The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), Fri, 8 May, 1857

Full Text

The barque Empire, of 350 tons, was wrecked on Marblehead Point, about 4 miles from the port of Sandusky. Eleven lives were lost, all on board except Capt. Milligan and a seaman. The Empire was bound from Toledo to Tonawanda, with a cargo of lumber, shipped by J. W. Russell, and consigned to Alexander Kent. She hailed from Port Dover, C.W., was owned by Henry Waters of Chatham, and commanded by Alexander Milligan.

The Sandusky Register gives the following particulars of the sad disaster, furnished by Capt. Keys, of the Marblehead lighthouse, who was an eye-witness, and who commanded the life boat that went to the rescue of the survivors:

"The barque was well down the lake when the storm commenced, but its violence was so great that Capt. M was compelled to change his course with the intention of making the lee of Kelley's Island. The weather, however, was so thick that he couldn't keep his bearings, and about ten o'clock yesterday morning [May 5] the first information of land was the breakers off Peninsula Point. The barque was immediately hauled up, close to the wind, and a course laid to clear the point under all the canvas she would bear. A sudden squall carried away the fore staysail sheet and jib sheet, and the vessel broached to. This was about 11 o'clock, A.M. As she was rapidly drifting broadside on shore, both anchors were let go, as soon as possible, and the vessel was brought head to the wind, remaining in that position until 3 o'clock P.M., when, the sea increasing, she commenced dragging - the waves making a clean breach over her at every surge. At ten minutes before four, she filled and capsized in deep water, about one hundred and ten rods from Marblehead light.

"The men took to the rigging, where they clung as long as life lasted. Capt. Keys lost no time in getting the lifeboat into the water, which was manned with a stalwart crew. Just as the boat emerged from the first breakers, one of the oars broke, and Capt. K replaced it with his steering oar; but before they got clear of white water, two other oars gave way, and they were obliged to put back to the shore, which they reached with great difficulty, the boat and men being landed 'end over end' on the beach, by an enormous breaker.

"Meanwhile the vessel had drifted further down shore, and as soon as fresh oars could be procured, the lifeboat was carried over land, and launched from another part of the beach. This time they succeeded in getting a line from the shore to the vessel, which had finally grounded. With great difficulty they got into the boat the only two left alive in the rigging, and with them safely reached shore. One of the rescued - a seaman - was insensible when taken into the boat, but on reaching shore was restored. His name was Robert Moore. The other, Capt. Milligan, was in full possession of his faculties and strength, exhibiting wonderful powers of endurance.

"The following is a list of the crew, of whom only two were saved, and eleven were lost: Captain, Alexander Milligan, save; 1st mate, Thomas Marsh, lost; 2nd mate, Alexander McLane, lost; steward, James Adams (colored) lost; seamen John Maley, John Albert (colored) Geo. Peacock, John Skelton, Edward Macabay, Wm. Irvine, Patrick Flannery and a young orphan boy named Thomas ___, of Port Robinson, all lost; and Robert Moore, saved.

"We have only time to add, that, from accounts received, great praise is due to Capt. Keys and his brave boat's crew, who did all in their power to reach the wreck as speedily as possible, even at the imminent peril of their own lives."

We are informed by Capt. Nickerson, of the Mary and Lucy, just in from the Island, that the Empire and the Mary and Lucy tried to make this port on Monday, running to within ten miles of this harbor, when they were compelled to put about. The Mary and Lucy sought shelter at Put-in-Bay, but the Empire went ashore near Marblehead. Capt. N, with a glass, could see that the brig [sic] was about to go to pieces. - Cleve. Her., 6th.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Date of Original:
Fri, 8 May, 1857
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Dave Swayze
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
WWW address
Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.

Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), Fri, 8 May, 1857