The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Java (Propeller), U75388, sunk, 18 Aug 1878


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A WELL KNOWN PROPELLER SUNK - Last evening the following special telegram to the Post & Tribune was received:
      Mackinaw City, August 19. - The propeller JAVA sunk off Point Au Sable, Lake Michigan, at 8:30 o'clock yesterday morning, and is a total loss. The starboard coupling broke. All hands saved and taken on board the steamer KERSHAW for Detroit.
      The report that the JAVA was lost created considerable excitement here, but no new facts could be learned concerning the disaster. She belonged to the Commercial Line, owned by Holt & Ensign, of Buffalo. It is seldom that any of the boats in the line stop at Detroit, but when they do, their business is entrusted to Mr. Chesebrough. Yesterday evening, that gentleman had received no tidings relative to the propeller, and could scarcely credit the newspaper dispatches announcing that she had gone down. Point Au Sable is near Pentwater. The JAVA was one of the best boats in the line, she was built at Buffalo in 1872, was of 1,525 tons register, valued at $99,000, and classed A 1. Her hull was of iron, and was built by the King Iron Company. In 1876 the insurance books gave her valuation as $110,000. She was commanded by Capt. F.L. Pope, an was bound from Chicago to Bay City with a load of salt. Further developments will be awaited with interest.
      The Associated Press sends particulars from Chicago, as follows:
      The propeller JAVA sunk in 200 feet of water, off Point Au Sable, Lake Michigan, on the Michigan side. Her cargo will be an entire loss. She cost $170,000. The cargo is fully insured, but little is known regarding insurance on the vessel. The breaking of the starboard coupling, and knocking out the side of the vessel was the cause of the disaster. The passengers and crew were all saved.
      Detroit Post & Tribune
      Tuesday, August 20, 1878

      . . . . .

      Word was received at this point shortly after noon yesterday that the prop. JAVA, of the Ensign Line, had gone down on Lake Michigan and was a total loss, having sunk in deep water. Efforts made by telegraph and otherwise to obtain the particulars of the disaster were but partially successful.
      The Associated Press agent at this point, sent abroad the following: - A telegram from Mackinaw City this morning reports the prop. JAVA sunk off Point Au Sable, Lake Michigan, at 8:30 yesterday morning, and that she is a total loss. Her starboard coupling broke. All hands were saved.
      A special dispatch to the Free Press from Mackinaw City says: - The prop. JAVA sunk at 6:30 Sunday morning off Pt. Au Sable, Lake Michigan, and is a total loss. Her starboard coupling broke. The crew were all saved, and passed here this morning on the steambarge CHARLES KERSHAW, going to Detroit.
      In answer to a dispatch to the Free Press correspondent at Cheboygan, inquiring for particulars, the following answer was received:
      Cheboygan, Aug. 19 - The JAVA sunk at Pt. Au Sable, Lake Michigan. Nothing further is known here.
      The Free Press correspondent at Port Huron telegraphs:
      "JAVA sunk off Pt. Au Sable. No particulars received here."
      A dispatch from Pentwater says:
      "Nothing learned of the JAVA."
      Chicago, Aug. 19 - An Associated Press dispatch says the prop. JAVA, from Buffalo to Chicago, sank in 200 ft. of water at 8:30 yesterday morning off Pt. Au Sable, on the Michigan side, with a valuable cargo of mixed merchandise, most of which will be an entire loss. She was an iron-bound vessel of 1,700 tons burden, and cost $170,000. She is valued now at $100,000. The cargo is fully insured. But little is known regarding the insurance on the vessel. The breaking of the starboard coupling and knocking out the side of the vessel was the cause of the accident.
      The prop. JAVA had 2 wheels and consequently two shafts. The starboard coupling which broke, resulting in the loss of the steamer, was the connection between the 2 sections of the starboard shaft, which, when severed, allowed, it is supposed, the sternmost part to slide out through the sleeve, carrying the wheel with it. This left a large opening in the stern through which water probably poured with such rapidity that the steamer sunk before anything could be done to prevent it. Several accidents similar to the above had occurred on our lakes. Some 5 years ago the prop. GENEVA sunk on Lake Superior in a like manner. To prevent serious consequences resulting from the breaking of a shaft coupling, ocean propellers have bulkheads dividing the hull at the stern into different water-tight compartments, so that in cast the rear section of the shaft should become separate from the fore part by any accident, and should slide out, the water could only fill one section and not the entire vessel, this preventing sinking. The JAVA, it is understood, was not so constructed. She was an iron hull, of 1,525 tons burden, and was built in 1872 by the King Iron Co. She was owned by Holt & Ensign, of Buffalo, and was valued at about $100,000. Nothing definite was known at this port as to her insurance on her cargo.
      Detroit Free Press
      August 20, 1878

      . . . . .

      LOSS OF THE "JAVA."
      She Goes Down In Deep Water -- The Crew Saved.
Yesterday morning the Inter Ocean received the following from Mackinaw: The propeller JAVA sand at 8:30 yesterday (Sunday) morning off Point Sauble, Lake Michigan. Total loss. Starboard coupling broke. Crew all saved; they passed here this morning of the steamer KERSHAW, going to Detroit.
Later in the day a dispatch was received from Mr. Ensign, of the firm of Ensign & Holt, Buffalo. the proprietors of the Commercial Line of steamers, to which the JAVA belonged, confirming the disaster. Dispatches were also received from the Inter Ocean's correspondents in Detroit and Buffalo. Messrs. Atkins & Beckwith, the agents of the line in Chicago, of course have their private advices, as also did the underwriters. The cause of the disaster, as generally understood, was the breaking of the shaft a short distance from the wheel, thus opening her stern so that nothing could be done to stay the flow of water. That the entire crew escaped is a matter of congratulation. Going down in such deep water as the steamer did, of course she and her cargo are total losses.
      The cargo consisted of 7,300 barrels of salt, consigned to Eikens & Wheeler of Chicago, and insured in the Orient Mutual for $5656. There was also on board sixty tons of fine merchandise, consigned to F.L. Pope, of Chicago, and 200 tons of fine merchandise consigned to Milwaukee; twenty-five tons of parlor stoves consigned to Sherman S. Jewwtt, of Chicago, and $2,500 worth of household furniture consigned to a Chicago party not named, besides sundries. The Traders Insurance Company have $2,000 on merchandise, but most of the other stuff in probably uninsured.
      The JAVA was iron, and came out in 1873, having cost $160,000. She, as the other boats just like her, was built by King & Owens, of Buffalo. (and the building of these boats burst Messrs. King & Owens). She measured 1,650 tons, rated A 1, and was valued at the time of the present disaster at $99,100. She is insured for $50,000 in the Aetna, Phoenix, Manhattan, Orient, Lamar, and other companies.
      Captain Fred L. Pope was in command, and his numerous friends sympathize with him in his disaster, though, of course, all know that it was no fault of his.
      The JAVA has been unlucky from the first day she came out. This is explained by the "croakers" who say she was launched on Friday. But as it happens she was not launched on Friday. It will be remembered that the JAVA sank Captain Eyster's schooner CAPE HORN, and that she sunk herself by striking at the Lime Kiln Crossing. Captain Dodge was then in command. She has been in numerous other scrapes, and only last trip broke a wheel on the way down, and had to be towed through.
      Many of the iron steamers on the lake, have been wooded over, but the JAVA is not one of them.
      Chicago Inter Ocean
      August 20, 1878

      . . . . .

      THE LOST JAVA. - All day yesterday, and until early last evening, eyes were strained towards the bend at Belle Isle, in constant expectation that they would behold the steamer KERSHAW, on board of which were the officers and crew of the ill-fated JAVA. At about 6 o'clock she arrived abreast of the city, and rounded to only long enough to allow Capt. Pope to come ashore, when, after a short closeting with Mr. Chesebrough, the agent of the Commercial Line here, he left by rail for Buffalo, the entire crew of the JAVA, some 25 in number, will be taken to Buffalo on the KERSHAW. Capt. Pope, as is natural, is quite cast down at his unfortunate experience. He is an old sailor, having been in the Commercial Line about five years, but his friends know him best as the popular commander of the ARAXES when she was in her palmy days. He made a statement substantially as follows: The JAVA left Bay City on Saturday, August 17, with 7,000 barrels of salt, bound for Chicago. Everything went well until Sunday morning, at about 8 o'clock. At the time the wind was blowing rather strong, and the boat was going along at a moderate speed. Suddenly, without any warning whatever, something of a serious nature manifested itself, but could not tell
whether it was a log in the wheel or what was the matter. A hasty examination showed that water was rushing into the hold somewhere about the stern, but could not tell where, with such velocity that it was impossible to stop it. Soon saw that the vessel must sink, as she was filling rapidly, and ordered the boats down, and had just pushed clear when the main deck went under. Ten minutes afterwards, and just 30 minutes after the first notice that something was wrong the JAVA went down, out of sight, in about 200 feet of water. Were in the small boats but an hour or so, when the schooner J.P. MARCH hove near and picked them up. The same afternoon the steamship KERSHAW came along and took them on board bound for Buffalo. All the books and papers belonging to the boat were saved, but the officers and crew saved but little. Capt. Pope loses a fine library, a well as much other valuable property.
      It will never be known exactly what caused the boat to sink. Theories may be given, but they will not throw any light on the subject. She went down stern first, and that is all the proof than can be had as to where the cause that led to her sinking was located. She was a twin screw boat, and the shaft on one side may have broken off somewhere above the stern pipe, letting the wheel drop out, or the wheel may have moved up on the shaft in some unaccountable manner, and the blade stove a hole in her side. The statement that she had no bulkhead is untrue. She had two, dividing the hull into three compartments, each being water tight. The boat's exact original cost was $165,000, but probably her mate could be produced now at a saving of at least $50,000. It is possible that this disaster may result in a long winded discussion among marine men on the merits and demerits of iron boats.
      The gives the insurance on the boat, aggregating $40,000.
      Special Dispatch to the Post & Tribune
Buffalo, August 20 - The propeller JAVA was insured for $40,000, as follows: Phoenix, $25,000; Aetna, $10,000; Manhattan, $10,000; Orient, $2,500; Providence of Washington, $2,500; one third of the insurance held by the Phoenix and Manhattan Companies was re-insured in the Buffalo Insurance Company. Her owner Charles Ensign refused $100,000 for her a short time ago.
      Special Dispatch to the Post & Tribune
Bay City, August 20. - A part of the cargo of the propeller JAVA, consisted of 7,300 barrels of salt, taken in at this port last Friday. From Chicago papers we gather the information that the JAVA's cargo of salt was insured in the Orient Company, for $5,656. The only other insurance known is about $2,000 in the Traders on the 67 barrels of syrup on board, and which was taken on at Buffalo, from which port she left on Monday, August 12. The entire cargo consisting of the salt above referred to, a large number of stoves 67 barrels of syrup, and quite a quantity of general merchandise.
      The Inter-Ocean, commenting on the disaster, says: " The JAVA has been unlucky from the first day she came out. This is explained by the 'Croakers,' who say she was launched on Friday. But as it happens she was not launched on Friday. It will be remembered that the JAVA sank Capt. Eyster's schooner CAPE HORN, and that she sunk herself by striking at the Lime Kiln Crossing. Capt. Dodge was then in command. She has been in numerous other scrapes, and only last trip broke a wheel on the way down, and had to be towed through. Many of the iron steamers on the lake have been wooded over, but the JAVA is not one of them."
      The Chicago Tribune contains the following. The Mr. Beckwith referred to a the agent of the Commercial Line at Chicago: Mr. Beckwith was of the opinion that one of the wheels of the JAVA must have struck the iron hull and stove in one of the plates, thus letting the water into the stern of the vessel and sinking her. Had the injury been amidships the water-tight compartments would have prevented her from going down. The JAVA was one of the very staunchest propellers on the lakes, and Mr. Beckwith states that Mr. Ensign had such great confidence in her safety from accidents that he did not insure her heavily."
      Detroit Post & Tribune
      Wednesday, August 21, 1878


Media Type:
Text
Newspaper
Item Type:
Clippings
Notes:
Reason: sunk
Lives: nil
Hull damage: $99,000
Freight: salt, syrup, &c.
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
1878
Subject(s):
Local identifier:
McN.W.16162
Language of Item:
English
Geographic Coverage:
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 43.68473 Longitude: -86.53036
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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Java (Propeller), U75388, sunk, 18 Aug 1878