The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Oswego Palladium (Oswego, NY), Mon., Nov. 17, 1879

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She Goes Ashore Against the Oswego Pier - Vessel and Cargo a Total loss and Not Insured - Captain Becker's Statement.

About 11 o'clock yesterday forenoon, the schooner Hattie Howard, from Port Hope, with 271,000 feet of lumber, attempting to make this port in a stiff wester, and being partly full of water and heavily loaded on deck, refused to mind her helm and went ashore in the angle of the west pier, close to the lighthouse.


Capt. Schuyler Becker, who commanded the Howard, says that at noon Saturday he had aboard at Port Hope what he considered a large cargo as the vessel would carry without any risk, but he received a telegram from his owner, J. H. Lawrence of this city, instructing him substantially to bring as large a cargo as she would carry. Being anxious to please Mr. Lawrence; he went to the dock and put aboard 40,000 more, making in all 271,000, her deck load being about ten feet high. the lumber was shipped by Vinden of Port Hope and consigned to J. K. Post & Co. of this city.

The vessel set sail for Oswego at 6 P.M. Saturday with moderate weather. the captain says:

"About one o'clock yesterday morning when we were about thirty miles from Port Hope, the wind came up with a squall from the westward; we hauled up for the south shore and the vessel commenced making water moderately; after making considerable water and being twice pumped she careened over so that we could not get water with the pumps; we made land at Big Sodus at 8:30 A.M. yesterday, when we squared away for Oswego; we again tried the pumps but could not get water; we opened up for the harbor, carrying four jibs and single reefed foresail; when within about two vessel lengths from the beacon light a very heavy puff struck and threw her over; she breached to and headed westward, running outside and west of the beacon light; with all the head sails and wheel hard up she was unmanageable and drifted sideways into the arms of the piers; when I saw she was unmanageable I ordered the anchors dropped, which was done, but without avail; she struck on the boulders and pounded towards the pier; when the tug Melvin saw us drifting west of the pier she came out and within 200 feet of us; she stood there a short time and I got lines ready thinking she would save us as she might have done; i know she could; then she backed up within 100 feet of us and there stood, coming no nearer though we had lines ready to throw to her and were afloat drawing 10 feet.

"The tug Lyons also came out but did not try to assist us; I think the tugs might have saved us; the life saving crew were to our assistance in a very short time; lines were made fast to the main boom, tied around the bodies of the crew, one by one, the female cook first and myself last, and by the life crew and others we were hauled ashore."

Capt. Becker says he did not signal for a tug outside, because he thought he could make the harbor, and supposed a tug would be lying near the piers to catch him if anything should happen. Bu he says no tug was there at the critical moment, they all appearing to be up in the harbor.


The watch at the life saving station saw the vessel's trouble, gave the alarm, and in a short time the life crew under Capt. Blackburn, launched a boat and assisted to rescue the crew of the vessel who were in a perilous condition, in quick time and without even wetting some of them. the cook was taken aboard the cutter Manhatttan and kindly cared for, as were also the sailors. The crew, including the captain, numbered six and were mostly Oswego sailors. later in the afternoon the life crew went aboard and took off the captain's trunk, papers, nearly all the clothing and some furniture.


The vessel drifted to within twenty feet of the west pier and settled on the bottom, heading westward, port side to the pier. With her sails flying and the sea dashing over her and scattering her deck load like so many chips, she made a wild picture. Hundreds of people went to see her during the day. There was some talk of an effort to pull her off and it was not undertaken.


Between five and six last evening the foremast went overboard and shortly after the starboard quarter dropped, the vessel's timbers creaking aloud as she was furiously rocked to and fro. The main mast next went over; the lumber was being washed over and the vessel commenced going to pieces. Nothing can be seen of the vessel or cargo today except the ruins, the hull and cargo being broken into kindling wood by the sea. a large number of men, women and children are today taking home the debris strewn along the piers for firewood.


Vessel and cargo are a total loss and both uninsured. The Howard was owned by J. H. Lawrence, Oswego; her tonnage was 256 tons; she was built at Port Huron by Fitzgerald & Co. in April 1868, rated B 1 - and was valued at $4,500 - too high it is thought. A contract had been let for timber to rebuild her at this port during the coming winter. She was not insurable. J. K. Post owned 160m feet of the lumber and Burnham & Blanchard of Fayettville 50m feet. The lumber was worth about $4,000.

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Mon., Nov. 17, 1879
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Richard Palmer
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Oswego Palladium (Oswego, NY), Mon., Nov. 17, 1879