SHOCKING CASUALTY AT CHICAGO.---The Schooner SARANAC, belonging at St. Joseph, Mich., was burned at the Chicago dock on Saturday. It was being caulked and refitted, and the tar the sailors were boiling took fire, was thrown in every direction, enveloping the vessel in flames, and frightfully burned Richard Robertson, aged 19. He would have been burned to death on the spot, had not the mate, James McElliott, seized the sufferer in his arms and leaped into the river. The noble officer was himself badly burned about the hands and arms. Robertson presented a terrible sight, but may recover.
Cleveland Morning leader
April 13, 1859
BURNING OF A VESSEL AND SAD CASUALTY. -- Yesterday morning, between the hours of eight and nine o'clock, the schooner SARANAC, which was in dry dock, at Dolittle & Miller's boat yard, on the North Branch, was discovered to be on fire. The particulars of the matter, as we gathered them, are these. The vessel was undergoing repairs, and the caulkers boiling tar, when from some cause fire was communicated to the wood work, and in a few moments the vessel was in flames, and but a short time elapsed before it was burned to the water's edge.
We have now to proceed to the terrible portion of the affair
A boy aged about fifteen, named Richard Robinson, who acted as cook of the vessel, was in the cabin at the time, and from the dense smoke and the excitement of the occasion, as is supposed, was unable to get out until he was terribly burned. When rescued, the unfortunate lad was a frightful spectacle to look upon; his head, face and body being burned to such an extent that the skin was completely peeled off from the flesh, and his head looked more like a charred block of wood than a portion of a human body. The mate, in his effort to rescue the boy, was also badly burned about the hands and arms, though by no means like his unfortunate companion.
Buffalo Daily Republic
April 14, 1859