The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Augustus Ford (Schooner), U1084, aground, 1 Nov 1874

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AUGUSTUS FORD Schooner, cargo wheat, ashore at Port Maitland, 4 lives lost. November 1874, Vessel got off. Property loss, Hull $3,000, Cargo $15,000.
      Casualty List for 1874
      Chicago Inter-Ocean
      December 25, 1874

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      A special dispatch from Dunnville published in our second edition yesterday announced that the schr. AUGUSTUS FORD had gone ashore at Port Maitland (Grand River) and that 4 persons, including the captain, had perished. Further particulars of the lamentable disaster are as follows: The FORD loaded at Detroit with wheat and was bound for Oswego. A portion of the lighthouse pier at Grand River had been carried away, rendering it impossible for those in charge to reach the lighthouse. Consequently, there was no light burning, and the captain of the FORD, in attempting to make the harbor in the dark narrowly missed the channel and ran his vessel ashore, head on. The vessel was owned and commanded by Capt. J.C. Pease, of Oswego. When the vessel struck, Capt. Pease, Lizzie Sullivan, the cook, Charles E. Hurd and Thomas Brown, were aft, and being unable to get ashore, were frozen to death. The balance of the crew, Daniel Bigelow, mate,John Mack and Charles Borer, were saved.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      November 25, 1874 3-1

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The schr. AUGUSTA FORD was driven aground Monday (11/23) or during the night at the Grand River. Capt. E.P. Dorr yesterday afternoon received from Dunnville, Ont., the following telegram. "The schr. FORD loaded with wheat is ashore near Port Maitland. Capt. Pease, the cook and 2 men were frozen to death. The FORD was bound from Toledo to Oswego.
      Buffalo Morning Express
      November 25, 1874 4-7

      . . . . .
      Further Particulars of the Loss of the Schooner and the Death of Captain Pease,
      Frozen to Death - The Bodies to be Brought Home.
Yesterday afternoon, while yet the terrible November tempest raged across the lake and through the town, and the lashings of Ontario presented a frightful picture of the perils of the storm, came the thrilling telegram stating the loss of the schooner AUGUSTUS FORD of the Oswego fleet, at Port Maitland, and the death of Capt. Pease and three of his crew. The news sped through the city as though borne on the gale itself, and was everywhere received with consternation and dismay. The FORD had an unusually long trip up, having been detained under Long Point several days by stress of weather, during which time great anxiety was felt about her. No doubt yesterday's fatal news seemed all the more keen contrasted against the public sense of relief afforded by information of her arrival at Cleveland.
The AUGUSTUS FORD was built at Dexter, Jefferson county, New York, in 1853, and was repaired in 1869. She was valued at $10,000, insured for $7,000, and was laden with about 11,000 bushels of wheat for Cheney Ames of this city, which she took on at Detroit, sailing from that port, Wednesday, Nov. 18. The cargo was insured for $15,000; $10,000 in the Royal Canadian, $2,500 each in the Detroit Fire & Marine and the Traders' of Chicago.
Captain Joseph C. Pease, her owner and commander, was one of Oswego's oldest captains, having commanded many crafts belonging at this port, among which we recall the propellers OSWEGO and CITY OF MADISON and the schooners OSCEOLA, ARABIAN, DELOS DeWOLF, W.I. PRESTON and AUGUSTUS FORD. he came to Oswego over 35 years ago, and for over thirty years had sailed the lakes. In fact, he has been sailing from the time when he came here till he lost his life, except a period of eight years during which he was in the chandlery business in this city in the firm of Pease & Barrow. Capt. Pease was a natural sailor, having been born near Nantucket, whence during his youth, he made several voyages in whaling ships. Capt. Pease represented his ward in the Oswego County Board of Supervisors for one or more years, making a careful and faithful representative. He was a good citizen and an upright man. He leaves a wife and two children, son and daughter, sorrowing survivors of his lamentable death.
Charles Hurd, seaman, who perished with the captain, was an old resident of Oswego, and we believe, was a native of Oswego town. He was a steady man and had sailed for many years. he leaves a wife, who lives here.
Lizzie Sullivan, the cook, also lost, had relatives in Toronto, but none here. For two years past she lived in Oswego during the winter and sailed during the summer.
The only information now at hand concerning the way in which Captain Pease perished is the following dispatch from Port Colborne at 8 o'clock last evening and which says: "The captain of the schooner AUGUSTUS FORD and three of the crew were taken off frozen to death."
This news makes it quite certain that three, besides the captain, are lost.
      Captain W.W. Williams has left for the scene of the disaster and will bring Captain Pease's body here. Willis Rogers, brother in law of Hurd, has gone to attend to the remains and bring them here.
We expect further news today including the name of the third seaman.
Port Maitland, where the FORD went ashore, is at the mouth of Grand River, Ontario, about twenty miles above Port Colborne. The coast in that vicinity, though not bold, abounds with high boulders, and is breasted with numerous shoals.
3 P.M. Today. - Up to this hour no reply has been received to despatches sent from this office to the region of the disaster, asking for full particulars. Neither have seamen or friends of the lost received any further news. It is known that the seaman lost, whose name is not given, was not from Oswego.
      3:30 p.m. - Mr. O. H. Brown has just received the following dispatch from Capt. C. P. Morey of Buffalo: "Expedition gone to schooner FORD, and will get her undoubtedly. She is in good shape to save."
By Telegraph to the Palladium. Dunnville, Nov. 25. - Can get no information from Port Maitland. The bodies went to Oswego today.
      Oswego Daily Palladium
      Wednesday, November 25, 1874

      . . . . .
      The tug BRYANT starts this afternoon with a steam pump and the other necessary apparatus to go to the rescue of the schr. AUGUSTUS FORD, ashore at Grand River.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      November 25, 1874 3-6

      . . . . .

The tug BRYANT, Capt. Byers, with 2 lighters and steam pumps has gone to the aid of the FORD. The FORD lies broadside on the beach, and it is thought may be got off without great effort. Her cargo of wheat destined from Detroit to Oswego is all wet.
The names of the fozen on the FORD are: Capt. J.C. Pease of Oswego, Lily Sullivan, cook of Oswego; Charles E. Hurd, seaman, of Oswego; and Thomas Brown, seaman, who shipped at Detroit. The men were frozen lying on top of the cabin. Those saved got under cover of a sail in the rigging. The cabin was flooded by the seas.
      Buffalo Morning Express
      November 27, 1874 4-7

      . . . . .
      No Light At Port Maitland - A Night Of Horror And Distress - The Bodies Of
      The Lost Found Frozen To The Cabin Deck - Fullest Particulars Of The Disaster.
Captain W.W. Williams of this city who left here Tuesday evening for Port Maitland, to bring home the bodies of Captain Pease, Charles E. Hurd and Lizzie Sullivan of the schooner AUGUSTUS FORD, reached Dunnville, Ontario, Wednesday morning, and taking a tug proceeded to Port Maitland and arrived there about 9 A.M. He prepared to forward the bodies by the first train, and consequently had little time to learn the particulars of the disaster. Bigelow, the mate, was at the vessel, but Captain Williams saw John Mack of Oswego, seaman, who told him the thrilling story.
The FORD left Detroit Saturday, and when she encountered the gale, Captain Pease made up his mind to run for Long Point and put the vessel on that course, but ran below the Point too far to get up and run in. He then ran for Port Maitland and arrived off that harbor about 6 o'clock Monday evening, driving down before a terrible sea - one of the worst ever known on the lakes. the captain could not make out Port Maitland light, but after straining his eyes in that direction, discovered a faint glimmer, the only light to be seen, which he concluded must be the Maitland light. Immediately he discovered that he was about 400 yards east of the piers, and then he knew that he must go ashore. He let go his anchors which caught and dragged and caught again, when the schooner swung around and went broadside on about 100 rods from the main land. The crew made out cries to attract attention, and after awhile people came down to the shore, but there being no life boat, no one dared to breast the terrible sea, and all home of rescue was given up.
Every sea struck the vessel as she lay broadside to it, swept clean over her, and soon her cabin filled with water. Capt. Pease, Hurd, Lizzie Sullivan, the cook and Thomas Brown, seaman, got upon the cabin deck; Daniel Bigelow, mate, sheltered himself behind the mainmast, and John Mack, who narrates this account, went aloft and wrapped the foretopsail about him. he found that this afforded good protection from the wind, and begged the others to come up, but, he says, "they didn't seem to care to."
After awhile he saw Capt. Pease fall off from the cabin deck; the Captain crawled feebly back on to the trunk of the cabin, put his hand up to the side of his head and fell dead;
Hurd died a few minutes after; Lizzie Sullivan died next, and Brown last. It was about a
quarter past six when they struck and the Captain died about ten o'clock.
The mate sheltered himself behind the mainmast all night, taking advantage of momentary lulls in the storm to walk back and forth a few feet from his place of refuge, and thus kept from freezing to death.
The sight that met the eyes of the survivors when daylight broke upon the voracious
sea and the stranded vessel, can never be forgotten! From the cabin deck a big jagged
heap of ice glared upon them, which they knew covered the frozen bodies of Capt. Pease, Hurd, Lizzie Sullivan and Brown.
At daylight a rescuing party prepared to save the living and remove the dead, which they accomplished, though they had great difficulty saving the mate who was almost fatally chilled and exhausted. The rescuing party found it necessary to chop away the ice before they could release the bodies which were frozen in and covered to the depth of three or four inches.
Captain Williams could not distinguish the bodies when he arrived, because they were so firmly encased in ice, and they were only identified by size and bits of clothing which could be seen through their icy shrouds.
Captain Williams arrived here with the remains at 9 o'clock, Wednesday night. Capt. Pease's body was taken to Nicholson's undertaking rooms, Hurd to Perham's rooms , and Lizzie Sullivan to Mrs. Moore's on Water street. Brown's body was buried at Port Maitland, his place of residence being unknown. Capt. Williams furnished money to afford a decent burial.
When the bodies reached here, they were still frozen start and encased in ice, so no
features could be seen. Capt. Peace lay stretched out with his hand to the side of his head as described by Mack when he says he (the captain) fell. Hurd lay with one arm under his head, pillow-like, and neither the positions or expressions as seen since they became recognizable indicate pain, except in the case of the cook who seems to have suffered agony. We shall not soon be able to efface from recollection the woeful take of danger, disaster and death suggested by the appearance of these bodies.
The following is a list of the crew of the FORD: Joseph C. Peace, captain, Oswego; Daniel Bigelow, mate, Oswego; Charles E. Hurd and John Mack, seamen, Oswego; Thomas Brown, seaman, residence unknown; Charles Barer, seaman, residence unknown.
Capt. Williams was so much hurried that he did not learn how Barer protected himself during the night of the wreck, but he is known to have been saved.
It appears that the Port Maitland light was not lighted when the FORD went ashore nor during that dreadful night. The light keeper's house at the light was warmed and lighted, but he did not appear and fulfill his duty. The only explanation offered is that the light keeper is a one legged man and did not dare to face the storm. There is no doubt here nor anywhere, but that Captain Pease would have made Port Maitland safely had the light been burning; the false light he saw was from a window in the town. If these are the facts, a terrible responsibility rests on the keeper and the authority which has kept him there at the peril of life and property on the lakes. We understand that he is condemned in Port Maitland without qualification.
The body of Captain Pease was buried at 2 P.M. today. Hurd's funeral will occur tomorrow at 2 P.M. Lizzie Sullivan was buried at 10 A.M. today.
Captain Williams informs us that the prospects were good for getting the FORD off, and it is probably that she has reached Buffalo by this time.
On Friday, the day before the FORD sailed, Ald. Wheeler of this city saw Capt. Pease in Detroit and had a long talk with him; told him about the anxiety of his family, friends and Oswego seamen about him when he lay so long under Long Point on the up trip. Capt. Pease replied, "you didn't feel uneasy, did you Capt. Wheeler," and remarked that he had a good vessel with new sails, that he knew the lakes perfectly and should never go ashore while anything held together.
      Oswego Daily Palladium
      Friday, November 27, 1874

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The tug BRYANT started for Port Maitland last evening with a steam pump and hawser on board to go to the rescue of the schr. AUGUSTUS FORD and CITY OF TAWAS, which are ashore at that place. The expedition, in charge of Capt. Byers, and will no doubt meet with good success which has usually attended his undertakings.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      November 28, 1874 3-6

      . . . . .

The wreckers at work on the vessels ashore near Port Maitland do not seem to be getting along well. The tug BRYANT took another pump to the AUG. FORD Saturday.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      November 30, 1874 3-5

      . . . . .

Our latest advice from the stranded schr. FORD at Port Maitland are not favorable. She is lying broadside to the beach and is almost buries in sand. The cargo of wheat is wet and frozen solid, which makes picks necessary. However, she may not be as badly off as this report would seem to indicate.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      December 3, 1874 3-5

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The schooner AUGUSTUS FORD went ashore at Port Maitland last week and four of the crew were frozen to death.
      Amherstburg Echo
      December 4, 1874
      . . . . .

The schr. FORD reached port at an early hour this morning from Port Maitland, in tow of the tug INGRAM. The damage to the vessel is extensive, and a steam pump was used on the way down to keep her afloat. She was towed to the drydock for repairs.,
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      December 11, 1874 3-5

      . . . . .

Yesterday the schr. AUGUSTUS FORD, which has been lying at the Union Drydock all winter, was pumped out and towed by the tug BILL MORSE to the Erie Basin for repairs. The FORD stranded at Port Maitland last fall, and was subsequently got off and towed to this port.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      May 27, 1875 3-6

The Oswego Palladium says. -- A day or two since the Buffalo Courier stated that the schooner AUGUSTUS FORD had been libelled for towing bills. We are informed that such is not the case, and further there is some rather sharp practice at Buffalo not creditable to those interested in preventing a settlement of the loss. The FORD went ashore last fall at Port Maitland, and her captain and owner Captain Pease of this City perished. The schooner was abandoned to the AEtna Insurance Company, in which the schooner was insured for $10,000. The schooner remained on the beach until this Spring, when she was released and taken to Buffalo, where she has remained since, stuck fast in the mud in the Erie Basin, unrepaired.
After some time it was agreed that the Aetna should pay Mrs. Pease $1,500 and deliver the vessel to her free from all claims attending the shipwreck. Instead of the agreement being carried out, the vessel has been libelled for a wrecking tug bill, and the settlement seems as far off as it was last Winter. We are not versed in the usage of settling insurance claims, but it strikes us that if the Company had either of four or five men in this city to deal with instead of a widow, the loss would have been settled long before this.
      Toronto Daily Globe
      Thursday, August 12, 1875

The schr. AUGUSTUS FORD was sold for $340 this morning by the U.S. Marshal.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      November 5, 1875 3-4

The schooner AUGUSTUS FORD, , Captain D. Nicholson, left port Monday night, her first service in commission since the fall of 1874, when she was driven on the Canada shore during a cold storm, and the captain and owner was frozen in the rigging. She had been rebuilt and is now in good order, and goes to Ashtabula to load coal for Kingston, Ont.
      Cleveland Herald
      June 29, 1876
DIED AT THE MARINE HOSPITAL. -- John Mack, the only survior of the ill-fated crew of the schooner A. FORD, all the others having been frozen to death a few years ago when that schooner was driven on the Canada side of Lake Erie, died at the Marine Hospital on Saturday. He has been in hospital about two weeks, and last sailed on the schooner WALTER H. OADES. Mack's wife, who lives in Oswego, was present when he died, and left at 12 o'clock Sunday night with the corpse for her home. President Forbes of the Seaman's Union and Captain Pat Woods of the OADES showed every attention to the sick sailor, and assisted in the removal of his remains to the depot. All expenses connected with Mr. Mack's death will be borne by the Seaman's Union.
      Cleveland Herald
      August 24, 1881
Schooner AUGUSTUS FORD. U. S. No. 1084. Of 183.99 tons gross; 174.79 tons net. Built Dexter, N.Y., 1853. Home port, Port Huron, Mich. 107.0 x 24.6 x 9.9
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1886

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: aground
Lives: 4
Hull damage: $3,000
Cargo: $15,000
Freight: wheat
Remarks: Got off
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 42.86681 Longitude: -79.56631
William R. McNeil
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Augustus Ford (Schooner), U1084, aground, 1 Nov 1874