The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Jefferson (Schooner), aground, 6 Nov 1839

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From the Michigan City Gazette, Oct. 23. -- SEVERE STORM - On Friday night last, Lake Michigan was visited by a severe storm, which has done much damage to the shipping. At this place the brig JOHN KINZIE, schooners VIRGINIA and WHITE PIGEON were driven ashore. One of these vessels had 2200 bushels of wheat aboard, which we fear is much damaged. The ship MILWAUKIE is reported to be ashore at Southport, W. T. and the schooner ILLINOIS between here and Chicago. Owing to circumstances beyond our ken, the harbor at this place is not yet fit for vessels to enter. When we get started fairly, and have time to look around into the reason for this delay.
      Detroit Free press
      Wednesday, November 6, 1839

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SHIPWRECK AND LOSS OF LIFE AT CHICAGO.---We learn by the American, that during the violeny storm on the night of the 6th. The Schooner JEFFERSON, Capt. Keeler, from Buffalo, was wrecked outside the north pier, and the cook and a passenger by the name of Bliss, supposed to be drowned. The vessel struck between 20 and 30 yards from the shore and all on board - 8 crew and 2 passengers - came near perishing. Cries of distress were heard by the citizens, who rendered every possible aid. The Captain, nearly exhausted, jumped overboard and was rescued. The others, except the missing, were saved by assistance from shore. The vessel is quite a wreck, and belongs to Mr. L. Hugunin. She was full freighted for Milwaukee and Chicago, with dry goods, liquors, apples and some furniture. The American says "the goods, we believe will be principally saved." The Schooner VICTOR, was driven ashore near the pier, in the same storm, but was not much damaged. These accidents are attributed to the want of a light on the end of the pier, the volunteer candlelight having been put out by the violence of the storm.
      Cleveland Daily Herald
      Tuesday, November 13, 1839 p.2 col.1

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      Shipwreck and Loss of Life - During the violent storm which raged on our Lake yesterday, the schooner, JEFFERSON, Capt. Keeler, from Buffalo, was driven last night, on the north side of the north pier, between 20 and 30 yards from the shore and pier, and all on board consisting of 10 persons -- 8 crew and 2 passengers, came near perishing. Signals of distress were fortunately heard, and many of our citizens, amid the fury of the wind and rain, hastened to relieve the vessel. They found it beating about in the surf; -- the waves sweeping the decks; the sails and rigging torn; and those on board crying with the little strength which their exposed situation had left them, for assistance. The Captain, nearly exhausted, jumped over the stern of the vessel for the shore and was rescued. After much and praiseworthy exertion of some of our citizens, all with the exceptions of the cook and one of the two passengers, by the name of Bliss, who are missing, and supposed to be drowned, were taken up to the Lake House, and recovered -- the Captain with some difficulty. The vessel was quite heavily ladened with goods, bound for Milwaukie, (where it could not discharge,) and this place -- consisting of liquors, dry goods, apples, and some furniture. The vessel, we understand, belongs to Mr. Leonard Hugunin.
      The goods we believe will be principally saved; but the casks imbeded half way in the beach- the vessel dismantled, knocking about in the surf, and its contents scattered on the shore, present this morning, quite the appearance of a wreck. The schooner VICTOR was also driven, about the same time, on the south side of the south pier, where it was more protected from the storm; the captain and mate swam ashore and got some assistance. We have not learned that she experienced any damage. The steamboat FAIRPORT, which reached Milwaukie about two o clock yesterday morning, after beating about till ten, returned to our harbor last night in safety. At Milwaukie the JEFFERSON and FAIRPORT were about abreast; but in the violence of the wind directly from the north, the JEFFERSON was driven in first. The captain of the JEFFERSON informs us, that there was no light, as there generally is, on the end of the pier, and that he mistook the light house for that light, which deceived him in his course. There is merely a candle light kept at the end of the pier, but owing, we suppose, to the violence of the storm, it went out when it was most needed. This a volunteer candle light house, attended to by Old Cross, as they call the useful old sailor, and does not depend upon the bounty of the government. The end of the pier is the proper place for a light-house, and one should be erected (as we trust there soon will be) by the government. Had there been one there last night, this accident, in all probability, would not have occurred. ---- Chicago American.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      Friday, November 15, 1839

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      Shipments by the sch. JEFFERSON, will suffer some. The Chicago American sets her down as a total wreck. The damage on vessel is estimated at $2,500 -- on goods $10,000. There is insurance on goods, to what extent unknown -- Capt. Keeler was deceived by a light hoisted on board a vessel near the mouth of the harbor, and not the light house, as was supposed.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      Saturday, November 23, 1839

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: aground
Lives: 2
Freight: dry goods, liquor
Remarks: ?
Date of Original:
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Illinois, United States
    Latitude: 41.85003 Longitude: -87.65005
William R. McNeil
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Jefferson (Schooner), aground, 6 Nov 1839