The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
J. H. Rutter (Schooner), U75504, disabled, 31 Oct 1878

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The barge RUTTER, consort of the steam barge KETCHUM, is disabled and ashore off Luddington. Her wheelhouse and gear are carried away and she has 6 feet of water in her hold.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Friday, November 1, 1878
      . . . . .

      Ludington, October 31. - The four masted barge J.H. RUTTER, of Toledo, is lying off this port disabled. Her wheelhouse and gear are carried away. She has 6 feet of water in her hold, and her pumps have given out. She is said to be from Chicago loaded with grain and rolling freight. The Life Saving Station at Point Au Sable has a crew and boat aboard of her now. The steamer DEPERE has been out all the afternoon trying to save her. The sea is running high, and it looks as if she must go on the beach.
      (The RUTTER is the consort of the big steam barge KETCHUM, and is bound for Buffalo with 46,000 bushels of corn and 19,000 bushels of rye. She is owned at Port Huron, is of 1,224 tons register, and rates A 1. - Ed.)
      Detroit Post & Tribune
      Friday, November 1, 1878

      . . . . .
      S A V E D !

      A Day Of Thrilling Excitement At Ludington.
      (Special dispatch to the Post & Tribune.)
      Ludington, November 1, 1878.
      The following additional information concerning the loss of the RUTTER, an account of which appeared in our marine columns yesterday morning, has been received from our special correspondent:
      When I got down to the shore this morning, the four masted barge JOHN H. RUTTER lay sunk half a mile north of the pier, and about the same distance from the shore, the sea rolling over her, and about 40 men, who went aboard of her last evening to shovel grain, clinging to the rigging. The vessel had unexpectedly
and these men, wet and numb, clung to the masts. The lifeboat from Point au Sable was here, and was manned by Capt. Sterling and a volunteer crew, but after two attempts, lasting two hours, it was found impossible to get the boat through the breakers. Not a tug in the harbor fit for such service would venture out, but Capt. Fred Kendrick, commanding a rickety tug owned by the government, offered to go and take the lifeboat through the breakers. It was about half-past eleven when the lifeboat was transported by wagon to the harbor. A scow was manned, and Capt. Kendrick started out of the harbor with the scow in tow, and the lifeboat behind the scow. The lifeboat was mammed by the captain of the SIMPSON and some of his crew. Hundreds upon hundreds watched the boat as they went out of the harbor and were taken in hand by the waves. Occasionally neither tug, scow nor lifeboat was visable. They
but the little boat behind came out right side up every time. The attempt of the tug was to pull out to the windward and let the scow float alomgside the vessel. While this was being done the crew from the Life Saving Station at Point Au Sable, which had meanwhile arrived, were using their mortar to shoot a line over the vessel; but this was in vain. The mortar was too light. When a light cord was attached to the ball it went almost to the vessel, but with a little heavier one it fell far short. Once the line broke and the ball passed over the vessel. For an hour seemingly the tug tried to get the scow alongside, but to no purpose, and hearts sunk as she headed for the harbor. But then.
and succeeded in getting a line to the vessel and got alongside. One after another of the sufferers jumped into her until seven were rescued. Then she started for the shore, drifting northwards. When she got within 40 rods of the shore the whole length of her line was out and she could come no further without letting go the line. This she did, and shot through the breakers like an arrow. Men ran into the surf and literally carried the boat up the bank.
      It was now near 2 o'clock P.M. , seven men saved and 33 on the wreck. The seven could scarcely walk. The wreck was
      She was broken in the middle. Now came a long delay that was agonizing to the sufferers and to the thousands on shore. The lifeboat was again transported a mile back to the harbor by a wagon. They began the fourth attempt to save life. Capt. Morgan, with his life-saving crew started out through the piers in their lifeboat, this time with line enough. The waves
in two minutes and drove it back on the shore north of the piers. The storm kept up. The wreck was breaking up and rolling about, and the sight of the sufferers out through the waves was a piteous appeal for help. None of the first class tugs would face the storm. The lifeboat could not be got out through the breakers unless it was towed out. Fred Kendrick agan_ volunteered with his old tug. Capt. Morgan manned his lifeboat and the ropes were got ready again. Just as the sun was going down they started down the pier for the fifth trial. The tug could be seen most of the time and the little boat behind was visable occasionally. Several times it was
apparently, and then engulfed. As they came into proximity with the wreck the lifeboat was violently torn loose from the tug and driven towards shore. But Fred Kendrick would not give it up this time. Again and again he tried to get to the wreck. A line went to frozen hands, and was made fast. Slowly she came near. O ! what a rush ! All were on the tug but one, the mate of the RUTTER. He cast off the line and fell rather than jumped on the tug, the
      When the little tug got through the waves and rode into the harbor, cheer after cheer went up for Kendrick and his crew, for Louis Sterling, Duncan Dewar, Billy Leet, and the brave men who volunteered to go.
      The wreck is loaded with 46,000 bushels of corn and 19,000 bushels of rye. Shw was in tow of the KETCHUM, but was seperated night before last in the storm. She showed distress signals yesterday off this port, and was brought to anchor near the shore by the DEPERE, and was supposed to be safe. She draws too much water to enter this harbor. George W. Barber, George Tracy, James Clark, James Aury, Geo. Harbaugh and Mero are the names of some who came near perishing - nearly all citizens of Ludington.
      Detroit Post & Tribune
      Saturday, November 2, 1878

      . . . . .

      The Detroit Free Press says: "Until Saturday evening there was a probility that a Detroit wrecking tug would raise the RUTTER, at present sunk off Ludington. But a price could not be agreed upon, and it is now stated that the tug A. J. SMITH will be on the ground in a few days, and will decide how much the job is worth to her." The RUTTER is probably beyond recovery at any price.
      Chicago Inter Ocean
      Tuesday, November 12, 1878
FROM THE RUTTER. -- A letter from Capt. Jerry Simpson, of the wrecked barge RUTTER, at Ludington, under date of 13th says: " She stands the storm better than any one thought she would. She is in about same condition as previously reported - her ends down and port rail under water. With 24 hours of fine weather I think that she can be saved. Very little of the cargo can be recovered. I have saved and sold $200 worth, thinking it better to save a little than let it all go to waste."
The insurance on the cargo has been paid to Mr. Lyon, of Chicago. The tug ANDREW J. SMITH is now at the wreck in the interest of the underwriters.
      Detroit, Post & Tribune
      Sunday, November 17, 1878
      . . . . .

THE SCHOONER RUTTER. -- Ludington, Nov. 28. -- The J.H. RUTTER is in the harbor, lying on the bottom in 16 feet of water. The schooner GRACIE FILER, sailing into the harbor last night, stove in the RUTTER's stern. AS soon as her steering apparatus arrives, the RUTTER will be taken to Milwaukee.
      Detroit Post & Tribune
      Saturday, November 30, 1878

      BARGE R U T T E R.
The wreck and outfit of the barge J.H. RUTTER will be sold at public auction for whom it may concern, on Wednesday, January 15, at 2 p.m., at Wolf & Davidson's shipyard, where the vessel is lying.
Outside parties will be furnished with any desired information concerning the condition of the wreck, etc., by addressing LEM. ELLSWORTH, Milwaukdd, Wis.
      Detroit Post & Tribune
      Wednesday, January 1, 1879
Schooner J.H. RUTTER. U. S. No. 75504. Of 1,224.36 Tons Gross; 1180.25 tons net. Built Marine City, Mich., 1873. Home port, Detroit. 212.1 x 35.9 x 14.0
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1885

      Washington, Oct. 10. - After 32 years of waiting, James Cummings of Custer, Mich., a quiet hero, too modest to tell of his own bravery, has received from the Treasury Department a gold medal for his part in saving 44 lives from the wreck of the grain barge J. H. RUTTER, off Ludington, Mich., on Nov. 1, 1878.
      Buffalo Evening News
      October 10, 1910

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: disabled
Lives: nil
Freight: corn, rye
Remarks: Repaired
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 43.95528 Longitude: -86.45258
William R. McNeil
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J. H. Rutter (Schooner), U75504, disabled, 31 Oct 1878