The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Little Wissahickon (Barge), U36351, sunk, 9 Jul 1896


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The tow barge WISSAHICKON sank in Lake Erie off Rondeau, shortly after midnight Thursday and five are supposed to have drowned. She was in tow of the JAMES P. DONALDSON bound from Buffalo to Saginaw with coal.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Saturday, July 11, 1896


      FOUNDERED IN LAKE ERIE
      The Tow Barge WISSAHICKON Goes To The Bottom .. Two Seamen Rescued.
      Detroit, July 10. The Lehigh Valley Transportation Company's steamer TUSCARORA landed two shipwrecked seamen at the foot of First Street this afternoon. They were George Agams, mate, and Fred Croft, seaman, of the tow barge WISSAHICKON, which foundered in Lake Erie last midnight, while on the way to Saginaw from Buffalo with a load of coal. From what they said it appeared probable that the rest of the crew went down with the barge. Agams said: "The crew consisted of Capt. McKay; Mrs. Kate Casey, of Toronto, the cook; a young fellow of twenty from Chicago and a southern Indian, neither of whose names we know, and Croft and myself. The boy and Indian we shipped at Tonawanda on Monday. We were being towed by the steambarge J.P. DONALDSON of Bay City and
our consorts were the T.G. LESTER, A.W. WRIGHT, KETCHUM and ACTIVE. So far as
we know they were all right, but we were shipping water for 24 hours and had a hard struggle to keep the pumps going. About 8 o'clock we sprang a leak and for four hours we fought the water. When midnight came we saw there was no show and suggested to the Captain that we get away the best way we could. He and the others did not seem to know what to do, so we threw the small raft overboard, leaving them the yawl, and jumped after it. The barge went down, for not long after we could see a couple of feet of the mast sticking out of the water. Our boat and the T.G. LESTER were the last two, and the ropes must have given way or been cut after the WISSAHICKON went down. The LESTER was still fastened to her when we got away. Maybe our people got aboard her. She must be in distress if
she is afloat. We were battered around by the waves until daylight, when the TUSCARORA sighted us. They pulled up, sent a boat after us and treated us with every kindness." Agdams and Croft came from West Bay City.
      St. Catharines Daily Standard
      July 11, 1896 (1-4)

      . . . . .

      WISSAHICKON DISASTER
      Detroit, July 11.- The stmr. DONALDSON, which passed up Detroit River this afternoon, reports the barge LITTLE WISSAHICKON went down on Lake Erie last night at 9:00, taking with her the following: Capt. Mckay of Bay City, Mrs. Casey of Toronto, cook; seaman, name unknown. The barge was in tow of the DONALDSON loaded with coal for Bay City, and sprung a leak off Rondeau, Lake Erie, early yesterday morning. Mate Agans and seaman Croft threw a small raft overboard and got on to it. They were afterwards picked up by the Lehigh Valley Liner TUSCARORA. Two sailors jumped overboard and were saved by the crew of the barge LESTER of the same tow. The Captain, cook and one sailor remained on board the sinking craft. Capt. Stout of the DONALDSON held on to the barge until 9:00 last night, when she went down taking the three with her. The barge LESTER also suffered in the gale, her spars being carried away, but she is not otherwise damaged. The LITTLE WISSAHICKON was built in 1869 amd measures 376 tons and was owned by George McKay of Bay City. Vessel captains are requested to keep a lookout for bodies off Rondeau and report to Harvey D. Goulder of Cleveland.
      Buffalo Morning Express
      July 12, 1896 16 - 3

      . . . . .

      Detroit, July 11. The stmr. DONALDSON, which passed up Detroit River this afternoon, reports the barge LITTLE WISSAHICKON went down on Lake Erie last night at 9:00, taking with her the following: Capt. McKay of Bay City, Mrs. Casey of Toronto, cook; seaman, name unknown. The barge was in tow of the DONALDSON loaded with coal for Bay City, and sprung a leak off Rondeau, Lake Erie, early yesterday morning. Mate Agans and seaman Croft threw a small raft overboard and got onto it. They were afterwards picked up by the Lehigh Valley Steamer TUSCARORA. Two sailors jumped overboard and were saved by the crew of the barge LESTER of the same tow. The Captain, cook and one sailor remained on board the sinking craft. Capt. Stout of the DONALDSON held onto the barge until 9:00 last night, when she went down taking the three with her. The barge LESTE also suffered in the gale, her spars being carried away, but she is not otherwise damaged. The LITTLE WISSAHICKON was built in 1869 and measures 376 tons and was owned by George Mc Kay of Bay City. Vessel captains are requested to keep a lookout for bodies off Rondeau and report to Harvey D. Goulder of Cleveland.
      The Detroit Free Press has the following story about the foundering of the LITTLE WISSAHICKON. "Two sailors from the lumber schooner LITTLE WISSAHICKON were landed by the Lehigh Valley liner TUSCARORA at the foot of First St. Friday noon and reported that the schooner had foundered on Lake Erie, and that Capt. McKay, the cook Mrs. Kate Casey, of Toronto, and two sailors a white man and an Indian, names unknown, were probably drowned. One of the sailors landed here is the mate, George Agans, and the other a foremast hand, named Fred Croft.
According to their story, the LITTLE WISSAHICKON was coming up Lake Erie loaded with coal, Buffalo to Saginaw, and along with the T.G. LESTER, A.W. WRIGHT, ACTIVE and J.S. KETCHUM, in tow of the stmr. DONALDSON; that the other consorts seemed to be making good weather of it, but that the foundered craft had been shipping water for 24 hours to an extent that almost overcame the efforts of the crew to keep her free with the pumps.
"At 8:00 Thursday evening (July 9), when off Rondeau, the LITTLE WISSAHICKON sprang a leak, and for 4 hours the crew worked with might and main at the pumps to keep her afloat. At midnight Agans and his fellows suggested to Capt. McKay that the vessel should be abandoned, especially as signals to the vessels ahead seemed not to be understood, and there was every prospect of the immediate foundering of the craft. He seemed to be dazed, and the men threw a small life raft overboard and jumped after it, reaching it after a hard struggle. One other man also jumped and was picked up by the schooner LESTER, which was the last of the tow. Capt. McKay and his men remaining still had the yawl, but seemed not to make use of it.
      Agans and his mate say that the vessel foundered, though they did not see it, as her spars were sighted sticking out of the water, and the LESTER was still fast to her by the tow line. It is just possible, they say, that the missing people were picked up by the LESTER.
      "The rescued men spent 6 hours tossing about on their frail craft before sighted and picked up by the big steamer. They speak in the highest terms of their treatment while on the TUSCARORA. They say a heavy sea ran on the lake all that night and the next day. They are both West Bay City men, and were directed to the harbor master's office for means to get out of the city.
      "Their story is not given entire credence here, but the fact of the rescue by the TUSCARORA remains.
      "The LITTLE WISSAHICKON was about 230 tons register, and had for some years been engaged in the lumber trade out of the Saginaw Valley. She was an old craft, not well kept up, and was uninsurable, which means that she was not seaworthy. She was owned by her master."
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      July 12, 1896 14 - 3


The sunken barge LITTLE WISSAHICKON lies about thirty miles East by North of Point Au Pelee.
      Evening Wisconsin
      July 14, 1896
      . . . . .

      Capt. George McKay, who was lost with the lumber schooner LITTLE WISSAHICKON, which foundered on Lake Erie a few days ago, was about fifty-five years of age. He was a son of Capt. William McKay, a pilot in Helmsdale, Southerlaudshire, Scotland, and had followed sailing all his life. He came to America thirty-five years ago. For twenty-two years he resided with his family in Bay City. He was In the employ of H. A. Ballentine & Co , who formerly owned the Wheeler ship yard, for thirteen years, and was generally considered a careful and competent man.
      Marine Review
      July 23, 1896
     
      . . . . .

      Bay City, July 24. Richard McKay, son of Capt. McKay, who went down on the barge LITTLE WISSAHICKON in Lake Erie a few days since, stated today that he would bring suit against the owners of the stmr. DONALDSON, which had the WISSAHICKON in tow, for damages. He asserts that the DONALDSON was not properly manned at the time of the disaster; and that she had gone into shelter instead of casting anchor in mid-lake. The DONALDSON is owned in this city. Mr. McKay has retained a Cleveland lawyer.
      Buffalo Morning Express
      July 25, 1896 2 - 4

      . . . . .
     
     
      Capt. Dunn of the Canadian steamer PETREL has located a wreck in Lake Erie 22 miles south and west from Rond Eau, three miles north of the boundary line.. It is supposed to be the LITTLE WISSAHICKON, lost with four of her crew last month in tow of the DONALDSON. The wreck of the schooner DAUNTLESS, lost on the same day in the same storm was also discovered the same day.
      Marine Review
      August 13, 1896
     
      . . . . .

      The wreck of the schooner LITTLE WISSAHICKON has been reported by numerous steamer captains as lying 33 to 35 miles approximately E 3/4 N from Pt. Pelee, Lake Erie. The topmasts are 5 or 6 feet out of the water. As the schooner lies very near the track between Pt. Pelee and Erie, mariners are cautioned to excercise care to avoid fouling their wheels with the wire rigging of the schooner.
      Buffalo Morning Express
      August 23, 1896 16 - 3

      . . . . .
     
      Fairport, September 23. - The body of Capt. George McKay of the barge LITTLE WISSAHICKON was found on the beach today, 1 mile from the piers, and was thoroughly identified by a watch, a ring and a letter found in the pocket.
      Buffalo Morning Express
      September 24, 1896 (3-1)


Schooner LITTLE WISSAHICKON.* U. S. No. 36351. Of 376.53 tons gross; 357.70 tons net. Built Marine City, Mich., 1869. Home port, Port Huron. 146.4 x 29.4 x 12.0.
      * Formerly schooner EDWARD KEAN
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1895


Media Type:
Text
Newspaper
Item Type:
Clippings
Notes:
Reason: sunk
Lives: 3
Freight: coal
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
1896
Subject(s):
Local identifier:
McN.W.14679
Language of Item:
English
Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 42.2975 Longitude: -81.888611
Donor:
William R. McNeil
Copyright Statement:
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
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Little Wissahickon (Barge), U36351, sunk, 9 Jul 1896