An Old Captain - The Man who Helped to Build the First Propeller on the Lakes
The Rochester Post-Express says: The trial of the case of Albert Quonoce, and others, against the insurance company of the state of Pennsylvania, involving the amount of $10,000 insurance on the schooner COMANCHE, was continued before Hon. J. I. Angle, referee. The witnesses for the plaintiff have all been examined and the defense is now opened.
This is the test case, upon which four other suits in the same manner depend. Among the witnesses examined in this case was a Captain William Brown, a Scotchman, ship carpenter, seaman, and once master of a ship in the India trade. Captain Brown was also many years a captain on the lakes. He came over from Scotland with John Ericsson, the great inventor, in 1839, and helped build the first screw propeller ever built on the lakes - the VANDALIA. She was run on lake Ontario and the captain was Rufus Hawkins.
The same year the RACINE was built, and of this propeller Mr. Brown was made captain. The first steamer on Lake Ontario, however, ante-dating the propeller, was the old brig ONTARIO, of Com. Chauncey's fleet of the war of1812. Mr. Webb, one of the counsel in the COMANCHE case, distinctly remembers, when a boy, taking a ride on this queerly gotten up steam vessel. It was a side wheeler, and the steam engine which turned the paddles had open cylinders, out of which the action of the piston rods threw jets of water. The craft made six miles an hour, and ran from Sackets Harbor to Lewiston.