The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Yankee Blade (Schooner), U27516, sunk, 1 Sep 1883

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Special telegram to the Inter Ocean. -- Frankfort, Mich., Sept. 3. -- The schooner YANKEE BLADE, laden with iron ore from St. Ignace for the Elk rapids Iron Company, sprung a leak on the morning of the first while the crew were eating breakfast, and filled so rapidly that the crew barely had time to save their luggage and papers and take to the yawl. She sank in three minutes, taking a lurch, going down head first, raising her stern high in the air, and in settling the compressed air blew out her stern, scattering the debris a distance of fifty feet. She sank eight miles south of Skillagalee Island light. Captain John O'Donnell, who was in command of the YANKEE BLADE, says, she sank in fifteen fathoms of water. The crew landed at Cross Village all safe. They arrived here this morning on the propeller CHAMPLAIN on their route to Chicago. No further disasters occurred in this vicinity.
      J.W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, August / September, 1883

The schooner YNAKEE BLADE, laden with iron ore from St. Ignace to Elk Rapids sprung a leak on the morning of Sept. 1 and sank in three minutes about 8 miles south of Skillagalee Light in 15 fathoms of water. The crew barely had time to escape but landed safely at Cross Village.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Tuesday, September 4, 1883


Captain John O'Donnell and the crew of the lost schooner YANKEE BLADE reported yesterday at the office of Atkins & Beckwith in this city. Captain Beckwith, being one of the owners of the vessel. The disaster occurred eight miles south of Skillagalee and six miles from the main land. The wind was fresh at the time, and there was a heavy sea running. The vessel sprung a sudden leak - opened up, all at once - and went to the bottom quick. The cargo was iron ore. The crew had been in the yawl about ten minutes and Captain O'Donnell had just leaped in, when the vessel went down by the head. There was a terrific shock - compressed air - and a moment afterward the masts and sections of the hull came to the surface. The crew thank their lucky stars that the disaster occurred just after daylight, as it did. Had it been dark at the time the men say they never could have got the boat down, and that all hands must have perished. As it was, the steward and two of the crew who were at breakfast, would have gone down in the wreck if they had not been almost dragged out of the cabin. Where the disaster occurred the depth of water is fifteen fathoms. Inter-Ocean (n.d.)
      Marine Record
      September 6, 1883

      When the crew arrived at Petoskey, Captain O' Donnell went before a notary and made the following statement, as required by law :
John O' Donnell, master of the schooner YANKEE BLADE, being duly sworn, deposes and, on his oath, says: That he left Point St. Ignace on the afternoon of August 31, 1883, at 4 o'clock with the said schooner YANKEE BLADE with a cargo of 507 tons of iron ore consigned to the Elk Rapids Iron Company, of Elk Rapids, Mich.; that the vessel was perfectly seaworthy and equipped for the voyage to Elk Rapids, and the weather being favorable started at the above time and sighted Waugoshance Light at 9:30 p.m. The wind was light from the east, and at 12 o'clock, midnight, rounded the light, and the wind hauling more to the north, at 4 o'clock a.m., passed Skillagalee Light. The vessel was making water so as to keep the after pumps going freely. At 7 o'clock a.m. were on our starboard tack with the wind about south, standing in for the main land heading southeast by east, about eight miles due east, south of Skillagalee when I noticed that the vessel was settling down in the water, and immediately had the pumps sounded and found that she had nine inches of water in her. That did not satisfy me, so when the mate came on deck, which was immediately after the pumps had been sounded, I told him (the mate) to go down forward and look in the fore peak and see if there was anything wrong. He immediately came running back and said the water was nearly up to the forecastle floor. I then ran forward to see for myself and found the water as high as the mate had reported. In the meantime both pumps were going, but the water gained so fast on them that I ordered the men to stop pumping and get their things and put them in the boat. In the meantime I ordered the helm down, so she would come head to the wind, to lower the boat, and all hands in her. I went forward and found the water about two feet over the forecastle floor. I then jumped into the boat and was only there about three minutes when the vessel went down, the crew being there about ten minutes before me. She went down head foremost in fifteen fathoms of water. She blew out the main rigging aft, and when she disappeared both masts came to the surface; also the decks and part of her side. We remained at the wreck about ten minutes and then pulled for Cross Village, which we reached after two hours, and got passage on the Steamer CITY OF GRAND RAPIDS, arriving here at Petoskey, Mich., at 1 p.m.,this first day of September,1883.
      John O' Donnell, Master
Subscribed and sworn to, before me this of September. A.D. 1883.
      Ezra C. Barnum
      Notary Public in and for Emmett County, Michigan.
The crew all heard and read the statement of the Captain and took oath before the Notary that the same was correct. Their names are ; Daniel Mitchell, Mate: Christopher Tallon, steward: Edward Lee: Henry Swanson: William Heath: Thomas E,Newland, seamen.
The YANKEE BLADE was a very successful vessel, and in her time has earned several considerable fortunes. She first came out in 1855. She has been rebuilt several times, and at the time of her loss was rated B 1. Captain Comerford, now in the F.L. DANFORTH, used to make race-horse time with the YANKEE BLADE, notwithstanding she was a canaler.
      Marine Record
      Sept. 13, 1883

It is said that the underwriters will contest paying the insurance on several of the vessels lost in the recent gales. One of these is the schooner YANKEE BLADE. Two sailors who wanted to go to work ashore at Point St.Ignace, deserted the YANKEE BLADE there, and to justify themselves (they had signed articles for the round trip) they swore the vessel was unseaworthy. The contest on the insurance is based on the affidavits of these men. --- Cleveland Report.
      Marine Record
      November 29,1883

YANKEE BLADE Schooner of 256 Tons, and 28 years of age. Valued at $8,000. A total loss on Lake Michigan during 1883.
      Lost Tonnage on the Lakes in 1883
      Marine Record, December 27,1883

YANKEE BLADE Schooner, of 256 Tons, built Buffalo 1855 by B.B. Jones. Owned by J. Long. Home port, Chicago. Value $7,000. Class B.1. Rebuilt 1872.
      Inland Lloyds Vessel Register 1882

YANKEE BLADE Schooner. Official U. S. Number, 27516, of 255.94 Tons. Home port, Chicago, Illinois
      Merchant Vessel List of U. S. A., 1871
Schooner YANKEE BLADE. U. S. No. 27516. of 255.94 Tons gross; 243.15 tons net. Built Buffalo, N.Y., 1856. Home port, Chicago, Illinois. 130.0 X 26.0 X 10.0.
      Merchant Vessel List of U. S. A., 1885

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: sunk
Lives: NIL
Freight: iron ore
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 45.6764 Longitude: -85.17312
William R. McNeil
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Yankee Blade (Schooner), U27516, sunk, 1 Sep 1883