Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Sea Bird (Steamboat), burnt, 9 Apr 1868
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Steamer SEA BIRD, built at Newport in 1859 of 638 tons. Burnt off Waukegan, Lake Michigan, April 9, 1868, with the loss of 72 lives.
      Merchant Steam Vessels of the U. S. A.
      1790-1868, Lytle - Holdcamper List

Chicago, April 9. -- The following are the particulars of the loss of the steamer SEA BIRD. When off Waukegan, about 6:30 yesterday morning, the fire was seen issuing from a pile of freight stored around the after guards of the boat, outside the Ladies' cabin, and in ten minutes the entire stern of the boat was wrapped in flames. All on board became demoralized, even the officers, and no effort was made to lower the small boats. The only survivors as far as known are C.A. Chamberlain and Edward Hannabury, passengers from Sheboygan. There were about 100 persons on board, including the sailors, ten ladies, and seven or eight children. The Captain of the steamer CORDELIA, seeing the SEA BIRD burning, hastened to the vessel, and picked up the only two passengers saved, taking one from the water, the other from the steamer.
      Goderich Signal, Semi-Weekly
      Thursday, April 16, 1868

HULL OF THE STEAMER 'SEA BIRD' DISCOVERED. -- The following telegram was received yesterday from Waukegan:- The propeller TRUESDELL, of your City, came up here yesterday, (Tuesday) morning to search for the wreck of the SEA BIRD, of which indications had been found three miles south of this place. A diver descending, found the ill-fated vessel, and after walking about it, reports the hull broken in twain about midships. No bodies were found. The anchor and safe were hoisted aboard the propeller, which left at 5 o'clock. The machinery of the boat was not removed
      Chicago Tribune
      Tuesday August 4, 1868

      The Remains Of One Of The Victims Of The Great Calamity Is
      Recovered From The Lake
The remains of a woman, supposed to have been one of the victims of the terrible SEA BIRD catastrophe, was found at 7 o'clock yesterday morning, outside the breakwater, at the foot of Randolph Street. A boy while bathing in the lake, first discovered the corpse floating in the water, and notified Officer Clark, who secured it by a rope. The Coroner afterwards had the body removed to the dead-house, where he minutely examined it. It was almost entirely nude, the remnants of a chemise and a figured alpaca dress only clinging to the shoulders and waist. From appearance it seemed to have been in the water for some months, which gives rise to the belief that deceased was on board the ill-fated vessel, and met her death at the time of the calamity.
The feet and hands were nearly gone, having been food for fishes, and the hair, of a dark brown tinge, was also partly gone. The body was greatly swollen and the features were so blackened and otherwise disfigured as to render identification impossible.
The porpeller G. J. TRUESDELL, on Sunday last went to the scene of the disaster, off Waukegan, soundings were made, and the vessel discovered where she had sank. A diver went down, discovered the safe, which was raised and opened. It bore evidence of having been exposed to great heat, and upon being opened, the contents were found to have been
reduced to ashes. Further explorations will be made from time to time, and hopes are entertained that more bodies will be recovered. The woman found yesterday is the fourth to be recovered.
      Chicago Tribune
      Friday, August 7, 1868
      . . . . .
WRECK OF THE 'SEA BIRD' -- Mr. P. E. Falcon, the submarine diver, is now on his way to this city, from Burlington, Iowa, with a steam wrecking scow, which is to be used in raising the hull of the ill-fated steamer SEA BIRD. He has been engaged by Captain A. E. Goodrich of Chicago.
      Chicago Tribune
      Saturday, August 8, 1868

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Reason: burnt
Lives: 72
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original
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Geographic Coverage
  • Illinois, United States
    Latitude: 42.36363 Longitude: -87.84479
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Sea Bird (Steamboat), burnt, 9 Apr 1868