Conneaut, Sept. 17 - At 5:00 this morning while off Elk Creek, 5 miles off this harbor, and 8 miles in the lake, the stmb. OAKLAND of Cleveland, was overcome by a heavy sea. Her only boat was washed away, and the water filled the vessel and extinguished the fires. The captain was half owner, his father-in-law owning the other half, which is represented by his guardian James M. Drake of Cleveland. The wind was blowing a heavy gale from the northeast at the time of the disaster, and a heavy chop sea was running. The fate of the men who staid on the barge is not at present known, though it is feared they are lost. As she lay at the mercy of the waves, the small boat was again washed within reach, and was caught with a pike pole and boarded by 8 of the crew. Fearing to overload so small a craft, the captain and 3 men determined to stand by the barge, saying they "might as well drown there as in the boat." The men in the boat then rigged up a sail from an old bed quilt which one of them had brought with him, and steered before the wind for shore, reaching this harbor and grounding on the beach west of the lighthouse about 8:30. The first engineer E.H. Stone came to the village at once telegraphed to Erie for the large Anchor Line tug ERIE to come to the assitance of the disabled vessel. Mr. Stone does not think it possible the barge kept afloat many minutes after they left her, both hull and spars were soon lost from view. The men who left the boat, and reached this port in safety are: Mate Andrews, of West Bay City; fireman Fred Hart of Cleveland; First Engineer E.H. Stone, of Bay City; one of the fireman, the steward and 2 deckhands. Thois who remained on board the barge were the captain, George L. Stevens, of Cleveland, second engineer Robert Hanna of Bay City; wheelsman Charles Dixon, and a fireman, name unknown. The OAKLAND is an old boat, rebuilt some years ago from the hull of the old steamboat MISSOURI, which used to carry coal from Erie to Buffalo and lay sunk in Erie Basin 21 years. She was loaded with 360,000 ft. of lumber, from Bay City for Erie.
Collector Stafford telegraphed to the PERRY at Ashtabula to go to the relief of the vessel. Nothing has yet been heard of her, and the worst is feared.
September 18, 1883 1-6
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FOUNDERING OF THE OAKLAND.
Four of the Crew Lost.
Cleveland, O., Sept. 17. -- The Herald special reports the steambarge OAKLAND, lumber laden, from Bay City for Erie, foundered at 5 o'clock Sunday morning off Conneaut. Captain George D. Stevens, Second engineer Robert S. Hanna, Charles Dickson, and the wheelsman, name unknown, are believed to be lost. Off Black River yesterday the captain and engineer put their wives ashore on account of the threatening weather. Between 2 and 3 o'clock a fierce northeast gale struck the barge, which sprung a leak and soon became unmanageable and it was decided to abandon her, and mate Farrington, wheelsman Harry Montgomery and George Cliff, the first engineer, name not ascertained; fireman F. Holt, Ed Davis, B. Stewart, Charles Hollogan, and Thomas Roopke, launched the small boat and rowed for Conneaut harbor. The other four remained, and doubtless perished. Soon after a small boat put off and the barge disappeared. The OAKLAND was 311 tons, and was formerly the side-wheel steamer MISSOURI, built about fifteen years ago. She was rebuilt in Erie in 1867, and valued at $10,000.
J.W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, September, 1883
After all the loss of the stmb. OAKLAND, which foundered off Coneaut Monday morning, says the Ashtabula Adv., was not, as had been feared, attended with loss of life. Shortly after the news of the wreck reached here yesterday the staunch tug RED CLOUD started in seach of the captain and men who were left on the OAKLAND when she went down. There was a terrible sea on, and the revenue cutter PERRY, which was in port, dare not venture, and the tug RED CLOUD was the only boat that would go. She went down about 5 miles below Conneaut, returning about 8:00 last night without finding any trace of the wreck. Shortly before 6:00 this morning a dark object was noticed some 5 miles northwest of here, and the RED CLOUD started out again. The object proved to be a portion of the cabin deck on which were the objects of the search, Captain Stevens, the second engineer, a fireman and one of the wheelsman, thoroughly abandoned and without hope of rescue. They secured a portion of the ship's deck load of lumber which they had piled to the windward of them, this partially breaking the force of the storm. On this frail craft they drifted for 26 hours, scantily clad, having all been in bed when the ship began to break up, and exposed to the most terrible hardships. They had constructed some crude oars, and by working these kept themselves partially warm, though they could make no headway in propelling their craft owing to the strenght of the current. The RED CLOUD brought them in, and they will probably go to Cleveland this afternoon. They say they saw the smoke of the RED CLOUD yesterday, but were too far away to be noticed. They lost everything except the clothes they had on.
September 19, 1883 3-5
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The steam barge OAKLAND, lumber laden from Bay City to Erie foundered at 5 o'clock Sunday morning off Conneaut. She was 311 tons and was formerly the sidewheel steamer MISSOURI, built about 15 years ago in Erie in 1867.
Port Huron Daily Times
Wednesday, September 19, 1883
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Marine people here have been much disturbed during the week in regard to the fate of the crew of the steamer OAKLAND, which was caught in the gale off Elk Creek, near Conneaut, and about eight miles out. The vessel left Detroit River on Saturday night and passed this port on Sunday evening, when Captain Stevens turned over a tow to Cleveland tugs and went on to Erie, for which place the OAKLAND had a cargo of 355,000 feet of lumber, consigned to Carroll Bros., from Bay City. When between Fairport and Ashtabula, there being a smooth lake and but little wind, Capt. Stevens turned in, leaving the mate, Mr. Andrews, on watch. Soon, however, the wind freshened into a gale and the vessel, which was not considered a safe risk by the insurance companies, began to show evident signs of distress. The vessel listed to port and soon began to settle at the stern, when the unfortunates knew that all hope of the vessel was past and they began preparing the yawl, in which Capt. Stevens directed all who wished to place themselves, pull for the shore, and send assistance to the remainder. The men who took to the yawl were John L. Andrews, of Bay City first mate: E.H. Stern, of Bay City, chief engineer: E. Davis, of Cleveland, cook; Fred Hart of Cleveland, fireman, Harry Montgomery, of Bay City, wheelsman, Thomas Halligan, of Spring-field, Illinois, a deck hand, and Thomas O'Rouke, deckhand of Patterson, N.J. These men pulled out on the waves, and their boat was tossed about like a shell, but finally reached the shore without mishap.
The fact that the OAKLAND went down in a few minutes after these men left her gave rise to the rumor that Captain Stevens and the three men with him were lost. But not so, however, as the captain, who had three brave men with him, never lost his presence of mind. They clung to the wreck until she was about to go down, when an order was given to jump for life, and they all succeeded in clearing themselves from the suction and in capturing a large portion of the deck, twelve by twenty feet, upon which they all gained a footing, supporting the raft with a cask, which they lashed to it. Then came a night of exposure and hardship of which it is impossible to conceive, the great danger at the time being from the lumber, which the waves continually dashed against them, threatening to kill or knock them off the raft. Thus they passed an entire day and night, seeing many tugs pass and repass, but being unable to attract attention by their signals and shouts, and on Tuesday morning, chilled through and drenched to the skin, they were entirely discouraged and without hope, when they sighted a tug. They quickly made a staff out of a piece of timber with which they had been fighting off the lumber, tied a sheet to it, and raising it and shouting with all their strength, they succeeded in attracting her attention. She bore towards them and they were soon on baord the tug RED CLOUD, of Ashtabula Harbor, where everything possible was done for their comfort. All the men arrived in Cleveland Tuesday evening feeling greatful that they have been permitted to gather with their families again.
The OAKLAND was owned by Captain Stevens and his father. She was valued at about $10,000, while her cargo was valued at $8,000. There was a $5,000 fire insurance on the OAKLAND, but nothing can be recovered on that, so that both vessel and cargo vessel and cargo are a total loss. The engine and boiler were first class, and valued at $5,000 or more. She lies in about forty feet of water, about four to six miles out, and can easily be raised. The captain is of the opinion that her engine and boiler are not injured and that her hull is not strained, as she seemed to settle easy. Consequently, if her owners conclude to raise her, they will have no more to do to make her a good vessel than ought to have been done before.
September 20, 1883
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Steambarge OAKLAND, foundered in 40 feet of water in Lake Erie, September 1883. Built as the side-wheel steamer MISSOURI in 1840.
September 27, 1883
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Messrs. Corcoran and Wilson, the purchasers of the OAKLAND, swamped off Conneaut, took the tug ERIE Saturday, with the hawser of the PERRY, and went where the OAKLAND was reported to be with her bow eight feet above water off Conneaut, but after cruising around all day, fifteen miles out, found nothing but a piece of the Oakland's gangway, and that in the vicinity where she was reported to have been seen. It is the impression that she has gone down. Messrs. Corcoran and Wilson will take a fish-boat at fairport tomorrow and further the search, and if found will be pulled to Erie and beached. - - Inter Ocean.
J.W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, Aug. / Sept., 1883
The stmb. OAKLAND, which foundered and was abandoned by the crew September 17th, has been found 10 miles northeast of Erie, drifting down the lake. She was bought about 10 days ago by Capt. Wilson, Marine diver, and James Corrigan, of Cleveland, and they have been looking for her ever since. Yesterday some Erie fishermen passed her. Her bow is out of the water 7 ft. and her stern is sunk at an angle of 30 degrees. She is a very valuable find, as her engines were almost new, and her hull is sound enough to do further service. She was loaded with lumber consigned to an Erie firm, who are paying a reward for all recovered.
Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
October 6, 1883 3-9
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An Erie dispatch says: Several years ago Eben Norman, a diver, well known along the chain of lakes, left Erie and engaged in Government work on the Atlantic Coast. He and T.E. Wilson, now of Cleveland, worked together on the U.S. flagship CUMBERLAND, sunk by the rebel ram MERRIMAC, at Hampton Roads, James River. Norfolkland, who is now here to raise the steamer OAKLAND, which went down in Lake Erie 2 weeks ago, brings the first tidings that Norman's friends have had of him since he went to the James River. Shortly after their operation together on the CUMBERLAND they separated, and Wilson went to the Mississippi, but he recently learned that his friend Norman met with a horrible death under suspicious circumstances. Norman and another went into contract to raise a safe containing treasures from a vessel in James River. Norman went down and making fast to the safe, hauled her up. At the urgent request of the parties attending, Norman went down again, and was soon hauled up dead. His helmet had either been intentionally disconnected or accidently so, and he was suffocated. Norman's wife who is now a cook on a lake vessel, had until now been unable to learn the particulars of her husbands death.
Buffalo Daily Courier
October 11, 1883 1-7
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Steam-barge OAKLAND, foundered Sept. 17, 1883 in Lake Erie. Valued at $15,000. Amount of loss $15,000.
Casualty List for 1883
December 4, 1883
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OAKLAND, Prop. Lost Lake Erie 1883. She was 311 tons and 43 years old. Valued at $5,000.
Lost Tonnage of the Lakes, 1883
December 27, 1883
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Steam screw OAKLAND. U. S. No. 19298. Of 311.23 tons. Home port, Erie, Pa. Of 70 Horse power.
Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1871