineer Mr. Baldwin, and the first mate R.E. Down are in the hands of Capts. Root and Keating.
      The machinery and most of the freight was out of the CLAY. Not much more will be got from the wreck; some portion of the cargo left, may be saved.
      Cleveland True Democrat
      November 5, 1851 2-1

      . . . . .

      Further From the wreck of the Henry Clay.
      We take the following from the Buffalo Advertiser: - We are indebted to Capt. E.P. Dorr, Marine Inspector, who, with Capts. Keating and Root, returned from the wreck of the ill-fated Clay on Saturday evening, for some
interesting particulars. The body of Capt. Callard was brought down by the steamer Wave.
      The wreck of the Clay was found on the 31st ult., by the gentlemen above named, lying on the south side of Long Point, Canada, in ten foot water, bottom upward, aground, fore and aft. Pieces of the wreck and cargo are
strewn along the above for miles each way. The vessel is a total loss. the body of Capt. G. Callard was found lashed to the upper deck rail, close to the stern, the rail was broken off, and he laid under water, attached to it
by the rope he was lashed with.
      Capt. C. had evidently exerted himself to save the lady passenger, who was on board, as she was found lashed to a piece of rail also. She was buried decently, and as well as the circumstances would permit, not far from the lighthouse at Long Point, Canada, in a conspicuous place, with a head board to identify the spot.
      There was nothing discovered by which she could be identified. She was apparently 23 or 25 years of age. No more bodies were found. A few articles of clothing, a few papers, and some of the trunks belonging to a number of the crew were found on shore. The trunks were much injured, and the books and papers were handed over to the friends of the deceased. The trunk of the cook, a colored man, with a bible and some other books, but no clothing came on shore. In the bible was written, "Amos T. Carter, of Boston, Mass., born in Duxbury, Mass.1819; a gift from Miss ----, Baltimore."
      It is said that Carter had a wife living in London, C.W., to whom his books were sent. Clothing and papers belonging to the first mate, R.E. Dowd, also came ashore, and are in the hands of Capts. Rot and Keating, friends of the deceased.
      The funeral of Capt. C. was numerously attended this afternoon from the Baptist Church, on Washington st. He was buried with Masonic honors, of which order, as well as that of the I.O.O.F. he was a member.
      Syracuse Daily Star
      Wednesday, November 5, 1851





      The Buffalo Commercial Advertiser says the person saved from the wreck of the prop. HENRY CLAY, is an Irishman, who was a deck hand on board, named David Keefe, a single man. He says that after the propeller was disabled the last he saw of Capt. Callard he and a lady passenger were lashed to the jib-stay forward, and soon after, he asserts, the vessel capsized.
      He and 3 others succeeded in reaching a portion of her deck, on which they floated until the brig JOHN MALCOM hove in sight, in the midst of the gale, and ran so near them as to heave them lines. He was the only one, however, who was able to catch the line, and he was towed through the water, nearly a mile before he was taken on board. The MALCOM was an old vessel running before the gale, and could not put back to save the others. It is quite probable that all are lost.
      The crew consisted of about 12 persons, including officers. It is probably the vessel had but few passengers. Capt. Callard leaves a wife and family in this city. He had lately returned from California, and purchased an interest the propeller of which he was master. He was universally esteemed a good seaman.
      Conneaut Reporter
      November 6, 1851

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Media Type:
Text
Newspaper
Item Type:
Clippings
Notes:
Reason: aground
Lives: 19
Hull damage: $25,000
Cargo: included
Freight: flour,wool &c.
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
1851
Subject(s):
Local identifier:
McN.W.9667
Language of Item:
English
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 42.555833 Longitude: -80.197222
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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Henry Clay (Propeller), aground, 24 Oct 1851