The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Oswego Palladium (Oswego, NY), Tuesday, November 18, 1879


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A TERRIBLE CATASTROPHE
Loss of Life on Lake Ontario -- Thirty one Persons, including Several Women and Children Drowned -- An Abandoned Tug Afloat off Oswego -- The Tug Seymour Looses Her Entire Tow in Sight of Oswego Light -- Adrift in a Howling Waste of Snow and Wind -- Full Particulars of the Disaster -- List of the Lost.
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AN ABANDONED TUG AFLOAT AND BROUGHT INTO PORT.

At daylight this morning captain Pappa of the tug C. P. Morey of this port, while at the light house noticed a craft of some kind about a mile and a half out, apparently a tug, knocking about in the sea without steam. The Morey immediately put out and found it to be the tug Charles M. Riter of Buffalo, abandoned and drifting in toward this port in a northeast sea. The pilot house doors, cabin slide, engine room doors and forecastle scuttle were open and the seas were washing over and into the boat. It was evident that she was almost full of water and about to sink. Fred Pappa, son of the captain, went aboard from the Morey, a line was made fast and the Morey towed the Riter to the West side, just below the lower bridge. Three pumps were worked by some of the tug Gardner's crew, steam was got up, and she was relieved of the water. The engine was choked up with coal from the bunkers, and her deckload of coal was mostly washed off. The water in the hull was quite warm, showing that the fires had not been long extinguished. Captain Joseph Richards of the tug Gardner, who came from the river last night, states that the tug Geo. D. Seymour with a tow consisting of four smaller tugs, three dredges and eight scows, left Cape Vincent at 1 P. M. yesterday for Port Dalhousie. The tugs, among which was the Riter, were all steamed and working, assdisting the Gardner to tow. One vessel captain claimed to have passed a tug about 10 o'clock last night while 15 miles off and below this oport. Another claimed to have passed her at 9 A. M. today about 10 miles off, and each says no one was aboard. The Riter's papers were aboard undisturbed, showing that she is owned by John Hickler of Buffalo and that James Stanfield was master. Near the bow on the port side, part of one of the protecting iron straps is torn off, apparently by collision very recently.

A HORRIBLE CATASTROPHE -- FOUR TUGS, THREE DREDGES AND TWENTY-TWO LIVES LOST.

The finding of the tug Ritter, as detailed above, proves to be a link in a chain of disaster and death more terrible than has occurred on lake Ontario in many years. About noon today, Capt. Richards of the tug Gardner of Ogdensburg which is lying in this port and is the mate of the Seymour, heard that the Seymour had arrived at Sackets Harbor without her tow. In a series of telegraphic conversations with the captain of the Seymour, he obtained the following information.

WHAT THE CAPTAIN OF THE SEYMOUR SAYS.

The Seymour left the Cape about 1 P. M. yesterday with a tow of four tugs and three dredges, all owned by Heckler of Buffalo, and which have been at work on the Lachine canal, bouond for Port Dalhousie. The whole tow went down and only six men were saved.

The captain of the Seymour says she (the Seymour) is at Sackets -- all the tow went down. He asks -- "Has the tug Chieftain got to Oswego with the barges? She was with them all night."

In reply to the question whether he lost his tow all at once, the captain says -- It was about 8:30 last night before we lost anything. Held on to the last dredge. About daylight saw Oswego light. They put it down 22 persons, all lost except 5. We lost them (the tow) all night.

In reply to another question he says -- They saw Oswego, but could not make it. We told the tugs to go for Oswego light. They saw it and the captain of the Seymour told them to go for it. We lost them all in going to Oswego. The Seymour felt her way down to Sackets.

STILL LATER NEWS.

In answer to a dispatch asking for a full statement of the disaster by the captain of the Seymour, we got the following:

HOW THE TOW BROKE UP.

Special dispatch to the Palladium:

SACKETS HARBOR, November 18. -- A fleet consisting of three dredges, two derricks and seven scows, owned by Hickler & Arnold of Buffalo, started in tow of the tug Seymour from Cape Vincent at one o'clock yesterday and had fine weather until after they passed Gallop Island. Then a gale of wind sprang up from the northeast, with heavy snow. They got within five or six miles of Oswego and then lost the light, turned around and undertook to hold the fleet till daylight, but they broke away and are lost with all hands, except six, who were rescued by the tug Seymour.

THIRTY ONE LIVES LOST -- THE LIST.

There are thirty one persons drowned, and the fleet is a total loss. The following were lost: James B. Youngs, Buffalo; Patrick Hogan, Grand Rapids; Pat Finnell, Lachine; Thomas Thompson, Buffalo; Fred Straus, Buffalo; Mr. Paul Lachine; Gus Palmer and wife, Virgennes, Vt.; Judson Morrison, Welland canal; Jerome Morrison, wife and daughter, Charles Ingland and wife, Charles Crarydeyn, Lachine; Edward Beauson, Buffalo; John Wood and son, Ogdensburg; Noah Garrow, Ogdensburg; H. Marshall, Ogdensburg; Wm. Scott, Ogdensburg; Capt. Sam Logan, Morrisburg, Ont.; Wm. Logan, Morrisburg.

SEARCHING FOR THE LOST.

Captain Richards of the tug Gardner, left at 2 P. M. with the tug and proceeded up the lake to investigate a report that two of the dredges had been seen off Big Sodus Point. The revenue cutter Manhattan, Capt. Carson, accompanied by Capt. Blackburn and the Oswego life crew, left here at 9 A. M. today and went so far up the lake as Little Sodus. They returned about 2:30 P. M., and report nothing seen. They encountered heavy seas, and the Manhattan parted her steering gear.

WHAT THE CREW OF THE DOWNEY SAW.

The crew of the schooner Nellie P. Downey, which arrived this morning, report that at 11:30 last night, when about 15 miles off Oswego, they almost collided with the Seymour's tow. They saw a long line of lights through the mist and snow, supposed it was Oswego, shortened sail and prepared to run in, when suddenly they saw a derrick under their jibboom. They heard no voices and saw nothing more.

ENGINEER OF THE RITER SAFE.

Joseph Esperance, engineer of the Riter, which is here, is at Sackets, having been among the saved.

OTHER PARTICULARS -- THE FLEET

The following composed the wrecked fleet as far as known: Tugs O. A. Thayer, Phillip Becker, Charles M. Riter, John Hickler. Dredges, John Hickler No. 1, John Hickler No. 2, Gorden. They were owned by John Hickler & Co., general contractors, whose Lachine canal dredging fleet have been in the habit of making their winter quarters at Montreal.

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THE HATTIE HOWARD'S CARGO.

A. Mallony bought the lumber lost from the schooner Hattie Howard, wrecked here Sunday, for $ 100. Most of it has been cast upon the beach, West side, by the nor'easter.


Media Type:
Text
Newspaper
Item Type:
Clippings
Date of Original:
Tuesday, November 18, 1879
Local identifier:
GLN.4880
Language of Item:
English
Donor:
Richard Palmer
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
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Oswego Palladium (Oswego, NY), Tuesday, November 18, 1879